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Routledge's Manual of Etiquette by George Routledge

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ROUTLEDGE'S
MANUAL OF ETIQUETTE

ETIQUETTE FOR LADIES
ETIQUETTE FOR GENTLEMEN
BALL-ROOM COMPANION
COURTSHIP & MATRIMONY
HOW TO DRESS WELL
HOW TO CARVE
TOASTS AND SENTIMENTS

GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS

CONTENTS.

ETIQUETTE FOR LADIES.

I. Introductions
II. Letters of Introduction
III. Visiting, Morning Calls, Cards
IV. Conversation
V. Notes of Invitation, &c.
VI. The Promenade
VII. Dress
VIII. Morning and Evening Parties
IX. The Dinner-table
X. The Ball-room
XI. Staying at a Friend's House--Breakfast, Luncheon, &c.
XII. General Hints

* * * * *

ETIQUETTE FOR GENTLEMEN.

I. Introductions
II. Letters of Introduction
III. Visiting, Morning Calls, Cards, &c.
IV. Conversation
V. Notes of Invitation, &c.
VI. The Promenade
VII. Dress
VIII. Riding and Driving
IX. Morning and Evening Parties
X. The Dinner-table
XI. The Ball-room
XII. Staying at a Friend's House--Breakfast, Luncheon, &c.
XIII. General Hints

* * * * *

BALL-ROOM GUIDE.

I. How to organize a Ball
II. Ball-room Toilette (Ladies)
" " (Gentlemen)
III. Etiquette of the Ball-room
IV. The Quadrille
V. The Caledonians
VI. The Lancers
VII. The Double Lancers
VIII. Coulon's Double Quadrille
IX. The Polka
X. The Cellarius
XI. The Mazurka Quadrille
XII. The Polka Mazurka
XIII. The Redowa, or Redova
XIV. The Schottische
XV. The Varsoviana, or Varsovienne
XVI. The Gorlitza
XVII. The Valse a Trois Temps
XVIII. The Valse a Deux Temps
XIX. The New Valse
XX. The Galop
XXI. The Cotillon
XXII. The Spanish Dance
XXIII. The Tempete
XXIV. Sir Roger de Coverley
XXV. Glossary of Terms used in Dancing

* * * * *

ETIQUETTE OF COURTSHIP AND MATRIMONY.

I.--FIRST STEPS IN COURTSHIP.

Advice to both parties at the outset
Introduction to the Lady's Family

II.--ETIQUETTE OF COURTSHIP.

Restrictions imposed by Etiquette
What the Lady should observe in early Courtship
What the Suitor should observe
Etiquette as to Presents
The Proposal
Mode of Refusal when not approved
Conduct to be observed by a Rejected Suitor
Refusal by the Lady's Parents or Guardians

III.--ETIQUETTE OF AN ENGAGEMENT.

Demeanour of the Betrothed Pair
Should a Courtship be long or short?

IV.--PRELIMINARY ETIQUETTE OF A WEDDING.

Fixing the Day
How to be Married: by Banns, Licence, &c.
The Trousseau
Duties to be attended to by the Bridegroom
Who should be asked to the Wedding
Bridesmaids and Bridegroom's-men, Duties of

V.--ETIQUETTE OF A WEDDING.

Costume of Bride, Bridesmaids, and Bridegroom
Arrival at the Church
The Marriage Ceremonial
Registry of the Marriage
Return Home and Wedding Breakfast
Departure for the Honeymoon

VI.--ETIQUETTE AFTER THE WEDDING.

Wedding Cards: Modern Practice of "No Cards"
Reception and Return of Wedding Visits

VII.

Practical Advice to a Newly-married Couple

* * * * *

HOW TO DRESS WELL.

I. Introduction
II. Taste in Dress
III. Fashion in Dress
IV. Expense of Dress
V. Accessories
VI. A Few Words More

* * * * *

HOW TO CARVE.

Hints on the Dinner-table
Carving

FISH.

Turbot
Cod-Fish
Salmon, &c.
Mackerel

JOINTS.

Haunch of Venison or Mutton
Saddle of Mutton
Leg of Mutton
Shoulder of Mutton
Loin of Mutton
Neck of Mutton
Fore Quarter of Lamb
Sirloin of Beef
Ribs of Beef
Round of Beef
Aitch-bone of Beef
Rump or Buttock of Beef
Tongue
Calf's Head
Loin of Veal
Fillet of Veal
Breast of Veal
Knuckle of Veal
Shoulder and Neck of Veal
Leg or Hand of Pork
Spare-rib of Pork
Ham
Sucking Pig

POULTRY AND GAME.

Goose
Turkey
Fowl
Duck
Wild Duck
Pheasant
Grouse
Partridge
Woodcock or Snipe
Pigeons
Small Birds
Hare
Rabbit

* * * * *

TOASTS AND SENTIMENTS.

Amatory
Bacchanalian
Comic
Conservative
Gastronomic
English
Irish
Scotch
Liberal
Literary
Loyal
Masonic
Military
Naval
Religious
Sentimental
Sporting
Miscellaneous
Latin

Routledge's Etiquette for Ladies.

* * * * *

I.--INTRODUCTIONS.

To introduce persons who are mutually unknown is to undertake a
serious responsibility, and to certify to each the respectability of
the other. Never undertake this responsibility without in the first
place asking yourself whether the persons are likely to be agreeable
to each other; nor, in the second place, without ascertaining whether
it will be acceptable to both parties to become acquainted.

Always introduce the gentleman to the lady--never the lady to
the gentleman. The chivalry of etiquette assumes that the lady is
invariably the superior in right of her sex, and that the gentleman
is honoured in the introduction. This rule is to be observed even when
the social rank of the gentleman is higher than that of the lady.

Where the sexes are the same, always present the inferior to the
superior.

Never present a gentleman to a lady without first asking her
permission to do so.

When you are introduced to a gentleman, never offer your hand. When
introduced, persons limit their recognition of each other to a bow.
On the Continent, ladies never shake hands with gentlemen unless under
circumstances of great intimacy.

Never introduce morning visitors who happen to encounter each other
in your drawing-room, unless they are persons whom you have already
obtained permission to make known to each other. Visitors thus
casually meeting in the house of a friend should converse with ease
and freedom, as if they were acquainted. That they are both friends of
the hostess is a sufficient guarantee of their respectability. To be
silent and stiff on such an occasion would show much-ignorance and
ill-breeding.

Persons who have met at the house of a mutual friend, without being
introduced, should not bow if they afterwards meet elsewhere. A bow
implies acquaintance; and persons who have not been introduced are not
acquainted.

If you are walking with one friend, and presently meet with, or
are joined by, a third, do not commit the too frequent error of
introducing them to each other. You have even less right to do so than
if they encountered each other at your house during a morning call.

There are some exceptions to the etiquette of introductions. At a
ball, or evening party where there is dancing, the mistress of the
house may introduce any gentleman to any lady without first asking the
lady's permission. But she should first ascertain whether the lady is
willing to dance; and this out of consideration for the gentleman,
who may otherwise be refused. No man likes to be refused the hand of a
lady, though it be only for a quadrille.

A sister may present her brother, or a mother her son, without any
kind of preliminary; but only when there is no inferiority on the part
of her own family to that of the acquaintance.

Friends may introduce friends at the house of a mutual acquaintance;
but, as a rule, it is better to be introduced by the mistress of the
house. Such an introduction carries more authority with it.

Introductions at evening parties are now almost wholly dispensed with.
Persons who meet at a friend's house are ostensibly upon an equality,
and pay a bad compliment to the host by appearing suspicious and
formal. Some old-fashioned country hosts yet persevere in introducing
each new comer to all the assembled guests. It is a custom that
cannot be too soon abolished, and one that places the last unfortunate
visitor in a singularly awkward position. All that she can do is
to make a semicircular courtesy, like a concert singer before
an audience, and bear the general gaze with as much composure as
possible.

If, when you enter a drawing-room, your name has been wrongly
announced, or has passed unheard in the buzz of conversation, make
your way at once to the mistress of the house, if you are a stranger,
and introduce yourself by name. This should be done with the greatest
simplicity, and your rank made as little of as possible.

An introduction given at a ball for the mere purpose of conducting a
lady through a dance does not give the gentleman any right to bow to
her on a future occasion. If he commits this error, she may remember
that she is not bound to see, or return, his salutation.

* * * * *

II.--LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION.

Do not lightly give or promise letters of introduction. Always
remember that when you give a letter of introduction you lay yourself
under an obligation to the friend to whom it is addressed. If she
lives in a great city, such as Paris or London, you in a measure
compel her to undergo the penalty of escorting the stranger to some of
those places of public entertainment in which the capital abounds. If
your friend be a married lady, and the mistress of a house, you put
her to the expense of inviting the stranger to her table. We cannot be
too cautious how we tax the time and purse of a friend, or weigh too
seriously the question of mutual advantage in the introduction. Always
ask yourself whether the person introduced will be an acceptable
acquaintance to the one to whom you present her; and whether the
pleasure of knowing her will compensate for the time or money which
it costs to entertain her. If the stranger is in any way unsuitable in
habits or temperament, you inflict an annoyance on your friend instead
of a pleasure. In questions of introduction never oblige one friend to
the discomfort of another.

Those to whom letters of introduction have been given, should send
them to the person to whom they are addressed, and enclose a card.
Never deliver a letter of introduction in person. It places you in the
most undignified position imaginable, and compels you to wait while it
is being read, like a servant who has been told to wait for an answer.
There is also another reason why you should not be yourself the bearer
of your introduction; i.e., you compel the other person to receive
you, whether she chooses or not. It may be that she is sufficiently
ill-bred to take no notice of the letter when sent, and in such case,
if you presented yourself with it, she would most probably receive you
with rudeness. It is, at all events, more polite on your part to give
her the option, and, perhaps, more pleasant. If the receiver of the
letter be a really well-bred person, she will call upon you or leave
her card the next day, and you should return her attentions within the
week.

If, on the other hand, a stranger sends you a letter of introduction
and her card, you are bound by the laws of politeness and hospitality,
not only to call upon her the next day, but to follow up that
attention with others. If you are in a position to do so, the most
correct proceeding is to invite her to dine with you. Should this
not be within your power, you can probably escort her to some of the
exhibitions, bazaars, or concerts of the season; any of which would be
interesting to a foreigner or provincial visitor. In short, etiquette
demands that you shall exert yourself to show kindness to the
stranger, if only out of compliment to the friend who introduced her
to you.

If you invite her to dine with you, it is a better compliment to ask
some others to meet her than to dine with her _tete-a-tete_. You are
thereby giving her an opportunity of making other acquaintances, and
are assisting your friend in still farther promoting the purpose for
which she gave her the introduction to yourself.

Be careful at the same time only to ask such persons as she will feel
are at least her own social equals.

A letter of introduction should be given unsealed, not alone because
your friend may wish to know what you have said of her, but also as
a guarantee of your own good faith. As you should never give such
a letter unless you can speak highly of the bearer, this rule of
etiquette is easy to observe. By requesting your friend to fasten the
envelope before forwarding the letter to its destination, you tacitly
give her permission to inspect its contents.

Let your note-paper be of the best quality and the proper size. Albert
or Queen's size is the best for these purposes.

It has been well said that "attention to the punctilios of politeness
is a proof at once of self-respect, and of respect for your friend."
Though irksome at first, these trifles soon cease to be matters for
memory, and become things of mere habit. To the thoroughly well-bred
they are a second nature. Let no one neglect them who is desirous of
pleasing in society; and, above all, let no one deem them unworthy of
attention. They are precisely the trifles which do most to make social
intercourse agreeable, and a knowledge of which distinguishes the
gentlewoman from the _parvenue_.

* * * * *

III.--VISITING.--MORNING CALLS.--CARDS.

A morning visit should be paid between the hours of two and four p.m.,
in winter, and two and five in summer. By observing this rule
you avoid intruding before the luncheon is removed, and leave in
sufficient time to allow the lady of the house an hour or two of
leisure for her dinner toilette.

Be careful always to avoid luncheon hours when you pay morning
visits. Some ladies dine with their children at half-past one, and are
consequently unprepared for the early reception of visitors. When you
have once ascertained this to be the case, be careful never again to
intrude at the same hour.

A good memory for these trifles is one of the hall-marks of good
breeding.

Visits of ceremony should be short. If even the conversation
should have become animated, beware of letting your call exceed
half-an-hour's length. It is always better to let your friends regret
than desire your withdrawal.

On returning visits of ceremony you may, without impoliteness, leave
your card at the door without going in. Do not fail, however, to
inquire if the family be well.

Should there be daughters or sisters residing with the lady upon whom
you call, you may turn down a corner of your card, to signify that the
visit is paid to all. It is in better taste, however, to leave cards
for each.

Unless when returning thanks for "kind inquiries," or announcing your
arrival in, or departure from, town, it is not considered respectful
to send round cards by a servant.

Leave-taking cards have P.P.C. (_pour prendre conge_) written in the
corner. Some use P.D.A. (_pour dire adieu_).

It is not the fashion on the Continent for unmarried ladies to affix
any equivalent to the English "Miss" to their visiting cards. _Emilie
Dubois_, or _Kaetchen Clauss_, is thought more simple and elegant than
if preceded by _Mademoiselle_ or _Frauelein_. Some English girls have
of late adopted this good custom, and it would be well if it became
general.

Autographic facsimiles for visiting cards are affectations in any
persons but those who are personally remarkable for talent, and whose
autographs, or facsimiles of them, would be prized as curiosities.
A card bearing the autographic signature of Agnes Strickland or Mary
Somerville, though only a lithographic facsimile, would have a certain
interest; whereas the signature of Jane Smith would be not only
valueless; but would make the owner ridiculous.

Visits of condolence are paid within the week after the event which
occasions them. Personal visits of this kind are made by relations
and very intimate friends only. Acquaintances should leave cards with
narrow mourning borders.

On the first occasion when you are received by the family after the
death of one of its members, it is etiquette to wear slight mourning.

Umbrellas should invariably be left in the hall.

Never take favourite dogs into a drawing-room when you make a morning
call. Their feet may be dusty, or they may bark at the sight of
strangers, or, being of too friendly a disposition, may take the
liberty of lying on a lady's gown, or jumping on the sofas and easy
chairs. Where your friend has a favourite cat already established
before the fire, a battle may ensue, and one or other of the pets be
seriously hurt. Besides, many persons have a constitutional
antipathy to dogs, and others never allow their own to be seen in the
sitting-rooms. For all or any of these reasons, a visitor has no
right to inflict upon her friend the society of her dog as well as of
herself. Neither is it well for a mother to take young children with
her when she pays morning visits; their presence, unless they are
unusually well trained, can only be productive of anxiety to both
yourself and your hostess. She, while striving to amuse them, or to
appear interested in them, is secretly anxious for the fate of
her album, or the ornaments on her _etagere_; while the mother is
trembling lest her children should say or do something objectionable.

If other visitors are announced, and you have already remained as long
as courtesy requires, wait till they are seated, and then rise from
your chair, take leave of your hostess, and bow politely to the newly
arrived guests. You will, perhaps, be urged to remain, but, having
once risen, it is best to go. There is always a certain air of
_gaucherie_ in resuming your seat and repeating the ceremony of
leave-taking.

If you have occasion to look at your watch during a call, ask
permission to do so, and apologise for it on the plea of other
appointments.

In receiving morning visitors, it is not necessary that the lady
should lay aside the employment in which she may be engaged,
particularly if it consists of light or ornamental needle-work.
Politeness, however, requires that music, drawing, or any occupation
which would completely engross the attention, be at once abandoned.

You need not advance to receive visitors when announced, unless
they are persons to whom you are desirous of testifying particular
attention. It is sufficient if a lady rises to receive her visitors,
moves forward a single step to shake hands with them, and remains
standing till they are seated.

When your visitors rise to take leave you should rise also, and remain
standing till they have quite left the room. Do not accompany them to
the door, but be careful to ring in good time, that the servant may be
ready in the hall to let them out.

A lady should dress well, but not too richly, when she pays a morning
visit. If she has a carriage at command, she may dress more elegantly
than if she were on foot. The question of morning and afternoon dress
will be found fully treated in Section VII.

* * * * *

IV.--CONVERSATION.

There is no conversation so graceful, so varied, so sparkling, as that
of an intellectual and cultivated woman. Excellence in this particular
is, indeed, one of the attributes of the sex, and should be cultivated
by every gentlewoman who aspires to please in general society.

In order to talk well, three conditions are indisputable,
namely--tact, a good memory, and a fair education.

Remember that people take more interest in their own affairs than in
anything else which you can name. If you wish your conversation to be
thoroughly agreeable, lead a mother to talk of her children, a young
lady of her last ball, an author of his forthcoming book, or an artist
of his exhibition picture. Having furnished the topic, you need
only listen; and you are sure to be thought not only agreeable, but
thoroughly sensible and well-informed.

Be careful, however, on the other hand, not always to make a point of
talking to persons upon general matters relating to their professions.
To show an interest in their immediate concerns is flattering; but
to converse with them too much about their own arts looks as if you
thought them ignorant of other topics.

Remember in conversation that a voice "gentle and low" is, above all
other extraneous acquirements, "an excellent thing in woman." There is
a certain distinct but subdued tone of voice which is peculiar to only
well-bred persons. A loud voice is both disagreeable and vulgar. It is
better to err by the use of too low than too loud a tone.

Remember that all "slang" is vulgar. It has become of late
unfortunately prevalent, and we know many ladies who pride themselves
on the saucy _chique_ with which they adopt certain Americanisms,
and other cant phrases of the day. Such habits cannot be too severely
reprehended. They lower the tone of society and the standard of
thought. It is a great mistake to suppose that slang is in any way a
substitute for wit.

The use of proverbs is equally vulgar in conversation; and puns,
unless they rise to the rank of witticisms, are to be scrupulously
avoided. A lady-punster is a most unpleasing phenomenon, and we would
advise no young woman, however witty she may be, to cultivate this
kind of verbal talent.

Long arguments in general company, however entertaining to the
disputants, are tiresome to the last degree to all others. You should
always endeavour to prevent the conversation from dwelling too long
upon one topic.

