Manners must adorn knowledge, and smooth its way through the world. Like a great rough diamond, it may do very well in a closet by way of curiosity, and also for its intrinsic value; but it will never be worn, nor shine, if it is not polished.
We ought to esteem him alone an agreeable and good-natured man, who, in his daily intercourse with others, behaves in such a manner as friends usually behave to each other. For as a person of that rustic character appears, wherever he comes, like a mere stranger: so, on the contrary, a polite man, wherever he goes, seems as easy as if he were amongst his intimate friends and acquaintance.
Ah, ah Sir Thomas, Honores mutant Mores. Manners (Lord Rutland). To Sir Thomas More. Not so, in faith, but have a care lest we translate the proverb and say, 'Honours change Manners.' Answer of Sir Thomas More to Manners.
The essence of good manners consists in making it clear that one has no wish to hurt. When it is clearly necessary to hurt, it must be done in such a way as to make it evident that the necessity is felt to be regrettable.
Manners consist in pretending that we think as well of others as of ourselves. Manners are necessary because, as a rule, there is a pretence; when our good opinion of others is genuine, manners look after themselves. Perhaps instead of teaching manners, parents should teach the statistical probability that the person you are speaking to is just as good as you are. It is difficult to believe this; very few of us do, in our instincts, believe it. One's own ego seems so incomparably more sensitive, more perceptive, wiser and more profound than other people's. Yet there must be very few of whom this is true, and it is not likely that oneself is one of those few. There is nothing like viewing oneself statistically as a means both to good manners and to good morals.
All Politeness is owing to Liberty. We polish one another, and rub off our Corners and rough Sides by a sort of amicable Collision. To restrain this, is inevitably to bring a Rust upon Mens Understandings.