Geniuses and those with special gifts will be given wider leeway by society, but in general, its conventions and manners are good Browse all BookRags Study Guides. All rights reserved. Toggle navigation. Sign Up. Sign In. View the Study Pack. View the Lesson Plans. Plot Summary. The American Scholar.
An Address. The Transcendentalist. The Lord's Supper. Spiritual Laws. The Over-Soul. The Poet. Nominalist and Realist. New England Reformers. Plato, or, the Philosopher. Napolean, or, the Man of the World. There is nothing settled in manners, but the laws of behavior yield to the energy of the individual. There are men whose manners have the same essential splendor as the simple and awful sculpture on the friezes of the Parthenon, and the remains of the earliest Greek art.
The basis of good manners is self-reliance. Public opinion, I am sorry to say, will bear a great deal of nonsense. There is scarcely any absurdity so gross, whether in religion, politics, science or manners, which it will not bear.
We sometimes meet an original gentleman, who, if manners had not existed, would have invented them. Manners are the happy ways of doing things; each one a stroke of genius or of love, now repeated and hardened into usage, they form at last a rich varnish, with which the routine of life is washed, and its details adorned. If they are superficial, so are the dew-drops which give such a depth to the morning meadows. In dreams we are true poets; we create the persons of the drama; we give them appropriate figures faces, costumes; they are perfect in their organs, attitudes, manners; moreover they speak after their own characters, not ours; and we listen with surprise to what they say.
Society is the stage on which manners are shown; novels are the literature. Novels are the journal or record of manners; and the new importance of these books derives from the fact, that the novelist begins to penetrate the surface, and treat this part of life more worthily. I could better eat with one who did not respect the truth or the laws, than with a sloven and unpresentable person. Moral qualities rule the world, but at shorter distances, the senses are despotic.
Tis a rule of manners to avoid exaggeration. Manners have been somewhat cynically defined to be a contrivance of wise men to keep fools at a distance. Fashion is shrewd to detect those who do not belong to her train, and seldom wastes her attentions.
Society is very swift in its instincts, and if you do not belong to it, resists and sneers at you, or quietly drops you. Every day we present the best quotes! Improve yourself, find your inspiration, share with friends.
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