This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Home Book Of Etiquette" book.
Such suggestions are hardly necessary. The instinct of a true lady will teach her to observe these basic rules of courtesy. Yet there is a heedlessness in many of the young, and an unacknowledged selfishness, which often lead to incivilities of which they are themselves unaware.
In conversation volubility is to be avoided. The words should be gently spoken, and the voice loud enough to be heard easily, but still with a degree of repression, an undertone below the full powers of the voice. Affectation especially should be avoided. It was once in fashion, but was always strained and unnatural, and, fortunately, has long ceased to be the mode. Like many peculiarities of bygone times, one meets with it now only in vulgar society. The well-bred sedulously avoid affected tricks of speech.
The manner of using the eyes also calls for regulation. The open stare and the shy withdrawal of the eyes are alike to be avoided. They should be raised quietly and with interest to those of the speaker, and only withdrawn when his remarks are concluded. This, of course, is not necessary if he is speaking to a number, but even then the eyes should not indicate inattention, and should be more or less steadily fixed on the speaker's face.
There is, in addition, a certain dignity of demeanor necessary to make even the most superior persons respected. This dignity cannot readily be taught; it can hardly be assumed; it must flow in great measure from intrinsic qualities, though even the finest natural powers may lose their influence through carelessness, and may be enhanced by attention and training. This dignity is distinct from pretension, which yields disgust rather than respect. A true lady will be equal to every occasion, and at home in all grades of society. Her politeness, her equanimity, her presence of mind, should be in evidence alike in the court and in the cottage.
Private vexations should never be allowed to affect a lady's manners, either at home or elsewhere. If not in condition for society, she should refrain from entering it, remembering that every one is expected and should hold herself bound to add something to the general sum of enjoyment. The self-control required in good society is often beneficial alike to the temper and the spirits.
Many a plain woman has won and kept the affection of others merely by being always gentle and womanly in manner. To gain an empire over the affections there must be somewhat of sentiment or sympathy in the nature of a woman. The loud, boastful, positive young lady will never be remembered with a soft interest, unless there be, perchance, some gentle strain in her that redeems her from her assumed hardness.