Amazing articles on just about every subject...


( Originally Published Early 1900's )

We talk a great deal about gentlemen and about democracy and a good many other words which describe noble conceptions without a very clear idea of what they mean. The biggest mistake we make is in thinking of them as something stationary like a monument carved in granite or a stone set upon a hill, when the truth is that they are living ideas subject to the change and growth of all living things. No man has ever yet be-come a perfect gentleman because as his mind has developed his conception of what a gentleman is has enlarged, just as no country has ever become a perfect democracy because each new idea of freedom has led to broader ideas of freedom. It is very much like walking through a tunnel. At first there is only darkness, and then a tiny pin point of light ahead which grows wider and wider as one advances toward it until, finally, he stands out in the open with the world before him. There is no end to life, and none to human development, at least none that can be conceived of by the finite mind of man.

There are hundreds of definitions of a gentleman, none of them altogether satisfactory. Cardinal Newman says it is almost enough to say that he is one who never gives pain. "They be the men," runs an old chronicle, "whom their race and bloud, or at the least, their virtues, do make noble and known." Barrow declares that they are the men lifted above the vulgar crowd, by two qualities: courage and courtesy. The Century Dictionary, which is as good an authority as any, says, "A gentleman is a man of good breeding, courtesy, and kindness; hence, a man distinguished for fine sense of honor, strict regard for his obligations, and consideration for the rights and feelings of others." And this is a good enough working standard for anybody., The Dictionary is careful to make—and this is important—a gentleman not one who conforms to an outward and conventional standard, but one who follows an inward and personal ideal.

Of late days there has been a great deal of attention paid to making gentlemen of business men and putting courtesy into all the ramifications of business. Without doubt the chief reason for it is the fact that business men themselves have discovered that it pays. One restaurant frankly adopted the motto, "Courtesy Pays," and had it all fixed up with gilt letters and framed and hung it near the front door, and a number of other places have exactly the same policy for exactly the same reason though they do not all proclaim the fact so boldly. It is not the loftiest motive in the world but it is an intelligent one, and it is better for a man to be polite because he hopes to win success that way than for him not to be polite at all.

Human conduct, even at its best, is not always inspired by the highest possible motives. Not even the religions which men have followed have been able to accomplish this. Most of them have held out the hope of heavenly reward in payment for goodness here on earth and countless mil-lions of men (and women, too, for that matter) have kept in the straight and narrow path be-cause they were afraid to step out of it. It may be that they were, intrinsically, no better men than the ones who trod the primrose path to the everlasting bonfire, but they were much easier to live with. And the man who is courteous, who is a gentleman, whatever his motives, is a more agreeable citizen than the one who is not.

Now how this is our problem—does one go about making a gentleman? Environment plays, comparatively speaking, a very small part. "The appellation of gentleman," this is from a gentle-man of the Seventeenth Century, "is not to be affixed to a man's circumstances, but to his behavior in them." It is extremely doubtful if courtesy can be taught by rule. It is more a matter of atmosphere, and an instinct "for the better side of things and the cleaner surfaces of life." And yet, heredity, training, and environment all enter into the process.

It is a polite and pleasant fiction that courtesy is innate and not acquired, and we hear a great deal about the "born lady" and the "born gentleman." They are 'both myths. Babies are not polite, and the "king upon 'is throne with 'is crown upon 'is 'ead" has had, if he is a gentle-man, lifelong training in the art of being one. There is still in existence a very interesting out-line which was given by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to their oldest son, the Prince of Wales, on his seventeenth birthday. It contained a careful summary of what was expected of him as a Christian gentleman and included such items as dress, appearance, deportment, relations with other people, and ability to acquit himself well in whatever company he happened to be thrown.

The King and Queen, although they were probably unaware of the fact, were acting upon the advice of an authority on good manners at court a number of years before their time. "Indeed," says the old manuscript, "from seven to seventeen young gentlemen commonly are carefully enough brought up : but from seventeen to seven-and-twenty (the most dangerous time of all a man's life, and the most slippery to stay well in) they have commonly the rein of all license in their own hand, and specially such as do live in the court." If we bring the sentence up to date, and it is as true now as it was then, we may substitute "business" for "court." Business men as well as courtiers find the ages between seventeen and seven-and-twenty "the most slippery to stay well in" for it is during these years that they are establishing themselves in the commercial world. As a general thing, but it is wise to remember that there is no rule to which there are not exceptions, by the time a man is twenty-seven his habits are formed and it is too Iate to acquire new ones.

