One of our favorite movies as a family is Meet Me in St. Louis. Putting in that DVD is sure to draw a crowd here. We all seem to have an affection for the simplicity of the way people lived a century ago. And, I am enamored by that time period, and their refined behavior.
The Victorian era is known for refinement and propriety. Maybe that is part of my fascination with it. The ladies were so… lady-like! Do you, like me, ever wish females today would behave more like ladies? How different our culture would be!
While it is true that we may see their strict code of conduct as stifling by today’s standards, I will venture to say we may learn a thing or two from our great-grandparents. So just for fun, and education (!) below are some of the basics of the refined Victorian etiquette:
The Basic Rules of Etiquette (found at http://logicmgmt.com/1876/etiquette/basicrules.htm)
- Learn to govern yourself and to be gentle and patient.
- Never speak or act in anger.
- Remember that, valuable as is the gift of speech, silence is often more valuable.
- Learn to speak in a gentle tone of voice.
- Learn to say kind and pleasant things when opportunity offers.
- Do not neglect little things if they can affect the comfort of others.
- Learn to deny yourself and prefer others.
- Beware of meddlers and tale bearers.
Although the above seems antiquated to our modern ears, many of the “rules” are Biblical.
Be gentle: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Anger: “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” Psalm 37:8
Silence: “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:28
Kindness: “Be kind to one another” Ephesians 4:32
Others: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Phil. 2:3
Meddlers & tale bearers: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” 1 Peter 4:15
Refinement is not just for women who desire to behave like a lady, refinement is for women who profess godliness. Refinement and basic etiquette are for homemakers, wives, mothers, older women, younger women. There just isn’t anyone who would not benefit from basic manners, behaving in a more refined manner, and just a good old fashioned dose of Victorian etiquette.