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awkward habits of gait and action, to which many worthy persons are addicted.
When an awkward fellow enters a room, he attempts to bow, and his cane, if he has one, gets between his legs, and nearly throws him down. Confused and ashamed, he stumbles to the upper end of the room, and seats himself in the very chair in which he should not. He then begins playing with his hat, which he presently drops; in recovering his hat, he lets fall his cane; and in picking up his cane, down goes his hat again: thus it is a considerable time before he is adjusted. When tea or coffee is handed to him, he spreads his handkerchief upon his knees, scalds his mouth, drops either the cup or the saucer, and spills the tea or coffee
himself or the furniture; endangering the hostess's china, to her great uneasi.
At dinner, he is more awkward. There he tucks his napkin through a buttonhole, which tickles his chin, and causes him to make a variety of wry faces ; he seats himself upon the edge of his chair, at so great a distance from the table, that he frequently drops his meat between his plate and his mouth; he holds his knife, fork, and spoon, differently from other
people; eats with his knife, to the manifest danger of his mouth, and the horror of those who see him; picks his teeth with his fork, snuffs up his nose, picks it with his fingers, thrusts his hands into his bosom, and next into his pockets. In short, a bashful awkward booby, such as we speak of, neither dresses nor acts like
but is particularly clumsy in every thing he does, and is a pitiable object to every man of feeling.
All this, I own, has nothing in it criminal; but it is such a breach of good manners and breeding, that it is universally despised. It makes a person ridiculous in company, and ought carefully to be avoided by every child who wishes not to prove a bore; but, on the contrary, by an agreeable graceful behaviour, studies to add to his own comfort, and the enjoyment of all around him.
There is an awkwardness in speaking which ought to be, and may be guarded against; such
It is very
as forgetting names of persons or places, and mistaking one name for another. To speak of “Mr. What-d'ye-call - him,” or “Youknow-who,” “Mrs. Thingum,” “What's-hername,” or “How-d'ye-call-her,” is exceedingly stupid, vulgar, and offensive.
It displays a great want of mind or memory. significant of a vacant head, and a cold indiffe rent heart. It is, moreover, a habit, if not steadfastly resisted in youth, it will be found very difficult to get rid of in riper years.
It is also bad to begin a story without being able to finish it, breaking off in the middle, saying, “I have forgotten the rest!"
The voice and manner of utterance should likewise be attended to. Some mumble over their words so as to be quite unintelligible; others speak so fast that they cannot be understood, and, in doing so, sputter and spit in your face; some bawl as if they were speaking to the deaf; others speak so low as scarcely to be heard; and many put their face so close to yours, as to offend you with their breath. All these are bad habits, and, with care, may be corrected. They are the vulgar characteristics of a low-bred child or youth, who has seen no
good society, and prove how little care has been bestowed
his education. In short, attention to these little matters is of greater importance than you are aware; many an estimable man has not succeeded in life for want of these little graces, while another, possessed of these, and little sterling worth, has made his way through life, with satisfaction to himself and friends, who, without them, would not have been distinguished from the crowd.
These, and many other very disagreeable habits, are owing to bad breeding, false shame, rusticity, or excessive bashfulness. Sonne children become ashamed in company, and so disconcerted that they do not know what to do or say, and try a thousand tricks to keep themselves in countenance—which tricks afterwards become habitual. One puts his fingers in his nose, another scratches his head, some make violent contortions of countenance, others twirl their hats, or repeat, out of place, some word, or phrase, such as 'yes,' or 'you know;' in short, every ill-bred booby boy has his trick. But the frequent repetition does not justify the thing, but makes the matter worse; and all these vulgar habits and awk.
wardnesses, though not criminal, are most carefully to be guarded against, as they are great stumbling-blocks in the art of pleasing. Remember that to please, is almost to prevail; and that to prevail is the last step towards
Consider what you wish to say before you speak.
The art of pleasing is a very necessary one to possess; but a very difficult one to acquire. It can scarcely be reduced to rules, and your own innate good sense and feeling, with quick observation, will teach you more than volumes written on the subject. To “ do as you would that others should do to you," is the surest method of pleasing. Observe carefully that which pleases you in others; and probably the same things in you will please them. If you are pleased with the complaisance and attention of others to you, the same complaisance and attention on your part will equally satisfy them. It is not enough, not to be rude: you should be civil and obliging, and distinguished for your