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seen. In this opinion I am inclined to concur. I have marked in a few of those worthy men, that happy though truly rare union of gravity, dignity, gentleness, and unaffected kindness of deportment, which it would be delightful to see copied by every minister of religion in the land.
Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed.
2 Cor. vi. 3.
OFFENSIVE PERSONAL HABITS.
MY DEAR YOUNG FRIEND: - There are many personal habits, which all polished people concur in regarding as offensive; and which, of course, cannot be indulged in the presence of such persons, without giving them pain.-Sometimes, indeed, so much pain, that after a while, the society of those who habitually indulge in them, if not avoided altogether, will be in a degree unwelcome, wherever they go. These habits are painful to well-bred persons on various accounts. Some of them, because they are offences against personal cleanliness; others, because they make an uncomfortable impresssion, in other respects, on the senses of those with whom we converse; and a third class, because they indicate the absence of that respect and attention to those around us, which every man of correct deportment is expected to pay, and which he never omits to pay, without incurring a serious disadvantage.
I propose, in the present letter, to mention some of these personal habits. And let me entreat you not to
consider me as unnecessarily minute or fastidious in my enumeration. Some of the particulars adverted to may excite a smile, and others a less comfortable emotion. You may rest assured, however, that I shall mention none but such as I know to be offensive; to many persons deeply so; and to have been remarked upon with great severity. This is enough for a delicate, conscientious man, who will consider no correction of an evil habit as beneath his notice, which will give him more ready access to all companies, and render, perhaps, many of his personal efforts to do good much more acceptable and useful.
1. Among these offensive habits, the first I shall mention, is that of spitting on the floors and carpets of the apartments in which you are seated. This is a habit with which Americans are constantly reproached by those Europeans who travel among us, or who have occasion to remark on our national manners. Nay, a late writer in one of their periodieal works, pronounces, that “the Americans must give up all pretensions to good-breeding as long as they allow themselves to spit on floors and carpets in coinpany, as is now common among them.” I do not allow that this charge can be said by any means to be more commonly applicable to the better portion of Americans than of Englishmen. Still I do believe the habit in question is more common among the plainer classes of our citizens, than it is among the corresponding classes of any nation on earth, of equal culture, in other respects, with ourselves. And, truly, a habit so filthy, so peculiarly disgusting, and 80 calculated to give trouble to every neat housekeeper, may well be regarded as equally discreditable to the breeding and the benevolence of those who allow themselves to practise it.
I have known some persons who, in consequence of their habitually chewing tobacco, or some other substance, or smoking, were under a necessity so constant and pressing of discharging saliva from their mouths, that they were really a trouble to themselves, as well as to every body else. They bespattered the clothes and persons of all who were sitting in their immediate vicinity; defiled the floor or carpet beyond endurance; and thus rendered themselves a nuisance in every house which they entered. Indeed, I have known a few tobacco-chewers, in whom this habit had reached such a degree of concentrated virulence, that they rendered their immediate neighbourhood intolerable; formed puddles of tobacco-spittle at their feet, in the parlour, or in the pew in church in which they were seated; and, in some instances, even compelled persons of delicate feelings, especially females, to leave the room, or the pew, and retire in haste, to avoid sickness of stomach.
To say that this filthiness is very indecent, is to speak but half its condemnation. It is unworthy of a gentleman and a Christian; and he who, after being warned, continues to indulge it, ought to be banished, without scruple, from all decent society.
If it be asked, how those who spit much shall manage, I answer, if possible, let them instantly discontinue all those practices which lead to the secretion of an excess of saliva. This is, in every point of view, the best and most effectual method of removing all difficulty. But if this be not possible, then let such persons, when they go into company,
make interest with their kind entertainers to furnish them with spitting-boxes; or let them endeavour to sit near a window; or let them rise and withdraw from the apartment as often as it becomes necessary to discharge the contents of their mouths; or let them take care to have in their pockets extra handkerchiefs, which may be employed to receive the superfluous saliva; or, if none of these safeguards or auxiliaries can be had, let them even - stay at home, and thus be sure that they trespass on no premises excepting their own. Even there, indeed, they will annoy and disgust all who visit them: but then this will be a penalty incurred voluntarily, and endured only as long as each individual can find a sufficient inducement to sustain it. For I have certainly known at least one tobacco-chewing clergyman of whom a respectable professor of religion declared, that he would most cheerfully pay his board for a week or more, at a tavern, or at any other place, rather than endure his company at a single meal, or for one evening, in his own dwelling. How melancholy, that a minister of religion, instead of being a pattern of neatness and purity, and possessing such manners as to render his company attractive to all classes of people, should allow himself, by his personal habits, to drive all cleanly and delicate persons from his presence !
Imagine not, however, that it is merely against this miserable extreme of the filthy habit in question, that I protest. It is against every degree of it that I would warn you.
Rather than once allow yourself, on any occasion, to spit on the floor in company, you ought to walk a hundred yards, or more,