Thursday, June 22, 2017

Etiquette and Society

Samuel Littleton, a famous Queen’s Counsel in his day. had a family whose manners might cause many a house of noble rank to blush —A Queen's Counsel (postnominal QC), or King's Counsel (postnominal KC) during the reign of a King, is an eminent lawyer (usually a barrister) who's appointed by the Queen to be one of "Her Majesty's Counsel learned in the law." The term is also recognised as an honorific.

What Constitutes Society?

A famous essayist once wrote: "l have but seldom sat at the tables of the great. but on such occasions I did not fail to notice that exalted rank does not always confer a superiority of manners; however, I must confess that while respect must always be paid to nobility, the arts of polite conversation, gentle manners, discretion of speech, kindness, sobriety, wit and learning seem to me most successfully cultivated by those who possess no title to respect other than may be conceded to integrity, Industry and success in life.

“Samuel Littleton, a famous Queen’s Counsel in his day. had a family whose manners might cause many a house of noble rank to blush. He himself was a scholar and a wit, yet a wit who sought not to wound. His son, though apt to blush in conversation, had in him the making of a very pretty wit. His daughter, lovely in person, could also display the graces of the mind. They understood music enough to play movingly upon the spinuet. They were also well read and could aptly quote from Shakespeare. Milton and Dryden. They conversed intelligently on all subjects generally allowed to be Introduced before ladies, without boldness, but with a modesty which always best becomes a young geutiewoman. Of the wife and mother no praise would be too extravagant, but it will be sufficient to say that her daughter*, in attempting the task, despaired of emulating her. 


When contrasting a dinner given by my Lord Fullacre, the noisy talk that prevailed, the low topics introduced, the profusion of wine and other evils and extravagances, with a dinner at the house of Sam Littleton, the sobriety of his table, yet the plenty, the moderation of the drinking, the pretty conversation and lively sallies of the girls, the graciousness of the matron, the innocent mirth and laughter of the company, then you find what is true society—that is, society ordered according to the politeness of the age—must be sought for where the men are scholars of delicacy and breeding, and where the women have been educated to make them fit mates for the men." — San Francisco Call, 1892

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Precedent and Etiquette

The case is unprecedented of ladies of official rank visiting the Old World alone," but in lands where precedent and official etiquette are so important it is no laughing matter!
A Matter of Precedent 


Mrs. J. R. McKee and Mrs. Russell Harrison, daughter and daughter-in-law of the president, are now in England and enjoying themselves hugely by ail accounts. The American reader is inclined to smile at the cablegram to the effect that our diplomats abroad are greatly embarrassed, as "the case is unprecedented of ladies of official rank visiting the Old World alone," but in lands where precedent and official etiquette are so important it is no laughing matter. The ladies will visit Paris and Berlin also, and no matter what ceremony is observed there is, as Abraham Lincoln used to say, "No doubt but we shall be able to keep house." — Los Angeles Herald, 1891

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Etiquette and 19th C. Politeness

"Acquaintances made in travelling, or accidentally in public places, have no claim to more than a passing bow if you afterwards finds that the acquaintanceship is not particularly desirable?"

Rules of Politeness and Introductions

As a general role, do not introduce a gentleman to a lady without first privately asking her permission. In going through the ceremony of introducing, pronounce the name of the lady first, adding; "Permit me to present to you Mr. —. " In introducing two gentlemen, present the younger one to the elder, or the one of lower rank to the one of the higher. If the gentlemen are about the same age, and equal in society, present the stranger to the one with whom you are the most intimate. The best form of expression that can be used in introducing two gentlemen, who are in the same circle, is to say; " Mr.— let me make you acquainted wilh Mr. —." But if you are addressing an elderly gentleman, always say, "Mr. — , permit me to present to you Mr. — ." 

A lady should always be perfectly at her ease while introducing her friends to one another, as she has, while performing this necessary little ceremony, great opportunity of proving whether or not her manners are truly graceful. It is not considered fashionable to introduce two persons who accidentally meet in your parlor, and who are paying you a morning visit. The object of this custom in France, (where it first arose) was to prevent formality, as visitors were expected to converse together without an introduction, and were afterwards at liberty to recognize each other or not just as they pleased. It is, therefore, in good taste if you find your guests do not converse together without an introduction to present them to one another. Never introduce in the street, unless the third person joins and walks with you. You may make an exception to this rule when the parties are mutually desirious of knowing one another. 

If you are walking with one lady, do not stop to converse with others who are unknown to her, as she must necessarily feel unpleasant. If you are walking with a gentleman you may follow the bent of your inclination, for if he is well bred he will attend your pleasure without evincing either impatience or awkwardness. A lady is at liberty to take either another lady or a gentleman to pay a morning visit to a friend, without asking permission: but she should never allow a gentleman the same liberty, if he desires to make any of his friends known to her, he must first ask if the acquaintance would be agreeable. 

A lady who is invited to an evening assembly may always request a gentleman who has not been invited by the lady of the house, to accompany her. Acquaintances made in travelling, or accidentally in public places, have no claim to more than a passing bow if you afterwards finds that the 
acquaintanceship is not particularly desirable. When a gentleman is presented to a lady, if she is in her own house, and desires to welcome him, she may shake hands with him, but on any other occasion, unless the gentleman is venerable, or the bosom frfend of the husband or father, this practice is reprehensible. The same rule should be observed when a lady is introduced to a lady: although in this country the habit of shaking hands is very general. 

