Thursday, March 10, 2011

Victorian Etiquette

While researching I came across some rules of Victorian etiquette and thought to myself how happy I am to live in this day and age. Of course we have our own rules of etiquette. First in line seems to be - "There are no rules." But that aside, I wanted to share a few rules our Victorian ancestors had to deal with.

When you went visitng and found no one to be at home, the following was the rule:

"In leaving cards, you must distribute them; one for the lady of the house, others for her daughters, a note for the master of the house, but you must never leave more than 3 cards at a house, at a time."

Ladies if you want to go for a walk or to shop, you must heed the following:

"Ladies may walk unattended in the street, being careful to neither walk with a hurried step, do not stand in front of shop windows and stare in, do not look backward, nor acknowledge strangers who venture to address you. Be sure that you get home before dark and do not be out even after dusk."

Or how about this:

"A lady should neither remove her shawl nor bonnet, even if politely asked, unless they are in the presence of a particularly special friend, and then only with the help of the lady of the house."

And important to consider for conversations:

"Avoid talking of the opera in the presence of those who do not frequent it. Never ask anyone who is conversing with you to repeat his words. Always refrain from explaining any expression or word you may use. At all cost shun the vulgar habit of joking at the expense of women. To use phrases with double meanings is positively insulting. Never ask a lady a question about anything."

Of course single men and women had to be very careful regarding their encounters:

"Upon your arrival, if Miss Jones is home, but Mrs. Jones is not at home, you should leave a card, because young ladies do not receive calls from gentlemen, unless they are very intimate with them."

And last but certainly not least:

"Don't lean your head against the wall. You will either ruin the paper or you'll get lime in your hair."

Hmmm lime in your hair doesn't sound like any fun to me. Makes me glad I haven't any wallpaper. In fact, I'm glad that most of these rules have gone by the wayside. Of course there are a few I think we'd be better off keeping - rules that encourage modesty, purity, safety and polite interaction would definitely be worth giving additional consideration.

So I'll leave this as my calling card and pray that you have a wonderful week.

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