Master: You should have added “sir.”rnBoy: Nearly six months, sir.rnSoutherners fiird terms of respect natural. Children usernthem in addressing their parents; students use them in addressingrnteachers; workmen use them in addressing overseers; laymenrnuse them in addressing pastors and priests. These termsrnare common in various relations of society.rnAn old friend of mine lay ill and extremely weak. His son,rnhimself a father, entered the room. The old man mumbled inrna weak voice. The son asked courteously, “What?” In a strong,rnurgent, and imperative voice, the old man said, “You say ‘sir’ tornyour father.” “Sir?” the son obediently answered. With this custom,rnthe relation of father to son does not fade with age.rnAt a countr)- church in Alabama, a minister was reading fromrnan old-fashioned service for a wedding. He read in that rich,rnresonant, baritone voice that is one of God’s gifts to black men:rn”Do you take this woman to be your wedded wife, to live togetherrnafter God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony?”rnWhen he had read the last words of the charge, “so long as yernboth shall live,” he whispered to the groom, “Say, ‘I do.'” Therngroom answered in a loud voice and emphasized each word,rn”Yes, sir, I do.” Never have I heard a more convincing affirmationrnto that charge.rnIn a recent court case in Louisiana, a working man was calledrnto the stand as a witness. His answer to one question was ambiguous.rn”Do you mean this or that?” the judge asked. “Yes,”rnthe witness answered. “Yes, what?” the judge asked. ‘Yes, sir,”rnthe workman answered. That man had been trained in the veryrnsame manner as Erasmus’s master trained his boys in 1522.rnAn Auburn University student who had gone north for graduaternwork addressed his teacher as “sir.” The professor correctedrnhim: “Don’t say ‘Sir.’ People don’t like that up here.” Torncatch up with the times, we must revise Erasmus:rnProfessor: How long have ‘ou been away from home?rnStudent: Nearly six months, sir.rnProfessor: You should not say “sir.”rnStudent: Nearly six months.rnThose who are in step with the times find the old-fashionedrnSouthern and Erasmian manners peculiar. But who can foretellrnthe future? The hand of fortune is fickle. Will old-fashionedrnmanners come back into common use? Will the commonrnmanners of this age come to seem peculiar? Will studentsrnagain be taught to say, “Nearlv six months, sir”?rnAs Cicero makes clear in his analysis of temperance, the oldrnas well as the young must be temperate if the family circlernis to be just. The duty of elders is to exhibit in their own conductrntemperance joined to prudence; by this union, they willrnserve their children, their friends, and the state. Southern fathersrnlearned this lesson of temperance both for the old and thernyoung in the ancient classics and in the Bible. It is clear in St.rnPaul’s Letter to the Ephesians, 6:1-4.rnChildren obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.rnHonour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandmentrnwith promise;)rnThat it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live longrnon the earth.rnAnd ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: butrnbring them up in the nurture and admonition of thernLord.rnA visit to a country house 74 years ago has left me a vivid andrnfond memor)’. Even at that time, the house was ancient. Thernceilings seemed to a four-year-old boy as far away as the starryrnskies. The stair was a way to heaven. The wonder of the sightrnstartled a four-year-old boy who had forgotten to remove his cap.rnMy father looked down. “Don’t forget your cap. Captain.” Hernand I played like soldiers. Sometimes, he was the captain, andrnI his soldier; sometimes, we reversed roles. A sharp rebukernwould have humiliated me and provoked me to anger. Butrnanger was averted. I remained the captain. Honor and rankrnwere mine, even though I had failed to mind my manners.rnSouthern manners have left this province stranded with EdwardrnGibbon and Dr. Johnson in the 18th century. Or, are wernisolated with Ben Jonson in the 17th century? With Erasmus inrnthe 16th century? With Cicero in the last century B.C.? With Platornin tlie fifth century B.C.? With Pindar in the sixth century B.C.?rnBasil L. Gildersleeve’s Pindar, first published in 1885, remainsrnstandard. Although Pindar came from a province, Boefia,rnwhich was “hopelessly behind the times,” men still read andrnadmire his poetry, written 2,500 years ago. Gildersleeve hasrnpointed out that his case is not singular.rnLarge historical views are not always entertained by therncleverest minds, ancient and modern, transatiantic andrncisatlantic; and the annals of politics, of literature, ofrnthought, have shown that out of the depths of crass conservatismrnand proverbial sluggishness come, not by anyrnmiracle, but by the process of accumulated force, somernof the fine-st intelligences, some of the greatest powers, ofrnpolitical, literar)-, and especially religious life.rnAs an example of religious life, Gildersleeve offers Cappadocia:rn”A Cappadocian king was a butt in the time of Cicero; thernCappadocians were the laughing-stock of the Greek antholog)’,rnand yet there are no prouder names in the literary history of thernChurch than the names of the Cappadocian fathers, Basil andrnthe Gregories.”rnThe South, like Boetia, has been “hopelessly behind therntimes.” Like Cappadocia, it has been the laughing-stock ofrnclever minds. Yet from the South have come “some of thernfinest intelligences, some of the greatest powers, of political, literarv’,rnand especially religious life.”rnAmong those whose intelligences, formed by the “process ofrnaccumulated force,” have put their work be}’ond destruction byrntime’s fleeting hand is Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve. Behind hisrnlove for his native countn’ was an intelligence which, refiningrnthat love, dispelled sentimentality. He was not sentimentalrnabout his country or himself In a letter, written in his 88th year,rnhe quoted Goethe: ‘”VoUkommen is die Norm des Himmels, Vol-rnIkommen wollen die Norm des Menschen?’—a sentence I havernlong cherished and alas! applied too feebly.” This long-cherishedrnsentence states, in sum, that men long for perfection, butrnit is found only in heaven, God’s dwelling-place.rnExperience has shown that the old-fashioned view of mannersrnhas pointed the way to an agreeable, if less than perfect, societ’rnin the South. These manners are a source for contentmentrnwith your state and destiny. Wherever these manners andrncontentment remain, they will seem peculiar to resfless, cleverrnminds. ^rn20/CHRONICLESrnrnrn