In introducing a friend, be as cautious of saying too much in his favor, as too little, for if the introduced be really the possessor of very good qualities, they will soon be lound out, and more appreciated than if they had in the first instance been all told. At a large dinner or evening party, although some persons strictly adhere to the French custom of not introducing, the mistress of the house shows real politeness by presenting to one another those persons who she thinks will assimilate in their dispositions. If there are strangers present, a party in America is apt to become formal through the omission of introductions; not so in Paris, where everybody converses with his neighbor without going through the unnecessary ceremony of a presentation. — Scientific American Magazine, 1846


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Etiquette and a Willful Child

 A person of tact can always distract the child's attention from its own obstinacy, and in a few moments lead it gently 'round to submission. 

Breaking the Child’s Will

No art is so useful in the management of young children (nor is any art so neglected) as that of avoiding direct collision. The grand blunder which almost all parents and nursemaids commit is, that when the child takes up a whim against doing what he is wanted to do—will not eat his bread and butter, will not go out, will not come to lessons, etc.,— they, so to speak, lay hold of his hind leg, and drag him to his duties; whereas a person of tact can always distract the child's attention from its own obstinacy, and in a few moments lead it gently 'round to submission. 


We know that many persons would think it wrong not to break down the child’s self-will by main force, to come to battle with it, and show him that he is the weaker vessel; but our conviction is that such struggles only tend to make his self-will more robust. If you can skillfully contrive to lay the dispute aside for a few minutes, and hitch his thoughts off the excitement of the contest, ten to one, he will give in quite cheerfully; and this is far better for him than tears and punishment. — Red Bluff Independent, 1874


 Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Etiquette, Naturally

"No ripple mast be permitted to ruffle the smooth equilibrium and indifference of your feelings. You must greet him politely, but without emotion. So the false etiquette of which we speak teaches..."

Be Natural — Act Naturally 


One of the fashionable follies of the day is the affectation of great coolness. It is considered vulgar to be demonstrative. You meet an old friend; it is a blessing to your eyes to behold him once more. Your heart leaps up at sight of him—your impulse is to grasp him warmly by the hand. You feel almost like embracing him. You must do nothing of the kind. No ripple mast be permitted to ruffle the smooth equilibrium and indifference of your feelings. You must greet him politely, but without emotion. So the false etiquette of which we speak teaches. 

Self-possession is a strong quality, but we do not believe in this kind of self-possession. And people who school themselves in this are not apt to have the other and better kind. They are not apt to manifest self-possession on such as really call for it—occasions of difficulty and danger, and of great trials. Touch their self-love, make an unusual demand upon them for self-denial, and their assumed and superficial self-possession vanishes in an instant. For ourselves, we like naturalness of manner. Seem as you feel. Let the heart speak out, or what is the use in having a heart? There are crops which grow only on light soils, and the school of philosophy —miscalled philosophy—of which we speak must have originated in shallow brains. — Red Bluff Independent, 1874


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Regional "Optional" Etiquette

"In New York, which is too cosmopolitan a city to be cited as an example, street car etiquette is decidedly variable, and whether or not it is necessary to vacate a seat in a lady's favor is a much mooted question." — Etti~Katt was from a mid-20th Century, New York Transit Etiquette campaign.

Optional Courtesies? It Depends...

Among "optional" courtesies may be enumerated those which govern the conduct of persons on crowded public conveyances:

South of the Mason and Dixon line, no man would brave public opinion by remaining seated when a woman maintained a standing position, even were she the humblest of her sex. A foreigner would argue in such a case that he had paid for his seat, and that there could be no more reason for his rising in a street car than if he were occupying a seat at the opera or at a hotel table. 

In New York, which is too cosmopolitan a city to be cited as an example, street car etiquette is decidedly variable, and whether or not it is necessary to vacate a seat in a lady's favor is a much mooted question. One thing is certain, and that is, that youth and beauty appeal to both and low, even the most boorish individual being willing to relinquish his rights in favor of a woman with a pair of bright eyes and a stylish figure. 

The poor wage worker, in her faded cotton gown and with fingers showing evidences of toil, is rarely the recipient of such courtesy. The man in broadcloth, who has been seated in his luxurious office most of the day, keeps his seat without a qualm of conscience, and holds his paper before his face to obstruct the view of the appealing eyes and worn figure. 

Women in public vehicles often exhibit a remarkable selfishness and a total disregard for the comfort of others. Many of them accept a seat to which they have no legal right with a saucy toss of the head and without recognizing the courtesy by as much as a bow or a "thank you." An audible expression of thanks is the least a lady should offer in exchange for the sacrifice of a place, and this should be tendered as freely to the threadbare clerk as to the dude in fine raiment. —Jenness-Miller Magazine, 1891


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

A Versailles Queen's Etiquette


Maria Theresa of Spain's marriage in 1660 with King Louis XIV, was arranged with the purpose of ending the long-standing war between Spain and France. Famed for her virtue and piety, she sadly saw 5 of her 6 children die in early childhood. She is frequently regarded as an object of pity in historical accounts of her husband's reign. She had no choice, but to tolerate his many, many love affairs, and the rigid rules of etiquette at Versailles.


The bride of Louis XIV, having been thrown from her horse was dragged some distance before any Knight would risk his own life to save her, it being high treason to touch her ; and even after two, young Lords had devoted themselves, the Queen was obliged to entreat their pardon on her knees, in order to obviate the awful consequences of their generous act. — Daily Alta, 1855


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia