The form of one's signature and the style of the handwriting soon become habitual. Therefore, every effort should be made to make and keep it legible. An illegible signature is unpardonable,—save perhaps on a page at the top of which a printed or engraved letterhead gives the name in full. There is, however, the danger that the writer of the illegible signature will sometime sign his name on a legal document, or a sheet not bearing his letterhead, and the signature stand for nothing.
Letters of Introduction
A letter of introduction should never be requested. If it is offered it is a sign of great regard. If it is greatly desired, it might be well to acquaint the person, in whose power it is to offer it, with the circumstances and interests which make it desirable, but never to do more than this.
The advisability of giving letters of introduction depends upon the circumstances. Between business acquaintances and for business purposes, it is a common form of establishing connection among various interests, and, if done with discrimination, is to be approved. It should, however, even in business be done sparingly, as it is a matter of personal friendship, usually, and as no one has a right to make numerous or exacting demands upon one's friends.
Socially it is a matter of great delicacy, and should have even more restrictions put upon it than does the introduction in company. For the written introduction is used because distance prevents the personal one, and that usually throws the recipient of such a letter into the position of host to the traveler or newcomer, or at least of benefactor to some degree. It places upon him an obligation not involved in the verbal introduction, and the presumption is that he is to do some favor, or show some special attention.
Letters of introduction may be explanatory or brief. Brevity is preferable, but circumstances must determine.
A visiting card is often used with the words "Introducing Mr. Allan Golding to Mr. Morris," or similar form, written across the top. The card should be enclosed in a small envelope and left unsealed.
A brief form of letter simply says: "Permit me to introduce to your favorable notice Mr. Silas Emerson."
A more explicit form would be a letter the body of which would resemble the following:
"The bearer, Mr. Mark W. Allen, who is an old friend and neighbor of mine, represents the Altmann Irrigation Company, and is desirous of obtaining information in regard to the system of waterways lately put into your county. Knowing your influential position in regard to all matters of public interest, I have sent him to you in the hope that you may be able to put him in touch with the people who will give him the desired information. Any favor that you may do Mr. Allen, or any courtesy that you may extend to him, will be deeply appreciated by me."
A purely social letter of introduction would say in substance: "Mrs. Arthur L. Westmore, who presents this letter to you, is an intimate and cherished friend of mine, and one whom I know you would desire to meet. She is to spend some little time in your city, and any courtesy that you may do her I shall deeply appreciate. I have told her of our friendship, and she knows how highly I value you, and is eager to meet you."
When a letter of introduction is given, it is well to write the receiver concerning the friend who will present it, that he may not be taken unawares, nor continue long ignorant of the claims of that friend upon him.
A gentleman usually presents such a letter by calling in person and sending in the letter, together with one of his personal cards, by the servant who answers the bell, or by the office boy. A lady usually mails the letter and one of her cards giving her address. She should receive an acknowledgment with a call or offer of hospitality within a day or two.
A person who makes use of a letter of introduction should acknowledge to the giver the courtesy he has received, with due gratitude.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation should be sparingly given. It is becoming less and less important, in the minds of experienced employers, to demand references. The personality of the applicant counts, and the varying traits which different positions cultivate make the experiences of the past of but little guidance, save in a broad and general way.
The giving of recommendations at random, "To whom it may concern," is also less done than formerly, as there is such uncertainty in regard to their use. Instead of this, the servant is told that she may use the former mistress's name as reference. The new, would-be employer then writes a note of inquiry to the former employer.
In replying to such a note great conscientiousness should be shown. Full justice should be done the servant. Only the truth should be told, and as much of it as a generous heart and wise conscience, coupled with a sense of responsibility toward the inquirer, permit. These letters should be brief and not effusive on any point, nor evasive of the issue at stake.
Never write to another, asking for information, or a favor of any kind, without enclosing a stamped and addressed envelope for reply.
Letters are written in the third person in answer to formal invitations so worded, and in correspondence between people but slightly acquainted or known to each other only by reputation, persons not social equals, and by tradespeople and their patrons.
Great care should be taken to preserve the impersonal diction throughout the letter, and to refrain from signing it. The tone should always be formal and very polite.
An order may take the form of a request, as "Will Mr. Sutherland please . . . and oblige," with the signature of the writer.
Informal Invitations and Announcements
In inviting a friend to visit you, it is customary to mention the length of the visit, setting a definite date for it and limit to it. This makes it possible for both hostess and guest to arrange other engagements.
A time-table of the trains, if the guest comes from the distance, with an account of the trolley lines, if from near at hand, should be enclosed.
The engagement of a daughter may be announced by informal notes to one's whole circle of friends and acquaintances. The following form of note may serve as a suggestion: "I am sure that you will join our household in sympathy with Eleanor in her happiness when I tell you that she has just announced her engagement to Mr. Harold Farnham, a man of whom her father and I thoroughly approve. The wedding will not take place for some months, but felicitations are in order."
Letters of Condolence
A letter of condolence should be short and quite sincere, or else the courteous custom of sending it is more honored in the breach than in the observance.
Such letters should be sent very promptly.
To expatiate to any extent whatever upon the bereavement is heartless or thoughtless, and as there is no danger of ambiguity, the letter does not need to account for itself in any way.
The following letter is as explicit as any letter of condolence need ever be, and the second form is preferable, unless great intimacy makes the less abrupt one permissible.
"DEAR MR. LEGROW:
I have read of your bereavement with the deepest sorrow. I cannot tell you how fully I sympathize with you and your children, or how my heart aches for you in your loneliness. May you have strength and grace to bear up under the great loss you have sustained.
Sincerely yours, MARGARET EDELSTONE."
"DEAR MRS. HILCOX: You have my deepest sympathy. Ever cordially yours, MILDRED HASSELTINE."
Business letters should be answered by return mail, as should also all invitations to dinner or luncheon.
All invitations should be answered within a day if possible, because delay looks like a reluctance to accept. They should certainly be answered, either personally or by letter, within a week after the invitation is received.
Friendly letters should have such promptness of response as circumstances and the intimacy of the friendship demand.
Notes of congratulation and felicitation should be sent promptly after receiving the card or note announcement of an engagement or a birth, and in the latter case at least, should be followed by a call.
A personal visiting card, with the words "Thank you for sympathy" written over the name, is sufficient acknowledgment of letters of condolence. To very intimate friends, however, the spontaneous note of thanks would be more courteous. As it is almost impossible, at such a time, to attend to matters of social intercourse, the sending of the card is always permissible, and can occasion no offense, even if the more intimate acknowledgment was hoped for.
CASUAL MEETINGS AND CALLS
Greetings and Recognitions
THE bow and the handshake are the accepted forms of greeting in the United States to-day. The bow varies from a very slight inclination of the head, as one gentleman passes another, or from the quick touching of the hat with the hand, in a sort of reminiscence of the military salute, to the various degrees of elaborate bow which savors of European ceremonial courtesy.
The usual form is a bending of the head and shoulders, with the eyes kept on those of the person greeted, the hat being removed from the head and held in the right hand during the bow,—which is at once brief, deferential, and dignified. It may be accompanied by the handshake, in which case the hat is lifted by the left hand.
The degree of the depth of the bow is usually spontaneous, determined by the deference felt, or the emotions which the meeting may summon. It is useless to bow low to conceal scorn or real disdain, for they are sure to reveal themselves in the artificiality of the pose, or in the carriage of the shoulders, or in the movement of an eyelash, and usually nobody is deceived.
The correct position for an extreme bow is with the feet near together, the legs straight, and the entire body inclined from the hips. This is somewhat too extreme for common use, and should be modified always in public, the less elaborate bow being much preferable upon the street or in public places.
A woman bows more erectly than a man does, and gives perhaps as cordial an impression by the greater expressiveness of her greeting, which should always be characteristic, and never mechanical, or in imitation of others, whose natural traits may be far different, however admirable she may consider their style to be. It is only when she meets some one her senior, or in much more important social position, or one whom she specially delights to honor, that she elaborates her bow, or curtsies if not in public and if the occasion admit of the formality.
A lady should be straightforward in her greeting, never condescending to the coquettish mannerism of letting the eyes fall during the bow. She should sink her personal consciousness in the fact of meeting another, and should not intrude it into the intellectual interest of such a meeting.
