The Manners and Customs of Polite Society
The Rules of Etiquette for All Occasions and Forming a Complete Guide to Self-Culture in Conversation, Dress, Deportment, Correspondence, the Care of Children and the Home.
MAUD C. COOKE,
The Well-Known and Popular Author.
Embellished with Colored Phototypes.
Buffalo, N.Y. The Matthews-Northrup Co.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1896, by J. R. Jones, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D.C. All Rights Reserved.
There is much truth and force in the old saying, that "Manners make the man." All persons should know how to appear to the best advantage in polite society. This very attractive volume furnishes rules of etiquette for all occasions, and is a complete guide for daily use in all matters pertaining to social intercourse.
The first department treats of Introductions and Salutations. The rules given under this head are those constantly observed in the best society. The same is equally true of all the instructions throughout the book, which is the most complete work on this subject ever issued.
The next department treats of the very important Art of Conversation. It has been said, with truth, that "a good talker is always a social success." The reader is here taught how to converse agreeably and with ease. To be a bright, witty, interesting talker, is a most charming accomplishment. This volume is a help in this respect, the value of which cannot be overestimated.
Visiting Cards and Customs are next treated, and all the perplexing questions which they occasion are fully answered. With this very comprehensive volume at hand, no person will be guilty of blunders and humiliating mistakes.
Invitations, Formal and Informal, Acceptances and Regrets, form another topic. The work furnishes full information and is authority upon all matters of social etiquette.
All young persons, and some older ones, are deeply interested in the Etiquette of Courtship and Marriage, Weddings and Wedding Anniversaries. These subjects are treated in a manner at once practical and instructive.
The usages of the best society in giving Parties, Dinners, Teas, Receptions, Breakfasts, Luncheons, etc., are minutely described. Also, Home Etiquette and Etiquette for Children. With this volume in the home, parents can easily teach the young polite and winning manners.
Miscellaneous Entertainments form a department that is bright and sparkling. The dark side of life is not overlooked, Etiquette of Funerals forming a separate topic. How the young lady should "come out" is stated in full, with invaluable instructions to her parents and herself.
Then we come to Etiquette of Public Places, followed by that of Walking, Riding, Boating, Driving, etc. Etiquette for Bicycle Riders receives full attention. Here are Hints for Travelers, for Hostess and Guest, General Etiquette and Delsarte Discipline, Musicales, Soirees, Lawn Parties, etc. Washington Etiquette is described and all the proper titles for professional and public men are given.
The Art of Dress receives exhaustive treatment, and the rules to be observed by those who would dress tastefully are very complete. They who are well dressed have already made a favorable impression upon others. Suggestions and rules upon this subject are important to all who would shine in social life.
Letter-Writing makes constant demands upon nearly all persons, yet its difficulties are perplexing. Here are plain directions upon this subject, which should be studied and followed by all who would succeed in the great art of elegant correspondence. It is essential often to have the best Forms for Letters, happily expressed, choice in the use of words and easy and correct in grammatical construction.
Artistic Home Decorations are fully treated, showing how to have a pretty, tasteful and inviting home at least expense. This subject is receiving great attention everywhere, and this delightful volume should be in every household in the land, as it furnishes just the information needed. Fireplaces and Windows, Stairways, Woodwork, Doors, Lighting, Decorating, Furniture and Paintings, are among the topics treated in this part of the volume.
In short, this work is a treasury of rules and information on every subject of Social Etiquette, Self-Culture and Home Life.
An entirely new and very important feature is the beautiful Phototype Engravings in rich colors. The publishers consider themselves fortunate in being able to present these new and admirable embellishments, which have been pronounced gems of art.
THE ESSENCE OF ETIQUETTE 17
INTRODUCTIONS AND SALUTATIONS 23
ART OF CONVERSATION 37
VISITING CARDS 51
VISITING CUSTOMS 69
INVITATIONS, FORMAL AND INFORMAL 83
ACCEPTANCES AND REGRETS 107
ETIQUETTE OF COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE 116
WEDDINGS AND WEDDING ANNIVERSARIES 143
HOME ETIQUETTE 165
ETIQUETTE FOR CHILDREN 180
DINNER GIVING 189
TABLE ETIQUETTE 211
EVENING PARTIES, RECEPTIONS AND SUPPERS 227
BALLS, DANCING AND MASQUERADES 241
SOIREES, MUSICALES AND LAWN PARTIES 261
BREAKFASTS, LUNCHEONS AND TEAS 274
MISCELLANEOUS ENTERTAINMENTS 296
CHRISTENINGS, CONFIRMATIONS AND GRADUATIONS 315
ETIQUETTE OF FUNERALS AND MOURNING 323
ETIQUETTE OF PUBLIC PLACES 328
WALKING, RIDING, BOATING, DRIVING 334
BICYCLE ETIQUETTE 343
CLUB ETIQUETTE 352
GENERAL ETIQUETTE 364
WASHINGTON ETIQUETTE 374
DELSARTEAN DISCIPLINE 378
ART OF DRESS 388
COLORS AND COMPLEXIONS 398
DRESS FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS 408
LETTER WRITING 429
FORMS FOR LETTERS 452
ARTISTIC HOME DECORATIONS 467
HOW TO BE BEAUTIFUL 492
THE ESSENCE OF ETIQUETTE.
The old chronicler says, "Manners maketh man." "Manners are not the character, but they are the dress of character," adds a modern writer. Manners are not the pure gold of the mind, but they set the mint stamp upon the crude ore and fit it for circulation, and few there be who may dare to set aside their valuation. To genius only is this privilege granted, and genius is exceeding rare.
It should be remembered that more people can give the list of Dr. Samuel Johnson's sins against good manners than can quote from his "Rasselas" and "Rambler," while there will always be more who can descant upon the selfish, tyrannical ill-breeding of Thomas Carlyle than can estimate the value and immensity of his literary labors.
The essence of all etiquette will be found in that Golden Rule from Holy Writ that enjoins upon us to "do unto others as we would that they should do unto us," and whereon Lord Chesterfield based his maxim for the cultivation of manners:
"Observe carefully what pleases or displeases you in others, and be persuaded that, in general, the same things will please or displease them in you."
The social code, even in its smallest particulars, is the outgrowth of a kindly regard for the feelings of others, even in the little things of life, and a kindly sympathy for all that interests your companions.
"Be hospitable toward the ideas of others," says Dr. George Ripley. "Some people," he asserts, "only half listen to you, because they are considering, even while you speak, with what wealth of wit they will reply." Such people may be brilliant, but they can never be agreeable. You feel that they are impatient to have their own turn come, and have none of the gentle receptiveness so pleasing to our own ego that rebels against their egotism.
It is the kind and sympathetic soul that wins friends, and
"He who has a thousand friends Has not a friend to spare, But he who has an enemy Will find him everywhere."
Our first impressions of a man are impressions of his manners. We designate him from the first glimpse of his face, first sound of his voice, as an affable, agreeable and sincere individual; or as crabbed, cross-grained and suspicious in his temperament, and are attracted by, or repelled from him, according to the characteristics with which his manners have clothed him.
The Influence of Good Manners.
So potent is this power exercised over the world by the gentle sway of manners that their possession is worthy the cultivation and care we put forth for the attainment of all gracious, pleasant things, and to their possessor is given the key to which all doors open.
Emerson was one of the most acute observers of manners that culture has ever produced, and he wrote: "The longer I live the more I am impressed with the importance of manners. When we reflect upon their persuasive and cheering force, how they recommend, prepare and draw people together; when we think what keys they are, and to what secrets; what high and inspiring character they convey and what divination is required of us for the reading of this fine telegraphy, we see what range the subject has."
Manners, with some, are the gracious legacy of inheritance, education, and environment; with others they are the growth of the careful cultivation of years, and carry with them the calm self-poise of the man who has conquered circumstances and established his own position. In such as these there inheres a certain power that impresses itself upon all who come in contact with its influence.
The self-possession and certainty stamped upon the face of a man who inherited, or won for himself, the sure and perfect armor of good-breeding, is but the outer stamp of the man himself.
Manners are profitable as well as pleasant. They carry with them a measureless weight of influence. A gentleman once brought into his library a costly subscription book. "My dear," said his wife, "you already had a copy of that work." "I knew I did," he replied, "but the manners of the lad who sold it were so elegant that it was a pleasure to purchase it."
The charm of good manners is not a qualification belonging to any particular station in life, for, to the poor and unlettered oftimes may be traced deeds and actions that mark them as nature's noblemen. Education, wealth and social station do not always confer them, but the outer grace may be acquired by all.
In this way it has come to be known that a refinement of laws in any country indicates that a gradual refinement of manners has led up towards, and finally crystallized into a refinement of the hearts and the laws of the people.
The Marks of True Politeness.
True politeness is always known by its lack of assumption. President Tyler, in advising his daughter-in-law previous to her taking her position as lady of the White House, used these noteworthy words: "It is, I trust, scarcely necessary to say that, as upon you will devolve the duty of presiding at the White House, you should be equal and untiring in your affabilities to all. You should remember that nothing shows a little soul so much as the exhibition of airs or assumptions under any circumstances."
