A recent English writer says: “Etiquette may be defined as the minor morality of life. No observances, however minute, that tend to spare the feelings of others, can be classed under the head of trivialities; and politeness, which is but another name for general amiability, will oil the creaking wheels of life more effectually than any of those unguents supplied by mere wealth and station.” While the social observances, customs and rules which have grown up are numerous, and some perhaps considered trivial, they are all grounded upon principles of kindness to one another, and spring from the impulses of a good heart and from friendly feelings. The truly polite man acts from the highest and noblest ideas of what is right.
Lord Chesterfield declared good breeding to be “the result of much good sense, some good nature and a little self-denial for the sake of others, and with a view to obtain the same indulgence from them.” Again he says: “Good sense and good nature suggest civility in general, but in good breeding there are a thousand little delicacies which are established only by custom.”
No one quality of the mind and heart is more important as an element conducive to worldly success than civility—that feeling of kindness and love for our fellow-beings which is expressed in pleasing manners. Yet how many of our young men, with an affected contempt for the forms and conventionalities of life, assume to despise those delicate attentions, that exquisite tenderness of thought and manner, that mark the true gentleman.
MANNERS AS AN ELEMENT OF SUCCESS.
History repeats, over and over again, examples showing that it is the bearing of a man toward his fellow-men which, more than any other one quality of his nature, promotes or retards his advancement in life. The success or failure of one’s plans have often turned upon the address and manner of the man. Though there are a few people who can look beyond the rough husk or shell of a fellow-being to the finer qualities hidden within, yet the vast majority, not so keen-visaged nor tolerant, judge a person by his appearance and demeanor, more than by his substantial character. Experience of every day life teaches us, if we would but learn, that civility is not only one of the essentials of high success, but that it is almost a fortune of itself, and that he who has this quality in perfection, though a blockhead, is almost sure to succeed where, without it, even men of good ability fail.
A good manner is the best letter of recommendation among strangers. Civility, refinement and gentleness are passports to hearts and homes, while awkwardness, coarseness and gruffness are met with locked doors and closed hearts. Emerson says: “Give a boy address and accomplishments, and you give him the mastery of palaces and fortunes wherever he goes; he has not the trouble of earning or owning them; they solicit him to enter and possess.”