The middling sort were given some advice that was not addressed to the elite or the lower sort.
The most elaborate counsels are found in works that addressed the middling sort; and most of the elaborations asked the middling sort to be a little more gentle with inferiors than had been required in the past.
The new advice to the middling sort tended to be interspersed with more traditional advice regarding inferiors, advice that reminds us of the limits of revolutionary-era levelling.
The new sensibility is betrayed in some remarks to the middling sort regarding the management of time in encounters with inferiors.
Both the elite and the middling sort were encouraged to show inferiors an affable and benevolent demeanor.
But most advice about talk with inferiors referred to the master-servant relationship; and here, while both the middling and the upper sort were advised to avoid speaking familiarly with or confiding in their servants (or even speaking too unguardedly with others in their servants' presence, as the latter might spread what they learned), middle-class readers were also advised "at the same time do not be backward in occasionally speaking, with kindness and affability, respecting their wants" or talking, with affectionate interest, of their affairs.
Both the middling sort and the elite were advised not to command servants too loudly, too hastily, or with haughtiness; but softly, mildly, courteously.
But middling authors did not labor to perpetuate the old expectations of class deference.
The middling folk who were elevating the virtue of self-madeness were finally capitalizing on the fact that economic change had long been eroding the social-material foundations of that old order.
69) If we miss this early affinity of middling folks for Chesterfieldian advice, we will miss the rising of the middle class.
Other examples of Founders of middling backgrounds keenly interested in manners and observing others as a way of acquiring them are William Patterson and Benjamin Rush.
See his "From Middling Sort to Middle Class in Late Eighteenth-and Early Nineteenth-Century England," in Social Orders and Social Classes in Europe Since 1500: Studies in Social Stratification, ed.
Richard Bushman recognizes that the great dividing line dropped to include the middling sort before the mid-nineteenth century, but does not think it began to do so until the very end of the eighteenth century, The Refinement of America (New York, 1992), pp.
Richard Bushman, unlike Wood, understands the emulative nature of the middling pursuit of refinement, but he, too, argues for a gentry/commons gulf till the end of the century.