I have only now to say that,
if you wish to be agreeable,
which is certainly a good... desire,
you must both study how to be so,
and take the trouble to put your studies
into constant practice.
The fruit you will soon reap.
~Arthur Martine, 1866
From Arthur Martine's
Handbook of Etiquette and Guide to True Politeness (1866):
MORE "General Rules for Conversation"
Nothing is more nauseous than apparent self-sufficiency. For it shows the company two things which are extremely disagreeable:
that you have a high opinion
that you have comparatively
a mean opinion of them.
It is but seldom that very remarkable occurrences fall out in life. The evenness of your temper will be in most danger of being troubled by trifles which take you by surprise.
Good humor is the only shield to keep off the darts of the satirical railer. If you have a quiver well stored, and are sure of hitting him between the joints of the harness, do not spare him. But you had better not bend your bow than miss your aim.
You will forbear to interrupt a person who is telling a story, even though he is making historical mistakes in dates and facts. If he makes mistakes it is his own fault, and it is not your business to mortify him by attempting to correct his blunder in [the] presence of those with whom he is ambitious to stand well.
Do not dispute in a party of ladies and gentlemen. If a gentleman advances an opinion which is different from ideas you are known to entertain, either appear not to have heard it, or differ with him as gently as possible. You will not say, "Sir, you are mistaken!" "Sir, you are wrong!" or that you "happen to know better!" but you will rather use some such phrases as, "Pardon me-- if I am not mistaken," etc. This will give him a chance to say some such civil thing as that he regrets to disagree with you; and if he has not the good manners to do it, you have, at any rate, established your own manners as those of a gentleman[/lady] in the eyes of the company. And when you have done that, you need not trouble yourself about any opinions he may advance contrary to your own.
~Martine's Hand-Book of Etiquette,
Guide to True Politeness:
A complete manual for those who desire to understand the rules of good breeding,
the customs of good society, and to avoid incorrect and vulgar habits
By Arthur Martine
Originally published in 1866 (Dick and Fitzgerald)