Most children undergo a painstaking and more or less painful course of instruction in good manners and know by the time they are men and women what should be done whether they do it or not. Our social code is not a complicated one, and there is no excuse except for the youngsters who have just growed up like Topsy or have been brought up by jerks like Pip. It is, without doubt, easier to be polite among people who are naturally courteous than among those who snap and snarl at one another, but it is a mistake to place too much emphasis on this part of it. Too many men—business men, at that—have come up out of the mire for us to be able to offer elaborate apologies for those who have stayed in it. The background is of minor importance. A cockroach is a cockroach anywhere you put him.

It is easy to envy the men who have had superior advantages, and many a man feels that if he had another's chance he, too, might have become a great gentleman. It is an idle speculation. His own opportunities are the only ones any man can attend to, and if he is sensible he will take quick advantage of those that come, not in dreams, but in reality, and will remember what a very sagacious English statesman said about matters of even graver import: "It makes no difference where you are going. You've got to start from where you are."

The lack of early training is a handicap but not a formidable one, especially to a business man. As the Spaniards say, there is little curiosity about the pedigree of a good man. And no man needs to be ashamed of his origin. The president of a firm would naturally be interested in the ancestry of a young man who came to ask him for the hand of his daughter, but if the man has come to sell a bill of goods he does not care a snap. In discussions of the social evil it is often said that every child has a right to be well born, but Robert Louis Stevenson saw more deeply and spoke more truly when he said, "We are all nobly born; fortunate those who know it; blessed those who remember."

The finest Gentleman the world has ever seen was born some two thousand years ago to the wife of a carpenter in Bethlehem and spent most of His time among fishermen, tax-collectors, cripples, lepers, and outcasts of various sorts; and yet in the entire record of His short and troubled life there is not one mention of an ungraceful or an ungainly action. He was careful to observe even the trivialities of social life. Mary and Martha were quarreling before dinner. He quieted them with a few gracious words. The people at the marriage feast at Cana were worried because they had only water to drink. He touched it and gave them wine. The multitude who came to hear Him were tired, footsore, and hungry. He asked them to be seated and gave them food. He dined with the Pharisees, He talked with the women of Samaria, He comforted Mary Magdalen, and He washed the feet of His disciples. He was beset and harassed by a thousand rude and unmannerly questions, but not once did He return an impatient answer. Surely these things are god like and divine whatever one may believe about the relation of Jesus Christ to God, the Father.

It has been said that every man should choose a gentleman for his father. He should also choose a gentleman for his employer. Unfortunately he often has no more option in the one than he has in the other. Very few of us get exactly what we want. But however this may be, a gentleman at the head of a concern is a price-less asset. The atmosphere of most business houses is determined by the man at the top. His character filters down through the ranks. If he is a rough-and-tumble sort of person the office is likely to be that kind of place ; if he is quiet and mannerly the chances are that the office will be quiet and mannerly. If he is a gentleman every-body in the place will know it and will feel the effects of it. "I am always glad John was with Mr. Blank his first year in business," said a mother speaking of her son. Mr. Blank was a man who had a life-long reputation for being as straight as a shingle and as clean as a hound's tooth, every inch a gentleman.

"How do you account for the fact that you have come to place so much emphasis on courtesy?" a business man was asked one day as he sat in his upholstered office with great windows opening out on the New York harbor. He thought for a moment, and his mind went back to the little Georgia village where he was born and brought up. "My father was a gentleman," he answered. "I remember when I was a boy he used to be careful about such trifles as this. `Now, Jim,' he would say, `when you stop on the sidewalk don't stop in the middle of it. Stand aside so you won't be in anybody's way.' And even now," the man smiled, "I never stop on the sidewalk without stepping to one side so as to be out of the way."

The life of a young person is plastic, easy to take impressions, strong to retain them. And the "old man or the "governor," whether he is father, friend, or employer, or all three, has infinitely more influence than either he or the young man realizes. At the same time it is perfectly true that young people do not believe what older ones tell them about life. They have to try it out for themselves. One generation does not begin where the other left off. Each one of us begins at the beginning, and the world, with all that it holds, is as wonderful (though slightly different, to be sure) and as new to the child who is born into it to-day as it was to Adam on the first morning after it was created.

It is almost tragic that so many young men take the tenor of their lives from that of their employers, especially if the latter have been successful. This places a terrific responsibility upon the employer which does not, however, shift it from the employee. His part in business or in life—and this is true of all of us—is what he makes it, great or small. And the most important thing is for him to have a personal ideal of what he thinks best and hold to it. He cannot get it from the outside.

