Under Construction! Chapters 1-16 completed.

Manners, Culture and Dress of the Best American Society

by  Richard A. Wells, A.M.    Introduction by Rev. Willard E. Waterbury    King, Richardson & Co., Publishers
Springfield, Mass.         Des Moines, Iowa.    1891

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Chapters 11 - 16

Chapter Eleven – Travelers and Traveling.

Behavior while traveling is a certain indication of a person’s breeding. Travelers seldom pay little attention either to the comforts or distresses of their fellow travelers; and the commonest observances of politeness are often sadly neglected by them. In the scramble for tickets, for seats, for state-rooms, or for places at a public table, the courtesies of life seem to be trampled under foot. Even the ladies are sometimes rudely under foot. Even the ladies are sometimes rudely treated and shamefully neglected in the headlong rush for desirable seats in the railway cars. To see the behavior of American people on their travels, one would suppose that we were anything but a refined nation; and I have often wondered whether a majority of our travelers could really make a decent appearance in social society.


A Lady Traveling Alone.

A lady accustomed to traveling, if she pays proper attention to the rules of etiquette, may travel alone anywhere in the United States with perfect safety and propriety.

But there are many ladies to whom all the ways of travel are unknown, and to such, an escort is very acceptable. When a gentleman has a lady put in his charge for a journey, he should be at the depot in ample time to procure her ticket and see that her baggage is properly checked.


  On Arrival of the Train.

On the arrival of the train, he should attend her to the car and secure the best possible seat for her. He should give her the choice of taking the outside or window seat, should stow away her packages in the proper receptacle, and then do all he can to make her journey a pleasant one.


Arriving at Destination.

Arrived at their destination, he should see her safely in a car or carriage, or at least conduct her to the ladies’ room of the station, before he goes to see about the baggage. He should attend her to the door or deliver her into the change of friends before he relaxes his care. He should call upon her the following day to see how she has withstood the fatigues of her journey. It is optional with her at this time whether she will receive him, and thus prolong the acquaintance, or not. However it is scarcely supposed that a lady of really good breeding would refuse further recognition to one from whom she accepted such services. If the gentleman is really unworthy of her regard, it would have been in better taste to have recognized the fact at first by declining his escort.


Rushing for Ticket Office.

When you are traveling, it is no excuse that because other outrage decency and propriety you should follow their example, and fight them with their own weapons. A rush and scramble at the railway ticket is always unnecessary. The cars will not leave until every passenger is aboard, and if you have ladies with you, you can easily secure your seats and afterward procure the tickets at leisure. But suppose you do lose a favorite seat by your moderation! Is it not better to suffer a little inconvenience than to show yourself decidedly vulgar? Go to the cars half an hour before they start, and you will avoid all trouble of this kind.


Personal Comfort.

When seated, or about to seat yourself in the cars never allow considerations of personal comfort or convenience to cause you to disregard the regards of fellow-travelers, or forget the respectful courtesy due to woman. The pleasantest or most comfortable seats belong to the ladies, and you should never refuse to resign such seats to them with a cheerful politeness. Sometimes a gentleman will go through a car and choose a seat, and afterward vacate it to procure his ticket, leaving his overcoat or carpet bag to show that the seat is taken. Always respect this token, and never seize upon a seat thus secured, without leave, even though you may want it for a lady.


A Lady Traveling.

A lady, in traveling alone, may accept services from her fellow-travelers, which she should always acknowledge graciously. Indeed, it is the business of a gentleman to see that the wants of an unescorted lady are attended to. He should offer to raise or lower her window if she seems to have any difficulty in doing it herself. He may offer his assistance in carrying her packages upon leaving the car, or in engaging a carriage or obtaining a trunk.

Still, women should learn to be as self-reliant as possible; and young women particularly should accept proffered assistance from strangers, in all but the slightest offers, very rarely.


  Rushing for the Table.

In steamers do not make a rush for the supper table, or make a glutton of yourself when you get there. Never fail to offer your seat on deck to a lady, if the seats all appear to be occupied, and always meet half way any fellow-passenger who wishes to enter into conversation with you. Some travelers are so exclusive that they consider it a presumption on the part of a stranger to address them; but such people are generally foolish, and of no account.


  Social Intercourse while Traveling.

Social intercourse while traveling is one of its main attractions. Who would care about sitting and moping for a dozen of hours on board a steamer without exchanging a word with anybody? and this must be the fate of the exclusives when they travel alone. Even ladies who run greater risks in forming steamboat acquaintances than the men, are allowed the greatest privileges in that respect. It might not be exactly correct for a lady to make a speaking acquaintance of a gentleman; but she may address or question him for the time being without impropriety.


  Occupying too Many Seats.

No lady of genuine breeding will retain possession of more than her rightful seat in a crowded car. When others are looking for accommodations, she should at once and with all cheerfulness so dispose of her baggage that the seat that the seat beside her will be at liberty for any one who desires it, no matter how agreeable it might be to retain possession of it.

There is no truer sign of want of proper manners than to see two ladies turn over the seat in front of them and fill it with their wraps and bundles, retaining it in spite of the entreating or remonstrating looks of fellow-passengers. In such a case as this any person who needs a seat is justified in reversing the back, removing the baggage and taking possession of the unused place.


  Retaining a Seat.

A gentleman in traveling may take possession of a seat and then go to purchase tickets or look after baggage, leaving the seat in charge of a companion or depositing traveling-bag or overcoat upon it to show that it is engaged. A gentleman cannot, however, in justice, vacate his seat to take another in the smoking-car and at the same time reserve his rights to the first seat. He pays for but one seat, and by taking another he forfeits the first.

It is not required of gentleman in a railway car to relinquish his seat in favor of a lady, though a gentleman of genuine breeding will do so rather than allow the lady to stand or to suffer inconvenience from poor accommodations.


  Etiquette of Street Cars.

In the street cars the case is different. No woman should be permitted to stand  while there is a seat occupied by a man. The inconvenience to the man will be temporary and trifling at the most, and he can well afford to suffer it rather than do an uncourteous act.


  Etiquette of Ferry-boats.

There is a place where the good manners of men seem sometimes to forsake them—in the ladies’ saloon of ferry-boats. The reign paramount in their own saloon. No woman dares intrude there, still less deprive its rightful occupants of their seats. Yet many men, without even the excuse of being escorts of women, preferring the purer natural and moral atmosphere of the ladies’ saloon, take possession and seat themselves, notwithstanding, woman have to stand in consequence. This is not a matter of politeness alone; it is one of simple justice. The ladies’ saloon is for the accommodation of ladies, and no gentleman has the right to occupy a seat so long as a lady is unprovided.


  Checking Familiarity.

It is impossible to dwell too strongly upon the importance of reserve and discretion on the part of ladies alone. They may, as has been already said, accept slight services courteously proffered by strangers, but any attempt at familiarity must be checked, and this with all the less hesitation that no gentleman will be guilty of such familiarity; and a lady wants only gentlemen for her acquaintance.

