Once again, we charge headlong into the fray of proper etiquette. However, one need not be afraid, if one is properly armed. And with the help of our carefully crafted series of guides, armed you most certainly are!
And so, with part four, we will largely discuss the topics of morning and evening activities, and matters of rank and taste.
- You may concern yourself with private activities and interests in the morning, but in the evening you should exert yourself to attend to the needs and entertainment of others. It may, at times, be perfectly acceptable to sit quietly with book. But you should not neglect your family – perhaps you could offer to find something to read aloud? This becomes even more important if you happen to be entertaining guests. A sullen and reclusive host is all well and good in a novel, but they are rarely popular in real life!
- With regards to morning and evening activities, you should also recall that these are often divided between the genders. The ladies and gentleman normally mix in the evening. Of course, feel free to engineer a (chaperoned) walk with a gentleman who has taken your fancy. However, do not do anything as ridiculous as suggest you join him on a shoot!
- Etiquette and manners are not a replacement for decency and morality. When organising or partaking in activities, remember the thoughts and feelings of those around you. Remember to include in your invitations those who may, for instance, be living in reduced circumstances and may thus be slighted by others.
- Also, with regards to rank and precedence, always consider what is due to others and show appropriate deference. Whether in your own home or someone else’s, always bear in mind who is the principal person in the room, and who is in charge of the house.
- Slander, scandal and gossip should be avoided at all costs. They are ill-bred, and if you are drawn into such a conversation, you will most likely come to regret it in due course.
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).