A Note on Ill-Breeding from a Knight of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem

“Saint John’s Gate, Clerkenwell, the main gateway to the Priory of Saint John of Jerusalem,” black and white photograph by the British photographer Henry Dixon, 1880. The church was founded in the 12th century by Jordan de Briset, a Norman knight. Prior Docwra completed the gatehouse shown in this photograph in 1504. The gateway served as the main entry to the Priory, which was the center of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (the Knights Hospitallers). Courtesy of the British Library, London.

Rules for politeness should be unnecessary.  But although we have no belief in rules, there are certain hints which may be useful.  There is a natural rhythm in life which varies with temperament.  Quietness and gravity and steadiness of feature are signal marks of good breeding.  Approachableness and patience in giving up the whole of one’s attention to those who seek it at the moment, are needed.  Few things are so vulgar as to be everlastingly in a hurry.  Egotism is also a mark of ill-breeding; one should beware of unnecessary apologies, for apology is only egotism in another form.  Serious discussion with disinterested people on one’s personal domestic troubles, and particularly on one’s health, is decidedly bad form; so is carelessness in speech and conversation in any direction.

From Health and Personality by John S. Griffiths, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., D.L., published by Hodder and Stoughton LTD, London, 1924

The Obituary of John S. Griffiths published in the British Medical Journal May 20, 1933

Dr. J. S. GRIFFITHS, who died last month, had practised in Bristol for forty years. He received his medical education at Bristol and at King’s College, obtaining the diplomas M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. in 1891. In this same year he was largely responsible for starting the work of the St. John Ambulance in Bristol, and was commissioner for the West of England District for many years, being made Knight of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. During the war Dr. Griffiths was county director of the British Red Cross Society, and among his manifold duties as such organized the whole of the transport of wounded soldiers from Bristol and Avonmouth. He held several public appointments in Bristol, and was for twenty years medical officer to Queen Victoria Convalescent Home. Apart from his medical career Dr. Griffiths was a man of wide interests, and, in addition to being a member of the Arts Committee of Bristol University, was one of the founders of the Clifton Arts Club, subsequently becoming its chair-man. He was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Gloucestershire, from which he resigned this year owing to ill-health. A well-known figure in Bristol, Dr. Griffiths will be greatly missed by all with whom he came in contact, and the memory of his kindliness and care will be cherished in many homes.

Portrait of HM King George V of the United Kingdom. He is shown wearing his robes as Sovereign Head of the Most Venerable of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem.


“Three views on one plate of the Priory of St John of Jerusalem, in Clerkenwell,” etching, by the Czech-British artist and printmaker Wenceslaus Hollar. 325 mm x 380 mm. Courtesy of the British Museum, London. 1661

Click here to visit the website of the Museum of the Order of St. John

Click here to read the History of the Order of St. John

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Of what a hideous progeny is Debt the father! What lies, what madness, what invasions of self-respect, what cares, what double dealing! How in due season it will carve the frank, open face into wrinkles; how like a knife it will stab the honest heart!

— Douglass Jerrold