Once, when traveling from Chicago to Toledo , there were upon the same train with ourselves a young lady and gentleman who were soon the observed of all observers. He was a commercial traveler of some sort, and she probably just from boarding-school. They were total strangers to each other as they both entered the car at Chicago . the acquaintance begun soon after starting. By the time La Porte was reached he had taken his seat beside her. At Elkhart the personal history of each was known to the other. The gentleman here invited the lady to supper and paid her bill. Shortly afterward photographs were exchanged, they had written confidentially in each other’s note-books, and had promised to correspond. All this passed between them in tones so loud and with actions so obtrusive that they attracted the notice of every one in the car, and many were the coments upon them. As daylight waned she sunk upon his shoulder to sleep while he threw his arm around her to support her. If they had announced their engagement and inquired for a clergyman upon the train to marry them upon their arrival in Toledo , no one would have been really surprised. She was a foolish girl, yet old enough to have known better. He must have a villain thus to take advantage of her silliness.

Still, if the journey is long, and especially if it be by steamboat, a certain sociability is in order, and a married lady or lady of middle age should make good use of her privileges in this respect.


  Duty of Ladies to other Ladies in Traveling.

It is especially the duty of ladies to look after other ladies younger or less experienced than themselves who may be traveling without escort, To watch these and see that they are not made the dupes of villains, and to pass a pleasant word with others who may possibly feel the loneliness of their situation, should be especial charge of every lady of experience. Such a one may often have the privilege of rendering another lady an important service in giving her information or advice, or even assistance. Every lady of experience and self-possession should feel her duties to be only less than those of a gentleman in showing favors to the more helpless and less experienced of her own sex.


  Consulting the Comfort of Others.

In the cars you have no right to keep a window open for your accommodation, if the current of air thus produced annoys or endangers the health of another. There are a sufficient number of discomforts in traveling, at best, and it should be the aim of each passenger to lessen them as much as possible, and to cheerfully bear his own part. Life is a journey, and we are all fellow-travelers.


  Attending to the Wants of Others.

See everywhere and at all times that ladies and elderly people have their wants supplied before you think of your own. Nor is there need for unmanly haste and pushing in entering or leaving cars or boats. There is always time enough allowed for each passenger to enter in a gentlemanly manner and with due regard to the rights of others.

If, in riding in the street cars or crossing a ferry, your friend insists upon paying for you, permit him to do so without serious remonstrance. You can return the favor at some other time.


  Selfishness of Ladies.

Ladies in traveling should scrupulously avoid monopolizing, to the exclusion of others, whatever conveniences are provided for their use. Mr. Pullman, the inventor of the palace car, was asked why there were not locks or bolts upon the ladies’ dressing-rooms. He replied that “if these were furnished, but two or three ladies in a sleeping car would be able to avail themselves of the conveniences, for these would lock themselves in and perform their toilets at their leisure.”

This sounds like satire upon our American ladies, but we fear it is true.


  Chapter Twelve – Etiquette of Public Places.

The perfect lady and gentleman are always polite in public places, considerate of the comfort and wishes of others, and unobtrusive in their behavior. Under the same circumstances sham gentility is boisterous, rude, vulgar and selfish.


  Church Etiquette.

One should preserve the utmost silence and decorum in church.

There should be no haste in passing up or down the aisle.

A gentleman should remove his hat as soon as he enters.

A gentleman and lady should pass up the aisle together until the pew is reached, when the former should step before the latter, open the pew door, holding it open while she enters, then follow her and close the door after him.

There should be no whispering, laughing or staring.

If a stranger is seen to enter the church and the sexton does not at once provide him with a seat, the pew door should be opened and the stranger silently invited to enter.

It is courteous to see that strangers are provided with books; and if the service is strange to them, the places for the day’s reading should be indicated.

It is perfectly proper to offer to share the prayer or hymn book with a stranger if there is no separate books for his use.

If books or fans are passed in church, let them be offered and accepted or refused with a silent gesture of acceptance or refusal.

Upon entering a strange church, it is best to wait until the sexton conducts you to a seat. By no means enter an occupied pew uninvited.

In visiting a church of a different belief from your own, pay the utmost respect to the services and conform in all things to the observances of the church—that is, kneel, sit and rise with the congregation. No matter how grotesquely some of the forms and observances strike you, let no smile or contemptuous remark indicate the fact while in the church.

If a Protestant gentleman accompanies a lady who is a Roman Catholic to her own church, it is an act of courtesy to offer the holy water. This he must do with his ungloved right hand.

When the services are concluded, there should be no haste in crowding up the aisle, but the departure should be conducted quietly and in order. When the vestibule is reached, it is allowable to exchange greetings with friends, but here there should be no loud talking nor boisterously laughter. Neither should gentlemen congregate in knots in the vestibule or upon the steps of the church and compel ladies to run the gauntlet of their eyes and tongues.

Never be late to church. It is a decided mark of ill-breeding.

In visiting a church for the mere purpose of seeing the edifice, one should always go at a time when there are no services being held. If people are even then found at their devotions, as is apt to be the case in Roman Catholic churches especially, the demeanor of the visitor should respectful and subdued and his voice low, so that he may not disturb them.


Visiting an Artist.

Upon visiting an artist’s studio, by no means meddle with anything in the room. Reverse no picture which hands or stands with face to the wall; open no portfolio without permission, and do not alter by a single touch any lay-figure or its drapery, piece of furniture or article of virtue posed as a model. You do not know with what care the artist may have arranged these things, nor what trouble the disarrangement may cost him.

It is not proper to visit the studio of an artist except by special invitation or permission and at an appointed time, for you cannot appreciate how much you may disturb him at his work. The hours of daylight are all golden to him; and steadiness of hand in manipulating a pencil is sometimes only acquired each day after hours of practice, and may be instantly lost on the irruption and consequent interruption of visitors.

Use no strong expression of either delight or disapprobation at anything presented for your inspection. If a picture or a statue please you, show your approval and appreciation by close attention and a few quiet, well-chosen words, rather than by extravagant praise.

Do not ask the artist his prices unless you really intend to become a purchaser; and in this case it is best to attentively observe his works, make your choice, and trust the negotiation to a third person or to a written correspondence with the artist after the visit is concluded. You may express your desire for the work and obtain the refusal of it from the artist. If you desire to conclude the bargain at once and ask his price, and he names a higher one than you desire to give, you may say as much and mention the sum you are willing to pay, when it will be optional with the artist to maintain his first price or accept your offer.

Never take a young child to a studio, for it may do much mischief in spite of the most careful watching. At any rate, the juvenile visitor will try the artist’s temper and nerves by keeping him in a state of constant apprehension.

If you have engaged to sit for your portrait, never keep the artist waiting one moment beyond the appointed time. If you do so, you should in justice pay for the time you make him lose.

A visitor should never stand behind the artist and watch him at his work; for if he be a man of nervous temperament, it will be likely to disturb him greatly.


  Conduct in Picture-galleries.