Religion is a topic which should never be introduced in society. It is
the one subject on which persons are most likely to differ, and least
able to preserve temper.

Never interrupt a person who is speaking. It has been aptly said that
"if you interrupt a speaker in the middle of his sentence, you act
almost as rudely as if, when walking with a companion, you were to
thrust yourself before him, and stop his progress."

To listen well is almost as great an art as to talk well. It is not
enough _only_ to listen. You must endeavour to seem interested in the
conversation of others.

It is considered extremely ill-bred when two persons whisper in
society, or converse in a language with which all present are not
familiar. If you have private matters to discuss, you should appoint
a proper time and place to do so, without paying others the ill
compliment of excluding them from your conversation.

If a foreigner be one of the guests at a small party, and does not
understand English sufficiently to follow what is said, good breeding
demands that the conversation shall be carried on in his own language.
If at a dinner-party, the same rule applies to those at his end of the
table.

If upon the entrance of a visitor you carry on the thread of a
previous conversation, you should briefly recapitulate to him what has
been said before he arrived.

Do not be _always_ witty, even though you should be so happily gifted
as to need the caution. To outshine others on every occasion is the
surest road to unpopularity.

Always look, but never stare, at those with whom you converse.

In order to meet the general needs of conversation in society, it is
necessary that a gentlewoman should be acquainted with the current
news and historical events of at least the last few years.

Never talk upon subjects of which you know nothing, unless it be for
the purpose of acquiring information. Many young ladies imagine that
because they play a little, sing a little, draw a little, and frequent
exhibitions and operas, they are qualified judges of art. No mistake
is more egregious or universal.

Those who introduce anecdotes into their conversation are warned
that these should invariably be "short, witty, eloquent, new, and not
far-fetched."

Scandal is the least excusable of all conversational vulgarities.

In conversing with a woman of rank, do not too frequently give her her
title. Only a lady's-maid interlards every sentence with "My Lady," or
"My Lord." It is, however, well to show that you remember the station
of your interlocutor by now and then introducing some such phrase
as--"I think I have already mentioned to your Grace"--or, "I believe,
Madam, you were observing--"

A peer or baron may occasionally, as in an address, be styled "My
Lord," but a lady of equal rank must only be addressed as "Madam."
In general, however, a nobleman or lady of high rank should only be
addressed as you would address any other gentleman or lady. The Prince
of Wales himself is only styled "Sir" in conversation, and the Queen
"Madam."

* * * * *

V.--NOTES OF INVITATION, &C.

Notes of invitation and acceptance are written in the third person
and the simplest style. The old-fashioned preliminary of "presenting
compliments" is discontinued by the most elegant letter writers.

All notes of invitation are now issued in the name of the mistress of
the house only, as follows:--

"Mrs. Norman requests the honour of Sir George and Lady
Thurlow's company at an evening party, on Monday, 14th of
June."

Others prefer the subjoined form, which is purchaseable ready printed
upon either cards or note paper, with blanks for names or dates:--

"Mrs. Norman,
"At home,
"Monday evening, June 14th inst."

An "At home" is, however, considered somewhat less stately than
an evening party, and partakes more of the character of a
_conversazione_.

The reply to a note of invitation should be couched as follows:--

"Mr. Berkeley has much pleasure in accepting Mrs. Norman's
polite invitation for Monday evening, June the 14th instant."

Never "avail" yourself of an invitation. Above all, never speak or
write of an invitation as "an invite." It is neither good breeding nor
good English.

Notes of invitation and reply should be written on small paper of the
best quality, and enclosed in envelopes to correspond.

Note paper of the most dainty and fastidious kind may be used by a
lady with propriety and elegance, but only when she is writing to her
friends and equals. Business letters or letters to her tradespeople
should be written on plain paper, and enclosed either in an adhesive
envelope, or sealed with red wax.

Never omit the address and date from any letter, whether of business
or friendship.

Letters in the first person addressed to strangers should begin with
"Sir," or "Madam," and end with "I have the honour to be your very
obedient servant." Some object to this form of words from a mistaken
sense of pride; but it is merely a form, and, rightly apprehended,
evinces a "proud humility," which implies more condescension than a
less formal phrase.

At the end of your letter, at some little distance below your
signature, and in the left corner of your paper, write the name of
the person to whom your letter is addressed; as "Lady Dalhousie," or
"Edward Munroe, Esquire."

It is more polite to write Esquire at full length than to curtail it
to Esq.

In writing to persons much your superior or inferior, use as few words
as possible. In the former case, to take up much of a great man's
time is to take a liberty; in the latter, to be diffuse is to be too
familiar. It is only in familiar correspondence that long letters are
permissible.

In writing to a tradesman, begin your letter by addressing him by
name, as--

"Mr. Jones,--Sir."

A letter thus begun may, with propriety, be ended with--

"Sir, yours truly."

Letters to persons whom you meet frequently in society, without having
arrived at intimacy, may commence with "Dear Madam," and end with "I
am, dear Madam, yours very truly."

Letters commencing "My dear Madam," addressed to persons whom you
appreciate, and with whom you are on friendly terms, may end with "I
am, my dear Madam, yours very faithfully," or "yours very sincerely."

To be prompt in replying to a letter is to be polite.

Lady correspondents are too apt to over-emphasize in their
letter-writing, and in general evince a sad disregard of the laws
of punctuation. We would respectfully suggest that a comma is not
designed to answer every purpose, and that the underlining of every
second or third word adds nothing to the eloquence or clearness of
a letter, however certain it may be to provoke an unflattering smile
upon the lips of the reader.

All letters must be prepaid.

* * * * *

VI.--THE PROMENADE.

In England, a lady may accept the arm of a gentleman with whom she is
walking, even though he be only an acquaintance. This is not the case
either in America or on the Continent. There a lady can take the
arm of no gentleman who is not either her husband, lover, or near
relative.

If a lady has been making purchases during her walk, she may permit
the gentleman who accompanies her to carry any small, parcel that she
may have in her own hand; but she should not burthen him with more
than one under any circumstances whatever.

Two ladies may without any impropriety take each one arm of a single
cavalier; but one lady cannot, with either grace or the sanction of
custom take the arms of two gentlemen at the same time.

When a lady is walking with a gentleman in a park, or public garden,
or through the rooms of an exhibition, and becomes fatigued, it is
the gentleman's duty to find her a seat. If, however, as is very
frequently the case, he is himself obliged to remain standing, the
lady should make a point of rising as soon as she is sufficiently
rested, and not abuse either the patience or politeness of her
companion.

It is the place of the lady to bow first, if she meets a gentleman
of her acquaintance. When you meet friends or acquaintances in the
streets, the exhibitions, or any public places, be careful not
to pronounce their names so loudly as to attract the attention of
bystanders. Never call across the street, or attempt to carry on a
dialogue in a public vehicle, unless your interlocutor occupies the
seat beside your own.

* * * * *

VII.--DRESS.

To dress well requires something more than a full purse and a pretty
figure. It needs taste, good sense, and refinement. Dress may almost
be classed as one of the fine arts. It is certainly one of those arts,
the cultivation of which is indispensable to any person moving in
the upper or middle classes of society. Very clever women are too
frequently indifferent to the graces of the toilette; and women who
wish to be thought clever affect indifference. In the one case it
is an error, and in the other a folly. It is not enough that a
gentlewoman should be clever, or well-educated, or well-born. To take
her due place in society, she must be acquainted with all that this
little book proposes to teach. She must, above all else, know how to
enter a room, how to perform a graceful salutation, and how to dress.
Of these three important qualifications, the most important, because
the most observed, is the latter.

Let your style of dress always be appropriate to the hour of the day.
To dress too finely in the morning, or to be seen in a morning dress
in the evening, is equally vulgar and out of place.

Light and inexpensive materials are fittest for morning wear; dark
silk dresses for the promenade or carriage; and low dresses of rich or
transparent stuffs for the dinner and ball. A young lady cannot dress
with too much simplicity in the early part of the day. A morning dress
of some simple material, and delicate whole colour, with collar and
cuffs of spotless linen, is, perhaps, the most becoming and elegant of
morning toilettes.

Never dress very richly or showily in the street. It attracts
attention of no enviable kind, and is looked upon as a want of
good breeding. In the carriage a lady may dress as elegantly as she
pleases. With respect to ball-room toilette, its fashions are so
variable, that statements which are true of it to-day, may be false
a month hence. Respecting no institution of modern society is it so
difficult to pronounce half-a-dozen permanent rules.

We may, perhaps, be permitted to suggest the following leading
principles; but we do so with diffidence. Rich colours harmonize with
rich brunette complexions and dark hair. Delicate colours are the most
suitable for delicate and fragile styles of beauty. Very young ladies
are never so suitably attired as in white. Ladies who dance should
wear dresses of light and diaphanous materials, such as _tulle_,
gauze, crape, net, &c., over coloured silk slips. Silk dresses are not
suitable for dancing. A married lady who dances only a few quadrilles
may wear a _decollete_ silk dress with propriety.

Very stout persons should never wear white. It has the effect of
adding to the bulk of the figure.

Black and scarlet, or black and violet, are worn in mourning.

A lady in deep mourning should not dance at all.

