…. GENTLEMANLY CONDUCT.
– Self-respect is
the safest prevention against quarrelling. The man who is sure of his
own position is the slowest to suspect another of any design to question
it; - and hence the art of avoiding altercations has generally been deemed
one of the peculiar characteristics of a gentleman. Never to seem afraid
of being put upon, as the phrase goes – never to argue a question
merely lest people should think you can not argue it – never to
fight simply for fear the lookers on might think you a coward –
these are some of the maxims on which all men of superior minds act, habitually
and unconsciously; and it is this habit which gives to such men that air
of repose and self-possession before which fools stand abashed and dandies
are wile with envy.
Few men can have mingled, even in the slightest degree,
in society, without noticing that one prominent feature is the character
of a parvenue, is his proneness to take offence. His ankles are sharper,
his corns “more tender,” than those of other people. There
is really no knowing where to be safe with him. The moment you put your
finger on him, his bristles stand out like a hedgehog’s. The best
plan, of course, is to leave such a character alone. We should do our
best to avoid infringing on their ramified irritability. It is senseless
to provoke a man, whoever he may be, who has the power to be mischievous.
The man who wants to fight you in the streets because you push against
him, may be a low fellow, but that will be no consolation if you go home
with a black eye. Neither will it much mend the matter if you give him
two in return. On the whole, you will consider it a very disagreeable
business, and wish devoutly you had never to into it.