Diane Kalas, Inspirational Historical Romance Author

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 (KJV)





Saturday, June 23, 2012

Part 3 - THE LADY'S GUIDE TO GENTILITY

Diane's Antique Book Collection

PART 3 - THE LADY’S GUIDE TO GENTILITY: Gentility and refinement of manners in all the relations of home and society.

An Elegant and Correct Taste

Value of correct taste in society.- A correct taste is more properly the result of a general moral and intellectual culture, than of any direct rules or discipline. The subject, at all events, admits of no special directions. It is a matter of feeling; it rests upon a few broad principles; and when these are interwoven with the character, the desired end will be attained.

 Naturalness.-The first great fundamental rule of good taste is to be natural; and it is from an infringement of this that many of our worst mistakes proceed. In manner or style, affectation is the source of the most flagrant offences against taste. Whether it be an affectation of fashion, or of learning, of ignorance, of wit, or of piety, it will be equally repugnant to the delicacy of a superior mind.
            Affectation is an offence against high moral feeling. It excites a suspicion of the truth of those who are guilty of it; and although it may have resolved itself into a mere habit, we cannot help feeling that it originates in artifice.

Suitableness a good guide.-An important rule for the regulation of taste is to consult suitability. The reason which we ordinarily have to assign for finding fault with the taste of anything is, that it is unsuitable.
            Suitability is always the professed guide in matters of taste. If, on a point of dress, an artiste is consulted, the plea which she deems most likely to decide the wavering choice is that the object for selection “is becoming.” Her judgment may be questioned, but the plea which she urges is a practical lesson on the principles of taste.
            Besides, in our own application of the rule, we have to take into account that of which the artiste may be ignorant-not merely what would adorn, but what may suit our character, position, and circumstances. Are we professedly religious? Sobriety, in all outward adorning is the subject of express scriptural precept; not only so, it is congenial to the Christian character, suitable to the Christian temper. The style of a religious person should be moderate, because moderation is in accordance with the whole tone of the Gospel. On the contrary, we may indulge in extravagance; this is felt to be bad taste, not merely by religious persons, but in quite as great a degree by persons of the world.
            We may offend by extreme plainness, which is quite as opposed to Christian morals as extravagance. In things, however, which are quite indifferent, we should endeavor to recommend our religions. It can serve no purpose to select a dress for no apparent reason but for its want of elegance; to prefer the unbecoming to the graceful; to adopt, in external arrangements, a style inferior to our position, and which attracts notice by its meanness.

The Lady's Guide to Complete Etiquette

Low and vulgar associations.- It is almost needless to say that taste leads us to avoid low or vulgar associations. Refinement is the opposite of vulgarity; and, as taste is the property of a refined mind, it, of course, involves a dislike to anything approaching to vulgarity. Still, the boundary lines are not so marked as might be imagined. Prejudice may reject as vulgar, what is not really so.

There is a fastidiousness which would reject much that is true, and destroy much that is beautiful. We are indebted to those to whom the poetry of nature owes its revival, Coleridge and Wordsworth, for the restoration to their use and dignity of many words and images, which an artificial refinement had discarded as inadmissible in verse. The prejudice, which they successfully combated, is of general application. It is the result of a taste falsely and effeminately nurtured, which would take away from eloquence its energy, and disallow to simplicity its beauty and its pathos. It is this, which often, in religion is offended at the plain-spoken language of truth, which takes exception at a word because it is not found in its own authorized vocabulary, and cannot tolerate a deviation from the conventional standard which itself has prescribed.

Thornwell, Emily, THE LADY’S GUIDE TO COMPLETE ETIQUETTE, New York, Belford, Clarke & Company, 1884

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Part 2 - THE LADY'S GUIDE TO GENTILITY

From Diane's Antique Book Collection

PART 2 - THE LADY’S GUIDE TO GENTILITY: Gentility and refinement of manners in all the relations of home and society.

An Elegant and Correct Taste

Importance of taste. – Taste is exhibited in the minutest as well as in the most important particulars of conduct; it influences the affections; it gives a bias to the opinions; its control over the inclinations is absolute. For though, where judgment may be opposed to taste, a conviction of duty may determine us to follow the dictates of the former rather than the latter, yet the bias will remain in favor of the more seductive guide; and our sense of what is, or what is not, pleasing to us, will be apt to regulate, at least, the degree of ardor with which we follow a pursuit, or prosecute a line of action.