In visiting picture-galleries one should always maintain the deportment of a gentleman or lady. Make no loud comments, and do not seek to show superior knowledge in art matters by gratuitous criticism. Ten to one, if you have not an art education you will only be giving publicity to your own ignorance.

Do not stand in conversation before a picture, and thus obstruct the view of others who wish to see rather than talk. If you wish to converse with any one on general subjects, draw to one side out of the way of those who wish to look at the pictures.


Invitation to Opera or Concert.

A gentleman upon inviting a lady to accompany him to opera, theatre, concert or other public place of amusement must send his invitation the previous day and write it in the third person. The lady must reply immediately, so that if she declines there will yet be time for the gentleman to secure another companion.

It is the gentleman’s duty to secure good seats for the entertainment, or else he or his companion may be obliged to  take up with seats where they can neither see nor hear.


  Conduct in Opera, Theatre or Public Hall.

On entering the hall, theatre or opera-house the gentleman should walk side by side with his companion unless the aisle is too narrow, in which case he should precede her. Reaching the seats, he should allow her to take the inner one, assuming the outer one himself.

A gentleman should on no account leave the lady’s side from the beginning to the close of the performance.

If it is a promenade concert or opera, the lady may be invited to promenade during the intermission. If she decline, the gentleman must retain his position by her side.

The custom of going out alone between the acts to visit the refreshment-room cannot be too strongly reprehended. It is little less than an insult to the lady.

There is no obligation whatever upon the gentleman to give up his seat to a lady. On the contrary, his duty is solely to the lady whom he accompanies. He must remain beside her during the evening to converse with her between the acts and to render her assistance in case of accident or disturbance.

It is proper and desirable that the actors be applauded when they deserve it. It is their only means of knowing whether they are giving satisfaction.

During the performance complete quiet should be preserved, that the audience may not be prevented seeing or hearing. Between the acts it is perfectly proper to converse, but it should be in a low tone, so as not to attract attention. Neither should one whisper. There should be no loud talking, boisterous laughter, violent gestures, lover-like demonstrations or anything in manners or speech to attract the attention of others.

The gentleman should see that the lady is provided with programme, and with libretto also if they are attending opera.

The gentleman should ask permission to call upon the lady on the following day, which permission she should grant; and if she be a person of delicacy and tact, she will make him feel that he has conferred a real pleasure upon her by his invitation. Even if she finds occasion for criticism in the performance, she should be lenient in this respect and seek for points to praise instead, that he may not feel regret at taking her to an entertainment which has proved unworthy.

If the means of the gentleman warrant him in so doing, he should call for his companion in a carriage. This is especially necessary if the evening is stormy. He should call sufficiently early to allow them to reach their destination before the performance commences. It is unjust to the whole audience to come in late and make a disturbance in obtaining seats.

In passing out at the close of the performance the gentleman should precede the lady, and there should be no crowding and pushing.


  Church or Fancy Fairs.

In visiting a fancy fair make no comments on either the articles or their prices unless you can praise. Do not haggle over them. Pay the price demanded or let them alone. If you can conscientiously praise an article, by all means do so, as you may be giving pleasure to the maker if she chances to be within hearing.

Be guilty of no loud talking or laughing, and by all means avoid conspicuous flirting in so public a place.

As, according to the general rule of politeness, a gentleman must always remove his hat in the presence of ladies, so he should remain with head uncovered, carrying his hat in his hand, in a public place of this character.

If you have a table at a fair, use no unlady like means of obtain buyers. Let a negative suffice. Not even the demands of charity can justify you in importuning other to purchase articles against their own judgment or beyond their means to purchase.

Never be so grossly ill-bred as to retain the change if a larger amount is presented than the price. Offer the change promptly, when the gentleman will be at liberty to donate it if he thinks best, and you may accept it with thanks. He is, however, under no obligation whatever to make such donation.



In giving a picnic, the great thing to remember is to be sure and have enough to eat and drink. Always provide for the largest possible number of guests that may by any chance come.

Send out your invitations three weeks beforehand, in order that you may be enabled to fill up your list, if you have many refusals.

Always transport your guests to the scene of action in covered carriages, or carriages that are capable of being covered, in order that you may provided against rain, which is proverbial on such occasions.

Send a separate conveyance containing the provisions, in charge of two or three servants—not too many, as half the fun is lost if the gentlemen do not officiate as amateur waiters.

The above rules apply to picnics which are given by one person, and to which invitations are sent out just the same as to an ordinary ball or dinner party. But there are picnics and picnics as the French say.

Let us treat of the picnic, in which a lot of people join together for the purpose of a day’s ruralizing. In this case, it is usual for the ladies to contribute the viands. The gentlemen should provide and superintend all the arrangements for the conveyance of the guests to and from the scene of festivity.


  How to Dress.

Great latitude in dress is allowed on these occasions. The ladies all come in morning dresses and hats; the gentlemen in light coats, wide-awake hats, caps, or straw hats. In fact, the morning dress of the seaside is quite de rigueur at a picnic. After dinner it is usual to pass the time in singing, or if there happens to be an orchestra of any kind, in dancing. This is varied by games of all kinds, croquet, &c. Frequently after this the company breaks up into little knots and coteries, each having its own centre of amusement.


  Duties of Gentlemen.

Each gentlemen should endeavor to do his utmost to be amusing on these occasions. If he has a musical instrument, and can play it, let him bring it—for instance, a cornet, which is barely tolerated in a private drawing-room, is a great boon, when well played at a picnic. On these occasions a large bell or gong should be taken, in order to summon the guests when required; and the guests should be careful to attend to the call at once, for many a pleasant party has been spoiled by a few selfish people keeping out of the way when wanted.


  Committee of Arrangements.

Finally, it would be well on these occasions to have each department vested in the hands of one responsible person, in order that when we begin dinner we should not find a heap of forks but no knives, beef, but no mustard, lobster and lettuces but no salad-dressing, veal-and-ham, pies but no bread, and nearly fifty other such contretemps, which are sure to come about unless the matter is properly looked after and organized.



The reader may doubtless be surprised that we should treat etiquette when speaking of boating, still there are little customs and usages of politeness to be observed even in the roughest spots in which a gentleman takes part.

Never think of venturing out with ladies alone, unless you are perfectly conversant with the management of a boat, and, above all, never overload your boat. There have been more accidents caused by the neglect of these two rules than can be imagined.

If two are going out with ladies, let one take his stand in the boat and conduct the ladies to their seats, while one assists them to step from the bank. Let the ladies be comfortably seated, and their dresses arranged before starting. Be careful that you do not splash them, either on first putting the oar into the water or subsequently.

If a friend is with you and going to row, always ask him which seat he prefers, and do not forget to ask him to row “stroke,” which is always the seat of honor in the boat.



If you cannot row, do not scruple to say so, as then you can take your seat by the side of the ladies, and entertain them by conversation, which is much better than spoiling your own pleasure and that of others by attempting what you know you cannot perform.

The usual custom of gentleman is white flannel trousers, white rowing jersey, and a straw hat. Pea jackets are worn when their owners are not absolutely employed in rowing.


