Sunday, November 15, 2015

Etiquette, Tea and Coffee

The Flowers Personified (1847) Image by the great Parisian cartoonist J.J Grandville from his Les Fleurs Animées – his last work, originally published posthumously in 1847, the year of his death. With its mix of the satirical and poetic, the book is considered to be one of his most supreme achievements.


Tea and Coffee Flowers are Personified and Ill-Mannered in this Tale of Competition


The Coffee-flower took it into its head to make a voyage to China, for the purpose of visiting her sister, the Tea-flower. The latter received her guest with the politeness in which might be seen a slight air of superiority.   
In fact, to the Tea-flower, Coffee was but an outside barbarian, with whom she condescended to hold intercourse, notwithstanding the immense distance that separates a civilized Chinese from a foreigner, who is still sunk in the depths of ignorance. 

The Coffee-flower had too much quickness and penetration, not to understand this reception, and she had too much pride to submit to it.
"My dear," said she said to Tea, as soon as they were by themselves, "the airs which you affect, are not at all agreeable. Understand, if you please, that I do not need to be patronized, and that I am your superior in every respect."
 
Never affect superiority. In the company of an inferior never let him feel his inferiority. If you invite an inferior as your guest, treat him with all the politeness and consideration you would show an equal. Assumption of superiority is the distinguishing trait of a parvenu.– E.B.Duffey

The tea flower shrugged her shoulders with disdain. "My title of nobility, "said she, "is six thousand years older than yours. It dates from the very foundation of the Chinese monarchy, the oldest of all known kingdoms."   
"And what does that prove!" said Coffee. 

"That you should treat me with deference," was the answer. 

It is proper to state, that this conversation occurred at a small lacquered table, on which stood a coffee-pot and a tea-pot. The two flowers, to keep up their rage, had frequent recourse to the stimulants which these contained. 

"You are so insipid," said Coffee, "that the Chinese themselves have been compelled to abandon you, and take to opium. You are no longer a stimulant, and a promoter of pleasant dreams– but merely a table drink, like cider and small-beer among us." 
Never directly contradict any one. Say, "I beg your pardon, but I think you are mistaken or misinformed," or some such similar phrase which shall break the weight of direct contradiction. Where the matter is unimportant it is better to let it pass without correction. – E.B.Duffey
"I have vanquished," briskly replied Tea, "a nation which has vanquished China itself. I reign in England." 

"And I, in France." 

"It was I that inspired Walter Scott and Lord Byron." 

"I nerved the wit of Moliere and Voltaire." 

"You are only a slow poison."

"And you, a mere vulgar diet-drink." 

"In the melodious murmurs of the tea kettle," said Tea, "one may fancy that he hears the spirits of the fireside sing. My color is that a fair girl's tresses. I am the Posey of the gentle and melancholy north." 

"Mine," said the Coffee-flower, "is the dusky tint of tropical maidens. Like them, I am ardent. Like some subtile fire, I course along the veins. I am the Cupid of the south."

"Thou dost consume, while I comfort." 

"No-I give strength; you only weaken."

"To me belongs the heart."

"Yes; and to me the head." 

The two flowers had become so exasperated, that they were about to pull each other's leaves. But, on further reflection, they concluded to refer their dispute to a tribunal composed equally of tea-drinkers and coffee-drinkers. This tribunal has been long in session, but has not yet agreed on a verdict.
– From J.J Grandville from his Les Fleurs Animées 


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