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Title: Good Form and Christian Etiquette

Author: S. M. I. Henry

Release date: January 12, 2020 [eBook #61151]

Language: English

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Good Form and Christian Etiquette

Good Form
Christian Etiquette



Battle Creek, Mich.
Chicago, Ill., Toronto, Ont., Atlanta, Ga.


Copyright, 1900, by



Let no one who shall do me the honor to read this little book suppose that I have been “laying down a lot of rules.” The most that I have attempted is to point out some of those regulations which the experiences of thoughtful men and women of the world have found necessary to good social order, as well as some of those things that a long experience in work for the unfortunate has discovered as requisite to the prevention of scandals and consequent ostracism.

To have seen conscientious young men and women struggling against the awful current of popular reproach because of certain things in conduct which, while innocent to them, have inevitably aroused suspicion in a suspicious world, is to at least wish to help those who have asked help, or who are willing to receive it, to the end that they may iv acquire that sort of knowledge which shall enable them to avoid such peril and contempt.

The questions which appear in these pages are bona fide questions, written and sent to me by those who asked them for themselves or others. The positions taken are all based on what I believe to be principles which must lie at the foundation of any social life that would keep itself unspotted from the world, and which can be used as a testimony to the gospel in the sight of a wicked and untoward generation.

I have not written for the world. Many writers have done that. Nor have I written for the nominal Christian; but for those who are earnestly looking for the best means of serving God and humanity, while they are also looking for that blessed hope,—the glorious appearing of our Lord.

S. M. I. Henry.


Good Form.


“Good form” is especially a society phrase, but it is full of meaning, such as has a direct bearing on even the life and walk of a missionary. It is of sufficient importance to engage the attention of any who would become cultured, and is practical and simple enough to become a subject of study in the most common, isolated home, in which children are growing up.

It is in good and bad form that is found a large share of all that difference which distinguishes the lady or gentleman from the slattern and the boor; and in the consideration given to this question of manners it is once again true that “the children of this world are wiser than the children of light.” Luke 16:8.


One of the first efforts that men or women will make if they have an “ax to grind,” or “something to borrow,” will be to appear well. If they have anything “to push,” an advantage to secure, which makes it necessary that some influential people shall be “won over” to some certain way of thinking, they will study every movement, turn, and word; learn tact, self-control, or anything else by which they can hope to succeed.

Many a man has practised facial expression for hours before a mirror, not for amusement, but for business; to the end that he might tone down or eradicate certain lines which would make an unfavorable impression upon those whom he met, and has carefully cultivated in their place those that would be sure to give him a better introduction among those whom he intended to use to his own profit or pleasure. This is constantly done in the interests of self, and has often resulted in forwarding those mercenary 5 and sometimes criminal ends for which it was designed.

For the same purpose men learn grace of carriage,—how to enter and leave a room, how to moderate every tone; and practise laboriously in private, to fix as habit anything which they believe to be desirable, and eradicate anything that would be a hindrance, so that they may never be taken off guard by any rush of feeling, and so jeopardize the selfish interests which are at stake.

For the same end little children are put into training of the most exacting sort, and grow up almost perfect copies of some great master in certain forms which, while in themselves empty, yet are like buckets, capable of holding anything. And until Christians are willing to labor as faithfully to become winsome themselves, and train their children to do the best of all work in the best of all forms, they have not yet come to love the truth as the world loves self.


The truth is to be carried to all people, high and low. A boor, who loves the truth, and who is filled with the Holy Spirit, may do a good work in some lines. If he has had no opportunities to know how to carry himself among men, except such knowledge as comes by being a Christian, God will keep him where he can be used, and will use him to his glory, and give him sheaves to bring home at last.

“Be a Christian” is an easy answer to the question, “How shall I conduct myself in such and such a case?” But a man may be a Christian, and yet, for the lack of some specific instruction in certain forms of procedure, perpetrate a blunder which will bring the laugh from the profane whom he wished to arouse to sober thought; or make a mistake, such as will carry and widely scatter a serious misunderstanding by which Christ will be reproached and his work hindered.


I am confident that in every home among all good Christian people there is a genuine desire to attain to the best training in everything that will make this best of all work go swiftly to the ends of the earth; but I am also sure that many have failed to appreciate that “the cause” has a right to be carried by the most perfect methods to which it is possible to attain. The truth is worthy of the best of all “good form” in home, church, and social life. Good form does not consist so much in putting on, as in putting off—keeping off—those things in deportment, speech, and association which are especially ungraceful, unwinsome, incorrect, and improper.

Social good form, although it seems to be of the world, worldly, represents just what Christ would do if he were living among men and women in ordinary social relations. The world has taken the best that worldly wisdom can comprehend of the Christ-life, 8 and carefully embodied it in a certain code to which it professes to hold itself; to which it does hold itself in public, whatever it may do behind the scenes.

It is manifestly true that the man who has the mind of Christ ought to grow, apple-tree fashion, as much of courtesy, gentleness, and all that goes to make an agreeable appearance, as the world can possibly buy in the market of good manners, tie on and wear, Christmas-tree fashion.

It is by his first appearance that the colporteur will open or close a door to the truth which he carries in a book, or in samples of health food. His manner in the homes where he is entertained, in public, on the train, the street, at camp-meeting, or on the platform, will close or open the hearts of even the hungry to the spiritual food which the minister is sent forth to serve in the Master’s name. The manner of those who occupy the field will play no insignificant 9 part in the work of building up the school, the college, the mission, and in reaching the uttermost parts with the gospel; and since the children now under training in the homes of Christian workers must have a share in the work of God in this time when it means more than it ever did for the servants of God to carry weights and hindrances, it seems a good thing to take up the consideration of what constitutes “Good Form,” or practical Christian conduct.

I have had my attention called to this subject by questions from young people, as well as parents; and this message concerning how to meet people and handle the things of this mundane sphere is to both parent and child, boys, girls, and young people, who are preparing for earnest work in the world.



Social life is important to the young; it can not be safely ignored in school life, therefore I must have these interests in mind as I write, and shall hope to help both the anxious parent and the thoughtful young student who would know how to do the right thing at all times.

It is, however, a great deal more important to be than to do; for it is out of the being that the doing must come. The point requiring the most anxious consideration is that we may learn to truly know and love the principle upon which safe conduct depends.

He who loves purity for its own sake—who hates impurity because of its vileness, instead of for the painful consequences which follow its practise, will never go very far astray from those manners which are of good report in any society on earth. He will 11 instinctively avoid the appearance of evil as far as he knows how evil appears.

There are a few principles which are always a safeguard and defense to those who will be controlled by them, which if woven into familiar thought will render correctness in the details of conduct spontaneous and inevitable. And yet circumstances may modify this fact. It is sometimes slow work to get hold of a principle; and some specific teaching as to just what to do, and what not to do, will often be a great help to even those who are pure of heart, and have a mind to avoid the appearance of evil.

Every detail of life must take note of the fact that the human unit called man was created male and female, and must begin his earthly career as boy and girl, each at best but a half of this unit. This, with many correlated facts, must be kept before us in the process of training. Up to a certain period boys and girls can play together and 12 associate with perfect unconsciousness of any difference between them, but the careful parent and teacher must be alert with reference to the time when nature awakens, after which their association can only be safely on two lines,—Christian work and general good fellowship; and these always under the chaperonage of some reliable and mature woman. This is especially necessary in all lines of work to which Christian young people in these days of special activity among the youth would be urged, such as missionary meetings, cottage meetings, Sabbath-school, house-to-house visiting. Without such chaperonage, boys and girls, young men and young women, should never go together, even in Christian work; but girls by themselves, and boys by themselves.

This is made necessary by the fact that nature has been perverted, that the enemy of all purity has taken possession of every avenue of thought, even from the cradle, 13 and has filled the mind of childhood with unprofitable imaginings, for which the only cure is the knowledge of the truth pure and simple, adapted to their comprehension, and such opportunities for association as shall make them mutual helps without stimulating that self-consciousness that leads to curiosity and evil suggestion.

Any allusion which would give the children an idea of the anxious thoughts which you entertain for them should be studiously avoided. Teach and practise them in all which constitutes true decorum while they are still too young to understand its significance and necessity, so that when the time comes that the youth shall need “good form” habits for the protection of a good name, he will have them already, as a part of that second nature which good breeding produces. The first teaching will naturally apply without any reference to sex differences, to that conduct which should prevail 14 between a company of girls and boys each in companies by themselves.

First, as to manners in public. Boys and girls should grow up with the idea that it is a great deal nicer for girls to keep each other company, and for boys to do the same, than for boys and girls to go together. Teach your boy to protect the girls of his acquaintance from any annoyance which his presence anywhere could produce. Make him understand that carefulness in this regard is the beginning of genuine manliness. Teach both boys and girls to be reserved and modest in their deportment toward all other boys and girls alike, boys toward boys, and girls toward girls. That boisterous familiarity among boys together is so unbecoming as always to breed contempt.

By this I would not have my readers infer that good form in behavior must in the least interfere with the “good times” that children and youth ought to enjoy. It does not 15 prevent that happy freedom which can alone make real “play” possible. Running, jumping, climbing trees, shouting, hallooing, can all be done without any violation of a single principle of good form as applied to childhood life. The trouble is that many parents and teachers have the idea that any form of conduct to be “good” must be grown-up and gray-headed, whereas one of the very worst of bad forms is for a child to appear old. Good form, the genuine sort, like every other good thing, will admit of any conduct which will promote strength of body, soul, and spirit. Real strength, which must always include the whole being, is perfectly safe, and a perpetual source of joy in the Holy Guest. Many popular plays and games, however, are so far removed from every principle which should control action and association, that they can not be indulged without rudeness, brutality, and in many cases that sort of familiarity which leads to immorality, and 16 should be thrown into the heap with all other bad manners.

It is bad form for two, three, or more persons to walk in an irregular huddle on the street, as children sometimes do, going backward facing the rear of the procession in order that conversation may be carried on. Even young children should be taught that the running, leaping, jumping, loud talking and laughter, which would be all right in the back yard, on some playground, or in the open country, is never to be indulged on the public street; that the moment the street is reached the deportment should become quiet, and have thoughtful reference to the comfort of the public.

They should understand the obvious reasons for this: A running child is practically a blind and deaf one; he must have plenty of room, or he will be almost sure to collide with something or somebody; in town will be in danger of teams or cars. The rule for 17 the street should be: Steady, quiet, careful, eyes to the front, no loud talking or laughing, no play, no swapping of knives, no reading, no chewing or eating, no clearing the throat or spitting if it can possibly be avoided. If this last is impossible, let it be done in the most unobtrusive manner, behind a kerchief; in short, let nothing be done which would inevitably draw the attention of passers-by, causing special notice and comment.

The craze for notoriety manifests itself in a thousand repulsive forms of street behavior, through which the grossest temptations attack the untaught and careless; and those parents who would protect their children from many nameless dangers must teach them good form as applied to street life.

Nowhere does good breeding reveal itself more quickly than in the quiet, unobtrusive “I-am-minding-my-own-business” air of the girl or boy, who, with an armful of books 18 held closely, looking neither to the right nor to the left, clips to and from school; or if walking and talking together by twos, it is with steady carriage and voices so modulated that no passer-by will overhear a word, nor think of being jostled.

Children should be taught by both word and example that when they are about to meet any person on the street they should fall back into single file at the right, while still far enough distant as to obviate all danger of interference. Who has not found himself caught on the street in a mob of schoolgirls or boys, often both together, who needlessly monopolize the walk, as with loud talking, wrangling, jesting, jaws working at both words and gum, they publish as upon the housetop the utter lack of good form in the homes from which they have come? The first blame for this disgusting spectacle always falls upon the children; but in truth it all belongs to the homes out of which they 19 have tumbled pell-mell without that instruction and those fixed habits which would have insured decorum and decency.

