Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Etiquette for Faux Royalty

Women by decree, were supposed to curtsey to Lady Gladstone, as if she were a royal personage. 

Court Etiquette for Colonial Export

A strange, at the same time amusing, problem in the social etiquette of colonial life under the British crown arises in South Africa out of the decree of Lord Gladstone, the first Governor General of the confederation, that on all official occasions, women must curtsey to Lady Gladstone as if she were a royal 

The people of the United South African states arc deeply penetrated with the spirit of democracy. The Boers, especially, are resentful of the imposition of an absurd and belated Court etiquette. An imitation and pale reflex of royalty does not inspire South African worship. 

The plain people of the confederation see in the Governor General's social decree, a survival of the ancient, odious practice which, in the middle ages, constrained the unwilling subject to execute respectful obeisance when he passed in front of the throne, even though that object of grudging reverence might happen to be unoccupied. 

So Lord Gladstone's order is flouted and ridiculed. The Boer ladies, when admitted to "the presence" preserve an unusually upright carriage, and altogether, the social atmosphere is clouded. As the home government relied chiefly on Boer support for the administration, and as General Botha is a member of the cabinet, the measure of Gladstone's statesmanship is seriousiy impaired. 

He was sent to South Africa because he was constantly making official blunders at home. but the sea voyage does not appear to have changed his quality, or improved his judgment. Court etiquette is not a prosperous traveler. San Francisco Call, 1910

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