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Title: Martine's Hand-book of Etiquette, and Guide to True Politeness
Author: Martine, Arthur
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Martine's Hand-book of Etiquette, and Guide to True Politeness" ***

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  _Clear and Comprehensive Directions for Correct Manners, Dress, and

  _Instructions for Good Behavior at Dinner Parties, and the Table, with
  Hints on the Art of Carving and Taking Wine at Table_;

  _Together with the Etiquette of the Ball and Assembly Room, Evening

  _Deportment in the Street and when Travelling_;

  _And the Usages to be Observed when Visiting or Receiving Calls_.





  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by


  In the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States for
  the Southern District of New York.


  General Observations                          5

  The Art of Conversation                       8

  General Rules for Conversation               24

  On Dress                                     48

  Introductions                                57

  Letters of Introduction                      61

  Dinner Parties                               63

  Habits at Table                              67

  Wine at Table                                74

  Carving                                      82

  Etiquette of the Ball and Assembly Room      93

  Evening Parties                             104

  Visiting                                    113

  Street Etiquette                            127

  Traveling                                   133

  Marriage                                    136

  Domestic Etiquette and Duties               144

  On General Society                          154


Politeness has been defined as an "artificial good-nature;" but it would
be better said that _good-nature is natural politeness_. It inspires us
with an unremitting attention, both to please others and to avoid giving
them offence. Its code is a ceremonial, agreed upon and established
among mankind, to give each other external testimonies of friendship or
respect. _Politeness_ and _etiquette_ form a sort of supplement to the
law, which enables society to protect itself against offences which the
_law_ cannot touch. For instance, the law cannot punish a man for
habitually staring at people in an insolent and annoying manner, but
_etiquette_ can banish such an offender from the circles of good
society, and fix upon him the brand of vulgarity. _Etiquette_ consists
in certain forms, ceremonies, and rules which the _principle of
politeness_ establishes and enforces for the regulation of the manners
of men and women in their intercourse with each other.

Many unthinking persons consider the observance of etiquette to be
nonsensical and unfriendly, as consisting of unmeaning forms, practiced
only by the _silly_ and the idle; an opinion which arises from their not
having reflected on the _reasons_ that have led to the establishment of
certain rules indispensable to the well-being of society, and without
which, indeed, it would inevitably fall to pieces, and be destroyed.

The true aim of politeness, is to make those with whom you associate as
well satisfied with themselves as possible. It does not, by any means,
encourage an impudent self-importance in them, but it does whatever it
can to accommodate their feelings and wishes in social intercourse.
Politeness is a sort of social benevolence, which avoids wounding the
pride, or shocking the prejudices of those around you.

The principle of politeness is the same among all nations, but the
ceremonials which etiquette imposes differ according to the taste and
habits of various countries. For instance, many of the minor rules of
etiquette at Paris differ from those at London; and at New York they may
differ from both Paris and London. But still the polite of every country
have about the same manners.

Of the manners and deportment of both ladies and gentlemen, we would
remark that a proper consideration for the welfare and comfort of others
will generally lead to a greater propriety of demeanor than any rules
which the most rigid master of etiquette could supply. This feeling,
however, is one that must be cultivated, for the promptings of nature
are eminently selfish, and courtesy and good-breeding are only
attainable by effort and discipline. But even courtesy has limits where
dignity should govern it, for when carried to excess, particularly in
manner, it borders on sycophancy, which is almost as despicable as
rudeness. To overburden people with attention; to render them
uncomfortable with a prodigality of proffered services; to insist upon
obligations which they do not desire, is not only to render yourself
disagreeable, but contemptible. This defect of manners is particularly
prevalent in the rural districts, where the intense effort to render a
visitor comfortable has exactly the contrary effect; besides, there are
those whose want of refinement and good breeding often leads them to an
unwarrantable familiarity, which requires coldness and indifference to

Much misconstruction and unpleasant feeling arises, especially in
country towns, from not knowing what is "_expected_," or necessary to be
done on certain occasions, resulting sometimes from the prevalence of
local customs, with which the world in general are not supposed to be
acquainted. "To do in Rome as the Romans do," applies to every kind of
society. At the same time, you can never be expected to commit a serious
breach of manners because your neighbors do so.

But what you should do, and what not, in particular cases, you will
learn in the following chapters. I have only now to say, that if you
wish to be agreeable, which is certainly a good and religious desire,
you must both study how to be so, and take the trouble to put your
studies into constant practice. The fruit you will soon reap. You will
be generally liked and loved. The gratitude of those to whom you have
devoted yourself will be shown in speaking well of you; you will become
a desirable addition to every party, and whatever your birth, fortune,
or position, people will say of you, "He is a most agreeable and
well-bred man," and be glad to introduce you to good society. But you
will reap a yet better reward. You will have in yourself the
satisfaction of having taken trouble and made sacrifices in order to
give pleasure and happiness for the time to others. How do you know what
grief or care you may not obliterate, what humiliation you may not alter
to confidence, what anxiety you may not soften, what--last, but really
not least--what intense dullness you may not enliven? If this work
assist you in becoming an agreeable member of good society, I shall
rejoice at the labor it has given me.


As the object of conversation is pleasure and improvement, those
subjects only which are of universal interest can be made legitimate
topics of pleasantry or discussion. And it is the gift of expressing
thoughts and fancies in a quick, brilliant, and graceful manner on such
topics,--of striking out new ideas, eliciting the views and opinions of
others, of attaching the interest of all to the subject discussed,
giving it, however trifling in itself, weight and importance in the
estimation of the hearers, that constitutes the great talent for
conversation. But this talent can never, we may safely aver, be
displayed except in a good cause, and when conversation is carried on in
a spirit of genuine charity and benevolence.

We should meet in society to please and be pleased, and not to display
cold and stately dignity, which is as much out of place, as all attempts
to shine by a skillful adherence to the fantastic rules of the
silver-fork school, are puerile and ludicrous. Such little things are
great to little persons, who are proud of having acquired by rote, what
the naturally elegant derive, in sufficient measure, from naturally just

The power of preserving silence is the very first requisite to all who
wish to shine, or even please in discourse; and those who cannot
preserve it, have really no business to speak. Of course, I do not mean
the dull, ignorant, sulky, or supercilious silence, of which we see
enough in all conscience; but the graceful, winning and eloquent
silence. The silence that, without any deferential air, listens with
polite attention, is more flattering than compliments, and more
frequently broken for the purpose of encouraging others to speak, than
to display the listener's own powers. This is the really eloquent
silence. It requires great genius--more perhaps than speaking--and few
are gifted with the talent; but it is of such essential advantage, that
I must recommend its study to all who are desirous to take a share in
conversation, and beg they will learn to be silent, before they attempt
to speak.

Notwithstanding the praise here bestowed on silence, it must still be
explained that there are various modes of being silently rude. There is
the rude silence of disdain--of not hearing, of not even deeming your
words deserving attention or reply. These are minor and mere passive
modes of impertinence; the direct and active sort of silent rudeness is
to listen with a fixed and attentive stare on the speaker, and without
any necessity of raising the eyebrows--for that might be
precarious--show your utter amazement, that any one should think of thus
addressing a person of your rank, wealth, genius, or greatness. There
are of course various styles and degrees in all these modes of
impertinence, but they all originate in the same cause: ignorance of the
real facility of being rude, and a wish to acquire distinction by the
practice. It is idle to assert that every one can be rude if he likes;
for, if such were the fact, we should not see hosts of persons belonging
to what is termed good society, seeking fame and renown by various
shades and degrees of mere impertinence.

Never give short or sharp answers in ordinary conversation, unless you
aspire to gain distinction by mere rudeness; for they have in fact no
merit, and are only uncivil. "I do not know," "I cannot tell," are the
most harmless words possible, and may yet be rendered very offensive by
the tone and manner in which they are pronounced. Never reply, in answer
to a question like the following, "Did Mrs. Spitewell tell you how Miss
Rosebud's marriage was getting on?" "I did not ask." It is almost like
saying, I never ask impertinent questions, though you do; we learn
plenty of things in the world without having first inquired about them.
If you must say, you did not ask, say, that "you forgot to ask,"
"neglected it," or "did not think of it." We can always be ordinarily
civil, even if we cannot always be absolutely wise.

Except in mere sport and raillery, and where a little _extravaganza_ is
the order of the moment, always when you answer, or speak in reply to an
observation made, speak to the true and just import of what is said.
Leave quibbling of every kind to lawyers pleading at the bar for the
life of a culprit; in society and conversation it is invariably out of
place, unless when Laughter is going his merry round. At all other times
it is a proof of bad breeding.

You must not overstretch a proposition, neither must you overstretch or
spin out a jest, that has done its duty; for few can be made to rebound
after they have once come to the ground.

Another mode of being rude, is to collect, and have at command, all the
set phrases used by uncivil persons, in order to say what they fancy
very sharp and severe things. Such a collector, jealous perhaps of the
attention with which a pleasant guest is listened to, may break in upon
the most harmless discourse with the words, "I think you _lie_ under a
mistake." The term may in itself be harmless, but its application is at
all times rude, coarse and decidedly vulgar.

La Bruyère tells us that "rudeness is not a fixed and inherent vice of
the mind, but the result of other vices; it springs," he says, "from
vanity, ignorance, laziness, stupidity, jealousy, and inattention. It is
the more hateful from being constantly displayed in exterior deportment
and from being thus always visible and manifest; and is offensive in
character and degree according to the source from which it takes its

We next come to the loud talker, the man who silences a whole party by
his sole power of lungs. All subjects are alike to him; he speaks on
every topic with equal fluency, is never at a loss, quotes high
authority for every assertion, and allows no one else to utter a word;
he silences, without the least ceremony, every attempt at interruption,
however cleverly managed;--calls out, "I beg your pardon," in a tone
that shows how ill-used he thinks himself,--or shuts your mouth
with--"One minute, if you please, sir!" as much as to say, you are
surely a very ill-bred fellow. Great, and especially loud and positive
talkers, have been denounced by all writers on manners as shallow and
superficial persons. And P. André, the author of a French Essay on the
Beautiful, declares distinctly, that "no man of sense was ever a great

Next to the talker, we have the man who gives an account of his dogs,
horses, lands, books, and pictures. Whatever is his, must, he thinks,
interest others; and listen they must, however resolutely they may
attempt to change the current of his discourse.

Women of this class are sometimes too fond of praising their children.
It is no doubt an amiable weakness; but I would still advise them to
indulge as little as possible in the practice; for however dear the
rosy-cheeked, curly-headed prattlers may be to them, the chances are,
that others will vote the darlings to be great bores; you that have
children, never speak of them in company. You must not even praise your
near relations; for the subject deprives the hearer of all power to
dissent, and is therefore clearly objectionable.

In the same line is the clever bore, who takes up every idle speech, to
show his wisdom at a cheap rate. If you say, "Hang the weather!" before
such a man, he immediately proves, by logical demonstrations, that the
weather has no neck by which it can be suspended. The grave expounder of
truisms belongs to this class. He cannot allow the simplest conversation
to go on, without entering into proofs and details familiar to every
child nine years of age; and the tenor of his discourse, however
courteous in terms and manner, pays you the very indifferent compliment,
of supposing that you have fallen from some other planet, in total and
absolute ignorance of the most ordinary and every-day things connected
with this little world of ours. All foreigners are particularly great at
this style of boring.

Then you have the indifferent and apathetic bore, who hardly condescends
to pay the least attention to what you say; and who, if he refrains from
the direct and absolute rudeness of yawning in your face, shows, by
short and drawling answers, given at fits and starts, and completely at
variance with the object of the conversation, that he affects at least a
total indifference to the party present, and to the subject of
discourse. In society, the absent man is uncivil; he who affects to be
so, is rude and vulgar. All persons who speak of their ailings,
diseases, or bodily infirmities, are offensive bores. Subjects of this
sort should be addressed to doctors, who are paid for listening to them,
and to no one else. Bad taste is the failing of these bores. Then we
have the ladies and gentlemen who pay long visits, and who, meeting you
at the door prepared to sally forth, keep you talking near the fire till
the beauty of the day is passed; and then take their leave, "hoping they
have not detained you." Bad feeling or want of tact here predominates.

"Hobby-riders," who constantly speak on the same eternal subject,--who
bore you at all times and at all hours,--whether you are in health or in
sickness, in spirits or in sorrow, with the same endless topic, must not
be overlooked in our list; though it is sufficient to denounce them.
Their failing is occasioned by a total want of judgment.

The _Malaprops_ are also a numerous and unhappy family, for they are
constantly addressing the most unsuitable speeches to individuals or
parties. To the blind they will speak of fine pictures and scenery; and
will entertain a person in deep mourning with the anticipated pleasures
of to-morrow's ball. A total want of ordinary thought and observation,
is the general cause of the _Malaprop_ failing.

Let us add to this very imperfect list the picture of a bore described
by Swift. "Nothing," he says, "is more generally exploded than the folly
of talking too much; yet I rarely remember to have seen five people
together, where some one among them hath not been predominant in that
kind, to the great constraint and disgust of all the rest. But among
such as deal in multitudes of words, none are comparable to the sober,
deliberate talker, who proceedeth with much thought and caution, maketh
his preface, brancheth out into several digressions, findeth a hint that
putteth him in mind of another story, which he promises to tell you when
this is done, cometh back regularly to his subject, cannot readily call
to mind some person's name, holdeth his head, complaineth of his memory;
the whole company all this while in suspense; at last says, it is no
matter, and so goes on. And to crown the business, it perhaps proveth at
last a story the company has heard fifty times before, or at best some
insipid adventure of the relater."

To this we may add, that your cool, steady talkers, who speak with the
care and attention of professors demonstrating mathematical
problems,--who weigh, measure and balance every word they utter,--are
all decided objectionables in society. It is needless to say, that such
persons never blunder, and never "stumble over a potato;" a matter of
little recommendation. In conversation there must be, as in love and in
war, some hazarding, some rattling on; nor need twenty falls affect
you, so long as you take cheerfulness and good humor for your guides;
but the careful and measured conversation just described is always,
though perfectly correct, extremely dull and tedious--a vast blunder
from first to last.

There are also many persons who commence speaking before they know what
they are going to say. The ill-natured world, who never miss an
opportunity of being severe, declare them to be foolish and destitute of
brains. I shall not go so far; but hardly know what we should think of a
sportsman who would attempt to bring down a bird before he had loaded
his gun.

I have purposely reserved the egotistical bore for the last on this
short and imperfect list. It is truly revolting, indeed, to approach the
very _Boa-constrictor_ of good society; the snake who comes upon us, not
in the natural form of a huge, coarse, slow reptile, but Proteus-like,
in a thousand different forms; though all displaying at the first sight
the boa-bore, ready to slime over every subject of discourse with the
vile saliva of selfish vanity. Pah! it is repulsive even to speak of the
species, numerous, too, as the sands along the shore.

Some of the class make no ceremony of immediately intruding themselves
and their affairs on the attention of a whole party; of silencing every
other subject started, however interesting to the company, merely that
they may occupy the prominent and most conspicuous position. Others
again are more dexterous, and with great art will lie on the watch to
hook in their own praise. They will call a witness to remember they
always foretold what would happen in such a case, but none would believe
them; they advised such a man from the beginning, and told him the
consequences just as they happened; but he would have his own way.
Others make a vanity of telling their own faults; they are the strangest
men in the world; they cannot dissemble; they own it is a folly; they
have lost abundance of advantages by it; but if you would give them the
world, they cannot help it; there is something in their nature that
abhors insincerity and constraint, with many other insufferable topics
of the same altitude. Thus, though bores find their account in speaking
ill or well of themselves, it is the characteristic of a gentleman that
he never speaks of himself at all.

La Bruyère says, "The great charm of conversation consists less in the
display of one's own wit and intelligence, than in the power to draw
forth the resources of others; he who leaves you after a long
conversation, pleased with himself and the part _he_ has taken in the
discourse, will be your warmest admirer. Men do not care to admire you,
they wish you to be pleased with them; they do not seek for instruction
or even amusement from your discourse, but they do wish you to be made
acquainted with their talents and powers of conversation; and the true
man of genius will delicately make all who come in contact with him feel
the exquisite satisfaction of knowing that they have appeared to

I have no desire to condemn my readers to eternal silence; but must
inform them that it is not so easy to _shine_ in conversation as many
suppose. Fluency of tongue and a little modest assurance, though very
well for imposing on the unwary, go but a short way when you have to
deal with those who are really worth pleasing.

How can a person _shine_ by conversation in elegant and educated
society, whose thoughts have never ranged beyond the gratification of
foolish vanity and mean selfishness; who has never reflected on life,
men and manners; whose mind has not turned to the contemplation of the
works and wonders of nature; and who, in the events of his own time, has
not seen the results of the many deeds of sorrow, shame, greatness, and
glory, that crowd the pages of the world's variegated annals? Whoever
would _shine_ in polite discourse must at least be well versed in the
philosophy of life, and possess a fair acquaintance with general and
natural history, and the outlines of science. And though he need be
neither a poet nor an artist, he must be well read in poetry and
acquainted with fine arts; because it is only by their study that taste
can be cultivated and fancy guided. A familiarity with the fine arts is
necessary, in fact, to give him a just perception of the sublime and
beautiful, the very foundation whence our emotions of delight must
arise. Any one attempting to _shine_ in conversation, without possessing
the trifling acquirements here mentioned,--for I have said nothing of
learning and science,--will most assuredly make an indifferent figure,
and had better therefore content himself with simply pleasing by
unaffected cheerfulness and good humor, which is within reach of all.

As to subjects for conversation, what difficulty can there be about
them? Will not books, balls, bonnets and metaphysics furnish pleasant
topics of discourse? Can you not speak of the

      "Philosophy and science, and the springs
      Of wonder, and the wisdom of the world?"--

Are flirtations, traveling, love and speech-making at an end; or is the
great globe itself and the weather on its surface so perfectly
stationary that you can find nothing to say about them? No, no, let us
not deceive ourselves; we never want subjects of conversation; but we
often want the knowledge how to treat them; above all, how to bring them
forward in a graceful and pleasing manner. We often want observation and
a just estimate of character, and do not know how, in the present
defective state of society, any passing remark intended to open a
conversation may be received.

Cheerfulness, unaffected cheerfulness, a sincere desire to please and be
pleased, unchecked by any efforts to shine, are the qualities you must
bring with you into society, if you wish to succeed in conversation.
Under the influence of their recommendation, you may safely give the
rein to fancy and hilarity, certain that, in a well-assorted party, you
will make at least a favorable impression, if not a brilliant one. I do
not of course mean by cheerfulness any outbreaking of loud and silly
mirth, nor what the world sometimes calls a "high flow of spirits," but
a light and airy equanimity of temper,--that spirit which never rises to
boisterousness, and never sinks to immovable dullness; that moves
gracefully from "grave to gay, from serious to serene," and by mere
manner gives proof of a feeling heart and generous mind.

Franklin says, that you must never contradict in conversation, nor
correct facts if wrongly stated. This is going much too far; you must
never contradict in a short, direct, or positive tone; but with
politeness, you may easily, when necessary, express a difference of
opinion in a graceful and even complimentary manner. And I would almost
say, that the art of conversation consists in knowing _how_ to
contradict, and _when_ to be silent; for, as to constantly acting a
fawning and meanly deferential part in society, it is offensive to all
persons of good sense and good feeling. In regard to facts wrongly
stated, no well-bred man ever thinks of correcting them, merely to show
his wisdom in trifles; but with politeness, it is perfectly easy to
rectify an error, when the nature of the conversation demands the

Whenever the lady or gentleman with whom you are discussing a point,
whether of love, war, science or politics, begins to sophisticate, drop
the subject instantly. Your adversary either wants the ability to
maintain his opinion,--and then it would be uncivil to press it--or he
wants the still more useful ability to yield the point with unaffected
grace and good-humor; or what is also possible, his vanity is in some
way engaged in defending views on which he may probably have acted, so
that to demolish his opinions is perhaps to reprove his conduct, and no
well-bred man goes into society for the purpose of sermonizing.

All local wits, all those whose jests are understood only within the
range of their own circle or coterie, are decided objectionables in
general society. It is the height of ill-breeding, in fact, to converse,
or jest, on subjects that are not perfectly understood by the party at
large; it is a species of rude mystification, as uncivil as whispering,
or as speaking in language that may not be familiar to some of the
party. But you must not make a fool of yourself, even if others show
themselves deficient in good manners; and must not, like inflated
simpletons, fancy yourself the object of every idle jest you do not
understand, or of every laugh that chance may have called forth. _Ladies
and gentlemen_ feel that they are neither laughed at nor ridiculed.

In society, the object of conversation is of course entertainment and
improvement, and it must, therefore, be adapted to the circle in which
it is carried on, and must be neither too high nor too deep for the
party at large, so that every one may contribute his share, just at his
pleasure, and to the best of his ability. Let no two or three old
Indians, old school-fellows, or old brother campaigners, seize upon the
conversation to themselves, discuss their former adventures, and keep
the rest of a party listening silently to an animated conversation about
exploded stories, of which they know nothing and care as little.

Lord Chesterfield advises his son "to speak often, but not to speak much
at a time; so that if he does not please, he will not at least displease
to any great extent." A good observer should easily, I think, be able to
discover whether he pleases or not.

Rousseau tells us, that "persons who know little talk a great deal,
while those who know a great deal say very little."

If the discourse is of a grave or serious nature, and interesting to
the party, or to any number of the party, never break in upon it with
any display of idle wit or levity; for nothing shows so great a want of
good manners; nor must you ever ridicule or doubt the existence of any
noble enthusiasm that may have called forth expressions of admiration;
for there is no want of high worth, patriotism, honor and
disinterestedness on earth. Your incredulity might therefore be unjust,
and it is at all times a proof of bad taste to ridicule what others

If you join in the graver conversation, intended to move the deeper
feelings of the heart, do so without affectation, without overstretching
sentiments, or bringing in far-fetched ideas for the sake of producing
effect, otherwise you will be sure to fail. Avoid, above all, when on
such topics, any stringing together of unmeaning words; for bad as the
practice of substituting sound for sense is at all times, it is doubly
so when conversation takes the direction of which we are speaking, as it
then shows the _jingler_ to want feelings as well as ideas. Speak from
the heart, when you speak _to_ the heart; only making judgment prune the
expressions of deep feeling, without checking the noble sentiments that
may have called them forth.

The reason which renders this pruning system advisable is, that society
swarms with worthy, respectable persons, possessing an ordinary share of
superficial good-nature, but so destitute of actual feeling, as not even
to understand its language; and who, without being scoffers, will be
inclined to laugh at expressions that convey no ideas to their minds.

The same reason should serve as a warning to all gentlemen against
writing love-letters; for if a gentle swain is really and truly in love,
he will write under excited feelings; and a letter written with a
palpitating heart, threatening to break a rib at every throb, can hardly
fail to appear a little ridiculous in the eyes of all who may not chance
to be exactly in the same frame of mind, or possessed of the same degree
of feeling with the writer.

There is a giggling and laughing tone, in which ladies and gentlemen
sometimes endeavor to speak,--an attempt to continue a series of jests
from the first to last, which is not only foolish, but actually
offensive. Conversation can never be kept up to the laughing point
during a whole evening,--not even during a morning visit; and efforts to
excite laughter by overstrained jests are as repulsive as overstrained
efforts to groan and grimace it. The natural flow of discourse must be
calm and serene; if wit, whim, fun and fire are present, they will not
fail to flash brightly along its surface; but they can never constitute
the main body of the stream itself.