Every child should be taught to give courteous recognition to acquaintances. The boys should lift the cap to each other as well as to their elders, always to father and mother, if they chance to meet them on the street; and the girls by some modest feminine salute of bow or word. But some one may object that it seems “far-fetched” to train boys to this formal mannerism. To which I reply in the old adage that the “boy is father of the man.” The man in every relation in life will follow the lead of boyish habits unless indeed in the interests of some great conviction or self-interest he makes all things new. This can be done, but even then the traces of early habits will often remain to bring shame and confusion at some critical point when pleasure or profit are at stake.



The social life of boys and girls should be recognized and provided for as a department of the school in which they shall become educated in those things which make for social righteousness and purity later on. As boys treat each other, they will, as a rule, treat each other as men. As boys and girls behave toward each other, so will they as a rule behave as men and women. Courtesy is necessary to the highest degree of success in any enterprise. The boy who is habitually courteous toward other boys will be successful in winning his way as a man among men with any important message with which he may be commissioned; and if he is so instructed that he is gentle, considerate, and true to his mother, sisters, and girl associates, he will be a safe friend as a man, a representative of Christ to his own wife and children, and help to make that home which must stand as a witness for God in the last days.


The children in whose interests I am writing must be in a peculiar sense messengers of light to the world. They will be on the field of action in the very last scenes of the earth’s history, when souls must be snatched by a power of which we have little comprehension—the power to win quickly; the power to reveal the truth as in a flash of light, so that it will be recognized at sight by the bewildered, desperate soul that has awakened at the last moment to its peril and privilege, and with scant space for repentance and cleansing, cries out for help; and the Holy Spirit must find somewhere those whom he can train and use for the service which in those days must be done to reach every creature, high as well as low, with the gospel.

The truth is worthy of the best possible investment. Its messengers should be free from every offensive habit, custom, and manner—thoroughly equipped in all that is 22 most graceful, most scholarly, as genuine Christian scholarship goes; most refined, most chaste, and agreeable in both public and private intercourse. They should be the most suitably, and that means the most simply and tastefully, dressed.

The theory of the world considers as “good form” that each individual should dress according to the class which he represents; and the Christian who conscientiously and consistently dresses as his name “Christian” would indicate that he should dress, will be respected by even the frivolous “butterfly of fashion,” and will stand a good chance of a hearing by that same “butterfly,” even in the most solemn message, provided it is accompanied with the simple, easy courtesy of good breeding, such as can not be suddenly assumed “for effect,” but which is the result of life-long training. There are honest souls among so-called “social butterflies,” and some workers must be trained 23 to go out into the highways where they flit away their hopeless lives, as well as into the byways and hedges, where social wrecks are huddled in darkness and desolation.

The men and women who must do this work are now boys and girls in our homes or schools, and very much which shall determine the scope of their influence depends upon what the Spirit of God shall find available in them for use. A truly well-trained, courteous man or woman can be used anywhere, among any people; while the uncouth and untrained must be kept in a limited sphere. The truly cultured man or woman whose every gift and grace has been sanctified and consecrated, will be more sure to know what to do in the homes of the wretched and the haunts of vice for the alleviation of distress and the saving of a soul than those who have never thought it worth while to cultivate winsome qualities.

God has so arranged human life and relations 24 that even the most aristocratic and exclusive must take note of, and plan for doing, the same every-day things that are alike common to all; and the only question of deportment which can ever come between the uncouth and the refined, concerns the methods of doing these same most common things.

The mother in the humblest home, with the most meager opportunities, if she has a high enough appreciation of the mission to which her child is called as a representative of the precious “faith of Jesus,” can, in him, place at the disposal of the Holy Spirit such graces of gentleness, such a beauty of holiness, such winsome kindliness, such tact and address, as shall open the way for anything which he has to bring. But to do this she must begin with the child in his relation to the other children of his own age with whom he stands on an equal footing. To treat with deference and politeness only those 25 who because of age or position are recognized as his superiors, would train the child to sychophancy.

The man who can lead other men, except by some appeal to selfish or brutal passion, is very hard to find. A “man’s way” has passed into proverb, and stands for heedlessness as regards his treatment of his equals. His natural sense of pity will make him kind to the helpless, provided he can afford it; he will be respectful to the respectable because his own respectability requires it; and his general interest will lead him to court those who are in a position to bestow favors; but to be all that a consecrated Christian companion might be to those who are on the same plane with himself, or who are so outlawed by public sentiment that no accuser but conscience would arise against him for any wrong done to them, is the point of failure in the association of men with men and women, and is the result of an almost 26 universal idea that “boys don’t need to be so very polite to each other,” nor “so very particular” as to just how they talk when alone among themselves, and that the silly girl or “fallen” among women is legitimate prey for any man.

It is by “behavior” that men and women are protected from, or exposed to, especial and peculiar temptations, as well as made more or less effective in truth-teaching and soul-winning.

It may seem ridiculous to make the use of a handkerchief the subject of grave consideration, but it is a terrible fact that this little scrap of linen has become more dangerous than dynamite to the thoughtless girl in her teens who, for lack of proper teaching, picks up the little tricks of street flirtation, which have so defiled it that it has become almost indecent to handle it outside the seclusion of one’s own room.

Let a bright-faced girl take her handkerchief 27 in hand on the street of even a small country village, and she will immediately become the center of attraction to every lewd fellow who haunts public places, until he has found out what she intends to do with it; and the code of signals for which it is employed is of such a character that the most innocent may be charged with a lewd invitation by what might seem to be its necessary use.

The same is true concerning the sound made by clearing the throat and nasal passages, and coughing. These are all used as signals of vice; and many a giddy, but innocent girl has found herself in situations of great humiliation and danger, simply because she had not been forearmed with a little knowledge as to proper conduct in these matters.

Good form requires that the handkerchief be carried in the pocket out of sight; never brought out in public excepting in a case of 28 necessity, and then used as unobtrusively as possible. The importance of this matter is sufficient to warrant repetition even to line upon line and precept upon precept.

Those who will be able to do the best service in the closing work of the world’s history, to win the richest trophies for our coming King, will be those who, together with the “commandments of God and the faith of Jesus,” and the fulness of the Holy Spirit, will know and observe in deportment that which the world recognizes as good form.



The whole social problem, as regards pure living, home-making, and domestic comfort, depends on how young people, as such, shall deport themselves toward each other.

Some good people have seemed to suppose that, provided the children were converted, everything else would take care of itself, so that any specific instruction in “manners” must be superfluous, if not foolish. This is a fallacy of the same order as that which assumes that if a man is called of God to preach the gospel he needs no education or preparation, only to stand up, open his mouth, and give his vocal organs a chance to play, leaving God to do the rest; when the fact is that God will make good use of every faculty, and all the culture that is provided for him, but of no more. The name Christian should stand for the very best that is possible in education. Many a 30 Christian man has brought reproach on the name of Christ, not because his heart was bad, but because his manners were. Many a woman of pure purpose, who would not have committed a gross act for the world, has alienated her husband, made her neighbors suspicious, and lost her good name, just because she did not know what things were of good report, and therefore what must be of evil report. And these disasters resulted from lack of proper training in the early home on some points that seem too trivial to think about twice, and which, doubtless, many will feel have no place in a dignified discussion anywhere. And yet since these small things concern so much of weal or woe, so much of honor or shame, we may well afford to take time for their consideration.

One of the things most commonly seen, and about which all the world smiles, is a boy and girl standing on opposite sides of 31 the gate which opens toward her home. They have walked from school or church together, she has entered and closed the gate, and paused a moment for another word; he has taken this as an invitation to linger, and so they stand laughingly or seriously chatting, sometimes long after dark. The world calls it coquetry, but the young people do not mean it as such; to them it is probably far removed from every evil thought. They are innocent and honest; but you can not make the world, that is looking for evil, believe that they are not consciously flirting. It will estimate them accordingly, and soon begin to say, “That girl knows quite as much as she ought to;” and the good Christian people of the community will grow afraid of her as an associate for their daughters, even if those same daughters do the same thing.

These children have seen older young people, perhaps mother and the minister, 32 stand and talk and laugh in the same way. Some may ask, “Well, why not?” Because it is not good form, because a bad social savor attaches to it, because, no matter who does it, unless they are very aged, or are, like Cæsar’s wife, absolutely above suspicion (and who can venture to assume such a thing for himself), they will lose in dignity, suffer in reputation, become the butt of some sly joke from the class of people who need the help that can only be given by men and women who do not “allow their good to be evil spoken of.”

If children and young people form the habit of stopping to talk at the gate, they will do it as men and women; and by doing it, draw the evil eye, and invite gossip. Teach your boy and girl that good form requires that when they arrive at the gate, if they wish to continue the conversation, both should go on into the house together; or that, after he has opened the gate and 33 closed it after her, she should promptly say “Good morning,” or “Good evening,” and he should as promptly lift his hat, and walk away. If they enter the house together, good form requires that he, if he be young or old, should receive a family greeting, and that the members of the family shall be free to come to the parlor or sitting-room to which he has been taken, to remain and share in the conversation if they wish, until the call is ended.

Two young people should never suppose that they must sit in a parlor with closed doors; that father, mother, and every one else must be kept out of the way because Nellie’s friend (never call him a beau) has come to spend the evening. They should never consider it possible to extend that evening into and past the large hours of the night. This is one of Satan’s most fruitful wrecking devices, of which the young people will never think, themselves, unless their 34 training has tended to push them off away from their natural social guides, and keep bad social models before them.

When the boy, or young man, comes to spend an evening because you have a daughter, give him just as much of yourself as possible; make yourself so indispensable to the young people that they will naturally come to you wherever you prefer to sit, rather than try to entertain each other without you. This is not an unheard of thing, although one will sometimes hear Christian people answer to this teaching as if it were very extreme indeed.

“How then will a young man be able to say anything special to the girl?” To which it may be answered that if he is not able to find some way which is perfectly consistent with every principle of decorum, he is not worth listening to; and if that is true of him, it will be because he did not have his share of the right sort of home life and training.


In the social world, where Good Form is as binding as the Decalogue is to the Christian, fathers and mothers have made it impossible for a young woman to think of entertaining her young man friend shut away alone with him. Strange to say, it has been the modest home, the Christian parent, who has allowed Satan to set this trap for unwary feet by leaving the young daughter, without one word of instruction, to entertain some young man, perhaps a stranger, who passed as her lover, shut away in the “parlor,” while everybody was given to understand that no one must disturb the mysterious solemnities of “keeping company,” even if they should continue into the small hours. And as a result of this disregard of simple good form, which is as a fence against recognized danger, untold sin and sorrow have resulted.



The most worldly society decided long ago that it is very “bad form” for boys and girls of school age to think of lovers, of engagements, or of marriage. Not until the day of childish things is entirely passed, not until a young man has some settled purpose in life, some business or profession which insures an income, does “Good Society,” as it is called, smile upon any “serious intentions” between young people, and every effort is made to hold the children of the social world to this regulation.

All this is because of the fact which can not be repudiated that premature thinking along these channels is unhealthy, and disqualifies the youth for any real earnest preparation for practical life.

The world theoretically considers these preparatory years so important, and education so vital, that with every possible device 37 it seeks to keep the children unconscious of sex, and of the burdens which this consciousness always brings, until they have attained something like maturity.

Of course the world fails, because it is trying to do by sheer force of human will, and by human methods from outside influence, that which can only be accomplished by the growing from within of a divinely planted principle. But that which the world is struggling after, that about which it has made so many laws, has written and talked so much, and in which it is so often foiled, Christian parents ought to find practical and easy, because of the power of the Spirit which always accompanies every truth.