The handshake is accomplished by extending the right hand horizontally from the elbow and clasping, between the closed four fingers and thumb of the hand, the closed four fingers of the friend's right hand, then quietly shaking it. This is sometimes varied by lifting the clasped hands,—not the elbow,—to the height of the shoulders, and there mildly shaking them, or clasping them with a slight pressure and letting them drop,—styles savoring of affectation. The impulse prompting the handshake,—that of getting together in intimate personal greeting,—is accomplished when the clasp is ended, and vigorous and prolonged shaking, or special pressure, or continued holding of the hand, are all alike unpardonable.
The bow is the least sign of recognition, and may mean little or much, but its significance is known only to the two concerned. While it is permissible in public places to make its cordiality, or lack of it, apparent, it is not permissible to greet fellow guests at any private social function with either more or less than a uniform and impartial courtesy.
The bow does not mean that one has a calling acquaintance. It may mean only a casual knowledge of one another's existence, due to some brief coming together. Intentionally to neglect to bow, after a bowing acquaintance has once been established, is an open affront, and denotes either extreme rudeness or veiled insult. The dropping of an acquaintance by refusal to recognize, may, in our complicated social system, sometimes be necessary, but it is only justified by the necessity for society to safeguard itself against some of the more flagrant social abuses.
It is a woman's privilege, in meeting a man whom she knows, to bow first. Indeed, the man always waits for her to do so, unless he is a very intimate friend. A woman should always be sure, before bowing to a man, that she knows him and that she has caught his eye.
When a gentleman is walking with a lady, he lifts his hat when she bows to an acquaintance, even if the person is not known to him. So, also, when he is alone and meets a man whom he knows, who is in the company of a lady, he lifts his hat. When, walking with a lady, he meets a gentleman whom he knows, he removes his hat.
When a gentleman meets a party of ladies or stops to speak with one only, it is customary for him to retain his hat in his hand until she requests him to replace it. This is done with social superiors and to show great respect, being more ceremonial than finds common acceptance among Americans.
When he is with a gentleman who bows to a lady, he also lifts his hat. It is proper for him to lift the hat when offering any courtesy to a lady, even though a total stranger, and upon leaving a lady with whom he or a person accompanying him has been talking.
It is well to return a bow which is directed to you, even if you do not know the one bowing. This often saves considerable embarrassment to the one who has for the moment mistaken you for some one else.
When passing before ladies seated in a lecture hall, or concert, a gentleman always asks their pardon for troubling them.
In passing or repassing on the street or promenade, a single bow is sufficient recognition, even though you may meet an acquaintance several times.
A lady, receiving in her own home, shakes hands with the stranger with the same cordiality as with the friend.
A gentleman when greeting a lady never takes the initiative in hand-shaking. If a lady offers her hand, however, it would be very rude indeed for a gentleman not to accept the courtesy.
Persons who have met at the house of a mutual friend, but have not been introduced, are under no obligation to bow when they meet elsewhere afterward, and usually do not.
When a man passes a lady on a staircase, in the corridor of a hotel, in the elevator of a private apartment house, or in the public rooms of a hotel, he lifts his hat although she may be a stranger.
This rule does not prevail on the staircases and in the corridors of office buildings, with the exception, perhaps, of banks and such offices as people of wealth frequent; for a new fineness of courtesy has made men feel that, as women are winning an equality of position in the business field, a delicate way of recognizing that equality is by giving them a comradely deference rather than paying them the social attentions. Another marked expression of this is in the fact that a business man, when walking on the street with a business woman, does not interrupt their conversation by changing sides with her in order to keep constantly on the outside of the walk.
An indication of the two kinds of courtesy, social and business, is often grotesquely shown when a woman in social life, perhaps the wife of one of the men present, enters an office where there are both men and women of equal business importance and social rank. There is an elaborate social courtesy paid to the wife, who is in private life, which would not be paid, and would seem grotesque and ill-mannered if paid, to the business woman, even though she were at once the active vice president of the corporation and wife of the president.
The usual form of introduction is, "Mrs. Allen, may I present Mr. Brown?" Or, "Mrs. Allen, let me present Mr. Brown." Or, "Mrs. Caldwell, allow me to present Colonel Glazier." Where, however, the permission need not be suggested, and the relative standing of the people is the same, the form may be only, "Mrs. Gleason, Mr. Ansel."
When it is necessary to introduce one person to several, the form is, "Mrs. Gladstone, I want you to meet Mrs. Falmouth, Miss Washburn, Mr. Cronkshaw, and Mr. Edgerton." The one introduced simply repeats each name and smiles as she greets each in turn.
Another form much in use is, "Miss Hanscom, I want you to know my friend, Mr. Thompson, the artist," and is preferable because of its definiteness.
The response to an introduction is, "I am happy to meet you," or, "I am very glad to meet you."
If one does not catch the name of the person introduced, it is proper to ask it, saying, "Pardon me, but I did not understand the name."
Introductions should always be spoken distinctly, especially the names. If, in introducing, one can add a sentence which will give a subject of conversation, the preliminaries of acquaintance may be speedily passed, and memorable information and real profit be gleaned from even a casual meeting.
It is a mark of intelligence and social instinct to be quick to catch and retain in memory a face and name from even a brief introduction, and the tacit compliment to the person so remembered is apt to win his favor.
Persons who have not been introduced are not considered acquainted. The exceptions to this rule are the guests under a common roof, while they are there.
Introductions should never be indiscriminately made. There should be willingness, if not eagerness, on the part of both to meet. A hostess is, however, warranted in introducing two people who she knows will be congenial, or if they have before expressed a desire to become acquainted. If any doubt exists as to how the introduction will be received by either, they should not be introduced.
One should never introduce two acquaintances who reside in the same town but move in different social circles, unless each had desired the introduction.
If there is a difference of station or age, then it is necessary only to ask the older or more prominent person whether the introduction would be acceptable. This should be done quietly, and quite out of hearing or knowledge of the other person concerned.
A gentleman should ask a mutual friend for an introduction to a lady whom he wishes to meet. Unless there is no possible objection, the mutual friend should not introduce the gentleman until he has made sure that the lady is willing.
It is not well to introduce gentlemen to one another indiscriminately, nor should ladies be so introduced. One wishes to keep the boundaries of one's acquaintance within certain definite limits, and choice is easier made before acquaintance than after. So, one shows great care in offering introductions to others, and exercises the same care for one's self.
If a hostess and her guest are out walking together, the hostess would introduce to her guest every friend who happened to stop and speak with her, and the guest, should she meet acquaintances of her own, would introduce each of them to her hostess. This is practically the only case where indiscriminate introducing is good form, and here the obligations of hospitality safeguard it.
A lady usually offers her hand to a gentleman who has been introduced to her, but a bow, a smile, and a repetition of the name are all that is necessary where several introductions are being made, as at a large reception or dancing party.
A gentleman always offers his hand to another gentleman on being introduced.
An elderly lady may offer her hand in all introductions with perfect propriety.
If, while walking out with a friend, you meet another, do not introduce the two. A transient meeting is of no particular moment to them, and their friendship or acquaintance with you is not necessarily of strong enough interest to make them desire acquaintance. If, however, you meet at some public place, and are detained there together for several minutes, then the introduction should be given.
When meeting at the house of a mutual acquaintance, friends may introduce friends, but it is preferable to leave the introductions to the hostess.
It is no longer necessary to introduce each guest to everybody else at a party. Introductions are made as opportunity or necessity may dictate. This abolishing of promiscuous and wholesale introductions relieves two very embarrassing situations,—that of being introduced by announcement to a whole roomful of people, and that of being taken around and introduced to them singly.
A mother may present her son, or a sister her brother, or a wife her husband, if she so desires, without any question as to the propriety of it. A man should not, on the other hand, introduce another man to his wife, or a son or brother make a presentation of a man to his mother or sister, unless he knows that such acquaintance could not but be agreeable to the lady, and unless it meets with his own approval. For it is a man's place always to safeguard a woman against undesirable acquaintances.
A woman, in introducing her husband, gives him his title, if he has one, as "Judge Hartwell," "Doctor Foley." The wife of the President of the United States speaks of him only as "The President," and in presenting people to him, he is always addressed as "Mr. President," with the invariable omission of his surname.
A friend or acquaintance, no matter how distinguished, is always presented to one's father or mother or one's intimate relative, where the intimacy of the relation makes an honor more distinguishing, in the mind of the introducer, than any of reputation or position.
A young man should be introduced to an older man, a young woman to an older woman.
A man is always presented to a woman, never the reverse.
If a lady is seated and a man is presented to her, she need not rise. If two ladies, both seated, are introduced to each other, they should rise, unless one is old or an invalid, in which case both remain seated. Two gentlemen, though both are seated, rise and shake hands when introduced.