 Effect of cultivation. – Taste, there can be little doubt, depends, in a great measure, on association. We can account for it often on no other grounds. Our tastes and distastes proceed, for the most part, from the power which objects have to recall other ideas to the mind. And persons of superior cultivation have not only established for themselves a higher standard of grace or excellence, to which they refer, but they have attained to a quicker perception of the relation of things to each other. They trace the connexion immediately, and, as it were, intuitively; and they at once distinguish between what is allied to elegance, and what is in however remote a degree, connected with anything displeasing or vulgar.

 Taste with regard to manners.- This is especially true with regard to manners. Persons of refinement are the most apt to detect inelegance in manner. They are instantly offended at a deportment which is, in their minds, connected with vulgarity; and associations, which might escape others, are recognized by them. Their organization is peculiarly delicate. As a practiced ear can detect, in the vibration of a single string, its accordant tones, so persons of cultivated taste at once perceive the affinity between a style or manner, and the tone of mind of which it is the symptom and the expression; and, therefore, such persons are often designated as fastidious. Doubtless there may be a fastidiousness which finds blemishes in the most perfect work, and a prejudice which is causelessly offended; but in general, those minds which are the most highly cultivated are the most accurate discerners, and are the least disposed to take groundless exceptions.

            There cannot be a greater mistake than to regard as trivial the formation of our own taste, or the pleasing that of others. Upon the former, the latter in a great measure depends. We shall succeed in rendering ourselves agreeable to those whose taste is most accurate, in proportion as our own is moulded on the most correct model; and although, by persons of inferior refinement, bad taste may not only be tolerated, but may even call forth in them admiration, yet good taste can offend no one; and, by a strict adherence to its dictates, we shall be most likely to raise the standard of those with whom we may chance to be associated.   


NOTE: The above blog article is word for word, including punctuation, grammar, and spelling as the author, Emily Thornwell, wrote in her book in 1884.

Thornwell, Emily, THE LADY’S GUIDE TO COMPLETE ETIQUETTE, New York, Belford, Clarke & Company, 1884

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Part I - THE LADY'S GUIDE TO GENTILITY

From Diane's Antique Book Collection

NOTE: This blog article is Emily Thornwell's words, including punctuation, grammar, and spelling as the author wrote in her book in 1884.

PART I - THE LADY’S GUIDE TO GENTILITY: Gentility and refinement of manners in all the relations of home and society.

Agreeableness and Beauty of Person: The true foundation of female loveliness.

Beauty must be natural.- In order to have its full effect, beauty must be natural, and connected with perfect health. A fair skin and rosy cheek are calculated to excite admiration; but if it be discovered that they are entirely produced by paint, that admiration becomes disgust; or if owing to disease, it is changed to pity.

Necessity of careful attention to the person.- The grand preservatives of beauty are the means which impart health to the body. The reasons are, that the skin is everywhere, except on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, pierced by innumerable little holes, which are the mouths of a set of curious little organs, which pour out upon its surface an unctuous or oily fluid, which lubricates it, and renders it soft and shining. Without frequent application of soap and water to every part of the skin, it cannot be kept clean.

Change of linen, etc.- By changing the linen often, much of the impurities which accumulate on the skin may be rubbed off, but enough will be left to clog its pores, and debilitate its minute vessels. Now what must we think of those genteel people who never use the bath, or only once or twice a year wash themselves all over, though they change their linen daily? Why, that, in plain English, they are nothing more or less than very filthy gentry; and you will find, if your olfactories are at all sensitive, whenever you happen to be near them, and their perspiration is a little excited by exercise, that they have a something about them which lavender water and bergamot do not entirely conceal. And what is this something? Why, it is simply the odor, occasioned by the fluids which are naturally poured out upon the surface having become rancid, as has just been explained. In some persons, owing to some peculiarity in their constitution, this odor is far more noticeable than in others, but it is discoverable in a greater or less degree in all, when they are heated by exercise, who do not use frequent ablutions.

Care of the feet.- There are many individuals whose feet have a very offensive odor in warm weather. In all these cases, the feet perspire excessively, and consequently become tender, and have a parboiled appearance whenever a good deal of exercise is taken. This peculiarly unpleasant and troublesome complaint may always be removed by a persevering use of the following means: wash the feet regularly every morning in water, at the temperature of the weather in summer, and in that which has stood in a warm room during the winter. A little soap should be used. In very hot weather they should be washed both morning and evening, and the stockings should be changed twice a week in winter, and three times in summer. There will be no more danger of taking cold after the practice is once well commenced, than from washing the face and hands. Woollen stockings should never be used in warm weather. By these means the offensive smell is entirely removed, and the feet are hardened, so that they will not suffer from heat and exercise.

Thornwell, Emily, THE LADY’S GUIDE TO COMPLETE ETIQUETTE, New York, Belford, Clarke & Company, 1884