It is a fact, however, that many worldly homes have succeeded at this point, because they have faithfully taught the principle, even if without prayer or faith; while many Christian homes have failed, with all their praying and so-called faith, because they have ignored 38 the principle that marriage is for men and women, not for children; and that any association which takes cognizance of sex must be for marriage only; that if it is for any other object, it is coquetry, flirting, and consequently immoral.

This should be so faithfully taught to the growing child, and all words and conduct in home and Christian social life should be so under the control of this principle, and he should be so taught those habits of social intercourse which will protect him from premature and unhealthy thought, that he shall be able to grow up to the time of his own home-making untrammeled by the entanglements of unhallowed associations and their distracting memories.

Here again the boundaries of safety are marked by things which seem trivial. The social world counts it as “bad form” for young people to even shake hands upon introduction, because it has found out to its 39 shame and disgrace that there is danger in a hand-shake; and I am free to say that this social extreme is better than the freedom which sometimes obtains, because by that the young people become practised in a looseness of conduct which opens the way for trouble.

“Good form” toned down from the extreme rigidity of the social world, so as to meet the requirements of ordinary Christian intercourse, would teach that the hand-shake should be just what its name indicates—a clasp, a shake, and then a drop. Teach your son that he should never place any lady in the embarrassing position of having her hand crushed, or held one second; for if she has been properly taught, she will be sure that he is either ignorant, careless, or ungentlemanly in so doing; and if she is herself ignorant and careless, if she is weak enough to allow her hand to be held, she is in a condition where she needs to be protected 40 from herself; and your son should be able to be that protector.

Teach your daughter that if any man clings to her fingers when she has given him her hand in friendly, cordial fashion, if he takes the liberty of placing his other hand under her elbow, or taking hold of her arm, that it is her privilege and duty to teach him that he has committed a breach of good manners by withdrawing her hand, forcibly if she must, and stepping out of his reach. And any young man who is worthy of her friendship will in his heart thank her for the rebuke, and profit by it.

Many a boy who has grown up in a family of sisters, and among their friends, has, in going out into the world, had to suffer over and over such tortures of chagrin and shame as were almost unendurable before he could learn those little things in “good form” which should have been taught him by precept and example in his home from childhood; 41 and for a lack of the right teaching in this “hand-to-hand” relation, many a boy has been taken captive by shameless women, simply because he practised in the wider and more wicked world the free habits which were common in the neighborhood life at home, which, while neither right nor safe there, were not absolutely dangerous, because each knew everybody, and all were held to respectability by the short rein of close social relations.

Teach your daughter that it is not “good form” to allow a young man in walking with her to support her steps in any way, unless she has suffered some sudden injury. A sprained ankle would excuse any necessary help until a carriage could be called; or, if this were out of the question, until she was taken home. If she must have help, let her take his arm, and hold on; but teach your boy never to place his hand on a lady’s wrist, and lay her arm along his own, 42 holding her by hand and elbow. This is a most vulgar method of supporting any excepting one’s own wife, sister, mother, or some aged woman.

There is no possible reason why any young woman, who is in health, should, even after dusk, need support from any man. She ought to be able to keep her place in the road or field, or on the sidewalk, just as well as he can, and walk independently of his hand or arm. The notion that a woman must have a man’s arm for support is off the same loaf with all the other nonsense which belongs to all the rest of that “clinging-vine theory” which assumes that she is of necessity so much the weaker as to need his constant attention and care, especially as long as she is young and attractive. The old and wrinkled woman can as a rule take care of herself.

Woman has been made weaker than man by the sinful habits of life to which social 43 custom condemned and held her during the Dark Ages. This subjugation was her part of the entailed curse. But from this, with all its disabilities, she is to become free in Christ; and our daughters trained in Christian homes should at least be able to walk anywhere that a young woman ought to go without leaning on some man for support.

How much more graceful are the movements of men and women as they walk together, keeping step, but far enough apart so that each is perfectly free, than when locked together by the arms, especially in daylight, on a smooth path.

As age comes on, it is a beautiful thing to see a son or daughter supporting the steps of father, mother, or grandparents; but it is a pathetic scene, the beauty of which depends entirely upon its necessity. As a show of any special regard which two people may have for each other, it is ridiculous.



Good form requires that in passing through a door or gate the younger shall always stand aside for the elder, and that care shall be taken to open and keep the door, especially if it swings both ways, so that it shall not hit any one in coming to.

I was once forcibly reminded of this article of the “good-form” code by seeing a vigorous young college student rush through a door without any regard to an elderly woman whom he met in the passage, and whom he almost knocked off her feet in the encounter, leaving the outside door to swing back against her slender hand as she caught it to prevent its hitting her in the face. He seemed utterly oblivious to the fact that he had met any one, and by this unconscious rudeness he published abroad the fact that he had been reared in utter disregard of ordinary courtesy. This young man is trying 45 to do what is right; he wishes to do a good work in the world, but he is destined to feel the handicap of bad breeding, for which he is not responsible. He will be responsible, however, for continuance in bad form; for bad breeding may be made temporary in its effects by an earnest purpose to replace it by true culture. I knew a young man whose birth and surroundings in boyhood were as unpromising as could be imagined. His father was a very low, ignorant, drunken fellow, unclean and disgusting in all his habits, even when sober. His mother could neither read nor write, although she was possessed of intelligence and many true, womanly instincts, such as made it possible for the hovel in which they lived to bear some semblance to a home. This boy, who was the eldest of a large family, was bright enough to attract the attention of a “district visitor,” was clothed, and taken to the Sunday-school, and from thence went on 46 through a career of self-denial, self-training, and culture, always seeking the best things, holding every advantage gained from point to point, finishing his preparatory work as one of the most polished and consecrated young men of a large college circle, paying his way by skilled labor in a machine-shop for a few hours each week, while he was being equipped for a large field of usefulness. He became especially distinguished for the elegance of his deportment toward all with whom he chanced to be brought into association. It was often said, “He never forgets himself,” “He always does the admirable thing,” “You can depend on him to do the elegant always,” and the beauty of it all was that this was a part of his Christian life. He was always wanted, but the social world that coveted him knew that he could not be had for anything that was inconsistent with Christ.

Teach your boys and girls this principle 47 of deference to their elders, by example, as well as precept. Bring them up to practise it, with every other expression of cultivated manners, among themselves as brothers and sisters. The elder ones should, of course, never demand deference; that would be the worst of all bad forms. No true lady or gentleman will ever notice any disregard of personal rights. To demand this recognition, or to manifest resentment at its omission, is to forfeit one’s claim to it; but let each be ready to recognize the right of seniority, and that it is at least graceful for the younger ones to yield place and position to their elder brothers, sisters, and friends.

A well-bred girl or woman will open and hold the door for an old, elderly, or feeble man; will enter after him, and close the door herself, although he, if he has been trained in the habits of the “old school” of gentlemen, might insist on rendering to 48 her the courtesy due her sex, and wait for her to pass, even if she should be young enough to be his granddaughter; but it will be a gracious act for her to unobtrusively hold the humbler place which properly belongs to her, and wait until he passes in, unless, as might sometimes happen, she would be in danger of attracting undue attention by making longer effort to thwart his courteous designs, as well as possibly cause delay to others. In such a case she should quietly thank him, and pass on as quickly as she can without haste, so as to get out of the way.

Among men and women of the same generation it is expected that a man will be always ready to perform all those little chivalric courtesies for women everywhere which he would like other men to tender to his own mother, sister, wife, or special friend, and no more. For a boy or man to treat any other woman of the same age better than he 49 treats his own mother, sister, or wife, reveals the bad, disloyal heart which will taint the very best social “good form” with corruption. To demand from others for one’s personal friends better treatment than he himself gives, is to at once publish that he is guilty of the most contemptible form of selfishness.

“I let no man abuse my folks but myself,” was the frank confession of a young man who was always ready to fight any one who would treat his “folks” with anything like the neglect and disrespect that was his constant habit.

The little attentions which should become habits in youth, because they help to that appearance which will serve as adornment to every good doctrine, is the placing of the chair in the most comfortable position possible for another; seating grandfather or grandmother, father or mother at the table; the adjustment of a light; picking up the article that has been dropped; not waiting to 50 be asked to help if you should see that father, mother, or in fact, any one else, is looking for something which they do not seem to be able to find quickly, or if they are trying to save your steps by getting along with some inconvenience which you can see might, by a little effort on your part, be made to give place to convenience.

Nothing is ever lost “in the long run” by that sort of thoughtful care for others which is known as politeness. In traveling, or in passing in and out of a crowded church or hall, the truly well-bred man will never be found struggling in the midst of a jam to get through the door into the best seat, or up into the train before any one else. If he should be caught in a jam, he would not elbow people right and left; but would, while protecting his own person and those who are dependent upon him from injury, find his own chance of getting out of the tight place by helping others out.


In this selfish world nothing so quickly touches the popular heart as that sort of Christlikeness which is recognized as politeness to strangers in public places, and as carefulness in helping the weak, and in refraining from adding burdens to those who are hard-pressed by responsibilities. The man or woman who obtains control of the highest quality of influence is the one who has either from childhood been trained to think those thoughts that blossom out into beautiful considerateness, or who has taken himself in hand, and by vigorous self-training has pruned off the growth of selfish heedlessness, and grafted in the gentler graces of the Spirit.

One W. C. T. U. lecturer had been painfully impressed by the fact that baggagemen had to handle such heavy trunks. This was before so many little wheeled contrivances had been placed at their disposal. She accordingly supplied herself with two small 52 trunks in place of the one large one, for no other reason than to save the backs of the men. Her kind intention was kept to herself for years, and it went unrecognized at its full value until at length one day she encountered a grumpy old baggageman, who seemed to have a special grudge against any woman with two checks. He was from the first moment very uncivil, and threatened her with a charge for excess of baggage. She said but little, only went quietly along the baggage-room with him, identified the two diminutive parcels, and waited. He looked at them, then at her, colored like one who was ashamed of himself, and said:—

“Be them all?”

“Yes, those are all.”

“Well, what made you make two of ’em?”

“That is my way of helping to lift one big trunk,” she said.

“Your what?”


“My way of helping you to lift one big trunk.”

“It is? Well, I never! You did it to save our backs?”

“Yes: I never wanted any old man or boy to strain himself over a big trunk for me, so I divided mine in two.”

“Well!” ejaculated the grumpy old fellow, who evidently did not know anything more to say. His whole heart had suddenly mellowed, his eyes grew red, and his hands trembled as, taking off his cap, he changed those checks with the air of one who was performing an act of religion.

When he came with the two little bits of metal to the waiting passenger, still carrying his cap in his hand, and when she took them with a “Thank you,” and put them in her purse, he looked timidly into her face as if to see if he could possibly be forgiven. She chose not to make much of the incident, so she did not seem to notice his perturbation, 54 but with a simple “Good day,” left the baggage-room. But she knew very well that that old baggageman would never forget, and would perhaps be kinder to all the big trunks in the future for the sake of those little twin products of her kind intention.



“How I wish I knew just how one ought to behave in going into public places, meetings, and lectures,” said a young woman recently. Others have asked similar questions. I have heard something like this more than once: “Isn’t it dreadful not to know the little things that would prevent folks from looking at you and smiling in such a mean way?”

It is “dreadful,” as well as unnecessary that children should be left to grow up ignorant of any of those things, great or small, which will make it possible for them to enter the schoolroom, the church, the hall, and move about in such a manner as not to be objects of unpleasant observation to those who make politeness a profession.

