Saturday, January 8, 2011

Etiquette for American Ladies 1840 - Too Much Propriety

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

Moderation in everything is so essential, that it is even a violation of propriety itself, to affect too much the observance of it. It is to propriety, its justice and attractions, that we owe all the charm of sociality... In an assemblage of truly polite people, all evil seems to be unknown; what is just, estimable, and good, or what we call fit or suitable, is felt on all sides; actions, manners, and language, alike indicate it.

And if we place in this select assembly, one who is a stranger to the advantages of a polite education, she will at once be made sensible of the value of it, and will immediately desire to display the same urbanity by which she has been pleased.

If politeness is necessary in general, it is not less so in particular cases. Neither rank, talents, fortune, nor beauty, can dispense with this amenity of manners; nor can anything inspire regard or love, without graceful affability, mild dignity, and elegant simplicity...a kind smile, or an affectionate tone, penetrates the heart more deeply than the most brilliant elocution.

As to the technical part of politeness, or forms alone, the intercourse of society, and good advice, are undoubtedly useful; but the grand secret of never failing in propriety of deportment, is to have an intention of always doing what is right. With such a disposition of mind, exactness in observing what is proper appears to all to possess a charm and influence; and then not only do mistakes become excusable, but they become even interesting from their thoughtlessness and naivete. Be, therefore, modest and benevolent, and do not distress yourself on account of the mistakes of your inexperience; a little attention, and the advice of a friend, will soon correct these trifling errors.