The Project Gutenberg eBook of Etiquette

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Title: Etiquette

Author: Agnes H. Morton

Release date: January 28, 2007 [eBook #20470]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Al Haines


Produced by Al Haines










Copyright, 1892, By the Penn Publishing Company




             Cards for Men;
             Cards for Women;
             Cards for Young Women;
             After Marriage Cards.
             Calling in Person;
             Card-leaving in Lieu of Personal Calls;
             Cases in which Personal Card-leaving is Required;
             Cards by Messenger or by Post;
             Card-leaving by Proxy.





As a rule, books of etiquette are written from the standpoint of the ultra-fashionable circle. They give large space to the details of behavior on occasions of extreme conventionality, and describe minutely the conduct proper on state occasions. But the majority in every town and village are people of moderate means and quiet habits of living, to whom the extreme formalities of the world of fashion will always remain something of an abstraction, and the knowledge of them is not of much practical use except to the few who are reflective enough to infer their own particular rule from any illustration of the general code.

Though it is interesting as a matter of information to know how a state dinner is conducted, still, as a matter of fact, the dinners usually given within this broad zone of "the average" are served without the assistance of butler, footman, or florist; innocent of wines and minus the more elaborate and expensive courses; and though served à la Russe the service is under the watchful supervision of the hostess herself and executed by the more or less skillful hand of a demure maid-servant. Yet, in all essential points, the laws of etiquette controlling the conduct of this simple dinner of the American democrat are the same as those observed in the ceremonious banquet of the ambitious aristocrat. The degree of formality varies; the quality of courtesy is unchanging.

Well-mannered people are those who are at all times thoughtfully observant of little proprieties Such people do not "forget their manners" when away from home. They eat at the hotel table as daintily and with as polite regard for the comfort of their nearest neighbor as though they were among critical acquaintances. They never elbow mercilessly through crowded theatre aisles, nor stand up in front of others to see the pictures of a panorama, nor allow their children to climb upon the car seats with muddy or rough-nailed shoes; nor do a score of other things that every day are to be observed in public places, the mortifying tell-tale marks of an habitual ill-manners.

The importance of constant attention to points of etiquette cannot be too earnestly emphasized. The long lecture of instruction to the little Ruggles', preparatory to their visit to the Birds, is a comical—if burlesque—illustration of the emergency that sometimes faces some people, that of suddenly preparing to "behave themselves" on a great occasion. Although the little Ruggles' were fired with ambition to do themselves credit, their crude preparation was not equal to the occasion. The best of intentions could not at once take the place of established custom. One might as well hastily wrap himself in a yard or two of uncut broadcloth expecting it to be transformed, by instant miracle, into a coat. The garment must be cut and fitted, and adjusted and worn for a space of time before it can become the well-fitting habit, worn with the easy grace of unconsciousness which marks the habitually well-mannered.

In this brief volume I have endeavored to suggest some of the fundamental laws of good behavior in every-day life. It is hoped that the conclusions reached, while not claiming to be either exhaustive or infallible, may be useful as far as they go. Where authorities differ as to forms I have stated the rule which has the most widespread sanction of good usage.



Etiquette is the term applied to correct behavior in social life, and refers to the manner of actions and the expression of a proper social spirit through the medium of established forms and ceremonies. Polite usage recognizes certain minute distinctions between the mannerly and the unmannerly ways of performing every act of life that affects the comfort and happiness of others.

By one whose experience in life has been a hardening process tending in the direction of a crystallized selfishness the rules of etiquette are regarded with contempt and alluded to with a sneer. No more disheartening problem faces the social reformer than the question how to overcome the bitter hostility to refined manners which marks the ignorant "lower classes." On the other hand, there is no more hopeful sign of progress in civilization than the gradual softening of these hard natures under the influence of social amenities. The secret of successful missionary work lies primarily, not in tracts, nor in dogmas, nor in exhortations, but in the subtle attraction of a refined, benevolent spirit, breathing its very self into the lives of those who have hitherto known only the rasping, grasping selfishness of their fellow-men, and to whom this new gospel of brotherly kindness and deference is a marvelous revelation and inspiration. The result of such missionary work is a triumph of sanctified courtesy, a triumph not unworthy the disciples of Him who "went about doing good" while teaching and exemplifying the "golden rule" upon which all rules of etiquette, however "worldly," are based.

Perhaps it may sometimes seem that there is little relation, possibly even some antagonism, between the sincerity of perfect courtesy and the proprieties of formal etiquette. At times etiquette requires us to do things that are not agreeable to our selfish impulses, and to say things that are not literally true if our secret feelings were known. But there is no instance wherein the laws of etiquette need transgress the law of sincerity when the ultimate purpose of each action is to develop and sustain social harmony.

Sometimes, for example, we invite people to visit us, and we pay visits in return, when both occasions are, on the face of it, a bore. Yet there may be good reasons why we should sacrifice any mere impulse of choice and exert ourselves to manifest a hospitable spirit toward certain people who are most uncongenial to us. Sometimes for the sake of another who is dear to us, and who, in turn, is attached to these same unattractive people, we make the third line of the triangle cheerfully, and even gladly, no matter how onerous the task, how distasteful the association forced upon us. These are not happy experiences, but they are tests of character that we are all liable to meet and which prove a most excellent discipline if they are met with discretion and patience. Moreover, in the conscientious effort to be agreeable to disagreeable people we are tacitly trying to persuade ourselves that they are not so disagreeable after all, and indeed such is our surprising discovery in many instances. Let us hope that others who exercise a similar forbearance toward ourselves are equally flattering in the conclusions which they reach.

Etiquette requires that we shall treat all people with equal courtesy, given the same conditions. It has a tendency to ignore the individuality of people. We may not slight one man simply because we do not like him, nor may we publicly exhibit extreme preference for the one whom we do like. In both cases the rebel against the restraints of social mice shouts the charge of "insincerity." Well, perhaps some of the impulses of sincerity are better held in check; they are too closely allied to the humoring of our cherished prejudices. If "tact consists in knowing what not to say," etiquette consists in knowing what not to do in the direction of manifesting our impulsive likes and dislikes.

Besides, etiquette is not so much a manifestation toward others as it is an exponent of ourselves. We are courteous to others, first of all, because such behavior only is consistent with our own claim to be well-bred.

Bearing this in mind we can behave with serenity in the presence of our most aggravating foe; his worst manifestation of himself fails to provoke us to retort in kind. We treat him politely, not because he deserves it, but because we owe it to ourselves to be gentle-mannered. Etiquette begins at self. There is no worthy deference to others that does not rest on the basis of self-respect.

  "To thine own self be true;
  And it must follow, as the night the day,
  Thou canst not then be false to any man."

It is a superficial judgment that descries nothing but insincerity in the unvarying suavity of a well-bred manner; that regards the conventional code of behavior as merely a device for rendering social life artificial. The raison d'être is always to be found in the established rules of etiquette; and probably the most exacting and seemingly unnecessary of formalities has its foundation in some good common sense principle not far removed in spirit from "the rule golden."

In short, manners and morals are twin shoots from the same root. The essentially well-bred man is he whose manners are the polite expression of moral principle, magnanimity, and benevolence.



The personal, or visiting, card is the representative of the individual whose name it bears. It goes where he himself would be entitled to appear, and in his absence it is equivalent to his presence. It is his "double," delegated to fill all social spaces which his variously-occupied life would otherwise compel him to leave vacant.

Since the card is to be received as the equivalent of one's self, it is important that it shall be discreetly sent upon its embassy. In every case where personal cards are correctly used the owner is accredited with having performed de facto whatever the card expresses for him, be it a "call," a "regret," a "congratulation," an "apology," an "introduction," a "farewell-taking," or whatever.

The rules guiding the uses of visiting cards are based upon this idea of representation. The deputy is on duty only in the absence of his superior, so the card is usually superfluous when the owner himself is present.

A card sent at a wrong time suggests the possibility that the owner might blunder similarly in his personal appearing. The neglect to send a card at a proper time is equivalent to a personal neglect. The man who comes himself and hands you his card also is apt to have too many elbows at a dinner, too many feet at a ball. He has about him a suggestion of awkward superfluousness that is subtly consistent with his duplicate announcement of himself.

For want of the much-needed genderless singular pronoun I have been using the masculine form; but upon reflection I remember that it is the women of society who have the most diverse responsibility in the management of personal cards, their duties extending even to the care and oversight of the cards of their socially careless and negligent male relatives. But no matter who attends to the proprieties, the relation of the card to its owner is the same in all cases. If his card blunders, he gets the discredit of it. If his card always flutters gracefully into the salver at exactly the right time and place, the glory is all his own, even though his tireless wife or mother or sister has done all the hard thinking bestowed on the matter. Happy the man allied by the ties of close kindred to a gifted society woman, for lo! his cards shall never be found missing, wherever he may stray.


The prevailing shape of cards for women is nearly square (about 2 1/2 x 3 inches). A fine dull-finished card-board of medium weight and stiffness is used.

A man's card is smaller, and narrower proportionately; and is of slightly heavier card-board.

The color is pearl white, not cream. Tinted cards are not admissible.

The engraving is plain script, or elaborate text; as the fashion may for the time decree.

The responsibility of furnishing the correct style of card rests with the engraver, whose business it is to know the ruling fashion of the day. Any one may have an elegant card by intrusting the choice to a first-class stationer. But it is not half the battle to secure an elegant card. An elegant use of the card distinguishes the well-informed in social usage. This distinction shows when the distribution of cards begins.



If the surname is short, the full name may be engraved. If the names are long, and the space does not admit of their full extension, the initials of given names may be used. The former style is preferred, when practicable.

In the absence of any special title properly accompanying the name—as "Rev.," "Dr.," "Col.," etc.,—"Mr." is always prefixed. Good form requires this on an engraved card. If in any emergency a man writes his own name on a card he does not prefix "Mr."

What titles may properly be used on a man's visiting-card? The distinctions made in the use of titles seem arbitrary unless some reason can be discovered.

The rule should be, to omit from visiting-cards all titles that signify transient offices, or occupations not related to social life; using such titles only as indicate a rank or profession that is for life; and which has become a part of the man's identity, or which is distinctly allied to his social conditions.

To illustrate:—The rank of an officer in the army or the navy should be indicated by title on his card, his connection with the service being for life, and a part of his identity. His personal card is engraved thus: "General Schofield"—the title in full when only the surname is used; or, "Gen. Winfield Scott," "Gen. W. S. Hancock"—the title abbreviated when the given names, or their initials, are used. The first style is appropriate to the Commander-in-chief, or the senior officer; or in any case where no other officer of the same name and rank is on the roster.

Officers on the retired list, and veteran officers of the late war who rose from the volunteer ranks, retain their titles by courtesy. And very appropriately so, since the war record of many a gallant soldier is inseparable from the man himself, in the minds of his fellow-citizens. He may have retired to private life again, but his distinguished services have outlived the brief hour of action; and his hero-worshiping countrymen will always recognize him in his most salient character, "every inch a soldier." It is quite impossible to call him "Mr.," or at once to know who is meant if his card reads—for instance—"Mr. Lucius Fairchild." Nothing but the title of his well-earned rank gives an adequate idea of the man.

The official cards of political officers and ambassadors, which bear the title and office of the man—with or without his name—should be used only on official or State occasions, and during the term of office. When the incumbent "steps down and out," this card is also "relegated." His friends may continue to greet him as "Governor," but he no longer uses the title himself. In strictly social life, the personal card of the ex-Governor is like that of any other private citizen, subject to the same rules.

Similarly, professional or business cards that bear ever so slight an advertisement of occupations are not allowable for social purposes.

The three "learned" professions, theology, medicine, and law, are equally "for life." But the occupation of the lawyer is distinctly related to business matters, and not at all to social affairs. His title, or sub-title, Esquire, is properly ignored on his visiting-card, and socially he is simply "Mr. John Livingstone." On the other hand, the callings of the clergyman and the physician respectively, are closely allied to the social side of life, closely identified with the man himself. Therefore "Rev.," or "Dr." may with propriety be considered as forming an inseparable compound with the name. The title is an important identifying mark, and its omission, by the clergyman, at least, is not strictly dignified. "Office hours" are not announced on a physician's social card.

It is not good form to use merely honorary titles on visiting-cards. In most cases, a man should lay aside all pretension to special office or rank, and appear in society simply as "Mr. John Brown," to take his chances in the social world strictly on his own merits; assured that if he has any merit, other people will discover it without an ostentatious reminder of it in the shape of a pompous visiting-card. Of course this suggestion of democratic simplicity refers to the engraving of one's own card; other people address the man properly by his official or honorary title, with all due respect for the worth which the world recognizes—even though the wearer of such honors ignores his own claim to high distinction. "Blow your own trumpet, if you would hear it sound," is a sharply sarcastic bit of advice, since only hopeless mediocrity could ever profit by the injunction. Real merit needs no trumpeter. Mrs. Grant could afford to call her husband "Mr." Grant, as was her modest custom; because all the world knew that he was the General of our armies, and the President of the republic. It is some "Mayor Puff," of Boomtown, who can hardly be persuaded by the engraver from giving himself the satisfaction of incidentally announcing on his visiting-cards the result of the last borough election.

A man's address may be engraved beneath his name at the lower right corner, the street and number only if in a city, or the name of a country-seat if out of town; as, "The Leasowes." Bachelors who belong to a club may add the club address in the lower left corner; or, if they live altogether at the club, this address occupies the lower right corner. An engraved address implies some permanency of location. Those who are liable to frequent changes of address would better omit this addition to the visiting-card, writing the address in any emergency that requires it.

No messages are written on a man's card, and no penciling is allowed, except as above, to give (or correct) the address, or in the case of "P. p. c." cards, sent by post.


The rules in regard to titles are simple and brief.

A woman's name should never appear on a visiting-card without either "Mrs." or "Miss" prefixed. The exception would be in the case of women who have regularly graduated in theology or medicine. Such are entitled, like their brothers, to prefix "Rev." or "Dr." to their names.

A married woman's card is engraved with her husband's name, with the prefix "Mrs." No matter how "titled" the husband may be, his titles do not appear on his wife's visiting-card. The wife of the President is not "Mrs. President Harrison," but "Mrs. Benjamin Harrison." She is the wife of the man, not the wife of his office or his rank.

A widow may, if she prefers, retain the card engraved during her husband's lifetime, unless by so doing she confuses her identity with that of some other "Mrs. John Brown," whose husband is still living. It is more strictly correct for a widow to resume her own given name, and to have her card engraved "Mrs. Mary Brown," or, if she chooses to indicate her own patronymic, "Mrs. Mary Dexter Brown."

An unmarried woman's card is engraved with her full name, or the initials of given names, as she prefers, but always with the prefix "Miss" (unless one of the professional titles referred to takes its place).

The address may be engraved or written in the lower right corner.

If a society woman has a particular day for receiving calls, that fact is announced in the lower left corner. If this is engraved, it is understood to be a fixed custom; if written, it may be a transient arrangement. If a weekly "at home" day is observed, the name of the day is engraved, as "Tuesdays." This means that during "calling hours" on any Tuesday the hostess will be found at home. If hours are limited, that is also indicated, as "from 4 to 6." Further limitations may be specified, as "Tuesdays in February," "Tuesdays until Lent," "Tuesdays after October," etc. Any definite idea of time may be given to meet the facts, the wording being made as terse as possible. If the regular "at home" day is Tuesday (unlimited), and the card is so engraved, any of the special limitations may be penciled in to meet special conditions. Sometimes an informal invitation is thus conveyed; as, by the addition, "Tea, 4 to 6," etc.

Other penciling.—Cards left or sent, before leaving town, have "P. p. c."—(Pour prendrè congé)—penciled in the lower left corner.

A holiday, a birthday, a wedding anniversary, or other event in a friend's life may be remembered by sending a card, upon which is penciled "Greeting," "Congratulations," "Best wishes," or some similar expression. Such cards may be sent alone, or may accompany gifts.

Any brief message may be penciled on a woman's card, provided the message is sufficiently personal to partake of the nature of a social courtesy. But the card message should not be sent when courtesy requires the more explicit and respectful form of a note.


In strictly formal circles a young woman, during her first year in society, pays no visits alone. She accompanies her mother or chaperon. She has no separate card, but her name is engraved, or may be written, beneath that of her mother (or chaperon) on a card employed for these joint visits. After a year or so of social experience (the period being governed by the youth or maturity of the debutante, or by the exigency of making way for a younger sister to be chaperoned), the young woman becomes an identity socially, and has her separate card, subject to the general rules for women's cards, even though she continues to pay her most formal visits in company with her mother.


During the first year after marriage cards engraved thus: "Mr. and Mrs. Henry Bell Joyce," may be used by the couple in paying calls, or returning wedding civilities. Such cards are also used when jointly sending presents at any time. For general visiting, after the first year, husband and wife have separate cards.


A too profuse use of visiting-cards indicates crudity. The trend of fashion is toward restricting the quantity of paste-board, and employing cards always when they are required, never when they are superfluous.


When one calls in person the name of the caller is given verbally to the servant who opens the door. The card is not usually sent up, except by a stranger. But sometimes there is difficulty in making the servant understand the name or properly distinguish it from some other similar name. In this case to avoid mistakes the card is sent up.

If the hostess is not at home a card is left by the disappointed caller.

On the occasion of a first call a card is left on the hall table, or other place provided, even though the caller has been received by the hostess. This serves as a reminder that the acquaintance has been duly and formally begun.

On the occasion of subsequent calls, when the hostess is at home, no cards are employed, except, as before stated, to avert servants' mistakes. Such is the sensible dictum of good authorities, and one in harmony with the idea that the personal card is the representative of its owner, not his accompaniment.

This idea is more pointedly illustrated in quiet neighborhoods, where even the wealthy live simply of choice, and, like their neighbors of moderate means, employ but one domestic, or, it may be, none. In such households often the guest is met at the door by a member of the family, possibly the hostess herself. The use of a visiting-card then is plainly incongruous, not to say absurd. The visitor who is paying a "first call" under these informal conditions may find opportunity to drop a card unobtrusively into the basket, if such receptacle be within reach; but if this cannot be done without conspicuous effort the card is better ignored, and its place as a remembrancer filled by the genial impression which the visitor leaves, and of which an appreciative hostess needs no card reminder. Besides, people "living quietly" visit so little, comparatively, that it is no severe tax on the memory to recollect who has called, especially as the infrequency of calls gives ample time for each one to make an individual impression. This is not possible when a steady stream of visitors is pouring in and out of a drawing-room on a fashionable woman's "at home" day, scarcely giving the hostess opportunity to gaze upon one face before another has displaced it; so that at the end of the hour her memory recalls a composite photograph. Cards are her indispensable aids in resolving this picture into its component elements. But those who "live quietly," receiving but few calls, have no such bewildering complexity to deal with.

At the same time, these people thus quietly environed may represent the most refined and cultivated circle. They may know perfectly well what formal etiquette would demand in the matter of cards if the conditions were more formal. The omission of cards whenever their use would be forced, so far from indicating ignorance, is a proof of discrimination.

Personal calls are made in the following cases:

In returning a first visit, made in person.

After a dinner party to which one has been invited, whether the invitation was accepted or not.

After any entertainment other than a dinner it is allowable to leave or send cards instead of paying a personal call. This is a wise rule in cases where a hostess, has a long visiting list, and entertains frequently. To receive afterward personal visits from all of her guests would be practically impossible. The majority will express their acknowledgments by card, leaving it to the most intimate friends of the hostess to pay their respects in person. But among quiet people, where one "Tea" is the extent of a hostess' efforts for the season, the personal call is desirable as showing greater respect and friendliness. Among congenial friends only the plea of a busy life can make the card acknowledgment quite as graceful and acceptable as the personal visit. But if the guest is a comparative stranger, and, for any reason, there is a wish not to extend the acquaintance, the sending of a card meets all the requirements of etiquette, without committing the sender to any further intimacy.

(The alternative for personal calls, is personal card-leaving; the next point to be considered.)


When personal calls are not practicable, nor desirable, the leaving of cards is accepted as an equivalent.

A few years ago, fashion demanded that all visiting-cards expressing or acknowledging social civilities should be left in person; the alternative in emergencies being to send them by the hand of a private messenger, never through the post-office. There was good excuse for this fashion in our grandmother's day, when the post was a slow coach, or a storm-stayed postillion; but the admirable system of our postal service to-day leaves no excuse for the prejudice in favor of the private messenger; and it is not surprising that fashion has yielded to common sense in allowing that many of these cards of courtesy may, with perfect propriety, be sent by post.

The following instances illustrate the present correct usage in regard to these three ways of leaving cards.


After a first hospitality, whether accepted or not.

Calls of condolence.

After-dinner calls by cards.

Alternative.—In such cases, when personal card-leaving is impossible, the card is sent by a private messenger, and an explanation, or apology, is sent by note.

Cards of condolence may be sent by post by friends at a distance; but not by persons residing in the near vicinity.


In all cases where personal card-leaving is not imperative, cards may be sent either by messenger or by post.

As the former is still regarded by many persons—especially elderly people—as the only strictly polite medium of transfer, it is considerate to send cards, invitations, etc., to such people by the good old-fashioned messenger, rather than to shock unnecessarily a crystallized sense of propriety by ruthless innovations. But in general it is more convenient and quite as neat and reliable to send by post; and the fashion of so doing is now fully adopted by the younger generation, and no longer subject to criticism.

In stating what may be done, in the way of escaping personal tasks, we are merely marking the bounds of propriety in one direction. On the other hand, in most cases, those who choose may make personal calls instead of those several formal card-leavings. When good form allows alternatives, each one must judge for himself which form of expression is most appropriate in any given case. Frank cordiality, amounting to informality, may be in the best taste in some oases; whereas, in other instances, only the most conventional and reserved expression of respect is either agreeable or discreet. In the latter case, let your card speak for you, and at "long range"—the longer the better.


One of the peculiar permissions of "good form" is that which allows a man to delegate the distribution of his visiting-cards to a near female relative, whenever it becomes impracticable for him to attend to the matter personally. Only the women of his own household, or a relative with whom he habitually pays visits, can thus represent a man by proxy.

In this country, where most society men—certainly the better element—are "business men," whose days are filled with earnest work and crowned with the achievements of industry, it is not to be expected that men of affairs will always be ready to respond to social invitations, or to pay all the calls of civility which fashion decrees shall be paid during the hours usually devoted to business. In theory, each man and woman in society is supposed to attend to his or her own social duties. While it is expected that a man will make all reasonable effort to do this, and that he will not altogether neglect it, still, so long as he occasionally appears personally, with a genial demeanor that proves the sincerity of his "good intentions," it will be accepted in good part if, in a large number of instances, his card, instead of himself, appears, brought by another hand. But let men remember that the "good excuse" must be obvious. Any suspicion of indifference robs the proxy card-leaving of all effect as a compliment.

