« ForrigeFortsett »
2. A genteel manner of behaviour, how trifling soever it may seem, is of the utmost consequence in private life. Men of very inferior parts have been esteemed, merely for their genteel carriage and good breeding, while sensible men have given disgust for want of it. There is something or other that prepossesses us at first sight in favour of a well bred man, and makes us wish to like him.
3. When an awkward fellow comes into a room, he attempts to bow, and his sword, if he wears one, gets between his legs, and nearly throws him down. Confused and ashamed, he stumbles to the upper end of the room, and seats himself in the very chair he should not. He there begins playing with his hat, which he presently drops; and recovering his hat, he lets fall his cane; and in picking up his cane, down goes his hat again; thus it is a considerable time before he is adjusted.
4. When the tea or coffee is handed to him, he spreads his Handkerchief upon his knee, scalds his mouth, drops either the cup cr saucer, and spills the tea or coffee in his lap. At dinner he is more uncommonly awkward : there he tucks his napkin through a button hole, which tickles his chin, and occasions him to make a variety of wry faces : he seats himself upon the edge of the chair, at so great a distance from the table, that he frequently drops his meat between his plate and his mouth; he holds his knife, fork, and spoon differently from other people : eats with his knife to the manifest danger of his mouth; picks his teetli with his fork, rakes his mouth with his finger, and puts lais spoon which lias been in his throat a dozen times, into the dish again.
5. It he is to carve, he cannot hit the joint, but in labouring to cut through the bone, splashes the sauce over every body's clothes. He generally daubs himself all over, his elbows are in the next person's plate, and he is up to the knuckles in soup and grease. If he drinks, it is with his mouth full, interrupting the whole company with to your good health sir, and my service to you;" perhaps coughs in his glass, and besprinkles the whole table. Further, he has perhaps a number of disagreeable tricks, he snuffs up his nose, picks it with his fingers, blows it, and looks in his handkerchief, crams his hands first in his bosom, and next into his breeches.
6. In short, he neither dresses nor acts like any but is particularly awkward in every thing he does. All this, I* own, has nothing in it criminal; but it is such an offence to good manners and good breeding, that it is universally despised; it makes a man ridiculous in every company, and, of course, pught carefully to be avoided by every one who would wish to plase.
7. From this picture of the ill-bred man, you will easily dis
cover that of the well bred; for you may readily judge what
you ought to do, when you are told what you ought not to do; a little attention to the manners of those who have seen the world, will make a proper behaviour habitual and familiar to you.
8. Actions that would otherwise be pleasing, frequently become ridiculous by your manner of doing them. If a lady drops her fan in company, the worst bred man would immediately pick it up, and give it to her; the best bred man can do no more; but then he does it in a graceful manner, which is sure to please; whereas the other would do it so awkwardly as to be laughed at.
9. You may also know a well bred person by his manner of sita ting. Ashamed and confused the awkward man sits in his chair stiff and bolt upright, whereas the man of fashion is easy in every position; instead of lolling or leaning as he sits, he leans with elegance, and by varying his attitudes, shews that he has been used to good company. Let it be one part of your study, then, to learn to sit genteely in different companies, to loll gracefully where
you are authorised to take that liberty, and to sit up respectfully, where that freedom is not allowable.
10. In short, you cannot conceive how advantageous a grace. ful carriage and pleasing address are, upon all occasions; they cnsnare the affections, steal prepossession in our favour, and play about the heart till they engage it.
Now to acquire a graceful air, you must attend to your dancing; no one can sit, stand, or walk well unless he dances well. And in learning to dance be particularly attentive to the motion of your arms, for a stiffness in the wrist will make any man looki. awkward. If a man walks well, presents himself well in company, wears his hat well, moves his head properly and his arms gracefully, it is almost all that is necessary.
11. There is also an awkwardness in speech, that naturally falls under this head, and ought to, and may be guarded against ; such as forgetting names, and mistaking one name for another; to speak of Mr. What-d'ye call him, or You know who, Mrs. Thingum, What's her name, or How-d’ye-call her, is exceedingly awkward and vulgar. It is the same to address people by improper titles, as sir for my lord; to begin a story without being able to finish it, and break off in the middle, with, “I have forgot the rest."
12. Our voice and manner of speaking, too, should likewise be attended to. Some will mumble over their words, so as not to be intelligible, and others will speak so fast as not to be understood, and, in doing this, will sputter and spit in your face ; some will bawl as if they were speaking to the deaf : others will speak so low as scarcely to be heard ; and many will put their fáce so close to yours as to offend you with their breath.
13. All these habits are horrid and disgustful, but may easily be got the better of, with care. They are the vulgar character. istics of a low bred man, or are proofs that very little pains have been bestowed in his education. In short, an attention to these little matters is of greater importance than you are aware of; many a sensible man having lost ground for want of these little graces, and many a one, possessed of these perfections alone, haying made his way through life, who otherwise would not have been noticed.
Cleanliness of Person. 14. BUT, as no one can please in company, however graceful his air, unless he be clean and neat, in his person, this qualification comes text to be considered.
15. Negligence of one's person not only implies an unsufferable indolence, but an indifference whether we please or not. In others it betrays an insolence and affectation, arising from a pre„sumption that they are sure of pleasing, without having recourse to those means which many are obliged to use.
