notes from Emily Post

Emily Post published her book, Etiquette, in 1922. I present you with some golden excerpts.

:: "New York's bad manners are often condemned and often very deservedly. Even though the cause is carelessness rather than intentional indifference, the indifference is no less actual and the rudeness inexcusable."

:: "A gentleman takes off his hat and holds it in his hand when a lady enters the elevator in which he is a passenger, but he puts it on again in the corridor. A public corridor is like the street, but an elevator is suggestive of a room, and a gentleman does not keep his hat on in the presence of ladies in a house."

:: "Nothing is so easy for any woman to acquire as a charming bow. It is such a short and fleeting duty. Not a bit of trouble really; just to incline your head and spontaneously smile as though you thought, 'Why, there is Mrs. Smith! How glad I am to see her!'"

:: "For one person to look directly at another and not acknowledge the other's bow is such a breach of civility that only an unforgivable misdemeanor can warrant the rebuke."

:: "In good society ladies do not go about under the 'care of' gentlemen!' It is unheard of for a gentleman to 'take' a young girl alone to a dance or to dine or to parties of any description; nor can she accept his sponsorship anywhere whatsoever."

:: "A lady may never be under the 'protection' of a man anywhere!"

:: "A certain very lovely lady whose husband is quite as much her lover as in the days of his courtship, has never in twenty years allowed him to watch the progress of her toilet, because of her determination never to let him see her except at her prettiest."

:: "Excepting a religious ceremonial, there is no occasion where greater dignity of manner is required of ladies and gentlemen both, than in occupying a box at the opera."

I'm sure you've found some manners here that are no longer necessary or appropriate. This is, after all, almost 100 years after Ms. Post published her seminal work. Some observations, however, she hits on the head.

:: "Lack of consideration for those who in any capacity serve you, is always an evidence of ill-breeding, as well as of inexcusable selfishness."

:: "Etiquette must, if it is to be more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners. Certainly what one is, is of far greater importance than what one appears to be. . . . Thus Best Society is not a fellowship of the wealthy, nor does it seek to exclude those who are not of exalted birth; but it is an association of gentle-folk, of which good form in speech, charm of manner, knowledge of the social amenities, and instinctive consideration for the feelings of others, are the credentials by which society the world over recognizes its chosen members."

:: "If children see temper uncontrolled, hear gossip, uncharitableness and suspicion of neighbors, witness arrogant sharp-dealing or lax honor, their own characters can scarcely escape perversion."

:: "Simplicity of speech and manners means language at its purest, most limpid form, and manners of such perfection that they do not suggest 'manners' at all."

:: "Consideration for the rights and feelings of other is not merely a rule for behavior in public but the very foundation upon which social life is built."

:: "Rule of etiquette the first--which hundreds of others merely paraphrase or explain or elaborate--is: Never do anything that is unpleasant to others."

The laws of Emily Post have been updated over the decades and now even include online etiquette (praise the heavens for that!). Gracious living is part of who we are and manifests itself outwardly in how we treat others, our families, and ourselves. Wouldn't the world be a better place if men, women, and children took greater care to listen to Emily Post and live graciously?

You can download a copy of the 1922 version of Etiquette here.

This post is part of a 31-day series on gracious living. You can find the other posts here.


Camille said...

I love this, manners, and Emily Post :)

A Mitton said...

"A lady may never be under the 'protection' of a man anywhere!"

Emily Post, a bit of a feminist?

Denise Wood said...

I love these excerpts! Delightful, and still relevant after all these years.

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