Etiquette: Rules and Usages of the Best Society was published in Australia in 1885 for the benefit of “the better sort” among our colonial cousins. Not the crims, in other words. Some of the advice is very wise, some of it is surreal, while some of it– such as the recommended homemade treatments for acne or grey hair– is liable to end with a trip to the accident and emergency room.
THE “CUT DIRECT”
The “cut direct,” which is given by a prolonged stare at a person, if justified at all, can only be in case of extraordinary and notoriously bad conduct on the part of the individual “cut,” and is very seldom called for. If any one wishes to avoid a bowing acquaintance with another, it can be done by looking aside or dropping the eyes. It is an invariable rule of good society that a gentleman cannot “cut” a lady under any circumstances, but circumstances may arise when he may be excused for persisting in not meeting her eyes, for if their eyes meet, he must bow.
In conversation, one must scrupulously guard against vulgarisms. Simplicity and terseness of language are the characteristics of a well-educated and highly-cultivated person. It is the uneducated or those who are but half-educated, who use long words and high-sounding phrases. A hyperbolical way of speaking is mere flippancy, and should be avoided. Such phrases as “awfully pretty,” “immensely jolly,” “abominably stupid,” “disgustingly mean,” are of this nature, and should be avoided. Awkwardness of attitude is equally as bad as awkwardness of speech. Lolling, gesticulating, fidgeting, handling an eye-glass or watch-chain and the like give an air of gaucheire, and take off a certain percentage from the respect of others.