Livsregler för gentlemannen-Del 1

Som utlovat i det förra inlägget i ämnet kommer här den första delen av de 100 tips för gentlemannamässigt uppträdande som Cecil B. Hartley delar med sig av i sin bok The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness från år 1875. Vi börjar från de 30 första tipsen.

Trots att de flesta av tipsen ännu idag håller som manual för gentlemannen, gäller det att i vissa av fallen ta i beaktande att de är skrivna i en tidsålder när samhället inte var lika jämställt som idag. Men alla tips genomsyras ändå av de viktigaste egenskaperna hos den ”moderna” gentlemannen, nämligen respekt för medmänniskor och taktkänsla.

1. Always avoid any rude or boisterous action, especially when in the presence of ladies. It is not necessary to be stiff, indolent, or sullenly silent, neither is perfect gravity always required, but if you just let it be with quiet, gentlemanly wit, never depending upon clownish gestures for the effect of a story. Nothing marks the gentleman so soon and so decidedly as quiet, refined ease of manner.

2. Never allow a lady to get a chair for herself, ring a bell, pick up a handkerchief or glove she may have dropped, or, in short, perform any service for herself which you can perform for her, when you are in the room. By extending such courtesies to your mother, sisters, or other members of your family, they become habitual, and are thus more gracefully performed when abroad.

3. Never perform any little service for another with a formal bow or manner as if conferring a favor, but with a quiet gentlemanly ease as if it were, not a ceremonious, unaccustomed performance, but a matter of course, for you to be courteous.

4. It is not necessary to tell all that you know; that were mere folly; but what a man says must be what he believes himself, else he violates the first rule for a gentleman’s speech—Truth.

5. Avoid gambling as you would poison. Every bet made, even in the most finished circles of society, is a species of gambling, and this ruinous crime comes on by slow degrees. Whilst a man is minding his business, he is playing the best game, and he is sure to win. You will be tempted to the vice by those whom the world calls gentlemen, but you will find that loss makes you angry, and an angry man is never a courteous one; gain excites you to continue the pursuit of the vice; and, in the end you will lose money, good name, health, good conscience, light heart, and honesty; while you gain evil associates, irregular hours and habits, a suspicious, fretful temper, and a remorseful, tormenting conscience. Someone mustlose in the game; and, if you win it, it is at the risk of driving a fellow creature to despair.

PicsArt_14280672372386. Cultivate tact! In society it will be an invaluable aid. Talent is something, but tact is everything. Talent is serious, sober, grave, and respectable; tact is all that and more too. It is not a sixth sense, but it is the life of all the five. It is the openeye, thequickear, the judging taste, the keen smell, and the lively touch; it is the interpreter of all riddles—the surmounter of all difficulties—the remover of all obstacles. It is useful in all places, and at all times; it is useful in solitude, for it shows a man his way into the world; it is useful in society, for it shows him his way through the world. Talent is power—tact is skill; talent is weight—tact is momentum; talent knows what to do—tact knows how to do it; talent makes a man respectable—tact will make him respected; talent is wealth—tact is ready money. For all the practical purposes of society tact carries against talent ten to one.

7. Nature has left every man a capacity of being agreeable, though all cannot shine in company; but there are many men sufficiently qualified for both, who, by a very few faults, that a little attention would soon correct, are not so much as tolerable. Watch, avoid such faults.

8. Habits of self-possession and self-control acquired early in life, are the best foundation for the formation of gentlemanly manners. If you unite with this the constant intercourse with ladies and gentlemen of refinement and education, you will add to the dignity of perfect self command, the polished ease of polite society.

9. Avoid a conceited manner. It is exceedingly ill-bred to assume a manner as if you were superior to those around you, and it is, too, a proof, not of superiority but of vulgarity. And to avoid this manner, avoid the foundation of it, and cultivate humility. The praises of others should be of use to you, in teaching, not what you are, perhaps, but in pointing out what you ought to be.

10. Avoid pride, too; it often miscalculates, and more often misconceives. The proud man places himself at a distance from other men; seen through that distance, others, perhaps, appear little to him; but he forgets that this very distance causes him also to appear little to others.

11. A gentleman’s title suggests to him humility and affability; to be easy of access, to pass by neglects and offences, especially from inferiors; neither to despise any for their bad fortune or misery, nor to be afraid to own those who are unjustly oppressed; not to domineer over inferiors, nor to be either disrespectful or cringing to superiors; not standing upon his family name, or wealth, but making these secondary to his attainments in civility, industry, gentleness, and discretion.

12. Chesterfield says, “All ceremonies are, in themselves, very silly things; but yet a man of the world should know them. They are the outworks of manners, which would be too often broken in upon if it were not for that defence which keeps the enemy at a proper distance. It is for that reason I always treat fools and coxcombs with great ceremony, true good breeding not being a sufficient barrier against them.”

13. When you meet a lady at the foot of a flight of stairs, do not wait for her to ascend, but bow, and go up before her.