The minor observances have much to do with the polishing and perfecting of the manners of men. These little things that mark one as being "to the manor born" are not the growth of moments but the slow accretions of years; neither can their use be dropped in the privacy of home to be assumed at pleasure for the outside world to admire, else they will fit but illy, as borrowed plumes are wont to do.
The best-intentioned and best-hearted people that the world has ever known are too often careless in the slight observances that mean so much to the cultivated. Thoreau says, "I could better eat with one who did not respect the truth or the laws than with a sloven and unpresentable person. Moral qualities rule the world, but at short range the senses are despotic."
"The code of society is just a little stronger with some individuals than the code of Sinai, and many a man who would not scruple to put his fingers in your pocket, would forego peas rather than use his knife as a shovel."
The Great Value of Courtesy.
"Be courteous," is an apostolic command that too many earthly followers of the Twelve would do well to consider. They are just, they are truthful, sometimes aggressively so; they are conscientious, they weary not in well-doing, but—they are not courteous. They are not good mannered, and by so much as they sin in this regard do they lose their power to win.
"Good manners," says one, "are more serviceable than a passport, than a bank account, than a lineage. They make friends for us; they are more potent than eloquence or genius without them." They add to beauty, they detract from personal ugliness, they cast a glamour over defects, in short, they work the miracle of mind over matter exemplified in the case of the extremely plain Madame de Stael, who was reputed to "talk herself beautiful in five minutes."
They teach us the beauty of self-sacrifice, they constrain us to listen, with an appearance of interest to a twice-told tale, they teach the wife to smile over the somewhat worn jest of the husband, as she smiled in like fashion in the days of auld lang syne, or, harder still, they enjoin upon us to follow the Duc de Morny's definition of a polite man, as "one who listens with interest to things he knows all about, when they are told by a person who knows nothing about them."
They impress upon us to guard the feelings of others, they warn us to avoid the familiarity that breeds contempt, and, above all, they are contagious!
There is much to be said as to the true definition of those beautiful but abused terms, lady and gentleman, each with its strong, sweet meaning.
"A lady is one who, to inbred modesty and refinement, adds a scrupulous attention to the rights and feelings of others, and applies the Golden Rule of doing as she would be done by, to all who are connected with her, both at home and in society."
While a gentleman has been described as: "Whoever is true, loyal and candid; whoever possesses a pleasing, affable, demeanor; whoever is honorable in himself and in his judgment of others and requires no law but his word to make him fulfil all engagements."
Such men and such women are "ladies" and "gentlemen" whether they are found in the peasant's hut or the prince's palace.
Rules of Etiquette.
The following rules, published some time ago as a receipt for that beauty of expression so much more lasting and attractive than mere beauty of feature, were written originally for the guidance of woman, but they are equally applicable to the needs of man.
"1. Learn to govern yourself and to be gentle and patient.
"2. Guard your temper, especially in seasons of ill-health, irritation, and trouble, and soften it by a sense of your own shortcomings and errors.
"3. Never speak or act in anger.
"4. Remember that, valuable as is the gift of speech, silence is often more valuable.
"5. Do not expect too much from others, but forbear and forgive, as you desire forbearance and forgiveness yourself.
"6. Never retort a sharp or angry word. It is the second word that makes the quarrel.
"7. Beware of the first disagreement.
"8. Learn to speak in a gentle tone of voice.
"9. Learn to say kind and pleasant things when opportunity offers.
"10. Study the characters of those with whom you come in contact, and sympathize with them in all their troubles, however small.
"11. Do not neglect little things if they can affect the comfort of others in the smallest degree.
"12. Avoid moods, and pets, and fits of sulkiness.
"13. Learn to deny yourself and prefer others.
"14. Beware of meddlers and tale-bearers.
"15. Never charge a bad motive, if a good one is conceivable."
Courtesy, charity and love are one, and, when all good deeds are done the warning comes: "If ye have not charity" all is naught. Therefore:
"A sweet, attractive kind of grace, A full assurance given by looks, Continual comfort in a face, The lineaments of gospel-books."
Do ye all things courteously, founding precept and practice upon that old rule, the Golden Rule, which is the Alpha and the Omega of all good manners and the very Essence of all Etiquette.
INTRODUCTIONS AND SALUTATIONS
Indiscriminate introductions are always in bad taste, yet, since the sweetest of our friendships are wont to reach us through the medium of a formal presentation, it is well that we understand how, when and where these introductions should properly take place.
As a rule, introductions, to be agreeable, should be desired before being given; and since we are, or should be, in a measure, the endorsers of those whom we present to our friends, a due degree of care should be exercised in so doing, lest inadvertently we force upon another what may prove an undesirable acquaintance.
Introductions are given in cases of necessity, such as business transactions, or emergencies that may arise in traveling, as when we wish to consign some friend to the care of another. They are given at balls, that partners may be found for all the dancers. Here, however, care must be taken beforehand to ascertain if the parties will dance, for such is the selfishness and, shall it be said, ill-breeding of our society young men that not unfrequently they will walk away without even offering the lady the courtesy of the next dance. In this way her hostess unwittingly exposes her to a marked slight, since the ball-room introduction is supposed to mean an intention on the part of the gentleman to show some attention to the lady, with whom he should either dance, promenade, or talk through one set.
Neither are young ladies quite guiltless in this respect, since it often happens that they refuse partners from simple caprice, and no gentleman likes to be refused, even for a quadrille. It may be added that these introductions necessitate no after acknowledgments on either side unless mutually agreeable.
Introductions are given at card parties when necessary to fill out tables for a game and they occur also where one person especially wishes another to become acquainted with a friend.
An English Custom.
Strangers are always introduced to visitors, and at dinners, if previously unacquainted, the gentleman is introduced, a few minutes beforehand, to the lady he is to take out to the table. In England, however, where they exercise great care in giving introductions, even this formality is not always complied with. Richard Grant White speaks of being informed at the last moment, in some house whose owner boasted many titles, that he was to take down "the lady in pink over there in the bay window," to whom, therefore, he duly went, and, bending an inviting elbow, said in his most persuasive tones: "May I have the pleasure?" The proffered honor was accepted, and he and the lady, each equally ignorant as to the other's identity, went out to spend a long two hours in entertaining one another.
The one redeeming feature of this English custom is that everyone, at private entertainments, talks to everyone else without an introduction, considering that the fact of them being guests under the same roof is a species of endorsement for all, and, better still, this sociability carries with it no after obligations, because, since they are not introduced, they are not acquainted. In this country, owing probably to the unfortunate frequency of introductions among us, a certain chill pervades the atmosphere when a portion of the guests are unacquainted with one another, for, as a rule, no one here attempts to converse without having been properly presented.
In metropolitan circles, however, this is not so much the case, and as our country glows older it is to be hoped that "a change will come o'er the spirit of our dream" in this respect, thus lessening the present responsibility of our hostesses, who, torn between two opposing factions, feel that "If I introduce Mrs. So-and-so to Mrs. Blank she will never forgive me, and if I do not introduce Mrs. Blank to Mrs. So-and-so I shall have made a mortal enemy."
At a party given in behalf of a debutante she is to be introduced to every lady present, and every gentleman is to be presented to her. In case there should be a distinguished guest present at any entertainment, all other guests must be made acquainted with the favored one.
You May Introduce Yourself.
There are also times when it is eminently proper to introduce one's self, such as when you find upon entering a drawing room that the hostess has forgotten your name; or if it should have been wrongly announced; or if you are an entire stranger to the hostess, it is not only proper, but imperative, to introduce yourself at once. Then, too, it occasionally happens that a gentleman, wishing to render some assistance to a lady who is traveling alone, prefers to introduce himself beforehand. This, of course, leaves the lady perfectly free to recognize him or not at any future time. Occasions such as these are constantly arising, and tact and judgment must be used to decide the question for one's self.
Watering-place introductions are frequently given for the convenience and pleasure of the time being. They are usually made by the eldest lady of either party and further recognition in the future is optional.
Do not introduce people in public places. Do not, even if a friend should overtake you and walk by your side for some distance, or should meet and talk with you, introduce him to another friend with whom you are also walking. You may do it, however, in exceptional cases. Do not, as a rule, introduce two people who are inhabitants of the same town; it is to be supposed that they could have known one another had they cared so to do. Still, it is well to exercise judgment in this one particular, since what could be done unquestioned in a city parlor cannot always be accomplished without exciting comment and ill-feeling in a country town.
Do not introduce gentlemen to ladies without first being sure that the acquaintance will be agreeable to the lady, since it is much more difficult for a lady to shake off an undesirable acquaintance than it is for a gentleman. In the case of foreigners it is always well to be careful before introducing them to young ladies at their own request, since it often happens that foreign titles, found upon this side the water, are extremely dubious. Hence one is clearly justified in referring them to her parents or guardians for the required favor.