A young lady always rises when an elderly person is introduced.
Introductions are not made at table. The guests at a dinner party should be presented to one another in the drawing-room before coming to the table, and if that is impossible, as many should be introduced as may be, especially those who are to sit beside or near or opposite each other. If one is seated beside a guest whom he has not met, the man takes the initiative in speaking a few words as soon as he takes his seat, to which the lady responds always cordially, keeping up more or less of a conversation during the dinner.
At dancing parties all those who are giving the party, as well as all the ushers and those who receive, make introductions as general as possible, so as to insure the pleasure of the guests during the evening.
An introduction at a dance carries with it the obligation on the part of the man to ask the woman for a dance, and on her part to grant his request unless her card is full.
When traveling great care should be taken as to introductions.
As a guest one should be ready and willing to meet any one whom his host or hostess may introduce, even though it be an enemy. The obligations of hospitality rest nowhere more heavily than in this matter. They demand that impartial courtesy should be shown to every one.
Calls must be made in person, rather than by card left by messenger or post, after an invitation to dinner, luncheon, supper, or similar function, and that within a week or, at farthest, two weeks of the date of the affair. One should also call in person within two weeks of any entertainment to which one has been asked, especially if one has attended.
One need repay formal calls, where no invitation to any social occasion has been received, only once a year. Even in this case, cards may be sent by mail. In the country it is usual to go in person, though one does not ask if the lady of the house is at home.
Calls should be made upon the "At Home" day, if one is engraved upon the card. If a person is ill, a near relative, or intimate friend, may leave a card for her at the house of the friend upon whom she wished to call.
Society holds young people who are free to attend parties and entertainments under stern obligation to pay their social calls. Young mothers, professional women, students, invalids, and semi-invalids are not expected to conform rigidly to the same rules. If a young woman can go to a party to amuse herself, she must call afterwards to acknowledge the courtesy of the invitation.
If a mother cannot call in person, her daughter or some one else may pay the necessary calls in her stead. Or she may invite the people whom she would otherwise call on, to an afternoon tea, which is more of a compliment than a call.
In calling at a house, should the door be opened by a member of the family, the caller does not present her card to the lady or gentleman, but steps in, asking for the person whom she wants to see. She may leave her card unobtrusively on the table when she goes out.
If a maid opens the door, the card is handed to her and received on a small tray. No well-trained maid ever extends her hand to receive a visiting card.
If a caller wishes to be very formal, she leaves a card for every lady in the family on whom she wishes to call.
In the beginning of the season a wife always leaves her husband's card with her own, and she usually does this also when making a call at the close of the season.
An unmarried woman calling on a married friend leaves only one card. If the friend has daughters or is entertaining a guest, a card may be left for each.
A lady always rises to receive a visitor.
It takes good judgment to know when to go, but it should be cultivated and practised. Lingering in taking one's leave is a great weariness, to one's hostess if not to one's self.
After a birth calls are made upon the mother after the child is a month old.
After a death the friends of the family should call in person inside of a month. The members of the family do not receive them, however, unless they wish to do so.
Social Calls of Men
A man never carries or leaves the cards of other men, nor can he leave cards for any of the women of his family.
A gentleman who calls on a lady's afternoon at home leaves in the card tray, on entering the house, a card for his hostess and one for his host. The card for his host must be left, even if that gentleman does not appear in the drawing-room, provided the caller is acquainted with him, and providing he is calling in acknowledgment of some hospitality recently received.
If there is a host, hostess, and young lady daughter in the house, and the caller is a friend of the latter, he leaves three cards.
The man who is making his first or last call for the season on the regular afternoon at home, leaves one card for each of the ladies, and each one of the men of the household whose acquaintance he can claim.
When a man calls on a lady's day at home, and his call has no reference to any social debts, he leaves only one card in the tray. If he is somewhat intimate in the house where the call is paid, he leaves no card at all.
A man does not call upon a woman unless she invites him, or some member of her family does, or he goes with a mutual friend who has made sure of his welcome. A woman may say to a man, "Mother and I are usually at home Fridays, and would like to have you call," or some other form of invitation which denotes cordiality.
A man who desires to call in particular upon one lady, in a family where there are several, hands his card to the servant with the words, "Please give this to Miss Curley, and I would like to see all the other ladies also." The ladies appear and greet him, withdrawing that he may call upon the one he especially wished to see.
If calling upon a guest in a home, you always ask for the hostess also.
A man retains his hat, gloves, and walking stick in hand during a formal call, though he may have left his overcoat in the hall.
In America it is the usual custom for residents of the city or town to call first upon newcomers. Washington is a well-known exception to this rule, as strangers there call first upon government officials and their families. In most European cities newcomers call first upon those already in residence. The residents, from the officials down, return their cards, and the visitor or newcomer receives invitations to social functions.
In practice the resident does not usually know anything about the stranger, and may not have even heard of her arrival. Sometimes the newcomer sends out cards for several days in a month, to those with whom she would like to become acquainted. If she can enclose the card of a mutual friend, as a silent voucher for her social standing, her position is more quickly and more surely granted her.
Clergymen and their families, brides, and persons of note are entitled to receive first calls. The older residents of the community are expected to lead in the list of callers who welcome the newcomers.
First calls should be promptly returned, within a week at the very latest.
A married woman making a first call upon a married friend sends one of her own and two of her husband's cards to her new acquaintance.
THE PERSONAL CARD AND THE ENGRAVED INVITATION
Form of Card
A MAN'S card is usually one and a half by three inches in size, and made of fairly stiff bristol board. A woman's card is usually about two and three-sixteenths by three inches, and made of dull-finish, fine, medium-weight bristol board.
The color of cards is a fine pearl white. Cream or tinted cards are never in good form.
The engraving varies from plain script to elaborate Old English text, or shaded Roman type, according to the fashion. The engraver may be trusted to know the style and stock most in use.
The card of an unmarried lady should be somewhat smaller than that of the married. This distinction is made, however, only in case of the card of the debutante.
If there is room across the card the full name should be engraved. If the names are too long, only the initials of given names should be used.
All inscriptions on one card should be in the same style of type.
"Mr." is prefixed, unless there is a special title, such as, "Reverend," "Doctor," "Colonel," etc. If a man should, in an emergency, write his own name on a card, he would not prefix the "Mr.," or any other title. The name should be written in full and should be an autograph.
A married lady should have her husband's full name, or such form or parts of it as he uses, with the title "Mrs.," and not her own name.
A young woman has the title "Miss" engraved before her name, even though she be only a schoolgirl.
A young man has no title at all on his card, but simply his full name.
The newly married couple use a card with the title of "Mr. and Mrs." for the first year after marriage, in returning their ceremonious calls after the wedding, and paying formal calls when the husband is unable to accompany the wife. These cards should have the address in the lower right-hand corner, and the reception day or days in the lower left. After the first year they are seldom used in paying calls, but can be used for condolence, congratulation, or farewell where both husband and wife desire to be formally represented.
A woman who is personally distinguished, who occupies a high social position, or whose husband stands at the head of his family, may have only "Mrs. Barnaby," not "Mrs. John Barnaby," upon her cards. It is better, however, not to do so unless one has the indisputable right to be considered as the Mrs. Barnaby of the locality. It is customary for the wife of the oldest brother of the oldest branch of the family alone to have the privilege of this form.
The same rule of precedence applies to single women. The oldest unmarried daughter of the oldest brother, and she alone, has the right to use "Miss Campbell" on her card, although she may have a cousin who is much older than herself, but who is the daughter of a younger brother of the same family.
A widow has no cards during her year of mourning, as she makes no formal visits. After that, cards with black border to any depth desired may be used.
A widow has no legal right to retain her husband's Christian name, but she often prefers to do so, and it is entirely proper, the question being one of sentiment alone. In case there is a married son of the same name as the father, then it is proper for the mother to put "Sr." for Senior, at the end of her name, should she desire still to retain her husband's Christian name.
In such a case widows occasionally prefer to use their own names or initials.
In this country a married woman merges her name with that of her husband. It is not uncommon nowadays for married women to sign their own Christian name, their maiden surname, and their husband's surname as their signature. There is value in this as it preserves the family identity of the married woman, but the question of its legality may always be raised.
The name of daughter or daughters is often engraved below that of the mother on her card, before the young woman enters formally into society. The form "The Misses Smith" may be used, or the names given separately. In New York in some circles the debutante is not given a separate card until she has been in society a year. As American schoolgirls often have a card with the prefix "Miss," the debutante may use this among her girl friends.