In case a man is legitimately prevented, by business cares, from paying calls or leaving his cards in person, it is proper for his wife or mother or sister, or other near relative, to leave or send his card with her own. When a woman calls upon another woman she leaves her husband's card. If the hostess is married, a second card is left for the host. She may leave the cards of a son, a brother, or other relative, if such responsibility rests upon her. This formality should be observed when paying the first call of the season.

While every well-informed woman should know that it is her place to leave her husband's cards for him, it is a fact that many women, otherwise attentive to social forms, habitually neglect this particular duty. The result is that the man who has not time to pay visits becomes a social nonentity, and society, in some circles, is simply a "world of women." Why does the husband, thus neglected, get out of going to the occasional party whenever he can, and when he does allow himself to be dragged thither, why does he sulk, leaning against a chilly mantel-piece, eying his fragile coffee cup with disdain, and enacting the rôle of martyr generally, until he can persuade his wife to go home again? Why, indeed; but because he feels out of place. His rare and incidental appearance is a journey into a far country, of which he has little knowledge, and in which he has no interest. But when a man goes—ever so seldom—where he knows that his card habitually goes, he feels that he is on familiar ground, and he will go in person, of choice, oftener than he otherwise would.

Some men, unaccustomed to exact social observances, would ridicule the idea at first, if their wives should announce the intention of leaving their husband's cards for them. But, however much a man might demur, a lurking vanity would develop into complacent satisfaction, as he became aware of the increasing geniality of the social atmosphere about him; and the pleasing glow would take the ultimate form of gratitude to his wife.

That the permission to leave cards by proxy is often abused by selfish and indolent men is no doubt true. But the social advantage which it gives to a large class of men who are neither selfish nor indolent more than counterbalances any disadvantages, and saves to "society" a solid element that might be entirely given over to business, if it were not for judicious feminine co-operation in the distribution of visiting-cards.

"Solid" men would go "into society" far more frequently and with greater alacrity if they felt assured that the way had been smoothly paved with their own visiting-cards, well laid in place by the deft fingers of their skillful women folk, who have left no flaw in the mosaic of social proprieties.


When a married, or elderly woman tacitly invites a man to call on her by telling him what are her "at home" days or hours, it is obligatory upon him to acknowledge the courtesy. If unable to call personally he should explain that fact and express regret, and should be particular to send a card on her next receiving day during the hours that she has mentioned. It is a special courtesy to send also a card for her husband, if he is a venerable man, or if, by reason of ill health, he is usually at home.

A woman older, or busier, or occupying some position of acknowledged distinction, may send her card, indicating her receiving days and hours, to a younger or less occupied woman. This is accepted as a call, and an invitation to return the same. If the recipient chooses she may respond in person. If she does not care to establish a calling acquaintance she may respond by sending one of her own cards on the receiving day. In case opportunity occurs for explanation some polite reason may be given for not adding to one's visiting list; but unless one has the tact to do this without snobbishness, it were better to keep silence.

Cards of introduction are simply visiting-cards upon which the owner writes, above his own name, "Introducing Mr. ——." The card is inclosed in an unsealed envelope, addressed to the person to whom the introduction is to be made, and with the words "Introducing Mr. ——," written in the lower left corner. It is a delicate matter to refuse a card or letter of introduction, but it is a far more delicate matter to take the liberty to give one. If one is in doubt about the readiness of the third party to receive the person introduced it is better to find some polite excuse for declining to be the medium of the introduction. Fortunately, if the blunder is made of introducing uncongenial people they can easily drift apart again without rudeness on the part of either.

When any one is invited to a church wedding and cannot attend it is proper to send, on the day of the marriage, a card or cards to those who issued the invitations; one card, if one parent, or a guardian, invites; if the invitation is sent in the names of both parents, a card for each, inclosed in an envelope and addressed to both. If the invited guest attends the wedding he leaves or sends cards within a week, similarly addressed. A personal call is allowable if intimacy warrants it. Those friends of the groom who are not acquainted with the bride's family should merely send cards.

When a man wishes to make the acquaintance of another man he may call and send in his card. This may or may not be accompanied with some explanatory message. If the man on whom the call is made does not wish to receive the caller he will express some polite reason for declining, or suggest another time for receiving the visitor. Usually a man will receive another man who makes polite overtures; but if the host does not wish to continue the acquaintance he will not return the call in person, but simply send his card by post. This distant rejoinder practically ends the brief acquaintance without any discourteous rebuff. It is one of the mistakes of the vulgar to be rude and gruff in order to repel an undesired acquaintance. In reality, nothing freezes out a bore more effectually than the icy calm of dignified courtesy. There are exquisitely polite ways of sending every undesirable person to limbo. The perfect self-command of the well-bred man enables him to do this to perfection, but without giving offense. Moreover, as most people worth seeking are men and women of earnest lives and crowded occupations, no one need feel personally chagrined by the failure to establish a coveted acquaintance with some gifted man or woman.

Cards of condolence are left as soon as possible after learning of the affliction. If in town, cards are left in person or sent by a messenger with a message. If out of town a card is sent by the first post. Nothing is written upon these cards.

A visiting card, with "Congratulations" written upon it, is sent to felicitate a friend upon any happy event in which friends may sympathize. Such cards are sent by messenger or by post. If a card is left in person with a kind message, nothing is written upon the card.

When a man calls and sees his hostess, but not the host, he should leave a card for the latter. If the hostess is not at home, two cards should be left.

When a man entertains formally, each man invited, whether he accepts or not, should acknowledge the courtesy within a week. He may call in person, or leave a card, or send a card by mail, or write a note of thanks, whichever he prefers. This is one of the important formalities between men, and the neglect of it argues either ignorance or insolence.

When a man calls upon a woman while she is the guest of a family with whom he is not acquainted, he inquires for both his friend and her hostess, and, as he is a stranger in the house, he sends up a card for each (instead of announcing himself verbally, as at the house of a friend). If the hostess receives him on this occasion, but extends no further hospitality, he has no claim upon her recognition beyond the hour. If the hostess subsequently offers him any hospitality during the time his friend is her guest he must call upon her; but if he defers this until after the departure of the guest, he must leave a card for the hostess without intruding a personal call, unless he has been distinctly invited to continue the acquaintance. If the man who pays the call does not wish to continue the acquaintance with his friend's hostess, after she has offered him hospitality, he must at least call and leave a card for her, with a polite inquiry for her health. This is obligatory; but nothing further is required.

A visiting card is employed in sending informal invitations to a tea or afternoon reception. The care of the hostess is used, and in addition to the name of the regular receiving day the special date, as "January 19," and some other specific words, as "Tea, 4 to 6," are written in the lower left corner. (In this informal written message numbers are indicate by figures, where formal invitations require the words to be written in full.) This card is accepted by the recipients as equivalent to a call paid by the sender, and they respond in person at the time indicated, leaving cards with the servant as they enter, and also, on their departure, leaving the cards of such male members of their respective families as have been invited, but are unable to attend. As few men can leave business at this hour these occasions become prominent illustrations of "proxy" card-leaving. If any one invited cannot be present (and in case of a man no female relative is there authorized to represent him) a card must be sent by post or messenger on the receiving day.

After a change of residence, or after a prolonged absence from home, cards of the entire family are sent to notify an acquaintance of their re-establishment and of their readiness to resume the social interchange.

It is customary for the younger society men to pay a round of calls after returning from the usual summer "outing," or to leave cards in lieu of a call.

When leaving for a long absence, or when parting from transient, but agreeable acquaintances, as companion tourists, etc., when time does not admit of farewell calls, visiting-cards are sent by post with "P. p. c." (Pour prendrè congé—to take leave) written upon them. This is equivalent to saying, "If ever we meet again we will meet on the footing of friends, not strangers." It is a pleasant way of showing appreciation of the pleasure afforded by another's society, and the formality should not be neglected by one who would be esteemed thoughtfully polite and kind.

Only people who cling to old-fashioned customs still fold over the right side of a visiting-card to show that the card was left in person, and also fold over the left side to show that the call was intended for all the women of the household. This custom is practically obsolete. Another fashion that has had its day was that of leaving a separate card for each of the women of the household. Now, one card answers the purpose, the inquiry accompanying it indicates whether the call was intended for one or for all of the family. In case a guest of the household is included in the call a separate card is left for her.



These occasions are more formal than the ordinary afternoon tea. Special cards are engraved, and if any special entertainment is provided, the fact may be indicated by the words, "Music," or "Miscellaneous Program" (when readings and music are interspersed). Or, the announcement may be omitted, and the program furnish a pleasant surprise for the guests. But when "Dancing" is the recreation provided for, it must appear on the card, so that guests may prepare for it. The card for a "musicale" or similar occasion, is simply engraved:

             At Home
   Wednesday, October fifth, from
       four to seven o'clock.
  Dancing. 119 Park Ave.

FOR A PARTY OR RECEPTION GIVEN IN HONOR OF ANOTHER, the invitations may be engraved with a blank space left for the name of the invited guest; or, the form may be filled out, and the name of the guest appear on the envelope only. It may read:

      request the pleasure of
    company on Tuesday evening
    June sixth, at nine o'clock,
              to meet
        Rev. John D. Loring.
    R.S.V.P. 29 Rice St.

or, the wording may be "request the pleasure of your company," etc. The former has the rhetorical advantage of uniformity, the third person being used throughout; and it also indicates a personal recognition of each guest; but the latter form presents a neater appearance.

As to the use of "R.S.V.P.," or any of the phrases now preferred by many, as, "Please reply;" "The favor of an answer is requested," etc., this may be said: some authorities claim that all invitations should be answered; and that therefore these requests for a reply are a reflection on the good manners of the people invited. But such is not the popular understanding. All invitations that are plainly limited to a certain number of guests, as dinners, card parties, and certain exclusive receptions, should be answered at once, in order that vacancies may be filled. Whether the invitation is accompanied with the request for a reply or not, all thoughtful people will recognize the propriety. But on many occasions where numbers are not necessarily limited, only the hostess can say whether the reply is urgent or not; since it is a question of her personal convenience, the limits of house-room, or some other individual matter. As no one class of entertainments is given always under the same conditions, it is well to allow the hostess to choose whether she will add or omit the request for a reply to her invitations.

Meanwhile, the punctilious may reply to every invitation of a strictly social character, and even if the host or hostess did not expect it, such reply can give no offense; whereas, the neglect of a necessary reply might prove very awkward and annoying.

A private ball is only a more elaborate form of a dancing party. The invitations are phrased in the same language, but the hour is usually not earlier than 9.30 P. M.

The same form of invitation can be adapted to almost any reception, party or other social entertainment, with such variations in the phrasing as suit the circumstances.

It may be said that it is unnecessary to give explicit directions about invitations, inasmuch as the engraver is the one ultimately responsible for the accuracy of these things. But on occasions when small numbers are invited—but undiminished formality is observed—the formal invitation is requisite, yet the engraved card is a needless expense. In such cases one may have cards written in due form. But, for written invitations of this formal character, it is imperative that the paper shall be of superior quality, and the penmanship neat, and thoroughly stylish in effect.

CARDS OF INVITATION TO A WEDDING are issued in the name of the bride's parents, or, if she is an orphan, by her guardian, or some relative or friend who gives her the wedding. All expenses are paid by the bride's family.

It is not etiquette for the groom to bear any of the expense, except the fee to the clergy man; nor to furnish anything for his own wedding, except the ring and the bouquet for the bride, presents for the brides-maids and best man, and some little token for the ushers.

The hostess (who invites) requests the groom to furnish her with two lists of names—one list of those of his friends whom he wishes to be present to witness the ceremony, and another list of those whom he would like to see at the reception also. These, with similar lists of the bride's friends, make up the number of guests to be invited. Wedding invitations are usually sent out two weeks before the day fixed for the ceremony. The invitation is engraved and printed upon a note sheet, in handsome plain script, the lines broken to give distinction to the several ideas, and the wording made as terse as possible. The formula is nearly unvarying:

                MR. AND MRS. GEORGE LATHROP
            request the pleasure of your company
              (or the honor of your presence)
             at the marriage of their daughter,
                      MARY ADELAIDE,
                 MR. WILLIAM HENRY BISHOP,
                  at St. Philip's Church,
  On Wednesday evening, October twelfth, at seven o'clock.

If the marriage is to be solemnized at home the date follows the names in succession, and the place of residence is given last. The invitation may vary, "the wedding reception of their daughter," etc. Or, accompanying the church wedding invitation may be a square card bearing the lines: "Reception from half-past seven until nine o'clock," with place of residence on the line below.

Also, to avoid a crowd at the church, a smaller card is sometimes sent with the invitations bearing, for example, the words: "Please present this card at St. Philip's Church, Wednesday evening, October twelfth, at seven o'clock." This card of admission is also given to dependents—the domestics of the family or such persons as may be entitled to the kind notice, but who are not, strictly speaking, invited guests. The number of such cards should never be greater than the comfortable capacity of the church, lest their original purpose be defeated.

In case the ceremony is private the immediate family and chosen friends are invited verbally. It is then optional whether or not a formal announcement shall be made to a wider circle of friends by sending out engraved cards the day after the ceremony. These are, like the invitations, printed on note sheets, and are phrased briefly, as

  announce the marriage of their daughter,
             MARY ADELAIDE,
    Wednesday evening, October twelfth,
           St. Philip's Church.

"At Home" cards sometimes accompany this announcement, or they may be sent out later by the young couple themselves, if a long wedding trip intervenes.

The private wedding and after announcement is often the most suitable—in fact, the only appropriate method to adopt when a bride is comparatively alone in the world, or has no near relatives to take charge of wedding formalities. In such a case the announcement is worded: "Mr. William Henry Bishop and Miss Mary Adelaide Lathrop, married, Wednesday, October twelfth, 149 Willow St." If no other place is given this is understood to be the place where to address cards of congratulation. If the young couple are to receive later, in a new home, that address, with date of the "at home," is also given, thus, "At home, after November fifteenth, 1129 Lake St." If the change of residence is to another town, the name of the town is also given.

For the proper style of "displaying" the phrases of an invitation or announcement one may apply to a first-class stationer. Plain script and the finest white paper are always correct. Any show of ornamentation is out of taste.

When the circle of acquaintances is very large and invitations must be limited to a certain number, the announcement cards may be sent to others.

A wedding invitation, unless it includes a wedding breakfast, limited in number, requires no reply. Cards sent afterward are all that is necessary. These cards, and whatever congratulations are sent, are addressed to the ones in whose name the invitation or announcement was sent out—usually the parents of the bride. A congratulatory note to the bride is always in order among intimate friends, but this bears no relation to a response to the invitation.

WEDDING ANNIVERSARY INVITATIONS are simply, "Mr. and Mrs. George Lathrop, at home," etc., with date and residence. They are printed on cards or note sheets, preferably the latter, and the character of the occasion is indicated by a monogram at the top of the page, in the centre, flanked by the two annual dates, as "1837 [monogram] 1887." If for a golden wedding this heading is lettered in gold; if for a silver wedding, in silver, the invitation being, as usual, printed in black ink. It is good form to engrave "No presents" in the lower left corner, if such is the wish of "the bride and groom."

DINNER CARDS OF INVITATION may have this form:

           request the pleasure
  Of ………………………………
      company at dinner on Thursday,
    ……………. at seven o'clock.
             95 Willow Street.

The above form may be engraved for perennial use by a host or hostess who frequently give dinners, and always on the same day of the week. Blanks are left to be filled in with the name of the invited guest and the exact date. Or for a single occasion the form may be without any blank spaces, and the phrasing read, "Request the pleasure of your company."

A dinner given in honor of some distinguished guest requires an invitation card specially engraved. This form is most deferential:

               To meet
          request the honor
  of …………………… company
               at dinner
        on Wednesday, May tenth,
            at eight o'clock.
            95 Willow Street.

If the honored guest is esteemed on the score of personal friendship rather than public distinction his name will be given last, instead of first, on the card, the phrasing of the invitation remaining the same.

Invitations to dinner should be answered at once, and no one should accept if there is the least doubt about being able to be present. Only the most serious detentions suddenly arising will excuse a failure to keep a dinner engagement once made. If such contingency does occur at the eleventh hour an explanation and apology should be sent to the host or hostess without delay in order to give opportunity for securing "the fourteenth man."

FOR A FORMAL LUNCHEON OR BREAKFAST the invitation cards are similar in form to dinner cards. But since the manner of serving, the numbers invited, etc., are not so definitely fixed it is proper to add R.S.V.P. on cards that especially call for a reply in the judgment of the hostess. Otherwise many people with vague ideas of the "informality" of these occasions might omit to send replies.


The sexton should be duly informed what preparations to make at the church; the awning at the entrance, the ribbon barrier across the aisle, the floral decorations, etc., by whomever arranged and executed are under the supervision of this functionary, who is responsible for having everything in order.

It is no longer good form for a bride to be late at her own wedding. Now, when the invitation says "seven o'clock" it is expected that the ceremony will begin at that hour precisely, accidents aside.

The organist is engaged by some one interested in making the arrangements, and is supposed to be in his place for a half-hour or so before the hour of the ceremony; and while the guests are assembling he discourses music appropriate to the occasion—a rambling, meditative pot-pourri of sweet and pathetic sentimental songs being a popular and effective choice. In churches having a vested choir it is possible to secure very beautiful effects in the musical adjuncts, the processional adding greatly to the grace and dignity of the ceremonial.

The sexton, or his deputy, stands at the door, salver in hand, to receive the admission cards as people enter the church. The invited guests are met at the foot of the centre aisle by the ushers. An usher offers his arm to a lady and conducts her to a seat, the friends of the bride being seated at the left and the friends of the groom at the right of the middle aisle. When, as often happens, the groom is "from a distance," and few of his far-away acquaintances can be present, this separation of guests is not observed.

At the appointed hour, the clergyman appears at the altar rail; the groom, accompanied by his best man, emerges from the vestry, and takes his place at the right, awaiting the arrival of the bride. At this instant, the organist stops dreaming, wakes up, and starts boldly into the wedding march, as the bridal party move up the aisle, in the following order: First, the ushers, in pairs, then the bridesmaids, also in pairs. Sometimes a little "maid of honor," carrying flowers, precedes the bride. The bride, leaning on the arm of her father, comes last. The ushers and the bridesmaids separate as they reach the altar, and go to the right and to the left. At the altar the groom receives the bride from her father's hand. The latter steps back a few paces, but remains near enough to "give away the bride." When this point in the ceremony has been passed, the father quietly joins the mother in the front pew.

If the processional has been the "Lohengrin" march, it is thought by many to be very effective for the organist, all through the ceremony, to continue on the swell organ a dreamy sotto voce improvisation, in the course of which a varied reiteration of "Faithful and true" serves as an affecting expression of the sentiment of the hour. The most enjoyable tears are shed by the emotional under this inspiration. But other people prefer the solemn stillness, broken only by the voice of the priest and the responses of the high contracting parties. It is a matter of taste and feeling; and those interested are at liberty to indulge either fancy.

The bride stands at the left of the groom during the ceremony; and also takes his left arm at the close. When the ceremony is concluded, the officiating clergyman congratulates the couple, but does not kiss the bride as formerly. In the Episcopal Church, and any other churches where it is the duty of the contracting parties to sign the parish register, the clergyman, the newly wedded pair, and their witnesses, now retire to the sacristry for this purpose. On their return to the chancel, the organ peals forth the Wedding March; the bride and groom lead the bridal party in returning down the aisle, the bridesmaids and ushers following in due order, and after them the nearest relatives; and all, entering their carriages, are driven at once to the home of the bride's parents.

After a morning, or "high noon" wedding, a "breakfast" is usually served. If the ceremony has been a nuptial mass, in the Catholic or High Church ritual, the bridal party have—presumably—observed the fast, before the mass; therefore, the "breakfast" is really a breakfast. However, the term is popularly used by non-ritualists, when the ceremony bears no relation to the mass; and regardless of the fact that the real breakfast has been taken at the usual hour.

A bride may wear full dress at any hour, day or evening; but decolleté dress is not good form at a church wedding, nor is it allowed in the Catholic church. White is the preferred color for a young bride. A widow-bride, on the contrary, should choose some other color; and she wears neither veil nor orange-blossoms.

Details of fashion vary so constantly that specific directions cannot be given with any assumption of final authority. A fashionable modiste should be consulted in the emergency.

The dress worn by a guest at a wedding may be as rich as desired, but should not have a bridal appearance. Sometimes a recent bride wears her own wedding gown at a friend's wedding; but it is in better taste not to do so, nor in any other way to invite comparisons. The bride should be permitted to be the conspicuous figure at her own wedding, and while her friends may pay her the compliment of wearing handsome toilettes on that occasion, still, other women should dress just a little less elaborately, rather than commit the solecism of "out-dressing the bride." Fortunately, one may show all delicate consideration in this matter, and yet be beautifully and becomingly dressed.


Hospitality shares what it has. It does not attempt to give what it has not. The finest hospitality is that which welcomes you to the fireside and permits you to look upon the picture of a home-life so little disturbed by your coming that you are at once made to feel yourself a part of the little symphony—the rare bit of color just needed to complete the harmonic combination. With this flattering fact impressed upon your glowing memory you will hardly be able to recall the material adjuncts of the occasion. It is a sign of a gross nature to measure hospitality by the loaves and fishes, forgetting the miracle that goes with them. And it is equally a mistake for a host to be afraid to offer humble entertainment when richer offers are beyond his means. To a refined perception "the life is more than the meat," and the personality of the host, not the condition of his larder, decides whether or not it is an honor to be his guest. Delightful though it be to be able to afford one's guest a rare and beautiful entertainment, one must dismiss the idea that a graceful and acceptable hospitality depends on material things. Sir Launfal, sharing his crust with the beggar at the gate, was still Sir Launfal. The impoverished hostess may preside at her frugal board with the spirit and the manner of a queen, whereas the coarse-fibred vulgarian vainly heaps his platters with choicest game and rarest fruit, the while he serves the banquet like the churl that he is.

Whatever your entertainment, rich or poor, remember, first of all, to give yourself to your guest; then, if he is appreciative, he will not criticise your simple dinner, nor grumble at the flavor of your wine. One of the wits of the day has gravely reported that at a banquet in the Athens of America, "the menu consisted of two baked beans and readings from Emerson." Despite its grotesque exaggeration, the mot contains the kernel of a dignified truth: that material things are of secondary importance on all social occasions worthy of the name.