A Custom Out of Date.
Introductions at evening parties are, fortunately, very much out of date, except it is for partners in dancing, or unless there should be so many strangers present as to threaten overwhelming the entire party in speechless gloom. Occasionally in the country some old-fashioned hosts persist in handing each newcomer around the room like refreshments for an introduction to each one present. This custom puts the later arrivals in the position, as some one says, "of making a semi-circular bow like a concert singer before an audience," and this, to non-professionals, is not a little embarrassing.
Timid people, and people unaccustomed to the rules of social etiquette, always feel a certain dread in going through the slight formality of an introduction. Nothing, however, if one remembers a few timely hints, can be simpler than this little ceremony so necessary for each of us to perform many times in our intercourse with others. Recollect always to introduce the gentleman to the lady, never the lady to the gentleman, except in the case of very exalted rank, extreme age or the possession of great eminence in intellectual or artistic life; otherwise, the rule is inflexible save in introducing a youthful "rosebud" formally to an elderly gentleman, in which case you would present her to him. The chivalry of etiquette assumes that a man is always honored by presentation to a lady.
In introducing ladies, present the younger to the elder, unless in case of some marked exception such as those given above.
The simplest form in presenting one person to another is always the best. A wife presents her husband as "Mr. North," "Colonel North," or "Doctor North," always giving him his rightful titles. The wife of the President should introduce him as "The President," while we should address him as "Mr. President."
In introducing a gentleman to a lady one should say, "Mrs. A., allow (or permit) me to introduce (or present) Mr. B.; Mr. B., Mrs. A.," being sure that the names are distinctly pronounced. If this should not be the case, let the parties themselves ask it at once, a simple "I beg pardon, I did not understand the name," saving much future annoyance.
Forms of Introduction.
In introducing two ladies the same formula may be used, as: "Mrs. Y., allow me to introduce Mrs. Z.; Mrs. Z., Mrs. Y." Or one may say: "Mrs. Y., this is my friend Mrs. Z.; Mrs. Z., Mrs. Y." A still further variation is to say "Mrs. Y., I believe you have never met Mrs. Z.; Mrs. Z., Mrs. Y." In introducing two gentlemen any of the above forms may be used. If the introduction is given simply for business purposes it should be short and concise, as: Mr. A., Mr. B.; Mr. B., Mr. A.
In introducing a stranger it will always be well to make some little explanatory remark that may be used as a stepping-stone toward beginning a conversation, thus "Miss S., allow me to present Mr. T., who is just back from Africa," or, "Miss E., this is my friend Mr. F., the composer of that little song you sang just now." Any remark like this always serves to make the opening of the conversation easier.
An introduction received, or solicited, simply for your own convenience, as a business recommendation, or otherwise, entitles you to no after benefits, or social recognition.
Where there are several waiting for an introduction to the same individual, name the latter first, then in succession name the others, bowing slightly, as each name is pronounced, in the direction of the one named. Thus: "Colonel Parker, allow me to present to you Mrs. Roe, Miss Doe, and Doctor Brown," being sure always to give every one their full honorary title in making the introduction.
In introducing relatives be very sure to give their full name. A sister, for instance, should be introduced as, "My sister, Miss Roe;" or, "Miss Mary Roe," or, "My sister, Mrs. Doe," as the case may be, making sure always never to say "My sister Mary," or, "My brother Joe," thereby leaving the stranger ignorant as to name or estate.
A mother is always at liberty to introduce her son or daughter; a husband is supposed always to introduce his wife, and a wife her husband.
What Should Follow the Introduction.
Nowadays, the usual recognition of an introduction is by a formal bow. Handshaking rarely occurs and a gentleman introduced to a lady never offers his hand unless she should first extend her own. The inclination on the part of the lady is slight, that of the gentleman deeper. The custom of a courtesy by the lady has scarcely taken root in this country.
A hostess receiving in her own parlors is at liberty, if she should wish, to extend her hand to all comers.
A gentleman upon being introduced to a lady usually suggests that he is "Happy to make her acquaintance," or, "Delighted to make the acquaintance of Miss B——," though, if he choose, he may simply bow, repeating her name. A lady, upon introduction to a gentleman, simply bows, possibly repeating his name, but never is "happy" or "delighted" to make his acquaintance. The pleasure is supposed to be upon his part, the condescension upon her side. She should, however, upon his expression of pleasure, bow, with a slight smile, or a murmured "Thank you," in return, though, a married lady, especially if she be a little the elder, may cordially say she is "glad to meet him."
It is the place of a gentleman, after an introduction to a lady, to make some remark calculated to set the conversational ball rolling, and she should endeavor to supplement his efforts sufficiently to keep up the conversation. If, however, the gentleman be younger than the lady and somewhat embarrassed, she should show sufficient tact to open the conversation herself. If the introduction is between two ladies, the one who is introduced should make the first remark.
Letters of Introduction are fully commented upon and explained in this volume in the Department on Correspondence, where the proper forms for such letters are given.
All introductions, however annoying, should be received pleasantly and acknowledged fully while under the roof where they are given, though, an hour after, the two might pass one another in speechless silence. This is for the hostess' sake, and so great is this solicitude on the part of the well-bred that mortal enemies have met and smiled across the mahogany of a mutual friend, thus preventing the utter chagrin of a hostess who discovers, by frowning faces and averted gaze, that her carefully arranged dinner is a partial failure.
A Lady's Wishes Should be Respected.
Gentlemen rarely ask for introductions to one another, but, should a lady, for any cause, express a desire to present two men of her acquaintance to one another, they must, even if not anxious for the honor, acquiesce instantly in her request.
An introduction given between two visitors calling at the same house need not carry with it any weight unless both parties so desire. At the time, a bow is the most that is demanded; afterward, it is the individual having the most social prestige, or, if there is no difference in standing, the one having most confidence, to whom this privilege is given of acknowledging or ignoring the introduction. A bowing acquaintance with a person thus introduced cannot in the least injure the social position of an individual.
An introduction given on the street needs no after recognition. At the time, a gentleman simply lifts his hat, a lady bows, and that is all.
After any introduction (except the one just mentioned) never give the cut direct save for very good cause. It is too often an uncalled-for insult.
The style of salutation differs among nations, but there have been none yet discovered so low in the social scale as to be entirely destitute of some sign for expressions of respect or fear between man and man. Fear is, perhaps, the origin of respect, for every form of salutation among us to-day may be traced back to a source that plainly affirms it to be the survival of some attitude of deference from the conquered to the conqueror, or some habit of adoration of an unseen Power.
In our own customs of salutation we bare the head in token of respect, never thinking that in the olden time it was an act of adoration practiced before gods and rulers. Our formal bow is simply the modification of a servile prostration, and the graceful bow of a lady of society is but the last remaining trace of a genuflection. When we rise and stand as our friends enter, or leave, our reception-room, it is an act of respect, it was once an act of homage. The throwing of a kiss is an imitation of an act of worship that devout Romans practiced before their gods, and the wave of the hand to a friend across the street is a modification of the same custom.
The removal of a gentleman's glove in shaking hands with a lady is the relic of a habit based on necessity, and dating back to a day when the knight of old removed his iron gauntlet, lest he crush the maiden's hand within its grasp. The removal of the glove was practiced between men also at a later date, when, too often, beneath the heavily embroidered gauntlet, lurked the assassin's dagger, so that to unglove before a hand-clasp grew to be considered an act of good faith.
The bow, the hand-clasp, and the kiss are the principal methods of salutation employed by the most highly civilized nations of this era of the world.
The bow is the most proper salutation among friends and acquaintances meeting in public. It is also frequently resorted to on private occasions.
The bow should never degenerate into a nod; this is both ungracious and ungentlemanly. The hat should be lifted sufficiently to clear the head, and the bow, in the reception room, should slightly incline the body also. Ladies should incline their heads gracefully and smile upon their friends pleasantly, but not broadly.
Removing the Hat.
A gentleman should remove his hat from his head with the hand farthest from the person saluted. This turns the hat from instead of towards them. If you see that the person saluted is going to stop to shake hands, use the left in order to leave the right free.
A gentleman, in giving assistance to a lady in any difficulty (which should be offered immediately), should do so courteously, lifting his hat and requesting the pleasure of assisting her. This rule, unfortunately, is much more frequently observed on the Continent of Europe than in England or America.
Gentlemen meeting and passing ladies on hotel stairs, or in the corridors, should lift their hats, whether acquainted or not. The same courtesy should be observed on entering an elevator where there are one or more ladies, or in opening a door for a lady and giving her precedence in entering.
All these observances, slight as they are, mark the thorough gentleman who respects all women, whether or not there has been a formal presentation between them.
In giving up a seat to a lady in a street car, or a crowded room, a gentleman will do so with a slight bow. Such a kindness should always be acknowledged by the lady with a bow and a polite "Thank you." American women are too prone to take this altogether optional courtesy on the part of men as a matter of course, deserving no thanks at their hands, or to look upon its omission as an infringement of their rights. No true lady will ever fail to acknowledge such courtesies. Any aid given, or information furnished, should also call forth her thanks.
