35 Rules To Be Followed, Etiquette For Ladies – 1847
How were women supposed to conduct themselves in the middle of the 19th century?
Well for starters; No kissing other women in the presence of men you don’t know; never sing two songs consecutively; if newly married do not display conspicuous public affection; avoid the “horse laugh”; and if you break something at someone else’s house, ignore that you have done it.
Those are some of the suggestions for proper ladies that were laid out 168 years ago by an anonymous woman author.
They are all from the book “True Politeness, A Hand-Book of Etiquette For Ladies” by an American Lady published in 1847 by Leavitt & Allen.
This fascinating book covers everything a proper lady should know when it comes to etiquette, behavior and fashion. Some of the chapters include; Introductions; Recognitions and Salutations; Conversation-Tattling; The Dinner Table; Courtship and Marriage and a dozen other subjects.
How much has life changed in just a century and a half? Read on and discover 35 of these somewhat practical, but many archaic, rules and suggestions to make the present day reader scratch your head and wonder, did women really act like this?
1. It is, in general, bad taste for ladies to kiss each other in the presence of gentlemen, with whom they are but slightly acquainted.
2. If on paying a morning visit you meet strangers at the house of your friend and are introduced, it is a mere matter of form, and does not entitle you to future recognition by such persons.
3. The plainest dress is always the most genteel, and a lady that dresses plainly will never be dressed unfashionably. Next to plainness, in every well-dressed lady, is neatness of dress and taste in the selection of colors.
4. Never wear mosaic gold or paste diamonds; they are representatives of a mean ambition to appear what you are not, and most likely what you ought not to wish to be.
5. Perfumes are a necessary appendage to the toilet; let them be delicate, not powerful ; the Atta of roses is the most elegant ; the Heduesmia is at once fragrant and delicate. Many others may be named; but none must be patronized which are so obtrusive as to give the idea that they are not indulged in as a luxury but used from necessity.
6. Keep your finger-nails scrupulously clean, and avoid the disagreeable habit of allowing them to grow to an unnatural length.
7. It is better to say too little than too much in company: let your conversation be consistent with your sex and age.
8. Avoid pedantry and dogmatism. Be not obtrusively positive in the assertion of your opinions — modesty of speech, as well as manner, is highly ornamental in a woman.
9. Double entendre is detestable in a woman, especially when perpetrated in the presence of men; no man of taste can respect a woman who is guilty of it: though it may create a laugh, it will inevitably excite also disgust in the minds of all whose good opinions are worth acquiring. Therefore not only avoid all indelicate expressions, but appear not to understand any that may be uttered in your presence.
10. Rather be silent than talk nonsense, unless you have that agreeable art, possessed by some women, of investing little nothings with an air of grace and interest; this most enviable art is indeed very desirable in a hostess, as it often fills up disagreeable pauses, and serves as a prelude for the introduction of more intellectual matter. Continue reading