Bringing the 19th century into modern-day life
As fellow book lovers, I know you will all understand when I talk about the feeling of getting completely wrapped up in a good book. You’ve got a comfy blanket, a sweet warm drink, and you find yourself getting sucked into whatever wonderful world the author has orchestrated to dance around your imagination. For me, the books that grasp me more than any are the period classics. The soppy romances that, once read, stay forever in your heart. Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Thomas Hardy… I could go on, but I won’t, as we’ve got a list to get to.
Now, as a young woman who is avidly into human rights and equality, I am extremely proud of how far we’ve come since these times. There are quite a few social norms of the time that I’m sure we’re all glad to be rid of. But I think there are some things that would be delightful to bring into our modern lives – even if only some of the time.
Okay, by walking I mean like, WALKING. As in, for an hour or two. I live in a tiny village surrounded by tiny villages, and unfortunately for me, I work in the next village over. It’s a 7 minute drive down country lanes, but totally typically of me, I don’t own a car. Now the walk is around an hour and 20 minutes through crop fields and old bridle ways, which you can guess I was not too thrilled about. But after a few weeks, I honestly grew to love it. To think that at one time those paths would have been the only connection between the villages felt rather special. And I daresay that even when I do get a car, I will continue to make the walk to work every now and then, even just as a way to connect with the historical characters I’ve created in my head.
Just to clarify, I mean the fancy dancing kind. I realise that clubbing is the more modern version of this, but honestly? You could talk to people at ye olde time balls. Meeting someone new was an exciting prospect, rather than an event you may seriously regret the morning after. And being able to dress completely over the top with feathers in your hair and a bustle under your skirts that would make Kim K jealous? This girl needs no other reason than that.
3. Letter writing
I realise it’s very long winded and a quite laborious process. But be honest with yourself, how much do you write these days? Even if it is to someone you talk to regularly through text and calls, sitting down and writing a letter can be very calming. And on the other side, receiving a letter that doesn’t make you want to crawl into a hole after reading it can be very uplifting. Try it, you may be surprised.
4. Quality family time
Do you and your family have nights where you sit down to spend time together? Not sitting in front of the TV, not staring at your phones, just time where you can talk and have fun? In the 19th century they didn’t have any choice, but you, my friend, do. Try having a night with your family where you turn off electronics and cut off your connection to the world. I’ll be generous and allow a device for some cheery music (or sullen, or heavy. No judgements here). And just sit down with a card game, or charades, or Pictionary! Even a game of Monopoly (Although Monopoly isn’t recommended – apparently it has a reputation for destroying relationships). Just make sure you can laugh and enjoy each other’s silliness for a few, uninterrupted hours. It’ll do wonders.
This one’s a biggie for me. Even though ‘proper manners’ these days aren’t considered as stiff and false as they once were, I feel we’ve lost an awful lot in these modern times. Respecting a friends parents’ house and not trashing it while they’re away. Or respecting a girls dignity and wishes when they say ‘no’. I’m not going to use the phrase “chivalry is dead”, because I truly don’t think it is. I think that, in general, people don’t feel the need to have good manners anymore, because it’s not a trait that is expected, nor highly praised. I just think that the world would be a lot nicer, and better flowing for all, if people respected everyone as individuals and humans. Hold a door open for a stranger, smile to the person you’re walking by, even though you’ll never see them again in your life. No one is asking for you to be stiff and polished, or to withhold your feelings because it’s improper, or to pretend you’re not having a bad day if you are. But looking people in the eye while you’re talking to them, remembering your P’s and Q’s, and smiling at others whenever you can (without looking completely mental) can really make a difference.
Do you agree with Asha – would life be better if we all adopted these 19th century traits? Let us know in the comments.