“Well,” said Bessie, very emphatically, “I think Russell Morton is the best boy there is, anyhow.”
“Why so, pet?” I asked, settling myself in the midst of the busy group gathered around in the firelight.
“I can tell.” Interrupted Wilfred,” “Bessie likes Russ because he is so polite.”
“I don’t care, you may laugh,” said frank little Bessie;” that is the reason—at least one of them. He’s nice; he don’t stamp and hoot in the house—and he never says ‘Halloo Bess,’ or laughs when I fall on the ice.”
“Bessie wants company manners all the time,” said Wilfred. And Bell added: “We should all act grown up, if she had her fastidiousness suited.”
Bell, be it said in passing, is very fond of long words, and has asked for a dictionary for her next birthday present.
Dauntless Bessie made hast to retort, “Well, If growing up would make some folks more agreeable, it’s a pity we can’t hurry about it.”
“Wilfred, what are company manners?” interposed I from the depths of my easy chair.
“Why—why—they’re—It’s behaving, you know, when folks are here, or we go visiting.”
“Company manners are good manners,” said Horace.
“Oh yes,” answered I, meditating on it. “I see; manners that are too good--for mamma--but just right for Mrs. Jones.”
“That’s it,” cried Bess.
“But let us talk it over a bit. Seriously, why should you be more polite to Mrs. Jones than to mamma? You don’t love her better?”
“Oh my! No indeed,” chorused the voices.
“Well, then, I don’t see why Mrs. Jones should have all that’s agreeable; why the hats should come off, and the tones soften, and ‘please,’ and ‘thank you,’ and ‘excuse me,’ should abound in her house and not in mamma’s.”
“Oh! that’s very different.”
“And mamma knows we mean all right. Besides, you are not fair, cousin; we were talking about boys and girls—not grown up people.”
Thus my little audience assailed me and I was forced to a change of base.
“Well, about boys and girls, then. Can not a boy be just as happy, if, like our friend Russell, he is gentle to the little girls, doesn’t pitch his little brother in the snow, and respects the rights of his cousins and intimate friends? It seems to me that politeness is just as suitable to the playground as to the parlor.”
“Oh, of course; if you’d have a fellow give up all fun,” said Wilfred.
“My dear boy,” said I, ”that isn’t what I want. Run and jump and shout as much as you please; skate and slide and snowball; but do it with politeness to other boys and girls, and I’ll agree you will find just as much fun in it. You sometimes say I pet Burke Holland more than any of my child-friends. Can I help it? For though he is lively and sometimes frolicsome, his manners are always good. You never see him with his chair tipped up, or his hat on in the house. He never pushes ahead of you to get first out of the room. If you are going out, he holds open the door; if weary it is Burke who brings a glass of water, places a chair, hands a fan, springs to pick up your handkerchief—and all this without being told to do so, or interfering with his own gaiety in the least.
“This attention isn’t only given to me as the guest, or to Mrs. Jones when he visits her, but to mamma, Aunt Jennie, and little sister, just as carefully; at home, in school or at play, there is always just as much guard against rudeness. His courtesy is not merely for state occasions but a well-fitting garment worn constantly. His manliness is genuine loving-kindness. In fact, that is what real politeness is; carefulness for others and watchfulness over ourselves, lest our angles shall interfere with their comfort.
It is impossible for boys and girls to realize, until they have grown too old to easily adopt new ones, how important it is to guard against contracting carelessness and awkward habits of speech and manners. Some very unwisely think it is not necessary to be very particular about these things except when company is present. But this is a grave mistake, for coarseness will betray itself in spite of the most watchful sentinelship.
It is impossible to indulge in one form of speech, or have one set of manners at home, and another abroad, because in moments of confusion, or bashfulness, such as every young person feels sometimes who is sensitive and modest, the habitual modes of expression will discover itself.
It is not, however, merely because of refinement of speech and grace of manners are pleasing to the sense that our young friends are recommended to cultivate and practice them, but because outward refinement of any sort reacts as it were on the character and makes it more sweet and gentle, and loveable, and these are qualities that attract and draw about the possessor a host of kind friends. Then again they increase self-respect.
The very consciousness that one prepossesses, and pleases people, makes most persons feel more respect for themselves, just as the knowledge of being well dressed makes them more respectable. You can see by this simple example, how every effort persons make toward perfecting themselves bring some pleasant reward.
Believe And Trust
Believe and trust.
Through stars and suns
Through life and death, Through soul and sense
His wise paternal purpose runs
The darkness of His providence
Is star-lit with benign intents.
O joy supreme! I know the voice
Like none beside on earth and sea
Yea, more, O soul of mine, rejoice
By all that he requires of me
I know what God himself must be.