  Ladies Rowing.

Of late years ladies have taken very much to rowing; this can be easily managed in a quiet river or private pond, but it is scarcely to be attempted in the more crowded and public parts of our rivers—at any rate, unless superintended by gentlemen. In moderation, it is a capital exercise for ladies; but when they attempt it they should bear in mind that they should assume a dress proper for the occasion. They should leave their crinoline at home, and wear a skirt barely touching the ground; they should also assume flannel Garibaldi shirts and little sailor hats—add to these a good pair of stout boots, and the equipment is complete. We should observe however, that it is impossible for any lady to row with comfort or grace if she laces tightly.


Chapter Thirteen – Letters and Letter Writing.

  Delightful is the art of letter-writing and one not hard to be acquired. To write a good letter doubtless requires some experience; to write one which is marked by originality and beauty requires, in some degree, a peculiar talent. But almost any person of ordinary intelligence can learn how to express himself or herself based in an acceptable manner upon paper.

Good grammar, correct orthography, precise punctuation, will not make clever communication, if the life and spirit of the expression are wanting; and life and spirit will make a good impressive epistle, even if the rhetorical and grammatical proprieties are largely wanting. Some of the most charming letters we ever saw or read were from children, who while they tortured grammar, yet reproduced themselves so completely as to make it appear that they really were chattering to us.

It is comparatively easy to compose. The secret of it is hidden in no mystery—it is simply to converse on paper, instead of by word of mouth. The illustrate: if a person is before you, you narrate the incidents of a marriage, or a death, or of any circumstances of interest. It is an easy and an agreeable thing to tell the story. Now, if a person were so deaf as not to be able to hear a word, what would you do? Why, seize a pencil or pen and write out just what you would have told them by words. That very writing would be a delightful letter! It is this naturalness of expression and individuality of a letter which so delights the recipient.



It is not in the province of this chapter to teach people how to write. There are numerous systems of Penmanship, any one of which will enable one to acquire a round, full, even hand, so much admired by every one. People in general are very poor writers. Why? Because they never have taken the time nor exercised the patience to train their hands to write correctly. That we are a nation of poor writers at attributable more to carelessness (shall we say laziness?) than to any other one thing. We get a general idea how to form letters and then begin scribbling, and keep on scribbling all the rest of our lives. It is just as easy to train the hand to write well as poorly. One should simply remember the old adage “creep before you walk.” In other words, learn correctly to form letters slowly. Practice writing slowly until the hand has become trained to writing properly, then with constant practice a fair degree of speed may be acquired. But at the beginning, accuracy must never be sacrificed to speed. Every boy and every girl may and ought to learn to write well. The habit, like all good habits, should be formed in youth and when once formed is formed for life. The importance of its acquirement cannot be over-estimated.


  Choice of Paper.

For all formal notes, of whatever nature, use heavy, plain, white, unruled paper, folded once, with square envelopes to match. A neat initial letter at the head of the sheet is allowable, but nothing more than this. Avoid monograms, floral decorations and landscapes. Unless of an elaborate and costly design they have an appearance of cheapness, and are decidedly in bad taste.


General Appearance.

The excellences of a nicely written letter are embraced in one word, neatness. All blots, erasures, interlinings, will never be seen in a neat letter. If you are so unfortunate as to write the wrong word, do not draw your pen through it, but take a clean sheet and begin over again.

Always allow half an inch margin at the left of each page; it will give your letter a symmetrical appearance. This margin must be uniform, which is effected by beginning the first letter of each line directly under the one above it. Until the eye and hand are trained to do this naturally, it is well to rule with a pencil a faint line, indicating the width of the margin; in writing, begin the first word of each line at the ruled line, and when the page is completed take a clean rubber and erase the ruled line. A little practice in this way will enable one to form the margin correctly by the eye.


  Spelling and Punctuation.

Never allow a letter to leave you until you have carefully read it over to carefully punctuate and detect any misspelled words. Form the habit of being critical. If there is any doubt about a word, go to the dictionary. If your correspondent be a person of culture, he will certainly notice any errors in your epistle. You cannot afford to be thought either ignorant or careless.

The correct form for punctuating a letter as well as the punctuation of the address on the envelope will be found in the following examples.


  Beginning a Letter.

Begin at the upper right hand corner, about one half the distance between the top and middle.

Write your street and number, and name of the city in which you reside; on the next line, directly underneath, write the date; if you reside in the country, write P.O. address and date on the same line. Begin back far enough to avoid all appearance of crowding. Skip one line, and at the left write the name of your correspondent (or the name ay be written at the close of the letter at the left of the page).


Manner of Address.

If the person addressed be a stranger or a formal acquaintance, it is proper to write “Dear Sir,” or “Dear Madam;” if a friend, one may say “My Dear Mr. Jones.” In the case of addressing a clergyman, one may say “Rev. Sir.” In writing a profession gentleman or a person with a title he may be distinguished as “To L.P. Davis, M.D.,” “The Rev. Dr. Hall,” etc. in addressing a Senator or Member of Congress or any other high Government Official, address “Honorable Sir.” The President of the United States and Governor of a State should be addressed “His Excellency.”

In closing a letter the degrees of formality are shown as follows: “Yours truly,” “Truly yours,” “Very truly yours,” “Yours very truly,” “Sincerely yours,” “Cordially yours,” “Respectfully yours,” “Faithfully yours,” “Affectionately yours,” “Lovinginly yours.” The writer’s own judgment must be the guide in choosing the above forms, depending entirely upon the degree of familiarity existing between the writer and the person addressed.

To a person somewhat older than yourself, “Respectfully yours,” or, “Yours with great respect,” is an appropriate form. “Yours truly,” and similar forms are only used among business men and formal acquaintances. “Yours, etc.,” is a careless and improper ending, and should never be used.

Never abbreviate in opening or closing a letter, as “D’r S’r,” and “Y’rs tr’y,” as it shows laziness and undue respect for the person addressed. Care should be exercised, in closing a letter, to have the form appropriate, so as to leave a pleasing impression with your correspondent. An ill-chosen ending may mar the effect of the entire letter.


Proper Signatures.

No lady or gentleman will write the titles Mr., Mrs., or Miss before their given names. In writing to a stranger, ladies may indicate their appropriate titles by writing “Mrs.” or “Miss” after their signatures, enclosed in parenthesis, as “Jeannette Elizabeth Stuart (Miss).” Letters of widows and unmarried ladies are addressed with their baptismal names. The letters of married ladies are usually given with their husbands’ names; however, this is optional, as many ladies do not wish to so far lose their identity.


  Form for a Friendly Letter.

127 Lee Ave. , Troy , N.Y. ,

April 15, 1891.

My Dear Friend:

Your good letter came in due time, and I hasten to reply, as my husband and myself are about to leave the city for a short Eastern trip. We shall spend a few days in Boston ad while there we anticipate the pleasure of calling upon our mutual friend, Agnes Eaton. We expect to return some time in May and trust we shall meet your family later at our summer house in Stanford. I am, with regards to all,

Sincerely your friend,

Ursula M. Dickinson.


