Character Building - Cleanliness
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
UNDER this title we wish to say a few words to boys and girls, but especially to boys, about cleanliness of body and mind. To be clean and neat is your duty to yourself as well as to your associates. Is that sentence true, or is it not true? What a wretched world this would be if all faces were dirty, all hair was uncombed, and everybody's clothes were covered with filth !
Boys and girls, we are not going to write much on this subject, because it is not necessary. You can ponder over it and arrive at a sensible conclusion just as well as we can. Perhaps you might do some thinking and reasoning in connection with this subject along the following lines:
Cleanliness of body, hands, face, nails, etc.; cleanliness of clothing, shoes, books, etc.; cleanliness and neatness everywhere and all the time as far as possible.
It seems to us that "cleanliness of mind" is a correct expression. This means that you will avoid swearing or the use of low, mean language. Swearing is a nuisance to all well-bred men and women. It is in bad taste, and bad taste indicates bad breeding. We believe it is generally admitted that a gentleman never swears. Perhaps this statement is not wholly true, for it is difficult to decide just who are and who are not gentlemen. We are sure, however, that if a gentleman ever forgets himself and swears, he is ashamed of it afterward. Boys, don't indulge in low, coarse talk. Avoid vulgar words, vulgar stories, and vulgar jokes. Don't write obscene words on fences or walls or sidewalks. We don't believe that you, young readers, have done or will do any of these things, but you should go further than that-you should show your disapproval of them. If a boy or a man tells you a coarse story or low joke, don't knock him down, although he deserves it; just listen in cold silence, and the vulgar fellow may not repeat the offence. Be pure of speech; it will help you to live a pure, true, and noble life.
Cleanliness of thought and speech are exemplified in the little poem, "The Boy who never Told a Lie," and in the fairy tale, "Toads and Diamonds," both in Volume I of the Library. We also advise the reading of "Sir Galahad and the Sacred Cup" in Volume II, and the poetical version of the subject in Volume XI. The poem "Be True," in the latter volume, is recommended for memorizing. How to maintain cleanliness of body and dress is treated in "Hints for Happiness" and " Care of the Body in Health" in Volume X.