Our Deportment eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 348 pages of information about Our Deportment.
of ordinary education by the other.  If you really wish to be thought agreeable, sensible, amiable, unselfish and even well-informed, you should lead the way, in tete-a-tete conversations, for sportsmen to talk of their shooting, a mother to talk of her children, a traveler of his journeys and the countries he has visited, a young lady of her last ball and the prospective ones, an artist of his picture and an author of his book.  To show any interest in the immediate concerns of people is very complimentary, and when not in general society one is privileged to do this.  People take more interest in their own affairs than in anything else you can name, and if you manifest an interest to hear, there are but few who will not sustain conversation by a narration of their affairs in some form or another.  Thackeray says:  “Be interested by other people and by their affairs.  It is because you yourself are selfish that that other person’s self does not interest you.”


The correct use of words is indispensable to a good talker who would escape the unfavorable criticism of an educated listener.  There are many words and phrases, used in some cases by persons who have known better, but who have become careless from association with others who make constant use of them.  “Because that” and “but that” should never be used in connection, the word “that” being entirely superfluous.  The word “vocation” is often used for “avocation.”  “Unhealthy” food is spoken of when it should be “unwholesome.”  “Had not ought to” is sometimes heard for “ought not to;” “banister” for “baluster;” “handsful” and “spoonsful” for “handfuls” and “spoonfuls;” “it was him” for “it was he;” “it was me” for “it was I;” “whom do you think was there?” for “who do you think was there?”; “a mutual friend” for “a common friend;” “like I did” instead of “as I did;” “those sort of things” instead of “this sort of things;” “laying down” for “lying down;” “setting on a chair” for “sitting on a chair;” “try and make him” instead of “try to make him;” “she looked charmingly” for “she looked charming;” “loan” for “lend;” “to get along” instead of “to get on;” “cupalo” instead of “cupola;” “who” for “whom”—­as, “who did you see” for “whom did you see;” double negatives, as, “he did not do neither of those things;” “lesser” for “least;” “move” instead of “remove;” “off-set” instead of “set-off,” and many other words which are often carelessly used by those who have been better taught, as well as by those who are ignorant of their proper use.


Certain honest but unthinking people often commit the grievous mistake of “speaking their mind” on all occasions and under all circumstances, and oftentimes to the great mortification of their hearers.  And especially do they take credit to themselves for their courage, if their freedom of speech happens to give offense to any of them.  A little reflection ought to show how cruel and unjust this is.  The law restrains us from inflicting bodily injury upon those with whom we disagree, yet there is no legal preventive against this wounding of the feeling of others.

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Our Deportment from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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