Sunday, August 7, 2011

Good Manners by Lady Kitty Vincent.

Good Manners by Lady Kitty Vincent.  Hardcover book published by Hodder and Stoughton (no date, circa 1926), 222 pages. 


Chapter 1
“Good manners are the pneumatic tyres on the motor-car of life. Without them, certainly the car can progress, but it will be far less pleasant for the inmates. Good manners count far more than people realise. Often and often they make the difference between success and failure. A rough diamond may be of equal colour to the polished stone, but it is not so attractive to the observer, and may, therefore, pass unnoticed. There is a form of snobbism quite as virulent and unpleasant as the type which runs after titles and frequents “smart” houses—the snobbism which affects to consider all the refinements and generally accepted customs of modern society as ridiculous and to be despised. Certainly it is not a crime to eat peas with one’s knife, but it is neither a pretty nor a safe habit.”

This book is another one that has all the answers to all the big questions.  How often have we all wondered which is the correct arm to offer a woman and what do you do when dancing with Royalty… besides dancing.  I have included the above paragraph to give you an idea of the tone on this work.  I particularly like the use of the word “inmates” and I think Lady Kitty Vincent was particularly brave for using “snobbism” so early in her work.

The following is a copy of the contents pages:

1. GOOD MANNERS
Where to walk when escorting a woman—The correct arm to offer—When dancing with Royalty.
2. CORRESPONDENCE
Addressing banks, shops, Editors—Letters of condolence—Beginnings —Endings—Choice of note-paper.
3. ROYALTIES, TITLES, AND SO FORTH
Addressing dukes, archbishops, etc.—Writing to Royalties—Visiting at Government House.
4. THE FIRST COURT
5. DRESS
Sports clothes—Swimming suits—Riding clothes—Mourning.
6. THE BIG HOUSE
Decoration—Spare bedrooms—Servants’ bedrooms—Servants’ hall.
7. THE LITTLE HOUSE
Where to live—Cheap decoration—Hot-water arrangements.
8. THE QUESTION of SERVANTS
Sympathy—Number required—Butler’s, cook’s, valet’s, lady maid’s duties.
9. ENTERTAINING
Dinners—Luncheons—Ball-suppers, etc.
10. CHILDREN . .
Nurseries—Nurses—Pet animals for children— Education, etc.
11. COUNTRY HOUSE VISITING
Letters of invitation—Staying in the small house—Shooting parties—Tips.
12. WEDDINGS
Making the best of things—Engagement rings— Visiting new relations—Breaking it off— Wedding invitations.
13. RIDING
Rotten Row—Correct clothes—Riding lessons— Hunting.
14. FUNERALS
Wreaths — Arrangements — Clothes — Military funerals.
15. CARD LEAVING
16. TRAVELLING
Customs—Tips—Hotels—Costs.
17. LIFE IN INDIA AND THE COLONIES
What to take in the matter of clothes—Books— Decorating a bungalow—Servants.

Good to see that servants are covered.  We wouldn’t want the barriers to be broken down or anything like that.  This book is a regular what’s what in the world of manners and I guess that Lady Kitty Vincent, wife of Brigadier-General Sir Berkeley Vincent and then Ralph Gerald Ritson (English Champion Polo Player), was indeed in the know in regards to the world of manners.  I’ve often wondered how to arrange the Servants bedrooms and what book to take to India.  Decorating a bungalow… where was this book when I needed it?  I now know what to do if invited shooting whilst staying at a country house and the next time I have to break off wedding arrangements, well let’s just say I’m in the know on that one as well.

Finally I would like to say that as far as I’m concerned “to eat peas with one’s knife” IS a crime no matter what Lady Kitty Vincent writes. 

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