Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home
By
Emily Post

Selected Quotations


On Manners and Etiquette
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.... 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.—Chap. I6–7


On Selflessness
Unconsciousness of self is not so much unselfishness as it is the mental ability to extinguish all thought of one’s self—exactly as one turns out the light.—Chap. XXIX20


On Self-Reliance
There is no reason why you should be bored when you can be otherwise. But if you find yourself sitting in the hedgerow with nothing but weeds, there is no reason for shutting your eyes and seeing nothing, instead of finding what beauty you may in the weeds. To put it cynically, life is too short to waste it in drawing blanks. Therefore, it is up to you to find as many pictures to put on your blank pages as possible.—Chap. VII34


On Expression
The phrases that a man might devise to close a letter to his betrothed or his wife are bound only by the limit of his imagination and do not belong in this, or any, book.—Chap. XXVII40

There is a quality of protectiveness in a man’s expression as it falls on his betrothed, as though she were so lovely a breath might break her; and in the eyes of a girl whose love is really deep, there is always evidence of that most beautiful look of championship, as though she thought: “No one else can possibly know how wonderful he is!”—Chap. XX35

The letter we all love to receive is one that carries so much of the writer’s personality that she seems to be sitting beside us, looking at us directly and talking just as she really would, could she have come on a magic carpet, instead of sending her proxy in ink-made characters on mere paper.—Chap. XXVIII56


On the Opera
Excepting a religious ceremonial, there is no occasion where greater dignity of manner is required of ladies and gentlemen both, than in occupying a box at the opera. For a gentleman especially no other etiquette is so exacting.—Chap. VI1


On Slang
The most vulgar slang is scarcely worse than the attempted elegance which those unused to good society imagine to be the evidence of cultivation.—Chap. VIII2

The fact that slang is apt and forceful makes its use irresistibly tempting. Coarse or profane slang is beside the mark, but “flivver,” “taxi,” the “movies,” “deadly” (meaning dull), “feeling fit,” “feeling blue,” “grafter,” a “fake,” “grouch,” “hunch” and “right o!” are typical of words that it would make our spoken language stilted to exclude.—Chap. VIII15


On the Single Woman
The pretty young woman living alone, must literally follow Cinderella’s habits. The magpie never leaves her window sill and the jackal sits on the doormat, and the news of her every going out and coming in, of every one whom she receives, when they come, how long they stay and at what hour they go, is spread broadcast.—Chap. XIX26


On Opulence
The difference between the great house with twenty to fifty guest rooms, all numbered like the rooms in a hotel, and the house of ordinary good size with from four to six guest rooms, or the farmhouse or small cottage which has but one “best” spare chamber, with perhaps a “man’s room” on the ground floor, is much the same as the difference between the elaborate wedding and the simplest—one merely of degree and not of kind.—Chap. XXV1


On the Limits of Politeness
Alas! it is true: “Be polite to bores and so shall you have bores always round about you.”—Chap. VII34


On Litter-bugs
People who picnic along the public highway leaving a clutter of greasy paper and swill (not a pretty name, but neither is it a pretty object!) for other people to walk or drive past, and to make a breeding place for flies, and furnish nourishment for rats, choose a disgusting way to repay the land-owner for the liberty they took in temporarily occupying his property.—Chap. V26


On the Fresh
“Keep your hands to yourself!” might almost be put at the head of the first chapter of every book on etiquette.—Chap. X97


On Child-rearing
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.—Chap. XXXV2

Children are all more or less little monkeys in that they imitate everything they see. If their mother treats them exactly as she does her visitors they in turn play “visitor” to perfection. Nothing hurts the feelings of children more than not being allowed to behave like grown persons when they think they are able.—Chap. XXXV21

Nothing appeals to children more than justice, and they should be taught in the nursery to “play fair” in games, to respect each other’s property and rights, to give credit to others, and not to take too much credit to themselves.—Chap. XXXV29


On Patience
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.—Chap. XXXVI19


On Smoking
One very great annoyance in open air gatherings is cigar smoke when blown directly in one’s face or worse yet the smoke from a smouldering cigar. It is almost worthy of a study in air currents to discover why with plenty of space all around, a tiny column of smoke will make straight for the nostrils of the very one most nauseated by it!—Chap. VI48


On Boston
Best Society in Boston having kept its social walls intact, granting admission only to those of birth and breeding, has therefore preserved a quality of unmistakable cultivation. There are undoubtedly other cities, especially in the South, which have also kept their walls up and their traditions intact—but Boston has been the wise virgin as well, and has kept her lamp filled.—Chap. XVII21


On the Life of the Party
The joy of joys is the person of light but unmalicious humor. If you know any one who is gay, beguiling and amusing, you will, if you are wise, do everything you can to make him prefer your house and your table to any other; for where he is, the successful party is also.—Chap. VII11


On the Wedding Veil
As for her veil in its combination of lace or tulle and orange blossoms, perhaps it is copied from a head-dress of Egypt or China, or from the severe drapery of Rebecca herself, or proclaim the knowing touch of the Rue de la Paix. It may have a cap, like that of a lady in a French print, or fall in clouds of tulle from under a little wreath, such as might be worn by a child Queen of the May.—Chap. XXII23
 
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