"Courtesy is not one of the company's rules," wrote the manager of a large organization which has been very successful in handling men and making money. "It is a tradition, an instinct. It is an attribute of the general tone, of the dominating influence of the management in all its relations. It is a part of the general tone, the honor, the integrity of the company. For three generations it has been looked upon as an inheritance to be preserved and kept irreproachable. Employees are drawn into this influence by the very simple process of their own development. Those who find themselves in harmony with the character of the company or who deliberately put themselves in tune progress. Those who do not, cannot, for long, do congenial or acceptable service." This is the statement from the manager of a firm that is widely known for courteous dealing. Their standard is now established. It is a part of the atmosphere, and their chief problem is to get men who will fit into it.

An employer does not judge a man on an abstract basis. He takes him because he thinks he will be useful to his business. This is why most places like to get men when they are young. They are easier to train.

Every one likes good material to work with, and employers are no exception. They take the best they can find, and the higher the standard of the firm the greater the care expended in choosing the employees. "Whenever we find a good man," said the manager of a big trust company, "we take him on. We may not have a place for him at the time but we keep him until we find one."

Except during times of stress such as that brought about by the war when the soldiers were at the front, no business house hires people indiscriminately. They know, as the Chinese have it, that rotten wood cannot be carved. "It is our opinion," we quote from another manager, "that courtesy cannot be pounded into a person who lacks proper social basis. In other words, there are some people who would be boorish under any circumstances. Our first and chief step toward courtesy is to exercise care in selecting our employees. We weigh carefully each applicant for a sales position and try to visualize his probable deportment as our representative, and unless he gives promise of being a fit representative we do not employ him."

But it is not enough to take a man into a business organization. Every newcomer must be broken in. Sometimes this is done by means of formal training, sometimes it consists merely of giving him an idea of what is expected of him and letting him work out his own salvation. Granting that he is already familiar with the work in a general way, and that he is intelligent and resourceful, he ought to be able to adapt himself without a great deal of instruction from above. All of this depends upon the kind of work which is to be done.

Nearly every employer exercises more caution in selecting the man who is to meet the public than any other. It is through him that the all-important first impression is made, and a man who is rude or discourteous, or who, for any reason, rubs people the wrong way, simply will not do. He may have many virtues but unless they are apparent they are for the time being of little service.

Most salesmen have to go to school. Their work consists largely of the study of one of the most difficult subjects in the catalogue : human psychology. They must know why men do what they do and how to make them do what they, the salesmen, want them to do. They must be able to handle the most delicate situations courteously and without friction. It takes the tact of a diplomat, the nerve of a trapeze performer, the physical strength of a prize fighter, the optimism of William J. Bryan or of Pollyanna, and the wisdom of Solomon. Not many men are born with this combination of qualities.

The best training schools base their teaching on character and common sense. One very remarkable organization, which has at its head an astonishingly buoyant and optimistic—and, it is hardly necessary to add, successful—man, teaches that character is nine-tenths of success in salesmanship and technique is only one-tenth. They study technique and character along with it, in a scientific way, like the students in a biological laboratory who examine specimens. Their prospects are their subjects, and while they do not actually bring them into the consultation room, they hold experience meetings and tell the stories of their successful and unsuccessful contacts. The meetings are held at the end of the day, when the men are all tired and many of them are depressed and discouraged. They are opened with songs, "My Old Kentucky Home," "Old Black Joe," "Sweet Adeline," and the other good old familiar favorites that make one think of home and mother and school days and happiness. One or two catchy popular songs are introduced, and the men sing or hum or whistle or divide into groups and do all three with all their might. It is irresistible. Fifteen or twenty minutes of it can wipe out the sourest memory of the day's business, and trivial irritations sink to their proper place in the scheme of things. The little speeches follow, and the men clap and cheer for the ones who have done good work and try to make an intelligent diagnosis of the cases of the ones who have not. 'When the leader talks he sometimes recounts his early experiences—he, like most good salesmanagers, was once on the road himself—and if he is in an inspirational mood, gives a sound talk on the principle back of the golden rule. The spirit of cooperation throughout the in-, stitution is amazing and the morale is something any group of workers might well envy them.

Most business houses recognize their responsibilities toward the young people that they hire. Well-organized concerns build up from within. The heads of the departments are for the most part men who have received their training in the institution, and they take as much pains in selecting their office boys as they do in selecting any other group, for it is in them that they see the future heads and assistant heads of the departments. In hiring office boys "cleanness, good manners, good physique, mental agility, and good habits are primary requisites," according to Mr. J. Ogden Armour in the American Magazine.

