« ElőzőTovább »
Good manners are, to particular societies, what good morals are to society in general, their cement and their security. And, as laws are enacted to enforce good morals, or at least to prevent the ill effects of bad ones, so there are certain rules of civility, universally implied and received, to enforce good manners and punish bad ones. And indeed there seems to me to be less difference, both between the crimes and punishments, than at first one would imagine. The immoral man, who invades another's property, is justly hanged for it; and the illbred man, who, by his ill-manners, invades and disturbs the quiet and comforts of private life, is by common consent as justly banished from society. Mutual complaisances, attentions, and sacrifices of little conveniences, are as natural an implied compact between civilized people as protection and obedience are between kings and subjects; whoever, in either case, violates that compact, justly forfeits all advantages arising from it. For my own part, I really think, that, next to the consciousness of doing a good action, that of doing a civil one is the most pleasing; and the epithet which I should covet the most, next to that of being called just, would be that of being called well-bred.
0.8.: To correct an error in the Julian Calendar the English in 1752 omitted eleven days of September. For some time afterward correspondents wrote 0. S. or N. S. with their dates to indicate whether they were following the old or the new style.
Questions for Study
1. Behind this quaint and stilted style of the eighteenth century try to find the gentle man and evidences of his love for the boy to whom he writes.
2. Criticize the definition of good-breeding. Is it something that one can gain for himself? How could one show it in the school and on the playground?
3. Explain how good manners are the “cement and security” of society.
4. Why do you think Lord Chesterfield prefers above all other things to be called, first, just, and, second, well-bred ?
She does not believe in the saying, “Every one must live his own life." She believes in the saying, “We are members one of another." Rather, she does believe that every one must live his own life, but she also believes that her life is but one of several strands braided together. So each wire in the rope that holds the suspension bridge must bear its own share of the common burden; but it can do so only as it shares that burden with the other strands. She lives her own life, but that is the life of a sister to her brothers and a daughter to her parents.
She is comrade to her brothers. She is fellow with them in their studies, and when she can she joins with them in their sports. Their favorite encomium is, “She is bully, you know”; or “She is a lady, but she is no coward; she can do things.” She appreciates their chivalry and so inspires it. There are, to her thinking, no boys quite like her brothers, and so, to their thinking, there are no girls quite like their sister. She accepts their protection and they accept her services. She never attempts to hold them back from adventures for her; and if she is sometimes more carefully conscientious than they are, she never makes her conscience a law for their governance. If she does not think that she must live her own life, she is quite sure that they must live theirs, and she never endeavors to make their conduct conform to her tastes or her conscience. She has nothing of the feminine Pharisee about her—-of all feminine qualities the most irritating to the masculine temper.
Almost from her babyhood she is the companion of her mother; she early grows to be her mother's confidant. It is her childish pride to be her mother's helper, to do the things her mother does. She understands the Roman Catholic's veneration for the Virgin Mary; her mother is her Madonna. As she grows into early womanhood she grows into a clearer comprehension of what the home is: a rest and refuge from the strenuous and stormy life outside, and a tonic to virtue and an inspiration to vigor in that life. To make home pure and wholesome, so to minister in it that it shall provide for her brothers as free an atmosphere as the club, and a better table and a jollier companionship—this is her growing ambition. She gradually assumes a share in her mother's responsibilities as well as in her mother's work, and becomes
the counselor of her on whose counsels she once so implicitly depended. As she goes to school, and perhaps to college, their lives diverge but their affections are not weakened. New vistas open before her which her mother never saw, new impulses she experiences which her mother never experienced. She welcomes them. But they do not separate her from her mother. And because she still respects convictions of her mother which she no longer possesses, her mother respects the convictions of her daughter which she never possessed.
The companion and confidant of her mother, she becomes comrade to her father. Neither is conscious of
She does not believe that business and politics are dull, nor does she think that nothing is worth listening to which she does not instantly understand. She listens, at first with an amused, later with an eager interest, to the table-talk of her father and his visitors. And from their conversation she learns in time more of banking or trade or politics or law or pedagogy or theology than some of her companions learn from the lecturers and text-books in their schools. Some day she surprises her father with a question which shows how much unconscious training her womanly insight has had —and thereafter father and daughter are intellectual comrades. Thus, while from her school or college the daughter brings to the home the reflection and the impulses of a larger life than the home knows, she is getting from the home the influence of a more practical life than the school or college knows.
She receives by contributing and contributes by receiving. Because of her companionship in the daily life of her mother and her father, they enter into companionship in the results of her academic training. The home shows gradually the influence of the more modern thought and the better taste, in art and literature, which she brings into it. The chromo on the wall is replaced by the photograph or the etching. The subscription-book peddler knocks at the door in vain, and some excellent classical series replaces the miscellaneous collection of the cheaper current literature. Father, mother, brother, sister has lived each his own life; but because they have been members one of another, the life of the home is larger and richer than any one alone could have made it. Yes, larger and richer than all combined could have made it, if each had not brought into it some experience which no other one had to bring.
-From “The Home Builder."
Questions for Study
1. In what ways does this daughter prove that she believes in the saying, “We are members one of another”'?
2. Do you think she is better as a sister, as a daughter to her mother, or as a daughter to her father?
3. What more do you think a sister or a daughter should be?