Wednesday, March 25, 2015

British Dining Etiquette History

Etiquette of the Table

Elizabethan flagon ~ Elizabethans were seen as "more polite in eating than the French," by author, Paul Hentzner

     
Paul Hentzner, who was in England at the end of the reign of Elizabeth, remarks of the people whom he saw that "they are more polite in eating than the French, devouring less bread, but more meat, which they roast in perfection. They put a good deal of sugar in their drink."

In his "Court and Country," 1618, Nicholas Breton gives an instructive account of the strict rules which were drawn up for observance in great households at that time, and says that the gentlemen who attended on great lords and ladies had enough to do to carry these orders out. Not a trencher must be laid or a napkin folded awry; not a dish misplaced; not a capon carved or a rabbit unlaced contrary to the usual practice; not a glass filled or a cup uncovered save at the appointed moment: everybody must stand, speak, and look according to regulation.

The books of demeanour which have been collected by Mr. Furnivall for the Early English Text Society have their incidental value as illustrating the immediate theme, and are curious, from the growth in consecutive compilations of the code of instructions for behaviour at table, as evidences of an increasing cultivation both in manners and the variety of appliances for domestic use, including relays of knives for the successive courses.


Distinctions were gradually drawn between genteel and vulgar or coarse ways of eating, and facilities were provided for keeping the food from direct contact with the fingers, and other primitive offences against decorum. Many of the precepts in the late fifteenth century "Babies' Book," while they demonstrate the necessity for admonition, speak also to an advance in politeness and delicacy at table. There must be a beginning somewhere; and the authors of these guides to deportment had imbibed the feeling for something higher and better, before they undertook to communicate their views to the young generation.
                                 


There is no doubt that the "Babies' Book" and its existing congeners are the successors of anterior and still more imperfect attempts to introduce at table some degree of cleanliness and decency. When the "Babies' Book" made its appearance, the progress in this direction must have been immense. But the observance of such niceties was of course at first exceptional; and the ideas which we see here embodied were very sparingly carried into practice outside the verge of the Court itself and the homes of a few of the aristocracy.

There may be an inclination to revolt against the barbarous doggerel in which the instruction is, as a rule, conveyed, and against the tedious process of perusing a series of productions which follow mainly the same lines. But it is to be recollected that these manuals were necessarily renewed in the manuscript form from age to age, with variations and additions, and that the writers resorted to metre as a means of impressing the rules of conduct more forcibly on their pupils.
                   


Of all the works devoted to the management of the table and kitchen, the "Book of Nurture," by John Russell, usher of the chamber and marshal of the ball to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, is perhaps, on the whole, the most elaborate, most trustworthy, and most important. It leaves little connected with the cuisine of a noble establishment of the fifteenth century untouched and unexplained; and although it assumes the metrical form, and in a literary respect is a dreary performance, its value as a guide to almost every branch of the subject is indubitable. It lays bare to our eyes the entire machinery of the household, and we gain a clearer insight from it than from the rest of the group of treatises, not merely into what a great man of those days and his family and retainers ate and drank, and how they used to behave themselves at table, but into the process of making various drinks, the mystery of carving, and the division of duties among the members of the staff. It is, in fact, the earliest comprehensive book in our literature.

The functions of the squire at the table of a prince are, to a certain extent, shown in the "Squire of Low Degree," where the hero, having arrayed himself in scarlet, with a chaplet on his head and a belt round his waist, cast a horn about his neck, and went to perform his duty in the hall. He approaches the king, dish in hand, and kneels. When he has served his sovereign, he hands the meats to the others. We see a handsome assortment of victuals on this occasion, chiefly venison and birds, and some of the latter were baked in bread, probably a sort of paste. The majority of the names on the list are familiar, but a few—the teal, the curlew, the crane, the stork, and the snipe—appear to be new. It is, in all these cases, almost impossible to be sure how much we owe to the poet's imagination and how much to his rhythmical poverty. From another passage it is to be inferred that baked venison was a favourite mode of dressing the deer.

The precaution of coming to table with clean hands was inculcated perhaps first as a necessity, when neither forks nor knives were used, and subsequently as a mark of breeding. The knife preceded the spoon, and the fork, which had been introduced into Italy in the eleventh century, and which strikes one as a fortuitous development of the Oriental chopstick, came last. It was not in general use even in the seventeenth century here. Coryat the traveller saw it among the Italians, and deemed it a luxury and a notable fact.

The precepts delivered by Lydgate and others for demeanour at table were in advance of the age, and were probably as much honoured in the breach as otherwise. But the common folk did then much as many of them do now, and granted themselves a dispensation both from knife and fork, and soap and water. The country boor still eats his bacon or his herring with his fingers, just as Charles XII. of Sweden buttered his bread with his royal thumb.

A certain cleanliness of person, which, at the outset, was not considerably regarded, became customary, as manners softened and female influence asserted itself; and even Lydgate, in his "Stans Puer ad Mensam (an adaptation from Sulpitius)," enjoins on his page or serving-boy a resort to the lavatory before he proceeds to discharge his functions at the board—

"Pare clean thy nails; thy hands wash also
Before meat; and when thou dost arise."
       
Other precepts follow. He was not to speak with his mouth full. He was to wipe his lips after eating, and his spoon when he had finished, taking care not to leave it in his dish. He was to keep his napkin as clean and neat as possible, and he was not to pick his teeth with his knife. He was not to put too much on his trencher at once. He was not to drop his sauce or soup over his clothes, or to fill his spoon too full, or to bring dirty knives to the table. All these points of conduct are graphic enough; and their trite character is their virtue.
                                   
The country boor still eats his bacon or his herring with his fingers, just as Charles XII of Sweden buttered his bread with his royal thumb.

Boiled, and perhaps fried meats were served on silver; but roasts might be brought to table on the spit, which, after a while, was often of silver, and handed round for each person to cut what he pleased; and this was done not only with ordinary meat, but with game, and even with a delicacy like a roast peacock. Of smaller birds, several were broached on one spit. There is a mediaeval story of a husband being asked by his wife to help her to the several parts of a fowl in succession, till nothing was left but the implement on which it had come in, whereupon the man determined she should have that too, and belaboured her soundly with it. At more ceremonious banquets the servants were preceded by music, or their approach from the kitchen to the hall was proclaimed by sound of trumpets. Costly plate was gradually introduced, as well as linen and utensils, for the table; but the plate may be conjectured to have been an outcome from the primitive trencher, a large slice of bread on which meat was laid for the occupants of the high table, and which was cast aside after use.

Bread served at table was not to be bitten or broken off the loaf, but to be cut; and the loaf was sometimes divided before the meal, and skilfully pieced together again, so as to be ready for use.



