Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Affectation vs Tact and True Politeness

“It’s not the correct fork which exhibits good manners, but the person eating from the fork.”  
– Maura J. Graber
“Consideration of others is the foundation of all good manners, and the man or woman who lacks that, has mere affectation in the place of tact and true politeness.” –Above- A gilded age, ice cream fork.

The Occult Law of Trifles in Etiquette

One of the want breaches of etiquette of which you may be guilty is to attempt to teach your acquaintances etiquette. If you invite a friend to luncheon at a restaurant for instance, or accept her invitation, you thereby confess that a degree of social equality exists between you and her. And if she eats her oysters with an ordinary fork instead of with the trident that has been specially provided for that purpose it is not within your province to correct her; unless she has previously recognized you as the guardian of her manners. 

If she chooses to convey ice cream to her mouth by means of a spoon instead of a fork, let her do it unmolested. The matter is not of the slightest consequence, and to be in constant fear of transgressing some occult law of etiquette one’s self, or of associating with persons who do so, is to prove one's self not to the manner born and by nature a snob. Even if your country guest eats with her knife in public, you will prove yourself a provincial by paying any attention to it. If it happens to be her custom, to which she has been reared, and if you have a cosmopolitan mind, it will be too insignificant a thing to worry you. However technically perfect your own manners may be, they will exhibit a glaring deficiency if you correct those of other grown persons. 

Besides you are not sure of infallibility, and it is not impossible that you may occasionally rebuke a person who knows even more on the subject than you do and is behaving quite properly in the eyes of the cultivated world. When she eats her cheese with her knife, she is merely following the English habit, and it is quite permissible to take olives, corn, undressed lettuce and lump sugar in the fingers. Again, many of the actions that you consider faulty may be due to the absence of mind engendered by lively conversation, white others are accidents to which anybody is liable. 

Most persons whom one meets socially, have a sufficient knowledge of etiquette to be at home among the people with whom they associate, and that is all that is necessary. A really well bred person never rests her faith on such minute trifles as the angle at which the knife is left or the number of crumbs to be permitted to fall from the piece of bread. Consideration of others is the foundation of all good manners, and the man or woman who lacks that, has mere affectation in the place of tact and true politeness. – Judie Chollet, Wilmington Morning Star, 1894

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

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