Sometime during the 1920s, at an exclusive party at Count Boni de Castelanne’s, a great French lady felt herself beginning to die at the dinner table. “Quick, bring the dessert,” she whispered to the waiter.
She was not overcome by greed. She simply wished to hurry dinner along so as not to drop dead before the party rose from the table. In other words, she did not wish to cause discomfort to those present. Needless to say, the lady had impeccable manners.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I do not expect anyone nowadays to avoid leaving a room when feeling unwell in order to not cause discomfort for the rest. I simply brought up a true story to illustrate how far our mores and manners have fallen these past 100 years. Back then, a grand lady dropping dead would have caused somewhat of a scandal. The hostess of the dinner would have become associated with the death forevermore. Such were the joys of a closed society. Especially in Catholic France, where the old guard tried its best for years to resist the Napoleonic nouveaux, with their extraordinary titles granted to them by the Emperor for having served him well on the battlefield. (Boni de Castellane’s family was titled long before the great Corsican came along, and his pink palace on Avenue Foch I remember well when I was young and lived nearby. Sadly, it is no longer there, torn down and replaced by apartment houses mostly inhabited by rich Arabs.)
1984 (Signet Classics)
Best Price: $1.51
Buy New $4.74
(as of 02:35 EST – Details)
Perhaps it sounds stuffy, but I am nostalgic for the good old days when manners were exquisite. You might think that this is a bit much, but not really. Things are so bad at present that even returning to the time of strict…