The most expensive entertainment given by any one should be merely an incidental illustration of his already recognized financial means. It should never be so beyond his usual ability as to arouse among his neighbors the wonder, how he could afford it? When people who are known to have only a moderate income give "spreads" disproportionate to their daily mode of living, the thoughtful observer instinctively questions their taste and good sense. Usually such ostentatious display brings more or less derision on the ones who are foolish enough to spend more money to make their neighbors stare for a day than they use to make themselves comfortable for a year. No matter how elaborate the entertainment the guests should not be allowed to suspect that their host has exhausted his resources, or that he might not be able to do this same thing at any time that he chose.

As already suggested, the character of the entertainment in a private house should never be such as to involve a total departure from the habitual customs of the household. It is granted that provision must be made on a grander scale for larger numbers; the quantity of things will necessarily be augmented, and mere bulk wears a certain air of the imposing, and when to this is added the vital element—the magnetism of a brilliant company—the participant will seem to breathe a rarified atmosphere, and to an extent to be exalted above the level of everyday life. Yet that level should not be lost to sight nor cease to be the basis of measurement. The quality of elegant serving and mannerly eating should be just what is every day observed at the family dinner of the same household. The guest should get a correct idea of the home atmosphere of the house, even though it be slightly congealed by the formality and reserve which the presence of strangers naturally inspires.

When people assume to entertain socially they should not give a false showing of themselves or of their means. The proudest spirit acknowledges the limitations of poverty with dignified truthfulness; it is the moral coward who seeks to hide these limitations by a greater display than his circumstances warrant. And he reaps as he sows. His "entertainments" fill an idle hour for the class of visitors who gravitate mainly to the supper-room, while the giver of the feast, under the tension of this social effort, suffers a weariness of the spirit as well as of the flesh, and gives a sigh of relief when the door closes upon the last guest, and the pitiful farce is declared "over." We wonder "Why do they thus spend their strength for that which profiteth not?" Surely, few things in the course of a misspent life are less profitable than such over-strained efforts at showy entertainment. The "banquet hall deserted" presents on the following day a grim reminder of the petty economies that for weeks hence must secretly be contrived in order to restore the balance of an overdrawn bank account. The folly of living beyond one's means may have this extenuating feature, that it is often an error due to generous, though indiscreet impulse, or to inexperience; but the folly of spending money lavishly on a few ostentatious "spreads" that are "beyond one's means" has no redeeming points. The deception seldom long deceives. It is a social blunder, the effect of which is to depreciate rather than to enhance the social importance of the family thus entertaining.

It will be understood that this refers to cases when the motive of extravagance is to gratify vanity. It does not mean to imply that the Christmas dinner, or the birthday party, or the wedding anniversary may not be a time when all the energies of a poor and usually frugal household may be concentrated to prepare for one occasion of feasting and rejoicing. The Cratchetts may have their roast goose; even the Micawbers may be indulged in their occasional banquet. And the carefully planned birthday party may be all the more gratefully appreciated by the honored one when it is known that every choice provision for the occasion represents some thoughtful contriving and some self-sacrifice prompted by affection. Such occasions are "red-letter days" in the homes of people of limited means; and pathos is never more delicately suggested than when the poor man forgets his poverty in the wealth of a home-gathering and a feast of remembrance. "Let not a stranger intermeddle with their joy."

In the two cases the financial conditions may seem to be parallel, but in essential spirit there is no resemblance. What is done from sentiment and affection is above commercial measurement. What is done for the sake of ostentation is, by its own act, made a legitimate object of popular criticism.

Another point of good taste in entertaining is that one who is wealthier than others of his social circle should not conspicuously outshine his neighbors by giving them a kind and degree of entertainment which will make their return of civilities seem poor and mean by comparison. Unless the rich man is so greatly beyond others in the scale of wealth that comparisons cease to be odious, it is more considerate for him to keep within the degree of expense and display possible to the average of his associates.

There is still another reason why the very rich should be chary of giving magnificent entertainments.

The dazzled community, gazing spell-bound upon the spectacle of a flower-decked mansion, brilliant with colored lights and echoing to bewildering strains of music, is apt to forget, in this aggregation of the energies of florist, caterer, and band-master, the one man who is supposed to be, but is not, the author of this occasion.

George (descanting on the glories of the "crush of the season")—"The music—the champagne—the——"

Montague—"Ah! yes; and how did 'mine host' bear himself?"

George—"The host! (ruefully). B'Jove! I forgot to hunt him up!"

Unfortunately, mine host had allowed his surroundings to belittle himself. Many a brilliant "social event" might properly be chronicled under the head-line: "Total Eclipse of the Host!" so insignificant does the man become when he carries his standards of social entertaining in his pocket-book instead of in his brains.

However, one need not be very rich in order to make this same mistake. It is made every time that social life ceases to be social, and becomes merely a contest of rival displays. This folly is observed in small villages quite as often as in the metropolis. In contrast, how refreshing it is to cross the threshold of a refined and cultivated home, and find awaiting us a cordial welcome and a genuine hospitality, so true to its author's personality and environment that whether water or wine be offered we know not, grateful that our host gives us his best, whatever it is, and, best of all, gives himself.


Fashions in entertaining have changed within the memory of "those now living." Once, large parties were given, hundreds of invitations were issued, a house was crowded from veranda to attic, and the occasion was one of the few notable social events of the season. Then came the fashion—partly for exclusiveness, partly for novelty, largely for convenience—of giving during the season several small parties or receptions, which in the aggregate might include all of one's visiting list. The disadvantage of this plan, as an exclusive method of solving the problem of social entertaining, was that slights were liable to occur, and were sure to be bitterly felt and resented. Yet, what was a hostess to do? To go back to the old-time crowded party, superadding the increased luxury of modern entertaining, would be to re-establish an inconvenient and expensive fashion. But some way must be devised to bring one's friends together, in larger numbers, and with more prompt and direct expression of hospitality and good fellowship than could be conveyed by the slow and stately process of a series of dinners.

"Necessity is the mother of invention." Someone, probably having reflected upon the easy social character of the English five o'clock tea, solved the problem for the American hostess by instituting the afternoon reception, which, somewhere between the hours of four and six, summons a host of friends to cross one's threshold and meet informally, chatting for a while over a sociable cup of tea, each group giving place to others, none crowding, all at ease, every one the recipient of a gracious welcome from the hostess, who by the hospitality thus offered has tacitly placed each guest on her visiting list for the season.

The afternoon reception is much the same affair, whether it be a tea merely, or a musicale, or a literary occasion. If merely a reception, conversation and the desultory chat of society, the drifting about and the greeting of friends, and incidentally the cup of tea and its dainty accessories, fill a half-hour or so very pleasantly; and though inconsequent so far as any plan or motive is concerned, such meeting and mingling may have all the desired effect as a promoter of social pleasure and harmony.

When a musicale is given at these afternoon hours, usually it is in honor of some brilliant amateur, a pianist or singer, or, if the program is miscellaneous, a gifted elocutionist. Or, it is an occasion when some lion of the professional stage has been captured, either socially or professionally, and the hostess gives to her less fortunate friends an opportunity to see and hear at close range the celebrity usually visible only through opera-glasses and beyond the foot-lights. Or, some lady of well-known musical taste may be the patron of some newly-arrived professor of music; and she invites her musical friends to meet him, with the benevolent purpose to give him a profitable introduction to a promising class of patrons.

When under any of these or similar conditions a formal program is arranged, the hour is fixed, and is stated on the invitation card; as "Music at 4." The guests should be prompt at the hour, so that no interruption or confusion shall occur. When the reception is merely social, guests come and leave at any time within the hours specified on the invitation card; as, "Tea, 4 to 6."

When admitted to the house each one hands a card to the servant in waiting. The guest repairs to the dressing-room to lay aside outer wraps, and attend to any detail of the toilet which wind or accident may have disarranged. Upon entering the parlor each guest is greeted by the hostess, who stands near the door, surrounded by her aids. If her husband's name appears on the card of invitation, he, also, is in the receiving group, contributing, in so far as a man humbly may, to the success of the occasion. The aids, besides assisting in receiving the guests, are attentive to entertaining; and they see that no shy person is overlooked in the invitation to partake of refreshments.

The tea is served in the same room when the guests are few, and in another room of the suite if the reception is large. Usually a single table is set, with coffee or chocolate at one end, and tea at the other, served by young ladies, friends of the hostess. To be invited to preside at the coffee urn, or to manipulate the swinging tea-kettle, is accounted a high compliment.

Besides the tea, the refreshments, which are served from the table, may be very thin slices of bread and butter, or wafers, or similar trifles; but if the occasion approaches the nature of a formal reception, a more elaborate preparation is made; bouillon, oysters, salads, ice-cream and cakes, delicate rolls and bon-bons may be offered. The gradations by which the frugal tea passes into the superabundant supper are not easily classified. Each hostess will judge how much or how little prominence to give to these provisions for the inner man. Usually, however, very simple refreshments, daintily served, are all that is desirable, as the guests go home to their dinners.

If a guest is a comparative stranger to others present, she is at liberty to address any one in a chatty, agreeable way, without introduction. Also, if any one observes another guest who seems to be alone and neglected, it is a graceful and kind overture to open a pleasant conversation.

One should not linger too long at an afternoon tea. Three-quarters of an hour is a happy medium.

Allied to the afternoon tea are various phases of informal daytime entertaining. For example, there is the "shower" for a bride-elect ("linen," "culinary," or what you will). A friend of the bride-to-be invites a coterie of girl friends to meet the guest of honor, giving each girl time to provide some beautiful or useful gift, the presentations to be made with amusing ceremonies.

The "thimble bee," a favorite diversion of the quiet matronly set, each one bringing her own bit of needlework to while away an hour or so in pleasant conversation. One of the number may read aloud, with pauses for comment at will. The thimble bee is a modern version of the good old-fashioned "spend the afternoon and take tea." Both the shower and the thimble bee may be given in the forenoon, if preferred.



Table-Linen, etc.—Table-cloths of white damask, double or single, as fine as the owner's purse admits, are used for the dinner-table, with large square white napkins to correspond.

The table should first be covered with a mat of double-faced cotton flannel wide enough to fall six inches below the edge of the table, all around. This under mat greatly improves the appearance of the table-cloth, which can be laid much more smoothly over this soft foundation. Besides, the mat protects the table from too close contact with hot dishes. Small table mats for the purpose of protecting the cloth are not fashionable at present, though many careful housekeepers retain them rather than risk injury to fine table linen.

Carving-cloths are used when carving is done at the table, but are not needed when dinner is served à la Russe.

Napkin rings are discarded by many who hold that a napkin should be used but once, and must be re-laundried before reappearing on the table.

Practically, such a fastidious use of table linen would exhaust most linen supplies, and overcrowd the laundry. The neat use of a napkin renders this extreme nicety superfluous as a rule of home dining, Care should certainly be taken to remove all soiled table linen. Nothing is more disgusting than a dirty napkin, but the snowy linen that comes spotless through one using may, with propriety, be retained in the ring to be used several times. This, of course, refers to every-day dining at home. On formal occasions no napkin rings appear on the table; the napkins are always fresh, and used for that time only. At the close of the dinner they are left carelessly on the table; not rolled or folded in any orderly shape.

Small fringed napkins of different colors are used with a dessert of fruits. Fancy doylies of fine linen embroidered with silk are sometimes brought in with the finger-bowls; but these are not for utility, the dinner napkin doing service, while the embroidered "fancy" adds a dainty bit of effect to the table decoration.

China, Glassware, Cutlery, Silverware, etc.—Chinaware for the dinner service should be of good quality. Fashions in china decoration are not fixed; the fancy of the hour is constantly changing, but a matched set is eminently proper for the dinner table, leaving the "harlequin" china for luncheons and teas. In the latter style the aim is to have no two pieces alike in decoration, or at least, to permit an unlimited variety; a fashion that is very convenient when large quantities of dishes are liable to be needed. But for a dinner served in orderly sequence, the orderly correspondence of a handsome "set" seems more in keeping. But even with this, the harlequin idea may come in with the dessert; fruit plates, ice-cream sets, after-dinner coffees, etc., may display any number of fantasies in shape and coloring.

Artistic glassware is a very handsome feature of table furnishing. Carafes and goblets for water are always needed at dinner; wine glasses, possibly; and the serving of fruits and bon-bons gives opportunity to display the most brilliant cut-glass, or its comparatively inexpensive substitutes, which are scarcely less pretty in effect. Fine glass is infinitely more elegant than common plated-ware, and though more liable to breakage is less trouble to keep in order.

The best dinner-knife is of steel, of good quality, with handle of ivory, ebony, or silver. Silver-plated knives are much used; they do not discolor so readily as steel, and are easily kept polished. They answer the purpose for luncheon, but they rarely have edge enough to be really serviceable at dinner or breakfast.

Many people who own solid silverware store it away in bank vaults and use its fac simile in quadruple plate, and thus escape the constant dread of a possible burglar. For the sense of security that it gives, one may value the finest quality of plated ware, but it should be inconspicuous in style and not too profuse in quantity, since its utility, rather than its commercial value, should be suggested. Any ostentation in the use of plated ware is vulgar. But one may take a pride and satisfaction in the possession of solid silver. Every ambitious housekeeper will devise ways of securing, little by little, if not all at once, a neat collection of solid spoons and forks. The simplest table takes on dignity when graced with these "sterling" accompaniments. The fancy for collecting "souvenir" spoons, one at a time, suggests a way to secure a valuable lot of spoons without feeling the burden of the expense. Yet, on the other hand, these spoons are much more expensive than equally good plain silver, the extra price being paid for the "idea;" but the expenditure is worth while to those who value historical associations. One may find in the silver-basket salient reminders of all important epochs in our national life, a sort of primer of United States history, to say nothing of the innumerable "souvenirs" of Europe. Its subtle testimony to the intelligent taste of its owner gives the souvenir collection its chief "touch of elegance."

The towering "castor," once the central glory of the dinner table, is out of style. The condiments are left on the sideboard, and handed from there in case any dish requires them, the supposition being that, as a rule, the several dishes are properly seasoned before they are served. Individual salt-cellars are placed on the table, and may be accompanied with salt spoons; if these are omitted, it is understood that the salt-cellar is emptied and refilled each time that it is used. On the family dinner-table the condiment line is not so severely drawn; vinegar in cut-glass cruets, mustard in Satsuma pots, and individual "peppers"—in silver, china, or glass, and of quaint designs—are convenient and allowable.

A table covered with white damask, overlaid with sparkling china and cut-glass, and reflecting the white light of polished silver, is a pretty but lifeless sight. Add one magic touch—the centre-piece of flowers—and the crystallized beauty wakes to organic life.

In arranging the modern dinner-table, when the service is to be à la Russe, floral decorations are almost indispensable. Without something attractive for the eye to rest upon, the desert stretch of linen looks like the white ghost of famine mocking the feast.

The shape of the table, the available space, and the nature of the occasion decide the quantity and distribution of the flowers. It is a matter in which wide latitude is given to individual taste and ingenuity, original designs and odd conceits being always in order, subject only to the law of appropriateness.

For a square or extra wide table a large centre-piece, either round or oblong, is usually chosen, with endless varieties in its component arrangement. It may be low and flat, like a floral mat, in the middle of the table, or it may be a lofty epergne, or an inter-lacing of delicate vine-wreathed arches, or a single basket of feathery maidenhair fern—in fact, anything that is pretty and which the inspiration of the moment may suggest. In early autumn, in country homes or in suburban villas, nothing is more effective than masses of golden-rod and purple asters, gathered by the hostess or her guests during their afternoon drive, and all the more satisfactory because of the pleasure taken in their impromptu arrangement. Wild flowers should be neatly trimmed and symmetrically grouped to avoid a ragged or weedy appearance.

Fortunately, even quite elaborate floral decorations need not be expensive. Nature has bestowed some of her choicest touches upon the lilies of the field, and an artistic eye discerns their possibilities. At the same time, art in floriculture has produced marvels, and those who can afford it may revel in mammoth roses and rare orchids, lilies of the valley in November, and red clovers in January, if it please them to pay the florist's bill for the same.

For narrow "extension" tables, slender vases ranged at intervals may be the most convenient disposition of the flowers; or, if the ends of the table are not occupied, a broad, low basket may stand at each end, with a tall, slender vase in the middle of the table.

On choice occasions a handsome centre-piece may be, for example, a large bowl of La France roses, with small bundles of the same (groups of three are pretty), tied with ribbon of the same hue, laid by each plate. Any other single flower may be disposed similarly, or variety may rule, and no two floral "favors" be alike, in which case it is a delicate compliment to give to each guest a flower known to be a favorite, or one that seems especially appropriate—a lily to Lilian, a daisy to Marguerite, etc. These little marks of thoughtfulness never fail to be appreciated, and add much to the grace of entertaining.

An elaborate centre-piece may stand upon a rich velvet mat, or on a flat mirror provided for the purpose. The latter is a clever idea for a centre-piece of pond-lilies or other aquatic plants, simulating a miniature lake, its edges fringed with moss or ferns.


The mat is first adjusted upon the table, and the table-cloth smoothly and evenly laid over it. The cloth should fall about half-way to the floor all around.

The floral accessories are then put in place; and also the fruits and bon-bons, which may be commingled with the flowers in working out a decorative design, or they may be placed, in ornamental dishes, at the four corners of a wide table, to balance the flowers in the centre; or, they may be arranged along the middle of a long table. For fruit, silver-gilt baskets, or epergnes of glass are especially pretty. The fruit may later constitute a part of the dessert, or may be merely ornamental in its office. Carafes containing iced water are placed here and there on the table, at convenient points.

The next step is the laying of the covers; a cover signifying the place prepared for one person. For a dinner in courses a cover consists of a small plate (on which to set the oyster plate), two large knives, three large forks (for the roast, the game, and entrées), one small knife and fork (for the fish), one tablespoon (for the soup), one oyster-fork. The knives and forks are laid at the right and left of the plate, the oyster-fork and the spoon being conveniently to hand. A glass goblet for water is set at the right, about eight inches from the edge of the table; if wine is to be served the requisite glasses are grouped about the water goblet.

The napkin is folded square, with one fold turned back to inclose a thick piece of bread; or, the napkin may be folded into a triangle that will stand upright, holding the bread within its folds. This is the only way in which bread is put on the dinner-table, though a plate of bread is on the sideboard to be handed to those who require a second piece. It is entirely proper to ask for it, when desired. Butter is not usually placed on the dinner-table, but is handed from the sideboard if the menu includes dishes that require it; as, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, etc. Small butter-plates are included in the "cover" in such cases.

The oysters, which form the initial course, are usually on the table before the guests take their places. A majolica plate, containing four or six of the bivalves with a bit of lemon in the midst, is placed at each cover; or, oyster cocktails may be served. The soup tureen and plates are brought in to the side table. All is now in readiness.


While these preparations have been going on in the dining-room, the guests have been assembling in the drawing-room. It is proper to arrive from five to fifteen minutes before the hour mentioned in the invitation, allowing time to pay respects to the host and hostess, without haste of manner, before the dinner is announced.

A gentleman wears a dress suit at dinner. A lady wears a handsome gown, "dinner dress" being "full dress;" differing, however, from the evening party or reception gown in the kind of fabrics used. The most filmy gauzes are suitable for a ball costume; while dinner dress—for any but very young ladies—is usually of more substantial materials—rich silk or velvet softened in effect with choice lace, or made brilliant with jet trimmings.

When the dinner party is strictly formal, and the company evenly matched in pairs, the following order is observed:

Each gentleman finds in the hall, as he enters, a card bearing his name and the name of the lady whom he is to take out; also, a small boutonnière, which he pins on his coat. If the lady is a stranger, he asks to be presented to her, and establishes an easy conversation before moving toward the dining-room.


When dinner is ready the fact is made known to the hostess by the butler, or maid-servant, who comes to the door and quietly says "Dinner is served." A bell is never rung for dinner, nor for any other formal meal.

The host leads the way, taking out the lady who is given the place of first consideration; the most distinguished woman, the greatest stranger, the most elderly—whatever the basis of distinction. Other couples follow in the order assigned to them, each gentleman seating the lady on his right. The hostess comes last, with the most distinguished male guest. If there is a footman, or more than one, the chairs are deftly placed for each guest; but if only a maid is in waiting, each gentleman arranges his own and his partner's chairs as quietly as possible.

As soon as the company are seated, each one removes the bread; and the napkin, partially unfolded, is laid across the lap. It is not tucked in at the neck or the vest front, or otherwise disposed as a feeding-bib. It is a towel, for wiping the lips and fingers in emergencies, but should be used unobtrusively—not flourished like a flag of truce.


The servant is ready to hand from the side-board any condiments desired for the oysters, which are promptly disposed of. It may be remarked at the outset, that everything at table is handed at the left, except wine, which is offered at the right. Ladies are served first.

After the oyster-plates are removed, the soup is served from the side table—a half ladleful to each plate being considered the correct quantity. The rule regarding soup is double, you must, and you must not. You must accept it (whether you eat it or merely pretend to), but you must not ask for a second helping, since to do so would prolong a course that is merely an "appetizer" preparatory to the substantials.

The soup-plates are removed, and the fish immediately appears, served on plates with mashed potatoes or salad, or sometimes both, in which case a separate dish is provided for the salad. The entrées follow the fish, hot plates being provided, as required. Dishes containing the entrées should have a large spoon and fork laid upon them, and should be held low, so that the guest may help himself easily.

Again the dishes are removed. Here we may pause to remark that the prompt and orderly removal of the dishes after each successive course is a salient feature of skillful waiting. The accomplished waiter never betrays haste or nervousness, but his every movement "tells," and that, too, without clatter, or the dropping of small articles, or the dripping of sauces. The plates, etc., vanish from the table—whither, we observe not. The waiter in the dining-room must have the co-operation of the servant behind the scenes, to receive and convey the relays of dishes to the kitchen. However it is managed, and it must be managed, the nearer the operation can appear to be a "magic transformation," the better.

To return; the roast is the next course. The carving is done at the side table. Guests are consulted as to their preference for "rare" or "well-done;" and the meat, in thin slices, is served on hot plates, with vegetables at discretion on the same plate, separate vegetable dishes—except for salads—not being used on private dinner tables. Certain vegetables, as sweet corn on the cob, may be regarded as a course by themselves, being too clumsy to be disposed of conveniently on a plate with other things.

The game course is next in order (if it is included, as it generally is in an elaborate dinner). Celery is an appropriate accompaniment of the game course. The salad is sometimes served with the game; otherwise it follows as a course by itself.

The salad marks the end of the heavy courses. The crumb tray is brought, and the table-cloth is cleared of all stray fragments. A rolled napkin makes a quiet brush for this purpose, especially on a finely polished damask cloth.

