Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Kindness of the Poor

Will these orphans grow up with better manners than those they perceive to be “their betters?” — In the etiquette books there is one consideration in regard to manners that we never read about, what we owe from the example of the poor. The assumption seems to be that it is the well to do that have the best manners. Here is one of those illusions that we accept as truths simply because we don’t stop to think about them. 





A Matter That Is Overlooked and Is Not Even Mentioned in the Books on Etiquette 

ELLEN TERRY, during her last engagement here, presented a remarkably fine play from the Dutch, called “The Good Hope.” She appeared as an old fisherwoman, who gave up to the sea everything she loved in life. When loss on loss had fallen upon her, she lost her last son, her favorite, the hope of her old age, because the owners of the vessel the boy was forced to go as sailor on, to save money, failed to make reasonable provisions for safety. They had, of course, protected themselves by insurance. So to them, the foundering of the ship was of little concern. At the close of the play the old woman was seen in the office of the ship owners and was presented by one of the ship owner’s kind-hearted women folk, with a bowl of soup. Very respectfully and gratefully she accepted it. Then, slowly and with dignity, carrying the bowl in both hands, she walked out of the office, the embodiment of meek and lowly suffering. 

If Ellen Terry had done nothing else in her whole career, the way she played that little scene would have shown her to be a great actress. Only a fine and sympathetic spirit could have conceived and realized the character under such circumstances. The old woman, crossing the stage in her cheap clothes and her heavy wooden shoes, will always remain with me as one of the wonderful achievements of acting. It illustrated far more vividly than any word could do, the patience of the poor with the rich, their forbearance, their kindness. 

In Europe, the situation is more plain than in this country. I shall never forget the astonishment I felt on my first day in London when I rode in an elevator, or, as they say over there, in a “lift.” There were several others in the car. As we went from floor to floor and as some passed out, the elevator man would say, with an air of profound respect, “Thank you.” That little incident was typical of many incidents that I was to witness in England and on the Continent. They all expressed what seemed to me a strange attitude. Those people showed that they were grateful for being allowed to live. For this privilege they felt that they must show their superiors all kinds of gratuitous courtesies. 

At that time we were having the bicycle craze. I made several trips on a wheel in England and in France. It was both amusing and pathetic to note the deferential kindness of the poor wherever we went. They apparently thought because we had leisure to go tearing about the country, we must be in some way worthy of special consideration. In France, as we passed, old women would bob quaintly as we passed and say: “Good day, gentlemen and ladies.” In the etiquette books there is one consideration in regard to manners that we never read about, what we owe from the example of the poor. The assumption seems to be that it is the well to do that have the best manners. Here is one of those illusions that we accept as truths simply because we don’t stop to think about them. 

As if there could be any manners in the world worse than those that, either openly or covertly, convey the sense of patronage! For pure kindness, for the resignation of self in favor of others, there are no manners that can compare with the manners of the poor. Sometimes people complain of the familiarity of inferiors. At the slightest intimation that an inferior is growing familiar they are likely to show great resentment. But the familiarity of the poor is very slight as compared with the familiarity of the well to do in their attitude toward the poor. Indeed, advantage opens the door to all kinds of familiarity with those less fortunate, intrusion into private affairs, the asking of intimate personal questions, the giving of unsolicited advice, and the use of first names. 

One of the quickest ways by which superiority is asserted and established is by means of familiar address. But the inferior must never take the same liberties. On the contrary, the inferior must show here, as in so many other situations in life, patience and kindness. In nearly all the affairs of life, the poor are gallantly showing kindness to those more fortunate than themselves. I have even seen them give up seats in streetcars to the better dressed, though they have paid the same amount of carfare. And I have seen them show wonderful forbearance when the better dressed have betrayed annoyance or resentment at being obliged to sit beside them. 

I once heard a man, a well dressed man, too, give a fashionably attired woman a stinging rebuke for behavior of this kind. To her companion, dressed in expensive clothes like herself, she openly spoke of her annoyance at being obliged to herd with “such awful people.” “If you don’t want to herd with such awful people,” the man exclaimed, “you ought not to ride in a public conveyance. You ought to ride in your own carriage.” Of course, that man was extremely rude and the woman acted wholly within her rights when she left the car at the next street corner. Some of the ill clad who looked on smiled. But most of them merely showed astonishment.

