Friday, April 8, 2016

Edwardian Women's Manners

Have we made our sweet women's voices shrill by overmuch shouting, and in our desire to be dogmatic, ceased to be persuasive? But these are questions one only dares to ask, with the bated breath of a generation hurrying to go to the polls.


According to the London Daily News
English Women Are Losing Manners

Are we losing our manners? Alas, for the answer to that question; we have but to look around us — in a world which has forgotten its manners, if indeed, it ever remembered them! The decay of manners is writ only too large on the face of our up to date life.

The decay of good manners is the tragedy of modern life — and what is the reason? Why are good manners practically extinct? To all such questions there must be an answer — and it is purely worth the seeking, says the London Daily News.

Is it the motor craze that leaves us no time to be polite? "The very word is like a bell" that tolls us back to early Victorian days, when our grandmothers learned eitquette out of prim manuals, and the making of a gentleman was voted the most important part of a liberal education. For our forbears believed that as good old William of Wyckham said it, "Manners makyth man"; how much more do they make woman!


Are "phones" at the bottom of the matter? One has an uneasy suspicion that the telephone has much to answer for in destroying the conversational ideal; "A voice soft, gentle and low, is," the poet assures us, "an excellent thing in woman." But when that same voice cries "Hello! are you there?" it does not "sound her ideal greeting." 

Or is the aeroplaning mania that in responsible for our rough and ready deportment? To came down to "terra firma" — for there must we ultimately alight — is it possible that women's clubs have anything to do with the disappearance of polite ideals? Has the subtle influence of the smoking room, with its "laissez-faire" atmosphere, and abrogation of once revered etiquette, tended to minimize those little courtesies? For there is distinct feeling abroad that it is a waste of time to stand on ceremony with one's neighbor, and a democratic age scoffs at what it deems the airs and graces of a courtlier era. 

Lastly, there is one other suggestion that may be hazarded — though the writer ventures to throw it out with the utmost diffidence, nay, hardly dare she whimper it — even though it be the "silly season." Has the suffrage anything to do with the decay of manners in our midst? Have we made our sweet women's voices shrill by overmuch shouting, and in our desire to be dogmatic, ceased to be persuasive? But these are questions one only dares to ask, with the bated breath of a generation hurrying to go to the polls. — San Francisco Call, 1910


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