However fashionable it may be to wear very long dresses, those ladies
who go to a ball with the intention of dancing and enjoying the
dance, should cause their dresses to be made short enough to clear
the ground. We would ask them whether it is not better to accept this
slight deviation from an absurd fashion, than to appear for three
parts of the evening in a torn and pinned-up skirt?

Well-made shoes, whatever their colour or material, and faultless
gloves, are indispensable to the effect of a ball-room toilette.

Much jewellery is out of place in a ball-room. Beautiful flowers,
whether natural or artificial, are the loveliest ornaments that a lady
can wear on these occasions.

At small dinner parties, low dresses are not so indispensable as
they were held to be some years since. High dresses of transparent
materials, and low bodices with capes of black lace, are considered
sufficiently full dress on these occasions. At large dinners only the
fullest dress is appropriate.

Very young ladies should wear but little jewellery. Pearls are deemed
most appropriate for the young and unmarried.

Let your jewellery be always the best of its kind. Nothing is so
vulgar, either in youth or age, as the use of false ornaments.

There is as much propriety to be observed in the wearing of jewellery
as in the wearing of dresses. Diamonds, pearls, rubies, and all
transparent precious stones belong to evening dress, and should on no
account be worn before dinner. In the morning let your rings be of
the more simple and massive kind; wear no bracelets; and limit your
jewellery to a good brooch, gold chain, and watch. Your diamonds
and pearls would be as much out of place during the morning as a low
dress, or a wreath.

It is well to remember in the choice of jewellery that mere costliness
is not always the test of value; and that an exquisite work of art,
such as a fine cameo, or a natural rarity, such as a black pearl, is a
more _distingue_ possession than a large brilliant which any rich and
tasteless vulgarian can buy as easily as yourself. Of all precious
stones, the opal is one of the most lovely and least commonplace. No
vulgar woman purchases an opal. She invariably prefers the more showy
ruby, emerald, or sapphire.

A true gentlewoman is always faultlessly neat. No richness of toilette
in the afternoon, no diamonds in the evening, can atone for unbrushed
hair, a soiled collar, or untidy slippers at breakfast.

Never be seen in the street without gloves; and never let your gloves
be of any material that is not kid or calf. Worsted or cotton gloves
are unutterably vulgar. Your gloves should fit to the last degree of
perfection.

In these days of public baths and universal progress, we trust that
it is unnecessary to do more than hint at the necessity of the most
fastidious personal cleanliness. The hair, the teeth, the nails,
should be faultlessly kept; and a muslin dress that has been worn
once too often, a dingy pocket-handkerchief, or a soiled pair of light
gloves, are things to be scrupulously avoided by any young lady who is
ambitious of preserving the exterior of a gentlewoman.

Remember that the make of your _corsage_ is of even greater importance
than the make of your dress. No dressmaker can fit you well, or
make your bodices in the manner most becoming to your figure, if the
_corsage_ beneath be not of the best description.

Your boots and gloves should always be faultless.

Perfumes should be used only in the evening, and then in moderation.
Let your perfumes be of the most delicate and _recherche_ kind.
Nothing is more vulgar than a coarse ordinary scent; and of all
coarse, ordinary scents, the most objectionable are musk and
patchouli.

Finally, every lady should remember that to dress well is a duty
which she owes to society; but that to make it her idol is to commit
something worse than a folly. Fashion is made for woman; not woman for
fashion.

* * * * *

VIII.--MORNING AND EVENING PARTIES.

The morning party is a modern invention. It was unknown to our fathers
and mothers, and even to ourselves till quite lately. A morning party
is seldom given out of the season--that is to say, during any months
except those of May, June, and July. It begins about two o'clock and
ends about five, and the entertainment consists for the most part
of conversation, music, and (if there be a garden) croquet, lawn
billiards, archery, &c. "Aunt Sally" is now out of fashion. The
refreshments are given in the form of a _dejeuner a la fourchette_.

Elegant morning dress, general good manners, and some acquaintance
with the topics of the day and the games above named, are all the
qualifications especially necessary to a lady at a morning party.

An evening party begins about nine o'clock p.m., and ends about
midnight, or somewhat later. Good breeding neither demands that you
should present yourself at the commencement, nor remain till the close
of the evening. You come and go as may be most convenient to you, and
by these means are at liberty, during the height of the season when
evening parties are numerous, to present yourself at two or three
houses during a single evening.

When your name is announced, look for the lady of the house, and pay
your respects to her before you even seem to see any other of
your friends who may be in the room. At very large and fashionable
receptions, the hostess is generally to be found near the door. Should
you, however, find yourself separated by a dense crowd of guests, you
are at liberty to recognize those who are near you, and those whom you
encounter as you make your way slowly through the throng.

General salutations of the company are now wholly disused. In society
a lady only recognizes her own friends and acquaintances.

If you are at the house of a new acquaintance and find yourself among
entire strangers, remember that by so meeting under one roof you
are all in a certain sense made known to one another, and should,
therefore, converse freely, as equals. To shrink away to a side-table
and affect to be absorbed in some album or illustrated work; or, if
you find one unlucky acquaintance in the room, to fasten upon her like
a drowning man clinging to a spar, are _gaucheries_ which no shyness
can excuse.

If you possess any musical accomplishments, do not wait to be pressed
and entreated by your hostess, but comply immediately when she pays
you the compliment of inviting you to play or sing. Remember, however,
that only the lady of the house has the right to ask you. If others do
so, you can put them off in some polite way; but must not comply till
the hostess herself invites you.

Be scrupulous to observe silence when any of the company are playing
or singing. Remember that they are doing this for the amusement of the
rest; and that to talk at such a time is as ill-bred as if you were
to turn your back upon a person who was talking to you, and begin a
conversation with some one else.

If you are yourself the performer, bear in mind that in music, as in
speech, "brevity is the soul of wit." Two verses of a song, or four
pages of a piece, are at all times enough to give pleasure. If your
audience desire more they will ask for more; and it is infinitely more
flattering to be encored than to receive the thanks of your hearers,
not so much in gratitude for what you have given them, but in relief
that you have left off. You should try to suit your music, like your
conversation, to your company. A solo of Beethoven's would be as much
out of place in some circles as a comic song at a quakers' meeting.
To those who only care for the light popularities of the season, give
Balfe and Verdi, Glover and Julien. To connoisseurs, if you perform
well enough to venture, give such music as will be likely to meet the
exigencies of a fine taste. Above all, attempt nothing that you cannot
execute with ease and precision.

If the party be of a small and social kind, and those games called by
the French _les jeux innocents_ are proposed, do not object to join in
them when invited. It maybe that they demand some slight exercise of
wit and readiness, and that you do not feel yourself calculated to
shine in them; but it is better to seem dull than disagreeable, and
those who are obliging can always find some clever neighbour to assist
them in the moment of need.

Impromptu charades are frequently organized at friendly parties.
Unless you have really some talent for acting and some readiness of
speech, you should remember that you only put others out and expose
your own inability by taking part in these entertainments. Of course,
if your help is really needed, and you would disoblige by refusing,
you must do your best, and by doing it as quietly and coolly as
possible, avoid being awkward or ridiculous.

Even though you may take no pleasure in cards, some knowledge of the
etiquette and rules belonging to the games most in vogue is necessary
to you in society. If a fourth hand is wanted at a rubber, or if the
rest of the company sit down to a round game, you would be deemed
guilty of an impoliteness if you refused to join.

The games most commonly played in society are whist, loo,
_vingt-et-un_, and speculation.

Whist requires four players.[A] A pack of cards being spread upon the
table with their faces downwards, the four players draw for partners.
Those who draw the two highest cards and those who draw the two lowest
become partners. The lowest of all claims the deal.

Married people should not play at the same table, unless where the
party is so small that it cannot be avoided. This rule supposes
nothing so disgraceful to any married couple as dishonest collusion;
but persons who play regularly together cannot fail to know so much
of each other's mode of acting, under given circumstances, that
the chances no longer remain perfectly even in favour of their
adversaries.

Never play for higher stakes than you can afford to lose without
regret. Cards should be resorted to for amusement only; for
excitement, never.

No well-bred person ever loses temper at the card-table. You have
no right to sit down to the game unless you can bear a long run of
ill-luck with perfect composure, and are prepared cheerfully to pass
over any blunders that your partner may chance to make.

If you are an indifferent player, make a point of saying so before
you join a party at whist. If the others are fine players they will
be infinitely more obliged to you for declining than accepting their
invitation. In any case you have no right to spoil their pleasure by
your bad play.

Never let even politeness induce you to play for very high stakes.
Etiquette is the minor morality of life; but it never should be
allowed to outweigh the higher code of right and wrong.

Young ladies may decline to play at cards without being deemed guilty
of impoliteness.

No very young lady should appear at an evening party without an
escort.

In retiring from a crowded party it is unnecessary that you should
seek out the hostess for the purpose of bidding her a formal
good-night. By doing this you would, perhaps, remind others that it
was getting late, and cause the party to break up. If you meet the
lady of the house on your way to the drawing-room door, take your
leave of her as unobtrusively as possible, and slip away without
attracting the attention of her other guests.

[Footnote A: For a succinct guide to whist, loo, _vingt-et-un_,
speculation, &c., &c., &c., see Routledge's "Card-player," by G.F.
Pardon, price _sixpence_.]

