Thursday, January 7, 2016

Manners, Culture and Dress: Educating Emma

When a book is over a century old, you have to wonder how many times was it read and by whom. Through whose hands has it passed?  I purchased an old book several years ago called Manners, Culture and Dress, published in 1890, via an online bookstore so I had not seen it prior to my order arriving on my doorstep.

For me, one of the delights of this old book was the presentation page. The book was presented to Emma C. Savage on Feb 3rd, 1891 by her father and mother. I assume this was a birthday gift. A five-hundred-page text to teach Emma about manners, culture and dress. I picture Emma as being a middle to upper-class young girl who was on the verge of becoming a young lady. 

What did Emma learn from this book?  Just about everything a well-mannered person in 1890 would need to know about how to act, how to speak, how to write, how to dress and even toilette recipes. 

She would have learned how to protect against moths by putting a piece of linen moistened with turpentine in the wardrobe for a single day three times a year.  Here are a few more tidbits:  A lady should never allow a servant to keep people waiting on the doorstep. Invitations to a funeral should be delivered by private messenger. Unmarried ladies should not accept presents from a gentleman to whom they are not related and not married. A lady does not cross a ballroom unattended. White kid gloves should be worn at a ball and only taken off at dinner. A lady must always decide on the pace when riding. While traveling in steamers, do not make a rush for the supper table or make a glutton of yourself when you get there. Never be late to church. It is a decided mark of ill-breeding.

I wonder if Emma took all this advice to heart and became a young lady with impeccable manners?  Due to the good condition of the book, I don't think Emma re-read it. What does that say for Emma? I'm hoping she was an independent young lady. One who didn't always go by the rules.


BECKY said...

Oh, how wonderful! I love books of all kinds, and especially old ones. I've purchased a couple online, too, just because they were so OLD! One is a cook book and parts of it are so! I just may take photos of it and post it on my blog soon. Thanks for this post, Patricia!

Marigold Lott said...

Great post. That looks like a great book. Post some items out of it for us to smile at when you have time. Hope the book is going well. I have written all day, except for a nap. Now to bed. Hugs.

Grace InAZ said...

What a treasure you found in that old book! Imagining what Emma might have learned is interesting and a little mystery that can never be solved.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I am now following you here!
Hugs, GraceinAZ

Patricia Preston said...

Becky: Old books are wonderful and really give you insight as to how people lived.
Marigold: Great idea. I will post clips. It covers all aspects of life.
Grace: Glad you stopped by! Am following you on Twitter and adding you to my blog roll.

Donna said...

I Love old instructional books...Sounds like kids today could take a few hints from them in today's world!

Patricia Preston said...

Donna, Good manners are a thing of the past. I feel sad for the generation growing up with reality TV.