Proper etiquette seems to be warily regarded by some modern American men, much to the detriment of all. There is nothing weak, or effeminate, about having good manners; quite the contrary. Real men are, invariably, polite men. America's bravest men - Washington, Jefferson, Lee, and others - have always been America's most gentlemanly men. Rudeness and a lack of civility are traits that go hand in hand with weakness of all sorts, especially weak-mindedness, and we should do our utmost to avoid such behavior.
My belief is that there is a misunderstanding about good manners. Having good manners does not mean engaging in ridiculous fussiness. Having good manners means, first and foremost, that one conducts oneself with thoughtfulness and consideration for others.
"Manners are the shadows of virtues; the momentary
display of those qualities which our fellow-creatures
love and respect. If we strive to become, then, what we strive to appear, manners may often be rendered
useful guides to the performance of our duties."
-- Sydney Smith
"Good manners are the settled medium of social, as specie
is of commercial life;
returns are equally expected from both; and people will no more advance their
civility to a bear than their money to a bankrupt."
"Comport thyself in life as at a banquet. If a
plate is offered thee, extend thy hand
and take it moderately; if it is to be withdrawn, do not detain it. If it come not to thy
side, make not thy desire loudly known, but wait patiently till it be offered thee."
"One of the most important rules as to manners is to be
for the most part silent as to
yourself. Say little or nothing about yourself, whether good, bad, or indifferent;
nothing good, for that is vanity; nothing bad, for that is affectation; nothing
indifferent, for that is silly."
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