* * * * *

IX.--THE DINNER-TABLE.

To be acquainted with every detail of the etiquette pertaining to
this subject is of the highest importance to every gentlewoman. Ease,
_savoir faire_, and good breeding are nowhere more indispensable than
at the dinner-table, and the absence of them is nowhere more apparent.
How to eat soup and what to do with a cherry-stone are weighty
considerations when taken as the index of social status; and it is not
too much to say, that a young woman who elected to take claret with
her fish, or ate peas with her knife, would justly risk the punishment
of being banished from good society. As this subject is one of the
most important of which we have to treat, we may be pardoned for
introducing an appropriate anecdote related by the French poet
Delille:--

Delille and Marmontel were dining together in the month of April,
1786, and the conversation happened to turn upon dinner-table customs.
Marmontel observed how many little things a well-bred man was obliged
to know, if he would avoid being ridiculous at the tables of his
friends.

"They are, indeed, innumerable," said Delille; "and the most annoying
fact of all is, that not all the wit and good sense in the world can
help one to divine them untaught. A little while ago, for instance,
the Abbe Cosson, who is Professor of Literature at the College
Mazarin, was describing to me a grand dinner to which he had been
invited at Versailles, and to which he had sat down in the company of
peers, princes, and marshals of France.

"'I'll wager now,' said I, 'that you committed a hundred blunders in
the etiquette of the table!'

"'How so?' replied the Abbe, somewhat nettled. 'What blunders could I
make? It seems to me that I did precisely as others did.'

"'And I, on the contrary, would stake my life that you did nothing as
others did. But let us begin at the beginning, and see which is right.
In the first place there was your table napkin--what did you do with
that when you sat down at table?'

"'What did I do with my table-napkin? Why, I did like the rest of the
guests: I shook it out of the folds, spread it before me, and fastened
one corner to my button-hole.'

"'Very well, _mon cher_; you were the only person who did so. No one
shakes, spreads, and fastens a table-napkin in that manner. You should
have only laid it across your knees. What soup had you?'

"'Turtle.'

"'And how did you eat it?'

"'Like every one else, I suppose. I took my spoon in one hand, and my
fork in the other--'

"'Your fork! Good heavens! None but a savage eats soup with a fork.
But go on. What did you take next?'

"'A boiled egg.'

"'Good; and what did you do with the shell?'

"'Not eat it, certainly. I left it, of course, in the egg-cup.'

"'Without breaking it through with your spoon?'

"'Without breaking it.'

"'Then, my dear fellow, permit me to tell you that no one eats an egg
without breaking the shell and leaving the spoon standing in it. And
after your egg?'

"'I asked for some _bouilli_.'

"'For _bouilli_! It is a term that no one uses. You should have asked
for beef--never for _bouilli_. Well, and after the _bouilli_?'

"'I asked the Abbe de Radonvilliers for some fowl.'

"'Wretched man! Fowl, indeed! You should have asked for chicken or
capon. The word "fowl" is never heard out of the kitchen. But all this
applies only to what you ate; tell me something of what you drank, and
how you asked for it.'

"'I asked for champagne and bordeaux from those who had the bottles
before them.'

"'Know then, my good friend, that only a waiter, who has no time or
breath to spare, asks for champagne or bordeaux. A gentleman asks for
_vin de champagne_ and _vin de bordeaux_. And now inform me how you ate
your bread?'

"'Undoubtedly like all the rest of the world. I cut it into small
square pieces with my knife.'

"'Then let me tell you that no one cuts bread. You should always break
it. Let us go on to the coffee. How did you drink yours?'

"'Pshaw! At least I could make no mistake in that. It was boiling hot,
so I poured it, a little at a time, in the saucer, and drank it as it
cooled.'

"'_Eh bien_! then you assuredly acted as no other gentleman in the
room. Nothing can be more vulgar than to pour tea or coffee into a
saucer. You should have waited till it cooled, and then have drunk it
from the cup. And now you see, my dear cousin, that so far from doing
precisely as others did, you acted in no one respect according to the
laws prescribed by etiquette.'"

An invitation to dine should be replied to immediately, and
unequivocally accepted or declined. Once accepted, nothing but
an event of the last importance should cause you to fail in your
engagement.

To be exactly punctual is the strictest politeness on these occasions.
If you are too early, you are in the way; if too late, you spoil the
dinner, annoy the hostess, and are hated by the rest of the guests.
Some authorities are even of opinion that in the question of a
dinner-party "never" is better than "late;" and one author has gone so
far as to say, "if you do not reach the house till dinner is served,
you had better retire, and send an apology, and not interrupt the
harmony of the courses by awkward excuses and cold acceptance."

When the party is assembled, the mistress or master of the house will
point out to each gentleman the lady whom he is to conduct to table.
The guests then go down according to precedence of rank. This order of
precedence must be arranged by the host or hostess, as the guests are
probably unacquainted, and cannot know each other's social rank.

When the society is of a distinguished kind the hostess will do well
to consult Debrett or Burke, before arranging her visitors.

When rank is not in question, other claims to precedence must be
considered. The lady who is the greatest stranger should be taken
down by the master of the house, and the gentleman who is the greatest
stranger should conduct the hostess. Married ladies take precedence of
single ladies, elder ladies of younger ones, and so forth.

When dinner is announced, the host offers his arm to the lady of most
distinction, invites the rest to follow by a few words or a bow,
and leads the way. The lady of the house should then follow with the
gentleman who is most entitled to that honour, and the visitors follow
in the order that has been previously arranged. The lady of the house
frequently remains, however, till the last, that she may see her
guests go down in their prescribed order; but the plan is not a
convenient one. It is much better that the hostess should be in her
place as the guests enter the dining-room, in order that she may
indicate their seats to them as they enter, and not find them all
crowded together in uncertainty when she arrives.

The number of guests at a dinner-party should always be determined
by the size of the table. When the party is too small, conversation
flags, and a general air of desolation pervades the table. When they
are too many, every one is inconvenienced. A space of two feet should
be allowed to each person. It is well to arrange a party in such wise
that the number of ladies and gentlemen be equal.

It requires some tact to distribute your guests so that each shall
find himself with a neighbour to his taste; but as much of the success
of a dinner will always depend on this matter, it is worth some
consideration. If you have a wit, or a particularly good talker, among
your visitors, it is well to place him near the centre of the table,
where he can be heard and talked to by all. It is obviously a bad plan
to place two such persons in close proximity. They extinguish each
other. Neither is it advisable to assign two neighbouring seats to
two gentlemen of the same profession, as they are likely to fall
into exclusive conversation and amuse no one but themselves. A little
consideration of the politics, religious opinions, and tastes of his
friends, will enable a judicious host to avoid many quicksands, and
establish much pleasant intercourse on the occasion of a dinner-party.

The lady of the house takes the head of the table. The gentleman who
led her down to dinner occupies the seat on her right hand, and the
gentleman next in order of precedence, that on her left. The master of
the house takes the foot of the table. The lady whom he escorted sits
on his right hand, and the lady next in order of precedence on his
left.

As soon as you are seated at table, remove your gloves, place your
table-napkin across your knees, and remove the roll which you find
probably within it to the left side of your plate.

The soup should be placed on the table first. Some old-fashioned
persons still place soup and fish together; but "it is a custom more
honoured in the breach than the observance." Still more old-fashioned,
and in still worse taste is it to ask your guests if they will take
"soup or fish." They are as much separate courses as the fish and
the meat; and all experienced diners take both. In any case, it is
inhospitable to appear to force a choice upon a visitor, when that
visitor, in all probability, will prefer to take his soup first and
his fish afterwards. All well-ordered dinners begin with soup, whether
in summer or winter. The lady of the house should help it, and send
it round without asking each individual in turn. It is as much an
understood thing as the bread beside each plate, and those who do not
choose it are always at liberty to leave it untasted.

In eating soup, remember always to take it from the side of the spoon,
and to make no sound in doing so.

If the servants do not go round with wine the gentlemen should help
the ladies and themselves to sherry or sauterne immediately after the
soup.

You should never ask for a second supply of either soup or fish; it
delays the next course, and keeps the table waiting.

Never offer to "assist" your neighbours to this or that dish. The word
is inexpressibly vulgar--all the more vulgar for its affectation
of elegance. "Shall I send you some mutton?" or "may I help you to
grouse?" is better chosen and better bred.

As a general rule, it is better not to ask your guests if they will
partake of the dishes; but to send the plates round, and let them
accept or decline them as they please. At very large dinners it is
sometimes customary to distribute little lists of the order of the
dishes at intervals along the table. It must be confessed that
this gives somewhat the air of a dinner at an hotel; but it has the
advantage of enabling the visitors to select their fare, and, as
"forewarned is forearmed," to keep a corner, as the children say, for
their favourite dishes.

As soon as you are helped, begin to eat; or, if the viands are too hot
for your palate, take up your knife and fork and appear to begin. To
wait for others is now not only old-fashioned, but ill-bred.

Never offer to pass on the plate to which you have been helped. This
is a still more vulgar piece of politeness, and belongs to the manners
of a hundred years ago. The lady of the house who sends your plate to
you is the best judge of precedence at her own table.