From "Old Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine," by W. Carew Hazlitt, 1902


Etiquette enthusiast, Maura Graber is the site moderator of Etiquipedia, The Etiquette Encyclopedia

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Of Etiquette, Food and Man

Beautifully designed drinking horn from the 1300s.
Man has been distinguished from other animals in various ways; but perhaps there is no particular in which he exhibits so marked a difference from the rest of creation—not even in the prehensile faculty resident in his hand—as in the objection to raw food, meat, and vegetables. He approximates to his inferior contemporaries only in the matter of fruit, salads, and oysters, not to mention wild-duck. He entertains no sympathy with the cannibal, who judges the flavour of his enemy improved by temporary commitment to a subterranean larder; yet, to be sure, he keeps his grouse and his venison till it approaches the condition of spoon-meat.

It naturally ensues, from the absence or scantiness of explicit or systematic information connected with the opening stages of such inquiries as the present, that the student is compelled to draw his own inferences from indirect or unwitting allusion; but so long as conjecture and hypothesis are not too freely indulged, this class of evidence is, as a rule, tolerably trustworthy, and is, moreover, open to verification.

When we pass from an examination of the state of the question as regarded Cookery in very early times among us, before an even more valuable art—that of Printing—was discovered, we shall find ourselves face to face with a rich and long chronological series of books on the Mystery, the titles and fore-fronts of which are often not without a kind of fragrance and goût.

As the space allotted to me is limited, and as the sketch left by Warner of the convivial habits and household arrangements of the Saxons or Normans in this island, as well as of the monastic institutions, is more copious than any which I could offer, it may be best to refer simply to his elaborate preface. But it may be pointed out generally that the establishment of the Norman sway not only purged of some of their Anglo-Danish barbarism the tables of the nobility and the higher classes, but did much to spread among the poor a thriftier manipulation of the articles of food by a resort to broths, messes, and hot-pots. In the poorer districts, in Normandy as well as in Brittany, Duke William would probably find very little alteration in the mode of preparing victuals from that which was in use in his day, eight hundred years ago, if (like another Arthur) he should return among his ancient compatriots; but in his adopted country he would see that there had been a considerable revolt from the common saucepan—not to add from the pseudo-Arthurian bag-pudding; and that the English artisan, if he could get a rump-steak or a leg of mutton once a week, was content to starve on the other six days.

Those who desire to be more amply informed of the domestic economy of the ancient court, and to study the minutiae, into which I am precluded from entering, can easily gratify themselves in the pages of "The Ordinances and Regulations for the Government of the Royal Household," 1790; "The Northumberland Household Book;" and the various printed volumes of "Privy Purse Expenses" of royal and great personages, including "The Household Roll of Bishop Swinfield (1289-90)."

The late Mr. Green, in his "History of the English People" (1880-3, 4 vols. 8vo), does not seem to have concerned himself about the kitchens or gardens of the nation which he undertook to describe. Yet, what conspicuous elements these have been in our social and domestic progress, and what civilising factors!

To a proper and accurate appreciation of the cookery of ancient times among ourselves, a knowledge of its condition in other more or less neighbouring countries, and of the surrounding influences and conditions which marked the dawn of the art in England, and its slow transition to a luxurious excess, would be in strictness necessary; but I am tempted to refer the reader to an admirable series of papers which appeared on this subject in Barker's "Domestic Architecture," and were collected in 1861, under the title of "Our English Home: its Early History and Progress." In this little volume the author, who does not give his name, has drawn together in a succinct compass the collateral information which will help to render the following pages more luminous and interesting. An essay might be written on the appointments of the table only, their introduction, development, and multiplication.

The history and antiquities of the Culinary Art among the Greeks are handled with his usual care and skill by M.J.A. St. John in his "Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece," 1842; and in the Bibliaor Hebrew Scriptures we get an indirect insight into the method of cooking from the forms of sacrifice.

The earliest legend which remains to us of Hellenic gastronomy is associated with cannibalism. It is the story of Pelops—an episode almost pre-Homeric, where a certain rudimentary knowledge of dressing flesh, and even of disguising its real nature, is implied in the tale, as it descends to us; and the next in order of times is perhaps the familiar passage in the Odyssey, recounting the adventures of Odysseus and his companions in the cave of Polyphemus. Here, again, we are introduced to a rude society of cave-dwellers, who eat human flesh, if not as an habitual diet, yet not only without reluctance, but with relish and enjoyment.

The Phagetica of Ennius, of which fragments remain, seems to be the most ancient treatise of the kind in Roman literature. It is supposed to relate an account of edible fishes; but in a complete state the work may very well have amounted to a general Manual on the subject. In relation even to Homer, the Phagetica is comparatively modern, following the Odyssey at a distance of some six centuries; and in the interval it is extremely likely that anthropophagy had become rarer among the Greeks, and that if they still continued to be cooking animals, they were relinquishing the practice of cooking one another.


From "Old Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine" by W. Carew Hazlitt, 1902

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the
Site Moderator for Etiquipedia Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Definitive Selfie Etiquette Guide


The Approved Selfie... There is someone behind you. Is he aware he is in the photo? This is what is known to many, as a "Relfie"... a "Relationship-Selfie."
Selfies can be fun to take and share, however, as with anything involving a camera or photos, etiquette needs to be followed. The etiquette guidelines below will help you stay well-mannered and safe...
Hey you! Yes, you in the back left side of the ride... You are at Disneyland! Remember? Pass the phone to the friend next to you if you need a photo of yourself, while on the ride. Don't forget to ask with the word "please" and to be extra polite, offer to then return the favor if the person wants a photo too!


The "Wait... What?" Selfie: Are you so busy taking selfies, that you even know what is actually going on around you? Are you still able to enjoy yourself? Or did you kill the moment trying to "save the moment" in a cell phone photo? Think about it for a minute. Allow yourself some time to enjoy what you are doing.
   
Get approval before posting selfies with babies, or others, to social media sites.



The Approved Selfie: Ask for permission before you post a selfie with someone else's baby, child, etc... They may not want the photograph online and it is their right to decline permission.   
Super famous, B, C or D-list celebrity, it doesn't matter. Always ask permission before you take that selfie. Tori Spelling kindly obliged our favorite "selfie" model, out in front of the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The Celebrity Selfie: A celebrity in a recent interview mentioned that people do not politely approach her anymore. They just walk up with their cell phones in hand, stand close to her, and take a photo. Super famous or "D-list" celebrity, ask permission before you take that selfie. They may not want to be photographed and it is their right to decline.


"Selfie-Sticks" are great for group selfies, or "Groufies"
The Safe Selfie: Is that selfie worth endangering yourself for? Are you trying to get a selfie on top of a train perhaps? A moving train? Or is that "selfie-stick" not far enough back for you as you unwittingly creep closer to the edge of that cliff? Never put your life at risk for that “really cool” selfie. There have been numerous accounts online recently of people taking selfies in dangerous places that turned even more dangerous.
                    
