Manners Makyth Hu­man­ity

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

Gen­er­a­tions of teach­ers who used Wil­liam of Wyke­ham’s ob­ser­va­tion that ‘Manners Makyth Man’ to rep­ri­mand school­boys for fail­ing to open doors or to stand up when ap­pro­pri­ate missed the point.

How­ever worldly the multi-task­ing Bishop of Winch­ester, chan­cel­lor and ed­u­ca­tion­al­ist was, it’s un­likely that his use of the word ‘manners’ re­ferred to tuck­ing in a fe­male com­pan­ion’s chair at din­ner or prof­fer­ing a coat on a crisp win­ter evening. rather than mak­ing a com­ment on male eti­quette, it seems more likely that he was high­light­ing the fact that the way we be­have de­ter­mines what we are.

nor, in the 14th cen­tury, was the thought star­tlingly new, hav­ing been a key theme of aris­totelian phi­los­o­phy that was con­ceived more than a mil­len­nium be­fore­hand. How­ever, the fact that Wil­liam of Wyke­ham chose to make the ob­ser­va­tion in english, rather than Latin, sug­gests that he was keen to make a bold, hu­man­ist state­ment.

the pub­li­ca­tion of Coun­try Life’s fourth Gen­tle­man’s Life comes at an un­set­tling time—the in­tegrity of some of the world’s most prom­i­nent men is un­der scru­tiny and the faith of a be­wil­dered pub­lic is crum­bling.

For every­one, now is the time to fo­cus, not just on the be­hav­iour that’s be­ing re­vealed, but also on the man­ner in which we all con­duct our­selves in ev­ery as­pect of our lives, re­gard­less of our gen­der or cir­cum­stance. Good manners are noth­ing if they mask a lack of hu­man­ity.

some seven cen­turies later, the sen­ti­ment of Wil­liam of Wyke­ham’s words, im­mor­talised as the mot­toes of Winch­ester Col­lege and new Col­lege, ox­ford, both of which he founded, re­main per­ti­nent to every­one, from Fri­day-night rev­ellers and the bay­ing mob, em­bold­ened by the anonymity of twit­ter, to the most pow­er­ful preda­tors of West­min­ster, Wash­ing­ton and, of course, tin­sel­town, where this dis­turb­ing con­fla­gra­tion caught light.

if we aren’t able to act with in­tegrity and kind­ness, then even the most care­fully honed eti­quette means noth­ing. Pure plat­inum amid the con­fla­gra­tion is some much­needed cheer­ing news. next week, the Queen and the Duke of ed­in­burgh cel­e­brate their 70th wed­ding an­niver­sary. of all the many mile­stones Her Majesty has reached in re­cent years, this is per­haps the most touch­ing.

theirs is an en­dur­ing part­ner­ship that serves as an in­spi­ra­tion to us all, dis­tin­guished not only by love and hu­mour, but by the mu­tual re­spect and deep sense of duty that Wil­liam of Wyke­ham had in mind.

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