Avoid all pretense at gentility. Pass for what you are, and nothing more. If you are obliged to make any little economies, do not be ashamed to acknowledge them as economies, if it becomes necessary to speak of them at all. If you keep no carriage, do not be over-solicitous to impress upon your friends that the sole reason for this deficiency is because you prefer to walk. Do not be ashamed of poverty; but, on the other hand, do not flaunt its rags unmercifully in the faces of others. It is better to say nothing about it, either in excuse or defense.
DOGMATIC STYLE OF SPEAKING.
Never speak dogmatically or with an assumption of knowledge or information beyond that of those with whom you are conversing. Even if you are conscious of this superiority, a proper and becoming modesty will lead you to conceal it as far as possible, that you may not put to shame or humiliation those less fortunate than yourself. If they discover your superiority of their own accord, they will have much more admiration for you than though you forced the recognition upon them. If they do not discover it, you cannot force it upon their perceptions, and they will only hold you in contempt for trying to do so. Besides, there is the possibility that you over-estimate yourself, and instead of being a wise man you are only a self-sufficient fool.
Do not be censorious or fault-finding. Long and close friendship may sometimes excuse one friend in reproving or criticising another, but it must always be done in the kindest and gentlest manner, and in nine cases out of ten had best be left undone. When one is inclined to be censorious or critical, it is well to remember the scriptural injunction, “First cast the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
CONVERSING WITH LADIES.
A gentleman should never lower the intellectual standard of his conversation in addressing ladies. Pay them the compliment of seeming to consider them capable of an equal understanding with gentlemen. You will, no doubt, be somewhat surprised to find in how many cases the supposition will be grounded on fact, and in the few instances where it is not, the ladies will be pleased rather than offended at the delicate compliment you pay them. When you “come down” to commonplace or small-talk with an intelligent lady, one of two things is the consequence; she either recognizes the condescension and despises you, or else she accepts it as the highest intellectual effort of which you are capable, and rates you accordingly.