On Etiquette, 1880’s style

Advice for manly men (or polite women) from Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms, published in 1880 and republished here.  This list is abbreviated from the chapter titled, “Unclassified Etiquette,” and I found in interesting.  Can you imagine the world if these were more frequently followed?

  • Never betray a confidence.
  • Never leave home with unkind words.
  • Never neglect to call upon your friends.
  • Never laugh at the misfortunes of others.
  • Never give a promise that you do not fulfill.
  • Never pick the teeth or clean the nails in company. (Or pick the nose, even if you are 6.)
  • Never question a child about family matters. (I do this all the time at work.  Oops!)
  • Never associate with bad company. Have good company, or none.
  • Never look over the shoulder of another who is reading or writing. (Guilty!)
  • Never punish your child for a fault to which you are addicted yourself.
  • Never enter a room noisily; never fail to close the door after you, and never slam it. (My dad tried to teach my sisters and me this lesson for the length of childhood.)
  • Never forget that, if you are faithful in a few things, you may be ruler over many.
  • Never will a gentleman allude to conquests which he may have made with ladies.
  • Never fail to offer the easiest and best seat in the room to an invalid, an elderly person, or a lady.
  • Never neglect to perform the commission which the friend entrusted to you. You must not forget.  (Must not!)
  • Never send your guest, who is accustomed to a warm room, off into  a cold, damp, spare bed, to sleep.
  • Never fail to tell the truth. If truthful, you get your reward. You will get your punishment if you deceive.
  • Never fail to say kind and encouraging words to those whom you meet in distress. Your kindness may lift them out of their despair.
  • Never refuse to receive an apology. You may not receive friendship, but courtesy will require, when a apology is offered, that you accept it.
  • Never, when walking arm in arm with a lady, be continually changing and going to the other side, because of change of corners. It shows too much attention to form.
  • Never fail to speak kindly. If a merchant, and you address your clerk; if an overseer, and you address your workman; if in any position where you exercise authority, you show yourself to be a gentleman by your pleasant mode of address.
  • Never attempt to convey the impression that you are a genius, by imitating the faults of distinguished men. Because certain great men were poor penmen, wore long hair, or had other peculiarities, it does not follow that you will be great by imitating their eccentricities.
  • Never give all your pleasant words and smile to strangers. The kindest words and the sweetest smiles should be reserved for home. Home should be our heaven.
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