The Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, had a retreat called the Hermitage, where she entertained her guests privately. She felt relaxed there and wanted the environment to be safe and comfortable both for her guests and for herself. For this reason she posted a list of ten rules:

  1. All ranks shall be left behind at the doors, as well as swords and hats.
  2. Parochialism and ambitions shall also be left behind at the doors.
  3. One shall be joyful but shall not try to damage, break or gnaw at anything.
  4. One shall sit or stand as one pleases.
  5. One shall speak with moderation and quietly so that others do not get a headache.
  6. One shall not argue angrily or passionately.
  7. One shall not sigh or yawn.
  8. One shall not interfere with any entertainment suggested by others.
  9. One shall eat with pleasure, but drink with moderation so that each can leave the room unassisted.
  10. One shall not wash dirty linen in public and shall mind one’s own business until one leaves.

I have periodically thought that these rules would be suitable for almost any social occasion. Do you think that applying them would enhance an occasion, or do you think that they might detract? If they were to be applied, what might be suitable sanctions for a breach?