Letter: “I have the misfortune to be poor, and am compelled to work in a factory. I left school and went to work when eleven years old. Now I am sixteen, and I feel that since I commenced working I have wasted a great deal of time that I might have spent in improving myself, and I am resolved to begin even now to learn something. Though I am only a factory girl I do not see why I should not be cultivated and lady-like. Will you tell me how I can make myself thoroughly acquainted with the rules of etiquette; and what studies will most benefit me, and how I can learn to speak very correctly?”
Reply: “Your resolves are highly laudable. To acquaint yourself with the rules of etiquette purchase some good work on that subject and study it careful; also observe well the manner of all the refined people you meet; but above all, practice the unerring courteousness taught by a conscientious following of the Golden Rule. If you are a young lady of as much common sense as your letter indicates, you can learn to speak correctly by using the choicest language you can recall, listening to the conversation of intelligent people, and the speeches of good lecturers and clergymen, and reading a fine class of literature. Nor, as regards studies, would we advise so much to devote your spare time to any particular study, if your desire is general cultivation of your mind, as to good general reading. The monthly magazines contain excellent and varied reading; do not skip the essays, biographies and papers on travel–other countries, people and customs. If you can join a good library, read biographies of noted people, histories, travels, legends, mythology, celebrated poems, and the works of Scott, Hawthrone, Thackeray, Eliot, Irving, Dickens.”
Source: Girls of Today. February 9, 1876: 4.