Different parties, different tones no doubt, and an assembly of grave
doctors and professors, meeting to discuss some learned subject, may
treat it in their own way; here we can only speak of general society. It
is said, that the guests at a pleasant dinner party should never exceed
the number of the Muses, nor fall below that of the Graces. And this may
be true; but a party of three or four is already very different in
character,--independent of the difference occasioned by the characters
of the guests,--from what a party of eight or nine will be. In small
parties of this kind, numbers alone exercise great influence. But large
or small, always recollect that you can have no right to complain of the
dullness of the conversation, unless you have contributed your best
efforts to render it cheerful.

Nor is it always right to condemn a person for being silent in company,
as this often results from the nature of the party, which may be
ill-assorted, though composed of deserving people. No one can maintain a
conversation by himself; the very best speaker must still be aided by
others, who must lend assistance in the _proper spirit_, _befitting_ the
nature of the discourse; for a rude and forward person, wishing to
shine, can easily crush the efforts of the most perfect gentleman, and
give an unfavorable tone and turn to a pleasant conversation.

In ordinary conversation, the modulation and proper management of the
voice is a point to which I would particularly call the attention of
young ladies; for a fine and melodious voice, "sweet as music on the
waters," makes the heart-strings vibrate to their very core. This can
only be done by a certain degree of confidence, and by a total absence
of affectation; for uncertainty, agitation and striving for effect are
always ruinous to the voice of the speaker, which is constantly running
against breakers, or getting upon flats. I am certain that temper and
disposition are far more generally, and more perfectly marked by the
voice and manner of speaking, than we are at all willing to allow.

The thin, small voice is the most difficult to manage, as it is liable
to degenerate into shrillness; and ladies who have this kind of voice
must keep strict guard over their temper, when within hearing of any one
on whom they may wish to make a favorable impression; for the very idea
of a shrill-voiced scold makes us place our hands to our ears. But with
a sweet temper, a pretty, little, harmonious voice is pleasing enough.
Always recollect, however, that affectation, constraint, or striving for
effect, is the certain ruin of the prettiest voice in the world.

The very deep-toned voice, though extremely effective when well
controlled, has great difficulties; for unless backed by kind, cheerful
and airy feeling, by "that bright spirit which is always gladness," it
is liable to fall into a coarse, rude and vulgar tone, and should never
be heard except at times of brilliant sunshine. The owners of such
voices should never think of getting angry, nor even indulge in saying
what they may fancy sharp or severe things, as the chances are that
they will prove only rude ones.

Stories, however good--and they are often to be recommended--suffer
under one of the disadvantages to which anecdotes are liable,--they do
not bear repetition; and no one can be expected to possess a stock that
shall furnish new and acceptable wares on every occasion. They form in
conversation the resource of those who want imagination, and must be
received with indulgence; but to deserve this favor, they must be short,
well told, well pointed, and judiciously adapted to the feelings and
composition of the party. We have all of us at times known a good story
or anecdote introduced under such inappropriate circumstances, as to
make a whole party look grave and feel uncomfortable.

The honor of demolishing the weavers of long tales shall be left to

      "But sedentary weavers of long tales
      Give me the fidgets, and my patience fails.
      'Tis the most asinine employ on earth,
      To hear them tell of parentage and birth;
      And echo conversations dull and dry,
      Embellished  with _he said_ and _so said I_.
      At every interview their route the same,
      The repetition makes attention lame;
      We bristle up with unsuccessful speed,
      And in the saddest part, cry--_Droll, indeed_."

Let the reader only get these verses by heart, and repeat a line
occasionally to show that he recollects them, and we shall soon find
society relieved from these spinners of dull yarns.

Some gentlemen have a talent for placing things in a grotesque,
exaggerated and ludicrous light; and of extemporizing burlesque
anecdotes in a whimsical and amusing manner. It is a happy gift, of
which excellent use can be made in society; but tact and taste must, as
usual, keep a firm rein, for nothing that is seriously treated by others
must ever be burlesqued and turned into ridicule. The grotesque style is
only applicable when the ground is fairly open, or when jesting,
bantering and exaggeration are the order of the minute; and then it may
be rendered charming.

Let no one suppose that mimicry is to be sanctioned under this head;
far from it, indeed. A little graceful imitation of actors and public
speakers may be allowed. National manners, and the peculiarities of
entire classes, are fair game. French dandies, Yankee bargainers, and
English exquisites, may be ridiculed at pleasure; you may even bring
forward Irish porters, cab-drivers and bog-trotters,--_provided_ you can
imitate their wit and humor; but I do not think I ever saw any mimicry
of private individuals well received by well-bred persons. Nor is this
to be wondered at, since mimicry borders so closely on buffoonery, as
generally to end in absolute vulgarity. Ladies, however, may be
permitted to mimic their friends a little, provided they rarely indulge
in the practice, and never transgress the bounds of good taste and

We meet occasionally in society with persons belonging to a class, not
numerous indeed, but deserving notice, as they are mostly ladies, and
often worth reclaiming; for want of a better term I shall call them
_Icicles_, because they only shine and cannot warm. The _Icicles_ may be
kind, clever, of cultivated mind, and in every respect well disposed to
become agreeable,--but cannot speak or converse on any one subject. They
are constantly witty and ingenious, place every proposition or general
question asked, in some amusing, novel or extravagant light, but never
answer or speak up to the point; so that you may converse with them for
hours, and be acquainted with them for years, without knowing their
opinion upon any one subject; without knowing even whether they have an
opinion on any one subject. Nor does this always result from
affectation, or from efforts to shine; it springs as often from a faulty
tone, and the fear of not being sufficiently clever, when attempting to
be rational, as from any other source. I have seen persons lose a great
deal by this absurd system, and fall far short of what they might have
been had they merely followed the beaten track; and as a maxim would
have you recollect, that few good things are ever said by those who are
constantly striving to say extraordinary ones.


As order or method are of very little consequence in treating of this
subject, I will conclude by giving a series of rules upon the art of
conversation, couched in a few words, from which the reader may furnish
himself with a competent knowledge of what is to be studied, and what to
be avoided. There are few of the following sentences that will not
furnish a good deal of thought, or that are to be understood to their
full extent without some consideration.

Whatever passes in parties at your own or another's house is never
repeated by well-bred people. Things of no moment, and which are meant
only as harmless jokes, are liable to produce unpleasant consequences if
repeated. To repeat, therefore, any conversation which passes on such
occasions, is understood to be a breach of confidence, which should
banish the offender from the pale of good society.

Men of all sorts of occupations meet in society. As they go there to
unbend their minds and escape from the fetters of business, you should
never, in an evening, speak to a man about his profession. Do not talk
of politics to a journalist, of fevers to a physician, of stocks to a
broker,--nor, unless you wish to enrage him to the utmost, of education
to a collegian. The error which is here condemned is often committed
from mere good nature and a desire to be affable. But it betrays to a
gentleman, ignorance of the world,--to a philosopher, ignorance of human

A gentleman will, by all means, avoid showing his learning and
accomplishments in the presence of ignorant and vulgar people, who can,
by no possibility, understand or appreciate them. It is a pretty sure
sign of bad breeding to set people to staring and feeling uncomfortable.

In England, it is regarded a breach of etiquette to repeat the name of
any person with whom you are conversing. But the same rule does not hold
in America. Here it is deemed no breach, if you are conversing with a
lady by the name of Sherwood, to say, "Well, _Mrs. Sherwood_, do you not
think," etc.

In a mixed company, never speak to your friend of a matter which the
rest do not understand, unless it is something which you can explain to
them, and which may be made interesting to the whole party.

If you wish to inquire about anything, do not do it by asking a
question; but introduce the subject, and give the person an opportunity
of saying as much as he finds it agreeable to impart. Do not even say,
"How is your brother to-day?" but "I hope your brother is quite well."

Never ask a lady a question about anything whatever.

By all means, avoid the use of slang terms and phrases in polite
company. No greater insult can be offered to polite society than to
repeat the slang dictums of bar-rooms and other low places. If you are
willing to have it known that you are familiar with such company
yourself, you have no right to treat a party of ladies and gentlemen as
though they were, too.

Avoid the habit of employing French words in English conversation; it is
extremely bad taste to be always using such expressions as _ci-devant_,
_soi-disant_, _en masse_, _couleur de rose_, etc. Do not salute your
acquaintances with _bon jour_, nor reply to every proposition,
_volontiers_. In society, avoid having those peculiar preferences for
some subjects which are vulgarly denominated "_hobby-horses_." They make
your company a _bore_ to all your friends; and some kind-hearted
creature will take advantage of them and _trot_ you, for the amusement
of the company. Every attempt to obtrude on a company subjects either to
which they are indifferent, or of which they are ignorant, is in bad

      "Man should be taught as though you taught him not,
      And things unknown proposed as things forgot."

A man is quite sure to show his good or bad breeding the instant he
opens his mouth to talk in company. If he is _a gentleman_ he starts no
subject of conversation that can possibly be displeasing to any person
present. The ground is common to all, and no one has a right to
monopolize any part of it for his own particular opinions, in politics
or religion. No one is there to make proselytes, but every one has been
invited, to be _agreeable_ and _to please_.

He who knows the world, will not be too bashful. He who knows himself,
will not be impudent.

Do not endeavor to shine in all companies. Leave room for your hearers
to imagine something within you beyond all you have said. And remember,
the more you are praised, the more you will be envied.

There is no surer sign of vulgarity than the perpetual boasting of the
fine things you have at home. If you speak of your silver, of your
jewels, of your costly apparel, it will be taken for a sign that you are
either lying, or that you were, not long ago, somebody's washerwoman,
and cannot forget to be reminding everybody that you are not so now.

You need not tell all the truth, unless to those who have a right to
know it all. But let all you tell be truth.

Insult not another for his want of a talent you possess; he may have
others, which you want. Praise your friends and let your friends praise

If you treat your inferiors with familiarity, expect the same from them.
If you give a jest, take one. Let all your jokes be truly jokes. Jesting
sometimes ends in sad earnest.

If a favor is asked of you, grant it, if you can. If not, refuse it in
such a manner, as that one denial may be sufficient.

If you are in company with a distinguished gentleman--as a governor, or
senator--you will not be perpetually trying to trot out his titles, as
it would make you appear like a lackey or parasite, who, conscious of no
merits of your own, are trying to lift yourself by the company of
others. In introducing such a gentleman, you will merely call him
"governor," or "senator," and afterwards avoid all allusion to his rank.

If you would render yourself pleasing in social parties, never speak to
gratify any particular vanity or passion of your own, but always aim to
interest or amuse others by themes which you know are in accordance with
their tastes and understandings. Even a well-bred minister will avoid
introducing his professional habits and themes at such places. He knows
that the guests were not invited there to listen to a sermon, and there
may be some who differ with him in opinions, who would have good reason
to feel themselves insulted by being thus forced to listen to him.

Reproof is a medicine like mercury or opium; if it be improperly
administered, with report either to the adviser or the advised, it will
do harm instead of good.

Nothing is more unmannerly than to reflect on any man's profession,
sect, or natural infirmity. He who stirs up against himself another's
self-love, provokes the strongest passions in human nature.

Be careful of your word, even in keeping the most trifling appointment.
But do not blame another for a failure of that kind, till you have heard
his excuse.

Never offer advice, but where there is some probability of its being

If you find yourself in a company which violently abuses an absent
friend of yours, you need not feel that you are called upon to take up
the club for him. You will do better by saying mildly that they must
have been misinformed--that you are proud to call him your friend, which
you could not do if you did not know him to be incapable of such things
as they had heard. After this, if they are gentlemen, they will
stop--indeed, if they had been gentlemen, they would hardly have
assailed an absent one in a mixed party; and if you feel constrained to
quit their company, it will be no sacrifice to your own self-respect or

Fools pretend to foretell what will be the issue of things, and are
laughed at for their awkward conjectures. Wise men, being aware of the
uncertainty of human affairs, and having observed how small a matter
often produces a great change, are modest in their conjectures.

He who talks too fast, outruns his hearer's thoughts. He who speaks too
slow, gives his hearer pain by hindering his thoughts, as a rider who
frets his horse by reining him in too much.

Never think to entertain people with what lies out of their way, be it
ever so curious in its kind. Who would think of regaling a circle of
ladies with the beauties of Homer's Greek, or a mixed company with Sir
Isaac Newton's discoveries?

Do well, but do not boast of it. For that will lessen the commendation
you might otherwise have deserved.

Never ask a question under any circumstances. In the first place, it is
too proud; in the second place, it may be very inconvenient or very
awkward to give a reply. A lady inquired of what branch of medical
practice a certain gentleman was professor. He held the chair of

To offer advice to an angry man, is like blowing against a tempest.

Too much preciseness and solemnity in pronouncing what one says in
common conversation, as if one was preaching, is generally taken for an
indication of self-conceit and arrogance.

Make your company a rarity, and people will value it. Men despise what
they can easily have.

Value truth, however you come by it. Who would not pick up a jewel that
lay on a dung-hill?

The beauty of behavior consists in the manner, not the matter of your

It is not in good taste for a lady to say "Yes, sir," and "No, sir," to
a gentleman, or frequently to introduce the word "Sir," at the end of
her sentence, unless she desire to be exceedingly reserved toward the
person with whom she is conversing.

If your superior treats you with familiarity, it will not therefore
become you to treat him in the same manner.

A good way to avoid impertinent and pumping inquiries, is by answering
with another question. An evasion may also serve the purpose. But a lie
is inexcusable on any occasion, especially when used to conceal the
truth from one who has no authority to demand it.

To reprove with success, the following circumstances are necessary,
viz.: mildness, secrecy, intimacy, and the esteem of the person you
would reprove.

If you be nettled with severe raillery, take care never to show that you
are stung, unless you choose to provoke more. The way to avoid being
made a butt, is not to set up for an archer.

To set up for a critic is bullying mankind.

Reflect upon the different appearances things make to you from what they
did some years ago, and don't imagine that your opinion will never
alter, because you are extremely positive at present. Let the
remembrance of your past changes of sentiment make you more flexible.

If ever you were in a passion, did you not find reason afterwards to be
sorry for it, and will you again allow your self to be guilty of a
weakness, which will certainly be in the same manner followed by
repentance, besides being attended with pain?

Never argue with any but men of sense and temper.

It is ill-manners to trouble people with talking too much either of
yourself, or your affairs. If you are full of yourself, consider that
you, and your affairs, are not so interesting to other people as to you.

Keep silence sometimes, upon subjects which you are known to be a judge
of. So your silence, where you are ignorant, will not discover you.

To use phrases which admit of a double meaning is ungentlemanly, and, if
addressed to a lady, they become positively insulting.

There is a vulgar custom, too prevalent, of calling almost everybody
"colonel" in this country, of which it is sufficient to say, that this
false use of titles prevails most among the lower ranks of society--a
fact which sufficiently stamps upon it its real character, and renders
it, to say the least, a doubtful compliment to him who has no right to
the title.

Think like the wise; but talk like ordinary people. Never go out of the
common road, but for somewhat.

Don't dispute against facts well established, merely because there is
somewhat unaccountable in them. That the world should be created of
nothing is to us inconceivable but not therefore to be doubted.

As you are going to a party of mirth, think of the hazard you run of
misbehaving. While you are engaged, do not wholly forget yourself. And
after all is over, reflect how you have behaved. If well, be thankful;
it is more than you could have promised. If otherwise, be more careful
for the future.

It will never do to be ignorant of the names and approximate ages of
great composers, especially in large cities, where music is so highly
appreciated and so common a theme. It will be decidedly condemnatory if
you talk of the _new_ opera "Don Giovanni," or Rossini's "Trovatore,"
or are ignorant who composed "Fidelio," and in what opera occur such
common pieces as "_Ciascun lo dice_," or "_Il Segreto_." I do not say
that these trifles are indispensable, and when a man has better
knowledge to offer, especially with genius or "cleverness" to back it,
he will not only be pardoned for an ignorance of them, but can even take
a high tone, and profess indifference or contempt of them. But, at the
same time, such ignorance stamps an ordinary man, and hinders

Don't talk of "the opera" in the presence of those who are not
frequenters of it. They will imagine that you are showing off, or that
you are _lying_, and that you have never been to the opera twice in your
life. For the same reason, avoid too frequently speaking of your
acquaintance with celebrated men, unless you are a public man yourself,
who would be supposed to have such acquaintance.

Do not sit dumb in company. That looks either like pride, cunning, or
stupidity. Give your opinion modestly, but freely; hear that of others
with candor; and ever endeavor to find out, and to communicate truth.

In mixed company, be readier to hear than to speak, and put people upon
talking of what is in their own way. For then you will both oblige them,
and be most likely to improve by their conversation.

Humanity will direct to be particularly cautious of treating with the
least appearance of neglect those who have lately met with misfortunes,
and are sunk in life. Such persons are apt to think themselves slighted,
when no such thing is intended. Their minds being already sore, feel the
least rub very severely. And who would be so cruel as to add affliction
to the afflicted?

To smother the generosity of those who have obliged you, is imprudent,
as well as ungrateful. The mention of kindnesses received may excite
those who hear it to deserve your good word, by imitating the example
which they see does others so much honor.

Learning is like bank-notes. Prudence and good behavior are like silver,
useful upon all occasions.

If you have been once in company with an idle person, it is enough. You
need never go again. You have heard all he knows. And he has had no
opportunity of learning anything new. For idle people make no

Deep learning will make you acceptable to the learned; but it is only an
easy and obliging behavior, and entertaining conversation, that will
make you agreeable in all companies.

Men repent speaking ten times for once that they repent keeping silence.

It is an advantage to have concealed one's opinion. For by that means
you may change your judgment of things (which every wise man finds
reason to do) and not be accused of fickleness.

There is hardly any bodily blemish, which a winning behavior will not
conceal, or make tolerable; and there is no external grace, which
ill-nature or affectation will not deform.

If you mean to make your side of the argument appear plausible, do not
prejudice people against what you think truth by your passionate manner
of defending it.

There is an affected humility more insufferable than downright pride, as
hypocrisy is more abominable than libertinism. Take care that your
virtues be genuine and unsophisticated.

Never ask any one who is conversing with you to repeat his words.
Nothing is ruder than to say, "Pardon me, will you repeat that sentence?
I did not hear you at first," and thus imply that your attention was
wandering when he first spoke.

When we speak of ourselves and another person, whether he is absent or
present, propriety requires us to mention ourselves last. Thus we should
say, _he and I_, _you and I_.

If a man is telling that which is as old as the hills, or which you
believe to be false, the better way is to let him go on. Why should you
refuse a man the pleasure of believing that he is telling you something
which you never heard before? Besides, by refusing to believe him, or by
telling him that his story is old, you not only mortify him, but the
whole company is made uneasy, and, by sympathy, share his mortification.

Never notice it if others make mistakes in language. To notice by word
or look such errors in those around you, is excessively ill-bred.

Avoid raillery and sarcasm in social parties. They are weapons which few
can use; and because you happen to have a razor in your possession, that
is no reason why you should be allowed to cut the throats of the rest
who are unarmed. Malicious jests at the expense of those who are present
or absent, show that he who uses them is devoid both of the instincts
and habits of a _gentleman_. Where two individuals or the whole company
agree to banter each other with good-natured sallies of wit, it is very
pleasant, but the least taint of ill-nature spoils all.

If upon the entrance of a visitor you continue a conversation begun
before, you should always explain the subject to the new-comer.

If there is any one in the company whom you do not know, be careful how
you let off any epigrams or pleasant little sarcasms. You might be very
witty upon halters to a man whose father had been hanged. The first
requisite for successful conversation is to know your company well.

Carefully avoid subjects which may be construed into personalities, and
keep a strict reserve upon family matters. Avoid, if you can, seeing the
skeleton in your friend's closet, but if it is paraded for your special
benefit, regard it as a sacred confidence, and never betray your
knowledge to a third party.

Listen attentively and patiently to what is said. It is a great and
difficult talent to be a good listener, but it is one which the
well-bred man has to acquire, at whatever pains. Do not anticipate the
point of a story which another person is reciting, or take it from his
lips to finish it in your own language. To do this is a great breach of

Dr. Johnson, whose reputation as a _talker_ was hardly less than that
which he acquired as a writer, prided himself on the appositeness of his
quotations, the choice of his words, and the correctness of his
expressions. Had he lived in this "age of progress," he would have
discovered that his lexicon was not only incomplete, but required
numerous emendations. We can fancy the irritable moralist endeavoring to
comprehend the idea which a young lady wishes to convey when she
expresses the opinion that a bonnet is "_awful_," or that of a young
gentleman, when he asserts that his coat is "_played out_!"

Avoid the use of proverbs in conversation, and all sorts of cant
phrases. This error is, I believe, censured by Lord Chesterfield, and is
one of the most offensively vulgar which a person can commit.

It is bad manners to satirize lawyers in the presence of lawyers, or
doctors in the presence of one of that calling, and so of all the
professions. Nor should you rail against bribery and corruption in the
presence of politicians, (especially of a New York politician,) or
members of Congress, as they will have good reason to suppose that you
are hinting at them. It is the aim of politeness to leave the arena of
social intercourse untainted with any severity of language, or
bitterness of feeling. There are places and occasions where wrong must
be exposed and reproved, but it is an unpardonable piece of rudeness to
attempt such things at your own or another's social party, where
everything is carefully to be avoided that can in the least disturb the
happiness of any one. For this reason all kinds of controversies are, as
a general rule, to be avoided at such times.

Any conversation (that is not interdicted by decency and propriety)
which can be pleasing to the whole company, is desirable. Amusement,
more than instruction even, is to be sought for in social parties.
People are not supposed to come together on such occasions because they
are ignorant and need teaching, but to seek amusement and relaxation
from professional and daily cares. All the English books on etiquette
tell you that "punning is scrupulously to be avoided as a species of
ale-house wit," and a savage remark of Dr. Johnson is usually quoted on
the subject. But punning is no more to be avoided than any other kind of
wit; and if all wit is to be banished from the social circle, it will be
left a stupid affair indeed. All kinds of wit, puns by no means
excepted, give a delightful relish to social parties when they spring
up naturally and spontaneously out of the themes of conversation. But
for a man to be constantly straining himself to make jokes is to make
himself ridiculous, and to annoy the whole company, and is, therefore,
what no gentleman will be guilty of.

Talk as little of yourself as possible, or of any science or business in
which you have acquired fame. There is a banker in New York who is
always certain to occupy the time of every party he gets into, by
talking of his _per cents_, and boasting that he _began life without a
cent_--which every one readily believes; and if he were to add that he
_began life in a pig-pen_, they would believe that too.

If you put on a proud carriage, people will want to know what there is
in you to be proud of. And it is ten to one whether they value your
accomplishments at the same rate as you. And the higher you aspire, they
will be the more desirous to mortify you.

Nothing is more nauseous than apparent self-sufficiency. For it shows
the company two things, which are extremely disagreeable: that you have
a high opinion of yourself, and that you have comparatively a mean
opinion of them.

It is the concussion of passions that produces a storm. Let an angry man
alone, and he will cool off himself.

It is but seldom that very remarkable occurrences fall out in life. The
evenness of your temper will be in most danger of being troubled by
trifles which take you by surprise.

It is as obliging in company, especially of superiors, to listen
attentively, as to talk entertainingly.

Don't think of knocking out another person's brains, because he differs
in opinion from you. It will be as rational to knock yourself on the
head, because you differ from yourself ten years ago.

If you want to gain any man's good opinion, take particular care how you
behave, the first time you are in company with him. The light you appear
in at first, to one who is neither inclined to think well or ill of you,
will strongly prejudice him either for or against you.

Good humor is the only shield to keep off the darts of the satirical
railer. If you have a quiver well stored, and are sure of hitting him
between the joints of the harness, do not spare him. But you had better
not bend your bow than miss your aim.