A gentleman walking with a lady will salute with a bow any person they may meet to whom she extends the same courtesy, even should the party be quite unknown to him.
Where two gentlemen are walking together and they chance to meet a lady with whom one is acquainted and the other not, both should bow, the one because of his acquaintance and the other out of respect.
The Privilege of Recognition.
A gentleman should usually wait for a lady to recognize him first on the street. This privilege of recognition is her prerogative. Especially is this the case if he is simply the acquaintance of a single evening's entertainment. Acquaintances of long standing, however, do not wait for such formalities, usually speaking at about the same moment.
When a gentleman and lady are walking together and another gentleman, also a friend of the lady, should meet or overtake the couple, a bow and smile and a word of greeting are all that can be permitted the newcomer, when he should at once pass on. By doing otherwise he affronts the lady's escort, and should she, by word or look, endeavor to retain him at her side, she also sins against that conventional code which argues that by her own consent she has granted her company, for the time being, to her first escort.
As before said, introductions are not to be given in public places, but should it happen that a lady walking with a gentleman meet another lady, and either pause for a few words, or else walk on beside her for a few steps, the gentleman, at her departure, should lift his hat politely in farewell.
If a gentleman should stop a lady on the street for conversation, and she should be desirous of discontinuing it, she should bow slightly, whereupon the gentleman must instantly take his leave. If she should walk on without breaking up the conversation, he is bound to accompany her.
Absolute good form, however, demands that a gentleman, wishing to converse with a lady on the street, should, instead of stopping her, turn and walk with her for a short distance in the direction in which she may be going. When the conversation is finished, he should lift his hat, bow, wish her "Good morning" or "Good afternoon," as the case may be, and retrace his footsteps in the direction in which he was previously going.
Young ladies show the same deference in awaiting a bow from a woman much their senior that a gentleman does towards a lady.
A gentleman, in bowing to a lady, if he should be smoking, removes his cigar from his lips, and if, alas! his hand or hands should be in his pockets, withdraws them immediately.
A lady's bow should always be returned by a gentleman; if he should be determined not to recognize her he should take the pains of crossing the street or in some other manner avoiding the meeting. Bows from persons not recognized at the moment should be returned, as it may be some one, not recalled at the moment, yet who has a claim upon your politeness.
If the same friend is met several times in the course of a walk or drive, the first bow is all that is required, a smile, or a glance answering all purposes of recognition at after meetings.
A gentleman lifts his hat on passing a funeral procession or a group of mourners; he removes it entirely on entering a church, and he should remove it on entering a private office; he should remain uncovered while talking to a lady at a door, unless, after the kindly custom of French ladies, she should request him to replace his hat, on account of wind or weather; in short, he should be with uncovered head much more than American men are apt to be.
Gentlemen, who are acquainted, should lift their hats slightly upon meeting one another, but should never fail to do so should either one be walking with a lady. Under such circumstances a simple nod would be a slight towards her.
A recognition, by bow or smile, is not required from opposite sides of the street, or across hotel dining rooms. Gentlemen riding or driving, and having both hands occupied, are not compelled to lift the hat on bowing.
If saluted by an inferior, do not fail to return the courtesy in kind, remembering Henry Clay, who, when asked why he lifted his hat to an old colored man who had paid him the same deference, replied, "I never allow a negro to outdo me in politeness, sir."
Gentlemen, as a rule, shake hands upon being introduced to one another. The lady of a house usually shakes hands with all guests whom she receives in her house for the first time. Gentlemen do not, however, offer to shake hands with the hostess, leaving it to her to put the stamp of cordiality upon the ceremony of introduction, or to simply pass it with courtesy.
If a lady extends her hand to a gentleman, he does not, as of old, remove his glove, nor does he make use of the out-of-date formula, "Excuse my glove." At his departure the lady bows her adieu, but does not again extend her hand.
The hand-clasp is a cordial expression of good will, but there are degrees of cordiality to be observed in the performance of this ceremony. Every one knows, and shudders at, the woman who gives two, or at most, three fingers of a cold and lifeless hand for a moment into your keeping, and every one recognizes and fears the man who swallows up and crushes the entire hand within his powerful grasp. Each extreme is to be avoided.
A lady should give her whole hand, not her fingers; a gentleman should receive it cordially, holding it neither too tightly nor too loosely, shaking it very slightly and not presuming to retain it. Should a gentleman sin against any of these particulars, a lady is justified in refusing to offer her hand next time.
A young lady simply gives her hand to a gentleman, neither pressing nor shaking his, unless it be in the case of especial friends. Two ladies shake hands quietly. Both ladies and gentlemen always rise to shake hands. Elderly people, or invalids, are permitted to excuse themselves and keep their seats.
Ball-room introductions for dancing do not necessitate hand-shaking, a bow being all that is required. A very particular introduction, wherever given, such as one prefaced by some remark like, "I want you to know my friend So-and-So," merits a hand-shake on your part, together with some cordial remark.
Inferiors in social position should always wait until their superiors offer the hand, never taking the initiative in this respect. This precaution will sometimes save them the pain of a marked slight.
Words of Salutation.
Verbal greetings ought always to be quiet and respectful; they should never be shouted across streets, nor called when the parties are at any distance from each other. Nicknames should not be used publicly and promiscuously, in short, all possible respect should be paid to the feelings of other persons on public occasions.
The phrases, "Good morning," "Good evening," "Good afternoon," "How do you do?" "How are you?" are the usual forms employed. Sometimes the name of the person addressed is added, thus: "Good morning, Mrs. Smith."
Replies to these salutations are sometimes simply a bow from a lady to a gentleman, or perhaps a bow and a repetition of his greeting, as: "Good morning, Mr. Jones." "How do you do," should be replied to by the same phrase, never, as is often the case with the novice in social arts, by: "I am very well, thank you." A special inquiry after one's health, however, as: "How do you do, Mrs. Jones?" followed, after her acknowledgment, by: "How are you?" or, "How is your health?" should receive the response, "I am very well, thank you." After an acquaintance has been ill, the first inquiry by a friend should be one concerning health. This is a rule that should never be neglected; to do so would be an oversight.
Kissing is a custom which the code of English and American etiquette relegates as much as possible to the privacy of home. A kiss, the outward expression of our closest affection and our warmest love, should never be made a public show whereat the outside world may smile. Hence, the effusive kissing between girls and women at their meeting and their parting, is to be regretted as a specimen, to say the least, of very bad taste on their part. Indiscriminate kissing of children and infants is also objectionable on the score of health. Happily, kisses and embraces among men are never seen in this country, though, in some parts of Europe they are constantly to be observed, both in public and private.
ART of CONVERSATION
"Talk often," says Lord Chesterfield, "but never long; in that case if you do not please, at least you are sure not to tire your hearers. Pay your own reckoning, but do not treat the entire company: this being one of the very few cases in which people do not care to be treated, every one being fully convinced that he has the wherewithal to pay."
All other arts pale before the art of conversation as a source of popularity, and no other accomplishment tends so much toward social success. The contact of many minds is a constant stimulus to mental activity and its outward expression in animated conversation. It lends new power to brilliancy of talent, and quickens, to a certain extent, even the lowest and dullest of intellects.
Everyone has been surprised and delighted at times by some unexpectedly brilliant remark that has flashed from his lips during the course of some animated exchange of badinage and repartee, and there is no one but realizes how the mind acquires breadth and the opinions grow tolerant as one converses with persons of intelligence and culture.
Since, however, according to Cicero, "Silence is one of the greatest arts of conversation," there may be added, with equal wisdom, to the above counsel, "Listen often and well." Be not an impatient listener, nor yet an impassive one, but pay the compliment of attention and interest to the subject in hand, and your company will be sought as an acquisition.
Any lady, by profound attention to, and a pleased interest in the subject under consideration, may promote the conversation most skillfully and delightfully. Knowledge of the subject is not always necessary. An English savant, deeply interested in Egyptology, once escorted a young lady out to dinner. His conversation, as a matter of course, turned entirely upon excavations, hieroglyphics, and kindred topics. Upon all these the young lady was profoundly ignorant, but, if unversed in Egyptian lore, she was most thoroughly versed in conversational arts, and, by her speaking glances of intelligence and her pleased smile, so fascinated the man of science that he enthusiastically declared afterward that "Miss L—— was one of the best conversationalists and the most intelligent young lady he had ever met, and that her knowledge of Egyptology was something wonderful." This, to one who had sat opposite them at table, and could have vouched that the lady in question had not spoken a single word through the entire dinner, was slightly amusing. So strong however, was the impression left upon the mind of the savant by her interested attention, that it would have been difficult to convince him of the fact.
The Good Listener.
