by Debbie Walker
A while back I added a book to my collection of odd books. This one is Manners and Morals of Victorian America. I love reading this stuff and I enjoy sharing them with you.
In 1868 it was said that Americans were too grave a people. We make business the “be-all and end-all” of life. We laugh too little. Work is better when there has been some level of recreation.
I always wondered why men are expected to remove their hats when they enter a building but a woman is not. It has to do with the difficulty of rearranging the hat of a woman (info from 1889).
A man when visiting should keep his hat in his hand. This will show your host that you’re not there for a meal (1875).
Chaperones: They come in one of three age brackets – marriage, parental or doting age (maybe the proverbial old maid) (1906)
Chaperones are the shepherds. She must lead her charges, properly and safely. She’s to keep her eagle eye on her charge to prevent her from committing indiscretions at a debutants ball (1910). (And our kids complain about their freedoms!)
Children: Some people prefer children to dogs because a license is not required for children (1910). Women used to (1910) like to grow the hair of their sons, much like a female child. The mother is encouraged to cut the hair when the son is 6-8 years old so they can grow manly.
Driving: Hold your emotions in check. It is wrong for the motor passenger to express emotion of any kind, either by facial contortion or bodily wriggling (1910). Guess they wouldn’t approve of road rage!
In 1906 when you got a car you wouldn’t be stingy. You were to allow the neighbors a smell of it!
Weapons—If you are going to drive alone on the highways and byways it might be advisable to carry a small revolver (1909).
Story telling (1883) never make yourself the hero of your own story.
Never punish your child for a fault to which you are addicted yourself.
A lady’s first marriage refusal: It is not always necessary to take a lady’s first refusal as absolute. She may reconsider.
The offer of a man’s heart and hand, is the greatest compliment he can pay her, however undesirable to her these gifts may be (1838).
A man should not court a girl, nor ask her to become his fiancée unless he can support a wife. To marry on nothing at all is very foolish, and seldom results happily (1910).
Refusing an offer of marriage: In refusing, the lady ought to convey her full sense of the high honor intended her by the gentleman, and to add, seriously but not offensively, that it is not her wish at this time.
Okay, I hope you enjoyed Victorian America!! There is a lot more of it, however, I will finish now. I’m just curious how you would handle these situations.
Thanks for reading! Contact me with questions or comments at email@example.com.