I loooove old etiquette books – search for them all the time at yard sales and thrift stores.  A friend gave me a fab early Christmas gift, the book “Don’ts for Boys: Or, Errors of Conduct Corrrected by an Old Boy” first published in 1902 by the Henry Altemus Company from Philadelphia. 

The deep beige-suede covered book is an absolute treasure and I wanted to share some of the gems of “don’ts” with you…

DON’T be too fond of personal liberty.  A rein and curb help a fellow go straight.

DON’T be gloomy, selfish or revengeful.

DON’T be a boor.  The poorest boy in an office can be a model of good manners and neatness.

DON”T forget that a reputation for ‘hard common sense’ is as excellent as it is rare.

DON’T cut out sleep too often or you’ll find she’s cut you out. 

DON’T be afraid of your own company.  You many find yourself a pleasant companion.

DON’T displaly knowledge.  Keep it ‘on tap’, but never on tongue.

DON’T fail to learn a trade if you are sel-dependent.  Talent may keep you; a trade is sure to.

DON’T stud your speech with French jewels.  Better use the well-polished silver of pure English.

DON’T be ashamed if your hands show work.  Lily-like hands are a disgrace to a boy.

DON’t aim to be an ‘ideal’ boy.  Be the best type of the real boy.

DON’T talk gammon.  No one believes a boy who loves the sound of his own voice better than verity.

DON’T bet.  If you lose, you are out.  If you win, some fellow may have to traverse purgatory.

DON’T neglect your bath.  A robust boy should be an enthusiastic bather.

DON’T be one-sided.  Have a hobby if you like but don’t ride it over other people.

DON’T rush into intimacies.  Grow into them.  Remember that it takery.  As more than a mutual liking to constitute friendship.

DON’T be a glutton.  It is odious to stuff or drink yourself.  Eat and drink heartily, but not like an animal.

DON’T introduce your acquaintances to girls unless you have permission and can vouch for their good character.

DON’T worry.  You’ll  need all your courage to face difficulty.

DON’T forget that it does not take any more time to be polite and agreeable than it does to be rude and disagreeable.

DON’T borrow.  There is only a hair’s difference between a thief and a fellow who borrows while airily trusting to luck to repay the loan.

DON’T smoke if you are poor, for your purse’s sake.  If rich, you are better off without the weed.

DON’T queer the old folks by associating with questionable characters.  You have no right to disgrace the family name.

DON’T depend upon pull.  Pull may get you a position but merit alone will keep it for you.

DON’T forget a still tongue often denotes more wisdom than an ample vocabulary.

DON’T jolly girls.  It’s not only mean but unworthy of a manly boy.

DON’T take to heart if your blood does not run blue.  It’s good red blood that makes this nation hum. 

DON’T consider girls ‘in love’ with you simply becaue they appear to prefer your society.  Girls are very apt to hide their strongest preferences.

DON’T judge altogether by appearances.  Gold bricks are very attractive – externally. 

DON’T forget that a clean conscience is of more consequence than spotless hands.  An honest hodcarrier is a better man than a tricky merchant.


DON’T giggle.  For the love of decency, don’t giggle.