« PreviousContinue »
to receive prince Eugene of Savoy at his landing, in order to conduct him immediately to the queen, the prince said he was much concerned that he could not see her majesty that night; for Monsieur Hoffman (who was then by) had assured his highness that he could not be admitted into her presence with a tied-up periwig; that his equipage was not arrived; and that he had endeavored in vain to borrow a long one among all his valets and pages. My lord turned the matter into a jest, and brought the prince to her majesty; for which he was highly censured by the whole tribe of gentlemen ushers; among whom Monsieur Hoffman, an old dull resident of the emperor's, had picked up this material point of ceremony; and which I believe was the best lesson he had learned in five-andtwenty years' residence.
I make a difference between good manners and good breeding; although, in order to vary my expression, I am sometimes forced to confound them. By the first, I only understand the art of remembering and applying certain settled forms of general behavior. But good-breeding is of a much larger extent; for, beside an uncommon degree of literature sufficient to qualify a gentleman for reading a play or a political pamphlet, it takes in a great compass of knowledge; no less than that of dancing, fighting, gaming, making the circle of Italy, riding the great horse, and speaking French; not to mention some other secondary or subaltern accomplishments, which
more easily acquired. So that the difference between good breeding and good manners lies in this, that the former cannot be attained to by the best understandings without study and labor ; whereas a tolerable degree of reason will instruct us in every part of good manners, without other assistance.
I can think of nothing more useful upon this subject than to point out some particulars, wherein the very essentials of good manners are concerned, the neglect or perverting of which does very much disturb the good commerce of the world, by introducing a traffic of mutual uneasiness in most companies.
First, A necessary part of good manners is a punctual observance of time at our own dwellings, or those of others, or at third places; whether upon matter of civility, business, or diversion; which rule, though it be a plain dictate of common reason, yet the greatest minister I ever knew was the greatest trespasser against it; by which all his business doubled upon him, and placed him in a continual
Upon which I often used to rally him, as deficient in point of good manners. I have known more than one ambassador and
secretary of state, with a very moderate portion of intellectuals, execute their offices with good success and applause, by the mere force of exactness and regularity. If you duly observe time for the service of another, it doubles the obligation ; if upon your own account, it would be manifest folly, as well as ingratitude, to neglect it; if both are concerned, to make your equal or inferior attend on you to his own disadvantage is pride and injustice.
Ignorance of forms cannot properly be styled ill manners, because forms are subject to frequent changes; and consequently, being not founded upon reason, are beneath a wise man's regard. Besides, they vary in every country; and after a short period of time, very frequently in the same; so that a man who travels must needs be at first a stranger to them in every court through which he
passes ; and, perhaps, at his return, as much a stranger in his own; and after all, they are easier to be remembered or forgotten than faces
Indeed, among the many impertinencies that superficial young men bring with them from abroad, this bigotry of forms is one of the principal, and more predominant than the rest; who look upon them not only as if they were matters capable of admitting of choice, but even as points of importance; and are therefore zealous on all occasions to introduce and propagate the new forms and fashions they have brought back with them; so that, usually speaking, the worst bred person in company is a young traveller just returned from abroad.
HINTS ON GOOD MANNERS.
Good manners is the art of making every reasonable person in the company easy, and to be easy ourselves.
What passes for good manners in the world generally produces quite contrary effects.
Many persons, of both sexes, whom I have known, and who passed for well-bred in their own and the world's opinion, are the most troublesome in company to others and themselves.
Nothing is so great an instance of ill-manners as flattery. If you flatter all the company, you please none: if you flatter only one or two, you affront the rest.
Flattery is the worst and falsest way of showing our esteem.
Where the company meets, I am confident the few reasonable persons are every minute tempted to curse the man or woman among them who endeavors to be most distinguished for their good manners.
A man of sense would rather fast till night than dine at some tables, where the lady of the house is possessed with good manners; uneasiness, pressing to cat, teazing with civility; less practised in England than here.
Courts are the worst of all schools to teach good manners.
A courtly bow, or gait, or dress, are no part of good manners ; and therefore every man of good understanding is capable of being well-bred upon any occasion. To speak in such a manner as may possibly offend any
reasonable person in company, is the highest instance of ill manners. Good manners chiefly consist in action, not in words. Modesty and humility the chief ingredients.