"Technically Incorrect: The contestants are gathered in Miami for Miss Universe. Israel and Lebanon are still at war. This is not the time for modern diplomacy. Can a selfie cause an international incident? Yes, it can." CNET.com, Tech Culture

The Kind Selfie and The Controversial Selfie: Do not take photos with others conspicuously in the background, simply to poke fun at another person or shame them. I recall a young woman posting a photo on a group social media page she had taken with a man who was sound asleep with his mouth open on the subway. She posted a caption making fun of him snoring. I asked her why she thought it was funny to humiliate this man and to post a photo with her near him without his permission. She got defensive but took the photo down.  This also applies to photo bombing someone else's selfie. It is bad manners to photo bomb, unless you know the person very well, and know they wouldn't mind.

Sometime later, I witnessed teens using their cell phones to take selfies with others nearby and all the people had partially exposed rear ends. This was without their knowledge and the teens were immediately uploading them on line. It is one thing to post humorous photos of yourself, quite another to post them with someone else and without their consent.


The Miss Universe Controversy Groufie

"Clearly, we've all learned many lessons from Miss Universe over the years. How to answer inane questions with short elegant words, for example.

However, this time Miss Israel's alleged photobombing of a selfie including Miss Lebanon -- taken in Miami -- has caused uproar.

As NBC News reports, media in Lebanon weren't happy with this image. The two countries are still at war. And this was, well, Miss Universe, an event that is the barometer for all things political.

For her part, Miss Lebanon -- Saly Greige, who has a civil engineering degree -- was forced to turn to Facebook to disavow the image.

She wrote: 'Since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel (that tried several times to have a photo with me) ... I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia and myself; suddenly Miss Israel jumped in, took a selfie, and put it on her social media.'
 
Miss Israel -- Doron Matalon -- countered by turning to Instagram. She wrote of Greige's reaction: 'It doesn't surprise me, but it still makes me sad. Too bad you cannot put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country."' from CNET.com                                               
The sweet selfie. No one is offended and your etiquette is just fine.
The Respectful Selfie: If you witness an accident, unless you are taking photos for evidence sake, do not take selfies in the name of seeing something fascinating to post later. The same goes for funerals, in hospitals and any other sensitive environment. Unless it serves a specific purpose that is helpful, refrain from taking selfies.


The Risqué Selfie: I have seen more than my share of people posting inappropriate selfies. As an individual, you are free to do certain things, but once you post it on the internet, it will remain there forever because people will copy, save, repost, create meme’s, etc... 

The riot... I was there drinking beer, bro!

The Self Destructive Selfie: Keep in mind that employers routinely look into people’s social media activity prior to hiring and are terminating employees for things they post that they feel may cast a negative light on the company. A flight attendant was fired a few years ago for taking selfies on an empty plane.
                                            

Kim Kardashian is Selfie-Obsessed: Are you selfie-obsessed? According to psychiatrist Dr David Veal: “Two out of three of all the patients who come to see me with Body Dysmorphic Disorder since the rise of camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take and post selfies on social media sites. Cognitive behavioural therapy is used to help a patient to recognise the reasons for his or her compulsive behaviour and then to learn how to moderate it,” he told the Sunday Mirror.

The Over-Saturation Selfie: There is the saying “a little goes a long way” and it definitely applies to Kim Kardashian. While you are free to document every aspect of your life, do not think people are waiting by their computers for every update. If you like to share, pick a photo or two that tastefully summarizes the day, post them and move on.

Taking selfies can be a fun activity but let us use caution that taking selfies does not cause us to act selfish.





Compiled and submitted by Demita Usher of Social Graces and Savoir Faire
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the
Site Moderator for Etiquipedia Etiquette Encyclopedia 





Thursday, March 19, 2015

Regency Etiquette, Servants and Society

Regency Era British Authoress, Frances "Fanny" Trollope, was a keen observer of the life and people she met on her travels.

The greatest difficulty in organising a family establishment in Ohio, is getting servants, or, as it is there called, "getting help," for it is more than petty treason to the Republic, to call a free citizen a servant. The whole class of young women, whose bread depends upon their labour, are taught to believe that the most abject poverty is preferable to domestic service. Hundreds of half-naked girls work in the paper-mills, or in any other manufactory, for less than half the wages they would receive in service; but they think their equality is compromised by the latter, and nothing but the wish to obtain some particular article of finery will ever induce them to submit to it. A kind friend, however, exerted herself so effectually for me, that a tall stately lass soon presented herself, saying, "I be come to help you." The intelligence was very agreeable, and I welcomed her in the most gracious manner possible, and asked what I should give her by the year.


"Oh Gimini!" exclaimed the damsel, with a loud laugh, "you be a downright Englisher, sure enough. I should like to see a young lady engage by the year in America! I hope I shall get a husband before many months, or I expect I shall be an outright old maid, for I be most seventeen already; besides, mayhap I may want to go to school. You must just give me a dollar and half a week, and mother's slave, Phillis, must come over once a week, I expect, from t'other side the water, to help me clean." I agreed to the bargain, of course, with all dutiful submission; and seeing she was preparing to set to work in a yellow dress parseme with red roses, I gently hinted, that I thought it was a pity to spoil so fine a gown, and that she had better change it. "'Tis just my best and my worst," she answered, "for I've got no other."



And in truth I found that this young lady had left the paternal mansion with no more clothes of any kind than what she had on. I immediately gave her money to purchase what was necessary for cleanliness and decency, and set to work with my daughters to make her a gown. She grinned applause when our labour was completed, but never uttered the slightest expression of gratitude for that, or for any thing else we could do for her. She was constantly asking us to lend her different articles of dress, and when we declined it, she said, "Well, I never seed such grumpy folks as you be; there is several young ladies of my acquaintance what goes to live out now and then with the old women about the town, and they and their gurls always lends them what they asks for; I guess you Inglish thinks we should poison your things, just as bad as if we was Negurs." And here I beg to assure the reader, that whenever I give conversations they were not made À LOISIR, but were written down immediately after they occurred, with all the verbal fidelity my memory permitted.
                               
"I fear it may be called bad taste to say so much concerning my domestics, but, nevertheless, the circumstances are so characteristic of America that I must recount another history relating to them." Fanny Trollope, in her book "Domestic Manners of the Americans" 

This young lady left me at the end of two months, because I refused to lend her money enough to buy a silk dress to go to a ball, saying, "Then 'tis not worth my while to stay any longer." I cannot imagine it possible that such a state of things can be desirable, or beneficial to any of the parties concerned. I might occupy a hundred pages on the subject, and yet fail to give an adequate idea of the sore, angry, ever wakeful pride that seemed to torment these poor wretches. In many of them it was so excessive, that all feeling of displeasure, or even of ridicule, was lost in pity. One of these was a pretty girl, whose natural disposition must have been gentle and kind; but her good feelings were soured, and her gentleness turned to morbid sensitiveness, by having heard a thousand and a thousand times that she was as good as any other lady, that all men were equal, and women too, and that it was a sin and a shame for a free-born American to be treated like a servant.