In one of the oldest banks in New York each boy who enters is given a few days' intensive training by a gentleman chosen for the purpose. The instructor stresses the fundamentals of character and, above all things, common sense. Courtesy is rarely discussed as a separate quality but simple instructions are given about not going in front of a person when there is room to go around him, not pushing into an elevator ahead of every one else, not speaking to a man at a desk until he has signified that he is ready, and about sustaining quiet and orderly behavior every-where. The atmosphere in the bank is the kind that encourages gentlemanly conduct and the new boys either fall in with it or else get out and go somewhere else.

It takes more patience on the part of the youngsters in the financial district than it does in most other places, for the men there work under high tension and are often cross, worried, nervous, and irritable, and as a result are, many: times, without intending it, unjust. The discipline is severe, and the boy would not be human if he did not resent it. But the youngster who is quick to fly off the handle will find himself sadly handicapped, however brilliant he may be, in the race with boys who can keep their tempers in the face of an injury.

Three boys out of the hundreds who have passed through the training school in the bank of which we were speaking have been discharged for acts of discourtesy. One flipped a rubber clip across a platform and hit one of the officials in the eye, one refused to stay after hours to finish some work he had neglected during the day, and one was impertinent. All three could have stayed if each had used a little common sense, and all three could have stayed if each act had not been a fair indication of his general attitude toward his work.

One of the most difficult organizations to man-age and one against which the charge of discourtesy is frequently brought is the department store. Yet a distinguished Englishwoman visiting here—it takes a woman to judge these things —said, "I had always been told that people in New York were in such a hurry that, although well-meaning enough, they were inclined to appear somewhat rude to strangers. I have found it to be just the reverse. During my first strolls in the streets, in the shops, and elsewhere, I have found everybody most courteous. Your stores, I may say, are the finest I have ever seen, not excepting those of Paris. Their displays are remarkable. Their spaciousness impressed me greatly. Even at a crowded time it was not difficult to move about. In London, where our shops are mostly cramped and old-fashioned, it would be impossible for such large numbers of people to find admittance."

The tribute is a very nice one. For a long time the department stores have realized the difficulties under which they labor and have been making efforts to overcome them. They have formed associations by which they study each other's methods, and most of them have very highly organized systems of training and management. One big department store carries on courtesy drives. Talks are given, posters are exhibited, and prizes are offered for the most courteous clerks in the store. "We know that it is not fair to give prizes," the personnel manager says, "because it is impossible to tell really which clerks are the most courteous, but it stimulates interest and effort throughout the organization and the effects last after the drive is over."

One big department store which is favorably known among a large clientele for courteous handling of customers depends upon its atmosphere to an enormous extent, but it realizes that atmosphere does not come by chance, that it has to be created. They have arranged it so that each clerk has time to serve each customer who enters without the nervous hurry which is the cause of so much rudeness. The salesclerks who come into the institution are given two weeks' training in the mechanical end of their work, the ways of recording sales, methods of approach, and so on, as well as in the spirit of cooperation and service. By the time the clerk is placed behind the counter he or she can conduct a sale courteously and with despatch, but there is never a time when the head of the department is not ready and willing to be consulted about extra-ordinary situations which may arise.

It is during the rush seasons such as the three or four weeks which precede Christmas that courtesy is put to the severest test, and the store de-scribed in the paragraph above bears up under it nobly. It did not wait until Christmas to be-gin teaching courtesy. It had tried to make it a habit, but last year several weeks before the holidays it issued a bulletin to its employees to remind them of certain things that would make the Christmas shopping less nerve-racking. The first paragraph was headed It ran as follows :

"If you want to be really merry at Christmas time, it will be well to bear in mind during this busy month at least these few `health savers' :

"Every night try to get eight good hours of sleep.

"All day try to keep an even temper and a ready smile.

"Remember that five minutes lost in the morning means additional pressure all day long.

"Try to make your extra effort a steady one—not allowing yourself to get excited and rushed so that you make careless mistakes.

"Try to eat regularly three good nourishing meals, relaxing completely while you are at the table and for a little while afterward.

"Breathe deeply, and as often as you can, good fresh air—it cures weariness.

"And don't forget that a brisk walk, a sensible dinner, an hour's relaxation, and then a hot bath before retiring, make a refreshing end for one business day and a splendid preparation for the next."

