Monday, August 6, 2018

In Praise of Old Etiquette Books

“You don't happen to remember your name, do you?” 

Even dusty old etiquette books are nothing to sneeze at!

It was on a crumbling page of a 100-year-old etiquette book that Miss Manners came across the solution to that enduring problem: What to say when confronted with a person whose name you know you are expected to know, but don't. The answer comes to us from an anonymous Victorian, apparently a Hero of Etiquette but described merely as “a good-natured eccentric.” 

Beaming a jovial smile at a vaguely familiar face, he would inquire in a pleasant, oh-by-the-by tone, “You don't happen to remember your name, do you?” Miss Manners is given to perusing aged volumes for just such forgotten devices to ease the difficulties of life. Vintage etiquette holds up remarkably well. The human body may have changed, as anyone trying to squeeze into vintage clothing may discover, but the situations into which it manages to get itself, are not all that different. In some cases, whole sets of manners may simply be retrieved and dusted off. – Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, 1988


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