Don’t: Manual of Mistakes and Improprieties More or Less Prevalent in Conduct and Speech


I have recently acquired an original copy of a little book of manners written in 1884. The 4 1/2 x 6 inch handbook is packed full of etiquette for those seeking to improve their manners in the late 19th century. The book is entitled, “Don’t: A Manual of Mistakes and Improprieties More or Less Prevalent in Conduct and Speech”. The author’s psuedomymn is Censor, though a later publication tells his true name as Oliver Bell Bunce. ” The inside cover reads:

“I’ll view the manners of the town.”

Comedy of Errors

@ D. Appleton & Company, New York, 1884


Now in the public domain, I will be recording a few excerpts from this little book here for your entertainment and reading pleasure.

You and I both will be thankful that we no longer must confirm to these rules of ettiquette, although today’s society could stand to conform to a few “dont’s” such as which follows: Don’t let your g-string show above your jeans, don’t let small children watch TV commercials (for many reasons), don’t forget to take your hat off at appropriate times, don’t forget to ask a blessing on your meals, don’t forget to have manners while driving, and girls, why do you have to be the aggressor in a relationship – don’t! you are worth being wooed.

And now, to the don’ts of the 19th century. Please feel free to post your comments.

Here are a few vignettes from the book:

At the Table

In Dress and Personal Habits

The book is now available online at Google Books for your perusal where you can view the book in its entirety.

In the Drawing-Room –In Public –

In Speech –

In General –

Affectionately addressed to Womankind –



  1. i have a copy of this little gem, and wondered if you could give me an idea of it’s value. it is delightful, isn’t it?

  2. I have a copy of this book, the parchment paper series, No II; by Censor published by D Appleton and Company., 1,3,& 5 Bond Street. 1886. The copyright is 1883. Can you tell me it’s value?

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