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American Incivility

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There is, most undoubtedly, something in the politioal equality established by American institutions which interiores with the development of civility among those who oocupy what are denominated the lower walks of life. It is hard to see why this should be so. One would naturally suppose that politioal equality would breed reciprooal respect among all classes and individuals, no less than selfrespect. Certainly there could hardly be a better basis of good manners than selfrespect and respect for others ; yet, with everything in our institutions to develop these, together with a respect for woman which is entertaiueil in no other country with which we are acquainted, it is not to be deuied that ainoug the workers of the nation politeness is little known and a3snagnCáiaréetrwrthacSatfSS;iok: ing for his dinner, will receive the utmost politeness of which the stall-keeper is capable, aud this will consist in calling him " boss '" - a boorish concession to civility for the sake of trade. The courteous greeting, the " Sir," and the " Madam," the civil answer, the thousand indescribable deferences and attentious, equally without servility or arrogance, which reveal good manners, are wanting. It all oom es, we suppsse, of the fear of those who find themselves engaged in humble employments, that they shall virtually concede that somebody somewheire is better than themselves. It is singular that they should voluntarily take a course that pro"ves the fact that they are unwilling to admit to others. The man who undertakes to prove that lie is as good as a gentleman, by behaving like a boor, volun teers a decisión against himself; while he who treats all men politely builds for hiraself a positioa which secures the respect of all whose conduct is not condemned by his own. The American is a kinder man than the Prenchman, and better-natured than the Englishman, but the humble American is less polite than either. One of the charms of Paris to the traveling American grows out of the fact that it is one of the first places he visits, and that then, for the first time in his life, he comes into contact with a class of humble people who have thoroughly good mannera. He is not oalled " boss," or " hoss." He is himself put upon his good behavior, by the thoroughïy courteous troatuient he receives among railway officials, shop-keepers, waiters at café and hotel, cab-drivers, &c. The " bien ! Monsieur," and " bien, Madame," which responds to one's requests in Paris, is certainly very sweet and satisfaotory after : " all right, boss ; you can bet on't." Where the cure for our national trouble is coming trom, it is hard to teil. There was a time, fifty years ago, when there was a degree of reverence in American children, and at least a show of good manners. Great respect to those of superior age and culture was then inculcated, and at least formal courtesy exacted. Those of country breeding who are old enough remember the strings of school children at the roadside, who arrayed themselves for the formal exhibition of courtesy to the passenger. Certainly all this training is done with, and such a 8Íght as this we presume has not been witnessed in America within twenty-five years. Even the men and women - fathers, mothers, and teachers of fifty years ago, had receded from the courteous habits of previous generations. In the colonial, and even later days, great respeot was paid to dignities. The clergyman was reverenced because he was a clergyuian, and occupied the supreme position of teacher of the people. He was reverenced not only because of his holy calling, but because he was a scholar. All thiu has gonts by. The clorgyman, if he is a good fellow, is very much liked and petted, but the old reverence for him, and universal courtesy toward him, are unknown. Are the people any better for all this change 'i We think not, and we do not doubt that the change it6elf has much to do with tho habits of incivility of which we complain. Men must have some principie of reverence in them, as a basis of good mauners, and this principie of reverence in the modern American child has very little development. He comes forward early, and the first thing he does in multitudes of instances is to lose his respect for his parenis. Indeed, courtesy toward parcnts is in no way éxacted. Poor men and women try to give their children better chances than they had themselves, and the children grow up with contempt for those whose sacrifices have raised them to a higher plañe of culture. They cali the teacher " Old Snooks," or " Old Bumble," or whatever his name may happen to be. It is not unjust to declare that there is in America to-day no attempt, distinctly and definitely made, to cultivate a spirit of reverence in children. ] "We aoknowledge that we havo ho faith in any attempt to reform the mannerH o the adult population of the country. Our efforts to inake sober men out of drunkards, and total-abstinence men out o: moderate drinkers, are failures. Our temperance arniies are to be made ontiroly ovit of children. We can raiee more Christians by juvenile Christian culture, than by adult conversión, a thousand to one. So it will be in this matter of National politeness. The parents and toaoh ers of the country can give us a polite people, and this by the cultivation of the principie of reverence not only, but by instruction in all the forins of polite address. With a number of things greatly needed to-day in home culture and school study, this matter of training in good manners is not the least. Indeed, we are inclined to think it is of paramount iinportance. It should become a matter of text books at once. A thorough gentleman or lady, who has brains enough to comprehend principies, while protícient in practico, could hardly do a better service to the country than by preparing' a book for parents and teaohers, as at once a guide to them and to those who are under them. Children must be trained to politeness, or they will never be polite. They must drink politeness in with their mother's milk ; it must be exacted in the family and neighborhood relations, and boys and girls must grow up gentlemen and ladiea in their deportment, or our nation can never be a thoroughly polite one - polite in soul as well as in ceremony, and kind in manner as well as in


Old News
Michigan Argus