Failure To ‘Keep Off the Grass’ Drew French
Edict To Keep ‘Etiquettes’
The standard of good manners in the United States in the early 1920s, and for many years following, was Emily Post’s book of Etiquette.
Many of the items contained in it seem obsolete today, but her basic premise remains sound: politeness makes all activities run more smoothly and happily. The following note from history comes from the introduction to the book.
“To the French we owe the word etiquette, and it is amusing to discover its origin in the commonplace familiar warning - ‘Keep off the grass.’ It happened in the reign of Louis XIV, when the gardens of Versailles were being laid out, that the master gardener, an old Scotsman, was sorely tried because his newly seeded lawns were being continually trampled upon. To keep trespassers off, he put up warning signs or tickets - etiquettes - which indicated the path along which to pass.
“But the courtiers paid no attention to these directions and so the determined Scot complained to the King in such a convincing manner that His Majesty issued an edict commanding everyone at Court to ‘keep within the etiquettes.’
“Gradually the term came to cover all the rules for correct demeanor and deportment in court circles; and thus through the centuries it has grown into use to describe the conventions sanctioned for the purpose of smoothing personal contacts and developing tact and good manners.”
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