Company Manners by Unknown
"Well," said Bessie, very emphatically, "I think Russel Morton is the
best boy there is, anyhow."
"Why so, pet?" I asked, settling myself in the midst of the busy group
gathered around in the firelight.
"I can tell," interrupted Wilfred, "Bessie likes Russ because he is so
"I don't care, you may laugh," said frank little Bess; "that is the
reason—at least, one of them. He's nice; he don't stamp and hoot in the
house, and he never says, 'Halloo Bess,' or laughs when I fall on the
"Bessie wants company manners all of the time," said Wilfred. And Bell
added: "We should all act grown up, if we wanted to suit her."
Dauntless Bessie made haste to retort. "Well, if growing up would make
some folks more agreeable, it's a pity we can't hurry about it."
"Wilfred, what are company manners?" I questioned from the depths of my
"Why—why—they're—it's behaving, you know, when folks are here, or
we go a visiting."
"Company manners are good manners;" said Horace.
"O yes," answered I, meditating on it. "I see; manners that are too
good—for mamma—but just right for Mrs. Jones."
"That's it," cried Bess.
"But let us talk it over a bit. Seriously, why should you be more polite
to Mrs. Jones than to mamma? Do you love her better?"
"O my! no indeed," chorused the voices.
"Well, then, I don't see why Mrs. Jones should have all that's
agreeable; why the hats should come off and the tones soften, and
'please,' and 'thank you,' and 'excuse me,' should abound in her house,
and not in mamma's."
"Oh! that's very different."
"And mamma knows we mean all right. Besides, you are not fair, cousin;
we were talking about boys and girls—not grown up people."
Thus my little audience assailed me, and I was forced to a change of
"Well, about boys and girls, then. Can not a boy be just as happy, if,
like our friend Russel, he is gentle to the little girls, doesn't pitch
his little brother in the snow, and respects the rights of his cousins
and intimate friends? It seems to me that politeness is just as suitable
to the playground as the parlor."
"Oh, of course; if you'd have a fellow give up all fun," said Wilfred.
"My dear boy," said I, "that isn't what I want. Run, and jump, and shout
as much as you please; skate, and slide, and snowball; but do it with
politeness to other boys and girls, and I'll agree you shall find just
as much fun in it.
"You sometimes say I pet Burke Holland more than any of my
child-friends. Can I help it? For though he is lively and sometimes
frolicsome, his manners are always good. You never see him with his
chair tipped up, or his hat on in the house. He never pushes ahead of
you to get first out of the room. If you are going out, he holds open
the door; if weary, it is Burke who brings a glass of water, places a
chair, hands a fan, springs to pick up your handkerchief,—and all this
without being told to do so, or interfering with his own gayety in the
"This attention isn't only given to me as the guest, or to Mrs. Jones
when he visits her, but to mamma, Aunt Jenny, and little sister, just as
carefully; at home, in school, or at play, there is always just so much
guard against rudeness.
"His courtesy is not merely for state occasions, but it is like a
well-fitting garment worn constantly. His manliness is genuine loving
kindness. In fact, that is exactly what real politeness is; carefulness
for others, and watchfulness over ourselves, lest our angles shall
interfere with their comfort."
It is impossible for boys and girls to realize, until they have grown
too old, easily to adopt new ones, how important it is to guard against
contracting careless and awkward habits of speech and manners. Some very
unwisely think it is not necessary to be so very particular about these
things except when company is present. But this is a grave mistake, for
coarseness will betray itself in spite of the most watchful care.
It is impossible to indulge in one form of speech, or have one set of
manners at home, and another abroad, because in moments of confusion or
bashfulness, such as every young person feels sometimes who is sensitive
and modest, the every day mode of expression will discover itself.
It is not, however, merely because refinements of speech and grace of
manners are pleasing to the sense, that our young friends are
recommended to cultivate and practice them. Outward refinement of any
kind reacts as it were on the character and makes it more sweet and
gentle and lovable, and these are qualities that attract and draw about
the possessor a host of kind friends.