I took a trip last night, into England’s early 1800s. I imagined myself as a daughter being trained to be an accomplished lady and thought about which parts of my training would interest me most.
As far as I know, single, young women were expected to be proficient in singing, music, drawing, painting, modern languages like French, some needlework, and dancing, as well as be skillful in polite conversation and the expected social graces. Of these, I can hardly imagine anything I would rather do than learn the dances of the day, become fluent in French, and do a little drawing. Embroidery might be sort of fun, too, but I’m not sure I would be any good at it. I’d probably have to use my fabric to soak up the blood from my fingers.
Although I enjoy singing, I would not enjoy being taught the finer points of it. Besides, I’m sure I would cause a ruckus since my favorite tunes are Irish ballads, songs hardly fit for an English gathering. I have also tried my hands at music several times, but failed to learn the language. This might be compared to learning Arabic or Mandarin, languages that use characters other than those I am familiar with. Also, I do not have the gift of representing life through color on a canvas, which is why I choose drawing over painting.
I don’t know that conversation or social graces would be so hard to learn, especially if they were a part of everyday life, but it could become very dull puppetry at times.
Ladies: What about you? Which areas of education would you enjoy most if you were being trained to be an accomplished woman?
Gentlemen: If you were a Regency man looking for a bride, which of these skills would it be most important for her to have? Why? (I know these skills seem pretty superficial, but they were useful in their way, if only socially.)