All that has been said about the opening and closing of doors, and the rules of precedence, are always in full force, and should 56 become so automatic that they will never have to be remembered. Even at home, and in the small country schoolhouse place of worship they should be observed, if one hopes to always do the “nice way.”

In a small congregation where “everybody knows everybody,” there is a great temptation to fall into very lax manners, and so to cultivate habits that are hard to overcome, and which will cause chagrin by and by to the young man or woman who wants to appear well among strangers. Therefore it is wise to train the children to such deportment in the small church, or cottage meeting that they shall never be in danger of bringing reproach on the home which they have left behind them, by uncouth or disorderly behavior in any public assembly.

Any place of worship should be entered quietly, children and parents together, single file, in such order that there will be no 57 jostling, crowding, or changing of places. There are two ways of seating a family, either of which is good form. In one case the father enters first, followed in order by the mother, the youngest child, and then the others according to age, so that the eldest comes last. At the opening to the pew, or row of chairs, the father turns, standing to face the others, and waits until all have passed in and are seated, when he takes his place at the entrance. This arrangement gives the mother the seat in the farther corner, with the “baby” beside her, while the eldest child is next to the father.

In the other case the eldest child leads, and passes into the farther end of the seat, followed by the other children in such order as to leave the “baby” next to the mother, who sits in the second place from the end, beside her husband.

Sometimes when there is a large family, it is necessary to separate the children by placing 58 the mother in the midst of them between two restless ones. But whatever order is necessary, let it be so matter-of-course that the coming in and seating shall be in that decorous manner which will impress the children with the sacredness of the service for which they have come.

Teach the child that in entering a seat or row of chairs, good form requires that he shall pass clear in to the farthest vacant place, or that if he has dropped down in the end or middle of the row, and others come to claim seats beyond him, he should always either arise, come out and stand to allow them to pass in, or himself go on to the farthest place. Teach him, never, under any circumstances, to make it necessary for any one to climb over his feet and legs to reach a vacant place. This is one of the most common and worst forms in which bad training in deportment manifests itself.

Also teach your child to refuse to climb over 59 anybody’s feet. Instruct him either to wait for a decent chance to enter that seat or to find another. The ludicrous, not to say unbecoming appearance of a woman who tries to drag herself over the knees of some man who remains immovable in the end of the seat, or who attempts to draw himself up to “make room” for her to pass, is entirely out of harmony with the spirit which should prevail in a place of worship; and the young man coming from home with this habit, which has been formed by climbing over his brothers and sisters, as well as parents and guests, and letting them climb over him, will be left some sad day to wonder why people stop at the entrance to the pew where he sits, wait an instant, look at him so queerly, and then pass on, as if they were not willing to occupy the same seat with him. He may think it is because he is from the country, because he is not stylishly dressed, because they are very 60 “stuck up,” when it is simply because they do not choose to climb over his legs to find a seat.

But your daughter should be so taught that if she must stand in the aisle and wait for some man to get it into his head that he had better move on, or come out so as to allow her to pass, she shall do it kindly and without contempt; for, of course, the poor fellow would do better if he only knew how.

Teach by precept and example that wraps and rubbers should not be put on until after the benediction. If your boy should grow up to the dignity of door-keeper in the house of the Lord, he should know that extra seats should never be removed from the aisles, nor doors be opened, until the last “amen” has been reverently uttered.

I believe that reverence and a proper understanding of the meaning of the sacred hours of worship would be wholesomely inculcated by the practise of sitting down 61 in silence for two or three minutes after the benediction, or long enough for any necessary things to be done, such as the orderly passing out of the congregation might require.

Good form requires that there be no loud talking, visiting, laughing, bustling, or confusion of any sort in the breaking up of a congregation. In fact, instead of a breaking up, it should be a melting away, each for himself seeking to hold in thought, and carry with him all that is possible of the subject which has been considered, avoiding everything which tends to dissipate or to divert the mind from its contemplation.

This is the good form which nominal Christians require and teach. It is only the form, if you please, at the best dead, by which the worldly professor seems to be trying to make up what may be lacking in real spiritual worship; but that very fact proves it to be more than ordinarily worthy of consideration 62 and adoption by the most spiritual. Upon the same principle that our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees should our courtesy and good breeding exceed that of the most cultivated people of the world.

That behavior which everybody recognizes as becoming the house of the Lord, is that which would most certainly distinguish Jesus if he should come in among us; and the true worshiper who will clothe himself with these gentle, Christlike graces of conduct will be no less truly a Christian, while he will certainly be more quickly recognized as such.



One of the evils which the good-form code is intended to control is that of the money and gift obligations, and the part they play in the association of young people; and in this the burden of preserving the just balance falls upon the young woman, although it is equally necessary that both boys and girls shall be so instructed that they shall each contribute an equal share of that mutual protection which good form is intended to assure.

A sentiment still lingers in the social world—a relic of medieval gallantry—to the effect that a young man must grant anything that a lady asks, even if, to secure it, he must risk his life, or character, or the last “quarter” with which he was to buy his dinner. This asking on her part need not be really asking: it may be only suggesting, or consenting to accept. She may only 64 exclaim, “Oh, wouldn’t a sleigh-ride be just too lovely for anything!” She may have become naughty enough, without intending any harm, to say this on purpose to make the boy whom she delights to tease begin mentally to count over his small supply of change to see if he can possibly afford the rig. Girls have been known to take a queer sort of delight in leading a young fellow on to spend his last penny, to contract a debt, and go hungry, because he did not bravely refuse to take the hints that were intended to lead him into expenditure such as he could not afford.

No girl who has been properly trained, or who has truth and the elements of womanliness within, will ever resort to any such expedient for her pleasure, but will keep herself from all or any such social entanglements as would lead to anything so base. She will not allow a young man to place her under obligation, even to the extent of car-fare.


Teach your growing daughter that to receive a gift of any sort from any boy or man outside of the immediate circle of intimate, well-known family friends, is dangerous, if not disgraceful. Gift-giving and gift-receiving has come to be a vice. It is often intended as a sly, covert method of buying you. Gifts are employed for “padlocking the mouth” of those who know something which, if told, might spoil some selfish or criminal plot; and this is by no means confined to Tammany Hall.

Many a girl has kept some dangerous bit of knowledge hidden in her secret thought, and has been compromised by it, simply because she had thoughtlessly accepted some bauble from some man whom she supposed to be a friend until, the ulterior motive being revealed, she discovered that the gift was a bribe, and its possession a confession of dishonor; and then she has found herself in a great strait between her desire to be free and yet to keep the trinket.


I had given a plain talk to a company of schoolgirls; and many questions had been passed up to me, in answering which I had touched some of these points. At the close of the meeting, a few girls lingered to speak to me, each waiting to ask some questions “all for herself alone.” So while the others waited at a safe distance, they came, one by one, to whisper their perplexities in my ear. How my heart was taken captive by those girls, as with shamefacedness, with trembling lips and burning cheeks, they asked me questions which were revelations both of the lack of early home teaching and of the methods by which an evil world had tried to make them wise!

“I have got afraid of a lovely necklace that my friend gave me,” said one of them. “I’ve wished a hundred times he hadn’t given it; but what in the world can I do with it?”

“Send it back to him,” I said; “tell him 67 you know more now than you did when you accepted it, and that you can not keep it.”

“But that would make him furious. I—I—dare not make him angry.”

“Then if he is so dangerous, you certainly dare not have him for a friend. If he is worthy of your friendship, he will understand and respect you all the more for this course. If he is not worthy of your friendship, the sooner you find it out, the better.”

“O—but—,” and the poor girl burst into bitter weeping. Then after a few moments, with a sudden firm resolution expressed in her face, she dried her eyes, looked up at me, clasped my hands as if to hold herself by them, and said, “I’ll do it,—I’ll do it right off,—and if he wants to make it hard for me, he may. I’ve kept honest,—God knows I have,—and he knows it, though he hasn’t helped me, as he said he would.”

“He promised to help you?” I asked.


“Yes, he did; he said I could trust him; that he’d never let a girl be compromised in his company in the world; but if I had done, and gone, as he insisted, lest if I didn’t he would have been provoked, I should have been talked about long ago. I thank you so much. I’ll get rid of it. He may have his old necklace, and keep it to give to his wife.”

“That is right,” I said. “She is the only one who can wear or own it with safety.”

The young man with a good heart, who is well taught in that which is best in good form, will never offer to any lady outside his own immediate family circle any gift but flowers; and those in the most delicate unobtrusive manner, such as will leave her, in receiving them, absolutely free to pass them on to some hospital patient if she chooses. To make her feel, by even a look, that she is under any obligation to wear a flower because 69 he sends it, is to rob it of its fragrance and beauty, and make it fit only for the dust heap.

Because of the possibilities which I have suggested, and many others to which they lead, good form requires that a young lady shall make it practically impossible for any man not intimately related to her to spend any money, or force any gifts, upon her.



I should not do my whole duty if I did not make some reference to the “holy kiss,” nor yet contribute what I can to enlighten the mothers who honor me by reading my book concerning the universal but almost unspeakable questions that are always coming into the minds of young people about this sacred form of salute. You may know as much about these questions as I do, perhaps more; but there is many a mother who never dreamed that they could infest any brain but her own, and she never dared speak of such a thing.

One girl came to me, her face suffused with blushes, but with a determined expression about her mouth, and said:—

“I am going to ask you something right out plain, because I think you will not laugh. I’ve never dared ask anybody yet, because everybody always laughs in such a 71 mean way if you try to find out anything about such things; and I’d like to know how girls are going to know just what to do. Now it’s just this way: I am going with Charley, and he is a nice boy; he wants to do what is right, I know he does, but all the boys have such queer ideas about their ‘rights.’ When he takes me home from church or any place—and I’ve just got so I dread to have him; and sometimes I think I won’t go with another boy as long as I live, because, you see, when I go to say ‘Good night,’ he—he thinks I am so queer because I won’t let him kiss me. But I won’t; I never let anybody but my own folks. I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s nice to do that way unless it’s somebody you’re sure of, and love very much. He says I’m queer; and he gets provoked, and says it’s his right, if he goes with me. Now I want to know—is it?”

“No; it is not,” I said, positively, and 72 perhaps with a little flavor of indignation. “And no properly instructed young man would make such a claim. He is not to blame, of course,” I added more mildly, “for he is young, too; but your instincts are all right; they are true; they are of God who made the kiss, and gave it its own place in common human language. It belongs to the home, and to the purest Christian fellowship between man and man, woman and woman; to society, never.”

“Oh, I am so glad I asked you!” she said; “for I was sure my feeling about it was right. But you know one doesn’t like to offend one’s friend, and one doesn’t like to be called queer. But what does make boys act so,—good boys, too, for Charley is a good boy?”

I can not bring into the compass of these pages all that followed in our talk, but I would like to give the points of truth to the young mothers for whom I write.


The answer to my young questioner is found in the fact that boys, as well as girls, have been left in ignorance of the principle, as it is in God, of which the kiss is one form of expression, and have been left to catch up its perversion as Satan has undertaken to work it into custom and habit, in the world. Anything which Satan can not wholly spoil, he will counterfeit; or, better yet for his purpose, make so common, if possible, that it shall become worthless, as was the case with silver in the days of Solomon, when it became as the stones of the street, and “was nothing accounted of.”

