In the management of any respectable Victorian household, neatness, tidiness, good taste and economy all have their place. However, a home should not just be a warm place to sit by the fire, but a place which warms the heart as well.
After our first foray in to the world of proper pronunciation for Victorian ladies and gentleman, it seems that a second consideration of this weighty matter would not go amiss. After all, it is very important that a lady or gentleman not only looks the part, or acts the part, but also sounds the part.
Returning once more to aid any aspiring ladies and gentlemen in perfecting their knowledge of etiquette, Behind The Past will focus here on the conduct required of them in the ballroom. A ballroom is a place – or, at least, it ought to be a place – of elegance and refinement. It should be a place where courtesy, civility and general all-round social polish reign. It should not be a place tainted with impropriety or vulgarity.
It can be terribly embarrassing to mispronounce things, particularly names. And some people take genuine offence if the pronunciation of their name or castle should falter on another person’s lips. If you are in any doubt as to the correct pronunciation, when in the midst of a conversation, it might just be best to talk around that particular word and carry on as best you can.
However, with the aid of an authoritative tome, Manners and Rules of Good Society, we shall endeavour to highlight some especially trying words and to clarify the best way of pronouncing them.
Money is one of those often fraught and unfortunate matters which it sometimes seems impossible to escape. After all, how many times has it pitched up its tent in the centre of this concern or that quarrel? It is perhaps a rather beastly subject with which to grapple. Some might wish we could do away with it entirely.
However, unless that ever actually happens, it is a gentleman’s duty to understand and manage his financial affairs. And so, Behind The Past will do battle with the foe as it currently stands, and hope that, in so doing, some helpful advice might be imparted to any interested parties of gentlemen.
As we have already considered this matter for ladies, it seems only fair that we now turn our attention to the gentlemen. After all, dress is not a primarily female concern and it would be silly to pretend that no man has ever been perturbed by the sense that he has not quite ‘got it right’ on one occasion or another. So, in order to set any gentlemen readers on the path to a future both sensible and stylish, Behind The Past has sought guidance from our dear American friends, as to what they ought (and ought not) to be wearing.
However, the fundamental point to be stressed here, as it was previously stressed for ladies, is that the true mark of a gentleman in his good conduct. Circumstances, whatever they may be, may cause him to dress poorly. However, he will never behave poorly.
In this fourth part in our collection of advice for the aspiring Victorian lady or gentleman, we shall turn our attention to behaviour whilst ‘out and about’. And, we shall take our guidance from our dear American cousins.
Correct behaviour in the daily undertakings of life is as important as correct behaviour at the grandest ball or dinner. Good manners are not things that should only be brought out for special occasions. Indeed, they should be woven into the very fabric of our beings.
It is always possible to tell if someone is a lady, regardless of what they are wearing. A lady is unfailingly polite and considerate. Manners and morals are the mark of a true lady, not her dress, and certainly not her dedication to fashion.
Nevertheless, a lady will always endeavour to be appropriately attired. By dressing correctly, she shows her respect for others and the situation at hand. She would not go to a wedding in her riding clothes, and she would not go to go shopping in a ball gown.
In this most recent five-point guide to proper etiquette, we take the display of accomplishments as our theme.
It has often been remarked that young ladies are now more accomplished than ever before. We are taught to dance and sing and play and paint and embroider and the list goes on… But all of these are worthless, if a young lady does not display them in a manner which is to her benefit. Thus, the next time you are called upon to ‘exhibit’, as they say, here are some words of advice that it might be worth bearing in mind:
The title of this piece, while hoping to be vaguely amusing, is not in any way intended to disparage men. Men and women are equally possessed of the ability to embody many amiable qualities and laudable virtues. Indeed, if all of us were as amiable and virtuous as we perhaps ought to be, then no word regarding the ‘management’ of another would ever need to pass our lips. But, it is apparent that we seem, as a species, to be sadly disposed towards error and fault. Therefore, we must by necessity equip ourselves with a plan to enforce our own scrupulous conduct, and for a back-up plan to respond to the oversights of others.
Embarking such a topic, for all humanity and for all possible social situations in its entirety, would result in a rather hefty tome. It would be beyond the scope of the humble advice put together here. Thus the scope of management guidance has been reduced, and it is from this reduction that the title has arisen. Our guidance aims to help the young lady as she embarks upon the exciting voyage of entering Society. It is intended to help her conduct herself with scrupulous propriety, as she makes the acquaintance of nice gentlemen.