Importance of Manners
Here at the farm we impress upon are young and old alike the importance of good social behavior, not only out in good society but here at home as well. We hope to share with you the etiquette and manners we share as a family here on our Home Place, for manners are what make our home so pleasant.
Manners are of more importance than laws, upon them, in a great measure, the laws depend. The law touches but here and there, now and then. Manners are what vex or sooth, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in. They give their whole form and color to our lives. According to their quality, they aid morals, they supply them, or they totally destroy them.
The Makers of Manners
Although the Golden Rule is the first and most important social law, we must not forget that there are other social laws that we must remember if we want to exhibit true politeness known as social etiquette.
Who is not attracted toward a polite, well bred person? Who does not carry with them, perhaps through life, the remembrance of some real gentleman or lady with whom they came in contact, at perhaps an early period of their life? The pleasant memory such a person has left, and the agreeable impression, may unconsciously have had some influence upon their own life, and served as a model for their behavior when launched into the society which they wish to adorn.
To understand and cultivate the tenets laid down by good society is not to assume airs, nor does it prevent the recognition of the "rough diamond" that sometimes shines out from among those whose early advantages have been few. Rather, it adds a higher polish to that gem, and gives it a brighter luster.
"Good manners is the art of making those people easy with whom we converse."
The Rules of Etiquette
Rules of etiquette have their allotted space among the forces of life, and must be acknowledged as moral agents in refining and making more agreeable our daily intercourse with each other. They are agents for good. They teach us to be more lenient with the various elements which compose society, as life is a sort of partnership in which each human being has an interest; so the laws of etiquette, well enforced, oblige us to make concessions to the many tastes, prejudices and habits of those we meet in the social circle, at public entertainments, in business relations, or when traveling.
At the same time these rules, although they should guide the general conduct, may, in certain cases, be relaxed or changed slightly, according to circumstances or exigencies that may arise. But that does not do away with the necessity for a set of customs or forms that will guide every member of society in knowing just what to do when launched upon the tide of human beings who make life what it is. If the value of good breeding is in danger of being depreciated, it is only necessary to compare the impression which a gentle, pleasant demeanor leaves upon you, with the gruff, abrupt or indifferent carriage of those who effect to despise good manners. If two applicants for a position are equally capable, it is safe to assert that in every case the agreeable and courteous seeker will obtain it in preference to the other, who is his equal in all respects save that he is deficient in that suave dignity that attracts everyone.
We are all susceptible to the charm of good manners. Society could not be maintained save for the usage of etiquette. But true etiquette must spring from a sincere desire to make all with whom we come in contact feel at ease; the exercise of a thoughtful regard for the feelings of others. It is this patient forbearance with the eccentricities of all, which stamps the true lady or gentleman. It is a duty which each one owes to himself, to acquire certain rules for guidance, which shall make him a welcome guest in any circle.
What Etiquette Really Is
Etiquette is not a servile yielding up of one's individuality, or a mere cold formality. It is, rather, the beautiful frame which is placed around a valuable picture to prevent its being marred or defaced. Etiquette throws a protection around the well-bred, keeping the coarse and disagreeable at a distance, and punishing those who violate his dictates, with banishment from the social circle.