The dessert is now in order. Finger-bowls and doylies are brought in on the dessert-plates. Each person at once removes the bowl and doyley to make ready for whatever is to be put on the plate.

Ices, sweets (pastry and confections), cheese, follow in course; and, finally, the fruits and bon-bons. Strong coffee is served last of all, in small cups. Fashion decrees café noir, and few lovers of cream care to rebel on so formal an occasion as a dinner; but when the formality is not too rigid, the little cream jug may be smuggled in for those who prefer café au lait.

Water is the staple drink of the American dinner-table. A palatable table water, like Apollinaris, well iced, is an elegant substitute for wine when habit or conscience forbids the latter.

When wine is served with the different courses at dinner, the appropriate use is as follows: with soup, sherry; with the fish, chablis, hock, or sauterne; with the roast, claret and champagne; after the game course, Madeira and port; with the dessert, sherry, claret, or Burgundy. After dinner are served champagne and other sparkling wines, just off the ice, and served without decanting, a napkin being wrapped around the wet bottle.

While wine may be accounted indispensable by many, the growing sentiment in favor of its total banishment from the dinner-table has this effect on the etiquette of the case, that the neglect to provide wine for even a very formal dinner is not now the breach of good form which it would have been held to be some years ago. Such neglect has been sanctioned by the example of acknowledged social leaders; and when it is the exponent of a temperance principle it has the respect of every diner-out, whatever his private choice in the matter. No gentleman will grumble at the absence of wine at his host's table. It is good form for a host to serve or not serve wine, as he chooses; it is very bad form for his guest to comment on his choice. When any one who is conscientiously opposed to wine-drinking, or for any reason abstains, is present at a dinner where wine is served, he declines it by simply laying his hand on the rim of his glass as the butler approaches. No words are necessary. Apollinaris will take the place of stronger waters, and no embarrassment follows to either host or guest. As to the moral involved, a silent example may be quite as influential as an aggressive exhibition of one's principles. Questions of manners and morals are constantly elbowing one another, and it is a nice point to decide when and how far duty requires one to defy conventionality. It is safe to say that only in extreme cases is this ever necessary, or even permissible. The hostess who simply does not offer wine to any guest under any circumstances, is using her influence effectively and courteously, especially when she supplies the deficiency with delicious coffee and cocoa, fragrant tea, and, best and rarest of all, crystal clear, sparkling cold water. By pointing out a "more excellent way," she is adding to her faith virtue.


Extra knives and forks are brought in with any course that requires them. The preliminary lay-out is usually meant to provide all that the scheme of the dinner will call for; but one must have a goodly supply of silver and cutlery to avoid altogether the necessity for having some of it washed and returned to the table during the progress of the dinner. It is very desirable to be amply equipped, as it facilitates the prompt and orderly serving of the courses.

Fruit-knives are required, and ice-spoons, orange-spoons, and other unique conceits in silver utensils may be provided with the dessert, if one happens to own them; otherwise, plain forks and spoons do duty as required. The fork bears the chief burden of responsibility, being used for everything solid or semi-solid, leaving the spoon to the limited realm of soft custards and fruits that are so juicy as to elude the tines of the fork.

The knife is held in hand as little as possible, being used only when cutting is actually necessary, the fork easily separating most vegetables, etc. In the fish course, however, the knife is used to assist in removing the troublesome small bones.

In holding the knife the fingers should not touch the blade, except that the forefinger rests upon the upper edge not far below the shank when the cutting requires some firmness of pressure. The dinner knife should be sharp enough to perform its office without too much muscular effort, or the possible accident of a duck's wing flying unexpectedly "from cover" under the ill-directed stress of a despairing carver's hand. I have seen the component parts of a fricasseed chicken leave the table, not untouched—oh! no; every one had been sawing at it for a half-hour—but uneaten it certainly was, for obvious reasons. The cutlery was pretty, but practically unequal to even spring chicken.

The fork is held with the tines curving downward, that position giving greater security to the morsel, and is raised laterally, the points being turned, as it reaches the mouth, just enough to deposit the morsel between the slightly-parted lips. During this easy movement the elbow scarcely moves from its position at the side, a fact gratefully appreciated by one's next neighbor. What is more awkward than the arm projected, holding the fork pointing backward at a right angle to the lips, the mouth opening wide like an automatic railway gate to an approaching locomotive—the labored and ostentatious way in which food is sometimes transported to its destination? Nor, once in the mouth, is it lost to sight forever. Other people, seated opposite, are compelled to witness it in successive stages of the grinding process, as exhibited by the constant opening and shutting of the mouth during mastication, or laughing and talking with the mouth full—faults of heedless people of energetic but not refined manners.

Liquids are sipped from the side of the spoon, without noise or suction. In serving vegetables the tablespoon is inserted laterally, not "point first."

Celery is held in the fingers, asparagus also, unless the stalks are too tender. Green corn may be eaten from the cob, a good set of natural teeth being the prime requisite. It may be a perfectly graceful performance if daintily managed.

The management of fruits in the dessert is another test of dainty skill. Oranges may be eaten in different ways. Very juicy fruit may be cut in halves across the sections and scooped out with a spoon. The drier "seedless" oranges are better peeled and separated. With a fruit knife, remove the tough skin of each peg, leaving enough dry fiber to hold it by, in conveying it to the mouth. Practice enables one easily to "make way with" an orange. Bananas are cut in two, the skin removed; the fruit is held in the fingers, or—preferably—eaten with a fork. Juicy pears and peaches may be managed in the same way, at discretion, the rule being that the fingers should touch as little as possible fruits that are decidedly mushy.

The finger-bowl stands ready to repair all damages of the nature suggested. The fingers are dipped in the water and gently rinsed, and then passed lightly over the lips, and both mouth and fingers are wiped upon the napkin.

At a signal from the hostess, the ladies rise and return to the drawing-room. The gentlemen follow immediately, or remain a short time for another glass of wine, when such is the provision of the host.


The conversation at the dinner-table should be general, unless the company is large, and the table too long to admit of it. But in any case, each one is responsible first of all for keeping up a pleasant chat with his or her partner, and not allowing that one to be neglected while attention is riveted on some aggressively brilliant talker at the other end of the table. No matter how uninteresting one's partner may be, one must be thoughtful and entertaining; and such kind attention may win the life-long gratitude of a timid débutante, or the equally unsophisticated country cousin.

Dinner-table talk should be affable. The host and hostess must be alert to turn the conversation from channels that threaten to lead to antagonisms of opinion; and each guest should feel that it is more important just now to make other people happy than to gratify his impulse to "floor" them on the tariff question. In short, at dinner, as under most social conditions, the watchword ever in mind should be, "Not to myself alone."


The informal dinner, daily served in thousands of refined American homes, is a much less pretentious affair than the name "dinner" technically implies. In most cases the service is but partially à la Russe, most courses, and all the entrées, being set on the table, the serving and "helping" being done by some member of the family; the presence of a waitress being sometimes dispensed with except at transition points; as, when the table is cleared before the dessert. This formality is the most decided dinner feature of the meal, which throughout its progress has been conducted more like a luncheon. Yet, in all essential points of mannerliness, the family dinner is governed by the same rules that control the formal banquet.

It is perhaps needless to remark that the diner à la Russe in its perfection cannot be carried out without a number of competent servants. These may be hired when some special occasion warrants extra preparations for due formality. But for customary "entertaining," those who "live quietly," with possibly but one domestic to assist with the dinner, will show good sense in not attempting anything more imposing than they are able to compass successfully. The "family dinner" has a dignity of its own when in keeping with all the conditions; and though its menu may be simple, its service unpretentious, it may be the gracious exponent of a hospitality "fit for a king."

At the informal dinner it is customary to seat the guests in the order in which they enter the dining-room, without assigning any place of distinction; all the places at table being held of equal honor—comfort and convenience being the things chiefly considered.


The most elastic word in the whole vocabulary of entertaining is the term luncheon. It is applied to a mid-day meal occurring any time between 11 A. M. and 3 P. M., and may mean anything, from a brilliant à la Russe banquet, to the hastily gathered together fragments left from yesterday's dinner.

It may describe an hour of absolute leisure, and the most delightful conversational interchange, or it may signify the five minutes' grab from the side-board between the games of a closely-contested amateur tennis tournament.

In general, we may say that the most formal of luncheons, resembling the dinner in the main features of its serving, has these points of distinction; the number of guests is irregular, usually uncertain, they go to the table singly; they come dressed in any way that the hour of the day, or their recent occupations warrant—men dropping in dressed for business or sporting, and ladies in promenade costumes, with bonnets or hats; the hour is not rigidly fixed,—luncheon, being largely of cold dishes, is not spoiled by a half-hour's tardiness—a late comer is greeted as cordially as the first arrival; and "the more the merrier" seems to be the motto of the hostess who keeps "open house" at luncheon time.

The formal luncheons for which engraved invitations are issued, are usually "ladies' luncheons;" and the formality of the serving is equalled by the elegance of the toilets. Men have little leisure for day-time entertainments, except during the brief outing at some summer resort, where the easy-going lunch is the ruling fashion.

The menu of the cold luncheon may present great variety, and provide for many guests with little trouble. For a smaller, or more definite, number a hot luncheon may be prepared—a tender steak with mashed potatoes and asparagus, or something equally simple—and a dessert of cakes, ice-cream, and fruits; in all respects a little "informal dinner."

The large buffet luncheon, like the four o'clock tea, gives opportunity for displaying all the pretty china that one owns. Flowers and fruits may decorate the table or tables, and the most artistic effects may be secured by a little attention to blending and grouping. A hostess who knows how can make her rooms look like a festal bower for these occasions without much money outlay; and if she also is clever in the compounding of made dishes and salads, she can give luncheons that are remembered as the epitome of good style, albeit the bills for the same were surprisingly small. Such a gifted woman enjoys a sense of exultation that is unknown to her richer sister, who merely fills out a cheque for the cost and leaves all else to the caterer, as one must, when the luncheon is given at a club or tea room.

In general, the buffet luncheon is much the same on all occasions, when entertaining large companies at home. The difference is not so much in the way of serving, as in the kind of refreshments proffered. The tea may be a light affair, if you will; merely a bit and a sip for good fellowship. But the luncheon is one of the solid meals of the day, requiring something substantial. Such sustaining things as chicken salad, appetizing sandwiches, bouillon (hot or jellied), cold sliced ham, with relishes, as celery, olives, seasonable fruits, etc., satisfy the normal hunger at noontime; and delicious cakes and ices with coffee make a festal finale. Almost any attractive luncheon dish may be included, preferably things that are not hurt by standing; as the luncheon service for a large party fills an hour or two. For this reason, coffee is the most manageable beverage to serve.

The refreshments are arranged on the dining-table. A fine table-cloth may be used; or handsome doylies if the table itself is of handsome finish. The salad bowl is set on one side, the platters of sandwiches, etc., on the other; with the coffee urn at one end, the ices at the other, if there is room; otherwise, the cake and ices are served from a side table. Another side table is desirable, to hold the stacks of dishes and napkins.

As the hostess must give her entire attention to receiving her guests, she intrusts the oversight of the dining-room to several matrons, who are aided by a bevy of the younger girls (the young men also, at an evening party). At the proper time these young people pass the napkins and plates (usually with the salad already served) to the guests scattered around the rooms. Other things are promptly brought, the coffee being served immediately after, by another set of helpers. Since all cannot be seated, small tables placed here and there in the suite of rooms will give the standing ones a chance to set a coffee cup down now and then. Candy in tiny reception sticks may be passed with the cake; or bonbon dishes may be set in unexpected places about the rooms, where any one who discovers them may nibble at will.

The family waitress, with extra help if needed, should be in attendance near the dining-room exit, to receive the used dishes and remove them at once from the scene. This is a nice point; for a congestion of dishes in the dining-room spoils the effect of an otherwise well-managed service. The maid will also keep the stack of plates, etc., replenished; and she will carry back and forth from the pantry the salad bowl and platters for replenishing.

Cutlery is limited to a fork for the salad, a spoon for the coffee, and a fork or spoon for the ice cream. The ices may be in fancy individual shapes, if one chooses to take that much trouble; but the brick, brought in ready sliced for serving, is always suitable, and easier to manage.

Much of this is so generally understood that further details seem superfluous. The least experienced hostess need not be overanxious about small points, if the general order is observed; for luncheon guests are a genial crowd, and nobody notices little mishaps. I am assuming that your guests are all very nice people, in sympathy with you, and aiding you to the extent of their ability to make things pleasant. Those who have this sincere disposition need no instruction in behavior. Each one's conduct will be guided by her own instinctive sense of propriety. One who is habitually polite is not likely to make any blunders at a luncheon, since there are no rigid conventionalities to be infringed.

If the luncheon hour is much past noon, the guests should be careful not to remain too long after, as they might thus be detaining the hostess from later afternoon engagements.


A supper is a late evening meal, and may be an entertainment by itself, or be served in connection with some social event. A supper is understood to consist prevailingly of hot dishes, which distinguishes the supper from the collation—which might be served on similar occasions—and which is mainly of cold dishes. The distinction is not absolute, however.

A formal supper, or banquet, is served à la Russe, and resembles the dinner in its general conduct; but instead of the heavy roast and vegetables, the game is the conspicuous course, and various preparations of oysters, lobster, terrapin, etc., crowd the menu card, with salads of all kinds. Nine o'clock is a fashionable hour for the sit-down supper. The supper served at a dance or a reception is timed to suit the leading features of the evening. The menu for these "crush" suppers covers the ground of the hot supper and the cold collation combined, and there are few things within the range of dainty cookery that are not permissible.

The most "social" and enjoyable suppers—with the doctor's permission—are those that are served an home after the hostess and her guests have returned from the theatre or opera, lecture or concert. Tiny biscuit, sandwiches, fried oysters, chicken salad, and golden coffee, with ice-cream and some superior cake, served like a luncheon, make a supper easily arranged, and one which winds up a pleasant evening in a very satisfactory way.


A formal breakfast has little distinctive character. It differs very slightly from an early luncheon, except that the viands are more distinctly breakfast dishes; as, toast, hot muffins, omelettes and other preparations of eggs, delicate farinaceous foods, café au lait, etc. If it is the veritable breaking of the fast the guests must be very late risers indeed, as 11 o'clock, or even 12, noon, is a fashionable hour for this so-called breakfast, which is a phase of social entertaining reserved for the "leisure class," or only at odd intervals possible to people of active pursuits. The morning hours are precious to the hurried man of business, and the care-environed housekeeper; and "promptness and dispatch" is the motto of the breakfast table in most houses.

The real breakfast of everyday life is the meal where we least expect to meet guests—unless it be some one who is staying at the house. It is a rare thing for a friend to "drop in" to breakfast, and to invite him to do so is perhaps the rarest expression of hospitality, and will probably remain so, while we remain a nation of brain and hand workers.

During the summer vacation, when we pause for a breathing spell, no more charming hospitality can be offered than a dainty breakfast, especially in the country. It may be the preliminary to an all-day house party, or a picnic excursion; or the breakfast may be the goal of an early morning drive by carriage or motor, and the hour may be early or late, just as you please; for is not vacation a period of emancipation from the tyranny of the clock? But let not the hour be too early, for tired people are heavy sleepers; yet not too late either, lest the heat of the sun may have become too suggestive of the approaching noon-tide; late enough for weary eyelids to unclose willingly, early enough for the fresh dewy odor still to cling to the vines on the porch.

The conventional breakfast in town is given very seldom as compared with dinners and luncheons. It is peculiarly a holiday hospitality, reserved until the men are at leisure; for breakfast without the man of the house would be Hamlet with the prince left out.

There is another significant distinction: the guests are chosen from the inner circle. When, on Christmas morning, Mr. and Mrs. A. entertain Mr. and Mrs. B. and Mr. and Mrs. C. at breakfast, we infer at once their intimate friendship and congenial companionship. One may lunch impersonally with comparative strangers; one may dine formally touching elbows with one's dearest foe but one does not of choice breakfast with any one but a friend, or a friend of a friend—graciously accepted on trust. Breakfast is the most intimate breaking of bread; not even the festive elaboration can make the friendly breakfast seem like anything but "playing at" formality. The service is essentially the same as it usually is in that household, except that the children are not at the table. The more homelike it is, the better; for home atmosphere is revealed as at no other meal, and on no other occasion can a visitor be made to feel so entirely "one of the family."

The guests remain but a short time after a breakfast, chatting in a leisurely way, but leaving rather promptly.

The problem of the family breakfast is complicated by the modern stress of business life. In suburban towns the typical "commuter" must flee away with little ceremony; for the 7:08 will not wait, and the 7:10 is a way train. In most families breakfast is on the European plan, so to speak. For this very reason, perhaps, the occasional holiday breakfast is the more attractive. With no train to "catch," no boat to "make," no office hours to "keep," no demon of driving work to lash one to the treadmill, how delightful to be able to breakfast with the serenity of the genial "Autocrat" himself; and how very odd it seems to find oneself sociably disposed at this unwonted hour! May it not convey the gentle admonition that we might be more social every day, if we only thought so?

Psychologically, the breakfast is peculiar. It is the first commingling of the day; and whether it be the late holiday feast, or the usual family gathering, it sets the pace for the twenty-four hours. A cheerful start in the morning may give an optimistic momentum for all-day hill-climbing; or, one may slip dejectedly down hill if leaden-weighted with a "morning grouch" (one's own, or somebody else's). Even fellow "boarders" might reflect on this, with profit. Preoccupied with our own affairs, we forget to be mutually considerate. We habitually wake to rush and worry, taking social recreation chiefly at the close of day, when too weary to appreciate it. Might it not sometimes be well to get ourselves into a good humor the first thing in the morning, and then work afterward? Few people are of such a happy, self-contained disposition that they do not need the sustaining influence of other cheerful spirits. Most of us would have more of sunshine in our hearts if the first business of the morning had been to put ourselves in harmony with our fellow-creatures socially. And if we cannot do this every day, nor even often, according to our ideal, we at least doubly appreciate the rare occasions when it has been possible, and we feel impulsively grateful to the hostess whose thoughtful kindness has made our holiday so bright at its dawning. Other ways of entertaining may be more imposing; none are more delightful. Bid whom you will to dine with you, but ask me to breakfast.


This general term includes a variety of social entertainments, and suggests all degrees of formality, from the stately reception to the "surprise party." With a range so varied, classification is not readily made. Some features are always present: a host and hostess always receive; a guest always first pays his respects to his entertainers, and then mingles agreeably with the throng. He makes himself useful in any way that tact and courtesy suggest. Supper is served, usually the buffet collation. It is more formal, and less confusing, if the guests go to the dining-room—convenient numbers at a time—instead of being served in the parlors, as at a luncheon. On formal occasions professional readers and musicians are often engaged as entertainers. Sometimes the amusement is furnished by clever amateurs among the guests, who may read, sing, or whistle, or what not. In a circle where all are well acquainted, some of the pleasantest evening parties are those to the success of which each one contributes his mite, cheerfully singing in the chorus when nature has denied him a solo voice, and not allowing any dark jealousy of superior gifts to deprive the harmony of his one little note.

Invitations to these informal parties are cordial and personal in tone. If the guest is expected to make preparation, in costume or to fill some part on the programme, that fact is briefly stated. For practical suggestions, consult "Parlor Games," adding any novel features that you can devise. A hostess with original ideas for entertainments is always successful and popular. Elderly people as well as the young enjoy these parties; and they are a safe resource for mixed companies, when a form of entertainment must be chosen that will please all and offend none.

Children's parties, usually afternoon affairs, are often merely childish "good times"; but again, they are conducted in close imitation of an evening party for adults, and thus made a means of education in the social ceremonial. When sensibly managed, the children's party affords a fine opportunity for training the little people in polite manners.

When the children are almost grown up, but not "out," pleasant little parties for "the younger set" are given by the mothers, to accustom the "buds" to conventionalities, and prepare the débutantes and their young brothers to take their place gracefully in the larger social world. These younger-set parties are like a grown-up party, except that they are conspicuously chaperoned, and all responsibility is assumed by the mothers and godmothers.

The two extreme phases of the evening party are the conventional ball, and the rural "sociable."

The special requirements for a ball are good music, and large well-ventilated rooms, from which all superfluous furniture has been removed. For music, an orchestra of four or six pieces may be sufficient. For space, we must make the best of what we have, if the ball is given at home. This is practicable only where the rooms are reasonably spacious. Nowadays, a ball in a private house is rare, for hotels, clubs, and first class caterers furnish charming ballrooms for rental to exclusive patrons.

But whether in her own house or in a hired ballroom, the hostess is for the time "at home"; and the general conduct of the ball is the same in both cases. Decorations, floral and otherwise, are important; and a supper, served either during the progress, or at the close of the dance—or both—is an indispensable feature.

The guests arrive at the hour designated, not earlier than nine o'clock. The hostess is stationed at some point near the entrance of the drawing-room, where she remains during the evening to receive the guests, who must pay their respects to her, first of all. A gentleman will also lose no time in finding his host, and paying him the courtesy of a deferential greeting.

As the hostess cannot delegate her special duty of receiving, she has usually several aids, young matrons, who keep a watchful eye upon the dancing throng, and see to it that partners are not lacking for those who might otherwise be overlooked; and in any way that the emergency may suggest, or tact devise, they radiate the hospitality from its centre—the hostess.

A gentleman in American society does not ask a lady to dance until he has been introduced to her. He may seek an introduction for this purpose, or the hostess may request him to be introduced. In either case, the lady and the gentleman both cheerfully acquiesce. A lady usually accepts the invitation to dance, unless the dance is already engaged. She should be careful to inspect her tablets; and not promise the same dance to two different partners, an awkward accident that sometimes happens to a heedless belle. After a dance, a gentleman promenades with his partner, chats with her for awhile, and, finally, with a graceful bow, leaves her once more in the care of her chaperone.

If a man has made an engagement to take a particular lady out to supper, he must not forget himself and linger talking to another lady until supper is fairly announced, since etiquette then requires him to take out the lady with whom he is at the moment talking. He should seek the one he has chosen, some moments before, and leave the other lady free to receive other invitations to supper.

Any gentleman who observes a lady who is not being served with refreshments, should courteously offer to bring her something. If he is a total stranger he will attempt no conversation beyond the civilities of the case; but these he will cordially though unobtrusively offer. The young man who does these little things with the gentle grace of a knight errant, may not know that he is simply charming, from a woman's standpoint; but the fact remains.

