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The Laws of Etiquette   By:

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This eBook was produced by Holly Ingraham

Transcriber's Note: Note the inconsistency of "Brummell" in one place of the original, and "Brummel" all other places. Also "Shakspeare," "Don Quixotte," "Sir Piercy," and "Esop" are as in the original. There was no table of contents. The original uses both all caps and italics. I have indicated the last with bracketing blanks, like this.




Short Rules and Reflections







The author of the present volume has endeavoured to embody, in as short a space as possible, some of the results of his own experience and observation in society, and submits the work to the public, with the hope that the remarks which are contained in it, may prove available for the benefit of others. It is, of course, scarcely possible that anything original should be found in a volume like this: almost all that it contains must have fallen under the notice of every man of penetration who has been in the habit of frequenting good society. Many of the precepts have probably been contained in works of a similar character which have appeared in England and France since the days of Lord Chesterfield. Nothing however has been copied from them in the compilation of this work, the author having in fact scarcely any acquaintance with books of this description, and many years having elapsed since he has opened even the pages of the noble oracle. He has drawn entirely from his own resources, with the exception of some hints for arrangement, and a few brief reflections, which have been derived from the French.

The present volume is almost apart from criticism. It has no pretensions to be judged as a literary work its sole merit depending upon its correctness and fitness of application. Upon these grounds he ventures to hope for it a favourable reception.


The great error into which nearly all foreigners and most Americans fall, who write or speak of society in this country, arises from confounding the political with the social system. In most other countries, in England, France, and all those nations whose government is monarchical or aristocratic, these systems are indeed similar. Society is there intimately connected with the government, and the distinctions in one are the origin of gradations in the other. The chief part of the society of the kingdom is assembled in the capital, and the same persons who legislate for the country legislate also for it. But in America the two systems are totally unconnected, and altogether different in character. In remodelling the form of the administration, society remained unrepublican. There is perfect freedom of political privilege, all are the same upon the hustings, or at a political meeting; but this equality does not extend to the drawing room or the parlour. None are excluded from the highest councils of the nation, but it does not follow that all can enter into the highest ranks, of society. In point of fact, we think that there is more exclusiveness in the society of this country, than there is in that even of England far more than there is in France. And the explanation may perhaps be found in the fact which we hate mentioned above. There being there less danger of permanent disarrangement or confusion of ranks by the occasional admission of the low born aspirant, there does not exist the same necessity for a jealous guarding of the barriers as there does here. The distinction of classes, also, after the first or second, is actually more clearly defined, and more rigidly observed in America, than in any country of Europe. Persons unaccustomed to look searchingly at these matters, may be surprised to hear it; but we know from observation, that there are among the respectable, in any city of the United States, at least ten distinct ranks. We cannot, of course, here point them out, because we could not do it without mentioning names... Continue reading book >>

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