Only 128 pages in length, the first thirty two pages address "ladies" and the following ninety six pages address "gentlemen". There are sections that advise on manners to be shown at ballroom or dinner events, travelling on trains, "Street Salutations", "Morning Visits", relationships between the sexes and even how to carve a range of meats including a calf's head. Although the author is unknown, he was clearly a zealous man on a mission.
Being a rough, unpolished kind of fellow, I desperately needed guidance about etiquette ahead of my wedding speech. After all, I wanted to make a good impression upon Shirley's extended family. The little book provided me with useful directions and I even quoted directly from a chapter titled, "Domestic Etiquette". Here's a taste of it:-
"It is and ought to be the anxious wish and study of every wife to render her husband's home agreeable and happy; let her always consider this her first and paramount duty every time she beholds her wedding-ring, remember she has sworn on holy ground to "love, honour and obey," and let her regulate her conduct accordingly.
Never let your husband have just cause to complain that you are more frequently abroad than at home, or that you keep your smiles for company and your frowns for him; many a marriage has been rendered unhappy by such conduct...
...Never pry into your husband's secrets, if he has any; if he seems a little out of the way, do not annoy him by asking questions, be sure, if it is necessary you should know, he will tell you."
Throughout the book, women (i.e. ladies) are referred to either as subservient appendages to the more important lives of menfolk or as dainty goddesses to be cherished and treated with enormous respect but not really listened to.
Needless to say, there is no reference to homosexuality in "Etiquette - On The Perfect Lady and Gentleman" and come to think of it there isn't even any reference to rearing children or relationships with servants. I was also looking for guidance on riding horses or riding in horse-drawn carriages but there was none.
I think the book proves that in some ways life has changed for the better in the last 160 years - especially with regard to the place of women in British society. Now we know that there is no such thing as a "perfect lady" just as the idea of a "perfect gentleman" is quite absurd.
Clearly, women were put here on Earth to care for men, yet never bother them???ReplyDelete
That's what the author of "Etiquette" seemed to believe.Delete
Just go back sixty years to when my grandmother bought a brand new automatic washing machine. The instruction manual cover had an illustration of a beautifully made up and dressed women who was contendely and happily standing in high heels as she gently dropped the clothes into her washing machine. Nothing like you would see and hear today, 'There are so many fooking socks I think fooking centipedes must live in this fooking house', as clothes are madly thrown into the machine.ReplyDelete
contendely is a rather interesting word. I am not sure what spell checker meant.Delete
In my time we had June Dally Watkins to advise us on etiquette, along with smart dress sense by Sheila Scotter. There was also the urbane Clive Robertson to guide men, leading by example.Delete
I assumed that all Australian men, apart from you of course, were schooled in the very opposite of etiquette. Chapter One - Tinnies. Chapter Two - Sheilas. Chapter Three - Belching and Farting. Chapter Four - Tucker etc..Delete
I'm reminded of the day my ex-the-first told my eight year old son "don't listen to your mother she's just a woman". Boy did he get an earful from me! Now a grown man, my son has never treated any woman badly, always with respect and as an equal.ReplyDelete
My mother also showed me the way. Her defence of women's rights was heartfelt and sometimes fierce. I knew from the cradle that she was my father's equal.Delete
For some people, etiquette about traveling on trains (or any other kind of public transport) would be a good idea...ReplyDelete
Here in Germany, the name Knigge used to be a household name for all things etiquette. Herr Knigge firmly established manners in several books, but as old-fashioned, unnecessary and - sometimes - downright odd much of it seems to us now, good manners as such are still something I appreciate in others very much, and aspire to show myself, too.
By the way, you just completely smashed the image I had of you so far. I thought you and Shirley are the perfect gentleman and perfect lady.
