Affectations are never in good taste, but may help avert infanticide

From Godey’s Lady Book, December 1876, on the subject of pet names for women (for which Canadian Governor-General Lord Dufferin expressed distaste):

On the whole, it must be admitted that the use of pet names on public occasions is an affectation, and affectations are never in good taste. When they proceed, not, as is usually the case, from love of admiration, but from a desire to win and to display affection, they may be excused, but they certainly cannot be commended.

But the editors’ condemnation of pet names for women is tempered by their acknowledgment that affection for women (even if tastelessly expressed) is a sign of advancement; the practice of infanticide in China and India is held up in contrast to Christian enlightenment. I confess that I am torn between my reflexive desire to mock silly Victorians and their distasteful views on matters of gender, race, religion, empire, etc. (though I can get behind the “infanticide is bad” sentiment), and an almost grudging desire to give the editors kudos for making a stab at using language to analyze social trends.

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