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Is Polite Society Polite?

and Other Essays

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Author: Julia Ward Howe
Published: 1895
Language: English
Wordcount: 44,442 / 134 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 61.2
LoC Category: H
Downloads: 598
Added to site: 2010.11.10 29536
Genre: Essays

The papers collected in the present volume have been heard in many parts of our vast country. As is evident, they have been written for popular audiences, with a sense of the limitations which such audiences necessarily impose. With the burthen of increasing years, the freedom of locomotion naturally tends to diminish, and I must be thankful to be read where I have in other days been heard. I shall be glad indeed if it may be granted to these pages to carry the message which I myself have been glad to bear,—the message of the good hope of humanity, despite the faults and limitations of individuals.That hope casts its light over the efforts of years that are past, and gilds for me, with ineffaceable glow, the future of our race.

Show Excerpt

ather, so much the more if he is poor, so much the more if he is old." And all that is really polite in polite society would say so too.

Now this action which I report of my governess corresponds to something in human nature, and to something which polite society fosters.

For polite society bases itself upon exclusions. In this it partly appeals to that antagonism of our nature through which the desire to possess something is greatly exaggerated by the difficulty of becoming possessed of it. If every one can come to your house, no one, you think, will consider it a great object of desire to go there. Theories of supply and demand come in here. People would gladly destroy things that give pleasure, in order to enhance their value in the hands of the few.

I once heard a lady, herself quite new in society, say of a Parisian dame who had shown her some attention: "Ah! the trouble with Madame---- is that she is too good-natured. She entertains everybody." "Indeed," thought I, "if she had been



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