When she found she was to dine in the kitchen, she turned up her pretty lip, and said, "I guess that's 'cause you don't think I'm good enough to eat with you. You'll find that won't do here." I found afterwards that she rarely ate any dinner at all, and generally passed the time in tears. I did every thing in my power to conciliate and make her happy, but I am sure she hated me. I gave her very high wages, and she staid till she had obtained several expensive articles of dress, and then, UN BEAU MATIN, she came to me full dressed, and said, "I must go." "When shall you return, Charlotte?" "I expect you'll see no more of me." And so we parted. Her sister was also living with me, but her wardrobe was not yet completed, and she remained some weeks longer, till it was.
             
The famous Georgian era painting, "Heads of Six of Hogarth's Servants," was seen as almost subversive in its day. It is unique among other paintings of the time, as the artist William Hogarth, chose to depict 5 servants of his household, in a manner more like those of the wealthier classes in the mid to late 1700s.  With the butler, closely surrounded by the others in the center of the painting, it depicts a close knit group. And it is just their heads depicted, as opposed to the servants performing their routine household duties. Thus, the artwork not only dignifies them, but humanizes them as well. The painting was displayed conspicuously in his estate home in full view of Hogarth's somewhat bemused guests, while at the same time the servants' facial expressions were purposely painted to convey all of the sincerity and deference expected of servant-class members of the era.
                   
I fear it may be called bad taste to say so much concerning my domestics, but, nevertheless, the circumstances are so characteristic of America that I must recount another history relating to them. A few days after the departure of my ambitious belle, my cries for "Help" had been so effectual that another young lady presented herself, with the usual preface "I'm come to help you." I had been cautioned never to ask for a reference for character, as it would not only rob me of that help, but entirely prevent my ever getting another; so, five minutes after she entered she was installed, bundle and all, as a member of the family. She was by no means handsome, but there was an air of simple frankness in her manner that won us all. 

For my own part, I thought I had got a second Jeanie Deans; for she recounted to me histories of her early youth, wherein her plain good sense and strong mind had enabled her to win her way through a host of cruel step-mothers, faithless lovers, and cheating brothers. Among other things, she told me, with the appearance of much emotion, that she had found, since she came to town, a cure for all her sorrows, "Thanks and praise for it, I have got religion!" and then she asked if I would spare her to go to Meeting every Tuesday and Thursday evening; "You shall not have to want me, Mrs. Trollope, for our minister knows that we have all our duties to perform to man, as well as to God, and he makes the Meeting late in the evening that they may not cross one another." Who could refuse? Not I, and Nancy had leave to go to Meeting two evenings in the week, besides Sundays.



One night, that the mosquitoes had found their way under my net, and prevented my sleeping, I heard some one enter the house very late; I got up, went to the top of the stairs, and, by the help of a bright moon, recognised Nancy's best bonnet. I called to her: "You are very late." said I. "what is the reason of it?" "Oh, Mrs. Trollope," she replied, "I am late, indeed! We have this night had seventeen souls added to our flock. May they live to bless this night! But it has been a long sitting, and very warm; I'll just take a drink of water, and get to bed; you shan't find me later in the morning for it." Nor did I. She was an excellent servant, and performed more than was expected from her; moreover, she always found time to read the Bible several times in the day, and I seldom saw her occupied about any thing without observing that she had placed it near her.
 


At last she fell sick with the cholera, and her life was despaired of. I nursed her with great care, and sat up the greatest part of two nights with her. She was often delirious, and all her wandering thoughts seemed to ramble to heaven. "I have been a sinner," she said, "but I am safe in the Lord Jesus." When she recovered, she asked me to let her go into the country for a few days, to change the air, and begged me to lend her three dollars. While she was absent a lady called on me, and enquired, with some agitation, if my servant, Nancy Fletcher, were at home. I replied that she was gone into the country. "Thank God," she exclaimed, "never let her enter your doors again, she is the most abandoned woman in the town: a gentleman who knows you, has been told that she lives with you, and that she boasts of having the power of entering your house at any hour of night." She told me many other circumstances, unnecessary to repeat, but all tending to prove that she was a very dangerous inmate. 


I expected her home the next evening, and I believe I passed the interval in meditating how to get rid of her without an eclaircissement. At length she arrived, and all my study having failed to supply me with any other reason than the real one for dismissing her, I stated it at once. Not the slightest change passed over her countenance, but she looked steadily at me, and said, in a very civil tone, "I should like to know who told you." I replied that it could be of no advantage to her to know, and that I wished her to go immediately. "I am ready to go," she said, in the same quiet tone, "but what will you do for your three dollars?" "I must do without them, Nancy; good morning to you." "I must just put up my things," she said, and left the room. About half an hour afterwards, when we were all assembled at dinner, she entered with her usual civil composed air, "Well, I am come to wish you all goodbye," and with a friendly good-humoured smile she left us.



This adventure frightened me so heartily, that, notwithstanding I had the dread of cooking my own dinner before my eyes, I would not take any more young ladies into my family without receiving some slight sketch of their former history. At length I met with a very worthy French woman, and soon after with a tidy English girl to assist her; and I had the good fortune to keep them till a short time before my departure: so, happily, I have no more misfortunes of this nature to relate.
 
          
Such being the difficulties respecting domestic arrangements, it is obvious, that the ladies who are brought up amongst them cannot have leisure for any great development of the mind: it is, in fact, out of the question; and, remembering this, it is more surprising that some among them should be very pleasing, than that none should be highly instructed. 

Had I passed as many evenings in company in any other town that I ever visited as I did in Cincinnati, I should have been able to give some little account of the conversations I had listened to; but, upon reading over my notes, and then taxing my memory to the utmost to supply the deficiency, I can scarcely find a trace of any thing that deserves the name. Such as I have, shall be given in their place. But, whatever may be the talents of the persons who meet together in society, the very shape, form, and arrangement of the meeting is sufficient to paralyze conversation. The women invariably herd together at one part of the room, and the men at the other; but, in justice to Cincinnati, I must acknowledge that this arrangement is by no means peculiar to that city, or to the western side of the Alleghanies.

Sometimes a small attempt at music produces a partial reunion; a few of the most daring youths, animated by the consciousness of curled hair and smart waistcoats, approach the piano forte, and begin to mutter a little to the half-grown pretty things, who are comparing with one another "how many quarters' music they have had." Where the mansion is of sufficient dignity to have two drawing-rooms, the piano, the little ladies, and the slender gentlemen are left to themselves, and on such occasions the sound of laughter is often heard to issue from among them. But the fate of the more dignified personages, who are left in the other room, is extremely dismal.

The gentlemen spit, talk of elections and the price of produce, and spit again. The ladies look at each other's dresses till they know every pin by heart; talk of Parson Somebody's last sermon on the day of judgment, on Dr. T'otherbody's new pills for dyspepsia, till the "tea" is announced, when they all console themselves together for whatever they may have suffered in keeping awake, by taking more tea, coffee, hot cake and custard, hoe cake, johny cake, waffle cake, and dodger cake, pickled peaches, and preserved cucumbers, ham, turkey, hung beef, apple sauce, and pickled oysters than ever were prepared in any other country of the known world. After this massive meal is over, they return to the drawing-room, and it always appeared to me that they remained together as long as they could bear it, and then they rise EN MASSE, cloak, bonnet, shawl, and exit.


