Friday, October 02, 2009

Don't Tell Braveheart

In the opening pages of Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, the newest volume of the Oxford History of the United States, Gordon S. Wood relates the reaction of Thomas Lee Shippen (a nephew of Richard Henry and Arthur Lee) when he was presented to the French Court at Versailles in 1788:
Of course, nowhere in the world was there more tinsel and titles than at the Court of Versailles, more indeed than Shippen had ever imagined. The protocol was incredibly elaborate: arriving at half past ten, "we were not done bowing until near 2"; in fact, "the business of bowing" went on so long, Shippen told his father, that "any but a Scotchman would have been tired of [it]."

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