This, even if an exception, shows what attentive listening may accomplish toward social success. Let it be mentioned here, however, that no one individual should be so carried away by a pet hobby as to force conversation into a monologue. A very well bred man, no matter how great his interest in or eloquence upon any topic may be, always catches at the slightest hint to close the conversation.
A man will always bear in mind that the greatest compliment he can pay a woman is a respectful, deferential attention to her words. There are men whose very manner of listening conveys, in itself, the most delicate flattery.
A woman, in her turn, should always remember that, however interesting her conversation may be, there is always danger that a man may possibly weary of its protracted continuance, and so she should forebear leaving him no loophole for escape. Louise Chandler Moulton enjoins one thing on women which they would do well to recollect, and that is, "if they want a man to stay with them to make it evidently and entirely easy for him to get away. There is something lawless and rebellious in even the best of men; they hate doing things because they are obliged."
To render conversation agreeable, suitable topics for the company present, if possible, must be chosen. Neither soar above the level of their conversation, nor sink so far beneath it, as to lead them to infer that you possess a very slight opinion of their merits.
In conversing, too many educated men fall into the error of talking commonplaces to all women alike, as if "small talk," to the exclusion of all weightier matters, were the only species of conversation suited to a woman's ear. On the contrary, she is more often either hurt or angered at your evident condescension, or, on the other hand, she credits you with just the amount of knowledge that you have evinced in your conversation with her.
In the search after suitable topics it is well to remember that all are pleased by a display of interest in their especial affairs. Thus, by leading the artist to talk of his pictures, the lady amateur of her music, the prima donna of her successes, the mother of her children, the author of his book, you may rest assured that they will always speak of you as a person of great discrimination and a very interesting conversationalist. They in their turn, unless extremely devoid of tact and eminently selfish, will display sufficient regard for your feelings to give an opportunity for waxing eloquent on your part over your own pet topics. Be very careful then not to fall into that besetting fault of good talkers, a monologue, which is fatal to all conversation.
Richard Steele gave a most desirable maxim for conversation when he said: "I would establish one great rule in conversation, which is this, that men should not talk to please themselves, but those that hear them—adapting their words to the place where, the time when, and the person to whom they are spoken."
Misuse of Quotations.
Do not use classical quotations before a woman unless you know that, by virtue of a classical education on her own part, she is capable of appreciating the point. Remember, too, that there are a great many men who, not having enjoyed your educational advantages, are annoyed, rather than edified by your display of learning.
Do not make a point of exhibiting your learning aggressively anywhere. "Classical quotation is the literary man's parole the world over," says Dr. Samuel Johnson, but he savored somewhat of the pedant, and his imitators, by too frequent an indulgence in this habit, may run the risk of aping his pedantry without possessing his genius. Neither is it well to interlard conversation with too frequent quotations from English authors, no matter how well they may fit the occasion. This is a habit that easily becomes tiresome.
The current change of society is the light coin of "small talk" that breaks with chink and shimmer the heavy bills of large denomination, that else would overwhelm social conversation with their size.
Wiseacres may meet and learnedly discourse on all manner of sage subjects, but that is discussion, debate, argument, what you will, not conversation. Conversation is light, brilliant, and tossed back and forth from one to another with the grace and ease of the feathered shuttlecock.
A lady of high literary attainments was seen in a gay gathering sitting quietly by herself in a corner, and, being questioned by a friend as to her silence, replied, half bitterly, "I have no 'small change,' and my bank bills are all of too large denomination for the occasion." This is a difficulty that one should strive to overcome, for, after all, it is small change, rather than bank bills, that society in general requires.
Given the foundation of even a moderate education, the aspirant for social success will gain more ideas from modern fiction than from any other source whatever. No historian presents the social manners and customs of his time with half the accuracy displayed by our best fiction writers. A well known society woman, familiar with its usages both at home and abroad, declares that "a course of Anthony Trollope is as good as a London season," and we all know that Howells and James and other authors of that ilk have lifted the portieres of our own drawing rooms and shown us what is transpiring therein. Gail Hamilton says that to be "well-smattered" is next best to being deeply learned, and nowhere can a smattering of almost everything be better gained than from the modern works of fiction.
A Valuable Source of Knowledge.
A friend of the writer, a talented elocutionist, and socially brilliant, once said with reference to her quiet country home and her sudden emergence therefrom to mingle in Washington society, that she found herself perfectly at ease in those circles so widely different from her previous experience of life, and that "she attributed it wholly to her knowledge of social customs and the social atmosphere, as gained from the best society stories." It was in this manner that she served her social novitiate and the result bore testimony to its efficacy.
Where one is not quite sure of rising to the occasion it is well to be provided, before attending a social gathering, with several topics that will be suitable to bring forward in conversation. Many are in the habit of doing this constantly. Some new book, one that created a little sensation, some course of lectures, some late theatrical or operatic entertainment, anything, in short, that is generally popular. Be careful, however, in broaching such subjects not to egotistically give your own opinion at the outset by saying decidedly, "I think that book is a perfect failure, quite absurd in fact. What is your opinion?" This course of action, if your companion is younger or more timid than yourself, will probably reduce him to the point of having no opinion whatever, or at least to being afraid to express it, and the conversation, as such, will fail completely. Whereas, if you had quietly asked him if he had read the book, how he enjoyed it, etc., you would have gradually entered upon a conversation wherein you would have drawn out his ideas and at the same time have been enabled to display your own.
Cultivate Your Mind.
One of the first requisites of social success is a cultivated mind. You cannot hope to hold your own in society without at least a general knowledge of the events of the last few years in historical, scientific, artistic and social fields. Such knowledge is easily gained by a little study and a great deal of observation, the pains taken being more than recompensed by the ease and assurance with which one enters society.
If a musician or an artist, you should be sure to know something of your chosen art aside from the mere technicalities. Be well versed in the various schools of painting, the varied merits of the musical masters of the past and present. Be filled with the spirit as well as the technique of your profession and you cannot fail to converse pleasantly upon these subjects. Always remember, however, not to advance your opinions to the utter exclusion of every one else, or your companionship will become tiresome to the best of listeners.
"Drawing Out Others."
The very essence of the art of conversation is to draw others out and cause them to shine; to be more anxious, apparently, to discover other people's opinions than to advance your own.
Who does not remember gratefully and admiringly the sympathetic people who seem to draw out the very best there is in us—in whose company we appear almost brilliant, and actually surprise ourselves by the fluency and point of our remarks? Such people are a boon to society. No one sits dull and silent in their presence, or says unpleasant, sarcastic things before them, and, while never seeming to advance any views of their own, and certainly never forcing them upon our attention, we involuntarily learn of them and love them, scarcely knowing why.
Malebranche showed his knowledge of human nature when he wrote: "He who has imparted to others his knowledge without any one perceiving it and without drawing from it any advantage, necessarily gains all hearts by his virtuous liberality. Those who would be loved, and who have much wit, should thus impart it to others."
The Passion for Argument.
Never permit yourself to be drawn into an argument in general society. Nothing can be more provocative of anger on one side or another, or more destructive to conversation, than a lengthy and, too often, bitter argument. Good breeding would suggest that the subject be changed at once before the controversy becomes heated. Especially should any debate upon politics or religion be avoided as subjects upon which two seldom agree, but which are so close to the hearts of the majority as to cause serious annoyance if their pet beliefs are touched upon or questioned. Be careful, also, not to take the opposite side of every question that is brought up in conversation.
Wit and Humor.
Sidney Smith once said: "Man could direct his ways by plain reason and support his life on tasteless food, but God has given us wit and flavor, and laughter and perfumes, to enliven the days of man's pilgrimage, and to charm his pained footsteps over the burning marl." And Sidney Smith was so much the life and soul of every social gathering that, while the English language is spoken, his witty remarks will be quoted with delight.
Wit, however, is too often but another name for sarcasm and ridicule, that, like a barbed arrow, rankles long in the soul of its victim. True humor, it should be remembered, is neither scathing nor insolent; it is simply that bright repartee that someone aptly calls the "spice of conversation." Hence it would be well to smother the temptation to be witty at the expense of another, and crush back the brilliant but cutting retort meant only to wound, not to amuse.
Beware of evil speaking. In the eyes of all right-minded persons much that you have said recoils upon your own head, for no one has quite the same opinion of an individual after having listened to a series of scandalous stories from his lips. Hence, for your own sake, as well as for that of others, eschew the vice of evil speaking as a very pestilence.
Let young ladies have a care how they speak lightly or contemptuously of one another at any time, but more especially when conversing with men. Nothing, as a rule, is more prejudicial to a woman, in the estimation of a man, than this all-too-prevalent habit. No matter what the faults of your sister-woman may be, condone them gently, or, if this be impossible, let a silence that is golden fall about the subject.
Unhesitatingly acknowledge a woman's beauty or talent, and, instead of detracting from your own merits, it will enhance them in the eyes of all. A young man was once heard by the writer counselling his sister from the depths of his own experience as a social favorite. "Never," said he, "say one word against a girl to any young man. It only puts you down in their estimation. Say something pretty and complimentary about them if you can; if not, keep still." And his advice was words fitly spoken, that are, indeed, "like apples of gold in pictures of silver."
