S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
One may now know a man that never conversed in the world, by his excess of good-breeding. A polite country esquire shall make you as many bows in half an hour as would serve a courtier for a week. There is infinitely more to do about place and precedency in a meeting of justices wives than in an assembly of duchesses.
A friend of yours and mine has very justly defined good-breeding to be, the result of much good sense, some good nature, and a little self-denial for the sake of others, and with a view to obtain the same indulgence from them. Taking this for granted (as I think it cannot be disputed), it is astonishing to see that anybody who has good sense and good nature can essentially fail in good-breeding. As to the modes of it, indeed, they vary according to persons, places, and circumstances, and are only to be acquired by observation and experience; but the substance of it is everywhere and eternally the same.
Good-breeding necessarily implies civility; but civility does not reciprocally imply good-breeding. The former has its intrinsic weight and value, which the latter always adorns and often doubles by its workmanship.
To sacrifice ones own self-love to other peoples is a short, but, I believe, a true, definition of civility: to do it with ease, propriety, and grace, is good-breeding. The one is the result of good-nature; the other, of good sense, joined to experience, observation, and attention.
It would be a noble improvement, or rather a recovery, of what we call good-breeding, if nothing were to pass amongst us for agreeable which was the least transgression against that rule of life called decorum, or a regard to decency. This would command the respect of mankind, because it carries in it deference to their good opinion, as humility lodged in a worthy mind is always attended with a certain homage, which no haughty soul, with all the arts imaginable, will ever be able to purchase.
Tully says, virtue and decency are so nearly related that it is difficult to separate them from each other but in our imagination. As the beauty of the body always accompanies the health of it, so certainly is decency concomitant to virtue. As beauty of body, with an agreeable carriage, pleases the eye, and that pleasure consists in that we observe all the parts with a certain elegance are proportioned to each other; so does decency of behaviour which appears in our lives obtain the approbation of all with whom we converse, from the order, consistency, and moderation of our words and actions.