Our Deportment eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 348 pages of information about Our Deportment.

Letters of introduction to and from business men may be delivered by the bearers in person, and etiquette does not require the receiver to entertain the person introduced as a friend of the writer.  It is entirely optional with the person to whom the latter is introduced how he welcomes him, or whether he entertains him or not, though his courtesy would be apt to suggest that some kind attentions should be paid him.

CHAPTER IV.

Salutations.

Carlyle says:  “What we call ‘formulas’ are not in their origin bad; they are indisputably good.  Formula is method, habitude; found wherever man is found.  Formulas fashion themselves as paths do, as beaten highways leading toward some sacred, high object, whither many men are bent.  Consider it:  One man full of heartfelt, earnest impulse finds out a way of doing something—­were it uttering his soul’s reverence for the Highest, were it but of fitly saluting his fellow-man.  An inventor was needed to do that, a poet; he has articulated the dim, struggling thought that dwelt in his own and many hearts.  This is the way of doing that.  These are his footsteps, the beginning of a ‘path.’  And now see the second man travels naturally in the footsteps of his foregoer; it is the easiest method.  In the footsteps of his foregoer, yet with his improvements, with changes where such seem good; at all events with enlargements, the path ever widening itself as more travel it, till at last there is a broad highway, whereon the whole world may travel and drive.”

SALUTATION ORIGINALLY AN ACT OF WORSHIP.

A lady writer of distinction says of salutations:  “It would seem that good manners were originally the expression of submission from the weaker to the stronger.  In a rude state of society every salutation is to this day an act of worship.  Hence the commonest acts, phrases and signs of courtesy with which we are now familiar, date from those earlier stages when the strong hand ruled and the inferior demonstrated his allegiance by studied servility.  Let us take, for example, the words ‘sir’ and ‘madam.’  ‘Sir’ is derived from seigneur, sieur, and originally meant lord, king, ruler and, in its patriarchal sense, father.  The title of sire was last borne by some of the ancient feudal families of France, who, as Selden has said, ’affected rather to be styled by the name of sire than baron, as Le Sire de Montmorenci and the like.’  ‘Madam’ or ‘madame,’ corrupted by servants into ‘ma’am,’ and by Mrs. Gamp and her tribe into ‘mum,’ is in substance equivalent to ‘your exalted,’ or ’your highness,’ madame originally meaning high-born, or stately, and being applied only to ladies of the highest rank.

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Our Deportment from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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