Get Ready to Cry-Laugh Your Brains Out Over These 19th Century 'Rules of Behavior For Young Ladies'
It’s Friday, at the end of what has seemed to be another long week of mostly terribleness, so let’s make ourselves feel better by looking back on the more in-your-face terribleness of other times and places. Today NPR published an 1830s behavioral guide for young women. The guide is part of the American Moral Encyclopaedia, from the hilariously named third volume, Varlé’s Self-instructor, No. 3, in Literature, Duties of Life, and Rules of Good Breeding: Interspersed with Popular Quotations, Mottos, Maxims, and Adages, in Latin and Other Languages : Also with the French Words Generally Met with in Newspapers, and Works of Taste and Fancy, Faithfully Translated.
The guide contains 18 pieces of advice, some of which (like “sympathise with the unfortunate, “If you talk in society, talk only about those things which you understand,” and “endeavor to write and speak grammatically”) are solid tips, but should maybe be applied to everyone, regardless of gender. Still, for you ladies out there who want to be the ladiest ladies you can be, here are the best pieces of advice. And by “best,” I of course mean “bwahahahahahaha— eye roll!”
Avoid every thing masculine.
Be not too often seen in public.
Don’t even hear a double entendre.
Form no friendship with men.
Know that a man of good sense will never marry but the pious, industrious and frugal.
Let not love begin on your part.
Never be afraid of blushing.
Read no novels, but let your study be History, Geography, Biography and other instructive books.
Trust no female acquaintance.
You cannot be too circumspect in matters of love and marriage; and remember that whereas the character of a young lady is considered angelic, any blemish in it, would withdraw the respect men have for you.