A phrase used by Alfie Dolittle, Eliza Dolittle
's father in George Bernard Shaw
to describe what an educated reader of the period would have thought of as decency
He especially bemoans the influence of middle class morality when, having been left a fortune by an eccentric American millionaire, he is bullied by his girlfriend into marriage with her, since "now I'm respectable, she wants to be respectable too", to use his own words.
The subject of Alfie's curious fate is a sub-theme of the postulation of the play, that Victorian judge and decree respectability and class according to completely superficial parameters. In Eliza's case that is speech and deportment, in Alfie's - money.