Stories should never be introduced into general conversation unless they meet several requirements. In the first place, they should be short and well told. Secondly, they should be new to the company where they are told. Nothing is more tiresome than listening to a twice-told tale, though the height of good breeding is to smile over its tediousness.
One way to avoid inflicting this martyrdom is to ask beforehand if any one present has heard such and such a story. Then, in the third place, it must be straight to the point, and directly called for as an illustration of the case in hand.
Do not tell more than two or three stories or anecdotes in the same evening. Never be guilty of relating in company a narrative that is in the least questionable in its import. This is utterly inexcusable, and, to so sin, is to render one's self unfit for social companionship. Avoid repetition. If some portion of an anecdote has met with applause, do not repeat it. Its unexpectedness was its only charm.
This is a sin against good manners which cannot be too greatly condemned, being, as it is, in some measure an insult to the company in which you find yourself. No one cares to be of so little importance as to find the person addressed totally oblivious of his presence or remarks, and no one can blame him if, as Chesterfield suggests, "finding you absent in mind, you should speedily find them absent in body."
To be endurable, compliments should be made use of in a very cautious and artful manner. If permitted to degenerate into gross flattery they are far from complimentary to the understanding of the individual addressed. The day, happily, is long since past when conversation between men and women was confined to unmixed flattery on the one side and blushing acceptance on the other. That "the best flattery is that which comes at second hand," no one can deny, yet, judicious praise is not only acceptable but useful many times in giving the needed incentive, without which the flagging footsteps might have faltered on their way.
Contradictions and Interjections.
Never be guilty of abrupt contradictions. If you differ decidedly from some given opinion, soften the expression of your difference by such modifications as, "I hardly think so," or, "My idea is rather different," or, "I beg to differ." This is much more polite and less likely to arouse antagonistic feelings.
In conversation never allow yourself to fall into the habit of using constantly such phrases as "You don't say!" "Do tell!" "Did you ever?" "Is that so?" and many others that will come to mind as you recall your own faults in this respect, and the faults of your friends. An equal avoidance should be cultivated of such interjections as "Say," "Well," etc., with which we often begin our sentences. These habits are all to be condemned and should be corrected as speedily as possible.
Voice and Manner.
Let your voice be low and pleasantly modulated and your enunciation clear, distinct and musical. All these things are marks of good breeding, and, if not yours by birthright, may be acquired by patience and perseverance. Avoid high tones and nasal tones. Do not talk rapidly, or in a hesitating, stumbling fashion. A partial course in elocution and voice training will work wonders in this direction, and any one determined to succeed will never regret the time or money so spent.
Cultivate also, if shy and timid by nature, self esteem sufficient to imagine that you are quite the equal of those with whom you are about to meet. This resolution will enable you to say what you wish without fear of mistake, and without showing too much respect of persons. The above-mentioned elocutionary lessons will also be an aid toward acquiring self-possession.
Repose of manner should be assiduously cultivated. Do not fidget or loll about in your chair, or twist your fingers constantly, or play with something while you talk, or restlessly beat a tattoo with fingers or feet. All such faults render your companionship a burden to those about you.
Indulge in no facial contortions, as they rapidly become habits difficult to break and usually leave their traces on the face in lines impossible to efface. Lifting the eyebrows, rolling the eyes, opening them very widely, twisting the mouth and opening it so as to show the tongue in talking, are all disagreeable habits, that, once acquired, can only be broken by ceaseless vigilance. Practice talking without moving the facial muscles but slightly. Do this before your mirror daily, if necessary, and before the same faithful mentor learn to open the eyes less widely, parting the lids only just so far as to show the colored iris without a glimpse of the white portion, or cornea, of the eye above or below it. The time thus spent will result in a change most gratifying to yourself and friends.
Never interrupt a person who is talking. Never take the words out of anyone's mouth and finish the sentence for them. To do this is ill-bred and does not bespeak your superior discernment, but your ignorance of polite society.
Puns, unless exceptionally witty, are to be carefully avoided. Young ladies, especially, should beware of establishing any reputation for punning. At all events, puns should never be far-fetched.
Do not whisper in company; nothing can be more vulgar. Neither should two in a gathering converse together in a foreign language, not understood by the others present, or talk blindly in a manner unintelligible only to themselves. Should, however, a distinguished foreigner to whom the language is almost unknown be among the guests, it is a mark of courtesy for as many as possible to converse in his native tongue.
Do not immediately break off the conversation upon persons entering the room. It is too apt to leave the impression upon their minds that the discourse was of them. In carrying on a conversation after newcomers enter the room, briefly recapitulate what has gone before, that the thread of the story may be complete for them. Look at those with whom you are talking, but never stare.
Profanity is the last and most inexcusable sin committed against good manners and propriety. The man who will deliberately use profane language in the drawing-room, or before women and children, or aged men, should be considered without the pale of good society.
Language coarse in its tendency is open to the same criticism, and remarks and stories that carry a double meaning cannot be too severely condemned. If it is at any time possible for a woman to receive such a story in its innocent sense, let her do it, showing by some remark the light in which it is taken; otherwise, she should be apparently blind and ignorant as to its meaning.
Avoid affectations. In conversation make use of long words as little as possible, and wherever a short and easily understood one is suitable to express your meaning, choose it in preference to one of polysyllabic proportions.
Use of the Lips and Facial Expressions.
Do not cover the lips with the hand, or a fan, while speaking. To do so shows nervousness and a lack of social training. Besides this, much of the expression of the face lies in the mouth. This is shown by all actors, readers and public speakers, who, as a rule, appear before their audiences with closely-shaven faces, that no portion of the varying changes of the lips may be lost.
Never, if you are a man, speak lightly of women. Nothing so surely lowers your own standard in the eyes of all sensible people. Never hurt the feelings of others. Never allude publicly to times when you have known them in less affluent circumstances than the present.
Be very careful to guard against over much laughing. Nothing gives a sillier appearance than spasms of laughter upon the slightest provocation. It soon grows into a very disagreeable habit. Smile frequently, if need be, but be moderate in laughter. A very little reasoning will serve to do this; and the reflection that few grown people laugh well will aid still farther in curbing the propensity.
Let your greeting of acquaintances be free from boisterousness and familiarity. Do not bring your hand down heavily upon their shoulder, nor emphasize your sentences with pushes and punches of an active elbow, nor fling your arms about their necks or shoulders. To some fastidious persons these boorish acts are a positive insult. An affectation of boisterous familiarity more often betrays a feeling of social inferiority than absolute shyness or timidity does.
Never permit yourself to correct other people in matter or manner, unless it should be absolutely necessary to protect some one else. Under all ordinary circumstances do not betray a confidential communication made you by a friend. Set the seal of the confessional upon it. If it should be sorrowful in its nature, do not mention it even to the friend who has confided it to your keeping unless he or she should first refer to it. It may have been confessed in a moment of confidence and regretted almost as soon as spoken, hence, do not revive the memory yourself.
Control Your Temper.
Keep your temper under all circumstance while in company. Even if some remark has been made with plain intent to injure your feelings, an absolute ignoring of the intended sting will prevent others, and, most of all, the guilty party, from perceiving the depth of the wound. A true gentleman, or lady, is never quick to take offense.
Never ask impertinent or personal questions, unless these latter are called for by the nature of the conversation. Be careful not to give advice unless it is sought, and remember then that it is a commodity of which a very little goes a long way.
And last, but not least, utterly eschew all slang. There are some young ladies who apparently think that a little slang, to spice their remarks, is piquant and saucy, but, in the majority of cases they so soon overstep the mark and fall into the deplorable habit of constantly and copiously interlarding their speech with all manner of slang phrases, that one is forced to advocate total abstinence as the only safeguard.
The too common habit of exaggeration, on the part of so many schoolgirls and young ladies is also to be deplored, a quiet unobtrusiveness of speech always marking the true lady.
Do not, in speaking, too frequently mention your hearer by name. To do so implies either great familiarity on your part, or social inferiority on theirs. In this latter case it savors strongly of patronage.
In speaking to people always give them their proper titles, as: "Colonel," "Doctor Jones," "Professor Gray." Never make a practice of saying: "That is so, Colonel," but, "That is so, Colonel Sharp."
In mentioning a married daughter, unless to a very intimate friend, give her married title, as: "Mrs. Miller," or, "My daughter, Mrs. Miller." In speaking of unmarried daughters, or of sons (unless to servants), give them their Christian name, as Hattie or George, or else mention them, and this is better before strangers, as: "My daughter," or, "My son."
Misuse of Initials.
Never address persons by their initials, as: "Mrs. W.," "Miss C.," "Mr. D.;" give them instead their full name. Neither should you call young ladies, "Miss Mollie," or "Miss Jennie;" "Miss Smith," or, "Miss Brown," being in much better taste. Their Christian names should only be used to distinguish them from other sisters. Never address people by their Christian names unless very familiarly acquainted. This practice savors of ill-breeding and is often very annoying to the person so addressed.
