August 17, 2013

Manners Make the Man

Manners Make the Man

Points: Manners, mean behavior – The importance of character – Manners, the expression of the kindness of our heart.

What do we mean by Manners Maketh the Man? According to some people, he alone possesses manners, who rises from his seat when an elderly gentleman enters the room, smiles when he meets a friend, and pats children on the back when he sees them. He who thanks you when you hand-over to him a piece of blotting-paper, says that he is glad when you meet him, and expresses regret when you leave him, is thought to be one who possesses manners. One who asks after your health when you see him, and puts to you questions about the welfare of the members of your family, is said to be a person who possesses

All these things are true. A man who possesses manners is one who is not a violent, noisy, showy and irritating creature. He is never rude. He never offends other people. He is always correct in his behavior. He is always graceful in his mode of address.

But when we say that manners maketh a man, we do not take manners to mean these little tricks of behavior by which people set so much store. Manners surely go deeper than that. The author of this saying meant by it something which we do not understand now. According to him manners meant “character”, which is based on moral principles. For him that man only had manners, who was not cold and selfish, proud and cowardly. He believed that a man could have manners even though he possessed no wealth, had no very high social position, could not afford fine clothes, did not possess university distinctions, and did not know how to say, “thank you”, and “glad to meet you”. In other words, in the writer’s eyes he only was a man, and he only possessed manners who was full of regard for the feelings of others. A man who does not wound the feelings of others, who is respectful to the elderly, kind and courteous to his equals, and considerate to his inferiors, alone possesses manners.

A man may dress as smartly as he pleases; he may know all etiquette by heart, but still he may lack a knowledge of manners. It should be remembered that manners are not something superficial, but the expression of the kindness of our heart.

The heart should come first and manners should come next. Manners should, therefore, be in no case a cloak for insincerity, for selfishness, for pride and unkindness. People should not think that manners can compensate for the lack of kindness. He only is a man and he alone possesses manners, who is kind at heart, and whose sole aim in life is not to do wrong to anybody.

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