1860s problems



Regular readers will know that I love old books on etiquette for their combination of timeless, rock-solid advice and things that have turned into baffling absurdities with the passage of decades or centuries. The passages quoted here are from The Gentleman’s Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness by Cecil B. Hartley, 1860. Its publication in Boston shows how, at the time and right through into the twentieth century, upper class English manners were held up as the ideal to which all others should aspire if they were to be thought of as cultured and civilised.

The “hideous Newgate frill” he writes of at one point (see below) is a beard grown only under the jaw line, with shaved chin, cheeks, and upper lip. It was and is indeed hideous. He’s also correct to say that “the moustache should be kept within limits.”

Another thing worthy of note is a…

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