From "Domestic Manners of the Americans," first published in 1832, by Frances 'Fanny' Trollope, 1780—1863 (Mother of the author Anthony Trollope)




Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the
Site Moderator for Etiquipedia Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Regency Etiquette, Creoles and Quadroons of New Orleans

"I left England with feelings so strongly opposed to slavery, that it was not without pain I witnessed its effects around me." Frances Trollope, in Chapter 2 of "Domestic Manners of the Americans," first published in 1832 
"On first touching the soil of a new land, of a new continent, of a new world, it is impossible not to feel considerable excitement and deep interest in almost every object that meets us. New Orleans presents very little that can gratify the eye of taste, but nevertheless there is much of novelty and interest for a newly arrived European. The large proportion of blacks seen in the streets, all labour being performed by them; the grace and beauty of the elegant Quadroons, the occasional groups of wild and savage looking Indians, the unwonted aspect of the vegetation, the huge and turbid river, with its low and slimy shore, all help to afford that species of amusement which proceeds from looking at what we never saw before. 

The town has much the appearance of a French Ville de Province, and is, in fact, an old French colony taken from Spain by France. The names of the streets are French, and the language about equally French and English. The market is handsome and well supplied, all produce being conveyed by the river. We were much pleased by the chant with which the Negro boatmen regulate and beguile their labour on the river; it consists but of very few notes, but they are sweetly harmonious, and the Negro voice is almost always rich and powerful. 

By far the most agreeable hours I passed at New Orleans were those in which I explored with my children the forest near the town. It was our first walk in "the eternal forests of the western world," and we felt rather sublime and poetical. The trees, generally speaking, are much too close to be either large or well grown; and, moreover, their growth is often stunted by a parasitical plant, for which I could learn no other name than "Spanish moss;" it hangs gracefully from the boughs, converting the outline of all the trees it hangs upon into that of weeping willows.

The chief beauty of the forest in this region is from the luxuriant undergrowth of palmetos, which is decidedly the loveliest coloured and most graceful plant I know. The pawpaw, too, is a splendid shrub, and in great abundance. We here, for the first time, saw the wild vine, which we afterwards found growing so profusely in every part of America, as naturally to suggest the idea that the natives ought to add wine to the numerous production of their plenty-teeming soil. The strong pendant festoons made safe and commodious swings, which some of our party enjoyed, despite the sublime temperament above-mentioned. 

Notwithstanding it was mid-winter when we were at New Orleans, the heat was much more than agreeable, and the attacks of the mosquitos incessant, and most tormenting; yet I suspect that, for a short time, we would rather have endured it, than not have seen oranges, green peas, and red pepper, growing in the open air at Christmas. In one of our rambles we ventured to enter a garden, whose bright orange hedge attracted our attention; here we saw green peas fit for the table, and a fine crop of red pepper ripening in the sun. 
Agostina Bruins' "Women of Color with their Children and Servants in a Landscape"
A young Negress was employed on the steps of the house; that she was a slave made her an object of interest to us. She was the first slave we had ever spoken to, and I believe we all felt that we could hardly address her with sufficient gentleness. She little dreamed, poor girl, what deep sympathy she excited; she answered us civilly and gaily, and seemed amused at our fancying there was something unusual in red pepper pods; she gave us several of them, and I felt fearful lest a hard mistress might blame her for it. How very childish does ignorance make us! and how very ignorant we are upon almost every subject, where hearsay evidence is all we can get! I left England with feelings so strongly opposed to slavery, that it was not without pain I witnessed its effects around me. At the sight of every Negro man, woman, and child that passed, my fancy wove some little romance of misery, as belonging to each of them; since I have known more on the subject, and become better acquainted with their real situation in America, I have often smiled at recalling what I then felt. 

The first symptom of American equality that I perceived, was my being introduced in form to a milliner; it was not at a boarding-house, under the indistinct outline of "Miss C—," nor in the street through the veil of a fashionable toilette, but in the very penetralia of her temple, standing behind her counter, giving laws to ribbon and to wire, and ushering caps and bonnets into existence. She was an English woman, and I was told that she possessed great intellectual endowments, and much information; I really believe this was true. Her manner was easy and graceful, with a good deal of French tournure; and the gentleness with which her fine eyes and sweet voice directed the movements of a young female slave, was really touching: the way, too, in which she blended her French talk of modes with her customers, and her English talk of metaphysics with her friends, had a pretty air of indifference in it, that gave her a superiority with both. 

I found with her the daughter of a judge, eminent, it was said, both for legal and literary ability, and I heard from many quarters, after I had left New Orleans, that the society of this lady was highly valued by all persons of talent. Yet were I, traveller-like, to stop here, and set it down as a national peculiarity, or republican custom, that milliners took the lead in the best society, I should greatly falsify facts. I do not remember the same thing happening to me again, and this is one instance among a thousand, of the impression every circumstance makes on entering a new country, and of the propensity, so irresistible, to class all things, however accidental, as national and peculiar.
"Our stay in New Orleans was not long enough to permit our entering into society, but I was told that it contained two distinct sets of people, both celebrated, in their way, for their social meetings and elegant entertainments." 
On the other hand, however, it is certain that if similar anomalies are unfrequent in America, they are nearly impossible elsewhere. In the shop of Miss C— I was introduced to Mr. M'Clure, a venerable personage, of gentlemanlike appearance, who in the course of five minutes propounded as many axioms, as "Ignorance is the only devil;" "Man makes his own existence;" and the like. He was of the New Harmony school, or rather the New Harmony school was of him. He was a man of good fortune, (a Scotchman, I believe), who after living a tolerably gay life, had "conceived high thoughts, such as Lycurgus loved, who bade flog the little Spartans," and determined to benefit the species, and immortalize himself, by founding a philosophical school at New Harmony.

There was something in the hollow square legislations of Mr. Owen, that struck him as admirable, and he seems, as far as I can understand, to have intended aiding his views, by a sort of incipient hollow square drilling; teaching the young ideas of all he could catch, to shoot into parallelogramic form and order. This venerable philosopher, like all of his school that I ever heard of, loved better to originate lofty imaginings of faultless systems, than to watch their application to practice. With much liberality he purchased and conveyed to the wilderness a very noble collection of books and scientific instruments; but not finding among men one whose views were liberal and enlarged as his own, he selected a woman to put into action the machine he had organized.  

