C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


Politeness is to goodness what words are to thoughts.


Politeness is practical Christianity.


The zero of friendship’s thermometer.


The truest politeness comes of sincerity.

Samuel Smiles.

Self-command is the main elegance.


Politeness costs little and yields much.

Mme. de Lambert.

With hat in hand, one gets on in the world.


There is nothing costs less than civility.


Politeness smooths wrinkles.


Politeness costs nothing and gains everything.

Lady Montagu.

Avoid all haste; calmness is an essential ingredient of politeness.

Alphonse Karr.

Politeness has been well defined as benevolence in small things.


Fine manners are like personal beauty,—a letter of credit everywhere.


  • And when a lady’s in the case,
  • You know all other things give place.
  • Gay.

    The true effect of genuine politeness seems to be rather ease than pleasure.


    Politeness is the flower of humanity.


    It is a part of good breeding that a man should be polite even to himself.


    Politeness is a wreath of flowers that adorns the world.

    Mme. de Bassanville.

    There is a politeness of the heart; this is closely allied to love.


    Politeness is better than logic. You can often persuade when you cannot convince.

    H. W. Shaw.

    Politeness is as natural to delicate natures as perfume is to flowers.

    De Finod.

    Off goes his bonnet to an oyster wench.


    There is no accomplishment so easy to acquire as politeness, and none more profitable.

    H. W. Shaw.

    Politeness induces morality. Serenity of manners requires serenity of mind.

    Julia Ward Howe.

    Gentleness is the great point to be obtained in the study of manners.

    N. P. Willis.

    As charity covers a multitude of sins before God, so does politeness before men.

    Lord Greville.

    Politeness is the art of rendering to every one, without effort, that which is socially his due.

    From the French.

    Defect in manners is usually the defect of fine perceptions. Men are too coarsely made for the delicacy of beautiful carriage and customs. It is not quite sufficient to good breeding, a union of kindness and independence.


    There are few defects in our nature so glaring as not to be veiled from observation by politeness and good breeding.


    Whoever pays you more court than he is accustomed to pay, either intends to deceive you, or finds you necessary to him.


    Politeness is fictitious benevolence. Depend upon it, the want of it never fails to produce something disagreeable to one or other.


    True politeness is perfect ease and freedom. It simply consists in treating others just as you love to be treated yourself.


    As in smooth oil the razor best is whet, so wit is by politeness keenest set.


    In the great world, malevolence and disdain never appear in any other garb than that of cold and ceremonious politeness.


    The wisest and best are repulsive, if they are characterized by repulsive manners. Politeness is an easy virtue, costs little, and has great purchasing power.


    When two goats met on a bridge which was too narrow to allow either to pass or return, the goat which lay down that the other might walk over it was a finer gentleman than Lord Chesterfield.


    There is no policy like politeness; and a good manner is the best thing in the world, either to get one a good name or to supply the want of it.


    Politeness is a mixture of discretion, civility, complaisance and circumspection spread over all we do and say.

    St. Evremond.

    Politeness is nothing more than an elegant and concealed species of flattery, tending to put the person to whom it is addressed in good humor and respect with himself.


    I consider that the spirit of politeness is a certain desire to bring it about, that, by our words and manners, others may be pleased with us and with themselves.


    Politeness has been defined to be artificial good-nature; but we may affirm, with much greater propriety, that good-nature is natural politeness.


    Politeness is not always a sign of wisdom; but the want of it always leaves room for a suspicion of folly, if folly and imprudence are the same.


    It seems to me that the spirit of politeness is a certain attention in causing that, by our words and by our manners, others may be content with us and with themselves.

    La Bruyère.

    Nothing is more dissimilar than natural and acquired politeness. The first consists in a willing abnegation of self; the second in a compelled recollection of others.


    Politeness does not always inspire goodness, equity, complaisance, and gratitude; it gives at least the appearance of these qualities, and makes man appear outwardly, as he should be within.

    La Bruyère.

    It is because gold is rare that gilding has been invented, which, without having its solidity, has all its brilliancy. Thus, to replace the kindness we lack, we have devised politeness which has all its appearance.

    De Lévis.

    In all the affairs of human life, social as well as political, I have remarked that courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest to the grateful and appreciating heart.

    Henry Clay.