To write anything on an engraved card except "Condolences," "Congratulations," "P. p. c.," is not considered good style, although a lady may use her visiting card with "Five o'clock tea," "Music," or a special date written upon it as an informal invitation to a musical or "At Home."
A business or professional woman may have, in addition to her society card, a card with her own name for business purposes. This usually has a word or two denoting her profession in the lower left-hand corner, and her business address in the lower right.
A lady's card should always contain her home address in the lower right-hand corner. Her afternoon "At Home" is usually given in the lower left.
The address is often omitted from cards for men, being engraved on those of the women of the family. Men belonging to a fashionable or well-known club put its name, instead of their residence, on their cards. This is especially the case when they do not live at home. If living at a club, the address is put on the lower left-hand corner; if living at home, the lower right-hand corner.
On a man's business cards the title "Mr." is omitted, the name of his firm, their business, and address, being engraved in the lower left-hand corner.
Titles which signify permanent rank, or profession that lasts for life, and which are allied to a man's identity or distinctly bear upon his social standing, should be used.
Temporary titles, which have no special social rank or bearing, or professional titles, such as "Esquire" for lawyers, which have no social significance, are not used.
For the same reason that temporary or technical titles are not used, honorary titles are omitted. There should be no pretense in regard to social position, as pretense is easy and futile. A man appears in society simply as an ordinary individual, to win favor and position by force of his personality, or to lose it thereby.
An army or a naval officer, a physician, a judge, or a clergyman may use his title on his card, as, for instance, "Captain James Smith," "Judge Henry Gray," "Rev. Thomas Jones, D. D." The card of an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court at Washington reads "Mr. Justice Holmes." Military or complimentary titles are not used, nor are coats of arms. In this republican country it is considered an affectation and bad taste so to make use of them. Political and judicial titles are also omitted, as are academic titles, such as Chancellor, Dean, and Professor.
No title below the rank of Captain is used on the card in military circles. A lieutenant's card would give his full name with the prefix "Mr." and below it the words, "Lieutenant of Fifth Cavalry, United States Army," or simply, "United States Coast Guard Service."
The etiquette of the visiting card is a fluctuating one. It cannot be laid down for all time, or even for next season.
On entering at a reception, or afternoon tea, one leaves a card in the salver offered by the butler or attendant who opens the door, or upon the hall table, as a reminder to the hostess, who can hardly be expected to remember, if entertaining a large number, every one who has been there.
One does not leave cards at a wedding reception, however.
At an afternoon tea, it is no longer necessary to leave a card apiece from all the members of the invited families to all the members of the family of the hostess and her guests also. The single card for the host and hostess is all that is required.
Should one be invited to a series of receptions, one leaves cards only once although one may attend twice. Leaving cards in person after a tea or reception is good form only for ceremonious affairs. After the usual private reception one should certainly call.
If only one member of a family can attend a reception to which the others have been invited, she may leave the cards of the others, together with her own, with perfect propriety.
Also when one is not able to attend a reception or an afternoon tea, cards may be sent by mail, although it is better to send them by messenger, to arrive on the day of the entertainment. One should call within a fortnight.
It is not now considered necessary to call in person where formerly it was so held. The sending of the personal card often takes the place of the call. Nor need this be done by messenger. Cards for any purpose may now be sent by mail.
After removing from one part of the city to another, it is customary for ladies to send engraved cards with their new address and with their reception day to all of their circle of acquaintances.
A woman who is stopping for a brief time in a city where she has friends, sends to them her card containing her temporary address and the length of her stay, as "Here until June second," or "Here until Sunday."
A man, however, calls upon his friends, and if they are absent leaves his card giving the same information.
If a son old enough to go into society wishes to do so, his card is left with his father's and mother's at the beginning of the season. He will then be invited to the functions given by the friends of his parents.
When there is illness or mourning in the household, friends leave their cards with the words "To inquire," "Sincere condolence," or "Sympathy" written upon them.
The card which accompanies wedding gifts should be the joint card of "Mr. and Mrs.," if the gift is sent jointly, and may well have the words "Best wishes and congratulations," written upon it.
The initials "P. p. c.," meaning "Pour prendre conge," or "To take leave," are written upon one's personal cards, which are then sent out to one's friends when one is going away from a place either permanently or for a long time. They are usually written in the lower left-hand corner of the card. These cards may be sent by post, when the person leaving town has not the time to make a personal visit. They are not used when leaving town for the summer.
It is quite proper to send or leave "P. p. c." cards when one goes away from a summer resort, especially if the people to whom they are sent do not live during the year in the same town or city with the sender.
It is no longer permissible to fold over the ends of a card, to signify that it was intended for all the members of the family.
The birth of a child may be announced by a small card containing the full name of the child daintily engraved, with the date of the birth in the lower left-hand corner. The card is tied to the mother's card by white ribbon, and both are enclosed in one envelope and sent by post.
Visiting cards for those who are in mourning are the same size as the ordinary card. The width of the black border is regulated by the degree of the relationship to the deceased.
The Engraved Invitation
A fine grade of heavy, unglazed, pure white paper, suede finish, in double sheet folded to a size about five by seven and a half inches, or less, inserted in an envelope of the same width but half the length, is used for the billet on which wedding invitations and announcements are engraved. The impress of the plate demarks a margin of about an inch.
A heavy or medium grade of white bristol board is used for invitations to "At Homes," dinner, receptions, dances, and all like social functions for which the common visiting card is not used. The size used varies with the number of words in the invitation, and may be quite large, as for a club or society reception, or formal openings or special occasions where a business corporation is the host. These cards have the same plate margin as the wedding invitation, although it is much narrower. Only the most formal invitations have space left for the writing in of the name of the guest.
The billet, however, has certain advantages, especially where the occasion is very formal and select, and the information which should be furnished the guest is considerable. Elegance of this sort is now very costly.
Several styles of type are in use: namely, the script having close round letters, and being as nearly black as Roman or Old English when engraved; a script lighter and more cursive; an Old English lettering; a shaded Roman letter, which is constantly growing in popularity; shaded Caxton; solid and shaded French script; and a plain Roman block letter.
The script is the type most commonly used, both because of its beauty and legibility, and because of the comparative inexpensiveness of engraving, the cost being about half of that of either the Old English or the shaded Roman type.
It is obvious that the size of page in this book will not permit facsimile reproductions of specimens of invitations and other social forms, which in nearly every case require a different proportion of space than the page offers. Therefore, to reproduce the style of lettering used for these forms has not been attempted. The examples present correct wording and proportionate arrangement.
The following plates, which are exact photographs of steel and copper engraving, present several styles of script, Old English, and shaded and plain Roman faces, but do not represent more than a few sizes, and those the most common.
at the Church of the Messiah
Two Dancing Parties
request the pleasure of
At Home At Home
announce the marriage of
First Unitarian Church
request the honour of your presence
Mr. and Mrs. New Hampshire
ANNOUNCE THE MARRIAGE OF
Mr. and Mrs.
at Emmanuel Church
at Warren, Pennsylvania
Mrs. William Howell Meade
Mrs. William Howell Meade
Mrs. William Howell Meade
MRS. WILLIAM HOWELL MEADE
Dining and Party Invitations
The engraved card invitation for a luncheon is usually worded as follows:
Mrs. Everetts S. Sinclair requests the pleasure of your company at Luncheon on Tuesday, February nineteenth at one o'clock Hotel Willard
The dinner invitation is identical, except that for "Luncheon" is substituted "Dinner," and the hour is usually half after seven or eight o'clock. To this, or to any other dining invitation, may be added in the lower left-hand corner the words "Please reply," or, "The favor of a reply is requested."
The party invitation may take either of the two following forms:
Mrs. Harold Harmon Williams requests the pleasure of your company at a dancing party to be given at the Glendale Country Club Wednesday evening, December the twenty-ninth from eight until eleven o'clock
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Fairfield Watson request the pleasure of
company at The Somerset Club on the evening of Friday the ninth of February from nine until one o'clock Dancing and Bridge 95 Jackson Boulevard
The blank invitation is very convenient, as it may be sent out at short notice, and is definite and personal. The following is a form which lends itself to any one of the usual kinds of home entertainment:
Mr. and Mrs. St. John Ambrose Lockwood request the pleasure of
97 Washington Avenue
When, on an engraved invitation of any sort, be it wedding or dinner or any other, a blank line or lines are left for the insertion of the name of the guest, there is danger that, unless this is done with great care and by an able penman, the beauty of the invitation be ruined, and therefore its cost thrown away. For that reason a wholly engraved invitation is perhaps better, unless the work of addressing them and inserting the name is to be done by a professional penman. Of course, when this is done and well done, there is a personal touch, a suggestion of individual welcome, which can be gained in no other way, and which the wholly engraved invitation lacks.
