September 13, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Post


It's been over a week since I received my reprint of the first edition of Etiquette by Emily Post, written in 1922, and I have yet to set it down! At over six hundred pages, there is a whole lot of Etiquette to take in. To better tackle this enormous tome, I have decided to read it by section, in the order of which those sections are of interest to me. First on the list: the chapters on the etiquette of writing letters.

Emily (I know it would pain her to know that I refer to her by first name, but I've come to feel so well acquainted with her that calling her Mrs. Price Post feels too stiff and impersonal) writes a great deal about what is proper, but I find most amusing her commentary about what is improper. Those are the gems that I should like to share with you, dear readers.

In today's Sunday Afternoon Post, the name I've chosen for this series of posts, I would like to highlight a section that brought to my mind the many politicians in recent memory who have found themselves above the fold in newspapers around the country due to their intimate indiscretions.

From the chapter her chapter on longer letters, Emily writes about "The Letter No Gentleman Writes":
One of the fundamental rules for the behavior of any man who has the faintest pretension to being a gentleman, is that never by word or gesture must he compromise a woman; he never, therefore writes a letter that can be construed, even by a lawyer, as damaging to any woman's good name.

His letters to an unmarried woman may express all the ardor and devotion that he cares to subscribe to, but there must be no hint of his having received especial favors from her.
This post is the second in an occasional series highlighting the rules of etiquette as they were in 1922, published by Emily Post in her seminal text Etiquette.

3 comments:

phonelady said...

I love this considering a certain senator from s carolina who shall remain nameless but all of us in the usa know of whom I speak of . great post . thanks for sharing .

carrie said...

How absolutely charming. I love how so many people think that premarital sex is some sort of radical 20th century invention -- the key has always been not to yawp about various intimacies, as Emily so eloquently states.

DECORUM! SUBTLETY! GO EMILY POST!

everydaycorrespondence.com said...

Amen to both your statements. I does make me wonder, though, what Emily would say about the most recent trend of texting and IMing about "especial favors." Agh! That just rocked my world.

James