In helping soup, fish, or any other dish, remember that to overfill a
plate is as bad as to supply it too scantily. Silver fish-knives will
now always be met with at the best tables; but where there are none,
a piece of crust should be taken in the left hand, and the fork in the
right. There is no exception to this rule in eating fish.

We presume it is scarcely necessary to remind our fair reader that she
is never, under any circumstances, to convey her knife to her mouth.
Peas are eaten with the fork; tarts, curry, and puddings of all kinds
with the spoon.

Always help fish with a fish-slice, and tart and puddings with a
spoon, or, if necessary, a spoon and fork.

Asparagus must be helped with the asparagus-tongs.

In eating asparagus, it is well to observe what others do, and act
accordingly. Some very well-bred people eat it with the fingers;
others cut off the heads, and convey them to the mouth upon the fork.
It would be difficult to say which is the more correct.

In eating stone fruit, such as cherries, damsons, &c., the same rule
had better be observed. Some put the stones out from the month into a
spoon, and so convey them to the plate. Others cover the lips with the
hand, drop them unseen into the palm, and so deposit them on the side
of the plate. In our own opinion, the last is the better way, as it
effectually conceals the return of the stones, which is certainly the
point of highest importance. Of one thing we may be sure, and that is,
that they must never be dropped from the mouth to the plate.

In helping sauce, always pour it on the side of the plate.

If the servants do not go round with the wine (which is by far
the best custom), the gentlemen at a dinner-table should take upon
themselves the office of helping those ladies who sit near them. Young
ladies seldom drink more than three glasses of wine at dinner; but
married ladies, professional ladies, and those accustomed to society
and habits of affluence, will habitually take five or even six,
whether in their own homes or at the tables of their friends.

The habit of taking wine with each other has almost wholly gone out
of fashion. A gentleman may ask the lady whom he conducted down to
dinner; or he may ask the lady of the house to take wine with him.
But even these last remnants of the old custom are fast falling into
disuse.

Unless you are a total abstainer, it is extremely uncivil to decline
taking wine if you are invited to do so. In accepting, you have only
to pour a little fresh wine into your glass, look at the person who
invited you, bow slightly, and take a sip from the glass.

It is particularly ill-bred to empty your glass on these occasions.

Certain wines are taken with certain dishes, by old-established
custom--as sherry, or sauterne, with soup and fish; hock and claret
with roast meat; punch with turtle; champagne with whitebait; port
with venison; port, or burgundy, with game; sparkling wines between
the roast and the confectionery; madeira with sweets; port with
cheese; and for dessert, port, tokay, madeira, sherry, and claret. Red
wines should never be iced, even in summer. Claret and burgundy should
always be slightly warmed; claret-cup and champagne-cup should, of
course, be iced.

Instead of cooling their wines in the ice-pail, some hosts have of
late years introduced clear ice upon the table, broken up in small
lumps, to be put inside the glasses. This is an innovation that cannot
be too strictly reprehended or too soon abolished. Melting ice can but
weaken the quality and flavour of the wine. Those who desire to drink
_wine and water_ can ask for iced water if they choose; but it savours
too much of economy on the part of a host to insinuate the ice inside
the glasses of his guests when the wine could be more effectually iced
outside the bottle.

A silver knife and fork should be placed to each guest at dessert.

It is wise never to partake of any dish without knowing of what
ingredients it is composed. You can always ask the servant who hands
it to you, and you thereby avoid all danger of having to commit the
impoliteness of leaving it, and showing that you do not approve of it.

Never speak while you have anything in your mouth.

Be careful never to taste soups or puddings till you are sure they
are sufficiently cool; as, by disregarding this caution, you may be
compelled to swallow what is dangerously hot, or be driven to the
unpardonable alternative of returning it to your plate.

When eating or drinking, avoid every kind of audible testimony to the
facts.

Finger-glasses, containing water slightly warmed and perfumed, are
placed to each person at dessert. In these you may dip the tips of
your fingers, wiping them afterwards on your table-napkin. If the
finger-glass and doyley are placed on your dessert-plate, you should
immediately remove the doyley to the left of your plate, and place
the finger-glass upon it. By these means you leave the right for the
wine-glasses.

Be careful to know the shapes of the various kinds of wine-glasses
commonly in use, in order that you may never put forward one for
another. High and narrow, and very broad and shallow glasses, are used
for champagne; large, goblet-shaped glasses for burgundy and claret;
ordinary wine-glasses for sherry and madeira; green glasses for hock;
and somewhat large, bell-shaped glasses, for port.

Port, sherry, and madeira, are decanted. Hocks and champagnes appear
in their native bottles. Claret and burgundy are handed round in a
claret-jug.

The servants leave the room when the dessert is on the table.

Coffee and liqueurs should be handed round when the dessert has
been about a quarter of an hour on the table. After this, the ladies
generally retire.

The lady of the house should never send away her plate, or appear to
have done eating, till all her guests have finished.

If you should unfortunately overturn or break anything, do not
apologize for it. You can show your regret in your face, but it is not
well-bred to put it into words.

To abstain from taking the last piece on the dish, or the last glass
of wine in the decanter, only because it is the last, is highly
ill-bred. It implies a fear on your part that the vacancy cannot be
supplied, and almost conveys an affront to your host.

To those ladies who have houses and servants at command, we have one
or two remarks to offer. Every housekeeper should be acquainted with
the routine of a dinner and the etiquette of a dinner-table. No lady
should be utterly dependent on the taste and judgment of her cook.
Though she need not know how to dress a dish, she should be able to
judge of it when served. The mistress of a house, in short, should
be to her cook what a publisher is to his authors--that is to
say, competent to form a judgment upon their works, though himself
incapable of writing even a magazine article.

If you wish to give a good dinner, and do not know in what manner to
set about it, you will do wisely to order it from Birch, Kuehn, or any
other first-rate _restaurateur_. By these means you ensure the best
cookery and a faultless _carte_.

Bear in mind that it is your duty to entertain your friends in the
best manner that your means permit. This is the least you can do to
recompense them for the expenditure of time and money which they incur
in accepting your invitation.

"To invite a friend to dinner," says Brillat Savarin, "is to become
responsible for his happiness so long as he is under your roof."
Again:--"He who receives friends at his table, without having bestowed
his personal supervision upon the repast placed before them, is
unworthy to have friends."

A dinner, to be excellent, need not consist of a great variety of
dishes; but everything should be of the best, and the cookery should
be perfect. That which should be cool should be cool as ice; that
which should be hot should be smoking; the attendance should be
rapid and noiseless; the guests well assorted; the wines of the best
quality; the host attentive and courteous; the room well lighted; and
the time punctual.

Every dinner should begin with soup, be followed by fish, and include
some kind of game. "The soup is to the dinner," we are told by Grisnod
de la Regniere, "what the portico is to a building, or the overture to
an opera."

To this aphorism we may be permitted to add that a _chasse_ of cognac
or curacoa at the close of the dinner is like the epilogue at the end
of a comedy.

Never reprove or give directions to your servants before guests. If a
dish is not placed precisely where you would have wished it to stand,
or the order of a course is reversed, let the error pass unobserved by
yourself, and you may depend that it will be unnoticed by others.

If you are a mother, you will be wise never to let your children make
their appearance at dessert when you entertain friends at dinner.
Children are out of place on these occasions. Your guests only
tolerate them through politeness; their presence interrupts the genial
flow of after-dinner conversation; and you may rely upon it that, with
the exception of yourself, and perhaps your husband, there is not a
person at table who does not wish them in the nursery.

The duties of hostess at a dinner-party are not onerous; but they
demand tact and good breeding, grace of bearing, and self-possession
in no ordinary degree. She does not often carve. She has no active
duties to perform; but she must neglect nothing, forget nothing,
put all her guests at their ease, encourage the timid, draw out the
silent, and pay every possible attention to the requirements of
each and all around her. No accident must ruffle her temper. No
disappointment must embarrass her. She must see her old china broken
without a sigh, and her best glass shattered with a smile. In short,
to quote the language of a clever contemporary, she must have "the
genius of tact to perceive, and the genius of finesse to execute; ease
and frankness of manner; a knowledge of the world that nothing
can surprise; a calmness of temper that nothing can disturb; and a
kindness of disposition that can never be exhausted."

* * * * *

X.--THE BALL-ROOM.

As the number of guests at a dinner-party is regulated by the size of
the table, so should the number of invitations to a ball be limited by
the proportions of the ball-room. A prudent hostess will always
invite a few more guests than she really desires to entertain, in the
certainty that there will be some deserters when the appointed evening
comes round; but she will at the same time remember that to overcrowd
her room is to spoil the pleasure of those who love dancing, and
that a party of this kind when too numerously attended is as great a
failure as one at which too few are present.

A room which is nearly square, yet a little longer than it is broad,
will be found the most favourable for a ball. It admits of two
quadrille parties, or two round dances, at the same time. In a
perfectly square room this arrangement is not so practicable or
pleasant. A very long and narrow room is obviously of the worst shape
for the purpose of dancing, and is fit only for quadrilles and country
dances.

The top of the ball-room is the part nearest the orchestra. In
a private room, the top is where it would be if the room were a
dining-room. It is generally at the farthest point from the door.
Dancers should be careful to ascertain the top of the room before
taking their places, as the top couples always lead the dances.

