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Good manners, often a mix of innate qualities and acquired behaviors, play a significant role in social interactions. They are best cultivated at home, with parents acting as the gardeners nurturing their growth. Good manners extend to showing respect for the elderly, being considerate of others’ feelings, and avoiding rudeness even in crowded spaces like horsecars. Instilling these values in children early ensures a future where courtesy and kindness prevail in everyday interactions.
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Good Manners by Mrs. Ellis L Mumma from 1886
Some persons air their good manners as they do their good clothes, on holidays and other occasions of more than ordinary moment. These manners being assumed for the time are unnatural and like bogus jewelry, are readily distinguished from the genuine article. It is too often the case that persons will be churlish and disagreeable to those at home, their nearest and dearest, and yet when they appear among strangers, will be courteous in the extreme, winning golden opinions for their affability and distinguished manners. There are others whose amiability can be seen at its best in the home circle, these are the ones who can always be relied upon, whose steady cheerfulness in times of trouble endear them to every one with whom they come in contact.
Good manners are innate with some people, with others they are more or less aquired. Where ignorance of prescribed rules exists, tact will often lead the person out of the social difficulty impending. It is important for the scholar or man of genius not to neglect the minor courtesies of social life, as is shown in the case of Carlyle, while every one can admire his splendid intellect, there are few who have the temerity to praise his crusty manners. A proper regard for the feelings of others will often cause a person ignorant of all social usages to hit the proper vein in good manners. Heedless people bring up topics of conversation regardless of the feelings of a portion of those whom they are addressing, the latter may hold different views in religion and politics, but on goes the heedless one, ruthlessly tramping on the most tender corns of opinion, cherished by some sensitive one among the number, who is too well-bred to make any reply.
On meeting an acquaintance who is in ill-health, how many rush forward exclaiming: “How badly you look, I should never have known you!” This is not only execrable on the part of the person who perpetrates it, but is often followed by serious consequences to the invalid, who is naturally depressed by such news. Invalids should always be met with cheerful words or manner, even if they have to be assumed. Those possessed of truly good manners as distinguished from surface polish, will always and on every occasion have a proper regard for the aged. What more beautiful sight is there than devotion from youth to the aged around them?
On the other hand, to see, as is frequently the case, children allowed to mimic and ridicule tottering age, is a shame and disgrace to the age in which we live! It is true that “it is never too late to learn,” but those who have the most agreeable manners and who exhibit urbanity under any circumstances, are the ones in whom good manners were instilled in early childhood. It is not only rude but extremely heartless to laugh when a tale of distress is being told, yet this occurs frequently among those moving in what is considered the most exclusive society, which be it understood, is not a term synonymous with wellbred, although it is looked upon as such.
A thoroughly wellbred person is mindful of the feelings of every one, from the highest to the lowliest person, he or she may come in contact with, for thus, in trifles, do good manners and breeding show. Home is the hot-bed in which the seed of good manners should be sown, the parents are the gardeners who should pluck out all weeds from among their tender plants, with proper care and culture these plants will blossom into flowers of courtesy. It is to the homes in this broad land, where so many youthful characters are forming, that improvement is looked for in manners, as they are there trained, such will their bearing in future life be. Their good manners should be brought into practice towards their parents and one another, not held in reserve for the benefit of strangers.
Many gaucheries now committed would be avoided if good manners were instilled in children while they are under home influence. Children are quick to imitate and the example of perfect courtesy among the older members of the family will be closely followed by the childish imitators. A future of pleasing possibilities is before children who have been taught that good manners like charity, begin at home and should be brought into every day use there.
When grown to men and women they may not achieve anything great or heroic, but rest assured, they will, through some kindly act or courtesy, comfort some poor creature, whose burden in life is at times too heavy to bear. Unfortunately rudeness and bad manners are not confined to children. Who has not seen the young lady taking possession of a seat in a crowded horsecar, vacated for her by one who probably remembers early training and who is rewarded for his courtesy by a chill stare in lieu of a kindly “thank you?”