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A tea party, or English manners and French politeness. Hand-colored etching on laid paper by Robert Cruikshank, 1835. Lewis Walpole Digital Library, 835.08.01.19

A tea party, or English manners and French politeness. Hand-colored etching on laid paper by Robert Cruikshank, 1835. Lewis Walpole Digital Library, 835.08.01.19

The story of the Frenchman who did not know the customs for refusing more tea may well be apocryphal. I cannot find the citation for the “French officer” whose cup was continually refilled by an 18th-century Providence hostess, but did find this cartoon from 1835 illustrating the same trope. Cliches and stereotypes, always with us.  If there’s a lesson in here, it may well be, Don’t believe everything you remember.