Alfred George Gardiner (1865–1946), a British journalist and author, is highly regarded in the literary arena. From 1915 he contributed to The Star under the pseudonym (pen name) Alpha of the Plough. At the time, The Star had several anonymous essayists whose pseudonyms were the names of stars. Invited to choose the name of a star as a pseudonym he chose the name of the brightest (alpha) star in the constellation ‘the Plough’. His essays are uniformly elegant, graceful and humorous. His uniqueness lay in his ability to teach the basic truths of life in an easy and amusing manner. The Pillars of Society, Pebbles on the Shore, Many Furrows and Leaves in the Wind are some of his best known writings. Let’s read a highly edifying essay touching upon a very basic principle of life.
Good Manners are of great value in human life. Bad manners are not a legal crime. But everybody dislikes a man with bad manners. Small courtesies win us a lot of friends. Words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ helps us in making our passage through life smooth. The law does not permit us to hit back if we are the victims of bad manners. But if we are threatened with physical violence, the law permits us some liberty of action. Bad manners create a chain reaction. Social practice demands politeness from us. A good mannered person will find that his work becomes e person will find that his work becomes easier by the ready co-operation that he gets from others.
This essay deals with little but socially important incident from daily life. It shows us the importance of word like please or thank you in our everyday life. They settle bitter quarrels and soften bad tempers. The damage done by an unkind word is more painful than physical injury. A lift-man in an office threw a passenger out of the lift as the latter was impolite. He did not use the word please while asking him to take him to the top. The author is of the opinion that discourtesy is not a legal offence. If a person knocks another person down because he has broken the law, the former will be acquitted .But the liftman was in wrong because the law does not permit anybody to use violence, if another person is discourteous.
If we are uncivil, others also become uncivil. If we show good manners others will also behave well. A cheerful person can make a gloomiest person cheerful. The author feels that it is always better to be on the bus of that conductor when going from one place to another. It is sound investment to poses good manners. If words worth could get a lesson from the poor-leech gatherer, there is no harm in getting lessons from adperson like bus conductor who has good manners .War has affected civilities of life. But they must be got back to make life sweet, kindly and tolerable for each other. The law cannot help us to get them back, but it can only protect us against physical attack. We should be polite towards others so as to have a spiritual victory.