In speaking of persons who are absent, mention them by their last name, as: "Mrs. Roe," "Mr. Doe," unless the intimacy is very great; even then care should be taken not to use their Christian names too freely among persons to whom they may be strangers.
A wife in speaking of her husband should rather say "Mr. Smith," than "My husband;" but, above all, let her refrain from referring to her liege lord as "he," as if the whole wide world possessed no other mortal to whom that pronoun was applicable. Husbands should follow the same rules in referring to their wives.
Be careful not to interlard conversation with "sir," or "ma'am." In Europe these terms are relegated to the use of the lower classes.
Cards are the sign manual of society. Their use and development belongs only to a high order of civilization. They accompany us, as one writer has justly remarked, all the way from the cradle to the grave. They begin with engraved announcements of the birth of a child, then cards for its christening, and, later on, dainty little cards of invitation for children's parties, until, in due time, the girl crosses that line
"Where the brook and river meet Womanhood and childhood sweet,"
sets up a card of her own, and blossoms forth into a young lady.
They announce the gaieties, the pleasures, the anniversaries of life: they inquire for us during our illness and sorrow, they return thanks for our gifts and attentions, and, finally, they commemorate to our friends the last, sad earthly scene and ring the curtain down.
The stress laid by society upon the correct usage of these magic bits of pasteboard will not seem unnecessary when it is remembered that the visiting card, socially defined, means, and is frequently made to take the place of, one's self. It will be seen, therefore, that one of the first requisites for social success is to understand the language, so to speak, of the visiting card. With this end in view the following suggestions on the subject have been carefully arranged with due regard to brevity, accuracy and ease of reference.
Style of the Card.
The card should be perfectly plain, fine in texture, thin, white, unglazed and engraved in simple script without flourishes. Gilt edges, rounded or clipped corners, tinted surfaces or any oddity of lettering, such as German or Old English text, are to be avoided. A photograph or any ornamentation whatever upon a card savors of ill-breeding or rusticity. Have the script engraved always, never printed. The engraved autograph is no longer considered in good taste, neither are written cards as elegant as those that are engraved.
Size of the Card.
The regulation size, both in this country and England, for a lady's visiting card is three and one-half inches in length and two and one-half inches in width. This oblong form is most generally used, but there is an almost square shape, two and a half inches by three, also in favor, and especially used by unmarried ladies where the shortness of their name would be too much emphasized in the longer card. For instance: "Miss Ray" would be quite justified in choosing the square style, while "Miss Ethelinda Crane" or "Mrs. Algernon Spencer" would find the length of their names displayed to better advantage on the oblong card.
Cards for gentlemen are much smaller than those for ladies. This holds good in both England and America, where the required size is three inches one way by one inch and a half the other.
The largest card in use is the one sometimes adopted by the newly-married and engraved with their joint names. Thus:
MR. AND MRS. GRANT TROWBRIDGE
may make use of a card four inches long by three and one-half in width, but a lady and her daughter, where their names appear together, should use the first-mentioned oblong size for ladies.
Engraving the Name.
Married ladies make a point of using their husband's name or initials upon their cards instead of their own, as:
MRS. GEORGE B. CLEVELAND,
MRS. G.B. CLEVELAND,
MRS. GRACE E. CLEVELAND.
It occasionally, however, happens that some lady, unwilling to so lose the identity of her own name, prefers this latter form. Or, if her family name be an old and honored one, she frequently retains it, thus:
MRS. GRACE ETHRIDGE CLEVELAND.
But, though the married woman make use of her husband's name, she has no claim to his titles; so that while others may address her as "Mrs. Judge So and So," "Mrs. Dr. So and So," she must carefully avoid all such display. Let her be comforted, however, as her just pride in her husband's honors is easily gratified, since she is expected, on all formal occasions, to leave one of his cards, wherein his titles are set forth, with her own.
Occasionally a lady contents herself with having engraved upon her cards a simple:
This, however, is unwise unless the name is a very uncommon one, and even then, should there be more than one branch of the family in the vicinity, the wife of the oldest member of the family only would have a right to make use of it.
Newly married couples frequently send out for their first cards the largest size mentioned engraved thus:
MR. AND MRS. HOLMAN B. HUNT.
Occasionally they preserve this custom throughout the entire first season. But this is all; from thenceforth husband and wife have their own separate cards. They may, however, be used at times throughout the married life to convey messages of sympathy, congratulation, or to accompany gifts.
Widows have always hesitated about exchanging the beloved and accustomed name upon their cards for their own signature. This, however, in many cases, is a necessity, especially where there is a son bearing the father's name. This is sometimes thought to be avoided by the use of the distinctive "Senior" or "Junior," a custom obviously wrong, since after the death of Francis Brown, Senior, Francis Brown, Junior, becomes at once Francis Brown, and his wife, Mrs. Francis Brown. Hence, while we have no such convenient title as "Dowager," the widowed Mrs. Francis Brown will be obliged to drop her husband's name in favor of her son's wife and thenceforth appear before the world as Mrs. Mary E. Brown. Where there are no children, or immediate relatives, change of title on the part of the widow is a mere matter of sentiment.
The black border upon a widow's cards should never be over a quarter of an inch in depth: more than this savors of ostentation rather than affliction.
Young ladies, especially if it is their first season in society, will find it the best form to have their names engraved upon the visiting card of their mother. Thus, if it is the eldest daughter:
MRS. WILFRID FERGUSON.
If a younger daughter:
MRS. WILFRID FURGUSON.
MISS ETHEL FURGUSON.
And if it should chance that two daughters "come out" in consecutive seasons both of their names are frequently engraved upon their mother's card, thus:
MRS. WILFRID FURGUSON.
MISS ETHEL FURGUSON.
Though it often happens that, for convenience sake, by the time the second rosebud is "out," the first has established a cardcase of her own. Yet as neither custom nor etiquette sanctions young girls in having cards of their own, a mother often continues to have the name of her young daughters engraved upon her own card.
Young ladies should always prefix "Miss" to their names, as:
MISS ALICE CREIGHTON WRIGHT,
there being a certain forwardness about announcing one's self as:
ALICE CREIGHTON WRIGHT.
Especially is this so among strangers, the prefix "Miss" carrying with it a certain quiet reserve and dignity.
The eldest daughter of a family announces herself upon her cards as "Miss Wright," unless there are several of the same name in town, while the others are respectively "Miss Alice Creighton Wright" and "Miss Ethel May Wright." Occasionally a card is used for sisters engraved as follows:
All pet names are to be avoided upon visiting cards and "Nettie Cranston" very properly becomes "Miss Annette Cranston" upon her cards.
Neither are initials good form for young ladies, though after an unmarried lady has reached a certain, or rather an "uncertain," age, she may, if she choose, be permitted to place upon her visiting cards:
MISS A.C. WRIGHT.
If the young lady be motherless she often has her name engraved beneath that of her father, using not the smaller card of a gentleman but the first given oblong card for ladies. In England unmarried ladies, unless they have reached a very "uncertain" age indeed, follow the above fashion, and quite young ladies leave their chaperon's card as well. This fashion is often followed here, and when so done signifies that they will be inseparable for the season.
Address on Cards.
There is much question as to whether the address should be engraved on a lady's card, some very exclusive circles prohibiting it entirely on a young lady's card and questioning its use for a married lady, suggesting that in case a young lady desires to give her address to any particular individual it may be easily pencilled on one of her cards for the occasion, and that married ladies have the privilege of leaving one of their husband's, with engraved address, in connection with their own. This custom, while it may seem an over-nicety to those outside the great centers of metropolitan life, will be appreciated by all those to whom the "ins and outs" of city life are familiar. It should be said that while engraving the address is still a mooted question, except for young ladies, each individual is at liberty to use her own judgment on the question.
Cards for Gentlemen.
The size and style of a gentleman's card has been already given, but a few words as to name and titles will be necessary here. Custom, with reference to the cards that a man must carry, is considerably less arbitrary than towards women in the same respect. He may use his initials or his full name, as it pleases him. He may inscribe himself "Mr. John Smith," or simply "John Smith," and be quite correct in so doing, though just now there is a little inclination in favor of the more formal "Mr.," an English custom we do well in copying.
Military, not militia, naval and judicial titles, may always be used. Physicians and clergymen have the same privilege; honorary titles, however, should be avoided.
A private gentleman would have his card as: MR. HOWARD MASON, 24 Union Square. If he were a club man, the club name, providing it were a very fashionable one, would take the place of the address, as: MR. HOWARD MASON, Union League Club. For a military card: CAPTAIN ARTHUR COLEMAN, U.S.A. For a naval card: ADMIRAL PORTER, U.S.N. A medical man might use the following: GEORGE H. HARRISON, M.D.
Some eminent men go to extreme simplicity, as, for instance, "Mr. Webster" being all that graced the cards of that celebrity.