When an entertainment is given by a family at some place other than their home, the invitations have the name of the place and the street address put in at the usual place on the invitation, and then in the lower right-hand corner the words "Please reply," with the home address.
A bachelor or widower uses his name alone at the top of the invitation. He will, of course, provide a chaperon, who in many respects takes the place of a hostess and so acts, but her name does not appear upon his invitation, unless she be his sister or near relative. The invitation then becomes a joint one, after the usual form.
A widower with daughters may send out invitations headed in either of the following forms:
Mr. John Marquand Miss Marquand Miss Estelle Marquand
Mr. John Marquand The Misses Marquand
For a dinner followed by a dance there are two invitations, the one a dinner invitation at an early hour for the favored few, the other a dancing party invitation at a later hour.
Clubs have blanks which may be filled in by their members when they wish to entertain. These are issued in the club name, and are like any other private invitation, except that at the bottom and to the left "Compliments of" is engraved, and the name of the member who is special host is written in.
Invitations containing the words "Bal Poudre" signify that the entertainment is a masquerade or fancy dress party, and the guests are expected to come in fancy costume with powdered hair.
The word "ball" is used of an elaborate formal dance, usually a public one given by some club or for charity, and rarely of a private dance.
In spite of the predominance of the engraved invitation for the most formal affairs, still small dinners, and even receptions and dancing parties, are sometimes announced by the handwritten invitations. The form should be the same as the engraved one, although to very intimate friends it should be changed to a friendly note.
Acceptances are in the form of the invitation. If that is an informal note, the acceptance or regret is sent in the same style. If the invitation is formal, the reply also should be written in the third person and be about as follows:
Mr. and Mrs. Allston B. Sinclair accept with pleasure the kind invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Emanuel Farrington for dinner on Thursday, the ninth of December at half after eight o'clock
The reply to an invitation should be sent to the person or persons who issued it, never to any other member of the family, although such a one may be better known.
To write the word "Regrets" on one's visiting card and send it in declination of any invitation is bad form, even if the invitation come in similar shape. One should always write a note of regret.
Bachelors and widowers, who entertain at their apartments or studio or club, and army and navy officers never use the words "At Home," but always "request the pleasure (or honour) of your presence."
If one is entertaining a guest and an invitation is received, one may with propriety ask the hostess for an invitation for one's guest, if the form of entertainment is so general as to make this right and reasonable; otherwise one must decline the invitation. It would not be right to ask for another dinner invitation, or one to a select group of people, where the guest would be an intruder.
It is preferable and a much later form to use the words "Please reply," or "An early reply is requested," rather than the abbreviation "R. s. v. p." for "Repondez, s'il vous plait," meaning "Reply, if you please."
If a son should return from college or other absence, and the parents wish to entertain for him, their invitations would have at the bottom the word "For" followed by his name.
In sending out invitations, one should be sent to the father and mother jointly, one to each son separately, and one to the daughters jointly, the latter being addressed "The Misses Estabrook."
Invitations should be sent to people in mourning, although they are not expected to accept. They should not be slighted or forgotten during such a period.
Wedding Invitations and Announcements
The following are the usual forms of wording for the wedding invitation:
Mr. and Mrs. Reinhard Ernst Ormond request the honour of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Eida to Dr. Otto Bertelli on Wednesday, the first of April nineteen hundred and thirteen at twelve o'clock Church of the Messiah St. Louis, Missouri
Mr. Arnold Hamilton Forsyth requests the pleasure of your company at the marriage reception of his daughter Margaret and Mr. Walter Mallory on the evening of Wednesday, the twenty-ninth of June one thousand nine hundred and twelve from eight until ten o'clock 17 Elm Hill Avenue Philadelphia, Pennsylvania R. s. v. p.
Dr. and Mrs. Maurice Howe Cavanaugh request the honour of
presence at the marriage of their daughter Rebecca Falmouth to Mr. Charles Hunnewell Clark on Monday, the ninth of July at eight o'clock Church of the Redeemer Washington
The usual form of marriage announcement is as follows:
Mr. and Mrs. William T. Kimball announce the marriage of their daughter Dorothy Lucinda to Mr. LeRoy L. Hallock on Wednesday, the first day of December one thousand nine hundred and twelve Chicago, Illinois
Mr. Arthur Edmand Sawyer and Miss Emma Pauline Farrington announce their marriage on Sunday the sixteenth of July one thousand nine hundred and ten at Boston, Massachusetts
The "At Home" card of the bridal couple, which goes with a wedding invitation, does not have the name of the couple upon it, but reads simply
At Home after the first of November 1219 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington
When an "At Home" card is included in a wedding announcement, however, the name of the couple appears upon it, as follows:
Mr. and Mrs. Albion Frederick Marston
Will be at home 763 Chapel Avenue after the first of August Toronto
For the card of invitation to the wedding reception the wording is as follows:
Reception immediately after the ceremony Eight Salem Street
Reception immediately after the ceremony in the church parlors
In the case of a church wedding, it is always well to enclose with the invitation a small card reading: "Please present this card at the church on August the third."
In case the wedding takes place in the country and invitations are sent to many friends in the city, a card giving directions as to what train to take, and where, which is to be presented to the conductor instead of a ticket, and which entitles the possessor to special accommodations, is enclosed with the invitation.
Wedding invitations, or announcements, and their accompanying cards, are enclosed in two envelopes, one within the other, of the same stock as the billets. Upon the outer is written the name of the person and his street address; upon the inner only the name of the one for whom it is intended.
Wedding invitations should be addressed to "Mrs. Chandler Jones," on the outside envelope. Within this is a second envelope addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Chandler Jones." The older custom is to address the outside envelope to "Mr. and Mrs. Chandler Jones," as well as the inside. The lady of the house is now, however, beginning to be looked upon as head of its social affairs, as her husband is of its business affairs, and hence the style of addressing invitations to her.
The words "And Family" are no longer used after the parents' names, but separate invitations are sent to the members.
It is quite the courteous thing to include among the people invited to a wedding, especially if it is to be in a church, the special business friends and associates of the bridegroom-elect, his father, and the bride's father.
In case the invitations are for the ceremony only at a church wedding, the address of the bride's parents should be embossed upon the outside envelope.
Acquaintances purely professional do not receive cards to a wedding. One's physician, however, if his family is prominent socially, may be included among the guests.
Announcement cards should be quite ready to post immediately after the ceremony. They should be sent to all the circle of friends and acquaintances of both the bride's and the bridegroom's families, save to those who have been invited to the marriage or the wedding reception.
The announcement of an "At Home" or reception should always be made on a separate card,—not on a corner of the wedding invitation or announcement.
An immediate reply is necessary when one is invited to a home wedding. If the wedding is a church wedding, and there is no reception following it, one makes no reply if one intends to be present, but sends one's card upon the date set, if one cannot attend.
Various Announcement Cards
In case of the postponement of a wedding or a dinner or reception because of some grave accident or illness, the cancellation of the invitations, or the announcement of the postponement, should be engraved and sent out at the earliest possible date.
For a wedding it may read somewhat as follows:
Mr. and Mrs. Maynard S. Taylor regret to announce that on account of serious illness in the family the marriage of their daughter Emmeline and Mr. Fosdick Arlington will be indefinitely postponed
A family which has passed through a period of calamity and bereavement may wish to make some acknowledgment of the attentions of friends, and may do so in some such form as follows:
The brothers and sisters of Dr. Ralph J. Harkins gratefully acknowledge your kind expression of sympathy
The special "At Home" card which is used for a reception in honor of a friend or guest may contain the name of the friend either on the first or the last line of the invitation, with the words "To meet" before it; as:
Mrs. Ernest L. Lafricain At Home Thursday, December twenty-third from four to six 275 Grand Pre Avenue, Montreal To meet Mrs. Jackson Seymour Montgomery
For a general reception the following form is good:
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Illington Bray Mr. and Mrs. Harold Bray request the honor of your presence on New Year's Day from four until half after seven o'clock 174 Albemarle Street Winnipeg
The private engraved card for Christmas and New Year greetings, which may be sent to one's entire list of friends, is much in favor. Great distinction and individuality of design and selection of sentiment may be obtained by this means. The following is an appropriate form:
"The glory breaks And Christmas comes once more"
Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Clarke Sutherland cordially greet
with every good wish of the Season
BEHAVIOR IN PUBLIC
THE test of the depth of one's courtesy is found in one's attitude to strangers and the public at large. If one observes toward them the little courtesies, then one may be safely trusted to keep to the highest ideal of social intercourse in times of emergency and rigid testing.