A good floor is of the last importance in a ball-room. In a private
house, nothing can be better than a smooth, well-stretched holland,
with the carpet beneath.

Abundance of light and free ventilation are indispensable to the
spirits and comfort of the dancers.

Good music is as necessary to the prosperity of a ball as good wine to
the excellence of a dinner. No hostess should tax her friends for
this part of the entertainment. It is the most injudicious economy
imaginable. Ladies who would prefer to dance are tied to the
pianoforte; and as few amateurs have been trained in the art of
playing dance music with that strict attention to time and accent
which is absolutely necessary to the comfort of the dancers, a
total and general discontent is sure to result. To play dance music
thoroughly well is a branch of the art which requires considerable
practice. It is as different from every other kind of playing as whale
fishing is from fly fishing. Those who give private balls will do well
ever to bear this in mind, and to provide skilled musicians for the
evening. For a small party, a piano and cornopean make a very pleasant
combination. Unless where several instruments are engaged, we do not
recommend the introduction of the violin: although in some respects
the finest of all solo instruments, it is apt to sound thin and shrill
when employed on mere inexpressive dance tunes, and played by a mere
dance player.

Invitations to a ball should be issued in the name of the lady of the
house, and written on small note paper of the best quality. Elegant
printed forms, some of them printed in gold or silver, are to be
had at every stationer's by those who prefer them. The paper may be
gilt-edged, but not coloured. The sealing-wax used should be of some
delicate hue.

An invitation to a ball should be sent out at least ten days before
the evening appointed. A fortnight, three weeks, and even a month may
be allowed in the way of notice.

Not more than two or three days should be permitted to elapse before
you reply to an invitation of this kind. The reply should always be
addressed to the lady of the house, and should be couched in the same
person as the invitation. The following are the forms generally in use:--

Mrs. Molyneux requests the honour of Captain Hamilton's
company at an evening party, on Monday, March the 11th
instant. _Dancing will begin at Nine o'clock_. Thursday, March
1st.

* * * * *

Captain Hamilton has much pleasure in accepting Mrs.
Molyneux's polite invitation for Monday evening, March the
11th instant. Friday, March 2nd.

The old form of "presenting compliments" is now out of fashion.

The lady who gives a ball[A] should endeavour to secure an equal
number of dancers of both sexes. Many private parties are spoiled by
the preponderance of young ladies, some of whom never get partners at
all, unless they dance with each other.

A room should in all cases be provided for the accommodation of
the ladies. In this room there ought to be several looking-glasses;
attendants to assist the fair visitors in the arrangement of their
hair and dress; and some place in which the cloaks and shawls can be
laid in order, and found at a moment's notice. It is well to affix
tickets to the cloaks, giving a duplicate at the same time to each
lady, as at the public theatres and concert-rooms. Needles and thread
should also be at hand, to repair any little accident incurred in
dancing.

Another room should be devoted to refreshments, and kept amply
supplied with coffee, lemonade, ices, wine, and biscuits during the
evening. Where this cannot be arranged, the refreshments should be
handed round between the dances.

The question of supper is one which so entirely depends on the means
of those who give a ball or evening party, that very little can be
said upon it in a treatise of this description. Where money is no
object, it is of course always preferable to have the whole supper,
"with all appliances and means to boot," sent in from some first-rate
house. It spares all trouble whether to the entertainers or
their servants, and relieves the hostess of every anxiety. Where
circumstances render such a course imprudent, we would only observe
that a home-provided supper, however simple, should be good of its
kind, and abundant in quantity. Dancers are generally hungry people,
and feel themselves much aggrieved if the supply of sandwiches proves
unequal to the demand. Great inconvenience is often experienced
through the difficulty of procuring cabs at the close of an evening
party. Gentlemen who have been dancing, and are unprepared for
walking, object to go home on foot, or seek vehicles for their wives
and daughters. Female servants who have been in attendance upon the
visitors during a whole evening ought not to be sent out. If even
men-servants are kept, they may find it difficult to procure as many
cabs as are necessary. The best thing that the giver of a private
ball can do under these circumstances, is to engage a policeman with
a lanthorn to attend on the pavement during the evening, and to give
notice during the morning at a neighbouring cab-stand, so as to ensure
a sufficient number of vehicles at the time when they are likely to be
required.

A ball generally begins about half-past nine or ten o'clock.

To attempt to dance without a knowledge of dancing is not only to make
one's self ridiculous, but one's partner also. No lady has a right
to place a partner in this absurd position. Never forget a ball-room
engagement. To do so is to commit an unpardonable offence against good
breeding.

On entering the ball-room, the visitor should at once seek the lady
of the house, and pay her respects to her. Having done this, she may
exchange salutations with such friends and acquaintances as may be in
the room.

No lady should accept an invitation to dance from a gentleman to whom
she has not been introduced. In case any gentleman should commit the
error of so inviting her, she should not excuse herself on the plea of
a previous engagement, or of fatigue, as to do so would imply that
she did not herself attach due importance to the necessary ceremony
of introduction. Her best reply would be to the effect that she would
have much pleasure in accepting his invitation, if he would procure an
introduction to her. This observation may be taken as applying only to
public balls. At a private party the host and hostess are sufficient
guarantees for the respectability of their guests; and although a
gentleman would show a singular want of knowledge of the laws of
society in acting as we have supposed, the lady who should reply
to him as if he were merely an impertinent stranger in a public
assembly-room would be implying an affront to her entertainers. The
mere fact of being assembled together under the roof of a mutual
friend is in itself a kind of general introduction of the guests to
each other.

An introduction given for the mere purpose of enabling a lady and
gentleman to go through a dance together does not constitute an
acquaintanceship. The lady is at liberty to pass the gentleman in the
park the next day without recognition.

It is not necessary that a lady should be acquainted with the _steps_,
in order to walk gracefully and easily through a quadrille. An easy
carriage and a knowledge of the figure is all that is requisite. A
round dance, however, should on no account be attempted without a
thorough knowledge of the steps, and some previous practice.

No person who has not a good ear for time and tune need hope to dance
well.

No lady should accept refreshments from a stranger at a public ball;
for she would thereby lay herself under a pecuniary obligation. For
these she must rely on her father, brothers, or old friends.

Good taste forbids that a lady should dance too frequently with the
same partner at either a public or private ball.

Engaged persons should be careful not to commit this conspicuous
solecism.

Engagements for one dance should not be made while the present dance
is yet in progress.

Never attempt to take a place in a dance which has been previously
engaged.

Withdraw from a private ball-room as quietly as possible, so that your
departure may not be observed by others, and cause the party to break
up. If you meet the lady of the house on your way out, take your leave
of her in such a manner that her other guests may not suppose you are
doing so; but do not seek her out for that purpose.

Never be seen without gloves in a ball-room, though it were for only
a few moments. Ladies who dance much and are particularly _soigne_
in matters relating to the toilette, take a second pair of gloves to
replace the first when soiled.

A thoughtful hostess will never introduce a bad dancer to a good
one, because she has no right to punish one friend in order to oblige
another.

It is not customary for married persons to dance together in society.
[B]

[Footnote A: It will be understood that we use the word "ball" to
signify a private party, where there is dancing, as well as a public
ball.]

[Footnote B: For a more detailed account of the laws and business of
the ball, see the chapter entitled "The Ball-room Guide."]

* * * * *

XI.--STAYING AT A FRIEND'S HOUSE:--BREAKFAST, LUNCHEON, &c.

A visitor is bound by the laws of social intercourse to conform in all
respects to the habits of the house. In order to do this effectually,
she should inquire, or cause her personal servant to inquire, what
those habits are. To keep your friend's breakfast on the table till a
late hour; to delay the dinner by want of punctuality; to accept other
invitations, and treat his house as if it were merely an hotel to
be slept in; or to keep the family up till unwonted hours, are alike
evidences of a want of good feeling and good breeding.

At breakfast and lunch absolute punctuality is not imperative; but a
visitor should avoid being always the last to appear at table.

No order of precedence is observed at either breakfast or luncheon.
Persons take their seats as they come in, and, having exchanged their
morning salutations, begin to eat without waiting for the rest of the
party.

If letters are delivered to you at breakfast or luncheon, you may read
them by asking permission from the lady who presides at the urn.

Always hold yourself at the disposal of those in whose house you are
visiting. If they propose to ride, drive, walk, or otherwise occupy
the day, you may take it for granted that these plans are made with
reference to your enjoyment. You should, therefore, receive them with
cheerfulness, enter into them with alacrity, and do your best to seem
pleased, and be pleased, by the efforts which your friends make to
entertain you.

You should never take a book from the library to your own room without
requesting permission to borrow it. When it is lent, you should take
every care that it sustains no injury while in your possession, and
should cover it, if necessary.

A guest should endeavour to amuse herself as much as possible, and not
be continually dependent on her hosts for entertainment. She should
remember that, however welcome she may be, she is not always wanted.

Those who receive "staying visitors," as they are called, should
remember that the truest hospitality is that which places the visitor
most at her ease, and affords her the greatest opportunity for
enjoyment. They should also remember that different persons have
different ideas on the subject of enjoyment, and that the surest way
of making a guest happy is to find out what gives her pleasure; not to
impose that upon her which is pleasure to themselves.

