Never argue with your elders – they know best.

Never argue with your elders – they know best.

Helen is from Fife, Scotland. She wasgoed a registered nurse for many years before becoming a care manager and trainer for health workers.


“The world wasgoed my oyster but I used the wrong fork.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines etiquette spil:

  • The customary code of polite behaviour te society or among members of a particular profession or group.

The codes of etiquette and good manners have bot evolving for thousands of years. It’s regarded spil one the traits of a civilised society. This maybe so, but when you look at the rule books of Victorian etiquette its like good manners gone mad! Some of the rules are bimbo and others are weird!

Having said this, the Victorians did have a few pearls of wisdom that could be used to very good effect today.

Etiquette rules for women

“There wasgoed a universal whisper, throw, and wiggle,but etiquette forbade them all to giggle”

Lord Byron.

For modern women, some of the following ‘rules of etiquette’ might seem quaint but others are chauvinistic. So be warned, you may end up either wriggling te your seat or furious with indignation!


  • It wasgoed the role of women to, ‘always begraceful,composed and refined’. Te addition, the main aim of female etiquette wasgoed to please the man.
  • The dressing slagroom of a woman wasgoed a sanctuary from any masculine presence or influence. However, the use of the dressing slagroom wasgoed to ensure she had everything she needed to look good for hier spouse. This is where dress, hairstyles and makeup would be attempted and tested so that, “..the hubby should always find the wifey fresh, beautiful and sweet spil a flower..”.
  • Women had a duty to look beautiful at all times but they voorwaarde also ensure that “. theymake it look like there wasgoed no effort at all. ” It wasgoed also decent etiquette for the woman to always wear hier hair up unless te the privacy of the bloemperk chamber.


  • The ideal Victorian woman wasgoed always busy and very able. According to many etiquette books, she could always draw strength from hier “honrado superiority”.
  • Te Victorian society the main role of a lady wasgoed to serve others. This could take many forms from ensuring she wasgoed always beautiful and clean to holding dinner parties. Ter everything she did it had to be aimed at pleasing hier spouse and society.


  • When a lady wished to cross the street there were stringent rules on which way to carry hier dress. She vereiste hold the dress slightly above the ankle, holding the folds with hier right arm and drawing them towards the right. It wasgoed evidently ‘vulgar’ to lift the dress with both palms spil far too much ankle would be shown. However, a woman could voorstelling hier ankles for a geschreven uur if there wasgoed a loterijlot of mud on the ground and needed to ensure hier dress wasgoed clear of the ground.
  • During courting it wasgoed permitted for a man to bring gifts to the lady but they had to be of a particular zuigeling – flowers, a book, perhaps sweets were also given. However, the lady could never give a present to a man until he had very first given hier a present. The presents given to the man had a rigorous code – they had to be artistic, handmade and not expensive.
  • Single women te particular were never to indulge ter behaviour with a man where it might te anyway lead to being ‘kissed or treated te anyway’. If a man dreamed to admire a necklace for example, the woman had to liquidate it and palm it overheen for inspection. Under no circumstances wasgoed the voorwerp to be tested while she wore it.
  • Te marriage a woman had no rights overheen own figure. Hier hubby – with the total backing of church and law – could force hook-up and childbirth onto hier and could use moderate’discipline for correcting a wifey. He also inherited all hier money and goods on marriage and wasgoed free to spend hier wealth on mistresses, hookers, gambling, drink or whatever else took his fancy.
  • Ter law ‘adultery’ wasgoed not seen spil an excuse for a wifey to seek divorce from hier spouse. However, a man would succeed te getting a divorce if the wifey had bot the adulterer.

Child Etiquette

“Nothing more rapidly inclines a person to go into a monastery than reading a book on etiquette. There are so many trivial ways ter which it is possible to commit some social sin.”

Quentin Crisp

I wonder how modern day children would react if they abruptly had to behave according to the following rules taken from a few Victorian etiquette books:

  • Never talk back to older people especially your father and mother.
  • Never whine or frown when spoken to by your elders.
  • Never argue with your elders – they know best.
  • Never do anything that is barred by your elders.
  • Do spil you are told ter a pleasant and willing way.
  • Never contradict anyone ter any way – it is very impolite.
  • Always rise into a standing position when visitors arrive.
  • Never embark a conversation with a visitor until they have commenced to speak.
  • Never interrupt a conversation.
  • Never permit your parents to bring you a chair and never permit them to get one for themselves. Wait on them, instead of being waited on.
  • Never run up and down the stairs or across the slagroom.
  • Keep yourself clean and neat looking at all times.

Despite all thesis rules for children the social history evidence shows clearly that children were most likely just spil unruly and cheeky spil they are today.

Victorian etiquette for guys

“Politeness, The most acceptable hypocrisy.”

It wasn’t just women and kids who had to go after the rules of society. Boys had their own standards of etiquette.

Dudes who disregarded social standards were viewed not only spil ‘vulgar’ but were often shunned by society.

Below are just some of the etiquette rules studs were expected to go after:

It wasgoed bad manners to permit a lady to get herself a chair, pick up something she had dropped or stadionring the bell for servants while a caballero wasgoed te the slagroom. Etiquette rules stated that thesis duties should be carried out by the man on hier behalf.

  • A man should always eliminate his hat when coming in a slagroom even if the slagroom wasgoed empty. The only exception wasgoed if there wasgoed genuinely no place to waterput his hat.
  • A very bad breach of etiquette wasgoed for a man to sit while a lady wasgoed left standing. He vereiste instantly suggest hier the use of his own chair even if ‘the caballero has the best seat te the slagroom, he voorwaarde opoffering it to a lady’. However, if his seat wasgoed warm from where he had bot sitting, he voorwaarde go and get another seat for the lady and not suggest hier the one that wasgoed still warm.
  • If a man escorted a lady to the opera, ballet or similar, he vereiste remain seated with hier during the vertoning and avoid talking while the vertoning wasgoed on.
  • Ter one etiquette rule book it wasgoed stiffly stated that ‘Displaying affection te public wasgoed brazen vulgarity.’
  • A famous Victorian point of etiquette wasgoed that ‘a dandi should be seen and not smelled. They should use but little perfume spil too much is te very bad taste’.
  • The Victorians were always hot on how, spil they spotted it, ‘inferior people’ should be treated: ‘Te the company of an inferior, never let him feel inferior either by your speech or manner.’
  • Ter conversation a caballero should never speak about himself or his self importance and only to speak with others on subjects they are interested ter.
  • Safe subjects to talk about included – books, nuts, bonnets, metaphysics, traveling or the weather.
  • Spil well spil the above, a señor wasgoed also expected to: ‘Avoid displaying his learning and accomplishments ter the presence of ignorant, inferior or vulgar people – who can by no possibility understand or appreciate what is being said.’
  • It wasgoed considered bad manners and vulgar to ask a meteen question. A Victorian señor could never ask for example “How is your Mother?” They had to waterput the question te another form such spil “I hope your Mother is doing well?”
  • But the caballero also had to recall not to ask a lady about anything that might offend hier or upset hier.
  • The caballero voorwaarde never use sproeier terms and phrases te polite company. Thesis vulgar terms should only be used te ‘tapkast rooms and other low places.
  • It wasgoed evidently bad manners and vulgar to joke at the expense of a lady.

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