The kiss, made common, is ridiculous. To be worth anything, it must speak exclusively the language of a pure, changeless affection, such as is represented in the love of God for his children. It belongs more to the parent and child, brother and sister, than to friend and companion. It is, as before intimated, fraternal, not social. As soon as 74 any attempt is made to drag it into society, it becomes disgusting, and is always soon driven out by storms of ridicule. Therefore good form has taken it in hand, and has determined its sphere and office with the most arbitrary insistence. And again the voice of society is but an echo of the voice of truth and purity. Good form has decreed that the kiss, public and indiscriminate, is either an indication of unmitigated rusticity, of shameless immorality, or is to be understood as a joke,—very funny on its first spontaneous utterance, but very flat if repeated. Indulged in private, outside the sacred boundaries of the family, between men and women, it is unpardonable,—unatonable, at least as far as the woman is concerned. Good form requires that every young lady shall be so well trained that she will keep her lips absolutely untouched for her husband, after the words have been spoken that make him her husband.


The “betrothal kiss” of the romancer has been brought under suspicion in real life by the fact that betrothal is, in our day, not by any means equivalent to marriage; and the young man who knows the world, and yet sufficiently regards truth and purity to seek them in a wife, would vastly prefer to find his lady friend rigidly determined to keep her lips to herself as long as they two are yet twain, rather than to find them always at even his command.

In the correspondence that has come to me as a result of “Studies in Home and Child Life,” is to be found pitiful evidence of the ignorance in which young people are allowed to grow up, even in a matter which may seem, like this one, trivial and bordering on the ridiculous.

The habit among children of kissing everybody is little short of vicious. Kissing games of every description are considered vulgar, anywhere outside the immediate 76 family circle, and even then, because of the trend of habit, they are not good form.

There is great possibility of infection in the kiss. The remains of old teeth, the breath and lips of those who are in any wise diseased, make kissing dangerous. It is well-nigh impossible to find a clean, sweet mouth in these days of human degeneracy; and because of these facts the little children are exposed to every malignant disorder that is afloat, and many that are hidden deep in the foul cisterns of the broken-down body of grandparents, father, mother, and the strangers who straggle in and use their “rights” on the freely rendered lips of the little innocents.

The warnings of science, of which so many make light, are timely, and should be religiously regarded as the authority of God by every one who does not know within himself that he has so faithfully brought his whole being into conformity with every law of life 77 and health that he is clean through and through, so that the sensitive lips of his babe can come to his with the same certainty of a blessing in the caress that the bee has when he goes to the white clover of the meadow.

He, and he only, who has brought himself fully into harmony with both the letter and the spirit of Isaiah fifty-eight may freely give his lips to his child, out of which to drink his fill of love. And the home that is brought into this beautiful accord with Christ may be as the garden of the Lord, from which all lips shall, with every caress, gather that word of life that is sweeter than honey.



The time is at hand when the truth must be taken into every lane and walk of life—into king’s palaces, into halls of learning, into banquet rooms, and into homes of refinement and culture, as well as to the haunts of poverty and crime; for the whole earth must be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. No soul must be left to arise in the second resurrection and say, I did not know the way of life, or I would not have been here. There are being prepared in all Christian homes those who shall become the messengers of this gospel of the kingdom to every rank, grade, and condition among men.

This is a consideration for every Christian mother and father. As among the children of Israel every maiden held in her heart the secret hope that she might be the mother of the promised seed of David, so now, however 79 humble and far away from every center of influence your home may be, however meager its furnishing, however much you may seem to lack incentive to noble effort, there should be inspiration in the thought that the little child playing about your feet, whose life and habits you are molding, may be one who shall be called to bear the vessel of the Lord, which is his Word, filled with the holy oil of his Spirit, before some council of earth’s great men, and to answer for the principles by which the world is to receive its final test.

By this I do not mean that he may be called to suffer martyrdom,—although that is possible—but I refer to the fact that he may have the yet grander ministry of standing up to be quizzed and catechized by those learned in the wisdom of the world concerning all that he has been taught of Christian principle, health, disease, and life in the Holy Ghost.


Unquestionably, this work is waiting for some select few of our young people in the not far distant future. Some great council of physicians will wish to know all about what the medical missionary physicians teach, and why; the chemists of the world will wish to know the philosophy of the system of dietetics which will keep the temple of God in repair; and, as is almost always the case among the people of the world, there will be eating and drinking on a large scale connected with all these investigations; and your boy or girl may have to accept the place as guest of honor at some such feast, and carry himself elegantly, for Christ’s sake and the truth’s; for the banquet, the dinner, the lunch, play an important part in all social affairs to-day, and will until the end of probation.

If a man of means and social standing becomes interested enough in what you know of Christ to hear you out on it, he will make 81 you a dinner, invite a few friends, and give you a chance to talk and tell all you know. And if you know how to take advantage of the opportunity—how to avoid giving offense by your manner of speech and habits of conduct; if you know how to charm and win by your personality, you have placed at the command of truth an instrument that can be made effective where, otherwise, no entrance could be gained.

Nowhere is the observance of good form more necessary to one who has work to do in the social world than at the table; for here bad habits may be given such disgusting publicity as to render them a cause of reproach to any good cause; and the obligation is upon every Christian home to see that its children are so instructed that they shall be ready to quickly fill any place to which the work may call, and to stand with dignity for the truth in any place that can be opened to its consideration.


A home of wealth and elaborate appliances is not necessary for such training. A child who is instructed in the proper use of the few simple things that constitute the furnishing of the most humble home, and in those rules of good form that ought to be the natural order in any place, will not be left to carry with him into some important convocation careless table habits, which, under the pressure of a sense of responsibility, would certainly come to the front, in place of the few better ways that he might have picked up and stored away for occasional and special use.

In “acting out just what is in him,” he will not bring himself and that which he represents into ridicule; the opportunity of giving the truth a chance to shine will not be lost, while honest souls are left in the dark; the breath of personal contempt will not obscure the character of Christ, which he is supposed to represent. He will be accepted, first, because it is agreeable to look at him; he will be heard because no good reason 83 appears why he should not be; and after that, everything will depend on what he really is and has down under the surface, in the place where he lives alone with God.

“But,” you say, “the Lord, who calls a man to stand in any place, will prevent any disaster to the cause, provided his servant is honest.”

Yes, God will be able to use even his servants’ infirmities after he has “helped” them (Rom. 8:26); i. e., added to them his strength and wisdom. And this which we are considering is all in the nature of helps to infirmity and ignorance. It is in the direct line of legitimate education for the very best Christian service.

The honest-hearted laborer for God, who, with his heart full of love, starts out in his ignorance and awkwardness to “do something” for God and souls, will find “something” to do; but we are now considering a work which every man could not do, and yet which some one must do.



I must believe that the parents who fail, from carelessness or from “lack of ambition”—the holy sort, which is equivalent to consecration and diligence—to give the child the best possible preparation for a good work, will be held responsible for the failure that would have resulted if God had not stepped in with some special helps and prevented it.

Love for God will cover a multitude of social sins; but those who are responsible for the sins will sometime have their reproach to bear. God does not like to have to cover sins; he only does it so as to keep things looking as tidy as possible, until they can be put entirely out of the way. Covet the best gifts for your child, give him the best possible social habits, and then turn him over to God for work, and God will find rare service for him.


There are many teachings as to what constitutes good form at table. It would be impossible for the ordinary mortal so to acquaint himself with them as to become a “social success;” and this is far from our purpose. All we need care about is to see that the habits formed are free from anything offensive. Society is kind to one who is not ambitious for social distinction,—one who has something to say that is worth hearing, who represents a principle, or some new thing the discussion of which may possibly furnish an agreeable diversion,—very much after the manner of the Athenians in Paul’s time; so that even if one does not “know all the ropes,” like one “to the Manor born,” he will be received and heard, provided he does not blunder into the few things which good form has decreed that he must not do under any circumstances.

Among these prohibited things are thrusting out the elbows from the side so as to 86 push his neighbor at table; resting the elbows on the table; and extending the legs under it so as to bring the feet in the way of those belonging to the guest opposite. If any guest does these things, he may be sure that there will be at least three people over whom the best and truest things that he can say will have very little influence.

The eyes of those who chance to glance his way will be seriously offended and quickly averted if he should take up even a half-slice of bread and bite into it. Good form says that bread must be broken off in small bits, just when needed, not spread, but with a small lump of butter placed upon it (provided one uses butter), conveyed to the mouth with the thumb and finger of the left hand. You will be permitted to bite the piece in two once if you wish, but no more; that is, it must not be more than two “mouthfuls” to begin with. Under no circumstances must anything, such as fruit-pits, 87 etc., be ejected from the mouth into a spoon, fork, or plate, but taken from the lips with the left thumb and finger, and placed on the plate. Neither bread nor any refuse is ever to be placed on the cloth, but on the side-dishes provided; or, lacking these, on the one plate that is being used.

Food should not be conveyed to the mouth with a knife, but with a fork, always excepting soup, and such sauce as must be handled with a spoon.

Do teach your children not to thrust the point of the spoon into the mouth, but to take its contents with the lips from that part nearest the handle, without the least possible sound. Teach them not to lift the spoon so full that it will drip; and as your boy grows up into mustaches he will need to learn how to take soup and sauce without defiling those manly ornaments, or else to let soup alone at the banquet. But you can teach him from 88 childhood to handle his napkin so deftly as to keep his lips clean, even after they have put on their thatch.

As to the napkin, by all means habituate the child to its use, even if it be nothing more than a square of old calico or flour-sacking, hemmed, or even unhemmed. He can learn on a piece of his mother’s old apron how to use the fine linen of the king’s banquet-hall, and do it so daintily that the apron and the mother who wore it down to napkin dimensions will confer honor on the king’s damask.

O my sister mothers in the many humbler homes of those who love our Lord and are looking for his appearing, has it seemed to you that any of these things that I have written are trivial or burdensome, wholly outside the sphere of life in which you and your children will ever move? Are you so overburdened with many cares that you feel, when the food is cooked and placed “anyhow,” 89 that your part is done; that the family may come “just as it happens” and eat, simply to satisfy hunger, as do the cattle in the field? Have you thought that if you could but get through the day anyhow, your duty was done? Still you must meet the certainties that are before you. Your children must bear a part in the closing scenes of the world’s history,—ask yourself if there is not something for you in these things that I have written. They have been written with a most solemn sense of their importance. They are a part of the gospel message; they concern the work which some one now in training must do before the Lord can come.

The knowledge of how to prepare and serve a hygienic dinner, as well as how to select suitable portions and decline others, at a worldly banquet, may be absolutely necessary to the winning of souls in the last call to the world.



Nothing is of more importance to success in any work than conversation. How to converse so as to win and not wound, to both give and gain, is an accomplishment which has very nearly passed into the list of lost arts. And here again good form comes to the rescue, and by its placid but arbitrary code offsets that lawlessness into which even good men have fallen in excess of zeal.

Sixty years ago the rule for children was that they “should be seen and not heard,” so that a child’s talk was almost unknown in a company of adults. This was so wrong that it has reacted in a sort of wild freedom upon the part of the children which, uncorrected, develops into the adult chatter-box and gossip, than which no character is more to be dreaded.

Bad habits of conversation are very hard to break, and since it is by the “calves (or 91 sacrifice) of the lips” that we are especially to honor God, by “words fitly spoken,” and that we are to “give a reason for the faith that is in us,” it is not of small importance that we should know how to talk. Begin with the baby, therefore, so that the child shall grow up into correct forms of speech, and into that regard of all good form which shall not only give him at once the ears, but the hearts of the people.

I scarcely need to say, Do not use slang, for this is universally understood as out of harmony with Christian practise; but yet it may not be amiss to say that even the world of society, whose laws of behavior we are considering, would ostracize one whose language was punctuated with much slang. An oath would be more tolerable to so-called “polite ears.”

