Mar 9: Unswiftian Swift

To Volume 27 again, for Swift's Treatise on Good Manners and Good Breeding. One of the downsides of following the Daily Reading Guide is that the Daily Reading Guide is biased towards "15 minutes a day" length pieces. So, if you're rubbing your hands together in anticipation of some classic Swift broadsides against good manners, I can only say two things:

1. Stop rubbing your hands together, you look ridiculous.
2. And besides, it's not happening.

Oh, the vitriol shows its head -- if vitriol can be said to have a head -- once in a while, like here:
Upon which account, I should be exceedingly sorry to find the legislature make any new laws against the practice of duelling; because ... I can discover no political evil in suffering bullies, sharpers, and rakes, to rid the world of each other by a method of their own[.]
But otherwise it reminds me of nothing so much as one of those "But seriously, guys" movies -- you know, like Interiors. Or whatever Will Ferrell's going to do two years from now. Swift has Serious Opinions on Good Manners and Good Breeding! With, you know, unhilarious results:
One principal point of this art is to suit our behaviour to the three several degrees of men; our superiors, our equals, and those below us. For instance, to press either of the two former to eat or drink is a breach of manners; but a farmer or a tradesman must be thus treated, or else it will be difficult to persuade them that they are welcome.
I guess the guy wasn't a Tory for nothing.

And what is the difference between good manners and good breeding? Good breeding's the kind of thing that would get you punched out:
for besides an uncommon degree of literature sufficient to qualify a gentleman for reading a play, or a political pamphlet, it takes in a great compass of knowledge; no less than that of dancing, fighting, gaming, making the circle of Italy, riding the great horse, and speaking French.
You know, all the things John Kerry was good at.

And then the piece concludes with Swift's practical advice: be on time. Now that's a modest proposal.

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