Writers who addressed the middling sort as well as the elite both shared and embellished Chesterfield's suggestion that one should take the lower rather than the higher or more honorable places in company, unless bid to do otherwise.
Writers for the elite and writers for the middling sort alike recommended a moderate degree of reserve with equals, a notion John Adams echoed in his diary; and some authors repeated Chesterfield's suggestion that "the general rule is to have a real reserve with almost everyone, and a seeming reserve with almost no one.
Writers for the middling sort as well as the great repeated this advice but warned more emphatically that one's gracefulness should not seem affected.
When specific rules for body carriage are examined, it becomes clear that many of the elaborations on elite advice found in works for the middling sort involved urging greater mastery or control over the body.
Authors who addressed the middling sort also gave instructions on standing still: one was to hold oneself erect, neither "lolling" nor leaning on another.
While this might seem elaborate enough, writers for the middling sort gave this advice and then some.
Consideration of body carriage extended to the smallest of actions, and here too, writers for the middling sort gave the most extensive advice.
The end result, for the middling sort and the great alike, was supposed to be a dignified and easy body carriage.
As was true of the advice regarding body carriage, the extra advice to the middling sort concerning facial expression urged greater mastery.
49) Writers who counseled the middling sort did give one piece of conversational advice that is not found in works for the elite alone: never interrupt.