16. He who is not thoroughly clean in his person, will be offensive to all he converses with. A particular regard to the cleanliness of your mouth, teeth, hands and nails, is but common decency. A fonl mouth and unclean hands are certain marks of vulgarity; the first is the cause of an offensive breath, which nobody can bear, and the last is declarative of dirty work; one may always know a gentleman by the state of his hands and nails. The flesh at the roots should be kept back, so as to shew the semicircles at the bottom of the nails : the edges of the nails should never be cut down below the ends of the fingers, nor should they be suffered to grow longer than the fingers.
17. When the nails are cut down to the quick, it is a shrewd sign that the man is a mechanic, to whom long nails would be troublesome, or that he gets his bread by fiddling ; and if they are longer than his finger ends, and encircled with a black rim, it foretells he has been laboriously and meanly employed, and two fatigued to clean himself: a good apology for want of cleanliness in a mechanic, but the greatest disgrace that can attend a gentle
18. These things may appear too insignificant to be mentioned; but when it is considered that a thousand little nameless things, which every one feels but no one can describe, conspire lo form that whole of pleasing, I hope you will not call them trifling. Besides, a clean shirt and a clean person are as necessapy to health, as not to offend other people. It is a maxim withi me, which I have lived to see verified, that he who is negligent at twenty years of age, will be a sloven at forty, and intolerable at fifty:
Dress. 19. NEATNESS of person, I observed, was as necessary as cleanliness ; of course some attention must be paid to your dress.
Such is the absurdity of the times, that to pass well with the world, we must adopt some of its customs, be they ridiculous or not.
20. In the first place, neglect one's dress is to affront all the female part of our acquaintance. The women in particular pay an attention to their dress; to neglect therefore yours will displease them, as it would be tacitly taxing them with vanity, and declaring that you thought them not worth that respect whicle every body else does. And, as I have mentioned before, as it is the women who stamp a young man's credit in the fashionable world, if you do not make yourself agreeable to the women, you will assuredly lose ground among the men.
12. Dress, as triðling as it may appear to a man of understanding, prepossesses on the first appearance, which is frequently decisive. And indeed we may form some opinion of a man's. sense and character from his dress. Any exceeding of the fashion, or any affectation in dress whatever argues a weakness of understanding, and nine times out of ten it will be found so.
22. There are few young fellows but what display some character or other in this shape. Some would be thought fearless and brave: these wear a black cravat, a short coat and waistcoat, an uncommonly long sword hanging to their knees, a large hat fiercely cocked, and are flash all over.-Others affect to be country squires : these will go about in buckskin breeches, brown trocks, and great oaken cudgels in their hands, slouched hats, with their hair undressed and tucked up behind them to an enormous size, and imitate grooms and country boobies so well externally that there is not the least doubt of their resembling them as well internally.
23. Others, again, paint and powder themselves so much and dress so finically, as leads us to suppose they are only women in boy's clothes. Now a sensible inan carefully avoids all this, or any other affectation. He dresses as fashionable and as well as persons of the best families and best sense: if he exceeds them, he is a coxcomb; if he dresses worse, he is unpardonable.
24. Dress yourself fine then, if possible, or plain, agreeable to the company you are in; that is, conform to the dress of others, and avoid the appearance of being tumbled. Imitate those reasonable people of your own age, whose dress is neither remarked as too neglected or too much studied. Take care to have your clothes well made, in the fashion, and to fit you, or you will afn ter all, appear awkward. When once dressed, think no more: of it: shew no fear of discomposing your dress, but let all your
inotion be as easy and unembarrassed, as if you were at home in your dishabille.
Elegance of Expression. 25. HAVING mentioned elegance of person, I will proceed to elegance of expression.
It is not one or two qualifications alone that will complete the gentleman: It must be an union of many: and graceful speake ing is as essential as gracefulness of person. Every man cannot be an harmonious speaker; a roughness or coarseness of voice may prevent it; but if there are no natural imperfections, if a man does not stammer or lisp, or has not lost his teeth, he may speak gracefully; nor will all these defects, if he has a mind to it, prevent him from speaking correctly.
26. Nobody can attend with pleasure to a bad speaker. One who tells his story ill, be it ever so important, will tire even the most patient. If you have been present at the performance of a good tragedy, you have doubtless been sensible of the good effects of a speech well delivered; how much it has interested and effected you: and on the contrary how much an ill spoken one kias disgusted you.
27. It is the same in common conversation : he who speaks deliberately, distincily and correctly; he who makes use of the best words to express himself, and varies his voice according to the nature of the subject, will always please, while the thick or liasty speaker, he who mumbles out a set of ill chosen words, utters them ungrammatically, or with a dull' monotony, will tire and disgust. Be assured then, the air, the gesture, the looks of a speaker, a proper accent, a just emphasis, and tuneful cadence, are full as necessary to please and to be attended to, as The subject matter itself.
28. People may talk what they will of solid reasoning and sound sense; without the graces and ornaments of language, they will neither please nor persuade. In common discourse, even trifles elegantly expressed will be better received than the best of arguments, homespun and'unadorned.
29. A good way to acquire a graceful utterance, is to read aloud to some friend every day, and beg of him to set you right in case you read too fast, do not observe the proper stops, lay wrong emphasis, or utter your words indistinctly. You may even read loud to yourself, where such a friend is not at hand, and you will find your own ear a good corrector. Take care to open your teeth when you read or speak, and articulate every word distinctly; which last cannot be done, but by sounding the final letter. But above all, endeavour to vary your voice according to the matter and avoid a monotony, By a daily after