Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Victorian Advice for Selecting that Perfect Valentine.

More than a century ago, Professor Thomas E. Hill published such works as "Morals and Manners Illustrated" and "Manual of Social and Business Forms", categorizing the etiquette that governed the lifestyle of a generation; a lifestyle against which the rascals of the "Roaring Twenties" would ultimately rebel. Professor Hill directed the proper American man and woman on the "approved methods in speaking and acting in the various relations of life." Today, propriety seems to have been replaced with "political correctness" and we can look back with nostalgia and amusement upon Professor Hill's era, but in his words there is a grain of civility and polish that we would do well to heed, or at least consider. Here is an excerpt from a section on the proper way to select a lover: "Those who are neither very tall, nor very short, whose eyes are neither very black nor very blue, whose hair is neither very black nor very red-the mixed types-may marry those who are quite similar in form, complexion, and temperament to themselves. Bright red hair and a florid complexion indicate an excitable temperament. Such should marry the jet-black hair and the brunette type. The grey, blue, black, or hazel eyes should not marry those of the same color. Where the color is very pronounced, the union should be with those of a decidedly different color. The very corpulent should unite with the thin and spare and the short, thick-set should choose a different constitution. The thin, bony, wiry, prominent-featured, Roman-nosed, cold-blooded individual should marry the round-featured, warm-hearted, and emotional. Thus, the cool should unite with the warmth and susceptibility. The extremely irritable and nervous should unite with the sympathetic, the slow, and the quiet. Thus the stolid will be prompted by the nervous companion, while the excitable will be quieted by the gentleness of the less nervous. The quick-motioned, rapid-speaking person should marry the calm and deliberate.The warmly impulsive should unite with the stoical. The very fine-haired, soft, and delicate-skinned should not marry those like themselves; and the curly hair should unite with the straight and smooth hair. The thin, long-face should marry the round-favored; and the flat nose marry the full Roman. The woman who inherits the features and peculiarities or her father should marry a man who partakes of the characteristics of his mother. But in all these cases where the type is not pronounced, but is, on the contrary, an average or medium, those forms, features, and temperaments may marry each other." So there you have it. I'm still trying to determine what happens when your personal description overlaps in several categories. Undoubtedly it means you're too odd to ever marry anyone and that you ought to consider monastic living. I'm looking up the nearest convent, myself. Hope this is helpful to you all. Happy Valentine's Day!

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