A visitor should avoid giving unnecessary trouble to the servants of
the house, and should be liberal to them on leaving.

The signal for retiring to rest is generally given by the appearance
of the servant with wine, water, and biscuits, where a late
dinner-hour is observed and suppers are not the custom. This is the
last refreshment of the evening, and the visitor will do well to
rise and wish good-night shortly after it has been partaken of by the
family.

* * * * *

XII.--GENERAL HINTS.

Do not frequently repeat the name of the person with whom you are
conversing. It implies either the extreme of _hauteur_ or familiarity.
We have already cautioned you against the repetition of titles.
Deference can always be better expressed in the voice, manner, and
countenance than in any forms of words.

Never speak of absent persons by only their christian or surnames; but
always as Mr. ---- or Mrs. ----. Above all, never name anybody by the
first letter of his name. Married people are sometimes guilty of this
flagrant offence against taste.

No lady should permit any gentleman who is not a near relative, or
very old friend of her family, to defray the cost of her entrance
fee to any theatre or exhibition, or to pay for her refreshments or
vehicles when she happens to be out under his protection.

If a person of greater age or higher rank than yourself desires you
to step first into a carriage, or through a door, it is more polite to
bow and obey than to decline.

Compliance with, and deference to, the wishes of others is the finest
breeding.

When you cannot agree with the propositions advanced in general
conversation, be silent. If pressed for your opinion, give it with
modesty. Never defend your own views too warmly. When you find others
remain unconvinced, drop the subject, or lead to some other topic.

Look at those who address you.

Never boast of your birth, your money, your grand friends, or
anything that is yours. If you have travelled, do not introduce that
information into your conversation at every opportunity. Any one can
travel with money and leisure. The real distinction is to come home
with enlarged views, improved tastes, and a mind free from prejudice.

If you present a book to a friend, do not write his or her name in
it, unless requested. You have no right to presume that it will be
rendered any the more valuable for that addition; and you ought not to
conclude beforehand that your gift will be accepted.

Never undervalue the gift which you are yourself offering; you have no
business to offer it if it is valueless. Neither say that you do not
want it yourself, or that you should throw it away if it were not
accepted, &c., &c. Such apologies would be insults if true, and mean
nothing if false.

No compliment that bears insincerity on the face of it is a compliment
at all.

Unmarried ladies may not accept presents from gentlemen who are
neither related nor engaged to them. Presents made by a married lady
to a gentleman can only be offered in the joint names of her husband
and herself.

Married ladies may occasionally accept presents from gentlemen who
visit frequently at their houses, and who desire to show their sense
of the hospitality which they receive there.

There is an art and propriety in the giving of presents which it
requires a natural delicacy of disposition rightly to apprehend. You
must not give too rich a gift, nor too poor a gift. You must not give
to one much wealthier than yourself; and you must beware how you give
to one much poorer, lest you offend her pride. You must never make
a present with any expectation of a return; and you must not be too
eager to make a return yourself, when you accept one. A gift must not
be ostentatious, but it should be worth offering. On the other hand,
mere costliness does not constitute the soul of a present.

A gift should be precious for something better than its price. It may
have been brought by the giver from some far or famous place; it may
be unique in its workmanship; it may be valuable only from association
with some great man or strange event. Autographic papers, foreign
curiosities, and the like, are elegant gifts. An author may offer his
book, or a painter a sketch, with grace and propriety. Offerings of
flowers and game are unexceptionable, and may be made even to those
whose position is superior to that of the giver.

Never refuse a present unless under very exceptional circumstances.
However humble the giver, and however poor the gift, you should
appreciate the goodwill and intention, and accept it with kindness and
thanks. Never say "I fear I rob you," or "I am really ashamed to
take it," &c., &c. Such deprecatory phrases imply that you think the
bestower of the gift cannot spare or afford it.

Acknowledge the receipt of a present without delay.

Give a foreigner his name in full, as Monsieur de Vigny--never as
_Monsieur_ only. In speaking of him, give him his title, if he has
one. Foreign noblemen are addressed _viva voce_ as Monsieur. In
speaking of a foreign nobleman before his face, say Monsieur le Comte,
or Monsieur le Marquis. In his absence, say Monsieur le Comte de
Vigny.

Converse with a foreigner in his own language. If not competent to do
so, apologize, and beg permission to speak English.

To get in and out of a carriage gracefully is a simple but important
accomplishment. If there is but one step, and you are going to take
your seat facing the horses, put your left foot on the step, and enter
the carriage with your right, in such a manner as to drop at once
into your seat. If you are about to sit with your back to the horses,
reverse the process. As you step into the carriage, be careful to keep
your back towards the seat you are about to occupy, so as to avoid the
awkwardness of turning when you are once in.

Members of one family should not converse together in society.

Etiquette for Gentlemen.

* * * * *

I.--INTRODUCTIONS.

To introduce persons who are mutually unknown is to undertake a
serious responsibility, and to certify to each the respectability of
the other. Never undertake this responsibility without in the first
place asking yourself whether the persons are likely to be agreeable
to each other; nor, in the second place, without ascertaining whether
it will be acceptable to both parties to become acquainted.

Always introduce the gentleman to the lady--never the lady to
the gentleman. The chivalry of etiquette assumes that the lady is
invariably the superior in right of her sex, and that the gentleman
is honoured in the introduction. This rule is to be observed even when
the social rank of the gentleman is higher than that of the lady.

Where the sexes are the same, always present the inferior to the
superior.

Never present a gentleman to a lady without first asking her
permission to do so.

When you are introduced to a lady, never offer your hand. When
introduced, persons limit their recognition of each other to a bow.
On the Continent, ladies never shake hands with gentlemen unless under
circumstances of great intimacy.

Never introduce morning visitors who happen to encounter each other
in your rooms, unless they are persons whom you have already obtained
permission to make known to each other. Visitors thus casually meeting
in the house of a friend should converse with ease and freedom, as if
they were acquainted. That they are both friends of the hostess is a
sufficient guarantee of their respectability. To be silent and stiff
on such an occasion would show much ignorance and ill-breeding.

Persons who have met at the house of a mutual friend without being
introduced should not bow if they afterwards meet elsewhere. A bow
implies acquaintance; and persons who have not been introduced are not
acquainted.

If you are walking with one friend, and presently meet with, or
are joined by, a third, do not commit the too frequent error of
introducing them to each other. You have even less right to do so than
if they encountered each other at your house during a morning call.

There are some exceptions to the etiquette of introductions. At a
ball, or evening party where there is dancing, the mistress of the
house may introduce any gentleman to any lady without first asking the
lady's permission. But she should first ascertain whether the lady is
willing to dance; and this out of consideration for the gentleman,
who may otherwise be refused. No man likes to be refused the hand of a
lady, though it be only for a quadrille.

A brother may present his sister, or a father his son, without any
kind of preliminary; but only when there is no inferiority on the part
of his own family to that of the acquaintance.

Friends may introduce friends at the house of a mutual acquaintance;
but, as a rule, it is better to be introduced by the mistress of the
house. Such an introduction carries more authority with it.

Introductions at evening parties are now almost wholly dispensed with.
Persons who meet at a friend's house are ostensibly upon an equality,
and pay a bad compliment to the host by appearing suspicious and
formal. Some old-fashioned country hosts yet persevere in introducing
each new comer to all the assembled guests. It is a custom that
cannot be too soon abolished, and one that places the last unfortunate
visitor in a singularly awkward position. All that he can do is to
make a semicircular bow, like a concert singer before an audience, and
bear the general gaze with as much composure as possible.

If, when you enter a drawing-room, your name has been wrongly
announced, or has passed unheard in the buzz of conversation, make
your way at once to the mistress of the house, if you are a stranger,
and introduce yourself by name. This should be done with the greatest
simplicity, and your professional or titular rank made as little of as
possible.

An introduction given at a ball for the mere purpose of conducting a
lady through a dance does not give the gentleman any right to bow to
her on a future occasion. If he commits this error, he must remember
that she is not bound to see, or return, his salutation.

* * * * *

II.--LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION.

Do not lightly give or promise letters of introduction. Always
remember that when you give a letter of introduction you lay yourself
under an obligation to the friend to whom it is addressed. If he lives
in a great city, such as Paris or London, you in a measure compel
him to undergo the penalty of escorting the stranger to some of those
places of public entertainment in which the capital abounds. In any
case, you put him to the expense of inviting the stranger to his
table. We cannot be too cautious how we tax the time and purse of a
friend, or weigh too seriously the question of mutual advantage in the
introduction. Always ask yourself whether the person introduced will
be an acceptable acquaintance to the one to whom you present him; and
whether the pleasure of knowing him will compensate for the time or
money which it costs to entertain him. If the stranger is in any way
unsuitable in habits or temperament, you inflict an annoyance on
your friend instead of a pleasure. In questions of introduction never
oblige one friend to the discomfort of another.

Those to whom letters of introduction have been given should send them
to the person to whom they are addressed, and enclose a card. Never
deliver a letter of introduction in person. It places you in the most
undignified position imaginable, and compels you to wait while it is
being read, like a footman who has been told to wait for an answer.

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