The poor are always at a disadvantage. They are always giving to those better off. Even in church you will find them in what we call “the poorest places.” Whenever they thrust themselves forward, instead of being welcomed because of their needs, they are resented. And if, as occasionally happens, they forget their manners, they are treated as if they were habitual and outrageous offenders. The truth is that they are the most retiring and the most obliging and the kindest people in the world. They are continually reminded of what is given to them. But the world, ‘til lately, has been unaware of how much they give, how prodigal they are in their kindness! — By John D. Barry, 192


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


Work of Art or Diplomatic Insult?


Segev proudly posted a close-up photo of the offending shoe-filled dessert on his Instagram account, writing: “Chocolate selection from the world by #SegevArt — A metal shoe by @tomdixonstudio” ... “The dessert was served inside a sculpture by international artist Tom Dixon, whose works are displayed in major museums around the world and for the first time was displayed in Israel at a meal. This is a high-quality piece of art made of cast metal in the shape of a shoe; it is not a real shoe,” Segev’s publicist said in a statement, according to Yediot Aharonot.


There aren’t that many cultures where putting a shoe on the dining room table is acceptable behavior, but for the Japanese there is clear etiquette against allowing outdoor shoes inside.

That might explain the furor following a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, to Israel last week.

After a day of high-level meetings on May 2, the Japanese leader was treated to a festive meal at the official residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu. It was their second time in Israel, and the visiting couple were served a top-notch meal by celebrity Israeli chef Segev Moshe.

But then came dessert. A selection of delectable chocolate pralines - artistically arranged inside a shiny leather shoe.

Israel’s popular daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot wrote Monday that “Japanese diplomats, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials and high-ranking Israeli diplomats who previously served in Japan were shocked by the idea.”

“This was an insensitive decision,” the article quoted one unidentified senior Israeli official as saying. “There is nothing lowlier than a shoe in Japanese culture. Not only do they not wear shoes at home, you also won’t find shoes in their offices. This is disrespect of the first order.”

A Japanese diplomat, also not named by the paper, said: “There’s no culture in the world in which you put shoes on the table. What was the distinguished chef thinking? If it was humor, we don’t think it is funny; we were offended on behalf of our prime minister.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was not involved in approving the dishes for the meal.

“We respect and appreciate the chef. He is very creative,” the ministry said.
Not an actual shoe, but a work of art filled with chocolate.


Segev’s creative side was displayed last May when President Trump visited Israel. Then, the celebrity chef served up a dessert in the shape of a double-headed Trump and Netanyahu.

On Sunday, Segev proudly posted a close-up photo of the offending shoe-filled dessert on his Instagram account, writing: “Chocolate selection from the world by #SegevArt — A metal shoe by @tomdixonstudio”

“The dessert was served inside a sculpture by international artist Tom Dixon, whose works are displayed in major museums around the world and for the first time was displayed in Israel at a meal. This is a high-quality piece of art made of cast metal in the shape of a shoe; it is not a real shoe,” Segev’s publicist said in a statement, according to Yediot Aharonot.

On Instagram, however, some of his 72,000 followers offered a different opinion:

“When you cook at a diplomatic meal, the minimum you can do is inquire about the guest. In Japan, shoes are considered contemptible, they always take off their shoes at the entrance to every home, both for themselves and for others,” wrote one person.

Another person wrote: “you don’t need to know any culture to know that serving shoes at a dinner is WRONG!” 


— From an article by R. Eglash, the Washington Post, Jerusalem 2018


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

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Spanish Princess Charms the U.S.

 


Grace is better than formalism. This is the moral of Eulalia’s example, and the truth applies to other things than manners. There is a good deal of formal moralism in this country that is about as useless and uncomfortable as the etiquette of old Spain.” 



Eulalia’s Example

There are many signs that the Columbian Exposition is going to affect the beginning of a radical change in many of our conventional and most cherished ideas. Begun as an industrial exposition to show the growth of the civilized world in material comfort during the last four hundred years, it has become already much more interesting from an esthetic than from an industrial point of view. 

Vast as are the wonders, and we might almost say the miracles, wrought by mechanism and electricity that are displayed at the Great Fair, the things that have most concerned the public mind have not been matters of work and energy, but matters of conduct and enjoyment. It is the ‘nude art’ and the ‘open Sunday’ that have chiefly engaged the attention of our people. The discussions that have aroused interest have not been how shall we increase wealth and multiply luxuries, but how we shall make our conventional morals conform to the growing desire for beauty and for enjoyment. 

