Social Success: Five Pieces of Victorian Etiquette (Part Three)

Behind The Past has once again delved into the social niceties of our age in order to furnish you with the finest points of etiquette in handy, bite-sized chunks.

While some may argue that etiquette is becoming obsolete in our increasingly mobile and mechanical world, it is our contention that manners (and their good friend, morals) are only becoming more important. As we are confronted with the fraught hustle and bustle of modernity, we appreciate kind words and thoughtful consideration more than ever. If you can display these, people will view your company as both a balm and a refuge. And then, you will be able to charm your colleagues, beguile your beau and make your way up the Victorian social ladder.

On this occasion, we have used an excellent compendium of advice, Our Deportment, compiled by Mr John Young. Some points of particular note are detailed below:

  1. If you ever find yourself needing to cough, sneeze or clear your throat, do so as quickly and discreetly as possible.
  2. Puns should never be used in any conversation. They are universally vulgar.
  3. Never stand or sit with your feet a large distance apart. This is also vulgar.
  4. Never, ever point at anything. If you must draw attention to something, gesture smoothly and gracefully using the whole hand.
  5. With regards to rank and precedence, it is far better to ensure that it is observed for others, than to remind people of your own.

Do not concern yourself if you feel you require further advice or instruction. Further Five Point Guides will naturally appear in due course and you can read our earlier guides here and here.


Young, John, Our Deportment (Or, The Manners, Conduct And Dress Of The Most Refined Society), (Detroit: F.B. Dickerson & Co., 1881).

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