There were six other paragraphs in the bulletin. One asked the salesclerks to take the greatest care in complying with a customer's request to send gift purebnses without the price tags. Another asked them to pay strictest attention to getting the right addresses, and most of the others were taken up with suggestions for ways to avoid congestion by using a bank of elevators somewhat less conveniently located than the others, by limiting their personal telephone calls to those which were absolutely necessary, and so on. In both tone and content the bulletin was an excellent one. It first considered the employees and then the customers. There was no condescension in the way it was written and there was no "bunk" about what was in it. But the bulletin was only a small part of an effort that never stops.

The purpose of the store is, to quote from its own statement, "to render honest, prompt, courteous and complete service to customers" and the qualities by which they measure their employees are as follows:

Health Accuracy

Loyalty Thoroughness Cooperation

Initiative Responsibility

Industry Knowledge

Courtesy is not included in the list but it is unnecessary. If these qualities are developed courtesy will come of its own accord. It is worth noting that health comes first in the list. To a business man, or indeed to any other, it is one of the most precious possessions in the world, and is the best of backgrounds upon which to embroider the flower of courtesy.

Every employer who has had any experience knows the value of a contented workman, and does what he can to make and keep him so by paying him adequate wages, and providing comfortable, sanitary, and pleasant working conditions. Contentment is, however, more an attitude of mind than a result of external circumstances. Happiness is who, not where, you are. We do not mean by this that a workman should be wholly satisfied and without ambition or that he should face the world with a permanent grin, but that he should to the best of his ability follow that wonderful motto of Roosevelt's, "Do what you can where you are with what you have." No man can control circumstances ; not even the braggart Napoleon, who declared that he made circumstances, could control them to the end; and no man can shape them to suit exactly his own purposes, but every man can meet them bravely as a gentleman should.

Most big business concerns supply rest rooms, eating places, recreation camps, and all manner of comforts for their employees, and most of them maintain welfare departments. No business house under heaven could take the place of a home, but where the home influence is bad the best counterfoil is a wholesome atmosphere in which to work. Recently an institution advertising for help, instead of asking what the applicant could do for it, pictured and described what it could do for the applicant. The result was that they got a high-class group of people to make their selection from, and their attitude was one which invited the newcomers to do their best.

Factory owners are paying a good deal of attention to the appearance of their buildings. Many of them have moved out into the country so as to provide more healthful surroundings for work. Numbers of modern factory buildings are very beautiful to look at, trim white buildings set in close-cut lawns with tennis courts and swimming pools not far away, red brick buildings covered with ivy, sand-colored ones with roses climbing over them, and others like the one famous for its thousand windows, rather more comfortable than lovely. In our big cities there are office buildings that look like cathedrals, railroad stations that look like temples, and traffic bridges that look (from a distance) like fairy arches leading into the Iand of dreams. They are not all like this. We wish they were. But it is to the credit of the American business man that he has put at least a part of his life and work into the building of beautiful things. The influence which comes from them is, like nearly all potent influences, an unconscious one, but it . makes for happiness and contentment.

The problem of keeping the employees con-tented is somewhat different in every place. House organs, picnics, dances, recreation parks, sanitariums in the country and so on can be utilized by "big business," but the spirit which animates them is the same as that which makes the grocery man at Hicksville Centre give his delivery boy an afternoon off when the baseball team comes to town. The spirit of courtesy is every-where the same, but it must be kept in mind that the end of business is production, production takes work, and that play is introduced in order that the work may be better. This is true whether we are looking at the matter from the point of view of the employer or of the employee. What is to the interest of one—this is gaining slow but sure recognition—is to the interest of the other.

Certain kinds of mechanical work are very trying because of their monotony. The work must be done, however, and in well-ordered places it is arranged so that the worker has brief periods of rest at regular intervals or so that he is shifted from one kind of activity to another. It is poor economy to wear out men. In the old days before the power of steam or electricity had been discovered, boats were propelled by slaves who were kept below decks chained to their seats, and watched by an overseer who forced them to continue rowing long after they had reached the point of exhaustion. The galley slave sat always on the same side of the boat and after a few years his body became so twisted and warped that he was no good for anything else, and pretty soon was not even good for that. Then he was thrown into the discard—niost of them died before they got this far along—and the owner of the boat had to look out for more men. Something like this happens to the soul of a man who is bound to dreary, monotonous work without relief or any outlet for growth. It is deadening to him, to his work, and to his employer. The far-sighted employer knows it. The masters of slaves learned it many years ago. The chain which binds the servant to the master binds the master to the servant. And the fastening is as secure at one end as it is at the other.