A ball, proper, is a strictly formal affair. A dancing party, while observing similar regulations on the dancing floor, may be, in the social intervals between dances, as informal as a village "sociable." That is to say, as informal as the sociable ever ought to be; possibly not as informal as the sociable sometimes is. People who have "grown up" together, as villagers often have, are apt to consider a life-long acquaintance the proper basis for unlimited off-hand familiarity. To a certain extent, and in a certain sense, such acquaintance, being second in intimacy only to near relationship, does warrant a cordial and trustful informality. The cautious reserve that marks one's conduct toward a recent acquaintance might justly be resented by a tried and trusted friend of one's youth. But even relationship does not warrant undignified behavior, or rude liberties of speech or action. The boy and girl who went to school together grow up to be the young man and woman of society; and while the memory of school days is a bond of hearty friendliness between them, it is not necessary that they should evince their mutual regard by a free-and-easy demeanor.

Country sociables, attended largely by the younger members of families long acquainted and associated, are apt to be rather rollicking, not to say "rough and tumble," affairs, where practical jokes and unmerciful "guying" are the characteristic wit, and such smart tricks as bumping an unsuspecting comrade's head against the wall are applauded with shrieks of admiring laughter. The onlookers may be excused for their tacit countenance of the rudeness, since some element of drollery—that might have been wit, under better conditions—compels a smile, in spite of a dignified disapproval of the performance. A young student, unused to such scenes, standing a little apart from such a group once remarked judicially to a lady near him, "I do not care for such dare-devil sociability." Nor would other young people cherish it as their ideal of a "good time" if they could learn how much more charming altogether it is to exchange the delicate courtesies that make up refined social companionship. The difference in social culture is what distinguishes the vulgar wag from the urban wit. The crude humor of the former, often marred by coarseness, is like ore in which the dross greatly out-weighs the pure metal. The brilliant mots of the latter, refined by the processes of culture, are like the gold nuggets separated from their base surroundings.

How to eliminate the "dare-devil" from the sociability of country life, without substituting an artificial stiffness, is the problem for every thoughtful and refined man and woman in rural circles. How to "be kindly affectioned one to another, in brotherly love, in honor preferring one another"—perhaps that would furnish the keynote of it all, alike for the citizen and the rustic.


The preceding chapters describe established customs in home entertaining. Such rules remain in force for the home conditions.

But who can live in this electric-motor age without noting the gradual variation in "the ways of doing things"—changes that are directly traceable to the influence of modern inventions? The trolley lines have brought large areas within the city limits; the swift automobile has reduced miles to furlongs. Town and country are intermingled as never before, and each is sensibly modified by the other. By its very name, the "Town and Country" club recognizes this new community of interests. Its members, living even twenty miles away, outdo Sheridan's ride, in arriving at the club on time for luncheon, golf, or dinner.

Which brings to mind this fact: that to-day a large part of formal entertaining in cities is no longer at home. Elaborate dinners, teas, and luncheons are given at one's club, or at cafés, exclusive "tea rooms," and in the elegantly appointed private dining-rooms now provided by the best hotels. After-theatre suppers are almost invariably taken at a fashionable restaurant—doubtless greatly to the relief of both the hostess and her housemaids. While cooperative housekeeping is still an undeveloped scheme, things seem to be trending that way.

The multiplication of huge apartment houses (and diminutive apartments) is the other prime factor in the case. While the hotel dinner may have come into fashion first as the dire necessity of the "cliff dwellers," its convenience appeals to many householders who formerly would not have dreamed of offering their guests the hospitality of a café. Many conservative people still deplore the innovation; but fashion approves, and the custom grows.

Entertaining at one's club is governed by the rules of that particular club. When entertaining at tea rooms, or cafés, one has simply to arrange with the superintendent or the head waiter, for tables or private dining-room, for the date chosen; to choose the menu, and order the decorations. This done, the entertainers and their friends have but to appear at the stated hour and play their respective rôles with care-free grace. These dinners may be given by a bachelor, to a mixed company, or to a bevy of the débutantes, with the co-operation of a society matron or a married couple to chaperone the affair. This is a very pleasant way for a bachelor to make return for the social attentions showered on himself.

This way of entertaining may be lavishly expensive, but it is not necessarily so; all things considered, it may not greatly exceed the cost of similar entertaining at home. In this land of the free, any one who will may give a tea room luncheon. But the semi-publicity of these functions invites criticism; and people of moderate income discreetly forbear attempting anything too ambitious for their obvious means. Elegant simplicity is always good form.

The universal use of the telephone is another factor in the modification of social customs. Among familiar friends, the little chat over the 'phone largely takes the place of the informal call. Also, invitations to any but strictly formal functions are now sent by telephone, if agreeable to both parties; though it is still considered better to adhere to the more respectful written form if there is any doubt about the new way being acceptable to the party of the second part. While I counsel conservatism in these changes, I am convinced that the new dynasty of wire and wireless is destined to dominate us; and as discovery continues and inventions multiply, the time is near when immediate communication will be had at long range; possibly telepathy—who knows? Or, possibly tele-photography with it—why not? Then, the slow, laborious writing of messages will be as much out of date as the super-annuated stage-coach.

But—not yet; we are still in the process of evolution. It is still safe to heed Pope's famous advice:

  "Be not the first by whom the new is tried,
  Nor yet the last to lay the old aside."


It is the duty of the host or hostess to give a polite and cheerful welcome to the guest whom they have invited to cross their threshold. During the time that she remains under their roof they have the responsibility of making her comfortable, and as happy as possible. To do this, attention to details is of the greatest consequence. It is possible to give dinners, and musicales, and receptions for a guest, and to introduce her to a choice circle of friends; to plan drives and excursions for sight-seeing to points of interest; to bring out the best preserves from the store-room, and put on the table all the delicacies of the season; and yet something may be lacking. A subtle expression of discomfort may at times cloud the face of the guest, and greatly disturb the anxious hostess, who redoubles her efforts to think of something else in the way of entertainment and diversion. If this well-meaning hostess will accompany me to the guest-room while its temporary occupant is reading on the "front porch," perhaps I can point out to her some things that will give a clue to the mystery.

The guest-room is large and airy, and "well-furnished," as the phrase goes, with a soft carpet prevailingly blue, and a prettily carved oaken "set." The bed is covered with a lace counterpane over a blue silk quilt, and downy pillows invite to slumber. Curtains of blue silk and white lace are draped at the windows; cushions, tidies, sachets, gim-cracks of every description load the bureau, and lie around in profusion; a pretty rug of fluffy fur is spread before a comfortable couch, and a rocking-chair and foot-stool are in the cozy window recess. A small table with a vase of flowers upon it occupies one space against the wall. The wash-stand bears the regulation "toilet set," bowl and pitcher, soap-dish, etc., with the china jar set in the corner. Plenty of damask towels hang on the rack, and the "splasher" is a marvel of needlework. Well, is not this a pretty comfortable room?

It seems ungracious to answer nay; but truth compels me to say that it proves to be a most _un_comfortable room, as managed. Since the guest arrived, this three-quart pitcher has been filled each morning with cold water. Beyond this, no offer of the aqueous element in any form has been made. The guest, accustomed at home to an abundance of hot water, and the luxury of a bath daily—or oftener, at will—has been suffering the greatest privation rather than trouble her hostess with a request for something which is so evidently not thought of in this house. With soap that "chaps," and a stiff nail-brush she has painfully scrubbed her cold knuckles to remove the grime which several days of imperfect ablution has rendered almost immovable—except as the skin comes with it. And as to her customary bath, she has substituted so much of hasty sponging as chattering teeth will allow, finishing off with a dry polish when prudence forbids further risk of a chill; and she has completed her toilet with a sense of self-disgust, and a dissatisfaction with her surroundings which makes her long for the day set for the termination if this visit, which might have been so pleasant, if she had been made physically comfortable. When she goes home she will answer, to the kind inquiries of her mother: "Oh! yes; I had a lovely time!—or that is, I should have had, if only I could have had a bath!"

Whether it is that some people do not care for bathing, and therefore do not realize its necessity to the comfort of other people; or whether they have an idea that a "guest" is a being who, while in that rôle, needs none of the ordinary comforts of every-day life; or, whatever the reason may be, this failure to provide bath facilities is one of the most common and flagrant neglects of hospitality.

When the guest-room has no private bath attached, and it is impracticable to offer the use of the family bath-room, a small tub of zinc or granite ware should be included in the furnishing of the guest-room, together with a square of thin oil-cloth to spread on the carpet. The guest should be informed that hot water is always in readiness to be brought to her room whenever she requires it. In country houses having no "modern conveniences," every kitchen stove may have an ample boiler always filled with clean water, so that at all times hot water may be available for bathing purposes. It is unpardonable to live without at least this much provision for an essential condition of civilized life—"the cleanliness that is next to godliness."

In addition to the water supply, the guest-room should contain other requisites for a comfortable toilet. Presumably, every guest who comes for a several-days' stay brings with her the small articles she will need; but oversights are frequent in hurried packing, and the resources of the guest-room should be equal to any such emergency, even though only a part of the provision is required in any one case. A neat, close cabinet, with a closet beneath and shelves above, is a desirable piece of furniture. In the closet the bath-tub can be stored, and bath-brushes, "loofahs," and sponges can be hung up while the shelves may hold a supply of toilet sundries; for example, a flask of bay rum, and one of violet-water; a bottle of spirits of ammonia, a bottle of alcohol, a spirit lamp and curling tongs, tooth-powder, rosewater, and glycerine; a jar of fine cold-cream, hair-brush and combs, a clothes-brush, a whisk broom, a reserve supply of soap—"Ivory" (if the water is hard, this soap is superior for the bath) and fine castile, and a delicately-scented soap of first quality. The cheap "scented" abominations should not be inflicted on a guest.

The dressing-table should have a supply of pins in variety, including hairpins; a work-box, containing needles and thread, a thimble, scissors, tape, shoe-buttons, etc. A bottle of cologne and also of some first-class "triple extract" should stand on the bureau.

With all this provided, one is not likely to lack any comfort for the toilet; yet, with it all, the hostess should make her guest understand that the motto is: "If you don't see what you want, ask for it." This freedom will not be taken by a sensitive guest unless it is clearly invited. The self-complacent way in which a hostess sometimes ushers a guest into the "best room," and then leaves her to the mercy of what she can find—or, rather, cannot find—forestalls all requests for additional supplies. In the midst of all the satin and lace flummery, it is pathetic to suffer in silence for the lack of a little beggarly hot water. And yet, such is the experience of many an "honored guest."

Beside the toilet comforts, there are other things that may well be added to the equipment of the guest-room. One, in particular, is a well-appointed little writing-desk, containing all the requisites for letter-writing, including stamps. Perhaps the guest has brought these things with her, more likely she has forgotten them, and it may be a matter of great convenience to her to find this little desk awaiting her. If there is a shelf above, a selection of standard and entertaining books may be placed thereon. The Bible, a book of Common Prayer, a hymnal, may be included; a copy of Shakespeare, a dictionary, some clever and interesting book, like Curious Questions, and a volume or two of sketches and essays, ranging in style from Emerson to Jerome K. Jerome, may agreeably fill the mid-day hour of rest which the guest takes in her room before dressing for the afternoon. The only trouble is that the guest who is made so thoroughly comfortable may forget to go home. At all events, she will no doubt hail with delight a second invitation to come.

It may be objected that to keep the guest-room supplied to this extent would involve a considerable expense; but that would depend on the character of the guest. No well-bred woman would depend on these "supplies" for the entire period of a long visit. They are there to meet the emergency of a belated trunk, of something forgotten or overlooked, or the delays in making necessary purchases after her arrival. She will gratefully accept the cologne until her own flask is unpacked, but she leaves the guest-room supply but little diminished when she departs.

The hostess who has been embittered by seeing only a train of empty bottles in the wake of a departing guest may naturally feel discouraged about offering unlimited hospitality in the matter of druggists' sundries. But it is merely that she has been unfortunate in her guests. She should revise her visiting list. In entertaining the right sort of people, she will have no such experience. She will be fully rewarded for every care she bestows to make her house a home-like resort, and she will find that the cost amounts to very little compared with the large return it brings in the way of social appreciation, to say nothing of the satisfaction afforded to her own benevolent impulses. "It is more blessed to give than to receive," as the ideal hostess can testify.


The responsibilities of a visit are not all on the shoulders of a hostess. The guest has also a duty in the matter.

The phrase of welcome quoted above is variously interpreted, if we may judge by the various ways in which the injunction is obeyed. To some people, "make yourself at home" is a free permit to take possession of everything on the premises; to cut the choicest roses in the garden, to call for the carriage at capricious will, to consult no one's comfort but their own, and to impose upon the polite forbearance of every one else, regardless—in short, to behave as no one can behave at home for any length of time without disrupting that home.

To make one's self at home is to adapt one's self to one's environment. If things are different from what we are accustomed to, we must try to accustom ourselves to them, and the mannerly guest will strive to do this, not as a cross, but as a pleasure. She will meet cordially the friends of her hostess who are introduced to her, however little they attract her; she will cheerfully accompany the family to their church, even though it be of a different faith from her own; and she will listen respectfully to the sermon, and refrain from ungracious criticism of the choir or the minister. She will take an interest in any local happenings that are of vital interest to her entertainers; she will show lively appreciation of everything done for her entertainment, even though it may be but a commonplace and dull affair, in her private judgment. She will measure her grateful duty to them, not so much by the degree of pleasure which they actually give her, as by the amount of effort which they obviously make. It is very ungracious for a guest of wide social experience to be apathetic when some unsophisticated little hostess offers what to her seems a novel treat, but which to her worldly-wise guest is a threadbare device. No matter if the device is threadbare; the spirit of kindness which prompts the effort is immortal; and though we have seen "rainbow teas" until we are weary of them, we will enter cheerfully into the spirit of this one, because our little hostess in the innocence of her heart has worked so hard to make it ready in our honor.

The guest should avoid giving extra trouble to the hostess, or to the servants. She may offer assistance when circumstances warrant her doing so, but must refrain from meddling with household matters when her help is evidently not desired. She should entertain herself easily when the hostess is otherwise busy, yet never seem to have any absorbing occupation that would prevent her from being ready at once to join the family in any project. If there are children in the house, she should be cordial and affectionate with them, without gushing insincerity or indiscreet petting, and she should not betray any annoyance if they are noisy and occasionally troublesome—as the best of children will be at times. She should aim to feel and act as though the interests and pleasures of the family were her own, and not make remarks that are tacit comparisons to their disadvantage. If there are glaring faults in the domestic management, it is not her province to correct them, except so far as a quiet example may be subtly influential, as it will be, if at heart she makes herself a part of the circle of sympathy. After her return to her own home, she should write a letter to her hostess, expressing the pleasure which the memory of her visit gives her, and gracefully thanking her friend for all that made the sojourn so restful and happy.

There is something singularly inspiring in the idea of "making one's self at home," in the sense of finding the value in every environment which fate, or chance, or Providence may place us in. And when, as welcome guests, we listen to this hearty greeting, we resolve that in all ways consistent with our duty to our entertainers, and with all grateful appreciation of their kindness to us, we will "make ourselves at home."


Every one theoretically admits the importance of early training. It is demonstrated in the animal and the vegetable kingdoms, wherever organic life unfolds and grows; and that the human child is no exception is promptly recognized in theory, however fatally practice ignores it.

Not that parents mean to ignore it; but there is a "happy-go-lucky" impression that somehow "he will come out all right;" that "as he gets older, his own good sense will assert itself," and so on. Happily, this is partly true. A native good disposition and good sense saves many a child from the ruin which an unwise course of training has done its best to precipitate. The wonder is that they "turn out" as well as they do. Perhaps Providence, in visiting its judgments, is lenient to the young and inexperienced parents, themselves undisciplined; to the helpless child, at the mercy of his blind guides.

There is too much negative, too little positive, in child-training; too much querulous reiteration of "don't," too little intelligent teaching how to do. Little children like to be "shown how;" they are fascinated with the games and gifts of the kindergarten, which aims to teach something, not to repress everything. Children are delighted to learn little polite phrases; to make a bow; to hold a fork daintily; to offer little courtesies, and to receive a smiling approbation. They would rather do things prettily than not. They are not "contrary," exceptional cases of hereditary ugliness aside. They are apt pupils, whether their tutor be a philosopher or a fool. And if a faulty example be a child's most constant and influential teacher, what wonder that the lessons, well-learned, are put in practice? And just then, if you listen, you will hear some one issue the emphatic but vacuous command, "Don't!" And the baby doesn't, for the space of a few seconds; after which, unable to get any new suggestions out of the idea-less instructions given him, he proceeds to do the same thing over, only to be again commanded to desist, a spanking for "disobedience" this time varying the monotony of the universal prohibition.

The profane poll-parrot is not a more startling witness to the character of its surroundings than the "terrible infant," whose rude snatchings, pert contradictions, and glib slang phrases are sure to be most effectively "shown off" in the presence of visitors. It is of little use to affect grieved surprise, or stern reprobation, when one's children are merely exhibiting their daily discipline. Most parents feel keenly the embarrassment of having the infant misbehave so inopportunely, and they are apt to offer a tacit apology and a vague self-defense by sharply reprimanding the child in words that are meant to give the visitor the idea that they—the parents—never heard or saw such conduct before, and are now frozen with amazement. The nonchalant or incredulous or impish way in which the children receive these reproofs only confirms the suspicion that such scenes have been frequent, and the discipline attending them has been inconsequent.

One parent I have heard acknowledge the truth of the matter. An elderly clergyman was his guest, and the four-year-old daughter of the house was entertaining the "grandpa" with a toy puzzle, which he fumbled with in vain, unable to put it together or to take it apart. Impatient at last, the little girl hastily snatched it from his hand with a childish growl of contempt, and proceeded to show him the trick, saying, with an airy mingling of criticism and condescension, "By Jove! your name is Dennis; you are not in it!" The old gentleman paused, instinctively prepared to hear the usual "Why, daughter! papa is astonished to hear his little girl," etc, etc., after the fashion of the parental hypocrite. But this candid young father met the dignified eyes squarely, and said promptly, "I'm sorry, Doctor, but there's no use denying it; she is just giving me away." He had the sense to recognize his own teaching, the honesty to admit it. Whether he has the discretion to reform his methods remains to be seen.

For right here is another point: that people think it is "cute" for a little child to say and do things that in a child a few years older would be most unattractively rude. But they must reflect that this same cute little child will soon be a few years older, and will carry into that riper age the fixed habits that are forming now; and it will not be so easy a task to transform the child's manners as it is to dress him in a larger suit of clothes.

A choice rose was grafted upon a wild, thorny stock, and planted beside a veranda trellis. The owner watched it carefully for a year or so, cutting down the rank shoots of the wild stock as they sprang aggressively from the root, allowing the grafted branch to grow in full luxuriance, bearing carmine clusters that filled the garden with spicy odor. The next spring an ignorant gardener pruned away the branches, cutting down the slenderest and leaving what to his unpracticed eye were the most desirable, because the thriftiest, shoots; and when the time of blossoms came, nothing appeared but the ragged petals of the wild thorn.

So, in "the rosebud garden of girls"—or boys. If the choice graft of cultured manners (for it is a graft on the sturdy but wayward stock of human nature) is left to be choked out by the rank, wild growth of impulse, or if by some flagrant error in example and discipline it is practically cut down at the main branch, what can the careless trainer expect? He may weep to find no velvet-petaled rose when he comes to look for it; but he has no right to blame the rose-bush, nor can he, at this late day, hide the tact of his blundering pruning by righteously affirming that he is "perfectly astonished." His neighbors, who have quietly noted the methods pursued in his kindergarten, are not in the least surprised.

Another resource for escaping blame is that of explaining that the children "learn these things at school." Presumably they do not mean from the teachers. It is "from the other children," who seem to be a most injurious class of society. It is their influence which makes our children so rude and so ungrammatical; and, strangely enough, though these other children never dine with our children, so subtle and far-reaching is their baleful influence that our children's defective manners at the table are directly traceable to the same evil source.

Granted, a measure of truth in the charge; for large mirthfulness and large imitation lead children to do things "just for fun," which all the time they know better than to persist in. But, as a fact, demonstrated by observation, a very small percentage of the children who are habituated to correct behavior at home are ever seriously affected by outside influences. A superficial effect may show in little things; but such lapses of speech or manner are transient, and in no degree control the development of the child when his home training is irreproachable. On the other hand, the efforts of an untiring teacher, laboring five hours a day to teach correct language and enunciation, may be of little permanent value, when the remaining hours of the day are spent in a home where the English grammar hourly meets a violent death.

And what is true of grammar is equally true of morals and manners. The school and society may be measurably influential; but the home casts the deciding vote. And when people note the manners—good or bad—of your boys and girls, they do not ask, "What school do they attend?" "What children do they associate with?" but, "Whose children are they?"

Would you have them mannerly? Teach them; by precept, certainly; but above all things, by example.


Henry the Fifth, of England, disposed of certain troublesome restrictions of etiquette by remarking that "nice customs curtsey to great kings:" but in the twentieth century, customs are more likely to curtsey to the common sense of the community at large.

City codes and country customs present some contradictious. The exact rules of etiquette in social formalities, which are derived from the established usage of fashionable circles in the city, are constantly subject to modifications when they are applied under the conditions found in rural neighborhoods. This is plainly illustrated in the comminglings of social "Young America." Whereas the city-bred girl is carefully chaperoned, the village girl of equal social standing, intrinsically speaking, is accustomed to go about unconcernedly, either alone or under the escort of some youth, with whom she makes engagements to drive, or walk, or row, or attend picnics, without either of them, as a rule, thinking it necessary to ask her mother to join them, or even to give her permission, that being taken for granted, since it has probably never been denied. And the question naturally arises, Why should it be denied, when the young man is a trusted chum of her brother, and as safe an escort for her as her own father would be? It is a very different case from the similar instance in the city, where the gallant is a comparative stranger, who may or may not be reliable, and where a conventional world is coldly looking on.

But, moreover, if this young country girl chooses, she goes alone to a little evening party a few doors away, or to the evening "meeting" at the village church, and this same youth, or some other one, escorts her home in an impromptu fashion. The young lady probably invites him into the house, if the hour is early and the family are still circled about the parlor lamp. Or, if it is late, she does not ask him in, but invites him to call. She does not thank him for his escort, unless it has been given at obvious inconvenience to himself or others, and is therefore not so much a matter of gallantry as of neighborly accommodation. In the latter case she does thank him frankly for his trouble.

When the young man calls to see her, she receives him with or without the presence of her mother or other members of the family. She may invite him to tea, with her mother's serene but passive approval; and, in fact, the goings and comings of these young people are more like the comradery of two girls than like the formal association of a young man and young woman in society.

