"My mother never had much money to give her children when we were growing up, but she always gave her four sons the best of advice when it came to manners. She used to remind us of the 'musts of manners' for all boys as being (1) Always say please and thank you, (2) Never strike a female, whatever the provocation, (3) Always give up your seat for a woman or old person, (4) Respect your parents and elders and (5) Don't talk back.
Her golden rule relating to manners, however, pertained to the cleanliness of a male's shoes. I recall her once telling me. 'Billy, anyone who is a 'gentleman' at the age of 7 years, is going to remain a gentleman for the rest of their life'. She also used to tell me that the mark of every gentleman was reflected in the shine of his polished shoes.
I must point out that whereas, mum's advice was usually right, when it came to being able to determine a gentleman by the cleanliness of his shoes, she was way wrong! As a Probation Office in later years, I knew many rapists, wife beaters, child molesters and murderers who would have considered themselves not being fully dressed, had they entered the scene of their crime wearing unclean shoes. Indeed, being able to see the reflection of their victim's fear and anguish in their highly polished shoes at the precise moment they were killing and violating them was probably one of their most bizzare turn on!
Where mum was undoubtedly right, however was when she advised that a gentleman's manners are the same at home as when he is out on public view. She frequently told my father this, knowing that he had manners for home and manners for out. Essentially, mum believed that good manners crossed all classes and that the wish of every noble man was to live a good life and die a gentleman.
I was once told by a very elderly gentleman that a man should never divorce, even if he happened to find he had married the wrong woman. He was of the old school and sincerely believed that if you'd been fortunate and had married a good wife you'd be happy and if not, his advice was to take up reading romantic novels and become a philosopher.
I was born in Ireland and over the years, I attended a great many Irish funerals. I was in my twenties before the marked similarities of the Irish funeral dawned on me. As the coffin was lowered into the ground at the graveside, the presiding priest would always proclaim the dearly departed as having been a scholar, a philosopher, and a gentleman. In my early years, upon hearing these words, I regretted never having really known this great man. There would be a great many attendances at numerous Irish funerals over the years before I realised that every Irish man who ever died since the Potato Famine, had been described at his graveside by the parish priest as having been a scholar, philosopher and gentleman! It would seem to be an automatic inclusion in the dearly departed burial rights for anyone donating thirty pounds to the retired priest funds in Portlaw, County Waterford." William Forde: January 20th, 2017.