Too strict supervision—slave-driving—is fatal to courtesy. The places which have intricate spy systems to watch their employees are the ones where there is most rudeness and trickery. The clerk who is hectored, nagged, spied upon, suspected and scolded by some hireling brought in for that purpose or by the head of the firm himself cannot be expected to give "a smile with every purchase and a thank you for every good-bye." The training of employees never stops, but it is something that should be placed very largely in their own hands. After a certain point supervision should be unnecessary.

Most places hate to discharge a man. Labor turnover is too expensive. Most of them try to place their men in the positions for which they are best suited. It is easier to take a round peg out of a square hole and put it into a round one than it is to send out for another assortment of pegs. Men are transferred from sales departments to accounting departments, are taken off the road and brought into the home office, and are shifted about in various ways until they fit. If a man shows that "he has it in him" he is given every chance to succeed. "There is only one thing we drop a man for right off," says an employment manager in a place which has in its service several thousand people of both sexes, "and that is for saying something out of the way to one of our girls."

This same manager tells the story of a boy he hired and put into a department which had been so badly managed that there were a number of loose ends to be tied up. The boy threw himself into his work, cleared up things, and found himself in a "soft snap" without a great deal to do. He happened not to be the kind of person who can be satisfied with a soft snap, and he became so restive and unhappy that he was recommended for discharge. This brought him back to the head of the employment bureau. He, instead of throwing the young man out, asked that he be given a second trial in a department where the loose ends could not be cleaned up. It was a place where there was always plenty of work to do, and the young man has been happy and has been doing satisfactory work ever since.

The house in which this happened is always generous toward the mistakes of its employees if the mistakes do not occur too persistently and too frequently. In one instance a boy made three successive errors in figures in as many days. He was slated for discharge but sent first before the employment manager. As they talked the latter noticed that the boy leaned forward with a strained expression on his face. Thinking perhaps he was slightly deaf, he lowered his voice, but the boy understood every word he said. Then he noticed that there was a tiny red ridge across his nose as if he were accustomed to wearing glasses, although he did not have them on, and when he asked about it he discovered that the boy had broken his glasses a few days before, and that he had not had them fixed because he did not have money enough.

"Why didn't you tell us about it?" the employment manager asked.

"It was not your fault that I broke them," the boy replied. "It was up to me," an independent answer which in itself indicates how much worth while it was to keep him.

The manager gave him money enough to have the glasses mended, the next day the boy was back at work, and there was no more trouble.

An employee in the same organization unintentionally did something which hurt the president of the firm a great deal. But when he went to him and apologized (it takes a man to admit that he is wrong and apologize for it) the president sent him back to his desk, "It's all right, boy," he said, "I know you care. That's enough."

In a big department store in New England there was a girl a few years back with an alert mind, an assertive personality, and a tremendous fund of energy. She was in the habit of giving constructive suggestions to the heads of the departments in which she worked, and because of her youth and manner, they resented it. "I took her into my office," the manager said. "I'm the only one she can be impertinent to there and I don't mind it. It is a bad manifestation of a good quality, and in time the disagreeable part of it will wear off. She will make an excel-lent business woman."

"If a man finds fault with a boy without explaining the cause to him," we are quoting here from an executive in a highly successful Middle Western firm, "I won't fire the boy, I fire the man. We have not a square inch of space in this organization for the man who criticizes a subordinate without telling him how to do better." Unless the plan of management is big enough to include every one from the oldest saint to the youngest sinner it is no good. Business built on oppression and cut-throat competition, whether the competition is between employer and employee or between rival firms, is war, and war, industrial or political, is still what General Sher-man called it some years ago.

We hold no brief for paternalism. We have no patience with it. All that we want is a spirit of fairness and cooperation which will give every man a chance to make good on his own account. This spirit inevitably flowers into .courtesy. In every place courtesy should be, of course, so thoroughly a part of the surroundings that it is accepted like air or sunshine without comment. But it is not, and never has been except in old civilizations where manners have ripened and mellowed under the beneficent influence of time. Our traditions here—speaking of the country as a whole—are still in the making, but we have at least got far enough along to realize that it is not only worth while to do things that are good, but, as an old author has it, to do them with a good grace. It cannot be accomplished overnight. Courtesy is not like a fungous growth springing up in a few hours in the decayed parts of a tree ; it is like that within the tree itself which gives lustre to the leaves and a beautiful surface to the whole. It takes time to develop it time and patience—but it is worth waiting for.

Home | More Articles | Email: