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What do you think of Emily Post?

emily post iconicallyrare

Back in the 80s (1880s), Emily apparently was tall, pretty and spoiled. I’m not sure how she became an authority on the delicate path of  becoming a lady or gentleman.

Just how did Post come by her words? Maybe we aren’t privy to some of the suffering and stripes she earned…or maybe she was just a brilliant writer with perspective.

Let’s take a look at a few of her revelations to see if her magic has aged well:

From Emily Post (1873–1960).  Etiquette.  1922 [see more at bartleby. com]

FAR more important than any mere dictum of etiquette is the fundamental code of honor, without strict observance of which no man, no matter how “polished,” can be considered a gentleman.

The honor of a gentleman demands the inviolability of his word, and the incorruptibility of his principles; he is the descendant of the knight, the crusader; he is the defender of the defenseless, and the champion of justice—or he is not a gentleman.

I admit I’m suspicious to know if Emily copied this stuff from someone else or if she pulled it out of her own head. Well, if the words are hers, hats off to Ms. Post.

Integrity is a a rare organism in this world and a quality which I stand in awe of when I’m graced with the presence of a person who makes a decision for integrity.

OK. I just took a five minute break to scan part of Post’s bio, and it’s safe to say she did indeed face a few tumultuous challenges.

Suddenly, I’m a fan of Ms. Post and feel a little twitch to read more. So I end with some advice for the ladies. If you find yourself bitten by her candor, do continue to investigate:

 

THE INSTINCTS OF A LADY

The instincts of a lady are much the same as those of a gentleman. She is equally punctilious about her debts, equally averse to pressing her advantage; especially if her adversary is helpless or poor.

  22
THE HALL-MARK OF THE CLIMBER

Nothing so blatantly proclaims a woman climber as the repetition of prominent names, the owners of which she must have struggled to know. Otherwise, why so eagerly boast of the achievement? Nobody cares whom she knows—nobody that is, but a climber like herself. To those who were born and who live, no matter how quietly, in the security of a perfectly good ledge above and away from the social ladder’s rungs, the evidence of one frantically climbing and trying to vaunt her exalted position is merely ludicrous.

  24

  All thoroughbred women, and men, are considerate of others less fortunately placed, especially of those in their employ. One of the tests by which to distinguish between the woman of breeding and the woman merely of wealth, is to notice the way she speaks to dependents. Queen Victoria’s duchesses, those great ladies of grand manner, were the very ones who, on entering the house of a close friend, said “How do you do, Hawkins?” to a butler; and to a sister duchess’s maid, “Good morning, Jenkins.” A Maryland lady, still living on the estate granted to her family three generations before the Revolution, is quite as polite to her friends’ servants as to her friends themselves. When you see a woman in silks and sables and diamonds speak to a little errand girl or a footman or a scullery maid as though they were the dirt under her feet, you may be sure of one thing; she hasn’t come a very long way from the ground herself.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. The lost world of manners!

    I was a big fan of “Miss Manners” who often made the point that etiquette exists to ensure comfort in social situations and never to shame or humiliate.

    And she had such a rapier wit when it came to, oh, so politely eviscerating the foolish. 🙂

    November 24, 2015
  2. Your writing has skyrocketed Mr. Smythe–so aptly put ! Thanks for taking the time to analyze and comment.

    November 25, 2015
  3. It truly makes one regret these past times as people still cared for each other and helped the helpless. In our modern fever to text friends and use the appropriate emojis these social rules sound delightfully old-fashioned. Thank you for introducing Ms. Post to us.

    November 25, 2015
  4. It feels good to know I’ve introduced someone to Ms. Post.

    As an up-note, I witnessed an exception to the all-too-common-non-caring-attitude. It all happened in Madrid just two weeks ago. An elderly lady fell on the street. She yelled out in surprise for only a second or two. Almost immediately, no less than FOUR gentleman helped her stand on her feet again–and not one of them was trying to rob her. Bravo, Madrid.

    November 25, 2015
  5. This is indeed an admirable reaction! 🙂

    November 25, 2015
  6. How true her words are! Nothing is more grating than a name-dropper to me, and I have found that a woman who airs her dirty laundry publicly appears very common.
    As for the treatment of servers/servants, I just heard a speech by a prominent writer who says that he often decides with whom he will publish or work by how they treat the waitstaff at their luncheon meetings!

    January 21, 2016

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