We are accustomed to call such a code a country code, because of its almost universal following in small towns and villages. But similar freedom of association is also observed in city circles outside of the exclusive bounds of fashionable life. Indeed, some of the fashions called "countryfied" are equally "cityfied," if we judge by the extent of the usage. But what has been quite safe and sensible and refined in the particular instance in the country, may be a most unsafe freedom in the city, where every circle is constantly being invaded, more or less, by new-comers and by a floating contingent of transient people, whose record is not known even to the people who introduce them. The frank friendliness that is usually good form in the village circle is usually a great mistake in the city. It is better that young ladies, whether nominally chaperoned or not, should be guarded against making acquaintances too readily, especially among young men. If a young man is deserving of social recognition, let the young lady's mother grant it to him by inviting him to her house and permitting his association with her own young people.

A young girl should not extend these invitations to call unless she is well acquainted with the young man, or unless she gives the invitation in her mother's name, and with the understanding that he will be received by her mother as well as herself. Usually, the mother should be the one to extend the hospitality.

In the case of an unmarried woman who is no longer young, it is presumed that discretion will guide her as to when it is dignified and proper to give invitations to call, the conservative side being the safe side where strangers are concerned.

The ideal condition of Americanized chaperonage is far from being realized in the great mass of American society. A small and exclusive circle observes the English code in this matter; the rest of society ignore the whole idea—as an idea—though the thoughtful mother instinctively guards her daughter in a desultory way, perhaps meeting the spirit of the idea in the main, but flagrantly disregarding the letter of the formal code. The two extremes we have; but a real, systematic code of chaperonage that is not French, nor English, nor Spanish, but wholesome, sensible, thorough-going American mother's guardianship we are yet to see definitely carried out. The occasional instance of it which we now and then observe has taught us to appreciate what would be the happiest development in our social life, if once attained.

Meanwhile, the average American girl will probably continue to shine as the startling exception to the rule; and in her remarkable escapes from serious blunders, will continue to bear the palm for self-command and good sense. Her ability to ignore a law, while consciously cherishing all that the law was devised to protect, is a flattering indication of her mental and moral integrity. Even a dull-witted person can follow a set rule; it requires some genius to make a legitimate exception, and it also involves some temerity. It is like gathering mushrooms; perhaps they are edible, perhaps they are poisonous; for the various fungi look very much alike. If it happens to be right, it is right; if it happens to be wrong, it is sheer disaster.

A social code that borrows no artifice from foreign lands and institutions, but which, true to the spirit of our own country, guards the liberty of young girls on the one hand, while on the other it shields them from license, will be welcomed by all thoughtful people. The American chaperone is the coming woman. The girls of the next generation will rise up and call her blessed.


The question of the chaperone in America is peculiarly perplexing. The consternation of the hen whose brood of ducklings took to the water is a fit symbol of the horrified amazement with which an old-world "duenna" would be filled if she attempted to "look after" a bevy of typical American girls, with their independent—yet confused—ideas of social requirements in the matter of chaperonage.

In Europe, where social lines are distinctly drawn, a young woman either belongs "in society" or else she does not. In the former case she is constantly attended by a chaperone. In the latter case she is merely a young person, a working girl, for whom "society" makes no laws. In our country there is a leisure class of "society women," so recognized. If these alone constituted good society in America, we might simply adopt the European distinctions, and settle the chaperone question by a particular affirmative referring to these alone. But we reflect that our thoughts throughout this little volume are mainly for those who dwell within the broad zone of the average heretofore referred to. In this republican land no one can say that the bounds of good society lie arbitrarily here and there; certainly they are not marked by a line drawn between occupation and leisure. The same young girl—after leaving school, at the period when society life begins—may be "in society" during leisure hours and in business during working hours. It is accounted perfectly lady-like and praiseworthy for a young woman, well born and bred, to support herself by some remunerative employment that holds her to "business hours." She may be a teacher, an artist, a scribe, an editor, a stenographer, a book-keeper—what may she not do, with talent, training, and good sense? And she may do this without being one iota less a lady—if she is one to begin with.

Now appears the complication. As a business woman, the self-reliant young girl does not need a chaperone. As a society woman, this inexperienced, sensitive, human-nature-trusting child does need a chaperone. She is, therefore, subject to what we may call intermittent chaperonage. Business, definite, serious occupation of any kind, is a coat of mail. The woman or girl who is plainly absorbed in some earnest and dignified work is shielded from misinterpretation or impertinent intrusion while engaged in that work. She may go unattended to and from her place of business, for her destination is understood, and her purpose legitimate. She needs no guardian, for her capacity to take care of herself under these conditions, is demonstrated to a respectful public. The spectacle of a stately middle-aged woman accompanying each girl book-keeper to her desk every morning would be burlesque in the extreme. The girl who is thus allowed to go alone to an office in business hours, sometimes thinks it absurd for any one to say that she must not go alone to a drawing-room, and she does go alone. Right here this independent girl makes a mistake. It is granted that the girl with brains and principle to bear herself discreetly during office hours is probably able—in the abstract—to exercise the same good sense at a party.

But the conditions are changed to the eye of the onlooker. The girl who went to the office wearing the shield and armor of her work, now appears in society without that shield. To the observer she differs in no wise from the banker's daughter, who "toils not." Like the latter, she needs on social occasions the watchful chaperonage that should be given to all young girls in these conditions. The woman who is in society at all must conform to its conventional laws, or lose caste in proportion to her defiance of these laws. She cannot defy them without losing the dignity and exclusiveness that characterize a well-bred woman, and without seeming to drift into the careless and doubtful manners of "Bohemia." The fairy-story suggests the principle; Cinderella could work alone in the dust and ashes undisturbed; but the fairy-god-mother must needs accompany her when she went to the ball. In the best circles everywhere, at home and abroad, every young girl during her first years in society is "chaperoned." That is to say, on all formal social occasions she appears under the watch and ward of an older woman of character and standing—her mother, or the mother's representative. The young woman's calls are made, and her visits received, in the company of this guardian of the proprieties; and she attends the theatre or other places of amusement, only under the same safe conduct.

Society to the young girl is May-fair. With the happy future veiled just beyond, she goes to meet a possible romance, and to traverse a circle of events that may haply round up in a wedding-ring. It is of the utmost importance that she shall not be left at the mercy of accidental meetings, indiscreet judgments, and the heedless impulses of inexperienced youth, which may effectually blight her future in its bud. A parent or guardian does a girl incalculable injury in allowing her to enter upon society life without chaperonage, and the unremitting watch-care and control which only a discreet, motherly woman can give to girlhood. Men respect the chaperoned girl. Honorable men respect her as something that is worth taking care of; men who are not honorable respect her as something with which they dare not be unduly familiar—though they account it "smart" to be "hail fellow well met" with the girl who ignorantly goes about unattended, or with other unchaperoned girls, on social occasions. A girl must have an unusual measure of native dignity, as well as native innocence, always to escape the disagreeable infliction of either "fresh" or blasé impertinence, if she has no mother's wing to flutter under.

This absolute condition of chaperonage exists during the novitiate of the young society woman. The requirement grows less and less rigid as the young woman grows more and more experienced, and learns to meet social emergencies for herself. That delicate ignoring of a woman's age which is shown in calling her a "girl" until she is married also permits her to be a chaperoned member of society until that event. But when obviously past her youth, it is no longer required that she shall wear the demeanor of a débutante. Nor does propriety demand her mother's constant presence, when years of training have taught the daughter her mother's discretion, and when the mother's own serene dignity looks out of the daughter's eyes.

We are proud of the ideal American girl. I mean the one who is essentially a lady, whether rich or poor, the one whose sterling good sense is equal to her emergencies; the one who is self-reliant without being bold, firm without being overbearing, brainy without being masculine, strong of nerve—"but yet a woman." Let her be equipped for the battle of life, which in our state of society so many girls are fighting single-handed. Instruct her in business principles; teach her to use the discretion needed to move safely along the crowded thoroughfare and to follow the routine of the office or the studio, trusting that with busy head and busy hands she may be safe wherever duty leads her tireless feet. But in her hours of social recreation, when she will meet and solve the vital problems of her own personal life, she needs a subtle something more; the mother's wisdom to supply the deficiencies of her inexperience, the mother's love to enfold her in unspoken sympathy, the mother's approbation to rest upon her dutiful conduct like a benediction.

Let no young girl regard this watch-care as a trammel placed on her coveted liberty. On the contrary, she will find that she has far more social freedom with the countenance of her mother's presence than she could have without it. And in after years, when her life has developed safely and happily under this discreet leadership, she will look back to her début, and her first seasons in society, with profound gladness that—thanks to somebody wiser than herself—she has escaped the follies that have in more or less measure injured the prospects of her young friends who were too "independent" to submit to the restraints of chaperonage, and who, for lack of it, to-day find themselves to a relative extent depreciated in social estimation.


The proverb, "The beginning is half the battle," applies in a multitude of ways. In the first instant of a greeting between two people, the ground upon which they meet should be indicated. Cordiality, reserve, distrust, confidence, caution, condescension, deference—whatever the real or the assumed attitude may be, should be shown unmistakably when eyes meet and heads bend in the ceremony of greeting.

To put into this initial manner the essence of the manner which one chooses to maintain throughout is one of the fine touches of diplomacy. People fail to do this when their effusively gracious condescension subsequently develops into snobbishness, or when an austere stiffness of demeanor belies the friendliness which they really intend to manifest. The latter fault is often due to diffidence or awkward self-consciousness; the former is usually traceable to the caprice of an undisciplined nature, and is a significant mark of ill-breeding.

The vital part of a greeting is in the expression of the eyes. This is so nearly spontaneous that the most guarded cannot altogether veil the spirit that looks out of these "windows of the soul." The studied attitude and genuflection fail to hide surliness or contempt; and hostility, bitter and implacable, may reveal itself by the smoldering spark of anger in the eye, and destroy the effect of the most artful obsequiousness of manner. Since we cannot control this one impulsively-truthful medium of expression, it becomes a matter of policy as well as of morals to harbor no spirits whose "possession" of us would be an unpleasant and inconvenient revelation.

Next to the eyes, the pose of the figure indicates the sentiment of the moment. Arrogant assumption of superiority may be read in the expanded chest, the stiffened neck, and the head thrown backward at a decided angle; or, subservient humility is seen in the forward-bending head and the wilted droop of the shoulders. And again, the difference between a real humility and the artificial deference which gallantry prompts is easily detected. The gallant's head and shoulders are bowed, but not in meekness, for there is a certain tension in the controlled muscles that suggests that he can "straighten up" at will, whereas the really humble man appears to have no power to lift his bowed head or equally drooping spirit.

The bending of the head and trunk, or the "bow," is the final and most active exponent of the spirit of the greeting. In its degrees and gradations are marked the degrees of deference, real or formal.

The bow begins at the head, and may observe the following gradations:

It may be an inclination of the head only, differing from a "nod" in the dignity of movement.

The inclination may extend to the shoulders, causing a slightly perceptible forward leaning. This inclination may continue to the waist line.

The extreme inclination bends the entire trunk from the hips. The legs are straight and the feet near together, in the attitude of "position" in free gymnastics.

In every bow, of whatever gradation, the movement should be slow, the eye steady, the face serene, and the whole demeanor expressive of polite interest in the object. An averted eye is disrespectful, and suggests insincerity or treachery. Not that it always means either; the "drooping eyelash" is affected by many women as gracefully expressive of feminine modesty. It may be coquettish, but there is nothing particularly womanly in never looking a man in the eye. Search the face that confronts you, and learn what manner of man this is whom you are receiving into your company and fellowship. If he quails under the inquisition, so much the worse for him. If he is worth looking at, it is a pity to miss the sight. Moreover, we more than half suspect that a woman's face is more attractive if her eyes occasionally "look up clear," instead of allowing the downcast lids to hide all of their vivacity and expression.

The gayety or the gravity of the countenance may serve to measure the cordiality or the reserve which respectively distinguish two "bows"—exactly alike as to movement, and equally courteous, the one inviting confidence, the other repelling familiarity. The time, the place, and the occasion, and the mutual relations of people, decide the essential character of the appropriate bow. It must always be the exponent of the nature and disposition of the individual, and of his relation to the person whom he greets. No one has precisely the same manner for any two people of his acquaintance—that is, if he has any vital manner at all. We are to others largely what they inspire us to be, and only lifeless indifference reduces "manner" to one same automatic manifestation. The life of a social greeting is in its exclusive spirit, and though the variations of outward manner are difficult to trace, it is a graceful and flattering thing to make this specialty of manner felt in every greeting extended. Perhaps, after all, it is the eye that controls this, as the spirit within controls the eye.

In general, the manner of a greeting should be optimistic, free from ungracious suspicion, and indicating a cheerful willingness to take people at their best; and even when most sternly forbidding intrusiveness, it should appear that the repulse is for good cause, and is not merely the expression of a capricious and unfounded arrogance. The latter quality, quite as often as not, characterizes the manner of snobs toward people who are infinitely their superiors in all that indicates character and breeding.

The "curtsey"—or "courtesy"—is a feature of the minuet, and revived with the old-fashioned dance. It is a pretty bit of old-time grace, and is appropriate in responding to formal introductions and greetings in the drawing-room, especially when paying respect to elderly people. It is most effective when executed in a costume of voluminous draperies. It is a woman's ceremonial; no man ever "curtseys." The regulation "bow" is the only "deference" that gracefully combines with a dress suit.

The courtesy is a strictly formal obeisance, and the courtly reverence which it embodies is something more abstract than concrete, not necessarily inspired by the person to whom its deference is shown. Like all greetings exchanged in the midst of crowds or in public places, it is somewhat impersonal in manner. Personal recognitions and distinctions are reserved for more private occasions. One's greetings to fellow-guests at a reception are uniformly affable, irrespective of personal preferences. Though our dearest friend and our direst foe both be present, we must not pointedly discriminate between them; we are not at liberty to use the parlors of our host for either a lover's tryst or a duelling-ground.

A guest's first duty on entering a parlor or drawing-room is to pay his or her respects to the hostess and the ladies who are receiving with her. Gentlemen should also make it a point to find the host as soon as possible, and extend to him a similar courtesy. The host, in turn, when not receiving formally with the hostess, roams at large, giving a hospitable greeting to each lady among his guests.

In America, when a lady and gentleman meet, after being duly introduced, it is the lady's privilege to bow first. This rule protects her from the intrusion of an unwelcome acquaintance. But when the acquaintance is established and mutually agreeable, the rule is immaterial.

In general, the elder or the more distinguished person bows first. But if the one who for any reason would be the proper one to take the initiative is known to be near-sighted, and liable to overlook an acquaintance unintentionally, it is more polite for the other person not to stand on ceremony.

It is interesting to note that on the continent of Europe the rule regarding recognitions is exactly reversed. The subject bows first to the king, the courtier to the lady; deference to a superior, rather than social equality, being expressed by the bow.

One of the moot questions of the day is, "When is it proper to introduce people to each other?" The strictest etiquette forbids casual social introductions, or the introducing of any two people at any time without the consent of both parties. It is argued that people who meet in a drawing-room as fellow-guests are introduced, by that mere fact, sufficiently for the social purposes of the hour; and they may engage in conversation, if they choose, without the least hesitancy; both understanding that this interchange involves no acquaintance beyond the present occasion. By this arrangement an awkward silence is averted, and it certainly seems as if the chief argument in favor of "introducing people" is met; since, with "the roof" as their transient introduction, they are perfectly at ease without personal introductions. When people are used to this idea it is altogether the most sensible and agreeable solution of the question; but many social assemblies demonstrate that a large number of people are yet waiting to be introduced, and not without some feeling of resentment when this ceremony is neglected. Let it be understood that any one is at liberty to speak to a fellow-guest without an introduction; also, that such a "talk" does not warrant any subsequent claim of acquaintance. If in the course of this impromptu chat mutual interest is awakened, either one may later seek an introduction in due form through some common friend.

On informal occasions, when few guests are present, especially in country towns, it may be more kindly and social to give personal introductions; and the good sense of this idea, probably, is founded on the fact that under these conditions a hostess can be reasonably sure that the acquaintance will be congenial. To the villager many of the extreme rules of etiquette are unreasonable, because the conditions that enforce them in town life are not present in the life of the quiet hamlet. The rule regarding introductions is one which must be modified to suit circumstances. It is one of the cases when various delicate considerations may justify exceptions. The lady who in her city home introduces nobody, may in her country home introduce everybody, if that seems best. In the matter of delicate exceptions we observe the most significant display of tact.

When introductions are made, gentlemen should be presented to ladies, younger people to older people, etc. The formula for introductions may be abbreviated to a mere announcement of the two names: "Mr. Smith—Mrs. Jones"—the pause and inflection filling the ellipsis; and really, upon the tone and manner depends the courtesy of the introduction so barren of phrasing. A formal presentation is made in this form:—"Miss Smith, allow me to present Mr. Jones."

Tact suggests that a hostess shall avoid bringing uncongenial people together; but if this unfortunately happens through ignorance or thoughtlessness, tact with equal urgency requires that the guests thus inauspiciously mingled shall not allow any one, not even the hostess herself, to discover the mistake. The same rule which allows perfect strangers to be agreeably social for an hour, and then part as strangers yet, certainly will grant to enemies a similar privilege.

The woman who conscientiously, and perfectly, hides her personal animosities rather than mar the harmony of the social circle, is doing her part to keep the world in tune.

The offer of the social right hand of fellowship is a tacit recognition of equality. Hand-shaking is said to be an American habit. Certainly the social conditions in a republic are favorable to such a custom. It is a pity that a mode so adapted to express the warmth and loyalty of friendship should be indiscriminately employed in casual greetings. The pressure of the hand should mean more than it can mean, when, as now, it is bestowed with equal alacrity on life-long friend and recent acquaintance.

Fastidious and sensitive people are rather conservative in hand-shaking. Etiquette allows considerable latitude. It is proper and graceful, but not required, for two men to shake hands when introduced. A lady does not usually shake hands with a new acquaintance, unless the circumstances of the introduction make her responsible for allowing special cordiality, as when a person is introduced to her in her own house. A host and hostess shake hands with a guest; they may omit to shake hands with the same person when they meet him elsewhere.

Whatever one's personal impulse, it is polite to defer to the evident preference of another; and to shake hands heartily if a hand is cordially extended, or to refrain from proffering the hand when reserve is evident in the manner of the other person.

Hand-shaking as a conventional ceremony should be as impersonal and as void of significance as possible. The clasp of the hand should be firm but brief; not hasty, yet not prolonged; and the fingers should relax and loosen their hold at once, not dropping listlessly, nor retaining a lingering pressure. When a lady gives her hand to a guest she expects to get it back again almost immediately, and in an uncrushed condition. To hold another's hand until he or she is conscious of the detaining grasp is a liberty that only trusted friends may take.

At the same time, a hearty manner of greeting may be the fashion in some places; and to meet it otherwise than cheerfully would seem churlish, according to local standards. It is always well-bred—as well as politic—to conform to local customs so far as is consistent with dignity.

Another custom, gradually going out, is the woman's fashion of kissing effusively each woman-friend of her acquaintance. This senseless habit has no excuse for being. When kissing is the language of impulsive affection, etiquette has nothing to say about it except to demand that the general public shall not be called upon to witness the ceremony. Public thoroughfares and thronged social assemblies we not the proper places for such demonstrations. Nothing is less interesting than other people's kisses, unless it be the gushing recital of private affairs with which these unguarded people also entertain every stranger within earshot. When scenes like these are observed at railroad stations and on board of trains when demonstrative leave-taking is in progress, we may forgive the exhibition since the circumstances warrant more than usual impulsiveness and forgetfulness of surroundings. But when the most common-place meeting of acquaintances, who see each other every day, is attended with these phenomena, etiquette, as well as common-sense, enters a severe protest. The kiss, which should be the most exclusive symbol of friendship, becomes the most insignificant form of greeting.

It is not proper, according to strict etiquette, to give the kiss of greeting in public places; but when near relatives or cherished friends do choose thus to greet each other, the kiss should be exchanged unobtrusively and with dignity; conversation on private matters should be conducted in subdued tones, and a well-bred gravity—quite consistent with cheerfulness—should characterize the manner.

It would be well if every person in society should register a solemn resolution never to kiss anybody unless prompted to do so by the irresistible impulse of affection. It is safe to say that nine-tenths of the kisses of social greeting would be dispensed with. The quality of the remaining tenth would doubtless be proportionately improved.


People understand and "make allowances" for many things that, to say the least, are thoughtless in the behavior of people whom they know well. Not so "the general public," which measures every man's conduct by the strict law of propriety, and accredits him with so much intelligence and refinement as his manners display—no more. And, happily, no less; for this "general public" is a dispassionate critic on the whole, and if it severely condemns our faults, it has no grudge against us to keep it from equally appreciating our merits.

A "regard for appearances" is—and should be—a leading consideration when ordering one's conduct in public. It is not enough that we know ourselves to be above reproach; we must take care that the stranger who observes us gets no impression to the contrary. Friends who know her irresistibly mirthful disposition, may excuse the girl who laughs boisterously on the street-car; but she will not be able to explain to the severe-looking stranger opposite that she did not do this to attract attention.

Conduct in public should be characterized by reserve. The promenade, the corridors of public buildings—post-office, railway stations, etc.—the elevators and arcades of buildings devoted to shops and offices; museums and picture-galleries, the foyer of the theatre, and the reading-rooms of public libraries may all be regarded as thorough fares, where the general public is our observant critic. Greetings between acquaintances casually meeting in such places should be quiet and conventional; friends should avoid calling each other by name, and conversation should be confined to such remarks as one does not object to have accidentally overheard. Subdued, but natural, tones of voice should be used, and the manner should be perfectly "open and above board." Cautious whispering is conspicuous, sometimes suspicious, and always ill-mannered. If confidential matters are to be discussed, the office or the parlor is the proper place for the conference.

When acquaintances meet on the promenade, recognitions are exchanged by a slight bow, with or without a spoken greeting.

On the crowded walk, if two acquaintances pass and re-pass each other several times in the course of the same promenade, it is not necessary to exchange greetings after the first meeting.

Canes and umbrellas should not be carried under the arm horizontally, endangering the eyes and ribs of other pedestrians.

A man, when bowing, lifts his hat in the following instances:

When bowing to a lady.

When, walking with a lady, he bows to another man of his acquaintance.

When bowing to an elderly man, or a superior in office.

When bowing to a man who is walking with a lady.

When, walking with a lady, he joins her in saluting any gentlemen of her acquaintance, but strangers to himself; or, when walking with gentlemen, he joins them in saluting a lady of their acquaintance, but a stranger to himself.

When offering any civility (as a seat in the street-car), to a lady, whether a stranger or an acquaintance.

