Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!

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Posts Tagged ‘1820s’

In Company

Monday, August 16th, 2010

all whispering, giggling, squinting shunPlease excuse me as I salivate over a wonderful additions to my collection. A gift from my dear sweet mother, this tiny pamphlet, written entirely in verse and is titled The School of Good Manners.It is dated 1822, and so became my earliest book. Some helpful readers have clued me in that the author was Nancy Sproat; the cover claims she also wrote the “Good Girls’s Soliloquy, Poetic Tales, Little Ditties for Little Children, &c.”

Here is a tasty morsel for your instant gratification. Isn’t it nice to know that picking your nose is not just a contemporary problem?

1822: In Company

Intrude not where you’re not desired,
Nor stay till every one is tired.
Writhe not your limbs in every shape
Of awkward gesture, like an ape,
Nor twirl your hands, nor hit your toes ~
Nor hum a tune ~ nor pick your nose ~
Nor keep in motion as you sit,
Nor on the floor or carpet spit,
But in the fire with prudent care.
Nor lean upon another’s chair.
If you must cough, or sneeze, be still
In doing it, if possible.
If you must yawn, just turn aside,
And with your hand the motion hide.
And when you blow your nose, be brief,
And neatly use your handkerchief.
All whispering, giggling, squinting shun,
Don’t turn your back on any one.
Nor bite your nails, nor lolling stand,
Nor in your pockets keep your hand.
Do not allow yourself to look
In letters, papers, or a book,
‘Till you have leave. If one is reading,
Don’t overlook him; ’tis ill breeding.
Don’t wear a frown upon your face;
Let cheerfulness your aspect grace.
To your superiors always strive,
In walking, your right hand to give.
A proper distance keep in mind,
Crowd not too near, nor lag behind.
To equals let your conduct be
Marked with sweet affability.

Source: [Sproat, Nancy]. The School of Good Manners. New York: Samuel Wood & Sons, 1822. (Reprint: David Marshall, 1888).
~ p. 3 ~