As his acquaintance with this lady had been of long standing, and, as it was said, very intimate, he felt sure that no violation of his rules would have place under her sway; they would act together as one being: he was to perform the functions of the soul, and will everything; she, those of the body, and perform everything. The principal feature of the scheme was, that (the first liberal outfit of the institution having been furnished by Mr. M'Clure,) the expense of keeping it up should be defrayed by the profits arising from the labours of the pupils, male and female, which was to be performed at stated intervals of each day, in regular rotation with learned study and scientific research. 
Famous creole, Madame Pierre Gautreau, in a painting by John Singer Sargent. The term "creole" was first used by French settlers to distinguish between someone born "from away" and anyone born in Louisiana. Someone could be African Creole, Native American Creole, French-Creole or Spanish-Creole.
But unfortunately the soul of the system found the climate of Indiana uncongenial to its peculiar formation, and, therefore, took its flight to Mexico, leaving the body to perform the operations of both, in whatever manner it liked best; and the body, being a French body, found no difficulty in setting actively to work without troubling the soul about it; and soon becoming conscious that the more simple was a machine, the more perfect were its operations, she threw out all that related to the intellectual part of the business, (which to do poor soul justice, it had laid great stress upon), and stirred herself as effectually as ever body did, to draw wealth from the thews and sinews of the youths they had collected. When last I heard of this philosophical establishment, she, and a nephew-son were said to be reaping a golden harvest, as many of the lads had been sent from a distance by indigent parents, for gratuitous education, and possessed no means of leaving it. 

Our stay in New Orleans was not long enough to permit our entering into society, but I was told that it contained two distinct sets of people, both celebrated, in their way, for their social meetings and elegant entertainments. The first of these is composed of Creole families, who are chiefly planters and merchants, with their wives and daughters; these meet together, eat together, and are very grand and aristocratic; each of their balls is a little Almack's, and every portly dame of the set is as exclusive in her principles as the excluded but amiable Quandroons, and such of the gentlemen of the former class as can by any means escape from the high places, where pure Creole blood swells the veins at the bare mention of any being tainted in the remotest degree with the Negro stain. 

Of all the prejudices I have ever witnessed, this appears to me the most violent, and the most inveterate. Quadroon girls, the acknowledged daughters of wealthy American or Creole fathers, educated with all of style and accomplishments which money can procure at New Orleans, and with all the decorum that care and affection can give; exquisitely beautiful, graceful, gentle, and amiable, these are not admitted, nay, are not on any terms admissable, into the society of the Creole families of Louisiana. They cannot marry; that is to say, no ceremony can render an union with them legal or binding; yet such is the powerful effect of their very peculiar grace, beauty, and sweetness of manner, that unfortunately they perpetually become the objects of choice and affection. If the Creole ladies have privilege to exercise the awful power of repulsion, the gentle Quadroon has the sweet but dangerous vengeance of possessing that of attraction.

The unions formed with this unfortunate race are said to be often lasting and happy, as far as any unions can be so, to which a certain degree of disgrace is attached. There is a French and an English theatre in the town; but we were too fresh from Europe to care much for either; or, indeed, for any other of the town delights of this city, and we soon became eager to commence our voyage up the Mississippi. Miss Wright, then less known (though the author of more than one clever volume) than she has since become, was the companion of our voyage from Europe; and it was my purpose to have passed some months with her and her sister at the estate she had purchased in Tennessee. This lady, since become so celebrated as the advocate of opinions that make millions shudder, and some half-score admire, was, at the time of my leaving England with her, dedicated to a pursuit widely different from her subsequent occupations. Instead of becoming a public orator in every town throughout America, she was about, as she said, to seclude herself for life in the deepest forests of the western world, that her fortune, her time, and her talents might be exclusively devoted to aid the cause of the suffering Africans.

Her first object was to shew that nature had made no difference between blacks and whites, excepting in complexion; and this she expected to prove by giving an education perfectly equal to a class of black and white children. Could this fact be once fully established, she conceived that the Negro cause would stand on firmer ground than it had yet done, and the degraded rank which they have ever held amongst civilized nations would be proved to be a gross injustice.
This question of the mental equality, or inequality between us, and the Negro race, is one of great interest, and has certainly never yet been fairly tried; and I expected for my children and myself both pleasure and information from visiting her establishment, and watching the success of her experiment.
"On the first of January, 1828, we embarked on board the Belvidere, a large and handsome boat..."
The innumerable steam boats, which are the stage coaches and fly waggons of this land of lakes and rivers, are totally unlike any I had seen in Europe, and greatly superior to them. The fabrics which I think they most resemble in appearance, are the floating baths (les bains Vigier) at Paris. The annexed drawing will give a correct idea of their form. The room to which the double line of windows belongs, is a very handsome apartment; before each window a neat little cot is arranged in such a manner as to give its drapery the air of a window curtain. This room is called the gentlemen's cabin, and their exclusive right to it is somewhat uncourteously insisted upon. The breakfast, dinner, and supper are laid in this apartment, and the lady passengers are permitted to take their meals there. On the first of January, 1828, we embarked on board the Belvidere, a large and handsome boat; though not the largest or handsomest of the many which displayed themselves along the wharfs; but she was going to stop at Memphis, the point of the river nearest to Miss Wright's residence, and she was the first that departed after we had got through the customhouse, and finished our sight-seeing.

We found the room destined for the use of the ladies dismal enough, as its only windows were below the stem gallery; but both this and the gentlemen's cabin were handsomely fitted up, and the former well carpeted; but oh! that carpet! I will not, I may not describe its condition; indeed it requires the pen of a Swift to do it justice. Let no one who wishes to receive agreeable impressions of American manners, commence their travels in a Mississippi steam boat; for myself, it is with all sincerity I declare, that I would infinitely prefer sharing the apartment of a party of well conditioned pigs to the being confined to its cabin.

I hardly know any annoyance so deeply repugnant to English feelings, as the incessant, remorseless spitting of Americans. I feel that I owe my readers an apology for the repeated use of this, and several other odious words; but I cannot avoid them, without suffering the fidelity of description to escape me. It is possible that in this phrase, "Americans," I may be too general. The United States form a continent of almost distinct nations, and I must now, and always, be understood to speak only of that portion of them which I have seen. In conversing with Americans I have constantly found that if I alluded to anything which they thought I considered as uncouth, they would assure me it was local, and not national; the accidental peculiarity of a very small part, and by no means a specimen of the whole. "That is because you know so little of America," is a phrase I have listened to a thousand times, and in nearly as many different places. It may be so—and having made this concession, I protest against the charge of injustice in relating what I have seen.

From "Domestic Manners of the Americans," first published in 1832, by Frances 'Fanny' Trollope, 1780—1863 (Mother of the author Anthony Trollope)


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the
Site Moderator for Etiquipedia Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Etiquette of the Regency and Victorian Balls and Assembly Rooms


"Dance only from the hips downwards" was the guiding etiquette rule.

Dancing has been defined as a "graceful movement of the body, adjusted by art to the measures or tunes of instruments, or of voice;" and again, "agreeable to the true genius of the art, dancing is the art of expressing the sentiments of the mind, or the passions, by measured steps or bounds made in cadence, by regulated motions of the figure and by graceful gestures; all performed to the sound of musical instruments or the voice."



Lord Chesterfield, in his letters to his son, says: "Dancing is, in itself, a very trifling and silly thing: but it is one of those established follies to which people of sense are sometimes obliged to conform; and then they should be able to do it well. And though I would not have you a dancer, yet, when you do dance, I would have you dance well, as I would have you do everything you do well." 