We do not intend to go over again this morning the old arguments for or against the essential purity of beauty even when exhibited in the undraped human form, nor recall the arguments on one side or the other, concerning the use of Sunday as a holiday or a holy day. With all phases of these debates our readers are sufficiently acquainted and would hardly be grateful for another direct review of them, it will be interesting, however, to consider them for a moment indirectly, and to catch, as it were, a glimpse of them in distant perspective, seen as a background to something else that harmonizes with them and in a way illumes them. We would ask our readers, then, to consider for a moment how these old issues appear in the light of Eulalia’s example? 

The subject deserves an essay, but we can do no more than sketch the outlines. Let it be remembered how, when it was first announced that the Princess Eulalia was coming to America, there broke out everywhere a portentuous discussion as to how we should receive Spanish royalty. We heard a great deal about the formal etiquette of the majestic Court of the Escurial. Diplomatists debated who should receive her, and how and when and where. Ward McAllister issued a manifesto on the subject. Society studied and argued, and Statesmen took to gossiping about it. Everybody who would be immediately concerned in receiving the Princess, seemed to be in a nervous dread of the approaching ordeal, and when at one time it was announced that she was not coming at all because her hauteur had been offended by a lack of sufficient reverance for her august station, many of our dignitaries and our social leaders drew a breath of relief in the momentary hope that the danger was over and that our Republican manners would not be subjected to the fearful strain. 

The Princess came, however, in due season, and the trembling world of New York went out to meet her. It went prepared with bows and curtsies and genuflexions to do her honor. To the amazement of everybody, the Princess came forward and shook hands with those who welcomed her and began at once to talk like a woman who is glad to be alive. She not only showed no hauteur, but manifested a genuine Democratic expectation of a good time. She stood up on her carriage and blew kisses to a New York crowd until it nearly went crazy with rapture. She did the same thing in Washington. She never said a word about Cleveland’s not returning her call, nor raised a single question of etiquette. 

On her visit to West Point, she showed a gentle graciousness to the widow of General Grant by running back into the hotel at the last moment to shake hands with her and bid her good bye. A similar graceful act was shown on Decoration Day, when she drove out Riverside Avenue to lay with her own hands a wreath upon the tomb of Grant. She turned, moreover, from affairs of State to ordinary life with an equal gaiety. She went to the horse races and bet on the favorite. When she lost, she laughed; and when she won, she ordered the money to be given to the poor. She dined at a racing banquet merrily, and when it was over and cigars were passed round, she lit a cigarette and stayed with the company. 

In short, she has shown nothing of the conventional dignity of royalty, but everything of the natural grace of a happy and lively going womanhood. This exemplar of royal conduct, coming into the country at the exact moment when we are discussing how far conventional ideas may be thrown aside in order to give free play to the artistic and joyous faculties, cannot fail to exert a considerable influence on the public mind. How unpleasant was our conception of Spanish royalty! How pleasing has been our experience of Spanish grace! Perhaps we may learn from this that if we can get rid of our formal art and our formal Sunday, we may find in place of them a grace ot life far happier and far better for the world. 

Eulalia’s example shows what a womanhood unrestrained by conventional etiquette can do. It is a womanhood full of charm for the crowd, full of dignity for official rank, full of gentle reverence for the aged woman, full of honor for the illustrious dead, and yet withal not too high and good to love the pleasant things of life and enjoy them with all her heart. Much that she has done, will seem to our ideas more like a soubrette than a Princess, and yet it cannot be denied that it is much better than the stiff and stately etiquette that we feared. 

Grace is better than formalism. This is the moral of Eulalia’s example, and the truth applies to other things than manners. There is a good deal of formal moralism in this country that is about as useless and uncomfortable as the etiquette of old Spain. There is no reason why the growing artistic spirit of America should remain forever fettered by old ideas. There is no reason why it should not break loose from conventional trammels in this Columbian year and disport itself as freely and as gracefully for the joy of all as our royal visitor has done in her frank acceptance of our Democratic ways. — San Jose Mercury News, 1893



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


Monday, October 26, 2020

1890 Fingernail Etiquette

 

The proper length of the little finger-nail in the pointed style is about a quarter of an inch.



