Sunday, July 24, 2016

19th C. Etiquette Advice for Gents

Even at home, it is a folly to sit by the fire in a slovenly state, consoling oneself with the remark, "Nobody will call to-day." Should somebody call we are in no plight to receive them, and otherwise it is an injury to the character to allow slovenly habits to control us even when we are unseen. 

Frequent consultation of the watch or time-pieces is impolite, either when at home or abroad. If at home, it appears as if you were tired of your company and wished them to be gone; if abroad, as if the hours dragged heavily, and you were calculating how soon you would be released.


Never read in company. A gentleman or lady may, however, look over a book of engravings with propriety.


The simpler, and the more easy and unconstrained your manners, the more you will impress people of your good breeding. Affectation is one of the brazen marks of vulgarity.


It is very unbecoming to exhibit petulance, or angry feeling, though it is indulged in so largely in almost every circle. The true gentleman does not suffer his countenance to be easily ruffled; and we only look paltry when we suffer temper to hurry us into ill-judged expressions of feeling. "He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly."


Commands should never be given in a commanding tone. A gentleman requests, he does not command. We are not to assume so much importance, whatever our station, as to give orders in the "imperative mood," nor are we ever justified in thrusting the consciousness of servitude on any one. The blunder of commanding sternly is most frequently committed by those who have themselves but just escaped servitude, and we should not exhibit to others a weakness so unbecoming.


It is a great thing to be able to walk like a gentleman—that is, to get rid of the awkward, lounging, swinging gait of a clown, and stop before you reach the affected and flippant step of a dandy. In short, nothing but being a gentleman can ever give you the air and step of one. A man who has a shallow or an impudent brain will be quite sure to show it in his heels, in spite of all that rules of manners can do for him.


A gentleman never sits in the house with his hat on in the presence of ladies for a single moment. Indeed, so strong is the force of habit, that a gentleman will quite unconsciously remove his hat on entering a parlor, or drawing-room, even if there is no one present but himself. People who sit in the house with their hats on are to be suspected of having spent the most of their time in bar-rooms, and similar places. A gentleman never sits with his hat on in the theater. Gentlemen do not generally sit even in an eating-room with their hats on, if there is any convenient place to put them.


The books on etiquette will tell you, that on waiting on a lady into a carriage, or the box of a theater, you are to take off your hat; but such is not the custom among polite people in this country. The inconvenience of such a rule is a good reason against its observance in a country where the practice of politeness has in it nothing of the servility which is often attached to it in countries where the code of etiquette is dictated by the courts of monarchy. In handing a lady into a carriage, a gentleman may need to employ both his hands, and he has no third hand to hold on to his hat.


Cleanliness of person is a distinguishing trait of every well-bred person; and this not on state occasions only, but at all times, even at home. It is a folly to sit by the fire in a slovenly state, consoling oneself with the remark, "Nobody will call to-day." Should somebody call we are in no plight to receive them, and otherwise it is an injury to the character to allow slovenly habits to control us even when we are unseen.
— “Martine's Hand-book of Etiquette, and Guide to True Politeness," 1866



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