Conversation Etiquettes: The Victorians were known for their class distinctions and the behavior they observed accordingly. As a member of the upper class in Victorian England, one had to know the exhaustive rules of etiquette that went along with one’s position.
Conversation Etiquettes In Victorian Times
Etiquette was a booming business in the 19th-century. with pacing Industrialization, people intermingled among classes and places in a way they hadn’t before, and there was a great demand for guidance on how to fit into the social circles that they had either gotten themselves into or wanted to get into.
Hundreds of etiquette books were published in this period, and they all had something to say about how to use language.
Every society has its rules, some etiquette rules are arbitrary, but it helped things running smoothly. In the Victorian Era, etiquette catalyzed the medium of social exchange. But some rules went too far which became the base for social critics of the time who mocked the ridiculous elements of Victorian society.
Some of the Etiquettes From Victorian Times
- Not to talk aloud in a railway carriage which would disturb fellow passengers from reading their book or newspaper.
- Avoid talking about ‘the opera’ in the presence of those who are not frequent visitors to it.
- talking in a high, shrill voice, and nasal tones were to be avoided. moderation of one’s tones was considered polite. Harsh loud voices were considered vulgar, but people who spoke low were said to be “unpleasant.”
- meaningless exclamations, such as ‘Oh, my!’ ‘Oh, cracky’ etc were to be avoided.
- Never use short forms like saying gents for gentlemen or pants for pantaloons, vest for a waistcoat.
- Long, weary quotations were to be avoided but short, pithy quotations could be used.
- If a foreign word conveyed the meaning better than an English word, it was considered proper to use the foreign expression in its place.
- To excel in conversation, speakers were supposed to be alert and their mind should not be preoccupied to avoid making blunders.
- It was considered impolite to contradict one another.
- one must show special deference to the opinions of the elderly and especially the ladies.
- The true polite person was always a good listener
- “wife” must be used instead of a lady to introduce her.
- It was fine to ask a few questions, but prying and constant questioning were impertinent in conversation. Further, the questions asked of slight acquaintances were to be about general subjects, unless the person introduced the subject of his family or his profession.
- Never ask a lady a question about anything whatever.
- In the company of ladies, do not establish learned points by long-winded arguments.
- Never question the veracity of any statement made in general conversation.
- Lengthy accounts of their children were improper to be told by the parents because it tested the patience of the listener.
- Do not discuss the failings or short-comings of their hired help as it lowered the tone of the conversation, and imparted bitterness to the character of the speaker.
- When in the company of friends and family, engage with all. Married couples were also not to show “exclusive devotion to each other,” as proper etiquette demanded that people make themselves agreeable to everyone.
- If a person attacked someone’s religion or someone’s religious beliefs, the person being attacked had a right to reply though in a polite manner.
- People were not to interrupt when others were speaking.
- Profanity was to be strictly avoided as it was considered “a great breach of etiquette.”
- Timid and shy people should take every opportunity of going into company, and try to overcome their fear and voice themselves.