Be Natural — Due Regard for the Rights of Others, Harks True Politeness
Manner and manners are not precisely synonymous. One may possess ceremonious manners and in conjunction with these have a manner which antagonizes the very people whom the elaborate manners are intended to please. A boorish person may, by dint of careful imitation, acquire a veneer of courtesy, good so far as it goes, but when all is said only veneer, not the solid, polish-bearing wood. A person ignorant of social usages and unskilled in the conventionalities of the period maybe distinguished by a manner essentially charming. Manner is what we are, so to speak, in the grain. It is individuality. It is the outshining of the soul.
Manners are acquired by association, by contact, by slow degrees, through several generations, and by laborious effort, line upon line, precept upon precept, in each generation. We observe a similarity in the manner and in the manners of certain families. Sometimes servants take on a likeness of manner to those with whom they live, as children do, personality being always a force and carrying with it impressiveness of some sort. Both children and servants need molding, training in manners, while manner comes to them, as it were, without their knowledge.
Occasionally one meets a gently bred elderly person who has not adopted certain forms and modes which are at present in vogue, and who innocently fails to meet the requirements of good form— a thing to be regretted, because the greater should everywhere include the less, and a well-bred manner, should presuppose perfect manners. At all times the requirements of politeness are founded upon good sense, upon kindness of heart, upon due regard for the rights of others. The rude, the brusque, the abrupt, trample on the sensibilities of their friends, as well as invade propriety, sometimes defending themselves as natural, and declaring that they abhor affectation and adore sincerity. They appear not to recognize the fallacy in this.
A natural manner should, of all manners in the world, be sincere. Sincerity does not imply brutality. Affectation is less heinous and offensive than cruelty, and cruelty exists wherever one person needlessly wounds another. Gentle manners do much to oil the machinery of life at home and in the community. It costs little effort to say, “I thank you” and “If you please,” to acknowledge every kindness as a favor worth appreciation ; but, were it otherwise, effort in this direction would be well repaid. Especially in our intercourse with children or with the aged, with those who are in any way at a disadvantage as compared with ourselves, should we be careful to exercise a cordial politeness. If this be the manner of our outlook in the world, it will influence our manners to all whom we meet. — Harper's Bazar, 1892
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