Recently, I happened on a slim volume in a charity thrift shop (in England, even the organisation of these shops is morally and intellectually corrupt, but that is another story) titled How Shall I Word It? – a Letter Writer for Men and Women on Domestic and Business Subjects. This edition was published in August, 1943, at the height of the war, when extermination was under full swing. It is curious to think that, while people were being gassed at one end of Europe, other people were fretting about how to address a letter correctly to a Dowager Duchess. Since then, of course (and not unconnectedly), vulgarity, being democratically achievable by all, has become a virtue, and daintiness a kind of treason to the self.
We clearly live in an age of blunt speech and informal interaction, at least as compared to the several centuries preceeding, say, 1950. I suspect a great many Dalrymple readers share a respect for more traditional, formal modes of public behavior. He expresses this appreciation in an essay in New English Review: