Some Rules to the Ladies for Chusing an Agreeable Husband: 1738

A man pressing his suit, Hogarth, Tate Gallery

A man pressing his suit in what seems to be a less-than-agreeable manner, Wm. Hogarth, Tate Gallery

Some Rules to the Ladies for chusing Husbands of agreeable Tempers.

A Very large Nose is no Sign at all of a good Temper, but often indicates Pride, Envy, and a sneering contemptuous Disposition. Let a Lady of a gentle, meek Disposition beware of a very great Nose. An Acuteness in the Extremity of the Nose, or when the upper Park of the Nose ends small and thin, betokens a most violent hasty Temper, which cannot but make a Lady very unhappy. The oblique Nose, or the Nose that is aslaunt or crooked, is significative of an internal Obliquity of Mind. Wide, open Nostrils portend great Heats and Storms of Anger. I would recommend a Nose to the Ladies neither too long nor too short, neither too low nor too high, neither too thick nor too thin, with Nostrils neither too wide nor too narrow.

The next Thing to guess at the State or Disposition of ye Minds of People, is their particular Tone of Voice, or Manner of speaking. Socrates thought there was more to be learn’d this way than from the Face. When a Gentleman sent his Son to Socrates, that he might be inform’d of his Genius and Disposition, after he had look’d at the Youth some Time, he said, Speak, my Boy, that I may see thee. Diogenes used to say, That he always wondered why People were so exact, as never to buy a Pot of Earthenware, but they would try it by the Sound or Ringing of it; but when they bought a Man, they thought it sufficient only to look at him.

As a rule Medium is the best in many Things, it is certain it is the best with regard to the Tone of our Voice. If it is not too much upon the grave or the acute, the too deep or too shrill, the too intense or the too remiss, the too high or too low, it is a Token of a great Felicity of Temper, and a great many other very good Qualities, which make a Man not only happy in himself, but useful to the World. A grave deep strong Voice, betokens Boldness, Pride and Obstinacy: An acute small Voice denotes Timidity and Cowardice, and more particularly so, the acute remiss Voice, but the acute intense, or strained Voice is a Sign of Indignation and Anger. A Man whose Speech is vehement and hasty, seldom wants  a Temper with the same Qualities: It proceeds from the Warmth of Constitution, which causes an extraordinary Quickness and Hurry in everything. A slow remiss soft way of speaking, generally indicates Mildness and Lenity, it proceeding from a Coldness of Temperature, by which the animal Spirits are kept from that violent agitation which is the Occasion of all the rougher and more boisterous Passions. A Stammerer is generally of a Fiery Temper, he being too much precipitated by his Spirits, which cause that Confusion and Indistinction there is in his Voice.

A good deal of the Physiognomic Science is to be learned from the Chin, which I may explain at some other Occasion.

No one will think it difficult, by long comparing Faces and Tempers together, to find out some of the principal Qualities of the Mind of any Person, if he considers, that about fifty Year since there was an Abbot in France, who was celebrated for an extraordinary and surprising skill in describing the Genius and Qualities of any particular Persons whom he had never seen, from only having a Sight of his Hand-writing, even tho’ it was in a Language he understood not one Word of. 

The Gentleman’s Magazine, January 1738

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil has never been married and so has not enjoyed the felicity said to be attendant upon that blessed state.  It is probably just as well. Her life in service has made her entirely too privy to the relations which may obtain between husband, wife, and mother-in-law. Mrs Daffodil recalls the unhappy morning one young bride (who had soaked the arsenic out of flypapers) tried to poison her dear mama-in-law’s coffee and, as it is said, “pin” the deed on Mrs. Daffodil.

However, since it is the marrying month of June, she will be donning her best black taffeta and posting much upon subjects such as courtship, trousseaux, weddings, bridal contretemps, fads, fancies, and phantoms.

The Gentleman’s Magazine excerpt above refers to the ancient science of physiognomy, practiced by the ancient Greek philosophers. By the time of this writing, physiognomy as a science was largely discredited; there seems to be more than a hint of tongue-in-cheek to the advice. Mrs Daffodil will not add any of the vulgar contemporary notions so often bruited about gentlemen’s nose and shoe sizes although she does wonder about what may be learned from the chin .


7 thoughts on “Some Rules to the Ladies for Chusing an Agreeable Husband: 1738

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