ing of good manners and gentlemanliness, with mixed results.rnThe end of the road, I suppose, was D.H. Lawrence, and thernsick charade of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier.rnThe American tradition of manners has always been rough —rnperhaps because of the frontier, and perhaps even more becausernof resentment of class distinctions. The results have notrnalways been pretty. We are not taught to remember the Toriesrnas gentlemen today, though perhaps we should. Fictionally, ifrnnot in fact, we have rooted for stout Brom Bones to drive out thernbookish Ichabod Crane. Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett,rnwhatever their virtues, are an unlikely pair of heroes. In the nationalrnmythology, there was once an obsession with the idea ofrnthe gentleman, particularly the Virginia gentleman. We haverndocumented reasons for believing that the Virginia gentlemanrnexisted, as in the language and behavior of Robert E. Lee, for example.rnThe correspondence of the young A.P. Hill (fromrnCulpepper, Virginia) with George B. McClellan regarding thernpropriehes of their conflict over the courtship of a young lady isrnhighly suggestive, coming from two future generals in the CivilrnWar. When Hill was in his grave, McClellan said of the manrnwho had competed for his wife’s hand, and who had attackedrnhis army ferociously during the Peninsular Campaign and atrnAntietam, that he was a gallant soldier and a gentleman. Butrnthe ideal of the Southern gentleman (not to mention suchrnNorthern ones as Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and WinfieldrnScott Hancock) has long since been discredited in the minds ofrnthose who did not feel that theft, arson, and pillage in any wayrnmarred what their eyes had seen: the glory of the coming of thernLord. He works in mysterious ways. The fateful lightning ofrnHis terrible swift sword included stealing the wedding rings offrncorpses exhumed for the purpose, but enough of this unpleasantness.rnLet us just try to be grateful, shall we?rnSo there is a tradition of good manners to fall back on, fromrnEurope and even from our own history. What do we knowrnabout good manners? Good manners are, by definition, harmoniousrnwith good sense and good taste, and should not needrnelaborate cultivation. Good manners are always effortless, asrnCastiglione would have it. Good manners are never mannered,rnbecause that is to call attention to oneself and one’s affectations,rnwhich themselves are usually signs of insecurity or new money.rnMy father liked to point out that, when Winston Churchill declaredrnwar on Germany in a letter to Hider, he signed off asrn”Your obedient servant.” To that point I would add, however,rnthat Churchill, like Dr. Johnson, is also remembered for certainrnungentlemanly moments, and he can hardly be faulted forrnthose. He lived in the 20th century with the Labour Party, sornwhat do you expect?rnThe truth is that we have a difficult)’ in our country today,rnand have had for a long time, with good manners: They havernlargely been discarded. James Fenimore Cooper had a lot tornsay about this in The American Democrat, and so did the Adamsrnbrothers later on. The implications of “democracy” were clear:rnScruples are for losers. Was it not Jay Gould who once declared,rnafter some speculative fiasco, “Nothing is lost, save honor”?rnThe statement speaks volumes, and that was well over arncentury ago.rnIn the realm of popular culture, as an inheritance of Victorianrnmelodrama and through Hollywood, we have long sincernbeen inured to regarding a man who speaks precisely and wearsrna suit as a villain. Various roles of Basil Rathbone, CliftonrnWebb, George Macready, Ray Milland, James Mason, and othersrnprove the point, which is that good manners, if reinforcedrnwith the slightest claim to authority, are the sign of an evil disposition.rnThe mean old banker will foreclose on the widow, butrnthe nice (though unwashed and ill-clad) ranchhand will savernthe farm and little Lindy Lou. The point is a demographic one:rnThere were not enough crooked lawyers to fill the seats, even arnhundred or 50 years ago. Nowadays, of course, I would like tornmeet a crooked lawyer in a dark, pinstriped banker suit, becausernthat would be such a refreshing change; but then again, I do notrnlive anywhere near Washington, D.C.rnSince the days of corny villains, there has intervened a newrndispensation, which perhaps began when Marlon Brando undertookrnthe role of Stanley Kowalski in 1947. Say what you like,rnbut old Marlon was all too successful. The revelation of “truth”rnby way of violence and, what is worse, bad manners set a ruinousrncourse for the last half of the 20th century. We have longrnbeen inured to misreading Tennessee Williams’ play, to acceptingrnyelling as a revelation of deep feeling, and to believingrnthat the lower strata of society constitute a source of moral instruction.rnIn rapid order, after the actors mumbled in their Tshirtsrnand Elvis Presley gyrated his hips, we had the civil-rightsrnmovement, which, its legitimate goals notwithstanding, sanctionedrnnot only the disruption of public order but the principlernthat the disenfranchised, the aggrieved, and the young alwaysrnknow better about evers-thing. We have had the feminist movement,rnwhich, aping its predecessor, established gross truculencernas an argument and as a model of femininity, as the imagernof Molly Yard, roaring and shaking her fist like Mussolini,rnattests. And we have had the “gay-rights movement,” which celebratesrnits foundation in a 1969 riot at the Stonewall Inn, whichrnhas been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, asrnBill Clinton made sure to point out.rnThe images of manners in popular culture today are only toornwell known, but perhaps I can cite a few of the more annoyingrncodes. For males: Never stand up straight, sit up straight, orrnwear real clothes. Giggle and smirk a lot. Never tuck shirt in.rnNeglect haircut, shave, and education. Mumble leeringly andrnmake constant jokes about contraception. For females: Displayrnnavel, with or without ring. Appear to invite immediate sexualrnassault by provocative slut-talk and stylish state of undress. Gigglernleeringly about contraception and AIDS prevention. Citernequality of “genders” in all exchanges. Only meeting polite andrncomposed people, which we sometimes unaccountably do, canrnprevent us from despairing as we behold the degraded imagesrnoffered to us in the media and in “reality” as well.rnYes, thinking about bad manners is more fim than definingrngood manners, so perhaps we should cite some negative examples.rnI do not want to go out on a limb, but I do think there arernsome things that are simply “not done”—which means, in ourrnworld, that they are routine. I am not going to say that yournshould not talk with your mouth full or that you should keeprnyour elbows off the table. May I suggest, however, that givingrnyour word is something to abide by? The repudiation of agreementsrnfreely entered into, followed by bald-faced lying about it,rnis a phenomenon I now find less baffling than I did formedy,rnhaving experienced it so many times, but I hasten to say thatrnsuch a thing does not happen in the academic world exclusively.rnI thought effrontery had topped itself when one liar I calledrnto account suggested that I must be having mental problems.rnWell, he had me there: My mental problem was that I had arnmemory. I have actually known such things to happen in thernreal world, and from editors in Manhattan, three times. One ofrn16/CHRONICLESrnrnrn