Mrs. Mollie Stevens,

Waterloo , N.Y.



Letters of Introduction.

Letters of introduction should be short and carefully worded, so that the recipient may not be embarrassed by having to go over a large amount of written matter before obtaining the necessary information regarding the person introduced. The contents should express your real sentiments toward the person introduced, and should not be too complimentary, otherwise you might embarrass the person who you wish to favor.

Letters of introduction are to be regarded as certificates of respectability, and are therefore never to be given where you do not feel sure on this point. To send a person of whom you know nothing to the confidence and family of a friend, is an unpardonable recklessness. In England , letters of introduction are called “tickets to soup,” because it is generally customary to invite a gentleman to dine who comes with a letter of introduction to you. Such is also the practice, so some extent, in this country, but etiquette here does not make the dinner so essential as there.

When a gentleman, bearing a letter of introduction to you, leaves his card, you should call on him on him or send a note, as early as possible. There is no greater insult than to treat a letter of introduction with indifference—it is a slight to the stranger as well as to the introducer, which no subsequent attentions will cancel. After you have made this call, it is, to some extent, optional with you as to what further attentions you shall not pay the party. In this country everybody is supposed to be very busy, which is always a sufficient excuse for not paying elaborate attentions to visitors. It is not demanded that any man shall neglect his business to wait upon visitors or guests.

Letters of introduction should never be sealed, and should bear upon the envelope, in the left hand corner, the name and address of the person introduced. The following will give an idea of an appropriate form for a letter of introduction:


Neenah , Wis. , October 27, 18—

“J.W. Good, Esq.,

“Dear Sir:--

“I take the liberty of introducing to you my esteemed friend, Miss. Mary E. Edgarton, who contemplates spending some time in your city. Any attentions you may find it possible to show her during her stay, will be considered as a personal favor by

Yours sincerely,

“Mrs. C.E. Johnson.”


The envelope should bear the following superscription:




Letters of Friendship.

The style proper for letters to friends should not be too formal; nor should it be marked by too great familiarity, except in cases where a rare intimacy and confidence exist. A clear, cheerfully toned epistle—talking with dignity even when in humor, relating nothing of impropriety or of scandal, and conveying the very spirit of kindliness—is always a “welcome guest,” and will do to be read aloud to others, will do to be preserved and read in after years, will enhance your friendship and add to your satisfaction. Therefore make it an invariable rule to write cheerfully, honestly, and considerately—never in haste, in a spirit of petulance or anger, or in a sinister manner. A letter of this character should receive an early reply, yet not too early, as that would place the first writer too soon under obligation to write again.

The following is a suitable form for a letter of this kind.

Dixon , Ill. , Feb. 10th, 18……

Respected Madam:--

I would be wanting in gratitude did I not express to you my thanks for your excellent services to me; I came here a giddy girl, apt to be misled in many ways; but I have remembered your admonitions at parting [or, have preserved your maxims of conduct], and I can say with truth that they have added much to my sense of security and to my happiness. Thus, I never keep the company of any stranger; I never write to any but my own old friends; I do not go out to evening-parties except in the company with some member of Mrs. Smith’s family; I do not walk the streets idly, nor without purpose; I seek the society of those older than myself, and try to learn constantly from what I see and hear.

I could not have done all this, had you not so earnestly impressed it upon my mind and heart by your kind and wise remarks to me; and now, I pray you to accept my gratitude and thanks for your influence over me. I feel that it will be an influence for life, and may Heaven bless you, is the hearty prayer of

Your young friend,

Carrie Ford.





Laurel Hill Grove.

My own Dear Clara:--

You are married! Oh, how this sounds! Another claims you—another has all your first thoughts, all your warmest love and sympathies; and life is no longer to your what it had been—a sweet dream! but something real, thoughtful, earnest.

Dear Clara! I weep for you, because you are gone from among us—are a girl no longer; but I know you are happy in your love, that you have chosen wisely, and I have but to say, God bless you forever and forever!

May there be few of life’s storms and tempests for you, but much of its summer of repose and sweet content, and may he who has won your pure heart ever be worthy of it. I congratulate you, I bless you, I pray for you.

Your own loving friend,



The Family Letter.

Family correspondence is a great social privilege as well as a great necessity. It brings together the divided members of the household, and, for the while, gives home a place in their hearts.

Women always write these best. They know how to pick up those little items of interest which are, after all, nearly the sum-total of home life, and which, by being carefully narrated, transport, for the time being, the recipient back to home and home interests.

Having furnished all the news, they should make kind and careful inquiries concerning the feelings and doings of the recipient; and if this recipient is not an adept in the art of letter-writing, they may furnish questions enough to be answered to make the reply an easy task. They should conclude with sincere expressions of affection from all the members of the family to the absent one, a desire for his speedy return or best welfare, and a request for an early answer.


Parents to Children.

Where it is parents writing to children, the study should be not to talk too wisely and seriously, but to interest their child by touching upon those themes best calculated to win the absent ones attention, and encourage him or her to loving thoughts of home. Any thing in a family letter, which excites any other than loving thoughts, is greatly to be deprecated. May an otherwise good child has been driven to wicked thoughts and deeds, by harsh or unkind words from home, when kind words would have acted as an incentive to do only what was right and best.


  Letters of Love.

The thought of them causes a thrill thorough the heart: and to those who have had the blessed, blissful privilege of writing and receiving them, there come reminisces of associations which are indeed a rich inheritance.

What can we say of them? Only this: Let them be expressive of sincere esteem, yet written in such a style that if they should ever fall under the eye of the outside world there will be no silliness to blush about, nor extravagance of expression of which to be ashamed.

Letters of love are generally preceded by some friendly correspondence, for Cupid is a wise designer, and makes his approaches with wonderful caution. These premonitory symptoms of love are easily encouraged into active symptoms, then into positive declarations: if the loved one is willing to be wooed, she will not fail to lead her pursuer into an ambush of hopes and fears, which a woman knows by instinct so well how to order. After the various subterfuges of coy expression and half-uttered wishes, there comes soon or later, love's declaration:

Prince street, Dec. 11th, 18—

Dear Miss Hill:--

I am conscious that it may be presumptuous for me to address you this note; yet feel that an honorable declaration of my feelings toward you is due to my own heart and to my future happiness. I first met you to admire; your beauty and intelligence served to increase that admiration to a feeling of personal interest; and now, I am free to confess, your virtues and graces have inspired in me a sentiment of love—not the sentiment which finds its gratification in the civilities of friendly social intercourse, but which asks in return a heart and a hand for life.

This confession I make freely and openly to you, feeling that you will give it all consideration which it deserves. If I am not deceived, it can not cause you pain; but, if any circumstance has weight with you—any interest in another person, or any family obstacle, forbid you to encourage my suit, then I leave it to your candor to make such a reply to this note as seems proper. I shall wait your answer with some anxiety, and therefore hope you may reply at your earliest convenience.