Money, or prominence, will for a time give a man social passport in spite of all manner of ill-breeding. He can buy a place and recognition even from those who despise 92 him; but this is not the sort of recognition in the interests of which I am writing. I am pleading for that which shall gain a hearing for the custodians of a truth without which no man can live, and for the reception of which few are as yet prepared. It is for the sake of the honest souls who are in the darkness of the world’s “culture” that I am pleading. They have a right to know all that the Spirit of God has been sending to his people concerning that all-round righteousness that makes up the sum of that whole gospel for the whole man, which is included in an uttermost salvation; and some tongues must be so cultured as to talk the way open for truth just as effectually as a wag can do it for fun, a singer open it for a song, or money open it for blind boorishness; and the quiet mother in the home must have a large share of this work.

To this end teach the child that he must listen when any other child is speaking until 93 he has finished; never to interrupt, or, if it is necessary to give some information, to say, for instance: “I beg your pardon, but,—” or, “Willie, if you please, was it not on Wednesday instead of Tuesday?” Any interruption simply for getting in a word should never be indulged. Teach him to wait patiently for a fair chance to speak, no matter how great may be the temptation to “thrust in his oar.” This should not be construed to include those playful interruptions in the merry tangle of words which all children delight in “once in a while,” “just for fun.”

Teach him to avoid all abrupt forms of expression, such as “Give me that!” “Don’t!” “Stop!” “Quit!” “Get out!” “You sha’n’t!” “I won’t!” If he never hears such phrases at home, he will not be apt to catch them; but if he should, a few little experiences such as he would certainly meet as a man upon entering the social 94 world, with the adult equivalents of these words, would teach him that they were very unprofitable. Let him find out that he can get nothing in that way, and he will begin intuitively to cultivate his tongue to acceptable speech.

It is not good form to talk at table about the physical organs, or the processes of digestion, excepting when some special occasion should require, and then it should be by the most delicate allusions. The mention of any form of disease, or of death, would be considered exceeding bad form; also any malodorous topic of any sort. Table conversation should be such as to inspire every good feeling; appetizing, promotive of good fellowship, comradeship, faith, hope; optimistic in every sense of the word. The children should be taught that no complaints or grievances are to be mentioned there, because such things always have a tendency to destroy relish for food, 95 and retard the process of digestion. A chronic grumbler at the table will threaten a whole family with dyspepsia. “Let your conversation be seasoned with salt,” is a good injunction; and if the Scriptural rule is followed at home, the child will grow up capable of taking the gospel message anywhere without personal offense, even if he must go into many untried places. Neither will it be necessary for him to “premeditate; but whatsoever shall be given ... in that hour” (Mark 13:11) he shall be able to speak.

I have confined myself to the Form,—a form which, though good, is dead,—the letter of the social code, which is at best a lifeless thing, a burden, a barrier, often a cause of heart-burning jealousy, wrath, anger, adulteries, and every sort of contention. There is nothing so cruel as a quarrel carried on under the cloak of good form. The bitter sarcasm of a war waged with polite words 96 and phrases, the tones keyed to simulate tenderness and love, as society requires, but breathing of hate, makes a combination in which Satan is especially manifested as in nothing else in the world. Truly the letter killeth. The social code is all right, but, lacking the Spirit, it is a rotting carcass. However, since it was modeled after Christ, it requires but that the Holy Spirit shall breathe life into it to make it an instrument for the accomplishment of necessary work in carrying the gospel to every creature.

It is manifestly better to be filled with the Spirit than covered with all the forms in the world; but good form, vitalized, will make any messenger so ready for any good work in any field that he need take no thought how or what he shall speak, for it shall be given him the same hour. “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Matt. 10:20.



Even good form may be made too burdensome to be endured, and it is the privilege of conscientious Christian society to strike the happy medium between this oppressive formalism and the true kindly life which can cause even the violation of all form to be almost unnoticed.

It is better to have the good life without the good form than to have the good form without the good life; but it is our privilege, and duty as well, to have both.

In treating upon this subject it must not be forgotten that there are forms and forms. Each city aims to be a center of social good form for itself and its suburbs. Each has its own little peculiarities, as, for instance, its own manner of using visiting cards,—the size, shape, turning of the corners this way and that as signals; all of which differ according to the decree of the social leaders 98 of a great center of social influence; and yet the manners of one city would never be considered blunders in any other, however much they might differ, provided they were sincere, easy, adjustable, and dainty. It is not, however, considered elegant to ignore the customs of the people among whom you may visit. That which your hostess considers good form should be good to you while you are her guest, unless some principle is violated. Good form requires concessions to even ignorance without any of the “I-am-more-cultured-than-you” air.

Because of this diversity of forms it will be manifestly impossible for any one to know just what would be considered good form in every detail the world over. As in everything else which involves principles and their application, it is true in this, that if you know and appreciate the opportunities, and keep your eyes open, you will be able to avoid serious mistakes.


In reply to many questions of a miscellaneous character I bind a little sheaf of gleanings with which to conclude this subject of good form.

“When a gentleman friend of the family calls, is it proper for the wife to go on with her work, and not go to the parlor at all to welcome him, but to leave him to be entirely entertained by the husband? Or is it necessary that she go to the parlor, and remain during his visit? Would it be proper for her to leave the room during his visit without asking to be excused?”

First of all I wish to drop the remark that the word “gentleman” is not good form, as commonly used. It has been so perverted and misused that it does not in these days even mean that for which it was first intended,—a man of especially good manners. There are “gentlemen of the cloth,” “gentlemen of the turf,” “the gentleman of the road,” “the gentleman about town;”—all slang phrases, which have brought the word 100 into disrepute. The compound word “gentleman” was an effort upon the part of human society to make distinctions which the Creator had refused to recognize. He called man “MAN.” One can not be more than a man. Furthermore, the appropriation of the word “gentleman” by the “aristocracy,” the fact that in the social world there is a “gentleman class,” has made the expression inappropriate for universal application. Instead of speaking of your gentleman friend, speak of your man friend.

Therefore I will say in reply to my questioner that when a man friend calls upon the husband and family it is proper for the wife to occupy herself with some work kept at hand for such occasions; or, if necessary, after she has greeted him, and passed a few minutes pleasantly in conversation, she may excuse herself, and go to her household duties; but if she can do so, it is very cordial, and in every respect good form, for 101 her to take her work, and with some graceful word of apology, such as any man would appreciate, go on keeping her hands busy, while she assists in entertaining her husband’s friend. In leaving the room she should ask to be excused, unless the men are so occupied as to make it an interruption to do so. If she does not expect to return, however, she should make her adieus, and invite him to call again, before leaving the parlor.

“Is it admissible for a lady to keep on with her sewing or mending while she is entertaining a caller? Can she take some kind of fancy work with her while she is visiting a friend or neighbor?”

It is perfectly admissible for a woman to keep on with her sewing and mending while she is entertaining a caller, provided she speaks of it in some simple, graceful fashion. This is a much better means of manifesting your appreciation of a caller than to lay 102 aside necessary work and take some fancy article. You can even take your mending with you while visiting a friend and neighbor, and it will be appreciated more than fancy work. In many localities fancy work, especially for married women, has fallen into disfavor among even society people. There is a social cult which makes much of everything practical. It is a fad;—here to-day, gone to-morrow; but it has prepared the way for even a stocking-bag in the boudoir of some social queen: the stockings, of course, are supposed to be of the very finest texture and quality, and the darning in itself to be a piece of finest lace work; and yet under the cover of this supposition one can take a real serviceable hose and do good, practical work upon it.

“Should the hostess offer to take the hat of a gentleman caller? and where should she place it?”


If he does not at once make his hat at home, she should indicate where he can leave it. It is better form for her to suggest that he can hang it upon the hat rack or peg in the hall, or lay it on the table, if he does not seem to know that he can do so, than it would be to take it from him. If he has been properly instructed, as every boy should be at home, he will, without any effort upon her part, relieve her of the necessity of looking after his hat. But if he appears embarrassed by it, take it at once with some pleasant remark calculated to set him at ease, and place it where it ought to be. The proper place is in the hall, if there be a hall. Lacking this, any convenient place is in order.

“If a man friend happens to call when the husband is absent and the wife alone, should she invite him into the parlor and visit with him?”


Such a friend should so time his visits as to make reasonably sure that the man of the house would be at home, but if he fails to do so, it is the better way to inform him when the husband will return, and invite him to call again, provided this would be agreeable to both husband and wife. It is, however, bad form to say, “Come again,” when you mean, “Stay away;” very bad form for the wife to invite any one to call who would necessarily be disagreeable to the man of the house. In these days of moral contamination and prevalent gossip, good form is a conservator of good morals. Even as regards the wife’s relation to her pastor, if the husband is not a Christian, and, as often happens, dislikes ministers as a class, and makes a call anything but pleasant, common politeness requires that all pastoral visits shall include the husband.


“Where several are invited to a dinner, is it necessary for the men to escort the ladies to the table? or is it better for each to walk out independently?”

In relation to dinner manners, the hostess is expected to decide all forms for her company. If she wishes to make it very formal, she arranges just what man shall take out a certain woman. The couples will be so seated that a man and a woman will occupy alternate places. Every woman is expected to entertain first her own escort, and then to assist in entertaining the one who sits next her on the other side, and also occasionally to exchange a word with the one who sits opposite. It is not, however, expected that one will talk all over the table, nor that any one voice will command general attention until the table is cleared, and the after-dinner program is called.

“If two gentlemen with their wives should 106 be riding in one carriage, would it be proper for the husband and wife to be separated, and each gentleman sit with the other man’s wife?”

If married couples are riding together the most graceful thing is for the host and hostess to take a guest to entertain; either for the two men and the two women to sit together, or for the couples to exchange companions. It would be an exceedingly ungracious act for the host and hostess to sit together during the ride, thus leaving their guests to each other alone. In any country good form requires that husbands and wives should appreciate each other enough to consider that they are conferring a favor by giving others an opportunity to enjoy their society; and that they should at least seem to trust each other to be friendly to other men and women, even if they quarrel about it when they are alone. The appearance of suspicion is the most foul 107 of all bad forms; it is, in fact, the very stench from the body of moral death.

“Is it proper for a woman to call in company with her husband upon a man who lives alone?

“Is it proper for a lady to visit a sick man who is not a relative?”

It is suitable for a woman to accompany her husband anywhere. If the husband intends calling on a man who lives alone, it is a very neighborly act for his wife to accompany him. A feminine presence might brighten the home of a social hermit, and would surely be as a benediction to him if he were an invalid, or in trouble.

In visiting a sick man it would be better for two ladies to go together, provided no interested man friend or nurse could accompany them. Yet there might be cases where it would be necessary, and the only Christian thing, for a woman to call alone, if she 108 must, and render any necessary care. This should, however, be only in case of necessity. The general rule should be observed as far as possible, that men should care for men, and women for women.

“When leaving a reception, dinner, or any private entertainment, should one bid the hostess good night first before addressing the others? Or, if there are several ladies belonging to the house, would it be best to address the eldest lady first? I suppose it would be the same when entering the house. I would like to know what the rules are in regard to this, if there are any.”

The hostess takes precedence of all other members of the household for the time being. If a person is required by circumstances to take an early leave, and the hostess, as is sometimes the case, be occupied, it is admissible to address others first. Faultless manners require that if possible your personal arrangements should be such 109 that you can accommodate yourself to whatever exigencies may arise, so that without any stress or pressure of any sort, you can have time to wait for an opportunity to speak first to the hostess, and announce that you are taking your leave. Then the way is open for any informal leave-taking and preparations which you may have to make, reserving the last word for the host, at the door, unless indeed, as sometimes happens, he stands beside his wife at the leave-taking as well as the reception.

“Should the host offer to entertain the company himself with music, or should the visitors invite him to entertain them?”