Always in a public place the real gentleman and lady will be unobtrusive, speaking quietly, and showing in their manner that they each believe himself and herself but a single unit in the world of humanity, and therefore not entitled to monopolize attention. They will go about their business with none of that idle curiosity which forms the street crowd.
In places of public amusement, they will show true courtesy by not coming in late,—that is, by being on time or missing the performance. They will not rustle their programs needlessly. They will so dispose of their coats and wraps that others will not be inconvenienced by them, even if it takes them an extra ten minutes at the close of the evening to obtain them from the cloak room.
They will not talk or whisper to each other during speaking or singing on the stage, or at any time when so doing will make it difficult for others to hear what is going on. They will applaud temperately, and with only that degree of fervor which is for the best interests of the audience and the actors as a whole. That is, at a concert they will not so applaud one artist as to break up the program.
At formal business meetings they will take pains to conform to Parliamentary usage, which is really only the etiquette of debate, and will not insist upon rights which have been ruled out, or in word or manner express a disorderly spirit. "The greatest good of the largest number" will be the rule of their deportment in public.
At a social occasion of any sort, every one present is under obligation to do what he can to add to the general pleasure. If he cannot or will not, he should remain away. If he is asked to play a musical instrument or sing, he should do so without urging, for his talents, except in very special cases wherein he would not be asked, are or should be at the disposal of the company, or at the request of his hostess. Any voluntary or requested performance of this sort may be as brief as he pleases, and should be brief, unless his talent is so great that there can be no possible doubt of its acceptability, and he is in a generous mood,—a combination of circumstances rare in any but the most talented circles.
If you turn the pages of music for a musician, do so in a quiet and self-forgetful manner. Interest in you is quite subordinate to interest in the performer.
Do not by extravagant applause encourage parlor recitations, for mediocre talent is always profuse.
It is a mark of good breeding to control or at least conceal one's moods, so that in company one always appears to be content, if not happy. It adds much to the happiness of others to give this impression, and is therefore generous as well as wise.
It is always rude to interrupt with conversation, or yawning, or any motion, a musical performance, or any entertainment whether public or private, in which those about one are interested. One should retire if he cannot refrain.
Behavior in church may be taught in one great principle, providing that principle is fundamental enough. The sense of reverence for the things of the spiritual life may be felt, if not comprehended, by even the child. No amount of "Don't's," if the spirit of worship be not instilled, will avail to make the child of any age an attentive and reverent worshiper or even attendant at church.
The sense of worship will forbid whispering and chatting with friends, the noisy turning of the leaves of hymn-book or Bible, or an indifferent or scornful attitude when any are in prayer.
Another sign of the same reverence is the careful observance of punctuality at the service. A church service is, by its very nature, a more intimate and important service to the attendant than any other. Therefore, to come in late, thus distracting the attention of those who have gone to church for meditation or worship, is a far more flagrant offense against the rights of others, than is the disturbing of their pleasure at a theatre or a concert by a tardy entrance.
The habit of a vacant or absent mind in company is a grave fault, and works greatly to the detriment of one's reputation for intelligence, in spite of all else that one may do to establish it.
Straightforward attentiveness is the attitude of most profit and enjoyment in society. One learns then what other people are thinking about, and becomes more and more active mentally. Such an attitude establishes the confidence of others in one's sincerity and intelligence.
Inquisitiveness is fatal to real charm. No one cares to talk twice with a person who, no matter what his wit or ability to entertain, has betrayed one into divulging facts or making remarks which he regrets.
Upon the street a gentleman always takes the outside of the walk, when with a lady, the custom having come down from the days when dangers beset the path, and the man had to be at the point of vantage for the protection of the woman.
When a married woman and an unmarried girl are walking together, the married woman takes the outside of the walk.
In passing single file other people or some obstacle, the gentleman always steps back and allows the lady to precede him. If, however, the way is crowded or there is necessity that she should be protected, he goes first.
In entering a hotel dining-room the lady always goes first.
A lady never takes a gentleman's arm unless she is blind, infirm, or crippled, or in a turbulent crowd.
The considerate person will not enter even a public hotel late at night, much less a home, his own or any other, in a noisy, careless fashion. Those who are asleep deserve as great consideration as if they were awake, and more also.
The modern courtesy of letting each one pay for himself in a car, a train, a restaurant, or a theatre, is a much more rational one than the older form of permitting one to act as host, as if he were in his own house. A gentleman might offer to pay for others, if he wished to, but he should not insist upon paying; nor should any one carelessly or designedly permit his expenses to be paid by another, unless he himself expects to offer equal hospitality at another time.
In entering a carriage or automobile, one should step promptly, without either loitering or haste. If one is to sit facing the horses or the front of the automobile, and there is but one step to take, one puts the left foot on it. If there are two steps, the right foot should take the first, the left the second. If one is to face in the opposite direction from what the vehicle is going, one should use the right foot first in case of the one step, and the left foot first in case of the two.
When two ladies who are guest and hostess are driving together, the guest should enter first, taking the farther seat, facing the front of the carriage, so that it will not be necessary for her hostess to pass her. When a mother and daughter enter a carriage, the mother precedes, and the daughter sits by her side if no other lady is present. In case of two daughters, the elder sits by the side of the mother, and the younger sits opposite.
The fashionable hours for driving are from two-thirty to five in the winter, and from three to six-thirty in the summer.
Young women never ride horseback in cities or in public parks without an escort. In the country the rule is not so rigidly enforced. In case a groom is the escort, he rides slightly behind, keeping watch that he may be of service.
A riding-habit should be absolutely neat, simple, and inconspicuous. The hat should be plain, the hair compactly done, and the whole effect of the costume trim serviceableness and grace, rather than prettiness.
In mounting a horse a woman gathers up her habit in her left hand, and stands close to the horse with her right hand on the pommel of the saddle. The man who assists her stoops and places his right hand with the palm up at a convenient distance from the ground. The lady then puts her left foot into his hand, and springs up into the saddle with his assistance.
It is necessary, first, to have a firm seat; secondly, a skillful hand on the rein. One should sit in the middle of the saddle, in an easy, natural position, with the body not stiff but supple and responsive to the motion of the horse. The elbows should be well in to the side, in a line with the shoulders, and the hands should be relaxed and yet responsive to the slightest pull of the rein.
It is no longer considered wise and necessary for a woman to use a side saddle. In the freedom of a graceful divided skirt, she strides the saddle as do the men, and therefore has an equal chance with them to ride gracefully and safely,—a privilege which fashion long denied.
To keep to the right always is the only safe rule in the United States. In England and Canada the rule of keeping to the left is observed with the same rigidity.
In business life it is not good form to dine with your employer. This does not include a ban upon those business dinners, where there is a group of people, the majority of them men, with one or two unmarried business women of equal or superior business standing, who meet over the dinner table to talk of business problems. That occasion has its own etiquette, and one which the business man or woman readily fashions for himself or herself, and which follows the rules of business expediency rather than social life.
It is not necessary to recognize in society a strictly business acquaintance unless you wish to do so.
Neatness demands that the traveler always carry his own toilet articles, and not depend upon the public supplies, which are, however, supposedly safe and sanitary for use in emergencies.
The dress for traveling should be plain and simple, suited to the need rather than elaborate. The effect of crumpled finery is so very unpleasant that no person of taste will make a display of it in a public conveyance.
If you wish to leave your seat in a train, a coat or bag placed upon it is sufficient to reserve it for you. The removal of a coat or bag so placed is a very great rudeness.
A gentleman will give up his seat to two ladies, or to a gentleman and lady traveling together, as he can be more readily accommodated in the single seats than can they.
It is courteous for a gentleman who has a vacant place in the seat with him to offer it to a lady who is standing, and so prevent her from feeling that she is intruding in taking it, if there are no other seats vacant.
When a man opens a door for a woman who is a stranger, or offers her any other civility, or begs pardon for some blunder, he takes off his hat to her.
While traveling alone, it is not necessary or wise to be resentful of polite remarks or attentions. They should be met with equal politeness. Quiet dignity and tact will terminate without offense any conversation which has grown too familiar or tedious.
