As we’ve mentioned before, the Victorian era was the height of the etiquette boom, and all it takes is a quick look on Google Books to see just how many people fancied themselves experts and got book deals (hint hint, anyone in the position to give us a book deal). One such book I came across was Woman in Her Various Relations: Containing Practical Rules for American Females by Mrs. L.G. Abell, which she introduces by saying “the allotments and responsibilities of Woman, in her own appropriate sphere, should be brought before the mind in their true weight and importance.” Whatever that means.
There are chapters on parlor care and the duty of benevolence, New Year’s Calls and a chapter specifically for young girls. But the one that caught my eye was entitled “Things To Be Avoided By All Persons.” It is every rant I’ve ever wanted to give. So here you go, a list of things to never do ever no matter who you are.
Loose and harsh speaking; making noises in eating and drinking; leaning awkwardly when sitting; starting up suddenly and going unceremoniously out of a room; standing in the way when there is scarcely room to pass; going before any one looking at a picture or sitting at the fire; taking possession of another’s seat when you know they are to return soon; intruding opinions when you know they will give offense; leaving acquaintances in the street or leaving a room abruptly and without taking leave; whispering in company; making remarks on the dress of those about you; using slang expressions; or a habit of saying “says he” “you know” etc.; helping yourself at meals without first asking others to be helped; scratching or touching your head; paring or cleaning your nails before company; spitting, picking the nose, or looking at your handkerchief after blowing it; standing or sitting with your back to the fire, when others would enjoy the warmth; alluding to subjects that would give pain to those you address; neglecting to answer letters; leaning the chair against the wall or furniture; spitting on the carpet or floor; drumming with the feet or fingers; whistling or humming tunes; reading papers, letters, and books in company; looking over another’s shoulder when reading or writing; talking lightly of serious matters; jesting when none take pleasure in mirth; sitting with the hat on in the house; touching any part of the person not usually exposed; rocking eagerly; showing yourself glad at other’s misfortune; being disrespectful in language or motion; continuing conversation when others come in without an explanation of the subject; showing marked attentions to some more than others unless they are strangers; neglecting to call on friends that have sent their card informing you they are in town; not informing your friends who have entertained you of your safe arrival home, and thanking them for kindnesses received; using deceit; making expense without benefit to yourself or others; being disturbed about trifles or accidents, common or unavoidable.
“Jesting when none take pleasure in mirth” you guys I’m dying. Why did she even write a book? This is the only list you ever need.