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):
Put yourself on the same level as the person to whom you speak, and under penalty of being considered a pedantic idiot, refrain from explaining any expression or word that you may use.
If you happen to fall into company where the talk runs into party, obscenity, scandal, folly, or vice of any kind, you had better pass for morose or unsocial among people whose good opinion is not worth having, than shock your own conscience by joining in conversation which you must disapprove.
I was much pleased with the saying of a gentleman who was engaged in a friendly argument with another upon a point of morals. "You and I [says he to his antagonist] seem, as far as I hitherto understand, to differ considerably in our opinions. Let us, if you please, try where we can agree."
If a man complains to you of his wife, a woman of her husband, a parent of a child, or a child of a parent, be very cautious how you meddle between such near relations, to blame the behavior of one to another. You will only have the hatred of both parties, and do no good with either. But this does not hinder your giving both parties, or either, your best advice in a prudent manner.
If you can express yourself to be perfectly understood in ten words, never use a dozen. Go not about to prove, by a long series of reasoning, what all the world is ready to own.
Do not ruffle or provoke any man; why should any one be the worse for coming into company with you? Be not yourself provoked. Why should you give any man the advantage over you?
If a person has behaved to you in an unaccountable manner, don't at once conclude him to be a bad man [or woman], unless you find his character given up by all who know him, nor then, unless the facts alleged against him be undoubtedly proved, and wholly inexcusable. But this is not advising you to trust a person whose character you have any reason to suspect. Nothing can be more absurd than the common way of fixing people's characters. Such a one has disobliged me, therefore he is a villain. Such another has done me a kindness, therefore he is a saint.
If you send people away from your company well-pleased with themselves, you need not fear but they will be well enough pleased with you, whether they have received any instruction from you or not. Most people had rather be pleased than instructed.
~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)