This depends upon the kind of entertainment, the character of his visitors, and the proficiency of the host as a musician. If he is really a musician, and has something which he knows would give pleasure to the company, it would be expected that he 110 would favor them. A few words of introduction, not of himself, but of the music, would be appropriate; but it should be done in the most informal and unobtrusive manner possible.

“Should one recognize and bow to an acquaintance when upon the opposite side of the street? If one meets a person with whom she is but slightly acquainted and bows, then meets him again after an hour or so, is it necessary to recognize him and bow again? How should a lady do at the second meeting?”

In chancing to look up and recognize a familiar friend upon the opposite side of the street, a slight inclination of the head on the part of a woman is correct; on the part of a man or boy, touching or lifting the hat; but a vocal greeting at that distance would be bad form. It is not necessary to bow every time you meet in passing and repassing often during the day, although some sign of recognition 111 is always good; but when upon the first meeting during the day proper greetings have been duly exchanged, a slight inclination of the head, a touch of the hat, a cordial glance is sufficient. More could be made very tiresome if you were to meet often while about the day’s business.

“Is it good form to use a toothpick at the table?”

It is bad form to use a toothpick in any but the most private manner. Its public appearance is always repulsive. It should never be used as an article of table decoration. It is one of those necessary articles that can never be suggestive of anything appetizing or graceful; in fact, its suggestions are wholly of things concerning which one should be as reticent and retired as possible.

“Which is the better form,—to use the 112 fork in the right hand, leaving the knife lying upon the plate, or to take the fork in the left hand, and use the knife to push the food upon it? In short, in which hand should the fork properly be held, and what is the office of the knife at the table?”

The fork should always be used in the right hand, for cutting, taking up, and conveying food to the mouth, unless one is left-handed. In that case it should be used in the left hand. The knife should only be used for cutting what can not be cut with the fork, and when not in use, should lie on the plate. It has a very limited service at the table. It would be very awkward to use the knife to push food on to the fork, because it is entirely unnecessary.

“Should brothers and sisters call upon each other in their sleeping-rooms in connection with boarding-schools?”

Those who are old enough to go away to boarding-school should come under the same 113 regulations in such matters as any other men and women must observe. The bedroom is not designed as a reception-room. It has properly only one use. If it must for any reason be used as a study-room, yet the fact that it is a bedroom makes it unfit for a visiting place. It is furthermore the usual rule for two persons to occupy the same room in the school home, and manifestly immodest for sister or brother to intrude upon the privacy of these roommates. Besides these considerations the association of brothers and sisters should be upon the same plane of modest deportment as between any other man and woman. This should be taught the children in the home, and practised everywhere, for the purpose of education and training preparatory to meeting the conditions which exist in the world at large.

“Under what circumstances is it proper for young men and women to correspond 114 with each other? Where not allowable, give reasons.”

When a thorough acquaintance between a young man and woman has developed into that association which points to marriage, and when they must necessarily be separated, correspondence is right. Such correspondence should not, however, be considered too sacred to share with father and mother. Anything that can not be shared with a good parent is dangerous.

If there is good reason for confidence between the young people who are drawn toward each other, and yet who have had no good opportunity to become thoroughly acquainted, a correspondence for the purpose of acquaintance is admissible, although not wholly safe. To correspond with more than one at a time has every appearance of evil, and is too often just as evil as it can appear to be. Correspondence, excepting as it leads up to marriage, should be for business 115 only, as brief and formal as possible, and should stop short when its purpose has been served. A religious correspondence between young men and women is one of Satan’s most fruitful and profane devices.

“Should young ladies at school be permitted to receive calls from young men? If so, under what circumstances?”

There should be connected with the young women’s home of every school a parlor, open and public to all at all times. In such an apartment young ladies in school should be able to receive calls, under proper chaperonage and advice from those who have them in charge. Promiscuous calling would be bad form, and dangerous to reputation.

“Is it best for young men and young women to do missionary work for each other?”

The only way in which they can do missionary 116 work for each other is in each one making of him and herself the very best representative of everything that is best and truest in good manners, according to the divine model, and then leave the detail work for young men to men, and for young women to women. Any man who must be led to Christ by some woman, instead of some good, brotherly man, can never be saved. Any woman who can not be helped by some sister woman, or mother in Israel, can never be helped.

“Is it proper for a company of young people to go out on a camping expedition for several days, even with a chaperon?”

This would depend on the character of the company. One chaperon would not be sufficient for a company of young men and young women. There should be chaperons,—a man for the young men, and a woman for the young women; and if 117 the company is large, there should be a sufficient number of elderly companions to give them all necessary protection and support in the enjoyment of the occasion. There could be no reason why a select party of young people, properly accompanied, should not enjoy an outing of this description. But in such a case it would be not only bad form, but criminal, for any young man or woman to take advantage of the occasion to break over any of the protective regulations upon which all should agree before starting out. Common politeness and good sense would lead each to co-operate with all to secure the most perfect good order in the camp from beginning to end, by daylight and dark.

“Is it proper for young people to take moonlight rides together?”

A moonlight ride for a company of young people, accompanied by fathers and mothers, 118 or teachers, or suitable friends of mature age, would certainly be proper and enjoyable. Under no other circumstances.

“What would you say to a young man who would stand around and talk with a young woman while she is at work?”

That he was indulging in a very rustic and childish procedure, impolite in the highest degree, necessarily hindering and prolonging the work of the young woman, and perhaps complicating all the affairs of the day. What would I say to him?—That he had better go and finish his work while I finish mine, and then if he has really anything to say, come to the family sitting-room, at some suitable time, and we will talk it over.

“What is the best way for a woman to meet indecent remarks or actions from a man? Should she ‘scorch’ him, or slap him in the face?”


Neither. To take the slightest notice of him or of his remarks is to give the man the advantage. At such a time as this rudeness would not be good form. The only safe course would be to ignore him as you would the buzz of the locust in the tree, or the sound of the cable along the track of the car line. You are obliged to be conscious of its presence, but you go on your way, just the same, and let it buzz or roar. Whatever such a fellow may say or do, never turn your eyes one hair’s breadth. Allow him to wonder if you are really blind and deaf. A word or act of even protest would give him a chance to reply. One word would call for another, and no one could possibly forecast where it would end.

“What can be done with students who will not listen to the advice of teachers upon questions of proper behavior, who will not believe what is told them about the character of those with whom they are associating?”


Unless it is a reform school, the only thing would be to send them home.

“When it is known that a young man or young woman in school is impure in thought, language, and habit, what is the duty of those in authority in the matter?”

It is impossible for any one to know the thoughts of any other being, so as to judge of their intrinsic character. The language and habits, when judged from your standpoint, may be impure, but they may be really only the result of wrong methods and circumstances over which the child has no control, and for which he is not at all responsible. In manner and habit he may be vile, and yet be no more responsible as far as thought and motive is concerned than he would be for having the measles. He has simply been exposed, caught it, and needs to be cured. But whatever the thought and inner life may be, if his language and 121 habits in the school association are on the impure level, the pupil should certainly be kept in quarantine at home, unless the school is like a hospital prepared to take the case, and give the treatment that will lead to mental and moral health.

“In what respect does the relation of those in charge of a school home differ from that of the parents?”

In responsibility, during the school term, there is no difference. In point of privilege the parent has greatly the advantage, as he alone is capable of understanding the secrets which may be locked away, in the breast of the child, from any possible discovery by the teacher. The responsibility of parents, however, never ends, while that of the teacher is limited to the hours in the school, and the school term. The parents’ responsibility covers the whole life, and can never be transferred.


“Is it good form for students in their work to eat bits of food from the dishes they are handling?”

It is not only bad form, but a very disgusting practise for any one to pick up things lying about on plates, table, in cupboards, or on fruit stands, public or private, and put them into the mouth. The only suitable place for eating is at the table, the picnic basket, or the traveling lunch box, and that at the meal-time. The habit of nibbling is also productive of many very troublesome forms of disease. Good form requires that one should be as neat and tidy in the necessary handling and preparing of food as in presiding at or enjoying a banquet.

“Is it good form for a gentleman to put on a lady’s skates?”

Any woman who is able to skate is able to fasten her own skates, and should feel a womanly contempt for that childish form of 123 incapacity that would make her willing to receive that kind of attention from any man. The corseted woman, trussed like a fowl, can not get down to her feet so as to put on a pair of skates; but neither can she skate enough to make it worth while to take note of her efforts. Of course she must have a man to perform this puerile service for her.

“What is the proper form of accepting or declining invitations to receptions, weddings, graduations, etc.? Should an acceptance or refusal of such an invitation be accompanied by a gift? If so, what is the most appropriate, and the best form in which to give it?”

The above questions can all be answered upon the same principle. The formula of acknowledging invitations to receptions differs as widely as the style of cards; but the very best “good form” is for each invited guest in her own natural manner, in a personal, 124 kindly note, to either accept, or express regrets at not being able to attend. Books on etiquette give an assortment of styles varying in degrees of stiffness, which you can copy if you wish, but they are the most ungraceful relics of dead form on record.

Concerning weddings: in many circles it is supposed that a response to a wedding invitation must necessarily include a wedding gift; but to assume that such an event is the occasion of soliciting silverware, dry-goods, and furniture is one of the very worst of all bad forms. The wedding gift has become one of the most troublesome expressions of social hypocrisy. If it could be possible to abolish it, and give society a chance to go back to the simple habits of fifty years ago, it would be a blessing indeed. It is a misfortune to a young couple to receive even one gift that either for its pretended or real value would make the simple 125 style in which they will doubtless be obliged to begin life seem mean. Flowers or books are the most suitable things to bring to a wedding, and even flowers may be so profuse as to become vulgar. This does not of course include those gifts that would naturally be made by the family for the purpose of giving the young couple “a start in life.”

“What are the proper conditions and forms upon which introductions should take place?”

Good form requires that no man shall address a lady without an introduction, unless it be in a case of extreme necessity. An emergency, for the time being, nullifies all ceremony; but after the emergency is passed, the informal acquaintance should be ended. Every boy should be so taught in the home that as he grows up, and goes out into the world, he will not offend against good form, 126 and bring himself under suspicion by intruding upon the notice of any young woman whom he may happen to fancy, without the formality of an introduction by some one of whom he will have no reason to be ashamed.

Good form requires that the introduction of any two persons should be by the desire of both. The slightest objection upon the part of either would make the introduction a gross intrusion. The reasons for this are obvious. Society has seen that after the introduction, anything may follow, and the only chance for a young woman to protect herself from undesirable and dangerous association, may be in the rigid enforcement of this simple rule of rights. The proper form of introduction is that which is most easy and graceful in manner for the one who is to do the introducing. As in everything else, individuality should be given a chance; the spirit and manner carries much more 127 weight than the words. Always, however, the person who is to be in any way advantaged by the introduction, favored either in pleasure or profit, is the one who is to be presented to the other. For instance, Mr. Lane has seen Miss Mason, and has recognized her as one whose acquaintance he would enjoy. He asks a mutual friend to secure the privilege of this introduction; Miss Mason has been asked the favor with the assumption that it will be entirely for Mr. Lane’s advantage and pleasure. Miss Mason is gracious, and consents to grant the request. Mr. Lane is therefore brought to the place where the young lady is waiting. Never should a person who is to receive another be asked to come to be introduced. Bring the candidate for this social favor, to the one of whom it has been asked, and upon approaching, you will say, “Miss Mason, allow me the pleasure of presenting Mr. Lane. Mr. Lane, Miss Mason,” upon 128 which Miss Mason will bow slightly, Mr. Lane a little more noticeably. They will not shake hands, but will stand, or perhaps be seated, and converse for a few moments, when Mr. Lane will take his leave, if he knows what is good for him, and wait for some further recognition from Miss Mason.

