In this age of elegance, what is one to do with the many hours of all play and no work? Jack may very well become a dull boy indeed, toiling away at his desk. But the young lady who sits in languorous boredom will, after a not particularly long length of time, also find herself falling into the same trap.
Moreover, while activity and employment may be beneficial to a lady, they may also be necessary. Unless she has the means to entirely give over the running of her establishment to a housekeeper, it is likely that she will have to devote some of her time to managing her domestic arrangements.
Therefore, we shall embark upon a guide as to how a lady might best use her morning.
It is important to recall that ‘the morning’ is not simply marked by the hours on a timepiece, but by a timeframe in which the social niceties of Society’s days take place. ‘The morning’, in terms of ‘morning activities’, can extend well into the afternoon and can be said to encompass all the hours between hours between rising from bed and going in to dinner.
Now that we have established the scope of the morning, we shall attend to those tasks which must be accomplished within its hours. Indeed, the lady who has no activity with which to fill her hours must be a rare creature.
To begin, the morning hours are the time to address any household concerns with the relevant staff, and organise the effective running of domestic affairs. It falls upon the lady of the house to oversee domestic arrangements, and of course she may be aided in this by her daughters or other female relatives. Creating a happy circle of comfort and refinement in one’s home takes time, energy and diligence. It is not a task to be approached lightly.
Beyond this, a lady should use the morning hours to see to her correspondence. Of course, this may be as much a pleasure as a necessity. However, a lady would be thought very remiss, and inattentive to her friends and general acquaintance, if she was slow to reply to the letters she had received. This social duty also applies to calls. It shows a poor management of one’s social affairs, or a lack of thought, if one takes too long to return a call or fails to make the appropriate calls upon neighbours.
Of course, letter writing and visiting can be very enjoyable activities. Moreover, it is certainly not our suggestion that a lady should take no time to engage in pleasant occupations!
A lady may wish to practice her accomplishments, in needlework, drawing, playing or all of the above. A great deal of personal satisfaction can be gained from these arts. A lady could also choose to engage in an active pursuit, or simply enjoy some fresh air. To that end, she might walk or ride. Or, if she simply wants a quiet morning, she might find a comfortable spot and a nice book.
In short, it is possible for a lady to both enjoy, and usefully employ, the morning hours. If she should wish to know more on any of the subjects discussed here, she could perhaps refer to other guides available in our modest Handbook:
Lane, Maggie, Jane Austen’s World: The Life and Times of England’s Most Popular Author, (Great Britain: Carlton Books, 1996).
Ross, Josephine, Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades and Horrible Blunders, (London: Bloomsbury, 2006).