    All politeness is owing to liberty. We polish one another, and rub off our corners and rough sides by a sort of amicable collision. To restrain this is inevitably to bring a rust upon men’s understandings.


    Good-breeding is not confined to externals, much less to any particular dress or attitude of the body; it is the art of pleasing or contributing as much as possible to the ease and happiness of those with whom you converse.


    Politeness is one of those advantages which we never estimate rightly but by the inconvenience of its loss. Its influence upon the manners is constant and uniform, so that, like an equal motion, it escapes perception.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Kindly politeness is the slow fruit of advanced reflection; it is a sort of humanity and kindliness applied to small acts and every-day discourse: it bids man soften towards others, and forget himself for the sake of others: it constrains genuine nature, which is selfish and gross.


    Politeness is to goodness what words are to thought. It tells not only on the manners, but on the mind and the heart; it renders the feelings, the opinions, the words, moderate and gentle.


    Politeness is a kind of anæsthetic which envelops the asperities of our character, so that other people be not wounded by them. We should never be without it, even when we contend with the rude.


    Do not press your young children into book-learning; but teach them politeness, including the whole circle of charities which spring from the consciousness of what is due to their fellow-beings.


    To the acquisition of the rare quality of politeness, so much of the enlightened understanding is necessary that I cannot but consider every book in every science, which tends to make us wiser, and of course better men, as a treatise on a more enlarged system of politeness.


    The polite of every country seem to have but one character. A gentleman of Sweden differs but little, except in trifles, from one of any other country. It is among the vulgar we are to find those distinctions which characterize a people.


    Christianity is designed to refine and to soften; to take away the heart of stone, and to give us hearts of flesh; to polish off the rudeness and arrogances of our manners and tempers; and to make us blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke.


    Wisdom and virtue are by no means sufficient, without the supplemental laws of good-breeding, to secure freedom from degenerating into rudeness, or self-esteem from swelling into insolence. A thousand incivilities may be committed, and a thousand offices neglected, without any remorse of conscience, or reproach from reason.


    “Politeness,” says Witherspoon, “is real kindness kindly expressed;” an admirable definition, and so brief that all may easily remember it. This is the sum and substance of all true politeness. Put it in practice, and all will be charmed with your manners.

    Mrs. Sigourney.

    Bowing, ceremonious, formal compliments, stiff civilities, will never be politeness; that must be easy, natural, unstudied; and what will give this but a mind benevolent and attentive to exert that amiable disposition in trifles to all you converse and live with?


    True politeness is the spirit of benevolence showing itself in a refined way. It is the expression of good-will and kindness. It promotes both beauty in the man who possesses it, and happiness in those who are about him. It is a religious duty, and should be a part of religious training.


    The only true source of politeness is consideration,—that vigilant moral sense which never loses sight of the rights, the claims, and the sensibilities of others. This is the one quality, over all others, necessary to make a gentleman.


    True politeness is consideration for the opinions of others. It has been said of dogmatism that it is only puppyism come to its full growth; and certainly the worst form this quality can assume is that of opinionativeness and arrogance.

    Samuel Smiles.

    Not to perceive the little weaknesses and the idle but innocent affectations of the company may be allowable as a sort of polite duty. The company will be pleased with you if you do, and most probably will not be reformed by you if you do not.


    That politeness which we put on, in order to keep the assuming and the presumptuous at a proper distance, will generally succeed. But it sometimes happens that these obtrusive characters are on such excellent terms with themselves that they put down this very politeness to the score of their own great merits and high pretensions, meeting the coldness of our reserve with a ridiculous condescension of familiarity, in order to set us at ease with ourselves.


    In politeness, as in many other things connected with the formation of character, people in general begin outside, when they should begin inside; instead of beginning with the heart, and trusting that to form the manners, they begin with the manners, and trust the heart to chance influences.

    Mrs. L. M. Child.

    Among well-bred people a mutual deference is affected, contempt of others is disguised; authority concealed; attention given to each in his turn; and an easy stream of conversation maintained without vehemence, without interruption, without eagerness for victory, and without any airs of superiority.


    He is truly well-bred who knows when to value and when to despise those national peculiarities, which are regarded by some with so much observance; a traveller of taste at once perceives that the wise are polite all the world over, but that fools are polite only at home.