The comfort of all in the car, not of one individual, should be consulted in the opening of windows and doors, and the consent of those sitting near should be gained.
It is a grave breach of good manners to monopolize a dressing-room for quite a period of time. One should be as expeditious as possible, and should not seriously inconvenience others, even if he deprives himself of some of the comfort he desires.
It is not well to travel unless you can afford it. If you can and do travel, deal courteously and generously with those who serve you.
Ask questions only of officials of the road or the ship, or of policemen in the street.
The exchange of visiting cards with strangers, unless under unusual circumstances, is unwise and bad form.
Ordinarily a lady pays her fare herself, unless she is under escort of a relative or intimate friend to whom she gives the right to pay for her. When she enters a car alone and there meets an acquaintance, she always pays her own fare, unless the acquaintance may be an old and intimate friend.
When a lady is taking a long trip under escort of some gentleman friend, it is proper for her to reimburse him for his expenditures in her behalf. She should hand him her purse with which to purchase her ticket.
The munching of nuts, fruit, or candy in a crowded public conveyance is a serious offense against those about you. A neat lunch, quietly eaten at an appropriate hour, is not offensive and is quite permissible. But one should not impose even the odor of food upon people who are forced to be near, and who may find it extremely disagreeable.
The recent passage and enforcement of laws regarding expectoration in public places is a great step in advance, and must be rigidly maintained for the sake of the public health. The chewing of gum, while no menace to society, is as unesthetic and disgusting as expectoration, and should fall under as righteous if not as severe a ban.
In a car or train do not fan yourself so vigorously that the person in front of you feels the air current upon the back of his neck. A book or newspaper should not be placed so that it rubs constantly against the hat of the person in the seat in front.
Pushing, shoving, and all like methods of getting people to move out of your way, or of getting ahead of others, are marks of great rudeness, and have a tendency to retard rather than aid one's progress through a crowd or into a car. The quiet, good-natured crowd disperses most rapidly.
At the ferry and all prepayment places, have the right change in hand, so that you do not keep back those who are in a rush to catch a boat or a car, by fumbling for your money or making the receiver make change.
Do not carry an umbrella carelessly. You are as culpable if you injure another as another would be if he injured you.
To converse in loud tones or talk of personal matters anywhere in public shows great lack of fine feeling and good breeding.
Never show hostility, nor permit people to quarrel with you. The irritability which crowded conditions aggravate makes it necessary to adhere, from principle, to the rule of strict good-will toward all.
If you are escorting a woman, do not permit her to suffer any discomfort; but if, by chance, she does, do not pick a quarrel with the person who caused it. Firmly but quietly afford her protection, but do not demand satisfaction for discomforts or insults for which there is no satisfaction and whose discussion only increases the offense.
A lady need feel no embarrassment if she is obliged to spend a few days in a hotel alone. Upon entering she would go to the desk and make arrangements for a room. When the choice is made she surrenders her hand bag to the bell-boy, who conducts her to her room. She should, for her own convenience and protection, deposit valuables or large sums of money with the hotel proprietor in the office safe. Then the responsibility becomes his, but he does not assume it if they are left in the room. Upon leaving her room, she should lock her trunks and door, and leave the key with the clerk at the desk.
A lady's deportment in a hotel is that of quiet reserve, but not of haughty distance. She should dress simply and plainly, so as not to attract attention, as she is in a public place. The only time when elegant dress is permissible at a hotel is when one is with an escort, or is one of a group of people so dressed in order to attend some function.
A lady will not stand or linger in the halls of a hotel, will not loiter about the hotel office, or walk out alone upon the piazza or any conspicuous place, or stand at the windows of the parlor. She will remember that she is in a public place, where she may encounter all classes of people, so she will not permit herself any of the liberties of a home. She will not go through the halls humming or singing, or take a book or newspaper from the public parlor and carry it off to her room, even if she does shortly return it. She will not, even in her own room, make such noise as will attract attention or disturb other guests.
She will not call a cab herself, but will summon a bell-boy and have him attend to it. After her baggage is packed she will let the servants attend to it, even to the handing her of her umbrella and hand bag after she is in the carriage. She will never take the liberty of chiding a servant, but will make a necessary complaint to the clerk at the desk.
To open a window in the parlor of a hotel, when others are by and may be discomforted, is a breach of politeness. Also it is not right that even an accomplished musician or singer should use the piano of the hotel parlor, if others are in the room, unless he has received a unanimous invitation to do so.
One may greet fellow guests in the parlor or the dining-room without being thought forward or intrusive, and also may respond to such greetings without compromise, as such acquaintance does not imply or demand recognition elsewhere.
A lady, when alone at a hotel dining table, will decide quickly what dishes she wishes, and order them distinctly but quietly. She will wait patiently to be served, without any display of embarrassment. It is allowable to read a newspaper while waiting for breakfast, but not good taste to bring books to the table at any time. If she desires a dish which she sees, but the name of which she does not know, she will not point to it, but will indicate it to the waiter by her glance and her description.
If she has friends or makes table acquaintances, she will talk with them in a low tone. She will never talk with some one at another table, nor laugh loudly. If any civility, such as the passing of food, is offered her by either a lady or a gentleman, she will express her thanks, but will not start a conversation.
The usual good manners of cultivated people, emphasized by the additional restraint which the presence of the public imposes, is a safe standard of etiquette in a hotel.
THE ART OF BEING A GUEST
JUST as the host and hostess, in sending out an invitation, obligate themselves to make everything as enjoyable as possible for their guest, so a guest, in accepting, obligates himself or herself to meet the efforts of the host and hostess at least halfway. Success in the art of being a guest depends more upon the spirit in which one accepts of entertainment than upon the entertainment offered.
A formal dinner is one of the most solemn obligations of society. After having once accepted the invitation, only death or mortal illness is an excuse for not attending.
One may attend a formal reception and not expend more than twenty minutes of time, if one wishes to be very prompt. The round of social duty there is brief. A lady removes her wrap, but not her hat or gloves, in the dressing-room, and thence goes directly to the drawing-room. The guest here greets the host and hostess, briefly if the reception is large and the flow of incoming guests constant, then passes to the room where the refreshments are served. After partaking of these, the guest may leave without bidding adieu to the hostess, unless the reception is small and she is free to speak a second time with her guests.
If one is present at an afternoon tea or reception, it is not always necessary to call afterwards; yet, many hostesses expect such a call if the affair has been formal. One should certainly call after a tea given to introduce a debutante, or a wedding reception, or one given in honor of some special person or event.
If a guest is not pleased with the food provided at a luncheon or dinner, or for any special reason cannot eat of any one dish, he should try and satisfy himself with something else, and make no comment upon it, doing his utmost to prevent his hostess from thinking that she has not well provided for him.
At a dancing party a young man should assist his hostess in seeing that all the young ladies have an equal chance to dance, and that none are obliged to sit out dances because of a dearth of partners. His obligation to his hostess and to society should be thus honored, as it is not, of course, a private affair for his own amusement, and as upon him, more than upon the young women, depends its success.
It is necessary that introductions be freely made at a dancing party, in order that all may enjoy the evening, and every one should try to make all his friends acquainted with each other.
A young woman remains seated by the side of her chaperon until asked to dance. After a dance her partner returns with her to the chaperon.
If the son of the hostess requests a dance of a young woman, she should give it unless her program is quite full. If for any reason she refuses a dance to one man, she should not give it to another, but should sit it out. A woman, having once promised a dance, should fulfill her promise unless too ill to do so, in which case she will dance no more during the evening. The young man who is thus refused is free, having returned with her to her chaperon, to seek another partner.
Unless a young couple are engaged to each other, they should not dance together so often as to be conspicuous. Nor may they disappear into secluded corners and sit out dances. It is poor taste and very questionable etiquette, even if engaged.
When asked to dance, a woman hands the man her program, saying, "I am not engaged for that dance, and will be pleased to give it to you." After the dance the man may thank the woman for it, and she may make some remark to express her pleasure in it.
If a man is delayed in claiming a woman for the promised dance, he should make profuse apologies.
A man dances first with the woman he escorts, or with the daughters of the hostess, or her guests in the house. Afterward he may choose for himself, always remembering that he should assist his hostess in giving a good time to all.
A woman always makes the first move toward going home at every social gathering. At a dance it is not necessary to say good-night to the hostess unless there is a good opportunity.
If a man is suddenly called away, he should try to find partners for the ladies with whom he engaged dances, and should explain his leaving to them.
It is not obligatory, but simply a pleasant custom, for a man to send flowers to the young woman whom he is going to escort to a dancing party. When she is his fiancee, it is especially appropriate and appreciated.
