While delving into some family history documents, I browsed my inherited, fragile copy of “Enquire within upon everything”, dated 1866. Previous browsings have brought some amusement so I thought I’d share an excerpt. While the book has some wisdom and common sense, little items like the following reflect the age magnificently.
Advice to Young Ladies
i. If you have blue eyes you need not languish.
ii. If black eyes you need not stare.
iii. If you have pretty feet there is no occasion to wear short petticoats.
iv. If you are doubtful as to that point, there can be no harm in letting the petticoats be long.
v. If you have good teeth, do not laugh for the purpose of showing them.
vi. If you have bad ones, do not laugh less than the occasion may justify.
vii. If you have pretty hands and arms, there can be no objection to your playing on the harp if you play well.
viii. If they are disposed to be clumsy, work tapestry.
ix. If you have a bad voice, rather speak in a low tone.
x. If you have the finest voice in the world, never speak in a high tone.
xi. If you dance well, dance but seldom.
xii. If you dance ill, never dance at all.
xiii. If you sing well, make no previous excuses.
xiv. If you sing indifferently, hesitate not a moment when you are asked, for few people are judges of singing, but every one is sensible of a desire to please.
xv. If you would preserve beauty, rise early.
xvi. If you would preserve esteem, be gentle.
xvii. If you would obtain power, be condescending.
xviii. If you would live happily, endeavour to promote the happiness of others.
I found number xvii particularly interesting. Power might be gained but certainly not respect!
The book includes advice to mothers of daughters, hints for wives and husbands but, it appears, no advice for young men or the raising of sons. Evidently there was no need. I’m guessing it was left to the father to impart his ‘natural’ wisdom.