Believe me, dear lady, with feelings of true regard,

Yours, most sincerely,

Harry Stover.


Tenth Street , Dec. 15th, 18—


Harry Stover,

Dear Sir:--

Your note of the 10th reached me duly. Its tone of candor requires from me what it would be improper to refuse—an equally candid answer.

I sincerely admire you. Your qualities of heart and mind have impressed me favorably, and, now that you tell me I have won your love, I am conscious that I too am regarding you more highly and tenderly than comports with a mere friend’s relation.

Do not, however, give this confession too much weight, for, after all, we may both be deceived in regard to the nature of our esteem; and I should, therefore, suggest, for the present, the propriety of our calling upon me at my father’s house on occasional evenings; and will let time and circumstances determine if it is best for us to assume more serious relations to one another than have heretofore existed.

I am, sir, with true esteem,

Yours, sincerely,

Ada Hill.


Now, this correspondence does not often take place between lovers, and why? Simply because men and women are not honest and independent enough to talk thus to one another upon the most interesting and important occasion of their whole lives.


  Letters of Business.

Letters of business need attention in a work of this kind, because they are those most frequently to be written. They should be marked, 1st; by plainness in the penmanship; 2d, by perfect clearness of meaning; 3d, they should be brief. These virtues will insure a consideration not always accorded to long illegible, and obscure communications. Let the style be marked by the utmost directness; use no flowers of speech, no metaphor, no rhetorical graces; they are out of place. Use plain Saxon English; say just what you ought to in order to give your order, or to convey your wishes, then stop.

The name should always be signed in full to a letter of whatever character; and if the writer be a married lady, she should invariably, except in the most familiar missives, prefix “Mrs.” to her name.

An elaborate or illegible signature intended to make an impression on the beholder is exceedingly snobbish.



Use a commercial note, full sheet. Being by writing your Town, Country, State, and Date (month, day, and year,) at full length, on the right, upper part of the sheet, say the width of two lines from the top. Then the introductory address on the left side of the sheet, say one inch from the edge of the sheet and one line below the post address and date. Commence your communication, one line below the introductory address, and directly perpendicular to its last letter.


  Order for Books.


South Bend , St. Joe Co., Ind. ,

June 20, 18—

Union Publishing House,

Dear Sirs:--

Please send me by express, eighty-five copies of Decorum.

Enclosed, find money order, for $17 00. You will please collect balance, on delivery of the books.

Yours truly,

S.H. Hanson.

Making application for employ.


Gilman , Ill , Nov. 10th, 18—


I am desirous of pursuing a mercantile life, and write to know if you have any place vacant for a “new hand.” I am sixteen years of age, in good health and strength, and can produce the best of recommendations as to my good moral character. If you can give me a place upon trial, I will be at your command from this time. An answer at your earliest convenience will much oblige,

Yours respectfully,

O.E. Skinner.

Letter asking for a School.

To the Directors of School District

No. 4, Hanna Township, Boone Co., O.,


I am in search of a school for the winter, and offer my services to you. I have taught for several seasons, and have the reputation of being a good teacher. Of course I have my certificate of qualification for teaching all English branches required in a district school. My recommendations as to good character, I shall be pleased to submit to your inspection. An early will much oblige,

Yours, truly,

Anna Steele.


  Enclosing a Stamp.

Always be sure to enclose stamp for reply upon every occasion when the business is your own, or where a favor is asked. It is a downright insult to ask a person to be bothered with answering your letters and to pay his own postage for the privilege.


  Letters of Invitation.

Letters of invitation are various in form, according to the various occasions which call them forth.

An invitation to a large party or ball should read as follows,

“Mrs. Wolf requests the pleasure of Miss Websters’ company at a ball on Thursday, Jan. 8, at 9 o’clock.”

Invitations to a ball are always given in the name of the lady of the house.

The letter of acceptance should be as follows:

“Miss Webster accepts with pleasure Mrs. Wolf’s kind invitation for Thursday, Jan. 8.”

Or if it is impossible to attend, a note something after the following style should be sent:

“Miss Webster regrets that [whatever may be the preventing cause] will prevent her accepting Mrs. Wolf’s kind invitation for Jan. 8.”


  Invitation to a Party.

The invitation to a large party is similar to that for a ball, only the words “at a ball” are omitted and the hour may be earlier. The notes of acceptance or rejection are the same as for a ball.

Such a note calls for full evening-dress. If the party is a small one, the same should be indicated in the note by putting in the words “to a small evening-party,” so that there may be no mistake in the matter.

If there is any special feature which is to give character to the evening, it is best to mention this fact in the note of invitation. Thus the words “musical party,” “to take part in dramatic readings,” “to witness amateur theatricals,” etc., should be inserted in the note. If there are programmes for the entertainment, be sure to enclose one.

Invitations to a dinner-party should be in the name of both host and hostess:


Mr. and Mrs. S.S. Hawkins, request the pleasure of Mr. and Mrs. Sayles’ company at dinner, on Friday, Jan. 17, at – o’clock. 

A note of acceptance or refusal should at once be returned. An invitation to a tea-drinking need not be so formal. It should partake more of the nature of a friendly note, thus:

Dear Miss Anderson: We have some friends coming to drink tea with us to-morrow; will you give us the pleasure of your company also? We hope you will not disappoint us.

Mrs. Jane Jones.

Invitations should be written upon small note paper, which may have initial or monogram stamped upon it.

All invitations should be dated at the top, with address written legibly at the bottom.

The body of the invitation should be in the middle of the sheet, the date above, to the right, the address below, to the left.

The invitation must be sent to the private residence of the person invited, never to the place of business.

Should an invitation be declined, some reason must be given, the true cause—a prior engagement, a contemplated journey, sickness, domestic trouble, or whatever it may be—being stated clearly and concisely, so that the hostess shall have no possible occasion for offence. This refusal should be dispatched as quickly as possible, so that the hostess may have time to supply the vacant place.

An invitation once accepted, and an engagement made to dinner, should be sacredly observed. Only the most imperative necessity will justify its being broken. And in that case the fact must be communicated directly with a full explanation to the hostess. If it is too late to supply your place, it may at least be in time to prevent dinner waiting on your account.

The style of wedding invitations differs with changing fashions, so that there can be no imperative rule laid down. The same may be said regarding funerals.


General Advice to Letter Writing.

In writing it is necessity to endeavor to make our style clear, precise, elegant, and appropriate for all subjects. Vivacity of discourse forces us frequently to sacrifice happy though tardy expressions, to the necessity of avoiding hesitation; but what is thus an obstacle in speaking, does not interfere with the use of a pen. We ought therefore, to avoid repetitions, erasures, insertions, omissions, and confusion of ideas, or labored construction. If we write a familiar letter to an equal or a friend, these blemishes may remain; if otherwise, we must commerce our letter again.

