Monday, October 27, 2008

Correct Manners 1892

"Good manners ought more to be declared than riches,
and perfect manners more than all the power and glory of kings."

Correct Manner 1892Pardon me. I suppose, it was inevitable. One can not manage to write about food, recipes, cookbooks or culinary history without somehow approaching the subject of etiquette. Today is the day. I've chosen the birth date of Emily Price Post to finger my way through Correct Manners published in 1892. Cultural diversity is one of America's strengths. It is also a major issue in American eating. To fully understand the impact diverse cultures bestow on American cuisine, both food and culture should be explored. As much as I would truly like to embark on that journey, perhaps, today, is not the day:) As Emily Post once said, ''Etiquette must, if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners. Certainly what one is, is of far greater importance than what one appears to be.''

"Etiquette requires us to admire the human race."~Mark Twain~

Emily Post

"Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."~Emily Post~

It was at the Emily Post Institute, that I discovered so many stirring facts about the life of Emily Price. Yes, that was her name before she married Edwin Post her husband-to-be. She met him at a ball in one of Fifth Avenue’s elegant mansions. How charming. And thankfully, I also found out Emily Post was born on October 27, 1872. Sometimes these things are so hard to uncover. Frankly, I was a wee bit surprised to realize that Emily Post was born so long ago. It isn't like her name is that unfamiliar to the X Y or Z generation. Certainly, most have heard the infamous line "according to Emily Post" haven't they? Just in case, Emily Post was the leading authority on social graces in the twenties, thirties and forties. What she said went!

IF the great world of society were a university which issued degrees to those whom it trains to its usages, the magna cum laude honors would be awarded without question, not to the hostess who may have given the most marvelous ball of the decade, but to her who knows best every component detail of preparation and service, no less than every inexorable rule of etiquette, in formal dinner-giving.Emily Post  Formal Dinners; Chapter XIV.

In 1922, at the age of fifty, Emily Post's first book on etiquette was published. (At the turn of the century financial circumstances compelled her to begin to write.) She produced newspaper articles on architecture and interior decoration, stories and serials for such magazines as Harper's, Scribner's, and the Century. Light novels, included Flight of the Moth (1904), Purple and Fine Linen (1906), Woven in the Tapestry (1908), The Title Market (1909), and The Eagle's Feather (1910).

Etiquette manuals had been popular in America before the publication of Emily Post's Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home. However, Ms. Post's was read like a short-story collections with recurring characters and lively presentation. It was different than previously published etiquette books. Sections of the first edition reflected the period of her own upbringing. Later retitled Etiquette—the Blue Book of Social Usage, the guide went through 10 editions and was in its 89th printing before her death in 1960. Her later editions were modified to reflect changing customs, television, telephone, and airplane etiquette were included. After 1931 Emily Post spoke on radio programs and wrote a column on good taste for the Bell Syndicate. Her syndicated columns appeared in 160 newspapers, she received 3,000 letters a week seeking advice and had a thrice-weekly radio program. In 1950 Pageant magazine named her the second most powerful woman in America, after Eleanor Roosevelt who would go on to write the Book of Common Sense Etiquette in 1962.

Too many people have forgotten good manners and their importance in smoothing and making gracious and pleasant our dealings with our fellows.
I am not referring now to rigid rules of etiquette but to the simple human kindness that is the foundation of all formal politeness.
~Eleanor Roosevelt~

Emily Post's name has become synonymous with proper etiquette and manners. Her name is still used in titles of etiquette books. In 1946, she founded the Emily Post Institute which continues her work with current spokesperson; Peggy Post.

On May 28, 1998, a postage stamp was issued by the United States Postal Service paying tribute to Emily Post. According to postal authorities, the stamp honors Post for defining "modern good manners and conduct," adding that her "books, radio programs and syndicated newspaper column set the standard for etiquette" for the 20th century. As a matter of fact, there were some complaints issued to the postal service about the "etiquette" which accompanied the illustrations on the stamps. (see below)

In 2008, Laura Claridge published Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners which is reviewed in the New York Times article below. Some of Emily Post's other books include the novel Parade (1925), How to Behave Though a Debutante(1928), The Personality of a House (1930), Children Are People (1940), The Emily Post Cook Book (1949; with Edwin M. Post, Jr.), and Motor Manners (1950).

"Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace."
~Judith Martin~Miss Manners

Correct Manners

People who ridicule etiquette as a mass of trivial and arbitrary conventions, “extremely troublesome to those who practise them and insupportable to everybody else,” seem to forget the long, slow progress of social intercourse in the upward climb of man from the primeval state. Conventions were established from the first to regulate the rights of the individual and the tribe. They were and are the rules of the game of life and must be followed if we would “play the game.” Confucius

So, how are your manners? For the most part, many people are courteous and have very good manners. However, I think that the courteous and mannerly people are a bit out numbered at times. Some people just forget their manners or perhaps, they weren't properly taught courtesy at home. "Proper etiquette" begins at an early age. I suppose there's always an excuse. People are flitting everywhere. Dinner is no longer a family affair. Gifts are sent through the mail because families are are spread out all over the country. People want things done yesterday and often forget to say please. Just do it! is first on their minds. And for some, I guess they assume, manners are just too meticulous and restricting.