Nail-Style Etiquette Reveals Personality and Nationality


The artist has sketched a couple of the nails of the period. One in the English style, the other, the French. The rounded nail is English, the pointed one French. These two styles are admirably symbolic of the style and conversation of the wearer. The English woman, rounded and pleasant; the French woman, remarkably pointed. The proper length of the little finger-nail in the pointed style is about a quarter of an inch. — Pall Mall Gazette, 1890



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

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Brazil’s Royals’ Etiquette and Jewels


The last Empress of Brazil, Thereza Christina (1822-89) was the daughter of King Francis I of the Two Sicilies and Maria Isabella of Spain. She and Pedro were married in 1842, for 46 years. She died in 1889. — Public domain photo of Teresa Cristina of the Two Sicilies 1888


Brazil’s Splendid Crown Jewels

I wonder what has become of the Crown Jewels of Brazil? They were in a large measure derived from Portugal, of which for hundreds of years, the Crown had the exclusive right to own Brazilian diamonds. Those which it did not wish to keep were sold, and their proceeds were paid into the Treasury. A great quantity were given to the churches and looted by the French when they invaded Portugal. I never saw more intensely brilliant diamonds than those of the ex-Empress, Theresa Maria and the Princess de Joinville, who is sister of the ex-Emperor, writes the Paris correspondent London Truth.

Marie de Gloria was the eldest of the four children of Pedro I, and was given a share of the regalia. Pedro I is a great-uncle of the present King of Portugal and would be Monarch of that country, if his father had not made Brazil a separate empire and settled it upon him. The first Emperor was a clever man, but had the manners of a buffoon. He was fond all his life of playing blindman’s bluff. It was hard, he thought, for a King hemmed in by etiquette, to enjoy himself unless he broke loose in a game of romps. Miguel, his brother, had the advantage of him in a handsome face, an elegant, slender figure and gentle, plausible manners. He had the grace of a feline. 

I never saw a plainer set of women than the ladies of the Empress of Brazil. Her Majesty herself was far from pretty in youth. But she improved wonderfully as she advanced in years, when her face ceased to be the shape of a long wedge, and was set round with white hair, which appeared to light it up. It grew to be a kindly and rather intelligent face. The eyes, perhaps, are too searching. They visibly seek to take the measure of those who are presented to her. She has a fine Italian voice when she speaks freely, which is not often, a guard being placed by a diplomatic Italian temper upon her lips.— Blue Lake Advocate, 1890




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

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Confusing Etiquette with Manners












It is a pity that the word “manners” should be confused, as it often is, with the less essential term, “etiquette.” Manners are the same the world over, while etiquette is simply a cloak which may vary according to time and place. The world is so over-stocked with so-called “books of etiquette,” all loaded with “don’ts” that no human being is likely to do, and “do’s” that are equally ridiculous, that one wearies of the word, but manners are as necessary as when, long ago, it was written “manners maketh man.”
Women’s Gym Dance Class at Buell Hall, 1901— Photo source, Pinterest 


From “The Week in San Jose Society”


The hop given on Friday evening at Library Hall was the opening one of the series given by the Misses Lewis during each season. These hops originated with the idea of giving the pupils of the dancing classes an opportunity to practice their newly learned steps with other dancers, and, in mingling with others, gain the ease and grace of manners that comes in no other way. 

It is a pity that the word “manners” should be confused, as it often is, with the less essential term, “etiquette.” Manners are the same the world over, while etiquette is simply a cloak which may vary according to time and place. The world is so over-stocked with so-called “books of etiquette,” all loaded with “don’ts” that no human being is likely to do, and “do’s” that are equally ridiculous, that one wearies of the word, but manners are as necessary as when, long ago, it was written “manners maketh man.” 

Good manners consist of a ready acknowledgment of the rights of others, a readiness to concede in the way of kindness, a cheerful readiness and evident pleasure in fulfilling all the little duties of social intercourse— pleasure in the pleasure of others. Of course, the birthplace of this teaching must be the home, but the practical application must be elsewhere, where the mingling with others is on a larger scale than the home circle affords, and where the intercourse is of a more formal nature. 

Athletics have done a great deal toward bringing young people together in a wholesome band of comradeship, but the question now is to counteract the effect of too much equality. Longfellow, in one of his poems, tells of a statue on three sides of which is the inscription “Behold,” while on the fourth side is written the warning “Be not too bold,” so, while we preach athletics we must at the same time guard against the evils they bring in their train.

