Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Etiquette and Tyranny

By invitation only? “Shall persons be excluded from society or be allowed to enter it on their own terms? Society might be so conducted as to make of it a charming and delightful recreation instead of tyrannical business, and those who see this clearly can do much toward making it so.” – Invitation to election for the Executive Board and Officers of the Society for 1895-96, etc... Florence Earle Coates was elected President of the Browning Society of Philadelphia that year. (Photo Public Domain)



The Tyranny of Etiquette

It is impossible to read even the least dogmatic books on etiquette without being oppressed with the conviction that a heavy and binding addition has been made to the code of morals in the bylaws which have to do with visiting cards, invitations, conventional phrases and other minor, but vigorous formulas. It has been reiterated by writers on those subjects that not a single rule of etiquette is arbitrary, but that all prove their reason in the very nature of things, and that those who disregard them simply show their own lack of insight and incapacity to appreciate genuine refinement. 


While this is all very well for society people pure and simple or those who have other definite and absorbing work in life compliance with all the thousand and one trifling points of etiquette is an utter impossibility. The question then becomes, shall such persons be excluded from society or be allowed to enter it on their own terms? Society might be so conducted as to make of it a charming and delightful recreation instead of tyrannical business, and those who see this clearly can do much toward making it so.—Philadelphia Press, 1895


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