When bidding good-bye to a lady after an "open-air" conference, when the hat has been worn. Punctilious etiquette requires a man to stand with head uncovered in the presence of ladies, until requested to replace the hat. But in our changeable climate, the risk of "taking cold" suggests the good sense of wearing the hat out-of-doors, and allowing the graceful lifting of the same at greeting and parting to express all the deference that the uncovered head is meant to symbolize.

The greater the crowd, the shorter the range at which greetings are exchanged. One might "halloo" to an old acquaintance forty rods distant, down a country lane; but on Broadway he bows only to the ones whom he meets point blank.

If two friends meet and pause to shake hands, they should step aside from the throng, and not blockade the sidewalk. Ladies should make these pauses very brief, and beware of entering into exhaustive interchanges of family news. Two men may linger, if they choose, and hold a few moments' conversation. But if a man meets a lady, and wishes to chat with her, he should, after greeting her, ask permission to join her, and walk with her for a short distance; he should by no means detain her standing on the sidewalk. He should not accompany her all the way to her destination, nor prolong such a casual conversation beyond a few moments. He should leave her at a corner, and lift his hat respectfully as he bids her good-bye.

If several people walking together on a sidewalk of average width meet other groups of promenaders, both parties should fall into single line as they pass, allowing each group a fair share of the walk. This is especially incumbent when on a narrow crossing. It is very rude for groups of three or more to walk abreast without heeding the people whom they meet, and often crowding the latter off the curbstone. Young girls are sometimes very thoughtless in this matter. "Turn to the right, as the law directs" is an injunction that holds good for the crowded sidewalk.

If one, walking briskly, overtakes slower walkers ahead, and the crowd allows no space to get past them, one should watch for a chance to slip through a gap in the phalanx, rather than "elbow through." If no chance seems likely to occur, and haste is imperative, a polite man has no recourse but to step outside the curb and walk rapidly ahead, returning to the sidewalk a few paces in advance. A lady similarly hurried may slip through a small space, if one offers, with an apologetic "I beg pardon." But in no case should pushing be resorted to. It is very unmannerly for a party of loiterers to string themselves thus across the width of a sidewalk, and then saunter slowly, regardless of the fact that they are impeding the progress of busier people. A policeman should call their attention to the fact.

If the sidewalk is "blocked" by an orderly crowd, as it frequently is on the occasion of parades and other public demonstrations, a man may push his way through gently, saying, "I beg pardon" to those whom he is compelled to jostle. The fine breeding of a gentleman never shows more conspicuously than in his manner of getting through a crowd. The beauty of it is, or, perhaps, I might say, the utility of it is, that courtesy in such a case is very much more effective than "bluff," for the majority in an orderly crowd are inclined to be obliging, and quickly respond to a good-humored request; whereas, if one aggressive elbow begins to push, a hundred other elbows are set rigidly akimbo, and the solid mass becomes ten-fold more unyielding than before.

If accosted by a stranger with a request for information as to streets, directions, etc., one should kindly reply, and, if not able to give the desired information, should, if possible, direct the stranger where to make further inquiries. Cheerful interest in the perplexities of a bewildered sojourner in the city costs nothing and is always highly appreciated. Only a pessimist or a snob would dismiss such a question curtly.

If a lady's dress has been torn, or trimming or braid ripped and left trailing after contact with the nails in a packing-box on the sidewalk, or from some similar accident, it is polite to call her attention to the disaster. A gentleman may do this with perfect propriety if he sees that she is not aware of it. He should preface the information with "Pardon me," and should lift his hat, as always when offering any civility.

When attending to business at banks, post-office, railroad ticket-offices, etc., one should pay no attention to other people, further than to guard against allowing one's absorbing interest in one's own affairs to make one regardless of the just rights of others in the matter of "turn" at ticket or stamp windows, or in the use of the public desk, pens, etc.—trifling tests of good manners that distinguish the well-bred, and which illustrate very pointedly the truth that selfishness is always vulgar, and that an unfailing habit of considering other people's comfort is a mark of gentle breeding.

A lady should say "Thank you" to a gentleman who gives up a seat to her in a street-car or other public conveyance, where, having paid for a seat, he has a right to it, and his voluntary relinquishment of it is a matter of personal courtesy on his part. The woman who slides into a place thus offered without acknowledging the obligation is very thoughtless, or else she has erroneous ideas of how far chivalry is bound to be the slave of selfishness. If the lady is accompanied by a gentleman, he, too, should say "Thank you," and lift his hat. He should also be thoughtful not to take the next vacated seat himself without first offering it to the polite stranger.

A young woman, strong and well, may properly give up her seat to a fragile woman, or a mother with a baby, or to an elderly man or woman.

Young ladies of leisure, who are not weary, should not be too ready to "oust" tired clerks and laboring men whose ride home at six o'clock is their first chance to sit down, for ten hours. A gentleman is chivalrous; and there is a corresponsive quality in a lady, which makes her delicately sensitive about unjustly imposing on that chivalry, or which, in emergencies of sickness or disaster, enables her to be the chivalrous in spirit, and bear on her slender shoulders the burden that is temporarily dropped when some stroke of Providence lays the strong man low.

On the other hand, there are women of coarse fibre, who imagine that they vastly increase their own importance by being selfishly exacting in the matter of men's self-sacrificing attentions. They may browbeat the men who are in their power; but, outside of this narrow world of their own, they are held in thorough contempt by the very men whose admiration they had hoped to gain by their aggressive and ill-tempered demands.

Men who smoke on the street should avoid the crowded promenade, where ladies "most do congregate;" since it is nearly impossible to avoid annoying some one with the smoke.

In most towns, the Board of Health ordinance forbidding spitting on floors, sidewalks, etc., is not only a hygienic safe-guard, but a much needed enforcement of good manners. Comment is superfluous.

Based upon an idea borrowed from olden days—that the right arm, the "sword arm," should be free for defense—a custom formerly prevailed for a man, walking with a lady, to place her always at his left side. Then later—also with some idea of shielding her from danger—it was the custom for a man to walk next to the curbstone, whether it happened to be left or right. This is still the rule, unless the sidewalk is crowded; in which case a man walks at the side next the opposing throng, in order to shield a lady from the elbows of the passers-by.

Authorities are divided on the subject of elevator etiquette, some denouncing in round terms the man who is so rude as to keep his hat on in an elevator where there are ladies; arguing that the elevator is a "little room," an "interior," not a thoroughfare. Others are equally emphatic in asserting that the elevator is a thoroughfare, merely; and that hats are not to be removed, except under the same conditions that would call for their removal in the street—as the greeting of acquaintances, or the exchange of civilities. The good sense of this view is apparent. A hat held in the hand in a crowded elevator is sure to be in the way, and liable to be crushed. A gentleman who wishes to compromise between stolid ignoring of the ladies who are strangers, and superfluous recognition of their presence, may lift his hat and replace it immediately, when a lady enters the elevator, or when he enters an elevator where ladies already are. Such a courtesy differs from a greeting in this: a stranger offering this elevator civility does not look at the lady, nor does he bend his head; and his lifted hat is an impersonal tribute to the sex. A lady makes no response to such a courtesy; yet there is in her general bearing a subtle something, hard to describe, but which every gentleman will readily recognize, that shows whether or not she observes and appreciates his little act of deference. The atmosphere of good manners may be as invisible as the air about us; but we know when we are breathing it.

During a promenade in the day-time, a lady does not take a man's arm unless she is feeble from age or ill-health, and needs the support. In the evening, a gentleman walking with a lady may offer her his arm. On no account should a man take a woman's arm. This is a disrespectful freedom, that might be supposed to be the specialty of the rustic beau, if it were not so frequently observed in city thoroughfares.

The "cut direct" is the rudest possible way of dropping an acquaintance; and is allowable only in the case of some flagrant offender who deserves public and merciless rebuke. Ordinarily, the result sought—of ending an undesired acquaintance—is attained by a persistently cold courtesy, supplemented by as much avoidance as possible; drifting apart, not sinking each other's craft without warning.

As crowds are distracting, and people bent on their own errands are often oblivious of their surroundings, it is quite possible for a seeming cut to have been an unconscious oversight. When an acquaintance seems not to see one, though close at baud, it is possible that something closer yet to his consciousness is absorbing all his thoughts. Only clear and unmistakable evidence of intention should lead one to infer a slight. It is not only more polite, but more self-respecting, to "take offense" slowly.


At the theatre or opera, at concerts, or popular lectures, at "commencements," and other prosperous and happy public entertainments, a certain gayety of manner may be in harmony with the occasion; but it should be under control, a smiling cheerfulness, not a free-and-easy jollity. Before the play, or the programme, begins, social conversation is usually allowable in quiet tones that do not disturb the surrounding people. A gentle hum of lively voices is not an unpleasant overture on such occasions. But the moment the orchestra begins, if at the theatre, or the instant that the meeting is called to order by any initial feature of the programme, silence should fall upon the assembly, and not a whisper be heard. Polite attention should be given to each feature of the hour. Programmes should be folded and arranged for easy reference before the exercises begin, so that no rustling of papers shall mar the effect of the music, or interfere with the speakers or listeners. The noisy handling of programmes is a most exasperating exhibition of thoughtlessness, and can easily be avoided by a little caution.

It should be accounted a matter of good form not to be late in arriving at the theatre, opera, etc. People sometimes think that because their seats are secured by their ticket-coupons, it makes no difference whether they are in their places before the curtain rises or not. But it is inconsistent for people who would be thought to be well-mannered, to inflict on others so much annoyance as is the result of coming late and making a commotion arranging seats, etc., after a drama is in progress, or a lecture or concert begun. When this happens, it should be the rare and unavoidable accident of detention, not the habitual and perhaps even ostentatious custom that it seems to be with some people. The noise about the swing-doors, and the rustle in the aisles, the banging of hinged seats, and the occasional parley with the usher, render the seats under the galleries practically valueless during the first half of the performance, since the speakers cannot be heard in the midst of the confusion. The "sense" of the opening act being lost, the entire play is marred simply because forty or fifty people are ten or fifteen minutes late. If managers would combine and agree to order the doors closed several minutes before the performance begins, it would soon remedy the trouble, and a host of patrons would applaud their course. The most aggravating thing about annoyances of this kind is that they are inflicted by the very few, and suffered by the very many.

In crowded theatres and lecture halls, heavy coats and wraps must be disposed within each owner's own territory. They should not lie over the top of the seat or bulge over into the adjoining seats to encroach upon other people. Nor should the owner of a big overcoat double it up into a cushion and sit upon it, to raise himself six inches higher, to the disadvantage of the person seated back of him—a selfish preparation to see the sights which we sometimes observe, even in the parquet centre.

The fashion, now almost universal, of removing hats at all spectacular entertainments, does away with what was formerly a conspicuous source of annoyance. For awhile this downfall of view-obstructing millinery promised a "square deal" to the occupants of the back rows. But of late vanity has re-asserted itself in the guise of elaborate hair-dressing, until the aigrette and the bow have become as great an imposition as was their predecessor, the flaring hat. This evasion of the issue will be more difficult to control by public prohibition. It remains for the polite woman to avoid adopting, for such occasions, the towering head-dress that evokes not admiration but execration from the people seated behind her. No woman need risk annoying others in order to be attractive herself; there are numerous styles that are both unobtrusive and becoming. Moreover, the woman in good society has ample opportunity to exhibit her elaborate coiffure at private social functions.

People who wish to leave the theatre between the acts should make it a point to secure end seats and not scrape past half a dozen other people three or four times during the performance. If it is necessary to trouble other people to rise and step aside to allow one to take or to leave his seat, the person thus obliged should preface the action with "I beg pardon," or "May I trouble you to allow me to pass;"—and should acknowledge the obligation by saying "Thank you." This may not lessen the inconvenience to other people, but it may mollify the feeling of irritability that such things naturally arouse.

It ought to be superfluous to say that talking aloud, or continuous whispering during the progress of a play or opera or concert, usually on topics foreign to the occasion, is a rudeness to the performers and a bold impertinence to the rest of the audience. Some people are guilty of this insolence wittingly and unblushingly. For such we have no word of advice. Such instances should be met by something more effective than "gentle influence." But many, especially young people, talk and laugh thoughtlessly, and from mere exuberance of animal spirits. It is to be hoped that on pausing to reflect they will carefully avoid forming a habit of public misbehavior that will ultimately rank them in the social scale as confirmed vulgarians. An intelligent listener never interrupts. Between the scenes of a play, or the successive numbers of a concert programme, there are pauses long enough for a brief exchange of comment between two friends who are sharing an entertainment, and they may enjoy the pleasure of thus comparing notes without once disturbing the order of the time and place.

At a spectacular entertainment, it is very rude for those in front to stand up in order to see better, thus cutting off all view for those back of them. The disposition to do this is very strong in rural audiences, where the flat floor of the school-house or hall gives little chance for the observers seated back of the first few "rows." But one may better lose part of the "tableau" on the stage than to furnish another one on the floor of the house.

At a lecture, a special personal respect is due to the speaker. This is shown by a courteous attention and a general demeanor of interest and appreciation. If applause is merited, it should be given in a refined manner. The stamping of the feet is coarse, and the pounding of the floor with canes and umbrellas is as lazy as it is noisy. The clapping of hands is a natural language of delight, and, when skillfully done, is an enthusiastic expression of approbation. Some effort is being made to substitute the waving of handkerchiefs as a symbol of approval or greeting to a favorite speaker, but it is quite probable that this silent signal will not take the place of the more active demonstration of clapping the hands, except on very quiet and intellectual occasions.

Shall ladies join in applause? As a matter of fact, women seldom applaud, but not because propriety necessarily forbids; it is chiefly because the tight-fitting kid glove renders "clapping" a mechanical impossibility. Feminine enthusiasm is quite equal to it at times, as, for instance, when listening to a favorite elocutionist or violinist. There is no reason why ladies may not "clap," if they can. It certainly is quite as lady-like and orderly as for them to give vent to their enthusiasm, as many do, in audible exclamations of "Too sweet for anything!" "Just too lovely!" etc., all of which might have been "conducted off" at the finger-tips if hand-clapping had been a feasible medium of expression.

Applause may be a very effective and graceful exponent of gentlemanly appreciation if given with discrimination; but if too ready and frequent, it ceases to have any point, and becomes commonplace. While a man of taste will applaud heartily on occasion, he will refrain from extravagant and continuous clapping.

The observance of the proprieties of time, place, and occasion are nowhere more urgent than at church. Much of the liberty that is granted on secular occasions is entirely out of place in church.

While quiet greetings may be exchanged at the church door, or in the outer vestibules, before and after service, it is not decorous to chat sociably along the aisles, or hold a gossiping conference in whispers with some one in the neighboring pew. I have in mind one woman, who ought to have known better, whose sibilant utterances—just five pews distant—came to be a regular part of the five minutes' pause immediately before the service began. Her conversation was usually directed to another woman, who, likewise, should have known better than to listen. The silent vault of the church roof echoed to the vigorous whispering up to the instant that the clergyman began, in low monotone, "The Lord is in His holy temple"—a fact which the whisperer had obviously forgotten—"let all the earth keep silence before Him"—an injunction which she never seemed to be able to remember from week to week.

It is one of the worst violations of good form to behave with levity in church. To devout people the church is the place for meditation and prayer, and nothing should be allowed to disturb the restful calm that is sought within its sacred walls. A well-bred agnostic will respect the religious sentiments of other people, whatever his own beliefs or disbeliefs in matters theological. If no higher law is recognized, at least every one will regard the etiquette of the case, which requires that the demeanor of every one within the walls of the church shall be reverent.

It is proper to dress plainly and neatly for church; to enter the portal quietly, to walk up the aisle in a leisurely but direct way, and be seated at once with an air of repose. If cushions or books require rearranging, it should be done with as little effort as possible. Every movement should be quiet, and the rattling of fans and of books in the rack, and "fidgeting" changes of position should be avoided. The movements in rising, sitting, and kneeling should be deliberate enough for grace, and cautious enough to avert accidents, like hitting the pew-railings, knocking down umbrellas, or kicking over footstools. No sounds but the inevitable rustle of garments should attend the changes of posture during the service. Not unfrequently several canes and as many hymn-books clatter to the floor with each rise of the congregation, because of somebody's nervous haste. Children are often responsible for these little accidents, and of course are excusable, but they should be early taught to observe caution in these little matters.

The clergyman should have the undivided attention of his hearers. During the lesson and the sermon, one should watch the face of the reader, or speaker, and give to the minister all the inspiration that an earnest expounder may find in the face of an intelligent listener. It is probably thoughtless, not intentional, disrespect—but still disrespect—for a person to spend "sermon time" studying the stained-glass windows or the symbolical fresco, interesting as these things may be.

The singing of the choir may be good; if so, one should not listen to it with the air of a connoisseur at a grand concert. Or the singing may be very poor; that fact should not be emphasized by the scowling countenance of the critic in the pews. A mind absorbed in true devotion does not measure church singing by secular standards. The spirit may be woefully lacking in the most artistic rendition: it may be vitally present in the most humble song of worship. While we may with righteous indignation condemn the sacrilege of a spiritless or irreverent singing of the sublime service of the church, it is very bad form to sneer at the earnest and sincere work of a choir whose "limitations," in natural gifts or culture, render their work somewhat commonplace. It is good form to respect all that is honest in religion, and to reserve sharp criticism for the shams and hypocrisies that cast discredit on the church.

A regular "pew-owner" in a church should be hospitable to strangers, and cheerfully give them a place in his pew, offering them books and hymnals, and aiding them to follow the service if they seem to be unaccustomed to its forms. At the same time it is only fair to say that this duty becomes a heavy tax on generosity and patience when, as in some very popular churches, a floating crowd of sight-seers each Sunday invade the pews, to the serious discomfort of the regular occupants. People who attend church as strangers should remember that they do so by courtesy of the regular attendants. A broad view of the church opening its doors to all the world is theoretically true, but practically subject to provisos. A church visitor who observes much the same care not to be intrusive which good form would require him to observe if visiting at a private house, will usually be rewarded with a polite welcome.

The stranger attending church should wait at the foot of the aisle until an usher conducts him to a seat, as the usher will know where a stranger can be received with least inconvenience to others in the pew. The stranger should not take possession of family hymn-books, or fans, or select the best hassock, or otherwise appropriate the comforts of the pew, unless invited to do so by the owner, whose guest he is, in a sense. If attentions are not shown him, he must not betray surprise or resentment, nor look around speculatively for the hymn-book that is not forthcoming. If the service is strange to him, he should at least conform to its salient forms, rising with the congregation, and not sitting throughout like a stolid spectator of a scene in which he has no part.

The head should be bowed during the prayers, and the eyes at least cast down, if not closed. To sit and stare at a minister while he is praying is a grotesque rudeness worthy of a heathen barbarian, yet one sometimes committed by the civilized Caucasian. The incident may escape the knowledge of the well-mannered portion of the congregation, who are themselves bowed in reverent attitude; but the roving eye of some infant discovers the fact, and it is at once announced; and worst of all, the child unconsciously gets an influential lesson in misbehavior in church from the "important" man who thus disregards the proprieties.


Physical culture may be a "fad," but its aesthetic results are conceded.
The graceful control of the body is the basis of a fine manner.

It is an opinion of long standing that children should be taught to dance in order to develop grace of movement. Yet dancing, merely, gives but a limited training of the muscles compared with the all-round exercise now taken in gymnasiums and classes for physical culture. It is recommended that all who are deficient in "manner," or who suffer an embarrassing self-consciousness because of their awkwardness of pose or movement, should take a course of training under an intelligent teacher, until every muscle learns its proper office. With the self-command which this training gives, ease of manner and dignity of bearing follow naturally; to say nothing of the serenity of mind that lies back of all this pleasing exterior.

The effect of this bodily grace is to prepossess the beholder. First impressions are received through the eye. Before a word is spoken, the pose and carriage convey a significant announcement of character and breeding.

A thorough practical knowledge of elocution and constant application of its principles to conversational utterances are requisite to refined speech. Errors in pronunciation, hasty and indistinct enunciation, the dropping out of entire syllables in curt phrasing, are common faults of careless people who know better, and who would be very much chagrined to find themselves accounted to be as ignorant as their speech might indicate them to be.

A varied vocabulary used with discrimination indicates intelligence and culture. A single word uttered may reveal grace, or betray awkwardness. In the social interchange, one must not only suit the action to the word, but equally suit the word to the action. Careless speech often belies civil intentions.

Say "Thank-you," not "Thanks,"—a lazy and disrespectful abbreviation. If you say "Pardon me," let your manner indicate a dignified apology. "I beg your pardon," is sometimes only the insolent preface to a flat and angry contradiction. In most phrases of compliment, the words derive their real significance from the manner of the speaker.

There is a difference of opinion as to whether people of social equality should add "Sir" and "Ma'am" to the responses "Yes" and "No"; and especially, whether children should be taught to do so. The English fashion—largely copied by Americans—does not favor it. Certainly, children can learn to say "Yes" and "No" with the courteous manner that implies all that the added "Sir" might convey. But, are not some young Americans too ready to take advantage of this permitted lapse of verbal deference? And, back of the verbal lapse is there not a distinct lapse of the deference itself? It might be well to begin to counteract this irreverent tendency of the age, by cultivating a more respectful and appreciative spirit. Then, the polite word will come spontaneously to the lips. It will be a matter of morals, essentially: of manners, incidentally.

Deplorable as a heedless curtness of speech is, it is hardly more unpleasant than the artificial mincing of words that some children are drilled into (or learn by imitation of their elders). This superficial effusiveness, supposed to be "pretty" manners, is related more to subjective vanity than to objective courtesy. Not allowed to say "Sir," they substitute the name or title of the person addressed,—which, when introduced occasionally and unobtrusively, is a graceful personal recognition; but when overdone, as too often observed, the constant iteration of "Yes, Mr. Brown,"—"No, Mrs. Black," etc., grows to be a maddening exposition of precocious affectation.

Having observed the vagaries of this fashion in phrasing for several years, I have come to the conclusion that the plain "Sir" of former times,—which, to the "well-brought-up" child, was a practical application of the Fifth Commandment,—is much to be preferred to the fussy elaboration of personal address that has superseded it. Indications at present are, that the old-fashioned "Sir" and "Madam" are coming into their own again, among truly courteous people.

But whatever the fickle fashion of the hour may be, it is important to enforce the truth that the spirit of words and deeds is the essence of good manners. If this right spirit be lacking, no words can fill the blank. If an ugly spirit dwells within, no word of compliment can veil its evil face.

But though the good spirit be there, with all its generous impulses and kindly feeling, it needs the concrete expression; otherwise, its very existence may remain unknown. "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly." Pose, bearing, facial expression, the winning smile,—all these are silently eloquent; but, to convey the perfect message from soul to soul, there must be added the "word fitly spoken."