The modest man is seldom the object of envy.

In the company of ladies, do not labor to establish learned points by
long-winded arguments. They do not care to take too much pains to find
out truth.

You will forbear to interrupt a person who is telling a story, even
though he is making historical mistakes in dates and facts. If he makes
mistakes it is his own fault, and it is not your business to mortify him
by attempting to correct his blunders in presence of those with whom he
is ambitious to stand well.

In a dispute, if you cannot reconcile the parties, withdraw from them.
You will surely make one enemy, perhaps two, by taking either side in an
argument when the speakers have lost their temper.

Do not _dispute_ in a party of ladies and gentlemen. If a gentleman
advances an opinion which is different from ideas you are known to
entertain, either appear not to have heard it, or differ with him as
gently as possible. You will not say, "Sir, you are mistaken!" "Sir, you
are wrong!" or that you "happen to know better;" but you will rather
use some such phrase as, "Pardon me--if I am not mistaken," etc. This
will give him a chance to say some such civil thing as that he regrets
to disagree with you; and if he has not the good manners to do it, you
have, at any rate, established your own manners as those of a gentleman
in the eyes of the company. And when you have done that, you need not
trouble yourself about any opinions he may advance contrary to your own.

If you talk sentences, do not at the same time give yourself a
magisterial air in doing it. An easy conversation is the only agreeable
one, especially in mixed company.

Be sure of the fact, before you lose time in searching for a cause.

If you have a friend that will reprove your faults and foibles, consider
you enjoy a blessing, which the king upon the throne cannot have.

In disputes upon moral or scientific points, ever let your aim be to
come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a
loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.

What may be very entertaining in company with ignorant people, may be
tiresome to those who know more of the matter than yourself.

There is a sort of accidental and altogether equivocal type of city
women, who never get into the country, but they employ their time in
trying to astonish the country people with narrations of the fine things
they left behind them in the city. If they have a dirty little closet,
with ten valueless books in it, they will call it their _library_. If
they have some small room, that is used as kitchen, parlor, and
dining-room, they will magnify it into a _drawing-room_. And a hundred
other _little_ signs of their _great_ vulgarity they will constantly
insist on exhibiting to their country auditors.

Put yourself on the same level as the person to whom you speak, and
under penalty of being considered a pedantic idiot, refrain from
explaining any expression or word that you may use.

If you are really a wit, remember that in conversation its true office
consists more in finding it in others, than showing off a great deal of
it yourself. He who goes out of your company pleased with himself is
sure to be pleased with you. Even as great a man as Dr. Johnson once
retired from a party where everybody had spent the evening in listening
to him, and remarked, as he went out, "We have had a pleasant evening,
and much excellent conversation."

If you happen to fall into company where the talk runs into party,
obscenity, scandal, folly, or vice of any kind, you had better pass for
morose or unsocial, among people whose good opinion is not worth having,
than shock your own conscience by joining in conversation which you must
disapprove of.

If you would have a right account of things from illiterate people, let
them tell their story in their own way. If you put them upon talking
according to logical rules, you will quite confound them.

I was much pleased with the saying of a gentleman, who was engaged in a
friendly argument with another upon a point in morals. "You and I [says
he to his antagonist] seem, as far as I hitherto understand, to differ
considerably in our opinions. Let us, if you please, try wherein we can
agree." The scheme in most disputes is to try who shall conquer, or
confound the other. It is therefore no wonder that so little light is
struck out in conversation, where a candid inquiry after truth is the
least thing thought of.

By all means, shun the vulgar habit of joking at the expense of women.
All such tricks as refusing a lady a piece of tongue, because "_women
already have tongue enough_," are as vulgar as they are old and stale.
The man who does not respect woman, exposes himself to the suspicion of
associating generally with the fallen portion of the sex. And besides,
he has no right to make a respectable parlor or drawing-room the theater
of such vulgar jokes and railing against the sex as go down in low

If a man complains to you of his wife, a woman of her husband, a parent
of a child, or a child of a parent, be very cautious how you meddle
between such near relations, to blame the behavior of one to the other.
You will only have the hatred of both parties, and do no good with
either. But this does not hinder your giving both parties, or either,
your best advice in a prudent manner.

Be prudently secret. But don't affect to make a secret of what all the
world may know, nor give yourself airs of being as close as a
conspirator. You will better disappoint idle curiosity by seeming to
have nothing to conceal.

Never blame a friend without joining some commendation to make reproof
go down.

It is by giving free rein to folly, in conversation and action, that
people expose themselves to contempt and ridicule. The modest man may
deprive himself of some part of the applause of some sort of people in
conversation, by not shining altogether so much as he might have done.
Or he may deprive himself of some lesser advantages in life by his
reluctancy in putting himself forward. But it is only the rash and
impetuous talker, or actor, that effectually exposes himself in
company, or ruins himself in life. It is therefore easy to determine
which is the safest side to err on.

It is a base temper in mankind, that they will not take the smallest
slight at the hand of those who have done them the greatest kindness.

If you fall into the greatest company, in a natural and unforced way,
look upon yourself as one of them; and do not sneak, nor suffer any one
to treat you unworthily, without just showing that you know behavior.
But if you see them disposed to be rude, overbearing, or purse-proud, it
will be more decent and less troublesome to retire, than to wrangle with

There cannot be any practice more offensive than that of taking a person
aside to whisper in a room with company; yet this rudeness is of
frequent occurrence--and that with those who know it to be improper.

If at any time you chance, in conversation, to get on a side of an
argument which you find not to be tenable, or any other way over-shoot
yourself, turn off the subject in as easy and good humored a way as you
can. If you proceed still, and endeavor, right or wrong, to make your
first point good, you will only entangle yourself the more, and in the
end expose yourself.

Never over-praise any absent person, especially ladies, in company of
ladies. It is the way to bring envy and hatred upon those whom you wish
well to.

To try whether your conversation is likely to be acceptable to people of
sense, imagine what you say written down, or printed, and consider how
it would read; whether it would appear natural, improving and
entertaining; or affected, unmeaning, or mischievous.

It is better, in conversation with positive men, to turn off the subject
in dispute with some merry conceit, than keep up the contention to the
disturbance of the company.

Don't give your advice upon any extraordinary emergency, nor your
opinion upon any difficult point, especially in company of eminent
persons, without first taking time to deliberate. If you say nothing, it
may not be known whether your silence was owing to the ignorance of the
subject, or to modesty. If you give a rash and crude opinion, you are
effectually and irrecoverably exposed.

If you fill your fancy, while you are in company, with suspicions of
their thinking meanly of you; if you puff yourself up with imaginations
of appearing to them a very witty, or profound person; if you discompose
yourself with fears of misbehaving before them, or in any way put
yourself out of yourself, you will not appear in your natural color, but
in that of an affected, personated character, which is always

It may be useful to study, at leisure, a variety of proper phrases for
such occasions as are most frequent in life, as civilities to superiors,
expressions of kindness to inferiors; congratulations, condolence,
expressions of gratitude, acknowledgment of faults, asking or denying of
favors, etc. I prescribe no particular phrases, because, our language
continually fluctuating, they must soon become stiff and unfashionable.
The best method of acquiring the accomplishment of graceful and easy
manner of expression for the common occasions of life, is attention and
imitation of well-bred people. Nothing makes a man appear more
contemptible than barrenness, pedantry, or impropriety of expression.

Avoid flattery. A delicate compliment is permissible in conversation,
but flattery is broad, coarse, and to sensible people, disgusting. If
you flatter your superiors, they will distrust you, thinking you have
some selfish end; if you flatter ladies, they will despise you, thinking
you have no other conversation.

If you meet an ill-bred fellow in company, whose voice and manners are
offensive to you, you cannot resent it at the time, because by so doing
you compel the whole company to be spectators of your quarrel, and the
pleasure of the party would be spoiled.

If you must speak upon a difficult point, be the last speaker if you

You will not be agreeable to company, if you strive to bring in or keep
up a subject unsuitable to their capacities, or humor.

You will never convince a man of ordinary sense by overbearing his
understanding. If you dispute with him in such a manner as to show a due
deference for his judgment, your complaisance may win him, though your
saucy arguments could not.

Avoid appearing dogmatical and too positive in any assertions you make,
which can possibly be subject to any contradiction. He that is
peremptory in his own story, may meet with another as positive as
himself to contradict him, and then the two Sir Positives will be sure
to have a skirmish.

The frequent use of the name of God, or the Devil; allusions to passages
of Scripture; mocking at anything serious and devout, oaths, vulgar
by-words, cant phrases, affected hard words, when familiar terms will do
as well; scraps of _Latin_, _Greek_ or _French_; quotations from plays
spoke in a theatrical manner--all these, much used in conversation,
render a person very contemptible to grave and wise men.

If you send people away from your company well-pleased with themselves,
you need not fear but they will be well enough pleased with you, whether
they have received any instruction from you or not. Most people had
rather be pleased than instructed.

If you can express yourself to be perfectly understood in ten words,
never use a dozen. Go not about to prove, by a long series of reasoning,
what all the world is ready to own.

If any one takes the trouble of finding fault with you, you ought in
reason to suppose he has some regard for you, else he would not run the
hazard of disobliging you, and drawing upon himself your hatred.

Do not ruffle or provoke any man; why should any one be the worse for
coming into company with you? Be not yourself provoked. Why should you
give any man the advantage over you?

To say that one has opinions very different from those commonly
received, is saying that he either loves singularity, or that he thinks
for himself. Which of the two is the case, can only be found by
examining the grounds of his opinions.

Don't appear to the public too sure, or too eager upon any project. If
it should miscarry, which it is a chance but it does, you will be
laughed at. The surest way to prevent which, is not to tell your designs
or prospects in life.

If you give yourself a loose tongue in company, you may almost depend on
being pulled to pieces as soon as your back is turned, however they may
seem entertained with your conversation.

For common conversation, men of ordinary abilities will upon occasion do
well enough. And you may always pick something out of any man's
discourse, by which you may profit. For an intimate friend to improve
by, you must search half a country over, and be glad if you can find him
at last.

Don't give your time to every superficial acquaintance: it is bestowing
what is to you of inestimable worth, upon one who is not likely to be
the better for it.

If a person has behaved to you in an unaccountable manner, don't at once
conclude him a bad man, unless you find his character given up by all
who know him, nor then, unless the facts alleged against him be
undoubtedly proved, and wholly inexcusable. But this is not advising you
to trust a person whose character you have any reason to suspect.
Nothing can be more absurd than the common way of fixing people's
characters. Such a one has disobliged me, therefore he is a villain.
Such another has done me a kindness, therefore he is a saint.

Superficial people are more agreeable the first time you are in their
company, than ever afterwards. Men of judgment improve every succeeding
conversation; beware therefore of judging by one interview.

You will not anger a man so much by showing him that you hate him, as by
expressing a contempt of him.

Most women had rather have any of their good qualities slighted, than
their beauty. Yet that is the most inconsiderable accomplishment of a
woman of real merit.

You will be always reckoned by the world nearly of the same character
with those whose company you keep.

You will please so much the less, if you go into company determined to
shine. Let your conversation appear to rise out of thoughts suggested by
the occasion, not strained or premeditated: nature always pleases:
affectation is always odious.


It is hardly necessary to remind the reader that dress, though often
considered a trifling matter, is one of considerable importance, for a
man's personal appearance is a sort of "index and obscure prologue" to
his character.

Lord Chesterfield has said, "I cannot help forming some opinion of a
man's sense and character from his dress." Besides, the appearance of a
well-dressed man commands a certain degree of respect which would never
be shown to a sloven. As Shakspeare has written, "The world is still
deceived by ornament;" and there are those who associate fine clothes
with fine people so strongly, that they do not trouble themselves to
ascertain whether the wearers are worthy of respect, as others form
their opinions of books by the gilding of the leaves and beauty of the

The dress of a gentleman should be such as not to excite any special
observation, unless it be for neatness and propriety. The utmost care
should be exercised to avoid even the appearance of desiring to attract
attention by the peculiar formation of any article of attire, or by the
display of an immoderate quantity of jewelry, both being a positive
evidence of vulgarity. His dress should be studiously neat, leaving no
other impression than that of a well-dressed gentleman.

Well-bred people do not often dress in what is called the "height of the
fashion," as that is generally left to dandies and pretenders. But
still it is undoubtedly a great point gained to be well dressed. To be
fancifully dressed, in gaudy colors, is to be very badly dressed,
however, and is an example of ill taste which is rarely met with among
people of substantial good breeding.

Cleanliness and neatness are the invariable accompaniments of good
breeding. Every gentleman may not be dressed expensively, he may not be
able to do so; but water is cheap, and no gentleman will ever go into
company unmindful of cleanliness either in his person or apparel.

A well-dressed man does not require so much an extensive as a varied
wardrobe. He wants a different costume for every season and every
occasion; but if what he selects is simple rather than striking, he may
appear in the same clothes as often as he likes, as long as they are
fresh and appropriate to the season and the object. There are four kinds
of coats which he must have: a business coat, a frock-coat, a
dress-coat, and an over-coat. A well dressed man may do well with four
of the first, and one of each of the others per annum. An economical man
can get along with less.

Did any lady ever see a gentleman with an embroidered waistcoat, and a
profusion of chains, rings, and trinkets adorning his person?

Avoid affecting singularity in dress. Expensive dressing is no sign of a
gentleman. If a gentleman is able to dress expensively it is very well
for him to do so, but if _he is not able_ to wear ten-dollar broadcloth,
he may comfort himself with the reflection that cloth which costs but
five dollars a yard will look quite as well when made into a
well-fitting coat. With this suit, and well-made shoes, clean gloves, a
white pocket-handkerchief, and an easy and graceful deportment withal,
he may pass muster as a gentleman. Manners do quite as much to set off
a suit of clothes as clothes do to set off a graceful person.

A dress perfectly suited to a tall, good-looking man, may render one who
is neither, ridiculous; as although the former may wear a remarkable
waistcoat or singular coat, _almost_ with impunity, the latter, by
adopting a similar costume, exposes himself to the laughter of all who
see him. An unassuming simplicity in dress should always be preferred,
as it prepossesses every one in favor of the wearer.

Avoid what is called the "ruffianly style of dress," or the _nonchalant_
and _slouching_ appearance of a half-unbuttoned vest, and suspenderless
pantaloons. That sort of affectation is if possible even more disgusting
than the painfully elaborate frippery of the dandy.

Gentlemen never make any display of jewelry; that is given up entirely
to the dominion of female taste. But ladies of good taste seldom wear it
in the morning. It is reserved for evening display and for brilliant

The native independence of American character regards with disdain many
of the stringent social laws which are recognized in England and on the
continent. Thus, the dress which many of our countryman adopt for the
assembly-room and private parties would subject them to serious
annoyance abroad. A frock-coat would not be tolerated a moment in any
fashionable society in Europe, and whether it be esteemed a prejudice or
otherwise, we are free to confess that in our opinion it is a violation
of good taste, and unsuited either to a ball-room or private assembly.

We should, however, be far from denying the claim of gentleman to any
person, simply because he wore a frock-coat; for the fickle goddess,
Fashion, tolerates it to a certain extent in America; but if the
universal custom among the refined and polished members of society were
to exclude it, as in Europe, its use would manifest a contempt for the
opinion of others, of which no gentleman could be guilty.

If the title of gentleman should depend entirely and solely on one's
conformation to the laws of etiquette, the most unprincipled profligate
or debauchee might successfully wear it; it is, however, but the finish
and polish of the jewel--not the diamond itself.

If we were allowed to say anything to the ladies concerning dress in a
dictatorial way, and were sure of being obeyed, we should order them
generally to dress _less_. How often do we see a female attired in the
height of fashion, perfectly gorgeous in costume, sweeping along the
dusty street, perspiring under the weight of her finery--dressed, in
fact, in a manner fit only for a carriage. This is a very mistaken and
absurd fashion, and such people would be astonished to see the
simplicity of real aristocracy as regards dress.

In our allusions to the dress of a gentleman, we have urged a studied
simplicity of apparel; the same remarks are equally applicable to that
of a lady. Indeed, _simplicity_ is the grand secret of a lady's toilet.
When she burdens herself with a profusion of _bijouterie_ she rather
detracts from than adds to her personal appearance, while all _outré_
fashions and ultra styles of dress, though they excite attention,
neither win respect nor enhance the attraction of the wearer.

Some ladies, perhaps imagining that they are deficient in personal
charms--and we are willing to believe that there are such, although the
Chesterfieldian school of philosophers would ridicule the idea--endeavor
to make their clothes the spell of their attraction. With this end in
view, they labor by lavish expenditure to supply in expensive adornment
what they lack in beauty of form or feature. Unfortunately for their
success, elegant dressing does not depend upon expense. A lady might
wear the costliest silks that Italy could produce, adorn herself with
laces from Brussels which years of patient toil are required to
fabricate; she might carry the jewels of an Eastern princess around her
neck and upon her wrists and fingers, yet still, in appearance, be
essentially vulgar. These were as nothing without grace, without
adaptation, without a harmonious blending of colors, without the
exercise of discrimination and good taste.

The most appropriate and becoming dress is that which so harmonizes with
the figure as to make the apparel unobserved. When any particular
portion of it excites the attention, there is a defect, for the details
should not present themselves first but the result of perfect dressing
should be an _elegant woman_, the dress commanding no especial regard.
Men are but indifferent judges of the material of a lady's dress; in
fact, they care nothing about the matter. A modest countenance and
pleasing figure, habited in an inexpensive attire, would win more
attention from men, than awkwardness and effrontery, clad in the richest
satins of Stewart and the costliest gems of Tiffany.

There are occasionally to be found among both sexes, persons who neglect
their dress through a ridiculous affectation of singularity, and who
take pride in being thought utterly indifferent to their personal
appearance. Millionaires are very apt to manifest this characteristic,
but with them it generally arises through a miserly penuriousness of
disposition; their imitators, however, are even more deficient than they
in common sense.

Lavater has urged that persons habitually attentive to their attire,
display the same regularity in their domestic affairs. He also says:
"Young women who neglect their toilet and manifest little concern about
dress, indicate a general disregard of order--a mind but ill adapted to
the details of housekeeping--a deficiency of taste and of the qualities
that inspire love."

Hence the desire of exhibiting an amiable exterior is essentially
requisite in a young lady, for it indicates cleanliness, sweetness, a
love of order and propriety, and all those virtues which are attractive
to their associates, and particularly to those of the other sex.

Chesterfield asserts that a sympathy goes through every action of our
lives, and that he could not help conceiving some idea of people's sense
and character from the dress in which they appeared when introduced to

Another writer has remarked that he never yet met with a woman whose
general style of dress was chaste, elegant and appropriate, that he did
not find her on further acquaintance to be, in disposition and mind, an
object to admire and love.

The fair sex have the reputation of being passionately fond of dress,
and the love of it has been said to be natural to women. We are not
disposed to deny it, but we do not regard it as a weakness nor a
peculiarity to be condemned. Dress is the appropriate finish of beauty.
Some one has said that, "Without dress a handsome person is a gem, but a
gem that is not set. But dress," he further remarks, "must be consistent
with the graces and with nature."

"Taste," says a celebrated divine, "requires a congruity between the
internal character and the external appearance; the imagination will
involuntarily form to itself an idea of such a correspondence. First
ideas are, in general, of considerable consequence. I should therefore
think it wise in the female world to take care that their _appearance_
should not convey a forbidding idea to the most superficial observer."

As we have already remarked, the secret of perfect dressing is
simplicity, costliness being no essential element of real elegance. We
have to add that everything depends upon the judgment and good taste of
the wearer. These should always be a harmonious adaptation of one
article of attire to another, as also to the size, figure and complexion
of the wearer. There should be a correspondence in all parts of a lady's
toilet, so as to present a perfect entirety. Thus, when we see a female
of light, delicate complexion, penciling her eyebrows until they are
positively black, we cannot but entertain a contempt for her lack of
taste and good sense. There is a harmony in nature's tints which art can
never equal, much less improve.

A fair face is generally accompanied by blue eyes, light hair, eyebrows
and lashes. There is a delicacy and harmonious blending of
correspondences which are in perfect keeping; but if you sully the
eyebrows with blackness, you destroy all similitude of feature and
expression, and almost present a deformity.

We cannot but allude to the practice of using white paints, a habit
strongly to be condemned. If for no other reason than that poison lurks
beneath every layer, inducing paralytic affections and premature death,
they should be discarded--but they are a disguise which deceives no one,
even at a distance; there is a ghastly deathliness in the appearance of
the skin after it has been painted, which is far removed from the
natural hue of health.

The hostess should be particularly careful not to outshine her guests.
We have seen many instances where a lady, fond of dress, (and what lady
is not fond of dress?) and conscious that it is unbecoming to dress to
excess when visitors are invited, yet so unable to restrain the desire
of display, has made the whole of her guests look shabby, by the
contrast of her own gay colors. To dress meanly is a mark of disrespect
to the company, but it is equally so to make a very gay appearance. If
you make a grand display yourself, you are apt to appear as if you
wished to parade your appearance, and it is always safer to be under
than over the mark.

In going out, consider the sort of company you are likely to meet, and
endeavor to assimilate to them as much as possible--for to make a great
display elsewhere is an evidence of bad taste. But here if you miss the
happy medium, dress above the mark rather than below it, for you may
dress more out of doors than you may at home. Where dancing is expected
to take place, no one should go without new kid gloves; nothing is so
revolting as to see one person in an assembly ungloved, especially where
the heat of the room, and the exercise together, are sure to make the
hands redder than usual. Always wear your gloves in church or in a

We may add a few general maxims, applied to both sexes, and our task
will be done.

"All affectation in dress," says Chesterfield, "implies a flaw in the
understanding." One should, therefore, avoid being singular, or
attracting the notice, and the tongues of the sarcastic, by being

Never dress against any one. Choose those garments which suit you, and
look well upon you, perfectly irrespective of the fact that a lady or
gentleman in the same village or street may excel you.

When dressed for company, strive to appear as easy and natural as if you
were in undress. Nothing is more distressing to a sensitive person, or
more ridiculous to one gifted with an _esprit moqueur_, than to see a
lady laboring under the consciousness of a fine gown; or a gentleman who
is stiff, awkward, and ungainly in a bran-new coat.

Dress according to your age. It is both painful and ridiculous to see an
old lady dressed as a belle of four-and-twenty, or an old fellow, old
enough for a grandfather, affecting the costume and the manners of a

Young men should be _well_ dressed. Not foppishly, but neatly and well.
An untidy person at five-and-twenty, degenerates, very frequently, into
a sloven and a boor at fifty.

Be not too negligent, nor too studied in your attire; and lastly, let
your behavior and conversation suit the clothes you wear, so that those
who know you may feel that, after all, dress and external appearance is
the least portion of a LADY or GENTLEMAN.


The custom which prevails in country places of introducing everybody you
meet to each other, is both an annoying and an improper one. As a
general rule, introductions ought not to be made, except where there is
undoubted evidence that the acquaintance would be mutually agreeable and

But if you should find an agreeable person in private society, who seems
desirous of making your acquaintance, there cannot be any objection to
your meeting his advances half way, although the ceremony of an
"introduction" may not have taken place; his presence in your friend's
house being a sufficient guarantee for his respectability, as of course
if he were an improper person he would not be there.

It is customary in introducing people, to present the youngest person to
the oldest, or the humblest to the highest in position, if there is any

In introducing a gentleman to a lady, address her first, thus: "Miss
Mason, permit me to present you to Mr. Kent;" or, "Mr. Trevor, I have
the pleasure of presenting to you Mr. Marlow." When one lady is married,
and the other single, present the single lady to the matron--"Miss
Harris, allow me to introduce you to Mrs. Martin."

