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Sunday, February 12, 2012


Etiquette--(noun) a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class or group.

I was thinking about how much things have changed in my lifetime.  More specifically, the social graces or etiquette (or lack thereof) in our culture. What prompted my musings?  While searching for a guide to tea etiquette, I ran across a book from the mid-19th century, The Ladies' Book of Etiquette, Fashion and Manual of Politeness: A Complete Handbook for the Use of the Lady In Polite Society by Florence Hartley.  Her introduction is one of the most thought-provoking passages that I have read.  Try as I might, I cannot help but feel saddened that this line of thought is so far from the norm today.

An excerpt: 
In preparing a book of etiquette for ladies, I would lay down the first rule, "Do unto others as you would others should do to you."  You can never be rude if you bear the rule always in mind, for what lady likes to be treated rudely?  True Christian politeness will always be the result of an unselfish regard for the feelings of others, and though you may err in the ceremonious points of etiquette, you will never be impolite.

Politeness, founded upon such a rule, becomes the expression, in graceful manner, of social virtues.  The spirit of politenessconsists in a certain attention to forms and ceremonies, which are meant both to please others and ourselves, and to make others pleased with us; a still clearer definition may be given by saying that politeness is goodness of heart put into daily practice; there can be no true politeness without kindness, purity, singleness of heart, and sensibility.

More tomorrow...

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