Monday, December 26, 2016

Quaint Customs and Etiquette

To "take one's dust" was a common expression or contempt. The custom was not without its uses in its day. But will it be believed that at the close of the nineteenth century this etiquette of the road is rigidly maintained, and that among well-bred people each equipage has to take the gait of the slowest?

Old-Time Virginia
Regions Yet Untouched 
by Nineteenth Century Innovations

The genuine, untouched Virginian of today has often been declared to be the most complete survival of eighteenth century England now in existence. There are certain eighteenth century customs and manners in common use here that have not been heard of in a hundred years in England. One of the quaintest is a custom of the road which died out in England when the post road and the traveling chariot went out of vogue. In those days, it was considered almost an affront for one traveler in a carriage to drive past another going the same way.


The traveling class was made up generally of the rich and leisurely, and as they bowled along in their coaches to have another coach dash by and give back its dust, and perhaps incite the coachman to a race, was considered highly indecorous. To "take one's dust" was a common expression or contempt. The custom was not without its uses in its day. But will it be believed that at the close of the nineteenth century this etiquette of the road is rigidly maintained, and that among well-bred people each equipage has to take the gait of the slowest? 

True it is, some iconoclasts and outsiders drive past their fellow travelers without compunction, but they, therefore, prove their claim to be called iconoclasts and outsiders. When it is a very pressing case, an apology is called out such as "Pray excuse me, but my horse is restless," or "I am in haste to catch the boat," or something of the kind. But to drive ruthlessly ahead without a word of apology is considered the acme of ill breeding. –
Boston Evening Transcript, 1893

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