Jan 7, 2011

The Years of Elegance and Etiquette Part I~Tea in my Garden

Good day! My, what a delightful sight it 'tis to see my dear friends in my garden walk, and what a perfect day for a tea! Now whilst the kettle is boiling on the stove, do sign my guestbook, and sit in the shade. How lovely all of you look, and what a pleasure it 'tis that you have all joined me this afternoon for pleasant conversation and tea. Please walk with me to where I have set up my little tea things; the Southern part of my garden walk has very tall flowers and vines growing, making a seclusive alcove, shaded by lace canopies and trees. 

Shall we dream of  some of the silk attire you might wear at an elegant tea? 
My gown is all the way from Paris, France {which I am to visit in a few years!}. It is made up of a creamy, rose taffeta with a complementing silk sash with slightly ruffled sleeves, lace cuffs, and ruffles at the bottom. Hat designed at the New York Milliners.  {Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes}.  
Perhaps, you would wear a romantic, ivory muslin gown with magenta-colored ribbon and neck scarf completed with white puff sleeves!:) Your hair in a beautifully piled into bun or plaited with braids with sugar ringlets {curls held with sugar water, popular during certain eras}. 

Or perhaps, you might wear a flowing dress of pink {a girl's best friend} and white with puff sleeves, and your hair braided into a crown {very medieval} or just plainly down. 
Excuse me as I go fetch my teapot. What tea shall you have? Vanilla, an exotic strawberries n' cream, chai, pomegranate, apple cranberry, orange, lemon,  Earl Grey, English breakfast, green tea? 
{Am I overwhelming you?} Or perhaps, punch, sparkling cider, or iced lemonade is what you prefer.  

At my tea, I shall serve an platters full of scones, tea cakes, tarts, sandwiches~and we shall all gaily nibble on our treats with gloved hands, buttoned with mother-of-pearl beads. 
A vase of peonies and roses/lilacs set in the midst of a white, dainty table cloth. 
Our bows, lacy caps, or ringlets shall bob sweetly up and down as melodious laughter fills the air.  
Yet one thing is missing from the tea party~Etiquette. Feigning etiquette is not as easy as knowing it by heart. 

How sweet and gracious, even in common speech, 
Is that fine sense which men call
Wholesome as air and genial as the light,
Welcome in every clime as breath of flowers~
It transmutes aliens into trusting friends,
And gives its owner passport round the globe. 

The Victorian people held etiquette close to their hearts like the lockets about their necks. In fact, etiquette was what kept society together. Young ladies who keep good mannerisms and the rules of etiquette show consideration and are good, pleasant company. Their speech and posture makes them appear either confident    and puts nervous company at ease.
 It is a truth that a hostess should be genteel, when entertaining company, but likewise the company should be as well-mannered as the hostess. Such mannerisms would be most welcomed, and appreciated, for it shall put the hostess at rest {not to mention as smile upon her face}, as the young {matured as people say} lady sweetly replies, "Yes, please. I should like another tart," or, "Oh, thank you, Mrs. White," giving her an air of grace and charm.  

It is good manners, not rank, wealth or beauty that constitute the real lady. ~Roger Ascham
There are certain manners, which are learned in good society, of that force, if a person have them, he or she must be considered and is everywhere welcome, though without beauty, wealth, or genius. ~Emerson 
Though, I do not agree with all of Emerson's writings, this statement can be greatly applied to etiquette.

We do not actually live in the 18th century {as many of you, I included, dream often of} where the the strictness of etiquette has lessened its grasp, I think etiquette and good manners have all-together deceased. It is a jewel to find a young lady down the street smile politely, or answer an adult without a smirk, or find a young man open the door for a lady~oh, what a jewel! No, it is hardly found in present times. 
Good manners have dissipated! The consideration for others as well has disappeared. What I mean, is to say that being on time, being on schedule, being on time for an appointed time and place~has disappeared!        

Of course, I would not at all like to have to eat with 50 forks every evening at dinner, nor go by some of the rules of etiquette which are most foreign to us, but the disappearance of good-manners completely? That is truly a sad sight to behold. And yet, that 'tis what is happening, has been happening, for the turning of the century. 
Oh, what life would have been in a time so long ago!
Best regards from your dear friend,


  1. Grace,

    I truly enjoyed your company today at the tea party. I had a splended time. The blueberry scones were delicious, and I simply loved the flowers in your garden - all the pretty pink and purple colors were gorgeous. I am so glad that I came. :)

    In regards to etiquette and manners, yes, these things do seem to be lacking in this present society. I think most people don't take having good manners very seriously. What a shame!

    Blessings to you,

    -Lady Rose

  2. What a lovely post,dear Grace!
    I really enjoyed having tea with you! :)

  3. Dear Grace, that was a fabulous post! I've been following you for a while, but I don't often comment.

    However, I must certainly agree with you! There are two parts of me: one that wants to fit in an have a good time with my friends, perhaps in a very relaxed and informal manner, and the other that wishes for mannerisms and etiquette, and just social consciousness. These seem at odds, and I am trying to lessen the depth between then, by acting with more feminine grace as much as I can.

    Thanks for the encouraging post!

    By the way, I'm listening to a song currently called Song of Sienna, which is absolutely beautiful.

    ~Liz B

  4. Oh, what a delightful time I had, my dear. You must promise to host another one sometime soon! Tis true that manners are fading from our world. What a dreadful thing!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and little tips on etiquette! I didn't know that those curls were held with sugar water! That is definitely a neat trick to learn... I wonder how they did it, though.. did they wet their hair with the sugar water, then wrap it around a stick until th water hardened???
    Thank you, once again, dear hostess, for giving a wonderful tea party!

    Cordially yours, Sarah

  5. Tea was wonderful, Miss Grace! I dearly hope I can come again. *winks*

  6. Dear Miss Grace,
    The tea was wonderful, an the cakes my word. What trouble you must have gone through! Now I must have you for tea some time. Oh here you are: http://ladiesoffemininity.blogspot.com/2010/12/lesson-one-daughters.html. (This is actually like this, that I have going on a differnt blog of mine called "Ladies of Femininity" Actually I want it to be a blog of many writers, women and girl writers of virtue.) I hope your time is lovely.

    In dearest reguards,