A general rule of etiquette is that one apologizes for the unfortunate occurrence, but the unthinkable is unmentionable.
Judith Martin (“Miss Manners”)
Manners are of more importance than laws…. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.
Edmund Burke 1796
Manners aim to facilitate life, to get rid of impediments, and bring the man pure to energize. They aid our dealing and conversation, as a railway aids travelling, by getting rid of all avoidable obstructions of the road, and leaving nothing to be conquered but pure space.
Ralph Waldo Emerson 1844
Manners are very communicable: men catch them from each other.
Ralph Waldo Emerson 1860
Good manners have much to do with the emotions. To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them.
Amy Vanderbilt 1963
Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.
Ralph Waldo Wmerson 1876
Good manners, to those one does not love, are no more a breach of truth, than “your humble servant,” at the bottom of a challenge is; they are universally agreed upon, and understand to be things of course. They are necessary guards of the decency and peace of society.
Philip Dormer Stanhope 1751
The total and universal want of manners, both in males and females, is … remarkable … that polish which removes the coarser and rougher parts of our nature is unknown and undreamed of.
Frances Trollope 1832 “Domestic Manners of the Americans”
This is no argument against teaching manners to the young. On the contrary, it is a fine old tradition that ought to be resurrected from its current mothballs and put to work…In fact, children are much more comfortable when they know the guide rules for handling the social amenities. It’s no more fun for a child to be introduced to a strange adult and have no idea what to say or do than it is for a grownup to go to a formal dinner and have no idea what fork to use.
Leontine Young 1965
… there is nothing so sad as lack of fine manners in a gentleman, except the lack of them in a lady.
Mrs. H. O. Ward 1878
Fine manners need the support of fine manners in others.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The farmer stands well on the world. Plain in manners as in dress, he would not shine in palaces; he is absolutely unknown and inadmissible therein; living or dying, he never shall be heard of in them; yet the drawing-room heroes put down beside him would shrivel in his presence; he solid and unexpressive, they expressed to gold-leaf.
Ralph Waldo Emerson 1870
Association with women is the basis of good manners.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe 1809
I have always been of the mind that in a democracy manners are the only effective weapons against the bowie-knife.
James Russell Lowell 1873
A child who is not rigorously instructed in the matter of table manners is a child whose future is being dealt with cavalierly. A person who makes an admiral’s hat out of linen napkins is not going to be in wild social demand.
Fran Lebowitz 1994
Traditionally Southern statesmen have been orators. A society emphasizing social rituals and manners requires a kind of reverence for words to adequately express sentiment and feeling. The dregs of this rhetoric remain the stock in trade of the grass roots politicians. The Southerner generally does not shy away—to the extent the Northerner does—from a use of language that is something more than bare statement. The Northerner, with his conditioned respect for practicality and getting-to-the-point is more likely to possess a far greater reading than speaking vocabulary and to associate anything more than simple expression with ostentation.
William Van O’Conner 1947