In another letter, he writes: "Do you mind your dancing while your dancing master is with you? As you will be often under the necessity of dancing a minuet, I would have you dance it very well. Remember that the graceful motion of the arms, the giving of your hand, and the putting off and putting on of your hat genteelly, are the material parts of a gentleman's dancing. But the greatest advantage of dancing well is, that it necessarily teaches you to present yourself, to sit, stand, and walk genteelly; all of which are of real importance to a man of fashion."


When a gentleman accompanies a lady to a ball he will at once proceed with her to the door of the ladies' dressing-room, there leaving her; and then repair to the gentlemen's dressing-room. In the mean time, the lady, after adjusting her toilet, will retire to the ladies' sitting-room or wait at the door of the dressing-room, according as the apartments may be arranged. After the gentleman has divested himself of hat, etc., and placed the same in the care of the man having charge of the hat-room, receiving therefor a check, and after arranging his toilet, he will proceed to the ladies' sitting-room, or wait at the entrance to the ladies' dressing-room for the lady whom he accompanies, and with her enter the ball-room. The ladies' dressing-room is a sacred precinct, into which no gentleman should ever presume to look; to enter it would be an outrage not to be overlooked or forgiven.

                                      
A gentleman introduced to a lady by a floor manager, or the Master of Ceremonies, should not be refused by the lady if she be not already engaged, for her refusal would be a breach of good manners, regardless of his height.


With the etiquette of a ball-room, so far as it goes, there are but few people unacquainted. Certain persons are appointed to act as floor managers, or there will be a "Master of the Ceremonies," whose office it is to see that everything be conducted in a proper manner: if you are entirely a stranger, it is to them you must apply for a partner, and point out (quietly) any young lady with whom you should like to dance, when, if there be no obvious inequality of position, they will present you for that purpose; should there be an objection, they will probably select some one they consider more suitable; but do not, on any account, go to a strange lady by yourself, and request her to dance, as she will unhesitatingly "decline the honor," and think you an impertinent fellow for your presumption.



A gentleman introduced to a lady by a floor manager, or the Master of Ceremonies, should not be refused by the lady if she be not already engaged, for her refusal would be a breach of good manners: as the Master of Ceremonies is supposed to be careful to introduce only gentlemen who are unexceptionable. But a gentleman who is unqualified as a dancer should never seek an introduction.



At a private party, a gentleman may offer to dance with a lady without an introduction, but at balls the rule is different. The gentleman should respectfully offer his arm to the lady who consents to dance with him, and lead her to her place. At the conclusion of the set he will conduct her to a seat, offer her any attention, or converse with her. A gentleman should not dance with his wife, and not too often with the lady to whom he is engaged.



Any presentation to a lady in a public ball-room, for the mere purpose of dancing, does not entitle you to claim her acquaintance afterwards; therefore, should you meet her, at most you may lift your hat; but even that is better avoided—unless, indeed, she first bows— as neither she nor her friends can know who or what you are.



In inviting a lady to dance with you, the words, "Will you honor me with your hand for a quadrille?" or, "Shall I have the honor of dancing this set with you?" are more used now than "Shall I have the pleasure?" or, "Will you give me the pleasure of dancing with you?" If she answers that she is engaged, merely request her to name the earliest dance for which she is not engaged, and when she will do you the honor of dancing with you.



When a young lady declines dancing with a gentleman, it is her duty to give him a reason why, although some thoughtless ones do not. No matter how frivolous it may be, it is simply an act of courtesy to offer him an excuse; while, on the other hand, no gentleman ought so far to compromise his self-respect as to take the slightest offence at seeing a lady by whom he has just been refused, dance immediately after with some one else.



Never wait until the signal is given to take a partner, for nothing is more impolite than to invite a lady hastily, and when the dancers are already in their places; it can be allowed only when the set is incomplete.



Be very careful not to forget an engagement. It is an unpardonable breach of politeness to ask a lady to dance with you, and neglect to remind her of her promise when the time to redeem it comes.



If a friend be engaged when you request her to dance, and she promises to be your partner for the next or any of the following dances, do not neglect her when the time comes, but be in readiness to fulfill your office as her cavalier, or she may think that you have studiously slighted her, besides preventing her obliging some one else. 
Even inattention and forgetfulness, by showing how little you care for a lady, form in themselves a tacit insult.


In a quadrille, or other dance, while awaiting the music, or while unengaged, a lady and gentleman should avoid long conversations, as they are apt to interfere with the progress of the dance; while, on the other hand, a gentleman should not stand like an automaton, as though he were afraid of his partner, but endeavor to render himself agreeable by those "airy nothings" which amuse for the moment, and are in harmony with the occasion. The customary honors of a bow and courtesy should be given at the commencement and conclusion of each dance.
               
Unless a man has a very graceful figure, and can use it with great elegance, it is better for him to walk through the quadrilles, or invent some gliding movement for the occasion.

Lead the lady through the quadrille; do not drag her, nor clasp her hand as if it were made of wood, lest she, not unjustly, think you a bear. You will not, if you are wise, stand up in a quadrille without knowing something of “the figure; and if you are master of a few of the steps, so much the better. But dance quietly; do not kick and caper about, nor sway your body to and fro; dance only from the hips downwards; and lead the lady as lightly as you would tread a measure with a spirit of gossamer.


Do not pride yourself on doing the "steps neatly," unless you are ambitious of being taken for a dancing-master; between whose motions and those of a gentleman there is a great difference. 
Unless a man has a very graceful figure, and can use it with great elegance, it is better for him to walk through the quadrilles, or invent some gliding movement for the occasion.


When a lady is standing in a quadrille, though not engaged in dancing, a gentleman not acquainted with her partner should not converse with her. When an unpracticed dancer makes a mistake, we may apprise him of his error; but it would be very impolite to have the air of giving him a lesson.


Immediate attention should be paid to any request made by the Master of Ceremonies, and all misunderstandings respecting the dance should be referred to him, his decision being deemed final. Otherwise his superintendence of the ball will be attended with great inconvenience.


When forming for quadrilles, if by any oversight you should accidentally occupy another couple's place, on being informed of the intrusion, you should immediately apologize to the incommoded party, and secure another position. Contending for a position in quadrilles, at either head or sides, indicates an irritable and quarrelsome disposition altogether unsuited for an occasion where all should meet with kindly feelings.



When a company is divided into different sets, persons should not attempt to change their places without permission from the Master of Ceremonies. No persons engaged in a quadrille or other dance that requires their assistance to complete the set, should leave the room or sit down before the dance is finished, unless on a very urgent occasion, and not even then without previously informing the Master of Ceremonies, that he may find substitutes. If a lady waltz with you, beware not to press her waist; you must only lightly touch it with the palm of your hand, lest you leave a disagreeable impression not only on her ceinture, but on her mind.