14. In meeting a lady at the head of a flight of stairs, wait for her to precede you in the descent.

15. Avoid slang. It does not beautify, but it sullies conversation. “Just listen, for a moment, to our fast young man, or the ape of a fast young man, who thinks that to be a man he must speak in the dark phraseology of slang. If he does anything on his own responsibility, he does it on his own ‘hook.’ If he sees anything remarkably good, he calls it a ‘stunner,’ the superlative of which is a ‘regular stunner.’ If a man is requested to pay a tavern bill, he is asked if he will ‘stand Sam.’ If he meets a savage-looking dog, he calls him an ‘ugly customer.’ If he meets an eccentric man, he calls him{190}a ‘rummy old cove.’ A sensible man is a ‘chap that is up to snuff.’ Our young friend never scolds, but ‘blows up;’ never pays, but ‘stumps up;’ never finds it too difficult to pay, but is ‘hard up.’ He has no hat, but shelters his head beneath a ‘tile.’ He wears no neckcloth, but surrounds his throat with a ‘choker.’ He lives nowhere, but there is some place where he ‘hangs out.’ He never goes away or withdraws, but he ‘bolts’—he ‘slopes’—he ‘mizzles’—he ‘makes himself scarce’—he ‘walks his chalks’—he ‘makes tracks’—he ‘cuts stick’—or, what is the same thing, he ‘cuts his lucky!’ The highest compliment that you can pay him is to tell him that he is a ‘regular brick.’ He does not profess to be brave, but he prides himself on being ‘plucky.’ Money is a word which he has forgotten, but he talks a good deal about ‘tin,’ and the ‘needful,’ ‘the rhino,’ and ‘the ready.’ When a man speaks, he ‘spouts;’ when he holds his peace, he ‘shuts up;’ when he is humiliated, he is ‘taken down a peg or two,’ and made to ‘sing small.’ Now, besides the vulgarity of such expressions, there is much in slang that is objectionable in a moral point of view. For example, the word ‘governor,’ as applied to a father, is to be reprehended. Does it not betray, on the part of young men, great ignorance of the paternal and filial relationship, or great contempt for them? Their father is to such young men merely a governor,—merely a representative of authority. Innocently enough the expression is used by thousands of young men who venerate and love their parents; but only think of it, and I am sure that you will admit that it is a cold,{191}heartless word when thus applied, and one that ought forthwith to be abandoned.”

16. There are few traits of social life more repulsive than tyranny. I refer not to the wrongs, real or imaginary, that engage our attention in ancient and modern history; my tyrants are not those who have waded through blood to thrones, and grievously oppress their brother men. I speak of the pettytyrants of the fireside and the social circle, who trample like very despots on the opinions of their fellows. You meet people of this class everywhere; they stalk by your side in the streets; they seat themselves in the pleasant circle on the hearth, casting a gloom on gayety; and they start up dark and scowling in the midst of scenes of innocent mirth, to chill and frown down every participator. They “pooh! pooh!” at every opinion advanced; they make the lives of their mothers, sisters, wives, children, unbearable. Beware then of tyranny. A gentleman is ever humble, and the tyrant is never courteous.

17. Cultivate the virtues of the soul, strong principle, incorruptible integrity, usefulness, refined intellect, and fidelity in seeking for truth. A man in proportion as he has these virtues will be honored and welcomed everywhere.

18. Gentility is neither in birth, wealth, or fashion, but in the mind. A high sense of honor, a determination never to take a mean advantage of another, adherence to truth, delicacy and politeness towards those with whom we hold intercourse, are the essential characteristics of a gentleman.

19. Little attentions to your mother, your wife, and your sister, will beget much love. The man who is a rude husband, son, and brother, cannot be a gentleman; he may ape the manners of one, but, wanting the refinement of heart that would make him courteous at home, his politeness is but a thin cloak to cover a rude, unpolished mind.

20. At table, always eat slowly, but do not delay those around you by toying with your food, or neglecting the business before you to chat, till all the others are ready to leave the table, but must wait until you repair your negligence, by hastily swallowing your food.

21. Are you a husband? Custom entitles you to be the “lord and master” over your household. But don’t assume the masterand sink the lord. Remember that noble generosity, forbearance, amiability, and integrity are the lordlyattributes of man. As a husband, therefore, exhibit the true nobility of man, and seek to govern your household by the display of high moral excellence. A domineering spirit—a fault-finding petulance—impatience of trifling delays—and the exhibition of unworthy passion at the slightest provocation can add no laurel to your own “lordly” brow, impart no sweetness to home, and call forth no respect from those by whom you may be surrounded. It is one thing to be a master, another to be a man. The latter should be the husband’s aspiration; for he who cannot govern himself, is ill-qualified to rule others. You can hardly imagine how refreshing it is to occasionally call up the recollection of your courting days. How tediously the hours rolled away prior to the appointed time of meeting; how swift they seemed to fly, when met; how fond was the{193} first greeting; how tender the last embrace; how fervent were your vows; how vivid your dreams of future happiness, when, returning to your home, you felt yourself secure in the confessed love of the object of your warm affections! Is your dream realized?—are you so happy as you expected?—why not? Consider whether as a husband you are as fervent and constant as you were when a lover. Remember that the wife’s claims to your unremitting regard—great before marriage, are now exalted to a much higher degree. She has left the world for you—the home of her childhood, the fireside of her parents, their watchful care and sweet intercourse have all been yielded up for you. Look then most jealously upon all that may tend to attract you from home, and to weaken that union upon which your temporal happiness mainly depends; and believe that in the solemn relationship of HUSBAND is to be found one of the best guarantees for man’s honor and happiness.