Among very intimate friends, where it is well known that an acquaintance would certainly be a mutual pleasure and benefit, this formula is not always necessary. I have been giving the strict social good-form code, which is for protection against annoyances. It would be an unfortunate social misdemeanor for any person to make the second effort to receive an introduction which has been once declined, without some advances from the person who had made the refusal.

When a young man desires to cultivate the acquaintance of a young woman, good form requires that before he utters a word, he shall frankly inform her parents of his 129 wishes, and ask their consent. And this is right; and even if their decision is against him, a young man who is worthy of a wife will have that regard for the rights of the parent which will make him careful how he ruthlessly breaks into the family circle. He will give himself time and opportunity to win the parents, before he disturbs the mind of the daughter. The observance of good form in such matters will bring a blessing, and save unspeakable trouble, even if it should require what seems to the heart of a youth a great deal of unreasonable delay.

“After the introduction should the mutual friend leave, or remain and lead out in conversation?”

After the introduction the newly made acquaintances may or may not be left to their own devices in following up the introduction. This introduction does not under 130 any circumstances bind the young woman to any future recognition of the person who has been introduced to her. She may ruthlessly ignore him the next time she meets him without any violation of good form, it being supposed that she has sufficient reason for doing so, and he will have no occasion to complain. He must accept the fact that he has had all that he can receive of pleasure or profit from this acquaintance, and be satisfied with it, unless he can by some means so bring himself in some manly way to the notice of this young woman that she shall indicate her wish to continue the acquaintance.

“What is good form in dress for an evening reception for both men and women? Should gloves be worn?”

For a formal reception, society requires that a man should wear black. If the host wears gloves, the men should do so. If the 131 hostess only wears gloves, only the women wear gloves. At a wedding the bride determines whether gloves shall be worn. It would be very bad form to wear gloves if the bride’s hands were bare. The fashion changes with reference to what is suitable for both men and women, but as a rule what is known as the cutaway coat for men, with a white necktie, makes an evening dress for any occasion. It need not necessarily be of expensive material. A great variety is admissible in women’s costume at a reception. If she chooses to wear her bonnet, she may also wear a simple tailor-made gown, of very plain style and color, a traveling dress, or even an ordinary street dress; or she may be arrayed like the veriest butterfly in all the colors of the rainbow, and still preserve unbroken the rules of good form in dress according to the social code. But the plainer style is unquestionably the better form in every sense of the word. This is a social 132 concession to the conscientious Christian element in social life, and an effort to retain it; and the more truly people carry conscience into dress, as well as the more they cultivate every true Christian grace, the more they are appreciated even by those who give time and thought to what seems to be frivolous in custom and costume.

“How shall one cultivate the art of conversation?”

First of all by conversing. But to talk one must know and think. Select some theme of general interest and importance, inform yourself concerning it, then train your mind to methodical handling of it; think it over in colloquial form; talk about it to the home folks, study the dictionary for a vocabulary, and use what you find. It is a good thing to have several words at your tongue’s end which mean the same thing, or nearly so; but it is very bad form to “talk book.” 133 You can fill yourself with the book, but when it comes to expressing yourself in conversation, talk talk,—common language, pure and simple, short words such as even a child can understand.

The best conversationalist is one who by saying but little himself (that little choice, clear, and true) can draw others out to a free expression of their thoughts, making even the slow and stammering to feel “at home.”

It is bad form to take advantage of a social opportunity to air any private opinions that must necessarily arouse opposition and controversy. Conversation should be like a refreshing stream, holding all truth in solution in such form that it shall be recognized as sweet waters, at which the thirsty soul may find refreshment. The truth which it contains can be trusted to do its work in thought and life, as the iron and magnesia may on blood and tissue.


“What is the difference between good form, etiquette, and ethics?”

Good form contains the bare principle, etiquette applies the principle, and ethics brings conscience into the practise of it. It is possible for etiquette to violate every principle of both good form and ethics; but good form and ethics will always agree when they understand each other, and will make a safe environment in which any child, youth, man, or woman may live, love, and labor.

Nowhere is the observance of good form more necessary than during a journey. It is especially a safeguard to the young and inexperienced against the designing and vicious.

The rule is that the traveling dress should be of the most unobtrusive character, of some neutral color, with no showy embellishments on hat or gown, something which can be readily shaken or brushed free of 135 dust; and that every movement should be such as to avoid attracting attention; that no acquaintance should be formed with strangers, unless it be under circumstances that could admit of no possible question.

It is bad form to stand and look about in a waiting-room, or to promenade the platform, to turn the head and gaze at people, or to ask questions of any but officials. These things, trivial as they may seem, carefully observed, help to keep a hedge of safety about the young woman or boy who is obliged to travel alone, while only a slight departure from these rules will often open the way for annoyance, and even dangers such as we can not discuss in these pages.

In the matter of asking questions, the prospective traveler should inform herself concerning everything she will need to know of her route, etc., as thoroughly as possible, before she starts, so as to make questioning 136 unnecessary. It is dangerous to depend even upon men in uniform for information beyond certain narrow limits. Do not expect a local ticket agent, nor yet a railroad conductor, brakeman, or Pullman car porter to know what every passenger may need to know in order to reach his destination.

The man in uniform is responsible for knowing one or two things and seeing that his own end of the work is kept well in hand. Beyond that he has no official responsibility, and is often as likely to abuse confidence, and betray trusting ignorance, as any other man.

If you are a young girl traveling alone, compelled to make a transfer across the city, never take a carriage or cab, but the common public omnibus. If you have a tedious wait before you, do not try to relieve it by sauntering about the depot or street, or any public places. Settle yourself down with determination to patiently and quietly endure in the depot, unless you know 137 some suitable place to which you can go and spend the time. Do not ask, receive, or act upon any advice from any strangers as to hotels, or any other places where you could spend the hours more comfortably. Accept no invitations excepting from well-known friends, and even then not to any ice-cream parlors or restaurants. Nothing short of a family invitation to some good home should turn you for a moment from your purpose to keep closely to the line of travel, and endure hardness with good practical common sense.

Children should be taught in the regular routine of home life how to entertain and how to be entertained; how to avoid the necessity of putting on “company manners” by always in all relations of life observing those principles of politeness which are summed up in the gospel as expressed in that law of liberty known as the Golden Rule.


As a hostess, do not overload your guest with attention. Nothing is more wearisome than to be compelled to ward off continual intrusive efforts to make you happy and comfortable as a guest. See that all necessary provision is made for your guest before arrival, that water for drinking and bathing, with glasses and towels, are in her room in readiness. Take your guest at once to the room appointed without stopping for introductions or greetings; inquire if anything further is needed; state the hour of meals, and any other regulations which must in any manner concern a transient member of your household; arrange to return in a half-hour to lead the way to the family room for greetings and introductions, and then withdraw, leaving the coast clear for such attention to personal comfort as is always needed even after a short journey.

There may be degrees of intimacy that would seem to naturally modify these good-form 139 requirements, but it would be perfectly safe to hold yourself to them, even if the guest were your own mother, sister, or brother. If your guest is to make a long visit, everything like effort to secure his comfort should be kept out of sight. In fact, all arrangements should be made so as to make the visit a pleasure to all concerned; and this can only be done by taking him into the home life, and going on just the same in everything as if you were alone as a family.

An invitation to a friend to visit you should be for a definite time, and should not upon any account be extended unless you heartily desire it. Not a word or hint should be dropped out of so-called politeness, which, if taken literally, would stay his departure one hour after the time limit has been reached. The sort of hypocrisy that would say, “O don’t hurry off just yet,” when you feel in your heart that you 140 can not conveniently have the visit prolonged, is very bad form, indeed, and a grievous wrong to your friend.

As a guest, one should at once fall into the regular order of the family life as nearly as it is possible to do so, avoiding everything that would add to labor for hostess or servants.

A guest should give no orders to children or servants. All requests should be made of host or hostess, and left for them to pass on as they shall see fit. Good form requires that the guest shall be blind and deaf to any unpleasant episodes that may occur, taking no part in any disputes from the children up, and that at any moment when his presence could prove an embarrassment, he will find it necessary to retire to his room, take a stroll in the wood or field, or a “day off” in town; and then when the time limit for which his visit was planned has been reached, he will take his departure, no 141 matter how warmly he may be urged “not to hurry.”

Give neither money nor eatables to the children. Make no plans which include them without first consulting host and hostess. In fact, the guest should propose nothing, plan nothing. This should all be left to host and hostess. He should make of his presence a pleasure to all, which will leave nothing more to be desired. Let him find his place in the domestic economy for the time being, and fill it in just as helpful a manner as possible, remembering that here it is as true as it can be anywhere in the world, that he who abases himself shall be exalted, and he who seeks the most for others, finds the most for himself.



For public teachers, and especially those who are in preparation for such work, this little book has a special message. The world will not suffer long nor be kind to any exponent of truth who offends in platform etiquette, or in home courtesy. Accordingly, I would urge my young fellow laborers to eschew everything in manner which could produce dislike or disgust in the most critical, for that most critical may be the very soul to whom you are sent.

As brethren in council together, cultivate only those things that can be used anywhere in an uncharitable world. Do not allow anything to become habitual that will call attention to any part of the body or clothing. Never finger the watch guard, coat buttons, nor the features of the face. Unfortunate practices of this nature have nullified the effect of many a sermon. Many a young 143 man has made a farce of his testimony for Christ because he stood twirling his mustache; and many a Sabbath-school teacher has failed to hold her pupils to the truth because her hat was filled with nodding plumes, flowers, or an elaborate tangle of ribbon.

Good form insists that any Sabbath display is vulgar, so that the woman of genuine social position will leave the elaborate church toilet to her servants, while she goes in the plainest of modest apparel to the house of God.

One great misfortune to both home and church is that good form has been considered a sort of parade dress, to be laid off with the “company” clothes. The home folks have been compelled to tolerate anything from each other, upon the supposition that nothing matters at home; when the fact is that there everything in dress and conversation matters more than in any other spot on earth.


The home dress should be such as would be respectable if the wearer were called out by some emergency, with no time to change.

Good form condemns the “Mother Hubbard,” and with good reason: Its origin was infamous, its suggestions are such that the woman who wears it can not command the same respect from even her own family as though she were clothed with a modest garment.

Society can and will reject the presence of one who is rude in speech or conduct, and in this has the advantage of the home; but the person who practices good form in society, and by a sullen, fault-finding, or untidy manner at home flatly contradicts every pretense of refinement, shall surely have his reward in the covert contempt of even those who love him; while any, however untrained in the arts of “polite society,” who shall practice those graces that make ordinary duties fragrant and sweet with the good manners 145 of heaven, will be accepted anywhere by any to whom he can be sent with a message. Any awkwardness that a man may do will be pardoned beforehand for the sake of the beautiful spirit he is by the grace of God.

And yet it is well to make it just as hard as possible for the world to reject you, and just as easy as possible for it to accept your message.

All of which is written for the glory of our Lord, and to the end that the truth may be carried to every creature.

The Abiding Spirit, by Mrs. S. M. I. Henry. “This book deals with the presence, power, and ministry of the Holy Spirit as manifested in the most common material things, and as needed for the performance of the most simple duties.... It is safe to say that the larger proportion of common religious perplexities are touched upon in this book; and the way opened for light upon their darkness.”—The Union Signal, Chicago.

“The author takes high ground, and maintains her position well.”—Alabama Cumberland Presbyterian.

316 pages, cloth. 40 cts.
Beautiful presentation edition. 75 cts.
Address the Publishers of “Good Form.”

Transcriber’s Notes