Above all, do not be prone to quarrel in a ball-room; it disturbs the harmony of the company, and should be avoided if possible. Recollect that a thousand little derelictions from strict propriety may occur through the ignorance or stupidity of the aggressor, and not from any intention to annoy; remember, also, that the really well-bred women will not thank you for making them conspicuous by over-officiousness in their defence, unless, indeed, there be some serious or glaring violation of decorum. In small matters, ladies are both able and willing to take care of themselves, and would prefer being allowed to overwhelm the unlucky offender in their own way.

When a gentleman has occasion to pass through an assemblage of ladies, where it is absolutely impossible to make his way without disturbing them; or when he is obliged to go in front, because he cannot get behind them, it is but common courtesy for him to express his regret at being compelled to annoy them. A gentleman having two ladies in charge may, in the absence of friends, address a stranger, and offer him a partner, asking his name previous to an introduction, and mentioning that of the lady to him or not, as he may think proper.


It is improper to engage or reëngage a lady to dance without the permission of her partner. Never forget that ladies are to be first cared for, to have the best seats, the places of distinction, and are entitled in all cases to your courteous protection. Young ladies should avoid sauntering through an assembly-room alone; they should either be accompanied by their guardian or a gentleman. Neither married nor young ladies should leave a ball-room assemblage, or other party, unattended. The former should be accompanied by other married ladies, and the latter by their mother or guardian. Of course, a gentleman is a sufficient companion for either.



Young ladies should avoid attempting to take part in a dance, particularly a quadrille, unless they are familiar with the figures. Besides rendering themselves awkward and confused, they are apt to create ill-feeling, by interfering with, and annoying others. It were better for them to forego the gratification of dancing than to risk the chances of making themselves conspicuous, and the subject of animadversion. 


As we have elsewhere said, modesty of deportment should be the shining and preëminent characteristic of woman. She should be modest in her attire, in language, in manners and general demeanor. Beauty becomes irresistible when allied to this lodestone of attraction; plainness of features is overlooked by it; even positive homeliness is rendered agreeable by its influence.



When a gentleman escorts a lady to a ball, he should dance with her first, or offer so to do; and it should be his care to see that she is provided with a partner whenever she desires to dance. After dancing, a gentleman should invariably conduct a lady to a seat, unless she otherwise desires; and, in fact, a lady should not be unattended, at any time, in a public assembly.



When you conduct your partner to her seat, thank her for the pleasure she has conferred upon you, and do not remain too long conversing with her. When that long and anxiously desiderated hour, the hour of supper, has arrived, you hand the lady you attend up or down to the supper-table. You remain with her while she is at the table, seeing that she has all that she desires, and then conduct her back to the dancing-rooms.


If, while walking up and down a public promenade, you should meet friends or acquaintances whom you don't intend to join, it is only necessary to salute them the first time of passing; to bow or nod to them at every round would be tiresome and therefore improper; have no fear that they will deem you odd or unfriendly, as, if they have any sense at all, they can appreciate your reasons. If you have anything to say to them, join them at once.



We have already alluded to the necessity of discarding all cant terms and phrases from conversation, not only in assembly-rooms, but on all occasions; and we would particularly caution our young lady friends against even the recognition of those équivoques and double entendre which the other sex sometimes inconsiderately, but oftener determinedly, introduce.



Neither by smiles nor blushes should they betray any knowledge of the hidden meaning that lurks within a phrase of doubtful import, nor seem to recognize anything which they could not with propriety openly make a subject of discourse. All indelicate expressions should be to them as the Sanscrit language is to most people, incomprehensible. All wanton glances and grimaces, which are by libertines considered as but so many invitations to lewdness, should be strictly shunned.



No lady can be too fastidious in her conduct, or too guarded in her actions. A bad reputation is almost as destructive of happiness to her as absolute guilt; and of her character we may say with the poet: “A breath can make them, or a breath unmake."


In dancing, generally, the performers of both sexes should endeavor to wear a pleasant countenance; and in presenting hands, a slight inclination of the head, in the manner of a salutation, is appropriate and becoming. Dancing is certainly supposed to be an enjoyment, but the sombre countenance of some who engage in it, might almost lead to the belief that it were a solemn duty being performed. If those who laugh in church would transfer their merriment to the assembly-room, and those who are sad in the assembly-room would carry their gravity to the church, they both might discover the appositeness of Solomon's declaration, that "there is a time to be merry and a time to be sad."
                         
The "Father of English Grammar,” Lindley Murray


We have already alluded to the importance of a correct use of language in conversation, and though we are aware that it is absolutely impossible to practice it without a certain degree of education, yet we would urge that the habit which many acquire, more through carelessness than ignorance, of disregarding it, is worthy of consideration. Many a young lady has lost a future husband by a wanton contempt for the rules of Lindley Murray.

Though hardly a case in point, we cannot forego the opportunity of recording an incident in the career of a young man "about town," who, anxious to see life in all its phases, was induced to attend a public ball, the patrons of which were characterized more for their peculiarity of manners than their extraordinary refinement. 


On being solicited by an acquaintance, whom he respected for his kindness of heart and integrity rather than for his mental accomplishments, to dance with his daughter, he consented, and was accordingly introduced to a very beautiful young lady. Ere the dance commenced, and while the musicians were performing the "Anvil Chorus," from "Trovatore," the young lady asked: "Do you know what that 'ere is?" Supposing that she meant air, and wishing to give her an opportunity of making herself happy in the thought of imparting a valuable piece of information, in utter disregard of the principles of Mrs. Opie, he replied, "No." "Why," said she, "that's the Anvel Core-ri-ous." With an expletive more profane than polite, he suddenly found his admiration for the lady as much diminished by her ignorance, as it had before been exalted by her beauty.


At private assemblies, it should be the effort of both ladies and gentlemen to render themselves as agreeable as possible to all parties. With this purpose in view, the latter should, therefore, avoid showing marked preferences to particular ladies, either by devoting their undivided attentions or dancing exclusively with them. Too often, the belle of the evening, with no other charms than beauty of form and feature, monopolizes the regards of a circle of admirers, while modest merit, of less personal attraction, is both overlooked and neglected. 


We honor the generous conduct of those, particularly the "well-favored," who bestow their attentions on ladies who, from conscious lack of beauty, least expect them. “On the other hand, no lady, however numerous the solicitations of her admirers, should consent to dance repeatedly, when, by so doing, she excludes other ladies from participating in the same amusement; still less, as we have elsewhere hinted, should she dance exclusively with the same gentleman, to the disadvantage of others.


Both ladies and gentlemen should be careful about introducing persons to each other without being first satisfied that such a course will be mutually agreeable. The custom, in this country, particularly among gentlemen, of indiscriminate introductions, is carried to such a ridiculous extent, that it has often been made the subject of comment by foreigners, who can discover no possible advantage in being made acquainted with others with whom they are not likely to associate for three minutes, in whom they take not the slightest interest, and whom they probably will never again encounter, nor recognize if they should. Besides, every one has a right to exercise his own judgment and taste in the selection of acquaintances, and it is clearly a breach of politeness to thrust them upon your friend or associate, without knowing whether it will be agreeable to either party.


From “Martine's Hand-book of Etiquette, and Guide to True Politeness”