When you introduce parties whom you are quite sure will be pleased with
each other, it is well to add, after the introduction, that you take
great pleasure in making them acquainted, which will be an assurance to
each that you think they are well matched, and thus they are prepared to
be friends from the start.

In introducing parties, be careful to pronounce each name distinctly, as
there is nothing more awkward than to have one's name miscalled.

In introducing a foreigner, it is proper to present him as "Mr. Leslie,
from England;" "Mr. La Rue from France." Likewise when presenting an
American who has recently returned after traveling in distant lands,
make him known as "Mr. Dunlap, lately from France," or "Mr. Meadows,
recently from Italy."

It is very easy to make these slight specifications, and they at once
afford an opening for conversation between the two strangers, for
nothing will be more natural than to ask "the recently arrived"
something about his voyage, or the places he has seen during his

When presenting a governor, designate the State he governs--as,
"Governor Fenton of New York." In introducing a member of Congress,
mention the State to which he belongs, as "Mr. Sherman of Ohio," or "Mr.
Banks of Massachusetts." Do not forget that Congress includes the two
legislative bodies.

When introducing any of the members of your own family, mention the name
in an audible tone. It is not considered sufficient to say "My father,"
"My mother," "My sister," or "My brother." But say, "My father, Mr.
Stanley," "My brother, Mr. Weston," "My sister, Miss or Mrs. Hope." It
is best to be explicit in all these things, for there may be more than
one surname in the family. The eldest daughter should be introduced by
her surname only, as, "Miss Sherwood," her younger sisters, as "Miss
Maud Sherwood," "Miss Mary Sherwood."

In presenting a clergyman, do not neglect to put "Reverend" before his
name. If he is a D. D. say, "The Reverend Doctor." If he is a bishop,
then the word bishop is sufficient.

When you are introduced to a person, be careful not to appear as though
you had never heard of him before. If he happens to be a person of any
distinction, such a mistake would be unpardonable, and no person is
complimented by being reminded of the fact that his name is unknown.

If by any misfortune you have been introduced to a person whose
acquaintance you do not desire, you can merely make the formal bow of
etiquette when you meet him, which, of itself, encourages no
familiarity; but _the bow is indispensable_, for he cannot be thought a
gentleman who would pass another with a vacant stare, after having been
formally presented to him. By so doing, he would offer a slight which
would justly make him appear contemptible even in the eyes of the person
he means to humble.

What is called "cutting" another is never practiced by gentlemen or
ladies, except in some extraordinary instances of bad conduct on the
part of the individual thus sacrificed. An increased degree of ceremony
and formal politeness is the most delicate way of withdrawing from an
unpleasant acquaintance. Indeed, what is called "cutting" is rarely ever
practiced by well-bred ladies and gentlemen.

On introduction in a room, a married lady generally offers her hand, a
young lady not; in a ball-room, where the introduction is to dancing,
not to friendship, you never shake hands; and as a general rule, an
introduction is not followed by shaking hands--only by a bow. It may
perhaps be laid down, that the more public the place of introduction,
the less hand-shaking takes place; but if the introduction be
particular, if it be accompanied by personal recommendation, such as, "I
want you to know my friend Jones," then you give Jones your hand, and
warmly too.

It is understood in society, that a person who has been _properly_
introduced to you, has some claim on your good offices in future; you
cannot therefore slight him without good reason, and the chance of being
called to an account for it.


Letters of introduction are to be regarded as certificates of
respectability, and are therefore never to be given where you do not
feel sure on this point. To send a person of whom you know nothing into
the confidence and family of a friend, is an unpardonable recklessness.
In England, letters of introduction are called "tickets to soup,"
because it is generally customary to invite a gentleman to dine who
comes with a letter of introduction to you. Such is also the practice,
to some extent, in this country, but etiquette _here_ does not make the
dinner so essential as _there_.

In England, the party holding a letter of introduction never takes it
himself to the party to whom it is addressed, but he sends it with his
card of address.

In France, and on the continent of Europe generally, directly the
reverse is the fashion. In America the English custom generally
prevails; though where a young gentleman has a letter to one who is many
years his senior, or to one whose aid he seeks in some enterprise, he
takes it at once himself.

When a gentleman, bearing a letter of introduction to you, leaves his
card, you should call on him, or send a note, as early as possible.
There is no greater insult than to treat a letter of introduction with
indifference--it is a slight to the stranger as well as to the
introducer, which no subsequent attentions will cancel. After you have
made this call, it is, to some extent, optional with you as to what
further attentions you shall pay the party. In this country everybody is
supposed to be very busy, which is always a sufficient excuse for not
paying elaborate attentions to visitors. It is not demanded that any man
shall neglect his business to wait upon visitors or guests.

Do not imagine these little ceremonies to be insignificant and beneath
your attention; they are the customs of society; and if you do not
conform to them, you will gain the unenviable distinction of being
pointed out as an ignorant, ill-bred person. Not that you may _care_ the
more for strangers by showing them civility, but you should scrupulously
avoid the imputation of being deficient in good-breeding; and if you do
not choose to be polite for _their_ sakes, you ought to be so for _your

Letters of introduction should only be given by actual friends of the
persons addressed, and to actual friends of their own. Never, if you are
wise, give a letter to a person whom you do not know, nor address one to
one whom you know slightly. The letter of introduction, if actually
given to its bearer, should be left unsealed, that he may not incur the
fate of the Persian messenger, who brought tablets of introduction
recommending the new acquaintance to cut his head off. A letter of this
kind must therefore be carefully worded, stating in full the name of the
person introduced, but with as few remarks about him as possible. It is
generally sufficient to say that he is a friend of yours, whom you trust
your other friend will receive with attention, etc. In traveling it is
well to have as many letters as possible, but not to pin your faith on


Invitations to dine, from a married party, are sent in some such form as
the following:

     Mr. and Mrs. A---- present their compliments to Mr. and Mrs. B----,
     and request the honor, [or hope to have the pleasure] of their
     company to dinner on Wednesday, the 10th of December next, at

     A---- Street, November 18th, 18--.

                                                             R. S. V. P.

The letters in the corner imply "_Répondez, s'il vous plait_;" meaning,
"an answer will oblige." The reply, accepting the invitation, is
concluded in the following terms:

     Mr. and Mrs. B---- present their compliments to Mr. and Mrs. A----,
     and will do themselves the honor, [or will have much pleasure in]
     accepting their kind invitation to dinner on the 10th of December

     B---- Square, November 21st, 18--.

The answer to invitations to dine, accepting or declining, should be
sent immediately, and are always addressed to the lady. If, after you
have accepted an invitation, anything occurs to render it impossible for
you to go, the lady should be informed of it immediately. It is a great
breach of etiquette not to answer an invitation as soon after it is
received as possible, and it is an insult to disappoint when we have

Cards or invitations for a dinner party, should be issued at least two
weeks beforehand, and care should be taken by the hostess, in the
selection of the invited guests, that they should be suited to each
other. Much also of the pleasure of the dinner-party will depend on the
arrangement of the guests at table, so as to form a due admixture of
talkers and listeners, the grave and the gay.

Letters or cards of invitation should always name the hour of dinner;
and well-bred people will arrive as nearly at the specified time as they
can. Be sure and not be a minute behind the time, and you should not get
there long before, unless the invitation requests you particularly to
come early for a little chat before dinner.

It is always best for the lady of the house, where a dinner-party is to
come off, to be dressed and ready to appear in the drawing-room as early
as possible, so that if any of the guests should happen to come a little
early, she may be prepared to receive them. It is awkward for both
parties where visitors arrive before the lady of the house is ready for
them. If it is necessary for her to keep an eye upon the dinner, it is
still best that she should familiarly receive her guests, and beg to be
excused, if it is necessary for her to vanish occasionally to the
kitchen. A real lady is not ashamed to have it known that she goes into
the kitchen; on the contrary, it is more likely that she will be a
little proud of being thought capable of superintending the preparing

It is not in good taste for the lady of the house, where a dinner-party
is given, to dress very much. She leaves it for her lady-guests to make
what display they please, and she offers no rivalry to their fine
things. She contents herself with a tasty _négligé_, which often proves
the most fascinating equipment after all, especially, if the cheeks
become a little flushed with natural bloom, in consequence of the
exercise and anxiety incident to the reception of the guests.

The half hour before dinner has always been considered as the great
ordeal through which the lady of the house, in giving a dinner-party,
will either pass with flying colors, or lose many of her laurels. The
anxiety to receive her guests, her hope that all will be present in good
time, her trust in the skill of her cook, and the attention of the other
domestics all tend to make the few minutes a trying time. The lady
however, must display no kind of agitation, but show her tact in
suggesting light and cheerful subjects of conversation, which will be
much aided by the introduction of any particular new book, curiosity of
art, or article of _virtu_, which may pleasantly engage the attention of
the company.

"Waiting for dinner," however, is a trying time, and there are few who
have not felt----

      "How sad it is to sit and pine,
      The long _half-hour_ before we dine!
      Upon our watches oft we look,
      Then wonder at the clock and cook,

      And strive to laugh in spite of Fate!
      But laughter forced, soon quits  the room,
      And leaves it to its former gloom.
      But lo! the dinner now appears,
      The object of our hope and fears,
          The end of all our pain!"

In giving an entertainment of this kind, the lady should remember that
it is her duty to make her guests feel happy, comfortable, and quite at
their ease; and the guests should also consider that they have come to
the house of their hostess to be happy.

When dinner is on the table, the lady and gentleman of the house will
have an opportunity of showing their tact by seeing that the most
distinguished guests, or the _oldest_, are shown into the dining-room
first, and by making those companions at the table who are most likely
to be agreeable to each other. The lady of the house may lead the way,
or follow her guests into the dining-room, as she pleases. Among those
who delight to follow the etiquette of the English nobility, the latter
practice is followed. But the practice must not be considered a test of
good breeding in America. If the lady leads, the husband will follow
behind the guests, with the lady on his arm who is to sit at his side.
The old custom is still followed to some extent in this country, of the
lady taking the head of the table, with the two most favored guests
seated, the one at her right and the other at her left hand; while the
gentleman of the house takes the foot of the table, supported on each
side by the two ladies most entitled to consideration. But this old rule
is by no means slavishly followed in polite society in this country.

In order to be able to watch the course of the dinner, and to see that
nothing is wanting to their guests, the lady and gentleman of the house
usually seat themselves in the centre of the table, opposite each other.

When all the guests are seated, the lady of the house serves in plates,
from a pile at her left hand, the soup, which she sends round, beginning
with her neighbors right and left, and continuing till all are helped.
These first plates usually pass twice, for each guest endeavors to
induce his neighbor to accept what was sent to him.

The gentleman then carves, or causes to be carved by some expert guest,
the large pieces, in order afterwards to do the other honors himself. If
you have no skill in carving meats, do not attempt it; nor should you
ever discharge this duty except when your good offices are solicited by
him; neither can we refuse anything sent us from his hand.


As soon as dinner is announced, the host or hostess will give the signal
for leaving the drawing-room, and in all probability you will be
requested to escort one of the ladies to the table. If this should
occur, offer the lady your left arm, and at the table remain standing
until every lady is seated, then take the place assigned to you by the
hostess. When you leave the parlor, pass out first, and the lady will
follow you, still lightly holding your arm. At the door of the
dining-room, the lady will drop your arm. You should then pass in, and
wait at one side of the entrance till she passes you. Having arrived at
the table, each gentleman respectfully salutes the lady whom he
conducts, who in her turn, also bows and takes her seat.

Nothing indicates the good breeding of a gentleman so much as his
manners at table. There are a thousand little points to be observed,
which, although not absolutely necessary, distinctly stamp the refined
and well-bred man. A man may pass muster by _dressing well_, and may
sustain himself tolerably in conversation; but if he be not perfectly
_"au fait," dinner_ will betray him.

Any unpleasant peculiarity, abruptness, or coarseness of manners, is
especially offensive at table. People are more easily disgusted at that
time than at any other. All such acts as leaning over on one side in
your chair, placing your elbows on the table, or on the back of your
neighbor's chair, gaping, twisting about restlessly in your seat, are
to be avoided as heresies of the most infidel stamp at table.

Though the body at table should always be kept in a tolerably upright
and easy position, yet one need not sit bolt-upright, as stiff and prim
as a poker. To be easy, to be natural, and to appear comfortable, is the
deportment required.

Always go to a dinner as neatly dressed as possible. The expensiveness
of your apparel is not of much importance, but its freshness and
cleanliness are indispensable. The hands and finger-nails require
especial attention. It is a great insult to every lady at the table for
a man to sit down to dinner with his hands in a bad condition.

It is considered vulgar to take fish or soup twice. The _reason_ for not
being helped twice to fish or soup at a large dinner-party is, because
by doing so you keep three parts of the company staring at you whilst
waiting for the second course, which is spoiling, much to the annoyance
of the mistress of the house. The selfish greediness, therefore, of so
doing constitutes its vulgarity. At a family dinner it is of less
importance, and is consequently often done.

You will sip your soup as quietly as possible from the side of the
spoon, and you, of course, will not commit the vulgarity of blowing in
it, or trying to cool it, after it is in your mouth, by drawing in an
unusual quantity of air, for by so doing you would be sure to annoy, if
you did not turn the stomach of the lady or gentleman next to you.

Be careful and do not touch either your knife or your fork until after
you have finished eating your soup. Leave your spoon in your soup plate,
that the servant may remove them.

Never _use your knife to convey_ your food to your mouth, _under any
circumstances_; it is unnecessary, and glaringly vulgar. Feed yourself
with a _fork_ or _spoon_, _nothing else_--a knife is only to be used for

If at dinner you are requested to help any one to sauce, do not pour it
over the meat or vegetables, but on one side. If you should have to
carve and help a joint, do not load a person's plate--it is vulgar; also
in serving soup, one ladleful to each plate is sufficient.

Fish should always be helped with a silver fish-slice, and your own
portion of it divided by the fork aided by a piece of bread. The
application of a knife to fish is likely to destroy the delicacy of its
flavor; besides which, fish sauces are often acidulated; acids corrode
steel, and draw from it a disagreeable taste.

The lady and gentleman of the house are, of course, helped last, and
they are very particular to notice, every minute, whether the waiters
are attentive to every guest. But they do not press people either to eat
more than they appear to want, nor _insist_ upon their partaking of any
particular dish. It is allowable for you to recommend, so far as to say
that it is considered "excellent," but remember that tastes differ, and
dishes which suit _you_, may be unpleasant to others; and that, in
consequence of your urgency, some modest people might feel themselves
compelled to partake of what is disagreeable to them.

Neither ladies nor gentlemen ever wear gloves at table, unless their
hands, from some cause, are not fit to be seen.

Avoid too slow or too rapid eating; the one will appear as though you
did not like your dinner, and the other as though you were afraid you
would not get enough.

Making a noise in chewing your food, or breathing hard in eating, are
unseemly habits, which will be sure to get you a bad name at table,
among people of good-breeding. Let it be a sacred rule that _you cannot
use your knife, or fork, or teeth too quietly_.

Avoid picking your teeth, if possible, at table, for however agreeable
such a practice might be to yourself, it may be offensive to others. The
habit which some have of holding one hand over the mouth, does not avoid
the vulgarity of teeth-picking at table.

Unless you are requested to do so, never select any particular part of a
dish; but if your host asks you what part you prefer, name some part, as
in this case the incivility would consist in making your host choose as
well as carve for you.

If your host or hostess passes you a plate, keep it, especially if you
have chosen the food upon it, for others have also a choice, and by
passing it, you may give your neighbor dishes distasteful to him, and
take yourself those which he would much prefer.

If a dish is distasteful to you, decline it, but make no remarks about
it. It is sickening and disgusting to explain at a table how one article
makes you sick, or why some other dish has become distasteful to you. I
have seen a well-dressed tempting dish go from a table untouched,
because one of the company told a most disgusting anecdote about finding
vermin served in a similar dish.

If the meat or fish upon your plate is too rare or too well-done, do not
eat it; give for an excuse that you prefer some other dish before you;
but never tell your host that his cook has made the dish uneatable.

If a gentleman is seated by the side of a lady or elderly person,
politeness requires him to save them all trouble of pouring out for
themselves to drink, and of obtaining whatever they are in want of at
the table. He should be eager to offer them whatever he thinks to be
most to their taste.

Never pare an apple or a pear for a lady unless she desire you, and then
be careful to use your fork to hold it; you may sometimes offer to
_divide a very large pear_ with or for a person.

It is not good taste to praise extravagantly every dish that is set
before you; but if there are some things that are really very nice, it
is well to speak in their praise. But, above all things, avoid seeming
indifferent to the dinner that is provided for you, as that might be
construed into a dissatisfaction with it.

Some persons, in helping their guests, or recommending dishes to their
taste, preface every such action with a eulogy on its merits, and draw
every bottle of wine with an account of its virtues; others, running
into the contrary extreme, regret or fear that each dish is not exactly
as it should be; that the cook, etc., etc. Both of these habits are
grievous errors. You should leave it to your guests alone to approve, or
suffer one of your intimate friends who is present, to vaunt your wine.

If you ask the waiter for anything, you will be careful to speak to him
gently in the tone of _request_, and not of _command_. To speak to a
waiter in a driving manner will create, among well-bred people, the
suspicion that you were sometime a servant yourself, and are putting on
_airs_ at the thought of your promotion. Lord Chesterfield says: "If I
tell a footman to bring me a glass of wine, in a rough, insulting
manner, I should expect that, in obeying me, he would contrive to spill
some of it upon me, and I am sure I should deserve it."

Should your servants break anything while you are at table, never turn
round, or inquire into the particulars, however annoyed you may feel.
If your servants betray stupidity or awkwardness in waiting on your
guests, avoid reprimanding them _publicly_, as it only draws attention
to their errors, and adds to their embarrassment.

Never commit the vulgarism of speaking when you have any food in your

When you have occasion to change or pass your plate during dinner, be
careful and remove your knife and fork, that the plate _alone_ may be
taken, but after you have finished your dinner, cross the knife and fork
on the plate, that the servant may take all away, before bringing you
clean ones for dessert.

Do not put butter on your bread at dinner, and avoid biting or cutting
your bread from the slice, or roll; rather break off small pieces, and
put these in your mouth with your fingers.

It is considered vulgar to dip a piece of bread into the preserves or
gravy upon your plate and then bite it. If you desire to eat them
together, it is much better to break the bread in small pieces, and
convey these to your mouth with your fork.

Avoid putting bones, or the seeds of fruit, upon your table-cloth.
Rather place them upon the edge of your plate.

When you wish to help yourself to butter, salt, or sugar, use the
butter-knife, salt-spoon and sugar-tongs; to use your own knife, spoon
or fingers evinces great ignorance and ill-breeding.

It is customary in some American families to serve their guests with
coffee in the parlor after dinner. But this is a European custom which
is not generally practiced in polite American society. When coffee is
given at the close of the dinner, it is more usual to serve it before
the guests leave the table. The practice of handing it round in the
parlor or drawing-room, is an unnecessary inconvenience to the guests
particularly, without any compensating advantages.

Finger-glasses are generally handed round as soon as the viands are
removed, but they are intended merely to wet the fingers and around the
mouth. When the finger-glasses are passed, wet your fingers in them and
then wipe them upon your napkin. The habit of rinsing the mouth at table
is a disgusting piece of indelicacy, which is never practiced by any
well-bred person.

Upon leaving the table, lay your napkin beside your plate, but do not
fold it.

Do not leave the table until the lady of the house gives the signal, and
when you leave offer your arm to the lady whom you escorted to the

It is generally the custom in this country for ladies to retain their
seats at table till the end of the feast, but if they withdraw, the
gentlemen all rise when they leave the table, and remain standing until
they have left the room.

Politeness demands that you remain at least an hour in the parlor, after
dinner; and, if you can dispose of an entire evening, it would be well
to devote it to the person who has entertained you. It is excessively
rude to leave the house as soon as dinner is over.


Almost every gentleman has wine at his table whenever he has invited
guests. Indeed, wine is considered an indispensable part of a good
dinner, to which ladies and gentlemen have been formally invited. Even
if you are a total-abstinence man yourself, you will not, if you are
really a gentleman, attempt to compel all your guests to be so against
their wish. If you are so fanatical that you have what is called
"conscientious scruples" against furnishing wine, then you should invite
none to dine who are not as fanatical and bigoted as yourself. You must
consider that a gentleman may have "conscientious scruples" against
dining with you on cold water, for there are even temperate and sober
gentleman who would go without meat as soon as be deprived of their
glass of wine at dinner. The vegetarian, who would force his guests to
dine on cabbages and onions, is hardly guilty of a greater breach of
etiquette than the total-abstinence fanatic who would compel his guests
to go without wine.

If there is a gentleman at the table who is known to be a
total-abstinence man, you will not urge him to drink. He will suffer his
glass to be filled at the first passage of the wine, and raising it to
his lips, will bow his respects with the rest of the guests, and after
that his glass will be allowed to remain untouched. As little notice as
possible should be taken of his total-abstinence peculiarity. And, if he
is a gentleman, he will carefully avoid drawing attention to it

It is not now the custom to ask a lady across the table to take wine
with you. It is expected that every lady will be properly helped to wine
by the gentleman who takes her to the table, or who sits next to her.
But if you are in company where the old custom prevails, it would be
better breeding to follow the custom of the place, rather than by an
omission of what your entertainer considers civility, to prove him, in
face of his guests, to be either ignorant or vulgar. If either a lady or
gentleman is invited to take wine at table, they must _never refuse_; if
they do not _drink_, they need only touch the wine to their lips. Do not
offer to help a lady to wine until you see she has finished her soup or

Always wipe your mouth before drinking, as nothing is more ill-bred than
to grease your glass with your lips.

Do not propose to take wine with your host; it is his privilege to
invite you.

It is considered well bred to take the same wine as that selected by the
person with whom you drink. When, however, the wine chosen by him is
unpalatable to you, it is allowable to take that which you prefer, at
the same time apologizingly saying, "Will you permit me to drink
_claret_?" or whatever wine you have selected.

In inviting a lady to take wine with you at table, you should politely
say, "Shall I have the pleasure of a glass of wine with you?" You will
then either hand her the bottle you have selected, or send it by the
waiter, and afterwards fill your own glass, when you will politely and
silently bow to each other, as you raise the wine to your lips. The same
ceremony is to be observed when inviting a gentleman.

On raising the first glass of wine to his lips, it is customary for a
gentleman to bow to the lady of the house.

It is not customary to propose _toasts_ or to drink deep at a
gentleman's family table. Lord Byron describes "a largish party," as
"first silent, then talky, then argumentative, then disputatious, then
unintelligible, then altogethery, then drunk." But this was "a largish
party," which, it is to be hoped, was given at a tavern; for the man who
drinks to intoxication, or to any considerable degree of _elevation_, at
a gentleman's family table, ought never to expect to be invited a second

At dinner-parties which are given to gentlemen, for the purpose of
conviviality, one may indulge in as much wine as he pleases, provided he
does not get _drunk_, and make a nuisance of himself. Where drinking,
and toasting, and bumpers, are the order of the feast, as at a public
dinner, given in honor of a distinguished man, or at the inauguration of
some public enterprise, far greater latitude is allowed, in all things,
than on more private and select occasions.

In conclusion of our article on table etiquette, we quote from a recent
English work, some humorous, but valuable hints:

"We now come to habits at table, which are very important. However
agreeable a man may be in society, if he offends or disgusts by his
table traits, he will soon be scouted from it, and justly so. There are
some broad rules for behavior at table. Whenever there is a servant to
help you, never help yourself. Never put a knife into your mouth, not
even with cheese, which should be eaten with a fork. Never use a spoon
for anything but liquids. Never touch anything edible with your fingers.

