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!


Posts Tagged ‘disposition’

How to Tell Disposition and Character by the Nose

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

The Grotke Nose

I’m digging around my books looking for things to feature in a holiday gift ideas post, but came across this and thought you might enjoy. It’s from Professor Jefferis’ and J.L. Nichols’ Search Lights on Health: Light on Dark Corners, which was published in 1911. This book is packed with information about sex, purity, love, courtship, marriage, families, diseases and other health related topics. It’s all here, including a whole section on “How to Read Character,” with the first part focusing on the nose…


1. Large Noses. ~ Bonaparte chose large-nosed men for his generals, and the opinion prevails that large noses indicate long heads and strong minds. Not that great noses cause great minds, but that the motive or powerful temperament cause both.

2. Flat Noses. ~ Flat noses indicate flatness of mind and character, by indicating a poor, low organic structure.

3. Broad Noses. ~ Broad noses indicate large passageways to the lungs, and this, large lungs and vital organs, and this, great strength of constitution, and hearty animal passions along with selfishness; for broad noses, broad shoulders, broad heads, and large animal organs go together. But when the nose is narrow at the base, the nostrils are small, because the lungs are small and need but small avenues for air; and this indicates a predisposition to consumptive complaints, along with an inactive brain and nervous system, and a passionate fondness for literary pursuits.

4. Sharp Noses. ~ Sharp noses indicate a quick, clear, penetrating, searching, knowing sagacious mind, and also a scold; indicate warmth of love, hate, generosity, moral sentiment ~ indeed, positiveness in everything.

5. Blunt Noses. ~ Blunt noses indicate and accompany obtuse intellects and perceptions, sluggish feelings, and a soulless character.

6. Roman Noses. ~ The Roman Nose indicates a martial spirit, love of debate, resistance, and strong passions, while hallow, pug noses indicate a tame, easy, inert, sly character, and straight, finely-formed Grecian noses harmonious characters. Seek their acquaintance.


The other ways to read character, according to the authors, are by:

  • Stature
  • The Walk
  • Laughing
  • The Mode of Shaking Hands
  • The Mouth and Eyes
  • Color of the Hair
  • a few bonus “secretive dispositions”

I’ll take requests if anyone would like to learn more about any of the above!

Things I Must Do To-day

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

reflect universal kindness[Note to Readers: This was obviously written just after 9/11…] No joking around this week, dear friends. As the helicopters pass over my Washington, D.C., home just blocks from the Capitol, I think endlessly of the friends and family and strangers touched by the horrible tragedy that was September 11. I struggled tonight to find an appropriate quote and still don’t know if this is the right one, but it’s a start. This simple selection is from Arthur Gould and E. E. and M. A. Dodson’s book titled How to Obtain Your Desires.

1923: Things I Must Do To-day

I must guard from danger through affection.

I must be strong and energetic.

Whatever I do to-day must be vital.

I must reflect universal kindness.

I must concentrate my energy, and direct it into the right channels.

I must keep my mental windows open to the sky.

I must receive nothing but good from all the world, that I may give back nothing but good to all the world.

Source: Gould, Arthur and E. E. and M. A. Dodson. How to Obtain Your Desires: Positive Thoughts Attract Success. Chicago: Advanced Thought Publishing, 1923.
~ p. 47 ~

Building a New Disposition

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

lead pure livesThis one seems appropriate to start out the new year. It’s from Vivilore: The Pathway to Mental and Physical Perfection, which was written in 1904 by Mary Ries Melendy. I wonder if folks one hundred years ago resolved to do this or that around December 31st?

1904: Building a New Disposition

I. Never look on the dark side of anything. If it has no bright side, don’t look at it at all. Look at something else.

II. Never speak or even think ill of another. Don’t “jump at conclusions” by judging unfavorably even if circumstances are suspicious.

III. Never take any desired favor for granted. If you follow this rule you should never need fear being cheated or disappointed.

IV. Try to find something good in every person you meet.

V. Read good books, think good thoughts, lead pure lives, observing the laws of health.

These habits once formed become literal brain-paths along which it grows easier and easier for the thoughts to travel, bringing gladness, health and symmetry to every nerve and tissue. In countless cases such results have been achieved.

Source: Melendy, Dr. Mary Ries. Vivilore: The Pathway to Mental and Physical Perfection. Chicago: W. R. Vansant, 1904.
~ p. 83 ~