I am a bad-mannered brute with an angry disposition. Seriously though - at the root of good "etiquette" is respect for other people be it riding on trains or visiting someone else's house or meeting someone for the first time. That politeness should never go out of fashion.Delete
I have a similar book on my shelves called Etiquette Today by Lady Penelope as quite often in my work I needed to find the right address to nobility when writing to them or the right procedure when meeting them. Thankfully those days have gone (to a certain extent) and as you say women have taken on equal roles in most circumstances. You've given me an idea to research it when writing my speech for Kay's wedding.ReplyDelete
This little book also has a section on how to address people occupying important ranks. I address them all like this, "Hey you, tosser!"Delete
Is there a section on the misuse of Hoovers and hair dryers in the home YP?ReplyDelete
Don't be daft Dave! Even I know that they did not exist in 1861!Delete
That book sounds like it must have been geared toward young adults in the courtship or early marriage phase of their lives. We have Emily Post and Miss Manners' books of etiquette in our school library! They're more up-to-date on gender issues, I'm guessing, but I haven't read them.ReplyDelete
I guess Emily Post and Miss Manners's books are specifically on etiquette for school librarians. It is patently obvious that you haven't read them given the cruel way you address and upset snacking students.Delete
I once overheard (accidentally) my boss's secretary calling her boss "a perfect sod" to which he replied "Ivy, no one is perfect." They obviously had a good relationship. That was in 1962ish and I've never forgotten it. They obviously didn't need the book - they wrote their own rules.ReplyDelete
Love that story, Graham!!Delete
It's interesting that your brain chose to hold on to that moment. A man and a woman sparring for fun as equals.Delete
I have found a number of similar books over the years and have come to the same conclusion as you. It has even been reinforced by just being around my grandparents who obviously came from a different time period than I just by how they lived their marriage. It has been kind of interesting to see how my grandmother has blossomed a little bit after my grandfather died five years ago.ReplyDelete
I saw the blossoming of my partner's brother in law's twin sister when her husband died. While they were a devoted couple, but him being an alco, she flowered, spent money and acted like she she always wanted to.Delete
It probably helps that I have encouraged my grandma to live freely now. She said she always wanted a red convertible and I told her to go out and buy one. She bought a dark blue small SUV instead, at 92 years old! My grandfather would be rolling in his grave had he not been cremated.Delete
I suspect it will be the same for my wife when I descend into Hell for all eternity.Delete
Homoseuatlity was just one of his little secrets that you didn't ask about.ReplyDelete
Is "Homoseuatlity" the same as "Homosexuality"? Best not to blog when you are on your fourth double bourbon Mr Penguin!Delete
I would love to say, "Well, thank goodness things have changed!" and I suppose in many ways they have. However, you can't just go from thinking of women as chattel to fully equal citizens in less than two hundred years without some sort of remnants remaining. And it was not that long ago that Jackie Gleason threatened to send Alice "to the moon!" in the Honeymooners every Saturday night. Women in the US have just recently been reminded that our bodies are not our own to control, our reproductive rights are non-existent. Once again we have been told that basically, our bodies are vessels for the production of babies whether we want babies or not. And then our purpose is to raise those babies.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry. Your post is a well-meaning one and I know your heart is on the right side of things but this is a very, very passionate subject to me.
I am glad you have responded to the post in this way. Never think that we have already reached The Emerald City.Delete
Oh how I wish I had read that book before I turned into a woman who is so obviously not a Lady.ReplyDelete
It's never too late to change. Please remember "Love seldom if ever originates on the side of woman, but her love to man entirely arises in consequence of the man's preference to her."Delete
I am a happy "divorcée" who is glad I do not have to obey any husband. :)ReplyDelete
I bet you would obey George Clooney if he was your husband.Delete
I would not!Delete
Having been married to SWMBO for 52 years as of next Friday, I can assure you that she has never read that book. Nor would she allow it in our (her) home.ReplyDelete
Sounds like Judy rules the roost in the Taylor love nest. Maybe it's time to put your foot down! By the way, premature congratulations for next Friday on reaching the 52 year mark! A great achievement.Delete