"Forks were undoubtedly a later invention than fingers, but as we are
not cannibals, I am inclined to think they were a good one. There are
some few things which you may take up with your fingers. Thus an
epicure will eat even macaroni with his fingers; and as sucking
asparagus is more pleasant than chewing it, you may, as an epicure, take
it up _au naturel_. But both these things are generally eaten with a
fork. Bread is, of course, eaten with the fingers, and it would be
absurd to carve it with your knife and fork. It must, on the contrary,
always be broken when not buttered, and you should never put a slice of
dry bread to your mouth to bite a piece off. Most fresh fruit, too, is
eaten with the natural prongs, but when you have peeled an orange or
apple, you should cut it with the aid of the fork, unless you can
succeed in breaking it. Apropos of which, I may hint that no epicure
ever yet put a knife to an apple, and that an orange should be peeled
with a spoon. But the art of peeling an orange so as to hold its own
juice, and its own sugar too, is one that can scarcely be taught in a

"However, let us go to dinner, and I will soon tell you whether you are
a well-bred man or not; and here let me premise that what is good
manners for a small dinner is good manners for a large one, and _vice
versa_. Now, the first thing you do is to sit down. Stop, sir! pray do
not cram yourself into the table in that way; no, nor sit a yard from
it, like that. How graceless, inconvenient, and in the way of
conversation! Why, dear me! you are positively putting your elbows on
the table, and now you have got your hands fumbling about with the
spoons and forks, and now you are nearly knocking my new hock glasses
over. Can't you take your hands down, sir? Didn't you, learn that in the
nursery? Didn't your mamma say to you, "Never put your hands above the
table except to carve or eat?" Oh! but come, no nonsense, sit up, if you
please. I can't have your fine head of hair forming a side dish on my
table; you must not bury your face in the plate; you came to show it,
and it ought to be alive. Well, but there is no occasion to throw your
head back like that, you look like an alderman, sir, _after_ dinner.
Pray, don't lounge in that sleepy way. You are here to eat, drink, and
be merry. You can sleep when you get home.

"Well, then, I suppose you can see your napkin. Got none, indeed! Very
likely, in _my_ house. You may be sure that I never sit down to a meal
without napkins. I don't want to make my tablecloths unfit for use, and
I don't want to make my trousers unwearable. Well, now, we are all
seated, you can unfold it on your knees; no, no; don't tuck it into your
waistcoat like an alderman; and what! what on earth do you mean by
wiping your forehead with it? Do you take it for a towel? Well, never
mind, I am consoled that you did not go farther, and use it as a
pocket-handkerchief. So talk away to the lady on your right, and wait
till soup is handed to you. By the way, that waiting is the most
important part of table manners, and, as much as possible, you should
avoid asking for anything or helping yourself from the table. Your soup
you eat with a spoon--I don't know what else you _could_ eat it
with--but then it must be one of good size. Yes, that will do, but I beg
you will not make that odious noise in drinking your soup. It is louder
than a dog lapping water, and a cat would be quite genteel to it. Then
you need not scrape up the plate in that way, nor even tilt it to get
the last drop. I shall be happy to send you some more; but I must just
remark, that it is not the custom to take two helpings of soup, and it
is liable to keep other people waiting, which, once for all, is a
selfish and intolerable habit. But don't you hear the servant offering
you sherry? I wish you would attend, for my servants have quite enough
to do, and can't wait all the evening while you finish that very mild
story to Miss Goggles. Come, leave that decanter alone. I had the wine
put on the table to fill up; the servants will hand it directly, or, as
we are a small party, I will tell you to help yourself; but pray, do
not be so officious. (There, I have sent him some turbot to keep him
quiet. I declare he cannot make up his mind.) You are keeping my servant
again, sir. Will you, or will you not, do turbot? Don't examine it in
that way; it is quite fresh, I assure you; take or decline it. Ah, you
take it, but that is no reason why you should take up a knife too. Fish,
I repeat, must never be touched with a knife. Take a fork in the right
and a small piece of bread in the left hand. Good, but----? Oh! that is
atrocious; of course you must not swallow the bones, but you should
rather do so than spit them out in that way. Put up your napkin like
this, and land the said bone on your plate. Don't rub your head in the
sauce, my good man, nor go progging about after the shrimps or oysters
therein. Oh! how horrid! I declare your mouth was wide open and full of
fish. Small pieces, I beseech you; and once for all, whatever you eat,
keep your mouth _shut_, and never attempt to talk with it full.

"So now you have got a pâté. Surely you are not taking two on your
plate! There is plenty of dinner to come, and one is quite enough. Oh!
dear me, you are incorrigible. What! a knife to cut that light brittle
pastry? No, nor fingers, never. Nor a spoon--almost as bad. Take your
fork, sir, your fork; and, now you have eaten, oblige me by wiping your
mouth and moustache with your napkin, for there is a bit of the pastry
hanging to the latter, and looking very disagreeable. Well, you can
refuse a dish if you like. There is no positive necessity for you to
take venison if you don't want it. But, at any rate, do not be in that
terrific hurry. You are not going off by the next train. Wait for the
sauce and wait for the vegetables; but whether you eat them or not, do
not begin before everybody else. Surely you must take my table for that
of a railway refreshment-room, for you have finished before the person I
helped first. Fast eating is bad for the digestion, my good sir, and not
very good manners either. What! are you trying to eat meat with a fork
alone? Oh! it is sweetbread; I beg your pardon, you are quite right. Let
me give you a rule: Everything that can be cut without a knife, should
be cut with a fork alone. Eat your vegetables, therefore, with a fork.
No, there is no necessity to take a spoon for peas; a fork in the right
hand will do. What! did I really see you put your knife into your mouth?
Then I must give you up. Once for all, and ever, the knife is to cut,
not to help with. Pray, do not munch in that noisy manner; chew your
food well, but softly. _Eat slowly._ Have you not heard that Napoleon
lost the battle of Leipsic by eating too fast? It is a fact though. His
haste caused indigestion, which made him incapable of attending to the
details of the battle. You see you are the last person eating at table.
Sir, I will not allow you to speak to my servants in that way. If they
are so remiss as to oblige you to ask for anything, do it gently, and in
a low tone, and thank a servant just as much as you would his master.
Ten to one he is as good a man; and because he is your inferior in
position, is the very reason you should treat him courteously. Oh! it is
of no use to ask me to take wine; far from pacifying me, it will only
make me more angry, for I tell you the custom is quite gone out, except
in a few country villages, and at a mess-table. Nor need you ask the
lady to do so. However, there is this consolation, if you should ask any
one to take wine with you, he or she _cannot_ refuse, so you have your
own way. Perhaps next you will be asking me to hob and nob, or
_trinquer_ in the French fashion with arms encircled. Ah! you don't
know, perhaps, that when a lady _trinques_ in that way with you, you
have a right to finish off with a kiss. Very likely, indeed! But it _is_
the custom in familiar circles in France, but then we are not Frenchmen.
_Will_ you attend to your lady, sir? You did not come merely to eat, but
to make yourself agreeable. Don't sit as glum as the Memnon at Thebes;
talk and be pleasant. Now you have some pudding. No knife--no, _no_. A
spoon, if you like, but better still, a fork. Yes, ice requires a spoon;
there is a small one handed you, take that.

"Say 'no.' This is the fourth time wine has been handed to you, and I am
sure you have had enough. Decline this time if you please. Decline that
dish too. Are you going to eat of everything that is handed? I pity you
if you do. No, you must not ask for more cheese, and you must eat it
with your fork. Break the rusk with your fingers. Good. You are drinking
a glass of old port. Do not quaff it down at a gulp in that way. Never
drink a whole glassful of anything at once.

"Well, here is the wine and dessert. Take whichever wine you like, but
remember you must keep to that, and not change about. Before you go up
stairs I will allow you a glass of sherry after your claret, but
otherwise drink of one wine only! You don't mean to say you are helping
yourself to wine before the ladies! At least, offer it to the one next
to you, and then pass it on, gently, not with a push like that. Do not
drink so fast; you will hurry me in passing the decanters, if I see that
your glass is empty. You need not eat dessert till the ladies are gone,
but offer them whatever is nearest to you. And now they are gone, draw
your chair near mine, and I will try and talk more pleasantly to you.
You will come out admirably at your next dinner with all my teaching.
What! you are excited, you are talking loud to the colonel. Nonsense!
Come and talk easily to me or to your nearest neighbor. There, don't
drink any more wine, for I see you are getting romantic. You oblige me
to make a move. You have had enough of those walnuts; you are keeping
me, my dear sir. So now to coffee [one cup] and tea, which I beg you
will not pour into your saucer to cool. Well, the dinner has done you
good, and me too. Let us be amiable to the ladies, but not too much


Carving is an art which every parent should teach his sons and
daughters. Nothing can be more disagreeable and unpleasant than to be
placed before any particular dish without being able to help it
properly. It is generally the case when the head of the family is a good
carver; for he so objects to see things badly cut, that he prefers
carving everything himself. We remember once, when very young, being
invited to a large dinner, and we were placed before a ham. We began to
hack this article, when the general, the founder of the feast, said to
his servant, "Take that ham away from that young gentleman, and place it
before some one who knows how to carve." From that moment we determined
to achieve the art of carving, and after great difficulty we succeeded,
and succeeded so well that once, in carving a hare, a clergyman, one of
the guests, remarked what an excellent invention that of boning a hare
was, we carved it with so much ease; but determined to have a joke at
the expense of the clergyman, we laid down the knife and fork, and said,
"Sir, we are surprised that you could express such an opinion, when it
is well known that it has filled more jails and sent more men to the
treadmill than any other thing you can name." "What, sir, taking the
bones out of a hare?" "No, sir, 'boning' the hare first." No one can
carve without practice, and consequently children ought to begin young,
in order to acquire a thorough knowledge of the art. It is difficult to
describe the method of carving, even with drawings or diagrams; but the
reader who wishes to learn, may, by observing how good carvers proceed,
and applying what he has seen to what he reads, with practice, soon
become an adept.

And first, never stand up to carve; this is the greatest vulgarity, and
even a very short man need not stand up. A little, deformed, hump-back
friend of ours, used to give very good dinners; he carved well, and
delighted in showing it, but he had a failing--always to have very large
joints of meat before him. One day a stranger guest arrived late, dinner
had been served, even soup and fish had been removed; the host was
absolutely hidden behind an enormous round of beef, and the stranger saw
nothing at the head of the table but the monstrous joint, round which a
knife was revolving with wonderful rapidity. Steam was the subject of
talk at the moment, and he exclaimed, "I did not know that you had
brought steam to this perfection." "What perfection?" "Why, don't you
see that round of beef is carved by steam." This was enough; it got the
hunchback's steam up, and, jumping on the chair, he demanded who dare
insult him in his own house; and it was with great difficulty that his
friends could appease his wrath, and turn his steam off. Ever since the
time of Adam, men and women have been prone to excuse themselves and lay
the blame on others. Thus, a person who could not swim, complained
bitterly of the want of buoyancy in the water; and another, who had
frightfully mangled a leg of mutton in attempting to carve, declared
that the sheep was deformed and had a bandy leg.

In France, at all large dinners, dishes are carved at the sideboard by a
servant, and then handed round in small portions. It saves a great deal
of trouble, and prevents the shower of gravy with which awkward carvers
will often inundate the table-cloth, and sometimes their neighbors. It
would be well if this custom was universal in America, where it is rare
to find a good carver. In helping the soup, never say, "Will you let me
assist you to some of this soup?" this is vulgar in the extreme. The
word assist is not "selon les règles de la bonne société," but simply,
"Shall I send you some?" Now, any one can help soup. But then there are
two ways, the right and the wrong. First, then, your soup plates should
be held by the servant near the tureen, and you should judge the number
you have to help by the quantity of soup you have, to avoid the
possibility of consuming all your soup before you have helped your
guests; give one spoonful of soup to each plate, and avoid by all means
slopping the soup either into the tureen or over the table-cloth, or
over the side of the plate, all of which are extreme vulgarities. And
here we beg to say--notwithstanding Brummel having said, in speaking of
some one with whom he could find no other fault, that he was a sort of
fellow who would come twice to soup,--that, if very good, it is not
vulgar to eat twice of it; but, _au contraire_, if not good, the worst
possible taste.

The next thing in order is fish. Now, of fish there are several sorts;
the first of the large sorts being

SALMON, the shape of which every one knows; but few people have a whole
salmon at table. The fish should be served always on a strainer, covered
with a small dinner napkin, and the cook should be careful that it be
sent to table whole and unbroken. It should be laid on its side, and
garnished with fried smelts; it should be cut with the trowel, or
fish-knife, immediately down the middle of the side, and helped from the
centre to the back, one slice back and a small slice towards the belly,
which is the richest and fattest part; care should be taken that the
slices are not broken, and with each slice a fried smelt be given.

COD-FISH should be helped differently. Cutting from the back to the
thin part, crossways, and the sound divided so as to give each person a
small portion.

MACKEREL, if boiled, should be divided into four; that is, place your
trowel or fish-knife under the flesh at the tail, and raise up the flesh
to the head, then divide the side in the middle, giving half of the side
to each person, and leaving the bone and head and tail in the dish.

HERRINGS should be helped by giving one to each person.

EELS are always cut in small pieces, and all the attention required is
that those which are the largest are the best.

PATTIES AND ENTREES ought to be so arranged that they can be served with
a spoon, and require no carving. The roast is therefore the next thing
that calls for observation.

A LEG OF MUTTON is, or rather ought to be served exactly the reverse
side to a haunch of mutton; that is, it ought to lie on the flat side,
and so show the beveled side to the carver. A slice is cut in the
center; and then the carver is to cut to the bone right and left, the
thick side being most esteemed. The best fat is that which lies at the
thick end, near to the bone; there is not much of it, but it is
considered a delicacy.

A SIRLOIN OF BEEF.--The most elegant way to cut this joint is by making
an incision from the chine-bone to the flap, directly in the center, and
helping from either side. However, this is not the most economical way;
and therefore it is to be cut thin on the outside, from the chine-bone
to the flaps, with fat from underneath. Many people like the under side,
or inner loin. If this is eaten hot--and it is best hot--the joint
should be turned, and the meat cut across in slices rather thicker than
from the top side. Great care should be taken not to splash the gravy in
turning, by placing the fork well into the flap, so as to secure a firm

A FORE QUARTER OF LAMB should be carved without removing the shoulder
from the dish on which it is served. This is very difficult; but if well
done, very elegant. First, then, let us give all the directions
necessary for this dish. When it comes before the carver, he should
place the carving-knife under the shoulder, and dexterously remove it.
Having so done, he should place under the shoulder a slice of fresh
butter, and then prepare some salt, cayenne pepper, and the juice of an
orange or a lemon, which should be also poured over the part of the lamb
from which the shoulder has been separated, and then pour the gravy with
the gravy-spoon over the lamb, so that the butter, etc., may amalgamate
well with the gravy. You have then the breast and the ribs, and the
shoulder on the dish, ready to help your friends. Before separating the
ribs, you must cut off the breast, the bones of which the butcher has
previously broken, so as to enable you to do it with ease. As, however,
many people cannot carve so much in one dish, perhaps the better plan is
to place the shoulder on a separate dish, when it can be cut precisely
as a shoulder of mutton, and the ribs and breast can be more easily
divided and helped. Always take care that the butcher joints the meat,
or no man can carve it.

A HIND QUARTER OF LAMB should be carved both as a leg and a loin, giving
either part to those who prefer it.

A SADDLE OF LAMB must be carved like a saddle of mutton.

A LOIN OF LAMB should always be divided at the chine end of the bone,
and helped in chops.

A HAUNCH OF VENISON OR MUTTON is the leg and part of the loin. It should
be cut across, near the knuckle, and then another cut should pass down
the center. The slices should be taken from the left and the right of
this; those on the left, containing the most fat, are preferred by
epicures. The fat and gravy must be equally distributed. These joints
should always be served on a hot-water dish, or on a dish with a lamp
under it, so as to keep the meat hot. Without one or other of these
contrivances, no one should presume to give a haunch of venison to his
friends. Before it is sent to table, the cook should pour over the
haunch one wine-glassful of hot port wine.

AN EDGE-BONE OF BEEF should be placed on the dish standing on the
thickest end. The carver should first cut off a slice horizontally from
the end to the fat, an inch thick; but in helping, it cannot be cut too
thin, giving to each person hard and soft fat. If cut thick it is hard
and indigestible.

A ROUND OR BUTTOCK OF BEEF is cut like a fillet of veal; that is, a
slice having been horizontally removed all round, the slices should be
cut very thin and very even. To properly carve a large round of beef, a
long carving-knife, such as is used in a cook-shop, is necessary.

A FILLET OF VEAL is a solid piece of meat without bone; it is therefore
easily carved by any one who possesses a sharp knife; the guard of the
fork should be up, to prevent accidents. The veal should be well
roasted; for if the gravy is in it, it is very unwholesome. The slices
may be cut thicker than beef, and the stuffing should be found in the
center, and in the flap which surrounds it.

A BREAST OF VEAL.--The richest part of this is called the brisket. The
knife must be put about four inches from this, and cut through it, which
will separate the ribs from the brisket; serve whichever is liked.

CALF'S HEAD is a dish much esteemed here; but, as generally eaten,
plainly boiled, it is tasteless, insipid, and very objectionable--while
cooked à la tortue, as in France, nothing can be better. It should
always be boned and rolled; but if served whole, it is to be cut down
the center, and helped in slices from either side. A portion of the
sweetbread, which generally accompanies a boiled calf's head, should be
given with each portion. If the flesh about the socket of the eye be
preferred, the eye itself being always taken out, the knife should be
inserted into the orifice, and the meat scooped out. The
palate--generally esteemed a delicacy--is situated under the head. This
should be cut into small portions, so that every one may have a share.

SHOULDER OF MUTTON.--The joint being placed with the knuckle toward the
right hand, observe that there is an angular piece of fat next you.
Having helped your company from this part, you may, perhaps, imagine
that your shoulder of mutton is exhausted, and will not yield a further
dividend. However, you may get from both sides of a large shoulder
enough to help ten people, provided your slices are not too thick, which
they should not be. The fat is to be cut from the aforesaid angular bit
in slices, longways. After the right and left sides are exhausted, and
the carver stopped by the knuckle on one side and the blade-bone on the
other, the end of the shoulder is to be turned, and cut straight down
from the center bone to the end, comprising the three best slices of the
joint. If more is required, the shoulder may be reversed on the dish,
and four good slices will be found on the under side.

SADDLE OF MUTTON.--This best joint of the sheep is carved in several
ways; the usual way is to cut from the tail to the end close to the
chine-bone, taking the slices horizontally. Another plan is to cut close
to the back-bone, taking slices sideways, so as to help each person with
a piece like a mutton chop, without the bone and very thin. Another way
is to commence, not quite close to the back-bone, and so cut slices,
rounding them a little that they will curl on the plate, cutting in such
a way that the knife slants toward the flaps or fat, and so that the
top of each slice is fat and the bottom lean; and for a small party,
this is by far the most elegant and the best way to carve this excellent

HAM.--There perhaps is no joint about which there has been so much
contention as the carving of this excellent dish. For family use, do not
have the skin removed, but let it be sent to table as it is dressed. Cut
from the thick end, where there is most fat; as a ham served hot is
always eaten with veal or poultry, you can thus eat the fat. Continue
cutting your ham in this way, and you will be able to eat it all;
whereas, in any other way, all the lean will be eaten, and a large
quantity of fat, which will become rancid, will be lost.

CARVING HAM FOR A PARTY.--The best informed say, carve it like a leg of
mutton, that is, beginning in the center, cut right and left in thin
slices; we say, commence at the knuckle, and cut a thick slice off, and
then cut thin slices as they do in the cook-shops--for, rely on it, by
this time they have found out the most economical way of carving a ham.

A SUCKING PIG must be divided down the middle, and decapitated. This
ought to be done by the cook, and the two sides placed flat on the dish.
Supposing, therefore, this to have been previously done, the carver is
to take off the shoulders and the legs, and help the ribs in such pieces
as he thinks convenient. The ribs are considered best, and you should
give plenty of the sauce or gravy with each plate.

HARE.--There are two ways of carving this difficult dish. The first is
to cut close to the back-bone from the shoulder to the rump on either
side, previously dividing the legs; take off the shoulders; cutting the
back-bone in three or four pieces, and getting two slices on either
side of the hare. The ear is considered the best part. Another way of
carving a hare is by taking off the legs and shoulders, and cutting it
round through the back-bone, dividing into seven or eight pieces. It is
better to bone a hare.

A RABBIT is carved very differently. The legs and shoulders are to be
taken off, and the back divided into three or four pieces.

FOWLS when boiled have their legs bent inwards, and tucked into the
belly. A fowl must never be removed from the dish and placed upon the
carver's plate; nothing can be more vulgar. The wing is to be removed
with a good slice of the breast, the only difficulty being to hit the
joint. To effect this, the knife is to be passed between the leg and the
body, and the leg turned back with the fork. To take off the
merrythought the carver must commence just above where the breast turns,
and cut down slanting; then begin at the rump end, and cut the breast at
either side, keeping the fork in that part of the breast nearest the
rump, and turning it toward the carver; the side-bones may easily be
removed, the back broken in half, and the two sides are then easily
taken off. All this can only be learned by practice; and although we
have endeavored to describe it, we feel that it requires practice to
carry out the directions.

A PHEASANT is carved precisely as a fowl. It is only necessary to say
that ladies like the wings and breast.

WILD DUCK.--This bird is only helped from the breast, which is to be
first scored in such a way as afterward to form the slice. Lemon juice,
cayenne, salt, and port wine made hot, should be ready to pour over it;
then the previously scored slices are to be cut and helped. The breast
is the only eatable part, except when hashed.

PARTRIDGE.--This bird is carved precisely as a fowl. The legs and the
back are the best parts; give them to the ladies, and let the rest of
the company have the wings and breast.

PIGEONS are usually cut straight down the middle, and a half sent to
each person.

TURKEYS are carved like geese. Never make a wing cut from the wing or
pinion upward, and not from the breast downward. Give your knife a
slight angle in cutting, and your slice will be larger and better.

GOOSE.--To give a description of carving a goose is to say, simply,
begin from the wing and cut the slices from the breast up to the breast
bone, and serve each person with a slice, with some stuffing and gravy.
To cut a wing or leg is vulgar in the extreme; for a large party, then,
a second goose is necessary; but lest our readers should say, "That is
an easy way to avoid telling us how we ought to dismember this bird," we
will continue. If you wish to do a vulgar thing, and dismember a goose,
put your fork into the small end of the pinion, and press it close to
the body, then put in the knife and divide the joint down; to separate
the leg, first put the fork into the small end of the bone, pressing it
to the body, then pass your knife between the leg and the body, turn the
leg back with your fork, and it will come off. It is impossible that
anything but experience will teach a person how to do this expertly; but
as we said before, it never should be done when served hot. It has been
said frequently, that a goose is too much for one, and not enough for
two. This means that the breast, which is the only eatable part of a
roasted goose, is, supposing the person to eat nothing else, too much
for one and not enough for two people's dinners; another reason for
never cutting off or eating the legs hot, is that they make a most
excellent "devil" for breakfast the next day--therefore, why destroy a
dish fit for a king?