An “ornamental” handwriting is a nuisance. What with flourishes and extraneous appendages, the reader is continually distracted from the text to the characters, and generally ends by wishing the writer had used better taste in his chirography. A master who teaches any thing but making neat, plain handwriting, is not fit for a teacher.

In business and ceremonious letters do not write on both sides of the page.

Be very sparing in your underlinings of words. Most letters need no italics whatever, and to emphasize words in every line by underscoring makes the whole letter weak, if not ridiculous.

Letters should be directed in a clear, large hand to the person for whom they are intended. If they are to be in the care of some one else, let that be added after the name or in the lower left-hand corner of the letter.

Letters are indices of the taste as well as of the mind of the writer. They express his thoughts and his feelings, their manner almost invariably marks the spirit and temper of their author. How important, then, that they should be conceived in kindness, tempered with truthfulness, and spoken in earnestness! It is too frequently the case that persons sit down to write—“upon the spur of the moment”—when some incident, or piece of news, or some moment of impatience, fires the pen with a feeing which is very apt to find expression in too hasty words—which affect the distant reader very unpleasantly, or which needlessly wound feelings and stir up acrimony. It is best, in almost every case, to write when thought and feeling have been sobered by reflection; and then it is for the best to eschew personalities, harsh expressions, unpleasant allusions, for, once written they can not be recalled—they then become matters of record. Therefore beware, and be even over-cautious, rather than not cautious enough, for a letter may serve as a sure witness in cases where you might never suppose it could be used. It may live and bear testimony for years—it does not change with time or circumstances—it is a warrantee deed of whose responsibility you can never be free.


Chapter Fourteen – Laws of Business and Legal Forms.

Many are not familiar with the following laws of business that are in most common daily use:

Ignorance of the law excuses no one.

The law does not require one to do impossibilities.

Principals are responsible for the acts of their agents.

The acts of one partner bind all the rest.

Each individual in a partnership is responsible for the whole amount of the debts of the firm, except in cases of special friendship.

A receipt for money is not always conclusive.

Signatures made with a lead pencil are held good in law.

A contract made on Sunday cannot be enforced.

No consideration is sufficient in law if it be illegal in its nature. An agreement without consideration is void.

An oral agreement must be proved by evidence. A written agreement proves itself. The law prefers written to oral evidence because of its precision.

Written instruments are to be constructed and interpreted by the law according to the simple, customary and natural meaning of the words used.

No evidence can be introduced to contradict or vary a written contract, but it may be received in order to explain it when such evidence is needed.

A note obtained by fraud, or from a person in a state of intoxication, cannot be collected. If the time of payment is not named, it is payable on demand.

Value received should be written in a note, but, if not, it may be supplied by proof.

The payee should be named in a note unless payable to bearer. The time must not depend on a contingency. The promise must be absolute.

The maker of an accommodation bill or note is not bound to the person accommodated, but is bound to all other parties, the same as if there was a good consideration.

Checks or drafts should be presented for payment without unnecessary delay, during business hours; but in this country it is not compulsory except in the case of banks. If the drawee of a check or draft has changed his residence, the holder must use due and reasonable diligence to find him.

If one who holds a check as payee, or otherwise, transfers it to another, he has the right to insist that the check be presented on that day, or, at farthest, on the day following. An endorsement of a bill or note may be written on the face or back.

An endorser may prevent his own liability to be sued by writing without recourse, or similar words.

An endorsee has a right of action against all whose names were on the bill when he received it.

A note indorsed in blank (the name of the endorser only written) is transferable by delivery, the same as if made payable to bearer.

If a note or bill is transferred as security, or even as payment or a pre-existing debt, the debt revives if the note or bill be dishonored.

The holder of a note may give notice of protest to all the previous endorsers, or to only one of them. In the latter case, he should select the last endorser, and the last should give notice to the last before him, and so on through. Each endorser must send notice the same day or the day following. Neither Sunday nor any legal holiday is counted in reckoning time in which notice is to be given.

If a letter containing a protest of non-payment be put into the post-office, any miscarriage does not affect the party giving notice. Notice of protest may be sent either to the place of business or to the residence of the party notified.

If two or more persons, as partners, are jointly liable on a note or bill, notice to one of them is sufficient.

The loss of a note is not sufficient excuse for note giving notice of a protest.

The finder of negotiable paper, as of all other property, must make reasonable efforts to find the owner, before he is entitled to appropriate it to his own benefit. If the finder conceal it, he is liable to the charge of larceny or theft.


IMAGE PAGE 199-204


Chapter Fifteen – Self-culture.


The secret of moral self-culture lies in the training of the will to decide according to the fiat of an enlightened conscience. When a question of good or ill is brought before the mind for its action, its several faculties are appealed to. The intellect perceives, compares and reflects on the suggestions. The emotions, desires and passions are addressed and solicited to indulgence. The conscience pronounces its verdict of right or wrong on the proposed act. Then comes the self-determining will, coinciding either with the conscience or with the emotions. The end of right moral culture is to habituate it to decide against the passions, desires and emotions whenever they oppose the conscience.

Self-culture may be divided into three classes—the physical, the intellectual, and the moral. Neither must be developed exclusively. Cultivate the physical unduly and alone, and you may have an athletic savage; the moral, and you have an enthusiast or a maniac; the intellectual, and you have a diseased monstrosity. The three must be wisely trained together to have the complete man.


Economize Time.

It is astonishing how much may be accomplished in self-training by the energetic and persevering, who are careful to use fragments or spare time which the idle permit to run to waste.

Excellence is seldom if ever granted to man save as the reward of severe labor.

Thus Stone learned Mathematics while working as a journeyman gardener; thus Druce studied the highest Philosophy in the interval of cobbling stones; thus Miller taught himself Geology while working as a day laborer in a quarry.

Whatever one undertakes to learn, he should not permit himself to leave it till he can reach round and clasp hands on the other side.

One must believe in himself if he would have others believe in him. To think meanly of one’s self is to sink in his own estimation.

Cultivate self-help, for in proportion to your self-respect will you b e armed against the temptation of low self-indulgence.

Again—“reverence yourself,” as Pythagoras has said. Borne up by this high idea, a man will not defile his body by sensuality nor his mind by servile thoughts. This thought, carried into daily life, will be found at the root of all virtues: cleanliness, sobriety, charity, morality and religion.

Set a high price on your leisure moment. They are sands of precious gold. Properly expended, they will procure for you a stock of great thoughts—thoughts that will fill, stir, and invigorate and expand your soul. Richter said: “I have made as much out of myself as could be made of the stuff, and no man should require more.” Self-discipline and self-control are the beginnings of practical wisdom; and these must have root in self-respect. The humblest may say—“To respect myself, to develop myself, this is my duty in life.”


Importance of Early Rising.

In rightly improving his time every one who is seeking earnestly to unfold the energies of his mind by giving it the food which God designed that it should receive, will soon discover that, after a night’s repose, his mind is clearer and more vigorous than after a day spent in labor and perhaps anxiety, and he will naturally seek to give as much time to study in the morning as possible. Early rising will bring to him a two-fold benefit; it will strengthen both mind and body.


