word etiquette was first instigated in the reign of King Louis XIV,
during the building of his Palace at Versailles in France. As the
gardens were being built the gardeners had to keep re-sowing the lawn
areas due to them being trampled by the courtiers – despite warning
signs or tickets called “etiquettes” being placed to indicate the paths
to be taken. Eventually the King had to intervene and issue a
proclamation commanding all to “keep within the etiquettes”. Across
time, this term came to encompass all rules relating to conduct and
behavior in court.
Today, etiquette is often viewed as irrelevant, seemingly concerned with antiquated rules surrounding insignificant trifles. This is certainly true, when the rules become more important than the basis or principles of their origin. To understand this further, it is relevant to make two important differentiations:
The guidelines on how to behave in specific situations to be considered well mannered and to make others feel considered, respected and comfortable.
The moral and ethical codes one has, which determine how one treats others.
For Gentlemen, etiquette is only the outward manifestation of their behavior to others, which emanate from their perfect manners. Etiquette is made up of trivialities which can be easily learned, whereas manners are the symbol of one’s character and personality. In his famous “Letters to his Son” Lord Chesterfield wrote:
“Moral virtues are the foundation of society in general and of friendship in particular; but attentions, manners, and graces both adorn and strengthen them”.
These "Letters" are well worth reading: Available from
Amazon for serious study or free online at The University of Adelaide.