WOODCOCKS AND SNIPES.--These are both carved alike--the necessary
directions being: remove the sand-bag, which contains the gall: this
generally protrudes; lift up the breast near the rump; spread the tail
on your toast; cut the wing, leg, and part of the back, the wing being
cut full, that is, with plenty of the breast attached thereto, and you
have one portion with a third of the toast; serve the other side alike,
with another third of the toast, and the breast and the rest of the back
give to the person you esteem the least; in fact, the legs, wings, and
back, as before described, are the best, and should be served together.
Snipes should be cut in half, unless you have enough to give a bird to
each person.


Dancing has been defined as a "graceful movement of the body, adjusted
by art to the measures or tunes of instruments, or of voice;" and again,
"agreeable to the true genius of the art, dancing is the art of
expressing the sentiments of the mind, or the passions, by measured
steps or bounds made in cadence, by regulated motions of the figure and
by graceful gestures; all performed to the sound of musical instruments
or the voice."

Lord Chesterfield, in his letters to his son, says: "Dancing is, in
itself, a very trifling and silly thing: but it is one of those
established follies to which people of sense are sometimes obliged to
conform; and then they should be able to do it well. And though I would
not have you a dancer, yet, when you do dance, I would have you dance
well, as I would have you do everything you do well." In another letter,
he writes: "Do you mind your dancing while your dancing master is with
you? As you will be often under the necessity of dancing a minuet, I
would have you dance it very well. Remember that the graceful motion of
the arms, the giving of your hand, and the putting off and putting on of
your hat genteelly, are the material parts of a gentleman's dancing. But
the greatest advantage of dancing well is, that it necessarily teaches
you to present yourself, to sit, stand, and walk genteelly; all of which
are of real importance to a man of fashion."

When a gentleman accompanies a lady to a ball he will at once proceed
with her to the door of the ladies' dressing-room, there leaving her;
and then repair to the gentlemen's dressing-room. In the mean time, the
lady, after adjusting her toilet, will retire to the ladies'
sitting-room or wait at the door of the dressing-room, according as the
apartments may be arranged. After the gentleman has divested himself of
hat, etc., and placed the same in the care of the man having charge of
the hat-room, receiving therefor a check, and after arranging his
toilet, he will proceed to the ladies' sitting-room, or wait at the
entrance to the ladies' dressing-room for the lady whom he accompanies,
and with her enter the ball-room.

The ladies' dressing-room is a sacred precinct, into which no gentleman
should ever presume to look; to enter it would be an outrage not to be
overlooked or forgiven.

With the etiquette of a ball-room, so far as it goes, there are but few
people unacquainted. Certain persons are appointed to act as floor
managers, or there will be a "Master of the Ceremonies," whose office it
is to see that everything be conducted in a proper manner: if you are
entirely a stranger, it is to _them_ you must apply for a partner, and
point out (quietly) any young lady with whom you should like to dance,
when, if there be no obvious inequality of position, they will present
you for that purpose; should there be an objection, they will probably
select some one they consider more suitable; but do not, on any account,
go to a strange lady by yourself, and request her to dance, as she will
unhesitatingly "decline the honor," and think you an impertinent fellow
for your presumption.

A gentleman introduced to a lady by a floor manager, or the Master of
Ceremonies, should not be refused by the lady if she be not already
engaged, for her refusal would be a breach of good manners: as the
Master of Ceremonies is supposed to be careful to introduce only
gentlemen who are unexceptionable. But a gentleman who is unqualified as
a dancer should never seek an introduction.

At a private party, a gentleman may offer to dance with a lady without
an introduction, but at balls the rule is different. The gentleman
should respectfully offer his arm to the lady who consents to dance with
him, and lead her to her place. At the conclusion of the set he will
conduct her to a seat, offer her any attention, or converse with her. A
gentleman should not dance with his wife, and not too often with the
lady to whom he is engaged.

Any presentation to a lady in a public ball-room, for the mere purpose
of dancing, does not entitle you to claim her acquaintance afterwards;
therefore, should you meet her, at most you may lift your hat; but even
that is better avoided--unless, indeed, she first bow--as neither she
nor her friends can know who or _what_ you are.

In inviting a lady to dance with you, the words, "Will you _honor_ me
with your hand for a quadrille?" or, "Shall I have the _honor_ of
dancing this set with you?" are more used now than "Shall I have the
_pleasure_?" or, "Will you give me the _pleasure_ of dancing with you?"

If she answers that she is engaged, merely request her to name the
earliest dance for which she is _not_ engaged, and when she will do you
the honor of dancing with you.

When a young lady declines dancing with a gentleman, it is her duty to
give him a reason why, although some thoughtless ones do not. No matter
how frivolous it may be, it is simply an act of courtesy to offer him an
excuse; while, on the other hand, no gentleman ought so far to
compromise his self-respect as to take the slightest offence at seeing a
lady by whom he has just been refused, dance immediately after with some
one else.

Never wait until the signal is given to take a partner, for nothing is
more impolite than to invite a lady hastily, and when the dancers are
already in their places; it can be allowed only when the set is

Be very careful not to forget an engagement. It is an unpardonable
breach of politeness to ask a lady to dance with you, and neglect to
remind her of her promise when the time to redeem it comes.

If a friend be engaged when you request her to dance, and she promises
to be your partner for the next or any of the following dances, do not
neglect her when the time comes, but be in readiness to fulfill your
office as her cavalier, or she may think that you have studiously
slighted her, besides preventing her obliging some one else. Even
inattention and forgetfulness, by showing how little you care for a
lady, form in themselves a tacit insult.

In a quadrille, or other dance, while awaiting the music, or while
unengaged, a lady and gentleman should avoid long conversations, as they
are apt to interfere with the progress of the dance; while, on the other
hand, a gentleman should not stand like an automaton, as though he were
afraid of his partner, but endeavor to render himself agreeable by those
"airy nothings" which amuse for the moment, and are in harmony with the

The customary honors of a bow and courtesy should be given at the
commencement and conclusion of each dance.

Lead the lady through the quadrille; do not _drag_ her, nor clasp her
hand as if it were made of wood, lest she, not unjustly, think you a

You will not, if you are wise, stand up in a quadrille without knowing
something of the figure; and if you are master of a few of the steps,
_so much the better_. But dance quietly; do not kick and caper about,
nor sway your body to and fro; dance only _from the hips downwards_; and
lead the lady as lightly as you would tread a measure with a spirit of

Do not pride yourself on doing the "steps neatly," unless you are
ambitious of being taken for a dancing-master; between whose motions and
those of a _gentleman_ there is a great difference.

Unless a man has a very graceful figure, and can use it with great
elegance, it is better for him to _walk_ through the quadrilles, or
invent some gliding movement for the occasion.

When a lady is standing in a quadrille, though not engaged in dancing, a
gentleman not acquainted with her partner should not converse with her.

When an unpracticed dancer makes a mistake, we may apprise him of his
error; but it would be very impolite to have the air of giving him a

Immediate attention should be paid to any request made by the Master of
Ceremonies, and all misunderstandings respecting the dance should be
referred to him, his decision being deemed final. Otherwise his
superintendence of the ball will be attended with great inconvenience.

When forming for quadrilles, if by any oversight you should accidentally
occupy another couple's place, on being informed of the intrusion, you
should immediately apologize to the incommoded party, and secure another

Contending for a position in quadrilles, at either head or sides,
indicates an irritable and quarrelsome disposition altogether unsuited
for an occasion where all should meet with kindly feelings.

When a company is divided into different sets, persons should not
attempt to change their places without permission from the Master of

No persons engaged in a quadrille or other dance that requires their
assistance to complete the set, should leave the room or sit down before
the dance is finished, unless on a very urgent occasion, and not even
then without previously informing the Master of Ceremonies, that he may
find substitutes.

If a lady waltz with you, beware not to press her waist; you must only
lightly touch it with the palm of your hand, lest you leave a
disagreeable impression not only on her _ceinture_, but on her mind.

Above all, do not be prone to quarrel in a ball-room; it disturbs the
harmony of the company, and should be avoided if possible. Recollect
that a thousand little derelictions from strict propriety may occur
through the ignorance or stupidity of the aggressor, and not from any
intention to annoy; remember, also, that the _really well-bred women_
will not thank you for making them conspicuous by over-officiousness in
their defence, unless, indeed, there be some serious or glaring
violation of decorum. In small matters, ladies are both able and willing
to take care of themselves, and would prefer being allowed to overwhelm
the unlucky offender in their own way.

When a gentleman has occasion to pass through an assemblage of ladies,
where it is absolutely impossible to make his way without disturbing
them; or when he is obliged to go in front, because he cannot get behind
them, it is but common courtesy for him to express his regret at being
compelled to annoy them.

A gentleman having two ladies in charge may, in the absence of friends,
address a stranger, and offer him a partner, asking his name previous to
an introduction, and mentioning that of the lady to him or not, as he
may think proper.

It is improper to engage or reëngage a lady to dance without the
permission of her partner.

Never forget that ladies are to be first cared for, to have the best
seats, the places of distinction, and are entitled in all cases to your
courteous protection.

Young ladies should avoid sauntering through an assembly-room alone;
they should either be accompanied by their guardian or a gentleman.

Neither married nor young ladies should leave a ball-room assemblage, or
other party, unattended. The former should be accompanied by other
married ladies, and the latter by their mother or guardian. Of course, a
gentleman is a sufficient companion for either.

Young ladies should avoid attempting to take part in a dance,
particularly a quadrille, unless they are familiar with the figures.
Besides rendering themselves awkward and confused, they are apt to
create ill-feeling, by interfering with, and annoying others. It were
better for them to forego the gratification of dancing than to risk the
chances of making themselves conspicuous, and the subject of
animadversion. As we have elsewhere said, modesty of deportment should
be the shining and preëminent characteristic of woman. She should be
modest in her attire, in language, in manners and general demeanor.
Beauty becomes irresistible when allied to this lodestone of attraction;
plainness of features is overlooked by it; even positive homeliness is
rendered agreeable by its influence.

When a gentleman escorts a lady to a ball, he should dance with _her_
first, or offer so to do; and it should be his care to see that she is
provided with a partner whenever she desires to dance.

After dancing, a gentleman should invariably conduct a lady to a seat,
unless she otherwise desires; and, in fact, a lady should not be
unattended, at any time, in a public assembly.

When you conduct your partner to her seat, thank her for the pleasure
she has conferred upon you, and do not remain too long conversing with

When that long and anxiously desiderated hour, the hour of supper, has
arrived, you hand the lady you attend up or down to the supper-table.
You remain with her while she is at the table, seeing that she has all
that she desires, and then conduct her back to the dancing-rooms.

If, while walking up and down a public promenade, you should meet
friends or acquaintances whom you don't intend to join, it is only
necessary to salute them the first time of passing; to bow or nod to
them at every round would be tiresome, and therefore improper; have no
fear that they will deem you odd or unfriendly, as, if they have any
sense at all, they can appreciate your reasons. If you have anything to
say to them, join them at once.

We have already alluded to the necessity of discarding all cant terms
and phrases from conversation, not only in assembly-rooms, but on all
occasions; and we would particularly caution our young lady friends
against even the recognition of those _équivoques_ and _double entendre_
which the other sex sometimes inconsiderately, but oftener determinedly,

Neither by smiles nor blushes should they betray any knowledge of the
hidden meaning that lurks within a phrase of doubtful import, nor seem
to recognize anything which they could not with propriety openly make a
subject of discourse. All indelicate expressions should be to them as
the Sanscrit language is to most people, incomprehensible. All wanton
glances and grimaces, which are by libertines considered as but so many
invitations to lewdness, should be strictly shunned.

No lady can be too fastidious in her conduct, or too guarded in her
actions. A bad reputation is almost as destructive of happiness to her
as absolute guilt; and of her character we may say with the poet:

      "A breath can make them, or a breath unmake."

In dancing, generally, the performers of both sexes should endeavor to
wear a pleasant countenance; and in presenting hands, a slight
inclination of the head, in the manner of a salutation, is appropriate
and becoming. Dancing is certainly supposed to be an enjoyment, but the
sombre countenance of some who engage in it, might almost lead to the
belief that it were a solemn duty being performed. If those who laugh in
church would transfer their merriment to the assembly-room, and those
who are sad in the assembly-room would carry their gravity to the
church, they both might discover the appositeness of Solomon's
declaration, that "there is a time to be merry and a time to be sad."

We have already alluded to the importance of a correct use of language
in conversation, and though we are aware that it is absolutely
impossible to practice it without a certain degree of education, yet we
would urge that the habit which many acquire, more through carelessness
than ignorance, of disregarding it, is worthy of consideration. Many a
young lady has lost a future husband by a wanton contempt for the rules
of Lindley Murray.

Though hardly a case in point, we cannot forego the opportunity of
recording an incident in the career of a young man "about town," who,
anxious to see life in all its phases, was induced to attend a public
ball, the patrons of which were characterized more for their peculiarity
of manners than their extraordinary refinement. On being solicited by
an acquaintance, whom he respected for his kindness of heart and
integrity rather than for his mental accomplishments, to dance with his
daughter, he consented, and was accordingly introduced to a very
beautiful young lady. Ere the dance commenced, and while the musicians
were performing the "Anvil Chorus," from "Trovatore," the young lady
asked: "Do you know what that _'ere_ is?"

Supposing that she meant _air_, and wishing to give her an opportunity
of making herself happy in the thought of imparting a valuable piece of
information, in utter disregard of the principles of Mrs. Opie, he
replied, "No." "Why," said she, "that's the Anvel Core-ri-ous."

With an expletive more profane than polite, he suddenly found his
admiration for the lady as much diminished by her ignorance, as it had
before been exalted by her beauty.

At private assemblies, it should be the effort of both ladies and
gentlemen to render themselves as agreeable as possible to all parties.
With this purpose in view, the latter should, therefore, avoid showing
marked preferences to particular ladies, either by devoting their
undivided attentions or dancing exclusively with them. Too often, the
belle of the evening, with no other charms than beauty of form and
feature, monopolizes the regards of a circle of admirers, while modest
merit, of less personal attraction, is both overlooked and neglected. We
honor the generous conduct of those, particularly the "well-favored,"
who bestow their attentions on ladies who, from conscious lack of
beauty, least expect them.

On the other hand, no lady, however numerous the solicitations of her
admirers, should consent to dance repeatedly, when, by so doing, she
excludes other ladies from participating in the same amusement; still
less, as we have elsewhere hinted, should she dance exclusively with
the same gentleman, to the disadvantage of others.

Both ladies and gentlemen should be careful about introducing persons to
each other without being first satisfied that such a course will be
mutually agreeable.

The custom, in this country, particularly among gentlemen, of
indiscriminate introductions, is carried to such a ridiculous extent,
that it has often been made the subject of comment by foreigners, who
can discover no possible advantage in being made acquainted with others
with whom they are not likely to associate for three minutes, in whom
they take not the slightest interest, and whom they probably will never
again encounter, nor recognize if they should. Besides, every one has a
right to exercise his own judgment and taste in the selection of
acquaintances, and it is clearly a breach of politeness to thrust them
upon your friend or associate, without knowing whether it will be
agreeable to either party.


The etiquette of the ball-room being disposed of, let us now enter
slightly into that of an evening party.

The invitations issued and accepted for an evening party will be written
in the same style as those already described for a dinner-party. They
should be sent out _at least_ three weeks before the day fixed for the
event, and should be replied to within a week of their receipt,
accepting or declining with regrets. By attending to these courtesies,
the guests will have time to consider their engagements and prepare
their dresses, and the hostess will also know what will be the number of
her party.

A lady, invited to an evening party, may request a gentleman to
accompany her, even though he may not have received an invitation from
the hostess.

In most of the American cities nine o'clock is the hour which custom has
established as the time for the lady to be in her parlor, ready to
receive her guests, and by ten o'clock all the guests should arrive. It
is an affectation, not entirely devoid of assumption and impudence, for
people to purposely delay their appearance till a very late hour.

As the ladies and gentlemen arrive, each should be shown to a room
exclusively provided for their reception; and the gentleman conducts the
lady in his charge to the door of the ladies' dressing-room, while he
goes to the gentlemen's apartment, each to prepare their toilet
suitably to entering the reception-room.

In the room set apart for the ladies, attendants should be in waiting to
assist in uncloaking, and helping to arrange the hair and toilet of
those who require it.

After completing her toilet, the lady waits at the door of her
dressing-room till the gentleman joins her, and they make their _entrée_

In large and formal parties, it is generally customary for the servant
to announce the names of the guests as they enter the room, but this is
a ceremony well enough dispensed with, except on occasions of very large
and formal parties.

It is the business of the lady of the house to be near the door to
receive her guests; if she is not there, you need not go hunting through
the crowd after her.

As the guests enter the room, it is not necessary for the lady of the
house to advance each time toward the door, but merely to rise from her
seat to receive their courtesies and congratulations. If, indeed, the
hostess wishes to show particular favor to some peculiarly honored
guests, she may introduce them to others, whose acquaintance she may
imagine will be especially suitable and agreeable.

It is very often the practice of the gentleman of the house to introduce
one gentleman to another, but occasionally the lady performs this
office; when it will, of course, be polite for the persons thus
introduced to take their seats together for the time being.

When entering a private ball or party, the visitor should invariably bow
to the company. No well-bred person would omit this courtesy in entering
a drawing-room; and although the entrance to a large assembly may be
unnoticed by all present, its observance is not the less necessary. It
is the thoughtless absence of good manners in large and mixed companies,
where a greater degree of studied politeness is indispensable, that
renders them sometimes so unpleasant.

A separate room or convenient buffet should be appropriated for
refreshments, and to which the dancers may retire; and cakes and
biscuits, with lemonade, handed round.

Of course a supper is provided at all private parties; and this
requires, on the part of the hostess, a great deal of attention and
supervision. It usually takes place between the first and second parts
of the programme of the dances, of which there should be several
prettily written or printed copies distributed about the room.

It will be well for the hostess, even if she be very partial to the
amusement, and a graceful dancer, not to participate in it to any great
extent, lest her lady guests should have occasion to complain of her
monopoly of the gentlemen, and other causes of neglect.

A few dances will suffice to show her interest in the entertainment,
without unduly trenching on the attention due to her guests.

The hostess or host, during the progress of a party, will courteously
accost and chat with their friends, and take care that the ladies are
furnished with seats, and that those who wish to dance are provided with
partners. A gentle hint from the hostess, conveyed in a quiet ladylike
manner, that certain ladies have remained unengaged during several
dances, is sure not to be neglected by any gentleman. Thus will be
studied the comfort and enjoyment of the guests, and no lady, in leaving
the house, will be able to feel the chagrin and disappointment of not
having been invited to "stand up" in a dance during the whole evening.

For any of the members, either sons or daughters, of the family at whose
house the party is given, to dance frequently or constantly, denotes
decided ill-breeding. The ladies of the house should not occupy those
places in a quadrille which others may wish to fill, and they should,
moreover, be at leisure to attend to the rest of the company; and the
gentlemen should be entertaining the married ladies and those who do not

In private parties, a lady is not to refuse the invitation of a
gentleman to dance, unless she be previously engaged. The hostess must
be supposed to have asked to her house only those persons whom she knows
to be perfectly respectable and of unblemished character, as well as
pretty equal in position; and thus, to decline the offer of any
gentleman present, would be a tacit reflection on the gentleman or lady
of the house.

If one lady refuses you, do not ask another who is seated near her to
dance the same set. Do not go immediately to another lady, but chat a
few moments with the one whom you first invited, and then join a group
or gentlemen friends for a few moments, before seeking another partner.

In private parties, where dancing is the chief part of the evening's
entertainment, it is not in conformity with the rules of etiquette for a
young lady to dance with one gentleman repeatedly, to the exclusion of
all others who may solicit her hand, even though the favored individual
be her suitor. However complimentary to the lady, to be the recipient of
a gentleman's undivided attentions, or however gratifying it may be for
him to manifest his devotion to the lady of his choice, such a course is
an exhibition of selfishness which ought not to be displayed in an
assemblage of ladies and gentlemen who have congregated for mutual

It is not considered _comme il faut_ to ask a married lady to dance,
when her husband is present, without previously ascertaining whether it
be agreeable to him.

Gentlemen will not get together in groups to the neglect of the ladies.

The members of an invited family should never be seen conversing with
each other at a party.

If you accompany your wife to a dancing party, be careful not to dance
with her, except perhaps the first set.

Where there are no programmes, engagements should not be made until the
dance is announced.

When the dance is over, the gentleman conducts his partner to her seat;
and, unless he chooses to sit beside her, bows and withdraws.

While dancing, a lady should consider herself engaged to her partner,
and therefore not at liberty to hold a flirtation, between the figures,
with another gentleman; and should recollect that it is the gentleman's
part to lead her, and hers to follow his directions.

In a circle, we should not pass before a lady; neither should we present
anything by extending the arm over her, but pass round behind and
present it. In case we cannot do it, we say, _I ask your pardon, etc_.

In ascending a staircase with ladies, go at their side or before them.

A correct ear for music does not pertain to every one, and those who are
deficient in this respect should refrain from dancing. Let not the
unpracticed dancer attempt quadrilles. A novice necessarily perplexes
and annoys a partner. On the other hand, nowhere perhaps has a kindly
disposition more pleasing opportunities of conferring small benefits
than in a ball-room. Those who are expert in dancing may gently apprise
the unskillful of an error, and this without giving the slightest
offense, or seeming to dictate; while such as dance well, and are
solicited to dance, should carefully avoid speaking of it. They ought
rather to seek to contribute to less fortunate persons a full share in
the evening's amusement. A lady may do this by gently hinting to a
gentleman who solicits her hand for another dance, that such a lady has
remained unengaged. No gentleman will neglect such a suggestion.

There is a custom which is sometimes practiced both in the assembly room
and at private parties, which cannot be too strongly reprehended; we
allude to the habit of ridicule and ungenerous criticism of those who
are ungraceful or otherwise obnoxious to censure, which is indulged in
by the thoughtless, particularly among the dancers. Of its gross
impropriety and vulgarity we need hardly express an opinion; but there
is such an utter disregard for the feelings of others implied in this
kind of negative censorship, that we cannot forbear to warn our young
readers to avoid it. The "Koran" says: "Do not mock--the mocked may be
better than the mocker." Those you condemn may not have had the same
advantages as yourself in acquiring grace or dignity, while they may be
infinitely superior in purity of heart and mental accomplishments. The
advice of Chesterfield to his son, in his commerce with society, to _do
as you would be done by_, is founded on the Christian precept, and
worthy of commendation. Imagine yourself the victim of another's
ridicule, and you will cease to indulge in a pastime which only gains
for you the hatred of those you satirize, if they chance to observe you,
and the contempt of others who have noticed your violation of
politeness, and abuse of true sociality.

We conclude our strictures on this subject with the following passage
from the essays of Addison: "But what an absurd thing it is, to pass
over all the valuable characteristics of individuals, and fix our
attention on their infirmities--to observe their imperfections more than
their virtues--and to make use of them for the sport of others, rather
than for our own improvement."

In whatever relation with the fair sex, and under whatsoever
circumstances, it is the duty--we may add, the practice--of a gentleman
to so deport himself as to avoid giving any cause of offense.

In private parties, where people meet for the pleasure of conversation,
remember occasionally to change your place. Opportunities will readily
occur, such, for instance, as the opening of a portfolio of prints, or
the showing of any article of taste or science. You will thus avoid the
awkwardness of being either left alone, or constraining the master or
mistress of the house to commiserate your isolated condition.

If you are asked by the lady of the house, at an evening party, to sing,
and you can really do so well, comply at once; but never sing at the
request of another person. If you cannot or do not choose to sing, say
so at once with seriousness and gravity, and put an end to the
expectation promptly. After singing once or twice, cease and give place
to others.

