Thursday, January 13, 2011

Etiquette for American Ladies 1840 - On Propriety of Carriage or Body Language


Etiquette for Ladies: With Hints on the Preservation, Improvement, and Display of Female Beauty. Published by Lea and Blanchard, Philadelphia. 1838-1840

At home and abroad the carriage of the body is as expressive as the tone of the voice, and perhaps more so, because it is more constant; it betrays to the observer all the shades of character, and you ought to be very careful of thus making a general confession, by affected manners, a pretending deportment, sneering ways, rough movements, a hard countenance, impertinent signs and looks,
simpering smiles, clownish gestures, a nonchalant and effeminate posture, or a carriage of the body distinguished by prudery and stiffness.

Young ladies, little habituated to the world, ought to be on their guard against excessive timidity, for it not only paralyzes their powers, renders them awkward, and gives them an almost silly air, but it may even cause them to be accused of pride, among people who do not know that embarrassment frequently takes the form of superciliousness.

How often does it happen that timid persons do not notice you at all, or answer in a low voice, and fail in numberless agreeable attentions, for want of courage! These attentions, and these duties, they discharge in petto, but who will thank them for if! A proper degree of confidence, but not degenerating into assurance, still less into boldness or familiarity, is then one of the most desirable qualities in the world. To obtain which, you must observe the tone, and the manner of polite and obliging people, take them for your guides, and under their direction make continual efforts to conquer your timidity...

Propriety in the carriage of the body is especially indispensable to ladies. It is by this that, in a walk, or any assembly, people, who cannot converse with them, judge of their merit and their good education.
.