Our Deportment eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 348 pages of information about Our Deportment.


Pleasing manners have made the fortunes of men in all professions and in every walk of life—­of lawyers, doctors, clergymen, merchants, clerks and mechanics—­and instances of this are so numerous that they may be recalled by almost any person.  The politician who has the advantage of a courteous, graceful and pleasing manner finds himself an easy winner in the race with rival candidates, for every voter with whom he speaks becomes instantly his friend.  Civility is to a man what beauty is to a woman.  It creates an instantaneous impression in his behalf, while gruffness or coarseness excites as quick a prejudice against him.  It is an ornament, worth more as a means of winning favor than the finest clothes and jewels ever worn.  Lord Chesterfield said the art of pleasing is, in truth, the art of rising, of distinguishing one’s self, of making a figure and a fortune in the world.  Some years ago a drygoods salesman in a London shop had acquired such a reputation for courtesy and exhaustless patience, that it was said to be impossible to provoke from him any expression of irritability, or the smallest symptom of vexation.  A lady of rank learning of his wonderful equanimity, determined to put it to the test by all the annoyances with which a veteran shop-visitor knows how to tease a shopman.  She failed in her attempt to vex or irritate him, and thereupon set him up in business.  He rose to eminence in trade, and the main spring of his later, as of his earlier career, was politeness.  Hundreds of men, like this salesman, have owed their start in life wholly to their pleasing address and manners.


The cultivation of pleasing, affable manners should be an important part of the education of every person of whatever calling or station in life.  Many people think that if they have only the substance, the form is of little consequence.  But manners are a compound of spirit and form—­spirit acted into form.  The first law of good manners, which epitomizes all the rest is, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  True courtesy is simply the application of this golden rule to all our social conduct, or, as it has been happily defined, “real kindness, kindly expressed.”  It may be met in the hut of the Arab, in the courtyard of the Turk, in the hovel of the freedman, and the cottage of the Irishman.  Even Christian men sometimes fail in courtesy, deeming it a mark of weakness, or neglecting it from mere thoughtlessness.  Yet when we find this added to the other virtues of the Christian, it will be noted that his influence for good upon others has been powerfully increased, for it was by this that he obtained access to the hearts of others.  An old English writer said reverently of our Saviour:  “He was the first true gentleman that ever lived.”  The influence of many good men would be more than

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Our Deportment from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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