Imatges de pÓgina

strongest language, and without regard to time or place or any one's feelings. But if we were to act in this way, others would have just as good a right to act in the same manner towards us, and we can easily fancy what would be the result. If people were

. to call one another liars, or cheats, or hypocrites ; if every one were to look out for himself alone, to get for himself the best seat, to help himself first at meat, and shew no politeness to any one, in a very short time hard words would come to hard blows, and all society would come to an end. Now all these disagreeable consequences are prevented by politeness. It is considered a mark of good-breeding, to speak civilly even when we differ from people ; to help others before we help ourselves, and to keep ourselves in some restraint that we may give no offence to those with whom we meet. The manners of society may often vary, but any one whose wish is to please those in

whose company he is, will be very certain not to offend against good manners.

But besides being polite to our superiors, and to our equals, we ought also to act in a proper manner to our inferiors. Our servants are bound to obey and respect us, but we are also bound to shew civility to them, not domineering over them, or talking or acting in a haughty tyrannical manner as if we wished to make them feel how very much a servant is inferior to a young gentleman or a young lady. Such conduct is not only very foolish and wrong, but is a sure sign of bad education and rude manners.

Politeness will be found of great service to us in life.

Many poor boys and girls have owed all their success to their having been polite to some strangers who had the means of advancing them; and a boy or girl who should answer rudely, will not be very likely to make many friends in the world. We are constantly meeting with strangers, and if we shew them that we are polite and well-mannered, they will be ready enough to help us. When we grow up, we shall have to mix with many people, and as they cannot all know much of our character or abilities, they will be more likely to judge of us from our manners than from anything else. We must, however, guard against carrying politeness to such an extent as to change it into anything like fawning or cringing. We must never sacrifice truth to politeness ; nor must we try to please by pretending to agree with everything that is said to us, whether we believe it or not. No character can be more contemptible than that of a boy or girl who seeks to please everybody by listening to every one's tale, and flattering every one. Such persons usually end in pleasing nobody, for their mean flattery is sure to be found out, and every one despises them.



It is a very useful thing always to have our wits about us. So many accidents happen, and they come so suddenly, that if we are not ready we may meet with a misfortune ourselves, or see it come upon others, before we have thought how to avoid it or how to remedy it. Even in our lessons at school, it is a useful thing to have our mind always prepared, so that when any unexpected question is put we shall have the answer ready at once. And much more useful is it in cases where our own life, or health, or property, or comfort, or that of others, is concerned. Sometimes we see people who, when any danger comes on them, seem to lose all power of thinking what is best to be done ; they get so much excited, that they forget what they have been often told to do as the easiest means of saving themselves, and

are perhaps very much injured, or lose their lives in consequence.

Now it is not very easy to keep quiet and collected in the midst of danger, but unless we do so there is very little chance of our escaping. A great deal depends on our natural disposition; some people are very nervous, and easily excited, when others are quite cool and not in the least disturbed. But even those who are nervous can do much to cure themselves of their nervousness, if they just make an effort with vigour. We have often noticed that, if we wish to get up much earlier than usual in the morning, we can awake ourselves at the proper time; and this shews how much we can govern ourselves if we just make up our minds to try. We should just say to ourselves, “ If ever we get into any danger, then we will make the danger a great deal more serious by allowing ourselves to be flurried and nervous ; but if we keep cool we shall be able to

« AnteriorContinua »