Queens Square College a fashionable school of etiquette which was founded in London in the early 19th century, became known as the ‘the Ladies Eton’. It was run by the formidable sisters, Misses Stevenson, who were originally from Dublin and was exclusively for the daughters of the growing middle classes. Sadly there is very little known about them except their lessons in etiquette which were surprisingly popular with the young ladies of the day.
When dining, never make noises with the mouth or throat. Never permit yourself to use gestures, or illustrations made with a knife or fork on the tablecloth.
Do not speak in conversations if you have nothing of interest to say to someone. Do not discuss the weather.
The following actions were considered very rude for a lady to commit: crossing the legs; adjusting the hair; winking or laughing immoderately; beating time with feet and/or hands; rubbing the face or hands; and shrugging the shoulders.
A gentleman may walk between two ladies, but a lady must never walk between two gentlemen.
No gentleman should use his bare hand to press the waist of a lady in the waltz. If without gloves, he should carry a handkerchief in his hand. Likewise, a lady should not touch a person without gloves on. Ladies were to wear gloves in public places and not take them off to shake hands.
It was also considered indecent for a lady to sit on the same seat where a man recently sat.
Swinging the arms when walking, eating on the street, sucking parasol handles, pushing roughly through a crowd, talking and laughing very loudly and boisterously on the streets, and whispering in public conveyances are all evidences of ill-breeding.
A lady could not show her legs or even say the word “leg”. They were properly referred to as “limbs”
Since the whole point of going to an etiquette school was to marry well, it was important to find the right partner. The Stevenson sisters relied on The Principles of Politeness (T. Allman 1832) which gave specificules (what a great word!) for selection:
A tall man could be paired with a shorter woman.
People with eyes of blue, gray, black, or hazel should not marry people with the same eye colour.
People with thin, wiry features and “cold blood” should marry those with round features and “warm blood.”
Those with bright red hair and a florid complexion have an excitable temper and should marry a person with very dark black hair or possibly a brunette.
Soft, fine haired people should not marry people like themselves.
People with curly hair should marry those with straight hair.
Irritable, nervous people should marry sympathetic, quiet types.
Quick-speaking people should marry someone calm and deliberate.
People who do not fit into one specific category (ie not blonde or brunette) or are average (not tall or short) should marry someone similar to themselves.