I have known the court of England under four reigns, the two last but for a short time; and whatever good manners or politeness I observed in any of them, was not of the court growth, but imported; for a courtier by trade, as gentlemen ushers, bed-chamberwomen, maids of honor,
OF GOOD MANNERS AS TO CONVERSATION.
Men of wit and good understanding, as well as breeding, are sometimes deceived, and give offence by conceiving a better opinion of those with whom they converse than they ought to do. Thus I have often known the most innocent raillery, and even of that kind which was meant for praise, to be mistaken for abuse and reflection.
Of gibing, and how gibers ought to suffer.
Of arguers, perpetual contradictors, long talkers, those who are absent in company, interrupters, not listeners, loud laughers.
Of those men and women whose face is ever in a smile, talk ever with a smile, condole with a smile, &c.
Argument, as usually managed, is the worst sort of conversation; as it is generally in books the worst sort of reading.
Good conversation is not to be expected in much company, because few listen, and there is continual interruption. But good or ill manners are discovered, let the company be ever so large.
Perpetual aiming at wit, a very bad part of conversation. It is done to support a character; it generally fails : it is a sort of insult on the company, and a constraint upon the speaker.
For a man to talk in his own trade, or business, or faculty, is a great breach of good manners. Divines, physicians, lawyers, soldiers, particularly poets, are frequently guilty of this weakness. A poet conceives that the whole kingdom
OF MEAN AND GREAT FIGURES
MADE BY SEVERAL PERSONS.
OF THOSE WHO HAVE MADE GREAT FIGURES IN SOME PARTICU
LAR ACTION OR CIRCUMSTANCES OF THEIR LIVES.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT, after his victory, (at the Straits at Mount Taurus,) when he entered the tent, where the queen and the princesses of Persia fell at his feet.
Socrates, the whole last day of his life, and particularly from the time he took the poison until the moment he expired.
Cicero, when he was recalled from his banishment, the people, through every place he passed, meeting him with shouts of joy and congratulation, and all Rome coming out to receive him.
Regulus, when he went out of Rome attended by his friends to the gates, and returned to Carthage according to his word of honor, although he knew he must be put to a cruel death for advising the Romans to pursue their war with that commonwealth.
Scipio the elder, when he dismissed a beautiful captive lady presented to him after a great victory, turning his head aside to preserve his own virtue.
The same Scipio, when he and Hannibal met before the battle, if the fact be true.
Cincinnatus, when the messengers sent by the senate to make him dictator, found him at the plough.
Epaminondas, when the Persian ambassador came to his house, and found him in the midst of poverty.
The earl of Strafford, the day that he made his own defence at his trial.
King Charles the Martyr, during his whole trial, and at his death.
The Black Prince, when he waited at supper on the king of France, whom he had conquered and taken prisoner the same day.
Virgil, when, at Rome, the whole audience rose up, out of veneration, as he entered the theatre.
Mahomet the Great, when he cut off his beloved mistress's head, on a stage erected for that purpose, to convince his soldiers, who taxed him for preferring his love to his glory.
Cromwell, when he quelled a mutiny in Hyde Park.
Harry the Great of France, when he entered Paris, and sat at cards the same night with some great ladies, who were his mortal enemies.
Robert Harley, earl of Oxford, at his trial.
Cato of Utica, when he provided for the safety of his friends, and had determined to die.
Sir Thomas More, during his imprisonment, and at his execution.
Marius, when the soldier sent to kill him in the dungeon was struck with so much awe and veneration that his sword fell from his hand.
Douglas, when the ship he commanded was on fire, and he lay down to die in it, because it should not be said that one of his family ever quitted their post.
OF THOSE WHO HAVE MADE A MEAN CONTEMPTIBLE FIGURE IN
SOME ACTION OR CIRCUMSTANCE OF THEIR LIVES.
Anthony, at Actium, when he fled after Cleopatra.
Lepidus, when he was compelled to lay down his share of the triumvirate.
Cromwell, the day he refused the kingship out of fear.
The late king of Poland, when the king of Sweden forced him to give up his kingdom; and when he took it again, upon the king of Sweden's defeat by the Muscovites.
King James II., of England, when the prince of Orange sent to him at midnight to leave London.
King William III., of England, when he sent to beg the house of commons to continue his Dutch guards, and was refused.
The late Queen Anne of England, when she sent Whitworth to Muscovy, on an embassy of humiliation, for an insult committed here on that prince's ambassador.