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indelicacy, will not be likely to pay much respect to those of a professor. Yet such pain will inevitably be inflicted on the mind of a conscientious man, who is really interested in the improvement of his pupils.
Some who do not whisper, do worse. They scribble on pieces of paper what they have to say; hand them to the individuals whom they wish to address; and solicit from them answers in the same manner. This is worse, because it takes up more time, on both sides, to write a sentence, than it would to utter it orally; and of course, to accomplish every such communication, a larger amount of attention must be withdrawn from the appropriate duty of the hour.
Never allow yourself, therefore, on any occasion whatever, either to whisper, or to circulate billets, in the lecture-room, unless in a case of absolute necessity. In forty-nine cases out of fifty, what is communicated in this way, might be just as well left until the lecture is ended; and the inability to wait, almost always arises either from weakness of judgment, or puerile impatience. Not only avoid doing any thing of this kind yourself; but do not allow others to whisper, or to hand billets to you. If any make the attempt, repel it, by saying—“I wish to attend to the lecture."
9. Some, who do not allow themselves to whisper, are in the habit of frequently winking, nodding, or smiling, to one or more of those around them, to express either their approbation, or their doubt, of something which has been said. I have known this to be so much the habit of a few students, who have, at different periods, passed through our seminary, that they rendered themselves really conspicuous by it. They no doubt meant that it should be considered as a mark of attention and talent; but I believe it seldom failed to receive a very different construction on the part of all sober-minded observers. As the practice in question is chargeable with most of the evils mentioned in the preceding section, I shall not repeat the detail: but would observe, that he who wishes to avail himself most completely of all the advantages of the lecture-room, ought to learn the art of sitting, with fixed attention, and unmoved countenance, throughout the whole of its exercises, and of giving no encouragement, even by look, or by the least response of the favourable kind, to those who act a different part.
10. Never place yourself in the lecture-room in a lounging or reclining posture. There are those who, though enjoying all the vigour of youth and health, appear never to be easy a moment but when in a posture partly recumbent. If they be seated on a bench, or any seat which admits of it, they raise their feet, and place them horizontally, and even stretch themselves at full length, as if preparing for a nap.
Can any one who reflects a moment fail of perceiving that this manifests ill-breeding of a pretty gross kind ? There are few cases in which any one ought to allow himself to sit, or rather lie, in such a posture, in the midst of his equals only; but to do it in the presence of any one whom he regards as his superior, is really an outrage on decorum. If you suppose that I go too far in this statement, rely on it, you altogether mistake. It is universally so viewed by well-bred people. And you may rest assured that gentlemen whose good opinion you would think worth possessing, have severely remarked on some few instances which
they have personally witnessed of the unseemly postures to which I refer. Learn, then, at all times, and quite as rigidly in the lecture-room as in the parlour, to sit upright, and in the posture of respectful attention. Decorum to your companions, and especially to the professor who may be addressing you, requires it; a regard to your health requires it; a proper care to avoid drowsiness requires it. Whenever a young man finds that to be comfortable he must lean, and lounge, and find some support for his back, and his feet, it is high time to feel that his habits call for immediate, and resolute correction.
11. Closely allied to the foregoing faults is another, which I have often observed with pain : I mean the habit of leaning forward, while seated in the lectureroom, and resting the head on the back of a chair, or bench, in front, as if for the purpose of sleep. When you place yourself in this posture, you will be apt, contrary to your own intention, to be betrayed into drowsiness. Even if this consequence do not follow, your fellow-students know not but that you are sleeping. And your professor must, of course, be subjected to the pain of doubting whether at least one of his auditory be not insensible to all he is saying. Can this be right in itself, to say nothing of the point of etiquette, as established among well-bred people ? If I even had a severe headache, I would refrain from this practice. It looks so much like the vulgar lolling of a school-boy, or a college-lad, who has neither sufficient intellect, nor sufficient respect for himself or for any other person, to make him a listener, arrectis auribus, to that which is delivered.
12. When any thing is dropped by a professor, in
the course of a lecture, which is supposed to militate with the opinions of some pupil present, receive it with gravity and with a fixed countenance. If, instead of this, there be smiling, tittering, a dozen turning round at the same instant, to see how the pupil in question looks, and appears to feel - as is sometimes the case among ardent and inexperienced young men-there is a manifest and gross indelicacy, which, on a variety of accounts, ought to be avoided. It is ill treatment to the professor himself, who may not have intended the application thus unceremoniously made. It may be deeply embarrassing and painful to an ingenuous pupil. And it exhibits those who indulge in it, as borne away by an undignified puerility, altogether unworthy of their character. Allow me again to say, that learning the habit of maintaining, on all such occasions, a composed and grave countenance, is of no small importance in the formation of clerical manners.
13. When called upon to make remarks on the production of a fellow-student in the lecture-room, do it with perfect freedom, but with respectfulness and gravity. If you have occasion to make a remark of the unfavourable kind, let it be couched, as far as is consistent with candour, in kind and brotherly language. Pause a moment, before you offer it, and ask this question —“Is the criticism which I am about to offer, intended to display myself, or to benefit my brother ?” “How should I feel, if it were made in reference to myself ?” If you are conscious that it would wound your own feelings, do not, in ordinary cases, allow yourself to utter it. Not that we are to resolve never to give pain. It is sometimes unavoidable, if we would be faithful. But it should never be inflicted unnecessarily; never more severely than is indispensable to the performance of duty; and always with as many characteristics of studied gentleness and benevolence as perfect honesty will permit.
14. Never allow yourself, on account of any ordinary avocation, to withdraw from the lecture-room, until the whole exercises shall have been completed. There is a disposition in many conscientious young men so to magnify the importance of trifles, which attract their attention, from day to day, and so to indulge the impatience which is apt to characterize that season of life, that they are constantly hurrying from one engagement to another, and often do not allow themselves to complete one, before they begin to run after another; so that they never gain the full benefit of any. This is a wretched habit, calculated to shed a baleful influence over the whole course of study, and, indeed, over the whole professional life. The admirable maxim of the old pensioner, De Witt, to “ do one thing at a time,” is of inestimable value. Act on the spirit of it continually; that is, be totally absorbed in your employment, for the time being, whatever it may be, and never leave it till it is completely and well done. Your studies will then be mature and profitable, and the results bear that solid, practical character, which incessant haste, and habits of immethodical and desultory attention, never can produce. Let it be your fixed habit, then, never to quit the lecture-room until its exercises are fully closed. If the instructions there delivered be of no value, you ought not to enter it at all. But if they be worth your attention, let no petty consideration ever tempt you to lose a hint or a word.