When one is on a visit, or at a house or weekend party, one has to follow the style of dress of the people whom one is visiting, so no hard and fast rules can be laid down. One should have suitable garments for each of the forms of recreation which one is to enjoy, and should follow quite closely the requirements of the hour.
When traveling, small, plain hats and tidily draped veils are necessary. For mountain visits, thicker clothing and heavier wraps will be in demand, than are used in the city. When it is the custom to dress for dinner, one should always adhere to it, and so plan one's hours that nothing interferes with so doing and being prompt as well.
A guest should not claim the entire time of her hostess. The hours between breakfast and lunch belong to the hostess for the doing of her household and family duties, and the guest should entertain herself during them.
No guest should ever accept an invitation to an entertainment, a drive, or any other amusement without first consulting with her hostess. If, having friends in the same city or town, she has invitations from them for special occasions, she should inform her hostess of them promptly, that two plans may not be made for the same date.
Unless a guest is ill or very old and feeble, she never suggests retiring. That is the duty of the hostess.
A guest should take pains to arrive when expected. If she has promised a visit, she should keep her promise, unless matters of serious illness or grave moment forbid it, in which case a prompt and explanatory apology is imperative.
The guest should decide with her hostess, early in her stay, upon the date of her departure, if that has not been already settled in the form of the invitation, and should then abide rigidly by it, allowing nothing but the most earnest importunity on the part of her hostess personally, and for clearly shown and newly arising reasons, to detain her longer.
The guest should be pleased and well entertained with everything that is done for her amusement, or should appear to be so. If she cannot give herself up to the enjoyment of the sort of entertainment which her host and hostess provide, she should not accept the invitation to visit them.
The guest should be punctual at meals and conform in every particular to the ways of the household. She should not arrive in the living-room or drawing-room at hours when there will be none to entertain her, and when it would embarrass her hostess to know that she was unattended. To sit up after the family has gone to bed, to lie in bed after the entire family have risen, to be late at meals, to be writing an important letter or doing some mending when the carriage is at the door for a drive, or wish to go to drive when the carriage has been dismissed, to be too tired to attend the dinner or reception given in one's honor, to fail to keep appointments for the stroll or some sport because one wants to do something else,—these things show a total lack of consideration on the part of the guest, and make it impossible to enjoy her stay or wish for her return.
At times which seem appropriate it is well to retire to one's room and leave the family by themselves. It is not necessary for the family life and comfort to be sacrificed constantly to the guest. Hospitality would be more generously shown if it did not make so many unnecessary demands upon the time and comfort of the members of the family.
The guest should never take sides in any family discussion, and if anything unpleasant occurs, she should ignore it entirely, and not seem to know anything about it or take any interest in it.
It is an unpardonable breach of loyalty to one's hosts to retail any information one may have acquired on a visit, or discuss their characteristics and management with any one.
A guest need not attend religious services, or be present at the calls of commonplace people, or enter into local philanthropies, unless he wishes to do so. True hospitality relieves him from all sense of obligation in these matters. If, however, carriages are provided so that guests may attend church, or guests are told of the hour for family worship and are invited to be present, it is more courteous to attend.
Guests at country houses should be willing to take hold and help in any emergency, such as the absence or sickness of the servants, and should be willing to join heartily in the country frolics where work is usually to be shared by all.
In the country people visit in large parties, so when one is invited to go on an excursion or with a crowd to visit some neighbor, one should not hesitate for fear of being one too many.
One should follow the wish of the host or hostess in regard to giving the servants some gratuity for service rendered, if that wish is known; otherwise, unless there is an accepted rule to the contrary, it is well to give, when leaving, a small gift of money to such of the servants as have been especially helpful. One should always treat servants with consideration and kindness, if not with generosity. It is better to be less lavish with money and more painstaking in remembering personally the people who have served you, renewing acquaintance with them if opportunity offers, treating them in a human way, and not with the indifference with which you would treat a mechanism.
If a gift is given, it should be done unostentatiously. The tactful, quiet way of doing it, free from patronage, and showing only good-will and gratitude for service rendered, is the only polite way. Money never compensates for haughtiness and brusqueness, and the gentleman or lady in spirit will not be unmindful of the feelings of even an incompetent servant.
THE DUTIES OF HOST AND HOSTESS
HOSPITALITY is a great pleasure to people of a sociable nature, and its obligations have a most refining influence. The generous consideration of others reaches its acme when one is constantly entertaining little circles of friends, with no thought but to give happiness.
The pleasant custom of serving tea each day at five o'clock is one which admits of great enjoyment. The man of the house tries to be at home for the quiet social hour before the family dinner. The young people of the family are gathering after the day's dispersion. The friends, who are out calling or on their way home, drop in for a pleasant chat; and the charming hostess has time for many glimpses of friends, and chance also to say the right word to some friend in need of cheer, who knew that she could be found at her daily hour of welcome.
The custom of receiving on a certain day of the week is a sensible and hospitable one. If one has such an "At Home" day, it is more polite for friends to call on that day than on any other. If a lady has, however, sent out cards announcing that she is "At Home" on "Wednesdays in January and February," one should not call on those days unless one has received the card having the special invitation.
Some receive once a month during the season. They have the day engraved on their card, as "The first Friday until Lent," or "The second Wednesday until April."
The custom of sending out cards for a certain day throughout one month avoids a "crush" on any one day, and enables a hostess to receive informally without giving up a great part of her time.
The informal entertainment is a greater compliment to guests than any formal entertainment, however splendid.
The hostess should preserve the happy medium between neglecting and overattending to her guests.
When a hostess wishes to have her friends meet an expected guest, she should inform them of the intended visit beforehand, and so enable them to make an engagement to meet her, or plan entertainment for her. Invitations to a reception in honor of a friend can well be, and should be, sent out in advance of her coming, if her stay is to be short, and if the dates of her stay are definitely known.
At a reception for the introduction of a friend, the hostess and the guest of honor will stand near the door of the drawing-room and receive. If the reception is very large, the butler announces the names of the guests as they enter. The hostess gives her hand to the newcomer, and presents her to the guest of honor. After a few words of greeting, the caller passes on into the room where the refreshments are served.
The refreshments usually consist of dainty sandwiches, salads, perhaps creamed oysters or chicken, bouillon, chocolate, coffee, or lemonade.
Afternoon teas are less formal and less elaborate than receptions. The refreshments consist of tea, with thin slices of bread and butter, thin biscuits, and cake.
At a dancing party the hostess receives, together with her daughters and any guests whom she honors by asking. The host may receive, as well, but his chief duty is to keep a watchful eye upon his guests, looking out for the chaperons, and seeing that the young people are supplied with partners for the dances.
At a debutante party the mother stands nearest the drawing-room door, the daughter next her, and the father beyond. The mother greets each guest and then introduces the daughter. At the supper or dinner her brother or father takes out the debutante, who sits at her father's left. In case her brother takes her out, her father takes out the oldest or most honored lady present.
The successful host and hostess see to it that all their guests are introduced to each other, if this is possible, so that the best of cordiality and the least restraint may characterize their mingling.
Breakfasts and Luncheons
Breakfasts may be homelike, informal affairs, or quite ceremonious. The hour of this meal is at any time before one o'clock, usually twelve or twelve-thirty. After one o'clock the affair becomes a luncheon.
Men are invited to a breakfast, but usually at a luncheon the guests are all women.
A real breakfast menu, such as is often served on Sunday mornings in the country, consists of fruit, cereal, a chop, or steak, or fishballs, with potatoes, eggs in some form, muffins or hot rolls, and coffee, waffles or hot cakes, or, in New England, doughnuts.
The menu for luncheon consists usually of soup, fruit, lobster in cutlets or croquettes, with mushrooms, or omelet, or fish; broiled chicken, or lamb chops, with green peas and potatoes; a salad, crackers and cheese; ice cream, with coffee, tea, or chocolate.
At a breakfast or luncheon, as at a dinner, every effort should be made to be punctual. The success of such an occasion may be ruined by a tardy guest.
At a luncheon one removes wraps and veils in the dressing-room, retaining one's hat and gloves, the latter being removed at table, and resumed in the drawing-room after the meal, unless cards are the form of entertainment.
As the guests enter the drawing-room the hostess shakes hands with them and introduces them to one another before going to the dining-room. When no men are present the hostess leads the way to the dining-room, and the guests find their places at the table by the name cards. When men are present the procedure to the dining-room follows the custom at a formal dinner.