This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
TO BE kind, and to treat politely the persons with whom we are immediately associated, is not all, nor should civility cease with the casual intercourse between neighbors; it should go beyond. We should regard the rights of the individual. Were all to do so, mankind would take a long stride in advance of the present selfish and thoughtless conduct which too often actuates even those who are reputed to be good and respectable. This want of regard for the rights of others is shown in many ways. To illustrate:
The individual who will conduct a house or an establishment that is unpleasant, injurious to health, or detrimental to the community, evinces a disregard for the courtesy that is due to his neighbors.
The parents who allow children to annoy their neighbors, are al-ways a most undesirable people to have in the vicinity.
The people of a community who will deliberately turn horses, cattle and hogs into the street, entirely disregarding the fact that the animals are liable to do much damage to others, demonstrate a lack of regard for neighbors which is inexcusable, and can only be explained on the ground that the habit is so common that they do not realize the injury they are doing.
The fact that we accosted Mr. Jones politely, and said pleasant things in his presence, was good so far as it went, but the further fact that we turned our cattle into the street, well knowing they were liable to trample Mr. Jones' sidewalk to pieces, and break down his trees, demonstrates that, while we are very agreeable to his face, we care but little what we may do behind his back.
This utter disregard for the wants of others causes people generally to become suspicious of their neighbors. It is true that this suspicion is gradually becoming lessened. The time was when the inhabitants built a castle as nearly as possible impregnable; around that was built a high enclosure, and still outside of that was a canal with a draw-bridge. Gradually the fact has dawned that we need not be thus suspi-
Fig. 22. PEOPLE WHO ARE TROUBLED BY THEIR NEIGHBORS.
The above illustration represents a common scene. The neighbors suspect each other, and they destroy the beauty of their grounds in the attempt to shut each other out. Suspicion and selfishness rule. Regardless of the rights of others, animals are allowed to trample to pieces the side-walks, to destroy shade trees and to despoil the neighbor's yard. Inharmony, disorder, and ill-feeling among the people are characteristics of the neighborhood.
cious. We need not build a house of stone, we need not construct a canal, but we still adhere to the high wall or fence, as we are oftentimes compelled to because of the disposition of the neighbor to trample upon our rights by allowing his animals to destroy our property.
The reader has doubtless seen a town in which the people allowed their domestic animals to run at large, the hogs to root the turf to pieces by the roadside, the cattle to destroy sidewalks, to break through fences and to tear down trees. This want of courtesy is not uncommon. In short, it is altogether too common in many towns of the country, and upon the part of the owners of animals it shows a complete disregard of the rights of those who would beautify their homes, and thus correspondingly beautify the town.
The code of etiquette should not alone apply among individuals when directly associated together. It should extend further. It should go out and permeate a neighborhood. It should diffuse itself throughout a town. It should bind together the people of a State - of a nation. It should be a rule of action among all nations. Already the evidences of courtesy among nations begins to manifest itself. The International Congress is based upon this princi-ple. The idea of friendly association of the representatives of nations for mutual adjustment of differences, is the beginning of a recognition of the rights of each other.
This is evidence of a higher civilization. When we can rise superior to selfishness, when we are willing to consider the rights and the requirements of others, when we are governed by the generous spirit of doing unto others as we would that they should do unto us, then we are directed by a power that will make an entire people, as a whole, what the laws of etiquette determine they shall be individually, in their intercourse with each other.
The illustration (Fig 22) upon this page represents a scene which may be observed in many villages or cities - a group of residences, modern and beautiful in architecture, surrounded and disfigured by high inclos-ures put up to guard against people who allow their cattle and other animals to destroy their neighbor's property.