Not long ago, a well known San Jose woman, who has devoted her life to the training of young people, complained of what she called “foot-ball manners.” It is, indeed, deplorable if the rosy cheeks and strong physique of this generation must be bought with a sacrifice of courtesy and chivalry. It is here that the dancing school steps in; a strong counteracting influence, where, while their bodies are acquiring grace and motion the minds of the boys and girls are being imbued with that grace of thought which wins for them the title of gentle-men and gentle-women. — San Jose Mercury News, 1901



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


Friday, October 23, 2020

Degree in Etiquette Never Offered

                          
From what we at Etiquipedia have researched, NYU never did offer the degree mentioned in Dix’s 1916 article. It is disappointing, though, as it would have been one way of actually “certifying” someone as knowledgeable in etiquette and manners. — Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer was an American “Agony Aunt” who wrote under the pen name, “Dorothy Dix.” A forerunner of today’s advice columnists, Dix was America’s highest paid and most widely read female journalist when she died in 1951. Her advice was syndicated in newspapers around the world, with an estimated audience of 60 million readers. Along with her column, she campaigned for woman suffrage.
— Public domain image



School of Manners, Dorothy Dix Says, Is Badly Needed American Child Too Often Lacking in Politeness and Little Graces of Human Intercourse

It is announced that the New York University is going to establish a school of manners, and that the degree of M. E.—Magister Elegantiarium—may be conferred on such students as perfect themselves in the etiquette of polite society. This news sounds almost too good to be true. Let us hope, however, that such a course of study is really to be established in one of our great schools, and that it will be compulsory, for nothing is more sadly needed.

For whatever other charms and virtues the American youth may possess, good manners are seldom among them. As a child he is almost invariably a little savage. As a hobbledehoy he is generally a hoodlum, and as a grown man, he is only too often an awkward blunderer, who is like a bull in the social china shop. On every side we encounter multitudes of men who have intelligence, force, power, men who have achieved success in their own particular calling, but who are as ignorant as babes of any of the graces of human intercourse. 

They cannot enter or leave a room without falling over their own feet. They do not know what to say when presented to a stranger, or how either to pay or receive a compliment. At dinner parties you may see them hopelessly floundering around among the silverware. At restaurants you may observe them with their legs twined like snakes around their chair legs, grasping their forks as if they were about to harpoon an attacking whale, and, alas, you may even pass away an evening listening to them eat their soup. 

Of course, we excuse such men by saying that they have been too busy with big affairs to give their attention to such small matters as the proper use of a fork or a spoon. We say that it's more important that a man’s heart should be of gold than that he. should wear the right sort of coat for the occasion, and we try to gloss over his boorishness by calling him a rough diamond. All of which is sheer nonsense. Nobody will contend that a rough diamond is as valuable as one that is cut and polished, and the truth is that while a man may succeed without good manners, he would succeed better with them. 

To know how to do things, to possess what the French call savoir faire, is always a help, never a handicap in life. People have always appreciated this fact, so far as women were concerned. In all girls' schools special attention is paid to deportment, and girls are taught the niceties of etiquette that they perhaps de not have an opportunity to learn in their own homes. More than that, at home stress is laid on little girls behaving like ladies, and wherever you go, the small daughter of the house will receive you charmingly, drop her little courtesy and endeavor to engage you in courteous conversation. 

But apparently the mothers of the same families make no effort to instill politeness into their boys, and their lads will storm into the room with their caps on. They will never stop to speak to the visitors, and only grunt by way of reply when addressed. And when these boys are sent off to school, no effort seems to be made to supplement their lack of home training in manners. They are grounded in all the arts and sciences except the most important art and science of all, which is that of making oneself agreeable to one’s fellow creatures. 

For, when all is said and dont, good manners will carry one further than anything else in the world. They are a letter of credit» that every one of us honors* at sight. The clown may compel our grudging respect, but present our hearts as a free gift to the courtier. A young man may be of the most sterling worth and yet wear a decollete collar that exposes his Adam’s apple and a coat and trousers and waistcoat of different makes and colors so that he looks like an animated patchwork quilt, but if he and another youth who knew how to dress, applied for the same job, the good clothes would get it. 

A man might he a genius and yet eat peas with his knife, but he would have a hard time getting close enough to those who might help him to get a chance to show what he could do. A man may have almost superhuman ability in any line, but if he is rude and crude in his manners, if he does not know how to please, he lives and dies neglected. On the other hand, the man who has what we call a charming personality, who is gracious in speech and polite in manners, finds a helping hand always at his elbow and a friendly shoulder ready to boost him up the ladder. That is why it is so important to teach boys good manners and why the opening a department in the New York University is epoch-making. — By Dorothy Dix, 1916


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