When singing or playing is going on, if you have no taste for music, you
should still be profoundly silent. To converse, is annoying to the rest
of the company, rude to the mistress of the house, and cruel to the

Carefully avoid all peculiarities of manner; and every wish to show off,
or to absorb conversation to yourself. Be also very careful not to
appear to be wiser than the company. If a fact in history is mentioned,
even if it be not quite correct, do not set the narrator right, unless
in a very delicate and submissive manner. If an engraving of distant
scenery or foreign buildings is shown, do not industriously point out
inaccuracies. It may be that such occur, but finding fault is never
acceptable; it conveys a censure on the taste or information of the
possessor; or it suggests that he has been imposed upon--an idea which
is always productive of mortification. Such attempts to appear wiser
than the rest of the company, interfere with the pleasure of the party,
and the person who falls into them is never long acceptable.

People sometimes say, that they are not invited to parties; they
complain of neglect, and are out of humor with the world. Let such
persons consider whether they have not brought upon themselves the
neglect which they deplore.

Should the guests be numerous, and the space scarcely sufficient for
their accommodation, it would be considered extremely ill-bred to take a
place previously engaged; or, when joining a country dance, to push in
at the middle or upper end. You must take your station below the last
couple who are standing up.

If there be a supper, the gentleman should conduct to the supper-room
his last partner, unless he have a prior engagement, or is asked by the
host to do otherwise. In the latter case, he should provide his partner
with a substitute, at the same time making a handsome apology.

No gentleman should offer his services to conduct a lady home, without
being acquainted with her, unless he have been requested so to do by the

When any of the carriages of the guests are announced, or the time for
their departure arrived, they should make a slight intimation to the
hostess, without, however, exciting any observation, that they are about
to depart. If this cannot be done without creating too much bustle, it
will be better for the visitors to retire quietly without saying
good-night, for when people are seen to be leaving, it often breaks up
the party. An opportunity, however, may previously be sought of
intimating to the hostess your intention to retire, which is more

During the course of the week, the hostess will expect to receive from
every guest a call, where it is possible, or cards expressing the
gratification experienced from her entertainment. This attention is due
to every lady for the pains and trouble she has been at, and tends to
promote social, kindly feelings.


Next in order to the ceremonials of dinner or evening parties, are
customary calls, comprised under the general head of visiting. They are
those of ceremony, friendship, or condolence, and occupy no small
portion of time.

Such visits are necessary, in order to maintain good feeling between the
members of society; they are required by the custom of the age in which
we live, and must be carefully attended to.

First, then, are visits of ceremony, merging occasionally into those of
friendship, but uniformly required after dining at a friend's house.
Professional men are not however, in general, expected to pay such
visits, because their time is preoccupied; but they form almost the only

Visits of ceremony must be necessarily short. They should on no account
be made before the hour, nor yet during the time of luncheon. Persons
who intrude themselves at unwonted hours are never welcome; the lady of
the house does not like to be disturbed when she is perhaps dining with
her children; and the servants justly complain of being interrupted at
the hour when they assemble for their noon-day meal. Ascertain,
therefore, which you can readily do, what is the family hour for
luncheon, and act accordingly.

Half an hour amply suffices for a visit of ceremony. If the visitor be a
lady, she may remove her victorine, but on no account either the shawl
or bonnet, even if politely requested to do so by the mistress of the
house. Some trouble is necessarily required in replacing them, and this
ought to be avoided. If, however, your visit of ceremony is to a
particular friend, the case is different; but even then, it is best to
wait till you are invited to do so; and when you rise for the purpose
the lady of the house will assist you.

Favorite dogs are never welcome visitors in a drawing-room. Many people
have even a dislike to such animals. They require watching, lest they
should leap upon a chair or sofa, or place themselves upon a lady's
dress, and attentions of this kind are much out of place. Neither ought
a mother, when paying a ceremonial visit, to be accompanied by young
children. It is frequently difficult to amuse them, and, if not
particularly well trained at home, they naturally seize hold of books,
or those ornaments with which it is fashionable to decorate a
drawing-room. The lady of the house trembles for the fate of a beautiful
shell, or vase, or costly book. She does not like to express her
uneasiness, and yet knows not how to refrain. Therefore leave the
children at home; or, if they accompany you in the carriage, let them
remain till your visit is over. If you have an infant, the nurse may
await your return, or be left in an ante-room, unless a decided request
be made to the contrary.

If during your short visit the conversation begins to flag, it will be
best to retire. The lady of the house may have some engagement at a
fixed hour, and by remaining even a few minutes longer, she may be put
to serious inconvenience. Do not, however, seem to notice any silent
hint, by rising hastily; but take leave with quiet politeness, as if
your time were fully expired. When other visitors are announced, retire
as soon as possible, and yet without letting it appear that their
arrival is the cause. Wait till the bustle of their entrance is over,
and then rise from your chair, take leave of the hostess, and bow
politely to the guests. By so doing you will save the lady of the house
from being obliged to entertain two sets of visitors.

Should you call by chance at an inconvenient hour, when perhaps the lady
is going out, or sitting down to luncheon, retire as soon as possible,
even if politely asked to remain. You need not let it appear that you
feel yourself an intruder; every well-bred or even good-tempered person
knows what to say on such an occasion; but politely withdraw, with a
promise to call again, if the lady seems to be really disappointed.

If your acquaintance or friend is from home, leave a card,[1] whether
you call in a carriage or not. If in the latter, the servant will answer
your inquiry, and receive your card; but on no account ask leave to go
in and rest; neither urge your wish if you fancy that the lady whom you
desire to see is really at home, or even if you flatter yourself that
she would make an exception in your favor. Some people think that the
form of words, "Not at home," is readily understood to mean that the
master or mistress of the house have no wish to see even his or her most
intimate friends. However this may be, take care that you do not attempt
to effect an entrance.

  [1] When the caller is about to leave the city for a protracted
      absence, it is usual to put the letters P. P. C. in the left
      hand corner of the card; they are the initials of the French
      phrase, "_pour prendre congé_"--to take leave, and may with
      equal propriety stand for _presents parting compliments_.

Visits of courtesy or ceremony are uniformly paid at Christmas, or at
the commencement of a new year, independently of family parties; a good
old custom, the observance of which is always pleasing, and which should
be carefully attended to. It is uniformly right to call on patrons, or
those from whom kindness has been received.

In visiting your intimate friends, ceremony may generally be dispensed

Keep a strict account of your ceremonial visits. This is needful,
because time passes rapidly; and take note how soon your calls are
returned. You will thus be able, in most cases, to form an opinion
whether or not your frequent visits are desired. Instances may however
occur, when, in consequence of age or ill health, it is desirable that
you should call, without any reference to your visits being returned.
When desirous to act thus, remember that, if possible, nothing should
interrupt the discharge of this duty.

Among relations and intimate friends, visits of mere ceremony are
unnecessary. It is, however, needful to call at suitable times, and to
avoid staying too long if your friend is engaged. The courtesies of
society, as already noticed, must ever be maintained, even in the
domestic circle, or among the nearest friends.

In leaving cards you must thus distribute them: one for the lady of the
house and her daughters--the latter are sometimes represented by turning
up the edge of the card--one for the master of the house, and if there
be a grown up son or a near male relation staying in the house, one for
him. But though cards are cheap, you must never leave more than three at
a time at the same house. As married men have, or are supposed to have,
too much to do to make ceremonial calls, it is the custom for a wife to
take her husband's cards with her and to leave one or two of them with
her own. If, on your inquiring for the lady of the house, the servant
replies, "Mrs. So-and-so is not at home, but Miss So-and-so is," you
should leave a card, because young ladies do not receive calls from
gentlemen unless they are very intimate with them, or have passed the
rubicon of thirty summers. It must be remembered, too, that where there
is a lady of the house, your call is to her, not to her husband, except
on business.

Morning calls may be divided into three heads: Those paid at the time
already specified; weekly visits to intimate friends, or by young
persons to those advanced in life; and monthly visits, which are
generally ceremonious.

With respect to the first, be very careful that you do not acquire the
character of a _day goblin_. A day goblin is one of those persons who,
having plenty of leisure, and a great desire to hear themselves talk,
make frequent inroads into their friends' houses. Though perhaps well
acquainted with the rules of etiquette, they call at the most
unseasonable hours. If the habits of the family are early, you will find
them in the drawing-room at eleven o'clock. It may be they are agreeable
and well-informed people; but who wishes for calls at such a strange
hour! Most families have their rules and occupations. In one, the lady
of the house attends to the education of her children; in another,
domestic affairs engross a portion of the morning; some ladies are fond
of gardening, others of music or painting. It is past endurance to have
such pursuits broken in upon for the sake of a day goblin, who, having
gained access, inflicts his or her presence till nearly luncheon time,
and then goes off with saying, "Well, I have paid you a long visit;" or
"I hope that I have not stayed too long."

A well-bred person always receives visitors at whatever time they may
call, or whoever they may be; but if you are occupied and cannot afford
to be interrupted by a mere ceremony, you should instruct the servant
_beforehand_ to say that you are "not at home." This form has often been
denounced as a falsehood, but a lie is no lie unless intended to
deceive; and since the words are universally understood to mean that you
are engaged, it can be no harm to give such an order to a servant. But,
on the other hand, if the servant once admits a visitor within the
hall, you should receive him at any inconvenience to yourself. A lady
should never keep a visitor waiting more than a minute, or two at the
most, and if she cannot avoid doing so, must apologize on entering the

In good society, a visitor, unless he is a complete stranger, does not
wait to be invited to sit down, but takes a seat at once easily. A
gentleman should never take the principal place in the room, nor, on the
other hand, sit at an inconvenient distance from the lady of the house.
He must hold his hat gracefully, not put it on a chair or table, or, if
he wants to use both hands, must place it on the floor close to his
chair. A well-bred lady, who is receiving two or three visitors at a
time, pays equal attention to all, and attempts, as much as possible, to
generalize the conversation, turning to all in succession. The last
arrival, however, receives a little more attention at first than the
others, and the latter, to spare her embarrasment, should leave as soon
as convenient. People who out-sit two or three parties of visitors,
unless they have some particular motive for doing so, come under the
denomination of "bores." A "bore" is a person who does not know when you
have had enough of his or her company.

Be cautious how you take an intimate friend _uninvited_ even to the
house of those with whom you may be equally intimate, as there is always
a feeling of jealousy that another should share your thoughts and
feelings to the same extent as themselves, although good breeding will
induce them to behave _civilly_ to your friend on your account.

Ladies in the present day are allowed considerable license in paying and
receiving visits; subject, however, to certain rules, which it is
needful to define.

Young married ladies may visit their acquaintances alone; but they may
not appear in any public places unattended by their husbands or elder
ladies. This rule must never be infringed, whether as regards
exhibitions, or public libraries, museums, or promenades; but a young
married lady is at liberty to walk with her friends of the same age,
whether married or single. Gentlemen are permitted to call on married
ladies at their own houses. Such calls the usages of society permit, but
never without the knowledge and full permission of husbands.

Ladies may walk unattended in the streets, being careful to pass on as
becomes their station--neither with a hurried pace, nor yet affecting to
move slowly. Shop-windows, in New York especially, afford great
attractions; but it is by no means desirable to be seen standing before
them, and most assuredly not alone. Be careful never to look back, nor
to observe too narrowly the dresses of such ladies as may pass you.
Should any one venture to address you, take no heed, seem not to hear,
but hasten your steps. Be careful to reach home in good time. Let
nothing ever induce you to be out after dusk, or when the lamps are
lighted. Nothing but unavoidable necessity can sanction such acts of

Lastly, a lady never calls on a gentleman, unless professionally or
officially. It is not only ill-bred, but positively improper to do so.
At the same time, there is a certain privilege in age, which makes it
possible for an old bachelor like myself to receive a visit from any
married lady whom I know very intimately, but such a call would
certainly not be one of ceremony, and always presupposes a desire to
consult me on some point or other. I should be guilty of shameful
treachery, however, if I told any one that I had received such a visit,
while I should certainly expect that my fair caller would let her
husband know of it.

When morning visitors are announced, rise and advance toward them. If a
lady enters, request her to be seated on a sofa; but if advanced in
life, or the visitor be an elderly gentleman, insist on their accepting
an easy chair, and place yourself, by them. If several ladies arrive at
the same time, pay due respect to age and rank, and seat them in the
most honorable places; these, in winter, are beside the fire.

Supposing that a young lady occupies such a seat, and a lady older than
herself, or superior in condition, enters the room, she must rise
immediately, and having courteously offered her place to the new comer,
take another in a different part of the room.

If a lady is engaged with her needle when a visitor arrives, she ought
to discontinue her work, unless requested to do otherwise: and not even
then must it be resumed, unless on very intimate terms with her
acquaintance. When this, however, is the case, the hostess may herself
request permission to do so. To continue working during a visit of
ceremony would be extremely discourteous; and we cannot avoid hinting to
our lady readers, that even when a particular friend is present for only
a short time, it is somewhat inconsistent with etiquette to keep their
eyes fixed on a crochet or knitting-book, apparently engaged in counting
stitches, or unfolding the intricacies of a pattern. We have seen this
done, and are, therefore, careful to warn them on the subject. There are
many kinds of light and elegant, and even useful work, which do not
require close attention, and may be profitably pursued; and such we
recommend to be always on the work-table at those hours which, according
to established practice, are given to social intercourse.

It is generally customary in the country to offer refreshment to morning
visitors. If they come from a considerable distance, and are on intimate
terms, hospitality requires that you should invite them to take
luncheon. In town it is otherwise, and you are not expected to render
any courtesy of the kind, except to aged or feeble persons, or to some
one who, perhaps, is in affliction, and to whom the utmost kindliness
should be shown.

When your visitor is about to take leave, rise, and accompany her to the
door, mindful, at the same time, that the bell is rung, in order that a
servant may be in attendance. If the master of the house is present, and
a lady is just going away, he must offer her his arm, and lead her to
the hall or passage door. If her carriage be in waiting, he will, of
course, hand her into it. These attentions are slight, and some persons
may think they are scarcely worth noticing. Nevertheless, they are
important, and we are the more earnest to press them on the attention of
our readers, because we have witnessed the omission of such acts of
courtesy in families where a very different mode of conduct might be

And here, turning aside for a brief space from the subject-matter of our
discourse, we desire earnestly to impress upon mothers who have sons
growing up, the great importance of early imbuing them with the
principles of true politeness, and consequent attention to its most
trifling observances. What matters it if a tall lad pushes into a room
before one of his mother's visitors; or, if he chance to see her going
into church, instead of holding the door in a gentlemanly manner, he
lets it swing in her face when he has himself entered; or whether he
comes into the drawing-room with his hat on, unobservant of lady
visitors, or lolls in an arm-chair reading the newspaper?

"What signifies it?" some will say--"why tease a youth about such
matters? He will learn manners as he grows up." We think otherwise, and
do not scruple to affirm, that he can never learn real gentlemanly
politeness from any one but his mother. The neglect of small courtesies
in early life, and the outward or mental boorishness to which it leads,
has been, to our certain knowledge, a more fruitful source of
wretchedness in many homes, than we have either time or inclination to

In this changing world, visits of condolence must be also occasionally
paid; and concerning such, a few necessary rules may be briefly stated.

Visits of condolence should be paid within a week after the event which
occasions them; but if the acquaintance be slight, immediately after the
family appear at public worship. A card should be sent up; and if your
friends are able to receive you, let your manners and conversation be in
harmony with the character of your visit. It is courteous to send up a
mourning card; and for ladies to make their calls in black silk or
plain-colored apparel. It denotes that they sympathize with the
afflictions of the family; and such attentions are always pleasing.

Gentlemen will do well to bear in mind that, when they pay morning
calls, they must carry their hats with them into the drawing-room; but
on no account put them on the chairs or table. There is a graceful
manner of holding a hat, which every well-bred man understands.

When calling upon a friend who is boarding, do not go up till the
servant returns with an invitation; and never enter a room without
previously knocking at the door, and receiving an invitation to come in.
Such observances are indispensable, even between the nearest friends.

A gentleman when calling upon a lady, and finding that one of her lady
friends is with her, must rise when the visitor takes her leave, and
accompany her to the hall door; or if she has a carriage, he should hand
her into it--supposing, however, that no gentleman related to the
mistress of the house be present. If your visit has been of sufficient
length, you can take your leave when accompanying the lady out of the

It happens occasionally that two persons are visiting different members
of the same family. When this occurs, and one visitor takes leave, the
lady or gentleman whose visitor has just left should remain in the
drawing-room. It is considered discourteous to do otherwise.

In most families in this country, evening calls are the most usual.
Should you chance to visit a family, and find that they have a party,
present yourself, and converse for a few minutes with an unembarrassed
air; after which you may retire, unless urged to remain. A slight
invitation, given for the sake of courtesy, ought not to be accepted.
Make no apology for your unintentional intrusion; but let it be known,
in the course of a few days, that you were not aware that your friends
had company.

An excellent custom prevails in some families of inviting their guests
for a given period. Thus, for example, an invitation is sent, stating
that a friend's company is requested on a certain day, mentioning also
for what length of time, and if a carriage cannot be offered to meet the
visitor, stating expressly the best mode of coming and going. We
recommend this admirable plan to the master and mistress of every
dwelling which is sufficiently capacious to admit of receiving an
occasional guest. A young lady is perhaps invited to spend a little time
in the country, but she cannot possibly understand whether the
invitation extends to a few days, or a week, or a month, and
consequently is much puzzled with regard to the arrangement of her
wardrobe. Domestic consultations are held; the letter is read over and
over again; every one gives a different opinion, and when the visit is
entered upon, somewhat of its pleasure is marred through the
embarrassment occasioned by not knowing when to propose taking leave.

In receiving guests, your first object should be to make them feel at
home. Begging them to make themselves at home is not sufficient. You
should display a genuine unaffected friendliness. Whether you are
mistress of a mansion or a cottage, and invite a friend to share your
hospitality, you must endeavor, by every possible means, to render the
visit agreeable. This should be done without apparent effort, that the
visitor may feel herself to be a partaker in your home enjoyments,
instead of finding that you put yourself out of the way to procure
extraneous pleasures. It is right and proper that you seek to make the
time pass lightly; but if, on the other hand, you let a visitor perceive
that the whole tenor of your daily concerns is altered on her account, a
degree of depression will be felt, and the pleasant anticipations which
she most probably entertained will fail to be realized. Let your friend
be assured, from your manner, that her presence is a real enjoyment to
you--an incentive to recreations which otherwise would not be thought of
in the common routine of life. Observe your own feelings when you happen
to be the guest of a person who, though he may be very much your friend,
and really glad to see you, seems not to know what to do either with you
or himself; and again, when in the house of another you feel as much at
ease as in your own. Mark the difference, more easily felt than
described, between the manners of the two, and deduce therefrom a lesson
for your own improvement.

If you have guests in your house, you are to appear to feel that they
are all equal for the time, for they all have an equal claim upon your
courtesies. Those of the humblest condition will receive _full as much
attention_ as the rest, in order that you shall not painfully make them
feel their inferiority.

Always avoid the foolish practice of deprecating your own rooms,
furniture, or viands, and expressing regrets that you have nothing
better to offer. Neither should you go to the other extreme of extolling
any particular thing or article of food. The best way is to say nothing
about these matters. Neither is it proper to urge guests to eat, or to
load their plates against their inclinations.

Endeavor to retain your friends as long as they like to prolong their
visit. When they intimate an intention to leave you, if you really
desire their continuance somewhat longer, frankly say so. Should they,
however, have fixed the time, and cannot prolong their stay, facilitate
their going by every means in your power; and, while you kindly invite
them to renew their visit, point out to them any places of interest on
the road, and furnish such information as you possess.

If invited to spend a few days at a friend's house, conform as much as
possible to the habits of the family. When parting for the night,
inquire respecting the breakfast hour, and ascertain at what time the
family meet for prayers. If this right custom prevails, be sure to be in
time; and obtain any necessary information from the servant who waits
upon you. Give as little trouble as possible; and never think of
apologizing for the extra trouble which your visit occasions. Such an
apology implies that your friend cannot conveniently entertain you. Your
own good sense and delicacy will teach you the desirability of keeping
your room tidy, and your articles of dress and toilet as much in order
as possible. If there is a deficiency of servants, a lady will certainly
not hesitate to make her own bed and to do for herself as much as
possible, and for the family all that is in her power.

We presume that few people will leave a friend's house without some
expression of regret, and some acknowledgment proffered for the pleasure
that has been afforded them. Instances to the contrary have come within
our knowledge, and therefore we remind our youthful readers especially,
that this small act of politeness is indispensable, not in the form of a
set speech, but by a natural flowing forth of right feeling. It is also
proper, on returning home, to inform your friends of your safe arrival;
the sense which you entertain of their hospitality, and the
gratification derived from your visit, may be also gracefully alluded

The chain which binds society together is formed of innumerable links.
Let it be your part to keep those links uniformly bright; and to see
that neither dust nor rust accumulate upon them.


The books of etiquette tell you, that if you have been introduced to a
lady and you afterward meet her in the street, you must not bow to her
unless she bow first, in order, as the books say, that she may have an
opportunity to cut you if she does not wish to continue the
acquaintance. This is the English fashion. But on the continent of
Europe the rule is reversed, and no lady, however intimate you may be
with her, will acknowledge you in the street unless you first honor her
with a bow of recognition. But the American fashion is not like either
of them. For here the really well-bred man always politely and
respectfully bows to every lady he knows, and, if she is a well-bred
woman, she acknowledges the respect paid her. If she expects no further
acquaintance, her bow is a mere formal, but _always respectful_,
recognition of the good manners which have been shown her, and no
gentleman ever takes advantage of such politeness to push a further
acquaintance uninvited. But why should a lady and gentleman, who know
who each other are, scornfully and doggedly pass each other in the
streets as though they were enemies? There is no good reason for such
_impoliteness_, in the practice of politeness. As compared with the
English, the French or continental fashion is certainly more consonant
with the rules of good breeding. But the American rule is better than
either, for it is based upon the acknowledged general principle, that it
is every gentleman's and lady's duty to be polite in all places. Unless
parties have done something to forfeit the respect dictated by the
common rules of politeness, there should be no deviation from this
practice. It is a ridiculous idea that we are to practice ill-manners in
the name of etiquette.

While walking the street no one should be so absent-minded as to neglect
to recognize his friends. If you do not stop, you should always bow,
touch your hat, or bid your friend good day. If you stop, you can offer
your hand without removing your glove. If you stop to talk, retire on
one side of the walk. If your friend has a stranger with him and you
have anything to say, you should apologize to the stranger. Never leave
your friend abruptly to see another person without asking him to excuse
your departure. If you meet a gentleman of your acquaintance walking
with a lady whom you do not know, lift your hat as you salute them. If
you know the lady, you should salute her first.

Never _nod_ to a lady in the street, neither be satisfied with touching
your hat, _but take it off_--it is a courtesy her sex demands.

A gentleman should never omit a punctilious observance of the rules of
politeness to his recognized acquaintances, from an apprehension that he
will not be met with reciprocal marks of respect. For instance, he
should not refuse to raise his hat to an acquaintance who is accompanied
by a lady, lest her escort should, from ignorance or stolidity, return
his polite salutation with a nod of the head. It is better not to see
him, than to set the example of a rude and indecorous salutation. In all
such cases, and in all cases, he who is most courteous has the
advantage, and should never feel that he has made a humiliating
sacrifice of his personal dignity. It is for the party whose behavior
has been boorish to have a consciousness of inferiority.