22. Perhaps the true definition of a gentleman is this: “Whoever is open, loyal, and true; whoever is of humane and affable demeanor; whoever is honorable in himself, and in his judgment of others, and requires no law but his word to make him fulfil an engagement; such a man is a gentleman, be he in the highest or lowest rank of life, a man of elegant refinement and intellect, or the most unpolished tiller of the ground.”

23. In the street, etiquette does not require a gentleman to take off his glove to shake hands with a lady, unless her hand is uncovered. In the house, however, the rule is imperative, he must not offer a lady a gloved hand. In the street, if his hand be very warm or very cold, or the glove cannot be readily removed, it is much better to offer the covered hand than to offend the lady’s touch, or delay the salutation during an awkward fumble to remove the glove.

24. Sterne says, “True courtship consists in a number of quiet, gentlemanly attentions, not so pointed as to alarm, not so vague as to be misunderstood.” A clown will terrify by his boldness, a proud man chill by his reserve, but a gentleman will win by the happy mixture of the two.

25. Use no profane language, utter no word that will cause the most virtuous to blush. Profanity is a mark of low breeding; and the tendency of using indecent and profane language is degrading to your minds. Its injurious effects may not be felt at the moment, but they will continue to manifest themselves to you through life. They may never be obliterated; and, if you allow the fault to become habitual, you will often find at your tongue’s end some expressions which you would not use for any money. By being careful on this point you may save yourself much mortification and sorrow. “Good men have been taken sick and become delirious. In these moments they have used the most vile and indecent language. When informed of it, after a restoration to health, they had no idea of the pain they had given to their friends, and stated that they had learned and repeated the expressions in childhood, and though years had passed since they had spoken a bad word, the early impressions had been indelibly stamped upon the mind. ”Think of this, ye who are tempted to use improper{195} language, and never let a vile word disgrace you. An oath never falls from the tongue of the man who commands respect. Honesty, frankness, generosity, and virtue are noble traits. Let these be yours, and do not fear. You will then claim the esteem and love of all.

26. Courteous and friendly conduct may, probably will, sometimes meet with an unworthy and ungrateful return; but the absence of gratitude and similar courtesy on the part of the receiver cannot destroy the self-approbation which recompenses the giver. We may scatter the seeds of courtesy and kindness around us at little expense. Some of them will inevitably fall on good ground, and grow up into benevolence in the minds of others, and all of them will bear the fruit of happiness in the bosom whence they spring. A kindly action always fixes itself on the heart of the truly thoughtful and polite man.

27. Learn to restrain anger. A man in a passion ceases to be a gentleman, and if you do not control your passions, rely upon it, they will one day control you. The intoxication of anger, like that of the grape, shows us to others, but hides us from ourselves, and we injure our own cause in the opinion of the world when we toopassionately and eagerly defend it. Neither will all men be disposed to view our quarrels in the same light that we do; and a man’s blindness to his own defects will ever increase in proportion as he is angry with others, or pleased with himself. An old English writer says:—“As a preventative of anger, banish all tale-bearers and slanderers from your conversation, for it is these{196} blow the devil’s bellows to rouse up the flames of rage and fury, by first abusing your ears, and then your credulity, and after that steal away your patience, and all this, perhaps, for a lie. To prevent anger, be not too inquisitive into the affairs of others, or what people say of yourself, or into the mistakes of your friends, for this is going out to gather sticks to kindle a fire to burn your own house.”

28. Keep good company or none. You will lose your own self-respect, and habits of courtesy sooner and more effectually by intercourse with low company, than in any other manner; while, in good company, these virtues will be cultivated and become habitual.

29. Keep your engagements. Nothing is ruder than to make an engagement, be it of business or pleasure, and break it. If your memory is not sufficiently retentive to keep all the engagements you make stored within it, carry a little memorandum book and enter them there. Especially, keep any appointment made with a lady, for, depend upon it, the fair sex forgive any other fault in good breeding, sooner than a broken engagement.

30. Avoid personality; nothing is more ungentlemanly. The tone of good company is marked by its entire absence. Among well-informed persons there are plenty of topics to discuss, without giving pain to any one present.

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