With respect to what are termed polite manners … I would wish my countrymen to adopt just so much of European politeness, as to be ready to make all those little sacrifices of self, which really render European manners amiable, and relieve society from the disagreeable scenes to which rudeness often subjects it. Here, it seems that a man might pass a life without encountering a single rudeness. In the pleasures of the table they are far before us, because, with good taste they unite temperance. They do not terminate the most sociable meals by transforming themselves into brutes. I have never yet seen a man drunk in France, even among the lowest of the people.
To Mr. Bellini, September 30, 1785
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Consensus-seeking leaders value the essential skill of politeness.
Jefferson wrote from Paris to a Virginia emigrant and language professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. He shared first impressions with a former European. While he praised their arts and a few of their books, he found them wanting in most other disciplines: government, science, morality, and a “swarm of nonsensical publications.”
He was complimentary though, of their politeness. Jefferson greatly valued cordiality! Note the qualities he appreciated:
1. Europeans made “all those little sacrifices of self” so necessary for just getting along. People didn’t insist on their own ways, and public conflict was minimized.
2. The dining table, Jefferson’s favorite place for mixing it up with others, combined good taste with limited alcohol. Meals ended on a friendly basis, not a drunken one.
3. He experienced no public drunkenness. Jefferson valued self-control and public propriety.
Mr. Jefferson will encourage your audience toward an essential social skill, politeness.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739