Archive for the ‘Manners’ Category

The sixteenth century English writer, Joseph Addison, stated: “Men have the sword, women have the fan and the fan is probably as effective a weapon!”

The Language of the Fan demonstrates the hidden language of the fan, an art that has been lost, but was once widely followed. Click here for a fascinating explanation. The Language of the Fan.

In Georgian England, women wore fans as a fashion accessory with almost every outfit that they owned. “There were daytime fans, white satin bridal fans and even mourning fans painted with grisaille, i.e. black, white and grey. Classical fans, brought from Italy, replaced the luscious rococo of the French. As well as drawing attention to beautiful and perfectly manicured hands, these items played a big part in delicate flirtations.”

Madame Devaucy, J.A.D. Ingres, 1807

For more about these beautiful and fashionable accessories, go to the following sites:

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On Dancing the Cotillion

In The Mirror of Graces (1811), A Lady of Distinction writes

“The utmost in dancing to which a gentlewoman ought to aspire, is an agile and graceful movement of her feet, an harmonious motion with her arms, and a corresponding easy carriage of her whole body. But, when she has gained this proficiency, should she find herself so unusually mistress of the art as to be able, in any way, to rival her professors by whom she has been taught, she must ever hold in mind, that the same style of dancing is not equally proper for all kinds of dances.

For instance, the English country-dance and the French cotillion require totally different movements.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the cotillion as:

late 18th-century and 19th-century French court dance, popular also in England. A precursor of the quadrille, the cotillion was danced by four couples standing in a square set. The first and third, then the second and fourth, couples executed various series of geometric figures.”

In The Gentleman & Lady’s Companion, Printed by J. Trumbull, 1798, the author describes the cotillion as thus:

“Balance all eight, then half round, the same back again, 1st and 2d couple (opposite) take your partners with both hands, chasse with her to your side with five steps, back again to your places, balance with the opposite couples, then cross hands half round, back again with four hands round, a gentleman with a lady opposite balance in the middle, and set, the other gentleman with the opposite lady do the same, right and left quite round until to your places. The 3d and 4th couples do the same figures.”

Click here to read this original source from the Library of Congress.

Also in this blog: Shall We Dance? Regency Style

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The London Season began with the sitting of Parliament after Christmas and ended in mid-June, when the Ton deserted London in droves for their country estates in order to escape the summer’s stifling heat and the city’s pungent smells.

During the height of the social whirl, attendance at parties, balls, routs, and the theatre shot up as proud Papas and Mamas strutted their white-gowned, virginal daughters in front of a host of eligible men, some longer in the tooth than others.

“We have already seen that as early as the 1730’s and 40’s many of the residents in the principal streets of the Grosvenor estate, and of course many more in other correspondingly fashionable parts of London, only spent part of each year in town, their seasonal movements being prescribed by those of the Court and by the dates of the parliamentary sessions. In the eighteenth century the number of people participating in this fashionable minuet between town and country cannot be even approximately calculated, but in the nineteenth century detailed information about the London Season was published for many years in The Morning Post, and this has been analysed for the year 1841.”

From: ‘The Social Character of the Estate: The London Season in 1841’, Survey of London: volume 39: The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 1 (General History) (1977), pp. 89-93. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=41842. Date accessed: 30 August 2006.

Wikipedia adds more insights about The Season.

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Regency Fashions, Manners, and Style

Find the most fabulous links on this Women in World History site: Turbans, portraits, the Marriage of Princess Charlotte, Regency Styles Year by Year, Regency Outerwear, and more. This is a review of the “personal website of Catherine Decker, author of scholarly work in several fields, including 18th-century gender and literature.”

Women in World History is a project of the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, in our glorious Commonwealth of Virginia!

To use 21st century American parlance, “I am verklempt” by the sheer variety and magnitude of information covered on this site.

Other links of interest and noteworthiness (we seem all to be beating about the same mulberry bush, don’t we?):

  1. The Georgian Index
  2. The Regency Ring
  3. A Regency Repository

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