Sunday, June 18, 2017

Gentlemanly Behavior

We could use such behaviors now. From English Historical Fiction Authors:
So then, what did this ‘gentlemanly behavior’ (sometimes referred to as ‘good breeding’) entail? Through the centuries, numerous writers attempted to describe it. Philosopher John Locke (1693) suggested a young man of good breeding:

was decent and graceful in his looks, voice, words, gestures and general demeanor.
was pleasing in company, taking care not to offend others or demonstrating “sheepish bashfulness”
showed no excess of ceremony; did not flatter or dissimulate; was not mean.
In conversation displayed respect, esteem, good manners and goodwill to everyone.

In the mid-1700’s Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield wrote to his illegitimate son on the issue of that which would make a man “welcome and agreeable in conversation and common life.” (Chesterfield, 1984) His advice echoed Locke’s including:

“One of the most important points in life is decency; which is to do what is proper and where it is proper.”  (Chesterfield, 1984) Do not be ashamed of doing what is right.
Do not be distracted, rude or thoughtless during a conversation.
You should always endeavor to procure all the conveniences you can to the people you are with.” (Chesterfield, 1984) (In other words, think of others first and make them comfortable when they are with you.

Mason (1982) helps to sum up the overall English notion of a gentleman suggesting that the true English gentleman was a combination of both good birth and a sterling character. In addition to coming from a good family:

A gentleman knew his place in society and the world
While it was convenient for the gentleman to have money, he should never be one to be seen to count pennies
A gentleman was a man of principle, careful of his reputation, fulfilling his obligations, and behaving with integrity and honor in every situation
Gentlemen weren’t awkwardly bashful or formal; they didn’t put themselves forward in social settings, but rather stylish and elegant and considerate of others
Gentlemen show consideration for women and would never insult those below them be they servant or beggar.  (Read more.)

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