- The Art of Manliness - http://www.artofmanliness.com -

The Unclassified Laws of Etiquette

victorian couple engraving walking down street 1800s

When Kate and I were in Vermont last summer, we stumbled upon a book called Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms. It was published in 1880. The book is a hodgepodge of information that would be useful to a man of business back in the late 19th century. There are sections dedicated to penmanship, business letter writing, and the dos and don’ts of social and business etiquette. One section in the book is called “Unclassified Laws of Etiquette.” It’s a list of different rules of etiquette that didn’t quite fit under the other specific headings (funeral etiquette, etiquette in the home, etc.). While the list was written over 100 years ago and some of the suggestions are a bit random and outdated, the advice is still strikingly resonant. It manages to cover many, many of the gaps in etiquette which have  transformed society into a veritable Swiss cheese of incivility. If a man puts these suggestions into practice, he will definitely set himself apart for the other knuckleheads out there trying to land a job or catch the eye of a good-looking gal. Looking down the list, I can see several areas where I could use some improvement. I bet you will too!

“We have careful thought for the stranger,
And smiles for the sometimes guest;
But oft for our own the bitter tone,
Though we love our own the best.
Ah! lips with the curl impatient-
‘Twere a cruel fate were the night too late
To undo the work of the morn.”