Reading .

Self-education is something very different from mere reading by way of amusement. It requires long and laborious study. The cultivation of a taste for reading is all very well, but mere reading does little toward advancing any one in the world—little toward preparing him for a higher station than the one he fills. The knowledge which fits a man for eminence in any profession or calling is not acquired without patient, long-continued and earnest application.



Mere reading, therefore, although of importance in itself as a means of enlarging our ideas and correcting and refining our tastes, does not give a man much power, does not help him to rise above the position in which circumstances may have originally placed him. It is study that does this. Franklin, the printer’s boy, did not become Franklin, the philosopher and statesman, by reading only, but by study; and we do not hear of his studying under teachers and of being guided by them, for, like many of us, he did not possess these high advantages, but his education progressed under the supervision of his own mind. He had to feel his way along , and to correct his own errors ever and anon as the dawning of fresh light enabled him to see them, and you may do the same; you, with few acquirements now, and few opportunities, may, if you only will it, become as useful and eminent a man as Franklin. But you must work for it. Diligently and earnestly must you labor or you cannot stand side by side, in after years, with the men who have become distinguished for the important services they have been able to render their fellows.

Any one to become great through his own exertions has undertaken a large contract. But the perspective of this superstructure looks larger and more formidable than it is in reality.

One is likely to look at a successful life rounded out and complete, and then measure his own life by this model. He must not say—“I cannot do as these men do,” but rather—“I should try to do what they have done.”

These models, whose memories are finger-posts for a succeeding generation, did not become such by accident, not by a single leap. No! they rose by successive, single degrees, each of which was wrought out by sweating brow and aching muscle.

The golden crop cannot be garnered till after the seed has been sown. The impression cannot be read till after the type is set in order, and the errors shown in the proof. Stones do not, of themselves, turn up as you pass by, to reveal the golden wealth hidden beneath them.


Depend upon Work—not Genius.

But usually young people are not willing to devote themselves to that process of slow, toilsome self-culture which is the price of great success. Could they soar to eminence on the lazy wings of genius the world would be filled with great men. But this can never be; for whatever aptitude  for particular pursuits nature may donate to her favorites, to her particular children, she conducts none but the laborious and the studious to distinction.


Good Books Easily Accessible.

The great thoughts of great men are now to be procured at prices almost nominal. Therefore, you can easily collect a library of choice authors. Public lectures are also abundant in our large cities. Attend the best of them and carefully treasure up the richest ideas. But, above all, learn to reflect even more than you read.


Careless Reading Impairs the Mind.

Reading is to the mind what eating is to the body; and reflection is similar to digestion. To eat, without giving nature time to assimilate the food to herself by the slower process of digestion is to deprive her, first, of health, and then of life; so to cram the intellect by reading without due reflection is to weaken and paralyze the mind. He who reads thus has “his perceptions dazzled and confused by the multitude of images presented to them.” There are a very large number of young men just entering upon life, of good minds but deficient education who, from this cause, are kept back and labor under great disabilities. Many of these are mechanics, and other have no regular calling whatever, and find it very difficult to earn anything beyond a very meager support. Upon these we would urge with great earnestness the duty of self-education, so called. The deficiencies of early years need not keep them back from positions of eminence in society—those positions awarded only to men of intellectual force and sound information—if they will but strive for them. A vast amount of knowledge may be gained in the course of a very few years, by rightly employing those leisure hours which every one has; and this knowledge, if of a practical kind, will always insure to a man the means of elevation in the world.

No matter what a young man’s situation and prospects are; no matter if he is perfectly independent in his circumstances, and heir of two millions, he will certainly become a worthless character if he does not aim at something higher than his own selfish enjoyment; if he does not indeed devote himself to some honorable and useful calling.


  Have Some Worthy Aim.

To be industrious, a young man must have a useful pursuit and a worthy aim. He must follow that pursuit diligently. Rising early and economizing his moments, he must earnestly persist in his toil, adding little by little to his capital stock of ideas, influence or wealth. He must learn to glory in his labor, be it mechanical, agricultural or professional. He must impress himself deeply with the idea that a life of idleness is one of the direst of all curses.


The Result of Idleness.

Vast numbers of young men annually sink from positions of high promise into utter abandonment and destruction. But admit that the idle youth so trims between sloth and industry as to avoid utter ruin; what then? He lives a useless, insignificant life. His place in society is aptly illustrated by certain books in a Boston library which are lettered “Succedaneum” on their backs. “Succedaneum!” exclaims a visitor; “what sort of book is that?” Down it comes, when lo! a wooden block, shaped just like a book, is in his hands. Then he understands the meaning of the occult title to be “in the place of another,” and that the wooden block is used to fill vacant places, and keep genuine volumes from falling into confusion. Such is an idler in society, a man in form, but a block in fact.

As nothing great can be accomplished without industry and an earnest purpose, so noting great can be accomplished without order. The one is indispensable to the other, and they go hand in hand as co-workers in man’s elevation.


  “Diligentia Omnia Vincit.”

No young man should wish to live without work; work is a blessing instead of a curse; it makes men healthy; develops their powers of body and mind; frees them from temptation; makes them virtuous and enterprising, and raises them to wealth, to honor and to happiness. The workingman of our country are its truest nobility. I refer, of course, both to those who work with their minds and those who work with their minds and those who work with their hands; and with these workers every young mans should be prompt enroll his name, and honor it through life by being a working man—a producer, and not a mere consumer of what other’s earn. Having chosen his occupation, let him give himself to it with patient, untiring application—resolve to rise and excel in it. If placed in discouraging circumstances, let him remember the adage of Cicero Diligentia omnia vincit. Our worthiest and best en have been formed amid difficulties and trials, and no young man should ever succumb to difficulties or shrink from toil.

I have seen young men starting from the humblest walks and rising to honor, wealth and influence in the various callings in life. I have seen others much their superiors in natural talents and external advantages, sink into inefficiency and neglect, unable to acquire any eminence or respect in the world. And when I have inquired into the cause of this difference, I have found almost universally that it was owing to perseverance and diligence in one case and to neglect and inconstancy in the other.


  Requisites of Success.

I have rarely known a young man fail to rise in the world, who pursued an honest calling with a steady, unwavering purpose to excel in it; and I have never known one fail to sink who was a slothful, unstable character. Industry and perseverance, coupled with fidelity, can do anything, but without them nothing can be done. Like the tortoise in the fable, it is the slow, sure, perseverance runner that first reaches the goal. It is not a few bold, fitful efforts that make a man of mark. Even the great Newton modestly confessed that he owed his success as a philosopher more to patience and attention than to any original superiority of mind. And we know many at the present day, among the most useful and respected in society, who have risen precisely in the same manner.

Idleness is the nursery of crime. It is that prolific germ of which all rank and poisonous vices are the fruits. It is the source of temptation. It is the field where “the enemy sows tares while men sleep.” Could we trace the history of a large class of vices we should find that they generally originate from the want of some useful employment and are brought in to supply its place.