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Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by G. G. EVANS,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
MAN was not intended to live like a bear or a hermit, apart from others of his own nature, and, philosophy and reason will each agree with me, that man was born for sociability and finds his true delight in society. Society is a word capable of many meanings, and used here in each and all of them. Society, par excellence; the world at large; the little clique to which he is bound by early ties; the companionship of friends or relatives; even society tete a tete with one dear sympathizing soul, are pleasant states for a man to be in.
Taking the word in its most extended view, it is the world; but in the light we wish to impress in our book it is the smaller world of the changing, pleasant intercourse of each city or town in which our reader may chance to abide.
This society, composed, as it is, of many varying natures and elements, where each individual must submit to merge his own identity into the universal whole, which makes the word and state, is divided and subdivided into various cliques, and has a pastime for every disposition, grave or gay; and with each division rises up a new set of forms and ceremonies to be ob
served if you wish to glide down the current of polite life,
smoothly and pleasantly.
The young man who makes his first entrance into the world of society, should know how to choose his friends, and next how to conduct himself towards them. Experience is, of course, the best guide, but at first starting this must come second hand, from an older friend, or from books.
A judicious friend is the best guide; but how is the young man to know whom to choose? When at home this friend is easily selected; but in this country, where each bird leaves the parent nest as soon as his wings will bear him safely up, there are but few who stay amongst the friends at home.
Next then comes the instruction from books.
True a book will not fully supply the place either of experience or friendly advice, still it may be made useful, and, carefully written from the experience of heads grown gray in society, with only well authenticated rules, it will be a guide not to be despised by the young aspirant for favor in polite and refined circles.
You go into society from mixed motives; partly for pleasure, recreation after the fatigues of your daily duties, and partly that you may become known. In a republican country where one man's opportunities for rising are as good as those of another, ambition will lead every rising man into society.
You may set it down as a rule, that as you treat the world, so the world will treat you. Carry into the circles of society a refined, polished manner, and an amiable desire to please, and it will meet you with smiling grace, and lead you forward pleasantly along the flowery paths; go, on the contrary, with a brusque, rude manner, startling all the silky softness before you
with cut and thrust remarks, carrying only the hard realities of life in your hand, and you will find society armed to meet you, showing only sharp corners and thorny places for your blundering footsteps to stumble against.
You will find in every circle that etiquette holds some sway; her rule is despotic in some places, in others mild, and easily set aside. Your first lesson in society will be to study where she reigns supreme, in her crown and holding her sceptre, and where she only glides in with a gentle hint or so, and timidly steps out if rebuked; and let your conduct be governed by the result of your observations. You will soon become familiar with the signs, and tell on your first entrance into a room whether kid gloves and exquisite finish of manner will be appropriate, or whether it is "hail, fellow, well met" with the inmates. Remember, however, "once a gentleman always a gentleman," and be sure that you can so carry out the rule, that in your most careless, joyous moments, when freest from the restraints of etiquette, you can still be recognizable as a gentleman by every act, word, or look.
Avoid too great a restraint of manner.
Stiffness is not politeness, and, while you observe every rule, you may appear to heed none. To make your politeness part of yourself, inseparable from every action, is the height of gentlemanly elegance and finish of manner.