It is hardly necessary to say that a business card should never be used as a visiting card. A gentleman carries his cards either in his pocket or in a small leather case sold for that purpose.
Cards for Receptions.
Cards used for receptions, lawn-tennis parties, afternoon teas, etc., in place of more formal invitations, have been fully described under "Invitations." One example will suffice here: MRS. LAWRENCE BARRETT, July 1st, at 4. P.M. The object of the entertainment being written in the corner of the engraved card.
Cards for receptions are a necessary convenience in this era of lengthy visiting lists. Without them there would be no possibility of leisure or of seeing one's friends at their own homes. The following is an example: MRS. EMMONS B. CHURCHILL, Thursdays. Or: Thursdays, Three o'clock to five, may be substituted; the latter form, however, usually meaning that a simple afternoon tea will be served on the day mentioned.
A young lady never sends out a reception card in her own name alone, but her name is engraved upon her mother's card or that of her chaperon, thus: MRS. HAROLD GRAY; MISS GRAY, Wednesdays, Four o'clock to seven. Or, in case of a chaperon: MRS. GEORGE M. JANSEN; MISS ALICE LEVICTOIRE, Wednesdays, Three o'clock to five.
There are a certain number of French phrases that custom has declared shall take the place of that "pure English undefiled" whereof Spenser wrote. In a few cases these chance to be shorter, more euphonious, and more directly to the point than the corresponding English phrase. For instance, the word "chaperon," so important in its signification at the present, has no adequate English translation. Below is given an alphabetical list of those phrases in most frequent use, together with the abbreviations that ofttimes serve in place of the full phrase:
FRENCH PHRASES. ABBREVIATIONS. TRANSLATIONS.
Bal masque A masquerade ball.
Chaperon An older woman attending a girl in society.
Costume de rigueur Costume to be full dress.
Debut First appearance.
Debutante A young girl making her first social appearance.
En ville E.V. In town or city.
Fete Champetre A rural or outdoor entertainment.
Matinee A morning or daylight entertainment.
Matinee musicale A daylight musical entertainment.
Musicale Musical entertainment.
Pour dire adieu P.D.A. To say farewell.
Pour prendre conge P.P.C. To take leave.
Protege One under protection.
Repondez s'il vous plait R.S.V.P. Reply if you please.
Soiree An evening party.
Soiree dansante A dancing party.
Soiree musicale A musical entertainment.
The term en ville, when used in the place of "city," in addressing a note that is to pass through the postman's hands, is a needless and annoying affectation, since it is hardly to be expected that a knowledge of the French language forms one of the qualifications for a letter-carrier's position, and if delay ensues in delivery, the writer, not the carrier, is to blame.
In the event of leaving town for a long absence, P.P.C. cards are frequently sent out. This is especially convenient where the length of one's visiting list renders the personal making of farewell calls an impossibility. The cards are sent out upon the eve of departure, and all persons receiving them are expected, upon the arrival of the absentee, to return the courtesy by cards (which may also be sent by mail) and by invitations. The ordinary engraved visiting card is used, and the initials P.P.C. (an abbreviation of the French phrase "to take leave") are written in capitals in the lower left hand corner of the card. P.D.A. (to say farewell) is occasionally used, but is not in general favor. If the address should happen to be engraved in the lower left hand corner, P.P.C. may be written in the lower right hand corner, either way being permissible at any time. The large card inscribed jointly with the name of husband and wife is frequently used in this connection. P.P.C. cards are especially appropriate where there are no calls due. If possible, unpaid personal calls should be answered in person on the eve of departure.
Turning Down the Corners.
This custom is almost out of date, and in consequence of the various interpretations liable to be given to the act, its disuse is a satisfaction to all parties concerned. To briefly explain the custom, a card turned down at the corner, or across one end, signifies that the call was made in person, and is sometimes very convenient when one wishes it distinctly understood that the card was brought in person, not sent; while one folded through the center denotes that the call includes all members of the family. A man should not turn down the corners of his cards.
Minor interpretations, such as which end or which corner is to be turned down on different occasions, even the surviving adherents of the custom do not pretend to agree upon.
How to Leave Cards.
In leaving cards follow the fashion of those who have paid you the same courtesy. If a call has been made upon you, return it by a call, as to return a personal visit by the sending of a bit of pasteboard would partake of the nature of a slight. If cards only have been sent you by a servant, return cards in the same manner by messenger or servant; if they were sent by mail, return by mail. If the cards of any of the gentlemen of a house are left, always leave the cards of any gentleman of your family in return.
Of course first calls should be made and returned in person, the card-leaving formalities coming later on. This rule is departed from only by a few ladies whom age, health, social or literary duties will excuse from making personal calls. These frequently permit themselves to send out cards in place of a first call, either accompanying them with, or immediately following them by an invitation to some entertainment. This attention should receive the same notice as a first call; cards should be sent in return, together with an answer to the invitation, if it is of a nature to require it, and a personal call must be made thereafter, unless it was simply an afternoon tea, and an invitation sent in return speedily as possible.
A lady leaves a card for a lady only, a gentleman leaves cards for the host and hostess of a house. Some authorities assert that a man making the first call of ceremony should, in addition to the first-mentioned cards, if none of the family are at home, leave another folded down through the center for the other members of the family. The folding, however, is questionable taste and the requisite number of cards would be better left in their original state. Cards should be left for the daughters of a house; if there are sons, a lady may leave one of her husband's for them also.
Number of Cards to be Left.
After this first visit of ceremony it is only necessary to leave one card at any following call throughout the season. As a rule in country towns but one card is left at any call, unless it is at the first calls of a bride, when, if her husband's name is not engraved upon her card, she leaves one of his with her own.
A gentleman and lady calling together and finding the mistress of the house, only, at home, would leave but one card, that of the gentleman for the master of the house. Finding no one at home, they would leave three cards, one of hers and two of his. A lady calling under the same circumstances would leave one of her own cards and two of her husband's.
When one lady calls upon another, if the hostess be at home she does not send in her card (unless she is an entire stranger), nor does etiquette strictly enjoin her to leave it in the hall, unless it is upon her hostess' reception day, when, on account of the large number of visitors, it would be difficult to remember all. It then becomes a very desirable custom for a lady to leave a card, together with two of her husband's. Also when the servant is somewhat dull of comprehension as to the name it will be well to send in a card to prevent mistakes. On reception days in very fashionable houses it is the custom to announce the guests by name as they enter the room, so that cards need not be sent in.
Never hand your own card to your hostess. If it be necessary, introduce yourself verbally, doing so quickly and clearly, and being sure to mention yourself, if a young lady, as "Miss."
Busy, elderly, and even young men are very prone to leaving their cards in the hands of mother, sister, wife, or any other lady of the house for distribution, though after an elaborate entertainment it is much more indicative of good breeding that a young man should pay his respects in person to his hostess.
Calls upon Young Ladies.
Young men in this country leave cards for the young ladies of a house, but they should always leave one at the same time for her mother or chaperon. In Europe they are never permitted to leave a card for a young lady at all. They call upon the mother or chaperon, and while they may offer to send for the young lady, she is never asked after.
If a gentleman, in calling where there are several young ladies, especially wishes to see one of the number, he may ask for her, but, before the call is over, should say he would be pleased to see the other ladies; more especially is there no excuse for ignoring the existence of the mother or chaperon of the young girl.
If a gentleman knows the ladies of the house well, it is not necessary for him to send in a card if they are at home, unless it be the first call of the season, when it is well to leave one in the hall. In a household consisting of two or more ladies not closely related a card should be left for each one.
When ladies are visiting in a house where the caller, whether man or woman, is unacquainted, he or she always leaves a card for the lady of the house and requests to see her: a request which she may not grant, but one which it would be a marked slight to omit.
In leaving a card for a friend visiting at a private house, never write her name upon it; depend upon the servant, or whoever opens the door, to remember for whom it is intended. This is only permissible when your friend is at a hotel. In doing this write the name above yours.
When a newly-married man sends cards immediately after his marriage to his bachelor friends it may be expected that he wishes to retain them as such in his new life. Upon the reception of these cards they are expected to call upon the bride at once.
How to Send Cards.
Cards sent by messenger are enclosed in a single unsealed envelope; sent by mail this envelope is enclosed within another and larger one which is sealed. Cards handed in at the door are received by the servant on a salver to prevent being soiled by handling.
When to Leave Cards.
First Calls of the season necessitate the leaving of cards. Let them be left quietly in the hall. This custom assists the lady of the house in revising her visiting list.
Letters of Introduction necessitate that those who have received courtesies in response to such, should, upon their departure, send P.P.C. cards to those that have thus remembered them.
A Change of Residence renders it desirable to send cards by mail to one's friends with the new address engraved thereon. However, should there be unpaid calls, the cards to these should be left in person.
The Return from an Absence, including any length of time, should be announced by sending out cards having the address and reception day engraved upon them. Where P.P.C. cards have been issued previous to departure these should always follow the return.