Training a child is exactly like training a puppy; a little heedless inattention and it is out of hand immediately; the great thing is not to let it acquire bad habits that must afterward be broken. Any child can be taught to be beautifully behaved with no effort greater than quiet patience and perseverance, whereas to break bad habits once they are acquired is a Herculean task.Emily Post The Kindergarten of Etiquette Chapter XXXV.

The inset pictured below offers a review of the book Correct Manners.

Correct Manner 1892From Godey's Magazine, November, 1892: Correct manners by J.B. About fifty million Americans need this book. It is small enough to hide in a coat, yet it contains about 200 closely printed pages, which begin with twenty-five paragraphs collectively entitled "Etiquette in a Nutshell." after these come "George Washington's Life maxims," which though old, are hard to improve upon. Following these are chapters on physical deportment, conversation, taste, memory, modesty, dress, attention, table-talk, dinners and parties - in short, almost everything at which men and women desire to appear well, though few know how. All of the author's suggestions are sensible; there is no mere fashionable nonsense in them.This work contains 186 pages. Bound in Alligator. Price 50 cts.
“Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.” Emily Post Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home 1922

"One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to beat him at politeness."~Josh Billings~

There are so many chapters in Correct Manners that I would like to share. The contents are absolutely fascinating! I've chosen one more under the heading The Splendid speaker because I stumbled upon the History of the Kelley Blue Book while traveling along for links to include today and, the section on Truth caught my eye.

...And in Los Angeles, Les Kelley decided to expand the list of automobile values he had been producing since 1918 and published the first Blue Book of Motor Car Values. He showed factory list price and cash value on thousands of vehicles, from Cadillacs to Duesenbergs, from Pierce-Arrows to Hupmobiles. A 1926 Packard sedan limousine with balloon tires might fetch as much as $3,825. But a 1921 Nash touring car, even with a clock, was only worth $50. Les named the publication Blue Book after the Social Register, because it meant that you would find valuable information inside. (Emily Post had also just published her first book of etiquette, which was to later be named Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage ). And Les Kelley was to make Kelley Blue Book synonymous with the authoritative source for car values...
Truth: In the excitement and play of conversation always bear a strict adherence to truth. Honesty of fact should never be departed from, else, it will vitiate the strength and influence of what a man says. He is sure to found out sooner or later, for men are pretty good critics of the probable and the improbable. Never attempt to angle for surprise with relating prodigious incidents. Such are only fit for children and silly old men.
"A great retailer of this curious ware
Having unloaded and made many stare,
"Can this be true?" an arch observer cries;
"Yes," rather moved , "I saw it with these eyes."
"Sir," I believe it, on that ground alone,
I could not, had I seen it with my own."
Correct Manners
There is a big deposit of sympathy in the bank of love, but don’t draw out little sums every hour or so—so that by and by, when perhaps you need it badly, it is all drawn out and you yourself don’t know how or on what it was spent.
Emily Post Patience

1. Emily Post @ wikipedia
2. She Fine-Tuned the Forks of the Richan Vulgars New York Times, Oct. 2008
3. Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home (online)
4. Emily Post Stamp Garners Polite Complaints (A 1998 article in Seattle Times)
5. Dining: Service, Utensils, & Manners
6. Kids & Parents ~ Thank-you Note Tips


  1. Aren't the publisher's book lists in the back of some vintage books a treasure? I am especially fond of the advice that begins "Do not speak in a loud voice or assume a dictatorial tone..." Thanks for the link to the Emily Post Institute. I hadn't been there before.

  2. Good morning Kathy,
    I've often used the publishers' list as a reference for additional books to add to my collection.
    Thanks for dropping by...

  3. Louise, what a treat to read this! I love old etiquette books and do have a few, not enough though...they are such fun to read.

    Janet McKenzie Hill wrote cookbooks too, and I think was associated with the Fannie Farmer cooking school.

  4. I'm so happy to have come across the Emily Post institute--I love stuff like this. Of course, reading through begins to get my hackles up about people not holding the door and the lack of manners in our society today...

  5. Hi Jesse,
    Thanks for dropping in...I'm not sure how long the website has been up but I sure was glad to find it. Saved me a bit of research. Not to worry, I have a feeling manners are on the upswing!

    BTW those cuppie stamps are just so adorable. I'm going to send some off to Michele. she will LOVE them.

  6. Hi Lidian,
    I'm glad you liked the post. I had forgotten about Janet McKenzie Hill and her etiquette book when I posted about her a while back. Thanks for dropping by...

  7. great post as always, Louise.
    I did not know Mrs. Hill wrote etiquette books. I only knew her as a cooking author and instructor. Coincidentally, I just posted one of her recipes today.

  8. Wonderful article once again, Louise. Yes, I agree that people are generally naturally courteous--but most do not know proper etiquette! Manners is a thing many people should know about. It just puts things into place. I have always come across many of Ms. Posts books. But as a man, I usually do not read these kind of books but you put the interest in me and reading your wonderful article made me decide to buy one in our local bookstore. Thank you, Louise.

  9. Thank you so much for dropping by Manuela. I too was surprised to learn about Janet M. Hill. I'll drop by and "pick up" that recipe for this post. Thanks for letting me know...

    Hi Dennis,
    To think I may have inspired you to contemplate buying a book on etiquette is a much appreciated compliment. Perhaps, you would feel more comfortable reading Essential Manners For Men, or The Etiquette Advantage In Business both written by Peter Post, Emily's great-grandson. I found this info @ wiki


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise