POLITENESS in China is a science, and gracefulness of manners a study and discipline. The successful effort of a retiring visitor to pass from a reception room through two or three courts without turning his back upon the host, backing, bowing, and going sideways, by turns, and his oft-repeated wish that the host should not take the trouble to accompany him to the outer door, and the as oft-repeated reply of the host that his feelings of gratitude and respect oblige him to do so, excite in a foreigner feelings of both surprise and amusement.

This excessive politeness is also amusingly manifest in their language, as well as their manners. A Chinaman, inquiring of a friend his place of residence, though he knows him to be poor, and probably living in an inferior house, asks,

"Where is your mansion? "He replies,

"My hut" or " hovel" is in such a place. Rich men, living in fine, costly houses, use the same language in reply to such an inquiry. Mr. Kevins, an American missionary now in China, gives the following, as specimens of the complimentary expressions on one side, and the self-depreciating on the other, which may be constantly heard in the intercourse of the Chinese with each other: 

"What is your honorable age?"

"My empty or worthless age is forty-five."

"Is your honorable wife living? "

"The mean person in the inner apartment is still in life."

"Is your noble son doing well at school?"

"The contemptible dog has learned a few characters." 

Little Star.


THE word of God not only commands us to "be courteous," but in the long list of the heroes of faith, it presents many noble examples of the exercise of Christian politeness.

Abraham was a truly courteous man. With what hospitality he received the three strangers who came to his tent in the heat of the day, and how eagerly he sought to minister to their comfort.

Observe his unselfish course at the time of his separation from Lot. Though Lot was his nephew, and had doubtless received from him many favors, for which he seems to have shown little gratitude, yet courtesy led the patriarch to forego his right, and offer the young man the first choice of that beautiful country which God had promised to Abraham for an everlasting possession.

In his conduct toward the children of Heth, when purchasing a burying-place for Sarah, Abraham appears the same Christian gentleman. How carefully he observes the customary forms of politeness, "bowing himself to the people of the land," and insisting on paying a full price for the sepulcher.

True courtesy also marked the life of the heroic Paul. He did not flinch before the rage of an angry mob; he was strong to endure stripes and imprisonment, to encounter perils by sea and by land; yet his spirit was gentle and loving as that of a little child. See his brethren as they gather about him, weeping bitterly at the assurance that they shall look upon his face on earth no more. Listen to his words, from a soul wrung with anguish," What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?"

When called before King Agrippa, the apostle had no complaint to utter, and instead of expressing a wish that his enemies might suffer as he had done, he nobly exclaimed, I would to God that thou and all that hear me this day were even as I am, except these bonds!

But the only perfect example of courtesy is found in the life of our Saviour. Whereever he went, he was greeted by the cries of suffering humanity ; but, though often faint and weary, he never uttered an impatient word, never turned away one who came to him for aid. Even in his last dreadful agony he remembered to provide for his heart-broken mother, and while despair pressed upon his own soul he turned to speak a word of hope to the penitent thief dying beside him.

The principle which underlies all true courtesy is that embodied in the Golden Rule, and God has given us in his word examples worthy of imitation. Shall we not try to emulate them ? 

M. A. D.