Posted by Mary on July 24, 1997 at 14:30:05:
This is my first posting. I just finished reading Regency Etiquette, The Mirror of Graces (1811) by a Lady of Distinction. The ISBN number is 0-914046-24-1. After reading about it on the Austen-L I purchased it for about $20 (US) from R.L. Shep Publications. I think their email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some tidbits from the book that add to the postings I've been reading on this delightful sight.
Chocolate and meals:
p. 34: "My objection is not more against the quantity than the quality of the dishes which constitute the usual repasts of women of fashion. Their breakfasts not only set forth tea and coffee, but chocolate and hot bread and butter. Both of these latter articles, when taken constantly, are hostile to health and female delicacy...After this meal, a long and exhausting fast from ten in the morning till six or seven in the evening, when dinner is served up; and the half-famished beauty sits down to sate a keen appetite with Cayenne soups, fish, French patees steaming with garlic, roast and boiled meat, game, tarts, sweetmeats, ices, fruits, etc., etc., etc...How does the heated complexion bear witness to the combustion within!"
p. 40: "Every house of every nobleman or gentleman, in every nation under the sun, excepting Britain, possesses one of these genial friends to cleanliness and comfort. The generality of English ladies seem to be ignorant of the use of any bath larger than a wash-hand bason."
p. 45: "The barouche...is a fatal addition to the variety of English equipages. Our autumnal evenings, with this carriage and our gossamer apparel, have already sent many of my young female acquaintances to untimely graves."
Female authors or women with a "particularly literary taste:"
p. 65: "a conceited negligence of outward attractions; and a determination to raise themselves in the opinions of men, by displaying a contempt for what they deem to vain occupation of meaner souls...They, poor short-sighted creatures! exchanged the innocent ignorance of Eve, for the empoisoned apple, which, under the cheat of displaying knowledge, fills the eater with a vain self-conceit" This brings to mind Miss Bingley's comments about Elizabeth's "abominable sort of conceited independence" and her "self-sufficiency without fashion, which is intolerable."
Women over 50:
p. 83: "But at this period, when she has numbered half a century, then it becomes her to throw aside the wimple and the crisping iron, the ornament of silver and the ornament of gold; and gracefully acknowledging her entrance into the vale of years, to wrap herself in the mantle of grey, and move gently down till she passes through its extremest bourn to the mansions of immortality."
p. 96, concerning the long stay (or corset): "A vile taste in the contriver, and as stupid an approval by a large majority of women, have brought this monstrous distortiion into a kind of fashion; and in consequence we see in eight women out of ten...the bosom shoved up to the chin, making a sort of fleshy shelf, disgusting to the beholders, and certainly most incommodious to the bearer."
p. 99, the pregnant stay: "This new-fashioned coat-of-mail for the fair sex is so constructed as to compress and reduce to the shape desired the natural prominence of the female figure in a state of fruitfulness...However this may be to a few hardy individuals, I profess myself no proselyte to the innovation."
The Law of Courts:
p. 205: "We neither endowed ourselves with high birth or eminent talents. We are altogether beings of a creation independent of our own will; and, therefore, bearing our own honours as a gift, not as a right, we whall condescend to our inferiors, and regard with deference our superiors, whom Heaven, by so elevating them, intended we should respect."
After listing the order of precedence of females from a queen to the wife of a military officer, she says (p. 210); "It is the perfection of fine breeding to know your place, to be acquainted with that of others; and to fall gracefully into your station accordingly. If the gentlewoman struggles to get before, we fly from the shrew, and declare her unworthy of fellowship with any degree of well-ordered females."
Thus did our dear Lizzy "pollute the shades of Pemberley" and, through this long post which should have been a humble question to those of you who are more experienced, have I done the same.
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