A theme for a volume! Briefly, it is the mark of a well-disciplined mind to be able to meet all emergencies calmly. Though china break, and gravy spill, the hostess and the guest must not allow the accident to ruffle their perfect serenity of manner. Nor is it merely a point of etiquette to be thus self-controlled. Serious accidents sometimes happen, like the igniting of fancy lamp-shades or filmy curtains, and then the calm poise of a well-bred man becomes of practical value to himself and others. A habit of keeping cool—formed originally for good manners' sake—may save one's life in some crisis of danger.

Control of temper is one of the most valuable results of training in the etiquette of calm behavior. Manifestations of ill-temper may be the occasional outburst of a spirit that dwells under the shadow of an ancestral curse, but which in its better moments grieves in sackcloth and ashes over its yielding to wild, ungovernable impulse. Such people are often generous and self-sacrificing in the main, though causing so much sorrow and disaster to others by these occasional whirlwinds of passion. In all that delicacy of feeling and usual regard for "the amenities" indicate, they are "well-bred." To say that they are not is as ungenerous as to criticise the conduct of the insane. But habitual, cold-blooded, and willful ill-temper—the trade-mark of unmitigated selfishness—is indisputably ill-bred. Whatever the tendency, temperament, or temptation, good form requires the cultivation and the exhibition of good humor and a disposition to take a cheerful and generous view of people and things.

This calm serenity does not mean weakness or moral cowardice. The dignity that forbids one to be rude also forbids one to endure insolence. A gentleman may scathe a liar in plain unvarnished terms, and yet not lose a particle of his own repose of manner; and the higher his own standards are, the more merciless will be his denunciation of what he holds to be deserving of rebuke. But through it all, he has his own spirit well in hand, under curb and rein. The ominous calm of a well-bred man is a terror to the garrulous bully. It is "the triumph of mind over matter."

Next to the etiquette of self-control—and, if anything, harder to comply with—is the etiquette of forbearance, which is often overlooked; for people who have high standards themselves are apt to be intolerant of gross offenders against social rules. Those who by inheritance or by culture are blessed with a logical mind and an equable temper, should be lenient in judging cruder people, whose dense ignorance aggravating their malicious intent, causes them to do astounding violence to the principles of morality and etiquette alike, by exhibitions of ugly temper. Only by making allowances can the conduct of some people be accounted less than criminal.

Let all reflect that it is impossible to be a lady, or a gentleman, without gentle manners.


Perfect congruity is the secret of successful dressing.

The first harmony to be observed is that between the dress and the wearer's purse. Good form considers not merely what can be paid for without "going in debt," but what can be purchased without cramping the resources in some other direction and destroying the proper balance of one's expenditures. The girl who uses a month's salary to buy one fine gown, and denies herself in the matter of needed hosiery to make up for the extravagance, is "dressing beyond her means," and is violating good form in so doing. A simple gown that allows for all suitable accessories is always lady-like.

The second point of harmony is the appropriateness of dress to the occasion when it is worn.

Dinners, balls, and formal receptions are occasions that call for handsome dress. This may range in cost to include some very inexpensive but artistic costumes, the quality of good style not being confined to the richest fabrics. But the inexpensive gown should have a character of its own, and not be suspected of any attempt to imitate its priceless rivals.

The degree of full-dress worn at dinner varies with the formality of the occasion and the fashions prevailing in the social circle represented. On very grand occasions a very rich and stylish costume may be required. In general, a lady wears her choicest silk or velvet gown at a dinner. The intrinsic value of the fabric is more important in dinner dress than in dress worn on other occasions, since the company are few in number and thrown into close proximity, where leisurely observation and criticism are inevitable. A gown that would pass muster in a crowd, may not stand the calm scrutiny of the dinner-table fourteen. The style of cut and the trimmings of a dinner gown may be as severely plain or as voluminously dressy as the character of the occasion and the personnel of the company may indicate and the wearer's instinctive sense of propriety may suggest.

A ball or a formal reception in the evening is a time to display one's prettiest gowns and all the jewels which one possesses. Fabrics of infinite variety, from velvet and brocade to diaphanous tissues, are suitable; and the possibilities in trimmings, in lace and flowers and jeweled ornaments, are unlimited. In the fancy costumes suitable for these showy occasions there is wide opportunity for the ingenious girl to make herself bewitching without greatly depleting her purse. The most becomingly dressed woman is not always the most expensively dressed. General effect strikes the eye of the observer who has not time to study special quality in the kaleidoscopic scene presented by the ball-room or reception throng.

At an afternoon tea, the hostess should dress richly enough for dignity, but without ostentation. As on all occasions, a woman should never be over-dressed in her own house. Her gown should not be so gorgeous that any one of her guests, even the poorest, need feel embarrassed by the contrast.

If several ladies join the hostess in receiving, they wear handsome reception toilets. Other guests come in ordinary walking dress, but it should be stylish and well-kept. A "second-best" gown, though neat enough for informal calls, may not be elegant enough for a tea or for formal visiting. But if a lady's means are limited, and her well-preserved old gown is the best that she can command, perfect neatness and a delicate disposal of lingerie will disguise the ravages of time, and make the "auld cla'es look a'maist as weel's the new."

Indeed, effective dressing, ultimately resolved, is a matter of refined ingenuity. As David, subtly endued with power, with a smooth stone from the brook vanquished the armor-clad Philistine giant, so the woman with a genius for the artistic details of dress, even though it be a last-year's gown, may triumph over another who has blindly clad herself according to the latest conventional pattern, but without regard to what is becoming to herself.

Happy the woman whose bank account permits her to give perfect expression to her taste. Not so happy, but still happy, the woman whose taste meets the emergency, despite a slender purse. But oh! most miserable the woman of stolid, unimaginative nature, whose luxurious wardrobe suggests nothing but the dollar-mark.

Not that I advance the poetical idea of "sweet simplicity" always and everywhere. Not that the rich gown is in itself objectionable, or the inexpensive dress intrinsically beautiful. It is not invariably true that "beauty unadorned is most adorned." It is not true that a "simple calico" is more charming than a sheeny silk, nor is cotton edging to be compared with point or duchess lace.

But the really beautiful in dress, as before stated, lies in its perfect congruity. According to this standard, the calico is sometimes more effective than the silk, and vice versa; and neither is effective if worn at inappropriate times, or under unsuitable conditions.

Fashion is daring, and every now and then announces some startling innovation in the way of gay street-dress. But the public sentiment of refined people is so definitely fixed in favor of quiet dress for public thoroughfares that these "daring" fashions soon become the sole property of the ignorant class.

Dress for church, or for business, should be plain in design, and subdued in color; and for most occasions when a lady walks to pay visits or calls, a plain tailor-made costume is most suitable. Carriage dress may be gayer in colors, and more dressy in style of cut and trimmings.

When a party of ladies attend the theatre, unaccompanied by a male escort, or with no conveyance but the street-car, ordinary walking costume, with quiet bonnets or hats, is correct style. Box parties, presumably arriving in carriages, may dress as prettily as they choose, subject to the general laws of taste.

A woman should not mix up her wardrobe, and wear a theatre bonnet to church, or carry a coaching parasol to a funeral.

Black, or very subdued colors, should be worn to a funeral.

Any color, except black, may be worn by a guest at a wedding. Black lace may be used in the trimmings of rich-colored gowns (though white lace is preferable); but solid black is not allowable. Women who are wearing mourning sometimes lay it aside to attend a wedding, substituting a lavender or violet gown, or, in some places, a deep red, usually in some rich fabric, as velvet or plush.

The etiquette of wearing mourning is less rigorous than formerly. The tendency is more and more to leave the matter to individual feeling. When the mourning garb is adopted, the periods of wearing are shorter, and the phases of change from heaviest to lightest are fewer and less punctilious.

Whether a full mourning dress of crêpe be worn, or not, it is generally conceded that it is more respectful to wear plain black than to appear in colors during the months immediately following the death of a near relative. The length of time that mourning dress should be worn is a matter of taste; but it should not be laid aside too soon, as though the wearing were an unpleasant duty; nor should it be worn too long, for the sombre robe has a depressing effect on others, especially invalids and children.

Those who prefer to follow a strict law of etiquette in mourning will observe the following rules:

A widow wears deep mourning of woolen stuffs and crêpe for two years.

Similar mourning is worn one year for a parent, or a brother or sister.

For other near relatives, from three to six months, according to degrees of relationship, is considered a respectful period for mourning.

A man's wife wears the same degrees of mourning for his near relatives that she would wear for members of her own family.

In all cases, the mourning should be "lightened" by degrees. Plain black silk, without crêpe, and trimmed with jet, belongs to a secondary period. Changes are made gradually through black and white combinations, before colors are again worn.

During the period of heavy mourning, it is not proper to attend the theatre or opera, or other gay place of amusement; nor to pay formal visits, or attend receptions, except it may be the marriage of a near friend, for which occasion the mourning dress is temporarily laid aside.

As a matter of respect, no invitations of a gay social character are sent to the recently afflicted. After three months, such invitations may be sent; of course, not with any expectation that they will be accepted, but merely to show that, though temporarily in seclusion, the bereaved ones are kindly remembered.

For men the etiquette of mourning is less conspicuous but equally formal as far as it goes. The periods of wearing mourning are usually shorter than those observed by women in similar cases, probably because the life of business men is not confined to the social world, and its restrictions are less binding upon them in details.

At the funeral of a near relative, a man wears black, including gloves, and a mourning band around his hat. Subsequently he may continue to wear black for several months, or, if this is not feasible, the hat-band of bombazine is accounted a sufficient mark of respect. The width of the band may be graduated, sometimes covering the surface to within an inch of the top, sometimes being only two or three inches wide.

As to the etiquette of men's dress in general, the tale is soon told. The "dress-suit" is worn only at dinner and in the evening. At any hour after six o'clock, a man may with propriety appear anywhere in a dress suit, though it is required only on formal occasions. Before dinner, morning dress is worn—the frock coat, or a business suit with its four-buttoned cut-away. As to the minute details of cut and dimensions, the prevailing style of linen and ties, etc.—very appropriately called "notions"—these things vary from season to season. The well-dressed man will consult his tailor and furnisher. Hats, boots, and gloves, the extremes of every perfect costume, are important exponents of good style; and careful attention to their choice and wearing is essential to complete and effective dressing.


Neatness in personal habits is the first mark of good breeding that strikes the observer. Not that a dandy is always a gentleman; but an habitual sloven cannot be. The clothing worn at work may be unavoidably soiled; as also the hands, when occupations involve the handling of dirty substances. But "a little water clears us of this deed; how easy is't then!"

The neatly-dressed hair, the fresh clean skin, the well-kept teeth, the smooth polished nails, the spotless linen and the tasteful tie, the well-brushed clothing and the tidy boots, are all points of good form in personal appearance.

The toilet once made should be considered finished. The hands should not stray to the hair to re-adjust hair-pins—an absent-minded habit. The nervous toying with ear-rings or brooches, or dress buttons, is another mannerism to be guarded against. The hands should learn the grace of repose. It is a great triumph of nervous control for a woman to hold her hands still when they are not definitely employed.

If the attitudes of sitting and standing are practiced under the direction of the teacher of "physical culture," one will probably be innocent of such solecisms as thrusting the feet out to display the shoes; sitting sideways, or cross-legged; or slipping half-way down in the chair; or bending over a book in round-shouldered position; rocking violently; beating a noisy tattoo with impatient toes; or standing on one foot with the body thrown out of line, etc., etc.

Scratching the head or ears, and picking the teeth, are operations that are properly attended to in one's own dressing-room. The conspicuous use of the handkerchief is in bad form. Blowing the nose is not a pleasant demonstration at any time, and at the table is simply unpardonable. A person of fastidious taste will take care of the nose in the quietest and most unobtrusive way, and refrain from disgusting other people of fastidious taste.

"Familiarity breeds contempt." Laying the hand upon another's head or shoulder, clinging to the arms or about the waist, is a freedom that only near relationship or close friendship will excuse. Among slight acquaintances it is an unwarrantable liberty. Even at the impulsive "school-girl age" young ladies should be taught to repel such under-bred familiarities.


Those who accept a social invitation virtually pledge themselves to bear a part in making the entertainment an agreeable success. Whether one's talent lies in conversation, or music, or in the rare gift for commingling and promoting harmonies in a social gathering, he or she should feel bound to make some effort to add to the pleasure of the occasion. Young men who attend private balls should be obliging about dancing, and amiably assist the hostess in finding partners for the shy or unattractive girls, who are liable to be neglected by selfish young people.

Not to make an effort to contribute to the success of the affair is a negative fault, perhaps. But what shall we say of those whose influence is positively adverse?—those who attend a party with curious eyes bent upon picking flaws, and who indulge in jealous depreciation; or who, in a spirit of social rivalry, make a note of "points," with a view to outdoing the hostess in the near future. Such a spirit—and its presence is not easily veiled—is a veritable Achan in the camp; and a few such rude people can poison the atmosphere of an otherwise genial reception. Verily, they have their reward, for the stamp of ill-breeding is set on their querulous little faces.

But, if such spirits contribute nothing to the social fund,—because they have nothing to contribute,—you, who have, must do double duty. And nothing is more needed than tactful conversation.

The oddest criticism that I have ever encountered from a reviewer was the laconic and cynical remark (commenting upon my rather altruistic belief in the duty of giving one's best thought to the conversational circle), that "Nowadays, people don't talk: if they have any good ideas, they save them and write them out and sell them." The critic implied that, otherwise, in this age of universal scribbling, some plagiarist would appropriate these ideas and hurry them to the magazine market before the original thinker had time to fix the jewel in a setting of his own.

Of course, the little brain thief is common enough; but it had never occurred to me to be so wary. It struck me "with the full force of novelty," that any one should be deterred from speech by such a consideration. I have since wondered whether that particular phase of serpent-wisdom accounts for the non-committal silences with which some well-known wits entertain the social circle, the while a despairing hostess is making the best of such help as a few lively chatterboxes can give her. Not that I ever saw any notably superior talkers struck dumb in this way; Richard Brinsley Sheridan never was, if I recall correctly. Why should you be? If your bright idea is stolen, you can spare it; if you are truly bright, you have many more where that one came from.

But beware of forced brightness. Wit is nothing if not spontaneous. If nature has not endowed you with the instantaneous perception of contrasts and incongruities, out of which flashes the swift conceit called wit, do not imagine you are "dull" or uninteresting. There are other gifts and graces less superficial, far more rare, and ultimately more influential, than wit.

And though you are witty, do not talk nonsense over-much. Remember that it is the "little nonsense now and then" that is "relished by the best of men." It is perilously easy to weary people with the "smart" style of talk. But let your cheerful sense, grave or gay, be as good an offering to your friends as you know how to make. Your next special occasion—for which you might have "saved" all these things—will lose nothing of value. It may rather gain fourfold, by the reflex inspiration that replenishes every unselfish outpouring of the nobler social spirit.


Travelers have certain rights guaranteed by their regularly-purchased tickets. Within such bounds they are privileged to claim all comforts and immunities.

But the mannerly tourist will claim no more. He will not take up more room than he is entitled to while other passengers are discommoded. Nor will he persist in keeping his particular window open when the draught and the cinders therefrom are troublesome or dangerous to other people.

If travelers carry a lunch-basket, they should discuss its contents quietly, and be careful not to litter the floor with crumbs, or the débris of fruits and nuts, nor to leave any trace of its presence after the luncheon is finished.

If a lady is traveling under the escort of a gentleman, she will give him as little trouble as possible. She will amuse herself by reading, or studying the landscape, leaving him at liberty to choose similar diversions when conversation grows tedious. She will carry few parcels, and if possible will have arranged for some one to meet her at her station, so that her obliging guardian need not be taxed to look after her beyond the railway journey's end. If the gentleman has attended to the purchase of tickets, and the paying of dining-car fees, etc., the lady will repay those expenditures, as a matter of course, thanking him for the trouble that he has taken to give her "safe conduct."

A gentleman thus traveling as escort will attend to all matters of tickets, the checking of baggage, etc.; and will see that the lady is comfortably settled for her journey, with some thoughtful provision in the way of magazines, and possibly a basket of fine fruit. He will see that the porter and the maid (if there is one) are attentive to her comfort, and will not relinquish his charge until he leaves her, either at her final destination, or in the care of some one authorized to relieve him of the responsibility. He will perform all these duties cheerfully, and endeavor to convey the idea that it is a pleasure to him; and this will be better shown in his manner than by any conventional protestations.

There ought not to be such a thing as "hotel manners." But there is; and it suggests certain important injunctions.

Hotel partitions are usually thin, and sounds are penetrating. Private affairs should not be loudly discussed. Tourists should learn to converse in quiet tones, and to make as little "racket" as possible with furniture, boots, etc., and to be polite enough not to keep other guests awake late at night with the noise of music, laughter, or loud talking. The "manners" at table, in the reading-rooms, and about the corridors should conform to whatever law of etiquette in private or public life the incidents may indicate; since, at a hotel, one is both at home and not at home, in two different aspects.

In driving with ladies, a gentleman gives them the seat facing the horses, riding backward himself if any one must. He will alight from the carriage first, on the side nearest his seat, to avoid passing in front of the ladies; and will assist them to alight, giving as much or as little support as the case demands. A light finger-tip on an elbow is all the help that a sprightly girl may need, but her grandmother may require to be tenderly lifted out bodily. A gentleman will discriminate, and not use an uncalled-for familiarity in helping a lady out of a carriage.

When several ladies are driving, the youngest ones in the party will ride backwards. A hostess driving with her guests enters her carriage after them, unless they are noticeably younger than she is; but she does not relinquish her usual seat to any one, unless she happens to have a party of venerable ladies.


Wedding presents should be chosen with due reference to the circumstances of the bride. For the daughter of wealthy parents, who weds a husband of large means—and to whom all desirable useful things are assured—articles of virtu, and bewildering creations in the way of costly "fancy articles," are suitable wedding gifts. For a quiet little bride who is going to housekeeping on a moderate income, articles that are useful as well as beautiful are appropriate and acceptable. A handsome substantial chair, a cabinet for china, pretty china to put in it, some standard books, a set of fine table linen,—almost anything within the range of dainty house-furnishing shows the good taste of the giver.

Presents that owe their creation to the ingenuity and labor of one's friends—as hand-painted screens or china, embroidered work, or, if one is artistic, a painting or etching—are peculiarly complimentary wedding gifts.

In general, the exchange of gifts is desirable only between friends who care enough for each other not only to give, but to be willing to accept—the latter being a severer test of friendship. Between two women, or between two men, these matters adjust themselves.

A man should not offer valuable gifts to any lady outside of his own family, unless she is very much his senior, and a friend of long standing. Similarly, a lady should not accept valuable gifts from a gentleman unless his relationship to her warrants it. Trifling tokens of friendship or gallantry—a book, a bouquet, or a basket of bon-bons—are not amiss; but a lady should not be under obligation to a man for presents that plainly represent a considerable money value.

When a gift is accepted, the recipient should not make too obvious haste to return the compliment, lest he or she seem unwilling to rest under obligation. It is polite to allow a generous friend some space of time in which to enjoy the "blessedness of giving."

"Independence" is an excellent thing; but it becomes peculiarly rude when it takes the form of refusing all trifling favors. It is often the greatest wisdom as well as kindness, to allow some one to do us a favor. Enemies have been transformed into friends by this tactful process; for, as one always hates one whom he has injured, so, on the reverse, he cannot help feeling an increased glow of kindliness toward one whom he has benefited.

When some unsophisticated person innocently offers a gift that strict conventionality would forbid one to accept, it is sometimes better to suspend the rules and accept the token, than by refusal to hurt the feelings of one who has perhaps offended the letter, but not the spirit, of the law.

Gifts of flowers to the convalescent—tokens that the busy outside world has not forgotten him—are among the most graceful expressions of courteous interest. Any one—even a total stranger—may send these, if "the spirit moves," and the circumstances are such that the act could bear no possible misinterpretation.


That a man enjoys the society of a charming woman, that a woman delights in the conversation of a brilliant man, is no sign that either of them is a flirt.

Few things are more vulgar than the readiness to infer a flirtation from every case of marked mutual interest between a man and a woman. The interchange of bright ideas, interspersed with the spontaneous sallies of gallantry and the instinctive repartee of innocent coquetry—an archery of wit and humor, grave and gay,—this is one of the salient features of civilized social life. It has nothing in common with the shallow travesty of sentiment that characterizes a pointless flirtation. The latter is bad form whenever and wherever existing. A sincere sentiment is not reduced to the straits of expressing itself in such uncertain language. It is fair to conclude that some insincerity, or some lack of a correct basis for sentiment, is betrayed in every pointless flirtation. It is hopelessly bad form. Young people who gratify vanity by idle "conquests," so called, make a sufficiently conspicuous show of ill-breeding; but a married flirt is worse than vulgar.

A woman may accept every tribute that a chivalrous man may offer to her talent or wit, so long as it is expressed in a hearty spirit of good comradeship, and with a clear and unmistakable deference to her self-respecting dignity; but a well-bred woman will resent as an insult to her womanhood any quasi-sentimental overtures from a man who has not the right to make them.

Etiquette requires that the association of men and women in refined circles shall be frank without freedom, friendly without familiarity. "Flirting" is a plebeian diversion. Every well-bred woman is a queen, for whose sake every well-bred man will hold a lance in rets.


Since censoriousness is a quality utterly antagonistic to good manners, it is well to reflect that, while etiquette lays down many laws, it also indulgently grants generous absolution. While we decide that certain forms and methods of action are correct and good form, we must remember that all people, ourselves included, are liable to be occasionally remiss in little things, and that we must not too hastily decide a man's status on the score of breeding by his punctilious observance of conventional laws. There are some requirements of etiquette that have their foundation in the idea of convenience or feasibility; others that are essentially requisite as the exponent of decency. A man may easily be far from perfect in details of the former class, and yet be a refined gentleman; but he cannot offend in the latter class of instances without being a boor. Something worse than eating with his knife must ostracize a man, and something no greater than spitting on the sidewalk should accomplish the feat at one fell stroke.

There is an infallible constancy in good breeding. Like charity, of which it is so largely an exponent, it "never faileth." One's manner to two different people, respectively, may not be the same, but it should be equally courteous, whether it expresses the cordial friendliness of social equals or the just esteem of one either higher or lower than one's self in the social scale. "No man is a hero to his valet," because the heroic is confined to great and rare occasions. But every gentleman is a gentleman to his valet, for the qualities that distinguish the gentleman are every day and every hour manifested.