Monday, October 16, 2017

Etiquette and Wealth

By the 1890s, the center of fashionable Newport, and its famous 400, was Ochre Point, Ocean Drive and out Bellevue Avenue, where the nouveaux riche were all building their “palaces.” –Good manners are not the exclusive property of the wealthy. Good manners do not discriminate between the “haves” and the “have nots.” This gent was actually lamenting the stilted snobbery, not the actual etiquette of the wealthy.

Wealth vs. Happiness
A Millionaire  Sighs for Freedom From Conventionalities

“I never realized more forcibly that wealth does not bring happiness than one day at Newport,” said Austin Corbin, the millionaire banker and President of the Reading Railroad. “I had been moving along the fashionable drives scanning the faces of the passers-by. All were evidently bored to death. The ladies, arrayed in richest carriage toilets, seemed afraid to move lest they should disarrange their apparel. Not a ripple of laughter did I hear. All seemed to have arrayed themselves in their best and gone out to drive because it was a duty they owed to their social position to be seen among the other fashionables. Everybody's spirits seemed completely bowed down beneath the weight of fashion, decorum and etiquette, so inseparable from wealth. 

“Leaving the four hundred element I drove to an unfashionable and remote part of the beach. There in an eligible-situation, at just the right distance from the water for enjoyment, I saw a neat cottage adorned with the legend, ‘Mrs. O'Donnelly's ladies’ and gents’ boarding-house. Terms, $6 per week.’ A number of athletic young men and a bevy of buxom, rosy cheeked young girls were congregated on the porch and lawn. What a contrast the charmingly, healthful and natural appearance of these young people to that of the blighted, artificial victims of fashion I had just left. They were all in negligee costume, and merriment, playfulness and health sparkled in every eye and rang out heartily from every lip. „ “‘Oh.’ I thought, “if I could only escape from the fashionable prison, called a hotel by courtesy, where I am confined, with what inexpressible joy I would board at Mrs. O'Donnelly's.’”—Pittsburg. Dispatch, 1891

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

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