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December 16, 2010

Victorian Etiquette

Anyone who knows me knows that I am in LOVE with old etiquette manuals that teach proper manners in private and social settings. Everything from how to hold your fork to how to be meet and greet someone.

I picked up a 70th some edition of Emily Posts's book on Etiquette, but I just checked out a book from the library that I am in love with. It's a reprint of a book originally published in 1885.

"Hill's Manual of Social and Business Form" by Thomas E. Hill

It's amusing, thought provoking, and a MUST HAVE for anyone interested in etiquette, American Victorian society, and/or writing with historical accuracy.

I'm going to order my own copy as soon as I get some funds.

Here's a little:

Etiquette of Introductions:

Ladies being introduced should never bow hastily, but with slow and measured dignity. (Old etiquette books always spoke of bows, making your bows, etc...but in the movies women curtsied. I'm going with "bow" was a catch all phrase for curtsy or bow, depending on the gender.)

The inferior is to be introduced to the superior; the younger to the elder; the gentleman to the lady.

It is the lady's privilege to recognize the gentleman after an introduction, and his duty to return the bow.

Introductions on the streets or in public places should be made quietly as not to attract public attention.

Perfect ease and self-possession are the essentials to the making and receiving of graceful and happy introductions.

Etiquette requires that a gentleman always raises his hat when introduced to either a lady or a gentleman on the street. (If passing on the street, the hat should be raised and salute given with the hand farthest from the person addressed. when on horseback, the gentleman should grip the reins and whip in his left hand and raise his hat with the right.)

Introduce to each other only those who may find acquaintance agreeable. If any doubts exists on the subject, inquire beforehand.

If upon any occasion you are introduced at a friend's house to even your bitterest enemy, courtesy requires that you salute him, or her, and give no sign of ill-feeling while you are the guest of your friend.

To shake hands when introduced, is optional; between gentleman, it is common, and oftentimes between an elderly and a young person. it is not common between an unmarried lady and a gentleman, a slight bow between them when introduced being all that etiquette requires. The married lady will use her discretion when introduced to a gentleman.

If you are a gentleman, do not let the lack of an introduction prevent you from rendering services to any unattended lady who may need them. Politely offer your protection, escort or assistance, and, when the service has been accomplished, politely bow and retire.

There's so much more in this book. It's awesome.

Edited to Add: Found it online. Click here and on the left is a menu to choose from.


Anne Gallagher said...

That is awesome. I need to find me one of those books.

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