Sycophantic closings in letters

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Jonathan Jones:
A letter to the editor appearing in today's Times
(http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-1369014,00.html ) includes the following closing message:
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
MARTIN GARROD
This strikes me as very odd. Was this once a routine way to end a letter to a person considered an equal?
Thanks,
-Jon J.
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raymond o'hara:
[nq:1]A letter to the editor appearing in today's Times (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-1369014,00.html ) includes the following closing message: I have the honour to ... very odd. Was this once a routine way to end a letterto a person considered an equal? Thanks, -Jon J.[/nq]
Yes, it was common in the 18th and 19th centuries, usually in formal business letters and American CiVil War military officers usually ended their messages with it.
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Jonathan Jones:
[nq:2]A letter to the editor appearing in today's Times (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-1369014,00.html ) ... odd. Was this once a routine way to end aletter[/nq]
[nq:1]to[/nq]
[nq:2]a person considered an equal? Thanks, -Jon J.[/nq]
[nq:1]Yes, it was common in the 18th and 19th centuries, usually in formal business letters and American CiVil War military officers usually ended their messages with it.[/nq]
Does that include business letters addressed to someone other than one's boss or customer, and military letters addressed to someone other than a superior officer?
Thanks,
-Jon J.
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Don Aitken:
[nq:1]A letter to the editor appearing in today's Times (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-1369014,00.html ) includes the following closing message: I have the honour to ... me as very odd. Was this once a routine way to end a letter to a person considered an equal?[/nq]
Yes. Absolutely standard until, I think, the late 19th century, although "Your most humble and obedient servant" was more usual. The Duke of Wellington is said to have once ended a letter "Your most humble and obedient servant (which you know damned well I am not)".
Anyone using such a formula today is likely to be suspected of some kind of ***-take.
I think diplomats still use "With great truth and regard".

Don Aitken
Mail to the addresses given in the headers is no longer being read. To mail me, substitute "clara.co.uk" for "freeuk.com".
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raymond o'hara:
[nq:1]the letter[/nq]
[nq:2]to Yes, it was common in the 18th and 19th ... CiVil War military officers usually ended their messages with it.[/nq]
[nq:1]Does that include business letters addressed to someone other than one's boss or customer, and military letters addressed to someone other than a superior officer? Thanks, -Jon J.[/nq]
Yes it does.It was a courtesy and not a mark of subservience.
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R J Valentine:
}
}>A letter to the editor appearing in today's Times }>(http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-1369014,00.html ) includes the }>following closing message:
}>
}> I have the honour to be, Sir,
}> Your obedient servant,
}> MARTIN GARROD
}>
}>This strikes me as very odd. Was this once a routine way to end a letter to }>a person considered an equal?
}>
} Yes. Absolutely standard until, I think, the late 19th century, } although "Your most humble and obedient servant" was more usual. } The Duke of Wellington is said to have once ended a letter } "Your most humble and obedient servant (which you know damned well I } am not)".
}
} Anyone using such a formula today is likely to be suspected of some } kind of ***-take.
Business letters I've gotten from France in recent years have all had a similar formula at the end of a letter. I may have offended them by not using one myself, but they deposit my checks without delay.

} I think diplomats still use "With great truth and regard".

I know someone who always signed off "Regards".

R. J. Valentine
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John Dean:
[nq:2]Yes, it was common in the 18th and 19th centuries, ... CiVil War military officers usually ended their messages with it.[/nq]
[nq:1]Does that include business letters addressed to someone other than one's boss or customer, and military letters addressed to someone other than a superior officer?[/nq]
If you're writing to your elected representative you should close:

"You are, Sir / Madam, my most humble and obedient servant"
John Dean
Oxford
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Donna Richoux:
(re)
[nq:2]Yes, it was common in the 18th and 19th centuries, ... CiVil War military officers usually ended their messages with it.[/nq]
[nq:1]Does that include business letters addressed to someone other than one's boss or customer, and military letters addressed to someone other than a superior officer?[/nq]
Well, wait a minute, for "military" I think you're going to have to look further at what the protocol was for which military and what circumstances.
Pulling the "Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant" off the shelf and looking for letters, I see that when Grant was a retired captain asking the Adjust-General of the Army to let him command a regiment in the new Civil War (he was turned down), he closed:
I am very respectfully,
Your obt. svt.,
U.S. Grant
But all of the dozens of letters shown from his time as commanding general of the Northern armies, whether to superiors, juniors, or even Robert E. Lee, are signed, as far as I see, without any closing, merely:

U.S. Grant
Lieut.-General
Letters of other senior figures are no doubt in print. There are about
100 Google hits for but then again,it appears to be used as a the name of a play.

Best Donna Richoux
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Athel Cornish-Bowden:
[nq:1]Business letters I've gotten from France in recent years have all had a similar formula at the end of a letter. I may have offended them by not using one myself, but they deposit my checks without delay.[/nq]
These formulas are still widely used in France (I beg you, my dear friend and colleague, to agree to the expression of my most profound respect, etc.), but the frequency has declined noticeably in the 17 years that I have lived here. Nowadays emails between friends and acquaintances often just end "Amitiés".
athel

Athel Cornish-Bowden
http://bip.cnrs-mrs.fr/bip10/homepage.htm
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