A gentleman meeting a lady acquaintance on the street, should not
presume to join her in her walk without ascertaining that his company
would be entirely agreeable. It might be otherwise, and she should
frankly say so. A married lady usually leans upon the arm of her
husband; but single ladies do not, in the day, take the arm of a
gentleman, unless they are willing to acknowledge an engagement.
Gentlemen always give place to ladies, and gentlemen accompanying
ladies, in crossing the street.

If you have anything to say to a lady whom you may happen to meet in the
street, however intimate you may be, do not stop her, but turn round and
walk in company; you can take leave at the end of the street.

When you are passing in the street, and see coming toward you a person
of your acquaintance, whether a lady or an elderly person, you should
offer them the wall, that is to say, the side next the houses. If a
carriage should happen to stop in such a manner as to leave only a
narrow passage between it and the houses, beware of elbowing and rudely
crowding the passengers, with a view to get by more expeditiously; wait
your turn, and if any of the persons before mentioned come up, you
should edge up to the wall, in order to give them the place. They also,
as they pass, should bow politely to you.

If stormy weather has made it necessary to lay a plank across the
gutter, which has become suddenly filled with water, it is not proper
to crowd before another, in order to pass over the frail bridge.

In walking with a lady, it is customary to give her the right arm; but
where circumstances render it more convenient to give her the left, it
may properly be done. If you are walking with a lady on a crowded street
like Broadway, by all means give her the outside, as that will prevent
her from being perpetually jostled and run against by the hurrying

You should offer your arm to a lady with whom you are walking whenever
her safety, comfort, or convenience may seem to require such attention
on your part. At night your arm should always be tendered, and also when
ascending the steps of a public building. In walking with any person you
should keep step with military precision, and with ladies and elderly
people you should always accommodate your speed to theirs.

If a lady with whom you are walking receives the salute of a person who
is a stranger to you, you should return it, not for yourself, but for

When a lady whom you accompany wishes to enter a store, you should hold
the door open and allow her to enter first, if practicable; for you must
never pass before a lady anywhere, if you can avoid it, or without an

In England, it is a mark of low breeding to smoke in the streets. But in
America the rule does not hold to quite that extent; though, even here,
it is not often that you catch "a gentleman of the strictest sect," in
the street with a cigar or pipe in his mouth. For a man to go into the
street with a lady on his arm and a cigar in his mouth is a shocking
sight, which no gentleman will ever be guilty of exhibiting; for he
inevitably subjects the woman to the very worst of suspicions.

Avoid the disgusting habit of spitting.

No gentleman will stand in the doors of hotels, nor on the corners of
the streets, gazing impertinently at the ladies as they pass. That is
such an unmistakable sign of a loafer, that one can hardly imagine a
well-bred man doing such a thing.

Never offer to shake hands with a lady in the street if you have on dark
gloves, as you may soil her white ones. If you meet a lady friend with
whom you wish to converse, you must not stop, but turn and walk along
with her; and should she be walking with a gentleman, first assure
yourself that you are not intruding before you attempt to join the two
in their walk.

After twilight, a young lady would not be conducting herself in a
becoming manner, by walking alone; and if she passes the evening with
any one, she ought, beforehand, to provide some one to come for her at a
stated hour; but if this is not practicable, she should politely ask of
the person whom she is visiting, to permit a servant to accompany her.
But, however much this may be considered proper, and consequently an
obligation, a married lady, well educated, will disregard it if
circumstances prevent her being able, without trouble, to find a

If the host wishes to accompany you himself, you must excuse yourself
politely for giving him so much trouble, but finish, however, by
accepting. On arriving at your house, you should offer him your thanks.
In order to avoid these two inconveniences, it will be well to request
your husband, or some one of your relatives, to come and wait upon you;
you will, in this way, avoid all inconveniences, and be entirely free
from that harsh criticism which is sometimes indulged in, especially in
small towns, concerning even the most innocent acts.

If, when on your way to fulfill an engagement, a friend stops you in the
street, you may, without committing any breach of etiquette, tell him of
your appointment, and release yourself from a long talk, but do so in a
courteous manner, expressing regret for the necessity.

In inquiring for goods at a shop or store, do not say, I want so and so,
but say to the shopman--Show me such or such an article, if you
please--or use some other polite form of address. If you are obliged to
examine a number of articles before you are suited, apologize to the
shopkeeper for the trouble you give him. If, after all, you cannot suit
yourself, renew your apologies when you go away. If you make only small
purchases, say to him--I am sorry for having troubled you for so
trifling a thing.

You need not stop to pull off your glove to shake hands with a lady or
gentleman. If it is warm weather it is more agreeable to both parties
that the glove should be on--especially if it is a lady with whom you
shake hands, as the perspiration of your bare hand would be very likely
to soil her glove.

If a lady addresses an inquiry to a gentleman on the street, he will
lift his hat, or at least touch it respectfully, as he replies. If he
cannot give the information required, he will express his regrets.

When tripping over the pavement, a lady should gracefully raise her
dress a little above her ankle. With her right hand she should hold
together the folds of her gown and draw them toward the right side. To
raise the dress on both sides, and with both hands, is vulgar. This
ungraceful practice can be tolerated only for a moment when the mud is
very deep.

Most American ladies in our cities wear too rich and expensive dresses
in the street. Some, indeed, will sweep the side-walks with costly
stuffs only fit for a drawing-room or a carriage. This is in bad taste,
and is what ill-natured people would term snobbish.


As a general rule, travelers are selfish. They pay little attention
either to the comforts or distresses of their fellow-travelers; and the
commonest observances of politeness are often sadly neglected by them.
In the scramble for tickets, for seats, for state-rooms, or for places
at a public table, the courtesies of life seem to be trampled under
foot. Even the ladies are sometimes rudely treated and shamefully
neglected in the headlong rush for desirable seats in the railway cars.
To see the behavior of American people on their travels, one would
suppose that we were anything but a refined nation; and I have often
wondered whether a majority of our travelers could really make a decent
appearance in social society.

When you are traveling, it is no excuse that because others outrage
decency and propriety you should follow their example, and fight them
with their own weapons. A rush and scramble at the railway ticket office
is always unnecessary. The cars will not leave until every passenger is
aboard, and if you have ladies with you, you can easily secure your
seats and afterward procure the tickets at leisure. But suppose you do
lose a favorite seat by your moderation! Is it not better to suffer a
little inconvenience than to show yourself decidedly vulgar? Go to the
cars half an hour before they start, and you will avoid all trouble of
this kind.

When seated, or about to seat yourself in the cars, never allow
considerations of personal comfort or convenience to cause you to
disregard the rights of fellow-travelers, or forget the respectful
courtesy due to woman. The pleasantest or most comfortable seats belong
to the ladies, and you should never refuse to resign such seats to them
with a cheerful politeness. Sometimes a gentleman will go through a car
and choose his seat, and afterward vacate it to procure his ticket,
leaving his overcoat or carpet bag to show that the seat is taken.
Always respect this token, and never seize upon a seat thus secured,
without leave, even though you may want it for a lady. It is not always
necessary for a gentleman to rise after he has seated himself and offer
his seat to a lady, particularly if the lady is accompanied by another
gentleman; for there may still be eligible vacant seats in the cars. But
should you see a lady come alone, and if the seats in the car all appear
to be filled, do not hesitate to offer her yours, if you have no ladies
in your company. And should a lady motion to seat herself beside you,
rise at once and offer her the choice of the two seats. These are but
common courtesies that every well-bred man will at all times cheerfully
offer to the other sex.

Making acquaintances in the cars, although correct enough, is a measure
of which travelers generally appear to be very shy. There is no reason
for this, as acquaintances thus picked up need never be recognized again
unless you please. If a stranger speaks to you, always answer him
politely, and if his conversation proves disagreeable, you have no
alternative but to change your seat.

In steamers do not make a rush for the supper table, or make a glutton
of yourself when you get there. Never fail to offer your seat on deck to
a lady, if the seats all appear to be occupied, and always meet half way
any fellow-passenger who wishes to enter into conversation with you.
Some travelers are so exclusive that they consider it a presumption on
the part of a stranger to address them; but such people are generally
foolish, and of no account. Sociable intercourse while traveling is one
of its main attractions. Who would care about sitting and moping for a
dozen of hours on board a steamer without exchanging a word with
anybody? and this must be the fate of the exclusives when they travel
alone. Even ladies, who run greater risks in forming steamboat
acquaintances than the men, are allowed the greatest privileges in that
respect. It might not be exactly correct for a lady to make a speaking
acquaintance of a gentleman; but she may address or question him for the
time being without impropriety.

Fellow-passengers, whether on a steamboat or in the cars, should at all
times be sociable and obliging to one another. Those who are the reverse
of this may be set down either as selfish, foolish, or conceited.

In the cars you have no right to keep a window open for your
accommodation, if the current of air thus produced annoys or endangers
the health of another. There are a sufficient number of discomforts in
traveling, at best, and it should be the aim of each passenger to lessen
them as much as possible, and to cheerfully bear his own part. Life is a
journey, and we are all fellow-travelers.

If in riding in an omnibus, or crossing a ferry with a friend, he wishes
to pay for you, never insist upon paying for yourself or for both. If he
is before you, let the matter pass without remark.


In speaking of marriage, it is not merely with reference to its social
importance, but as regards certain observances, concerning which no work
on Etiquette has yet given any explicit rules.

First, then, with respect to the preliminary subject of courtship. That
unseen monitor, who has already suggested many points for consideration
to lady readers, would now say to them: Before you admit the attentions
of a gentleman who wishes to pay you his addresses, very carefully
examine your respective tastes and dispositions; and settle in your own
mind what are the most important requisites of happiness in a married
state. With this view, you must enter upon the consideration of the
subject with a calm and decisive spirit, which will enable you to see
where your true happiness lies, and to pursue it with determined
resolution. In matters of business, follow the advice of such as are
able to guide you; and as regards the subject of marriage, turn not away
from the counsel of those who are appointed to watch over and direct

If a gentleman gives you reason to believe that he wishes to engage your
affections, seek the advice of your parents, that they may gain for you
every necessary particular with regard to his morals and disposition,
and means of suitably providing for you. If, unhappily, death has
deprived you of parents, ask counsel of some one who will care for you,
and on whose friendship you can rely. Remember that you have little
knowledge of the world, and that your judgment has not arrived at full
maturity. But however circumstanced, avoid, as you would the plague, any
attentions from a gentleman whose moral character renders him
undeserving your regard.

Let neither rank nor fortune, nor the finest order of intellect, nor yet
the most winning manners, induce you to accept the addresses of an
irreligious man. You dare not ask the blessing of your Heavenly Father
upon such addresses; and without His blessing, what happiness can you
expect? Men often say, "that whatever their own opinions may be, they
will marry religious women." This may be; but woe to a religious woman,
if she allows herself to be thus beguiled! Supposing your admirer be a
sensible man, he will like religion in you for his own sake; if, on the
contrary, such is not the case, and you become his wife, he will often,
though perhaps without intention, distress you by his remarks; and in
either case, if you have children, you will suffer much in seeing that
your endeavors to form their minds to virtue and piety, and to secure
their present and eternal happiness, are regarded with indifference, or
at least that you are not assisted in your efforts.

Remember, also, that no happiness can be expected in the marriage state,
unless the husband be worthy of respect. Do not marry a weak man; he is
often intractable or capricious, and seldom listens to the voice of
reason; and most painful must it be to any sensible woman to have to
blush for her husband, and feel uneasy every time he opens his lips.
Still worse, if it should please God to give her children, if she cannot
point to the example of their father as leading to what is excellent and
of good report; nor yet to his precepts and instructions as their rule
of conduct. One thing is certain, that a weak man uniformly shows his
consequence by contradicting his wife, because he will not have it
supposed that he is under her influence.

Advances, or offers of marriage, are made in a thousand different ways;
but, however tendered, receive them courteously, and with dignity. If a
letter comes to you, answer it as becomes a gentlewoman--your own heart
will dictate what you ought to say. Questions have arisen with regard to
the wording of such letters, but no certain rule can be laid down;
whether it be answered in the first or third person, must depend upon
the degree of acquaintance which has previously existed. No young lady
would certainly head her letter with--"Dear Sir," to a suitor whom she
scarcely knows, or to one whom she intends refusing. She ought, however,
on no account, either to receive or answer letters of the kind without
showing them to her mother; or, if unfortunately without parents, she
will do well to consult some judicious female friend.

Never trifle with the affections of a man who loves you; nor admit of
marked attentions from one whose affection you cannot return. Some young
ladies pride themselves upon the conquests which they make, and would
not scruple to sacrifice the happiness of an estimable person to their
reprehensible vanity. Let this be far from you. If you see clearly that
you have become an object of especial regard to a gentleman, and do not
wish to encourage his addresses, treat him honorably and humanely, as
you hope to be used with generosity by the person who may engage your
own heart. Do not let him linger in suspense, but take the earliest
opportunity of carefully making known your feelings on the subject. This
may be done in a variety of ways. A refined ease of manner will satisfy
him, if he has any discernment, that his addresses will not be
acceptable. Should your natural disposition render this difficult, show
that you wish to avoid his company, and he will presently withdraw; but
if even this is difficult--and who can lay down rules for
another?--allow an opportunity for explanation to occur. You can then
give him a polite and decisive answer; and be assured that, in whatever
manner you convey your sentiments to him, if he be a man of delicacy and
right feeling, he will trouble you no further. Let it never be said of
you, that you permit the attentions of an honorable man when you have no
heart to give him; or that you have trifled with the affections of one
whom you perhaps esteem, although you resolve never to marry him. It may
be that his preference gratifies, and his conversation interests you;
that you are flattered by the attentions of a man whom some of your
companions admire; and that, in truth, you hardly know your own mind on
the subject. This will not excuse you. Every young woman ought to know
the state of her own heart; and yet the happiness and future prospects
of many an excellent man have been sacrificed by such unprincipled

Remember that if a gentleman makes you an offer, you have no right to
speak of it. If you possess either generosity or gratitude for offered
affection, you will not betray a secret which does not belong to you. It
is sufficiently painful to be refused, without incurring the additional
mortification of being pointed out as a rejected lover.

If, on the contrary, you encourage the addresses of a deserving man,
behave honorably and sensibly. Do not lead him about as if in triumph,
nor take advantage of the ascendency which you have gained by playing
with his feelings. Do not seek for occasions to tease him, that you may
try his temper; neither affect indifference, nor provoke lovers'
quarrels, for the foolish pleasure of reconciliation. On your conduct
during courtship will very much depend the estimation in which you will
be held by your husband in after life.

Assuming that the important day is fixed, and that the bidden guests
have accepted the invitations, a few observations may be useful,
especially to those who live retired in the country.

The bride uniformly goes to church in the same carriage with her
parents, or with those who stand in their place; as, for instance, if
the father is deceased, an elder brother or uncle, or even guardian,
accompanies her mother and herself. If, unhappily, she is an orphan, and
has no relations, a middle-aged lady and gentleman, friends of her
parents, should be requested to take their place. A bridesmaid will also
occupy a seat in the same carriage.

The bridegroom finds his way to church in a separate carriage with his
friends, and he will show his gallantry by handing the bride from her
carriage, and paying every attention to those who accompany her. Any
omission in this respect cannot be too carefully avoided.

When arrived at the altar, the father of the bride, or, in default of
such relation, the nearest connexion, or some old friend, gives away the
bride. The bridesmaids stand near the bride; and either her sister, or
some favorite friend, will hold the gloves or handkerchief, as may be
required, when she ungloves her hand for the wedding-ring. When the
ceremony is completed, and the names of the bride and bridegroom are
signed in the vestry, they first leave the church together, occupying by
themselves the carriage that waits to convey them to the house of the
bride's father and mother, or that of the guardian, or friend, by whom
the bridal breakfast is provided.

The wedding-cake uniformly occupies the center of the table. It is often
tastefully surrounded with flowers, among which those of the fragrant
orange ought to be conspicuous. After being cut according to the usages
observed on such occasions, the oldest friend of the family proposes the
lady's health; that of the bridegroom is generally proposed by some
friend of his own, if present; but if this is not the case, by his
father-in-law, or any of his new relatives, who will deem it incumbent
upon them to say something gratifying to him while proposing his health,
which courtesy he must acknowledge as best he can. After this the bride
withdraws, in order to prepare for leaving the parental roof, by taking
off her wedding, and putting on her traveling dress; although it happens
not unfrequently that the bride remains in another apartment, and thus
avoids the fatigue and embarrassment of appearing at the
breakfast-table. When this occurs, her place beside the bridegroom must
be occupied by a near relation or friend. But whether present, or
remaining apart with a few friends, all who are invited to do honor to
the bride must appear in full dress. Bracelets may be worn on one or
both wrists. Black of any kind is wholly inadmissible; not even black
satin can be allowed; and widows must attire themselves either in quiet
colored suits, or else in silver gray.

On such festive occasions, all appear in their best attire, and assume
their best manners. Peculiarities that pertain to past days, or have
been unwarily adopted, should be guarded against; mysteries concerning
knives, forks, and plates, or throwing "an old shoe" after the bride,
are highly reprehensible, and have long been exploded. Such practices
may seem immaterial, but they are not so. Stranger guests often meet at
a wedding breakfast; and the good breeding of the family may be somewhat
compromised by neglect in small things.

If the lady appears at breakfast, which is certainly desirable, she
occupies, with her husband, the center of the table, and sits by his
side--her father and mother taking the top and bottom, and showing all
honor to their guests. When the cake has been cut, and every one is
helped--when, too, the health of the bride and bridegroom has been
drunk, and every compliment and kind wish has been duly proffered and
acknowledged--the bride, attended by her friends, withdraws; and when
ready for her departure the newly-married couple start off on their
wedding journey, generally about two or three o'clock, and the rest of
the company shortly afterward take their leave.

In some circles it is customary to send cards almost immediately to
friends and relations, mentioning at what time and hour the
newly-married couple expect to be called upon. Some little inconvenience
occasionally attends this custom, as young people may wish to extend
their wedding tour beyond the time first mentioned, or, if they go
abroad, delays may unavoidably occur. It is therefore better to postpone
sending cards, for a short time at least.

Fashions change continually with regard to wedding-cards. A few years
since they were highly ornamented, and fantastically tied together; now
silver-edged cards are fashionable; but, unquestionably, the plainer and
more unostentatious a wedding-card, the more lady-like and becoming it
will be.

No one to whom a wedding-card has not been sent ought to call upon a
newly-married couple.

When the days named for seeing company arrive, remember to be punctual.
Call, if possible, the first day, but neither before nor after the
appointed hour. Wedding-cake and wine are handed round, of which every
one partakes, and each expresses some kindly wish for the happiness of
the newly-married couple.

Taking possession of their home by young people is always a joyous
period. The depressing influence of a wedding breakfast, where often the
hearts of many are sad, is not felt, and every one looks forward to
years of prosperity and happiness.

If the gentleman is in a profession, and it happens that he cannot await
the arrival of such as call, according to invitation on the
wedding-card, an apology must be made, and, if possible, an old friend
of the family should represent him. A bride must on no account receive
her visitors without a mother, or sister, or some friend being present,
not even if her husband is at home. This is imperative. To do otherwise
is to disregard the usuages of society. We remember once calling on a
very young bride, and found her alone. Conjectures were made by every
visitor with regard to such a strange occurrence, and their surprise was
still more increased, when it became known that the young lady returned
her calls equally unattended.

Wedding visits must be returned during the course of a few days, and
parties are generally made for the newly-married couple, which they are
expected to return. This does not, however, necessarily entail much
visiting; neither is it expected from young people, whose resources may
be somewhat limited, or when the husband has to make his way in the


"The little community to which I gave laws," said the Vicar of
Wakefield, "was regulated in the following manner:--We all assembled
early, and after we had saluted each other with proper ceremony, (for I
always thought fit to keep up some mechanical forms of good breeding,
without which, freedom ever destroys friendship,) we all knelt in
gratitude to that Being who gave us another day. So also when we parted
for the night."

We earnestly recommend that the precepts and example of the good old
Vicar should be followed and adopted by every newly-married couple. With
regard to the first, the courtesies of society should never be omitted,
in even the most trivial matters; and, as respects the second, what
blessing can be reasonably expected to descend upon a house wherein the
voice of thanksgiving is never heard, nor yet protection sought by its
acknowledged head!

On the wife especially devolves the privilege and pleasure of rendering
home happy. We shall, therefore, speak of such duties and observances as
pertain to her.

When a young wife first settles in her home, many excellent persons,
with more zeal, it may be, than discretion, immediately propose that she
should devote some of her leisure time to charitable purposes: such, for
instance, as clothing societies for the poor, or schools, or district
visiting. We say with all earnestness to our young friend, engage in
nothing of the kind, however laudable, without previously consulting
your husband, and obtaining his full concurrence. Carefully avoid, also,
being induced by any specious arguments to attend evening lectures,
unless he accompanies you. Remember that your Heavenly Father, who has
given you a home to dwell in, requires from you a right performance of
its duties. Win your husband, by all gentle appliances, to love
religion; but do not, for the sake even of a privilege and a blessing,
leave him to spend his evenings alone. Look often on your marriage ring,
and remember the sacred vows taken by you when the ring was given; such
thoughts will go far toward allaying many of these petty vexations which
circumstances call forth.

Never let your husband have cause to complain that you are more
agreeable abroad than at home; nor permit him to see in you an object of
admiration, as respects your dress and manners, when in company, while
you are negligent of both in the domestic circle. Many an unhappy
marriage has been occasioned by neglect in these particulars. Nothing
can be more senseless than the conduct of a young woman, who seeks to be
admired in general society for her politeness and engaging manners, or
skill in music, when, at the same time, she makes no effort to render
her home attractive; and yet that home, whether a palace or a cottage,
is the very center of her being--the nucleus around which her affections
should revolve, and beyond which she has comparatively small concern.

Beware of intrusting any individual whatever with small annoyances, or
misunderstandings, between your husband and yourself, if they unhappily
occur. Confidants are dangerous persons, and many seek to obtain an
ascendency in families by gaining the good opinion of young married
women. Be on your guard, and reject every overture that may lead to
undesirable intimacy. Should any one presume to offer you advice with
regard to your husband, or seek to lessen him by insinuations, shun that
person as you would a serpent. Many a happy home has been rendered
desolate by exciting coolness or suspicion, or by endeavors to gain
importance in an artful and insidious manner.

In all money matters, act openly and honorably. Keep your accounts with
the most scrupulous exactness, and let your husband see that you take an
honest pride in rightly appropriating the money which he intrusts to
you. "My husband works hard for every dollar that he earns," said a
young married lady, the wife of a professional man, to a friend who
found her busily employed in sewing buttons on her husband's coat, "and
it seems to me worse than cruel to lay out a dime unnecessarily." Be
very careful, also, that you do not spend more than can be afforded in
dress; and be satisfied with such carpets and curtains in your
drawing-room as befit a moderate fortune, or professional income.
Natural ornaments, and flowers tastefully arranged, give an air of
elegance to a room in which the furniture is far from costly; and books
judiciously placed, uniformly produce a good effect. A sensible woman
will always seek to ornament her home, and to render it attractive, more
especially as this is the taste of the present day. The power of
association is very great; light, and air, and elegance, are important
in their effects. No wife acts wisely who permits her sitting-room to
look dull in the eyes of him whom she ought especially to please, and
with whom she has to pass her days.

In middle life, instances frequently occur of concealment with regard to
money concerns; thus, for instance, a wife wishes to possess an article
of dress which is too costly for immediate purchase, or a piece of
furniture liable to the same objection. She accordingly makes an
agreement with a seller, and there are many who call regularly at houses
when the husband is absent on business, and who receive whatever the
mistress of the house can spare from her expenses. A book is kept by the
seller, in which payments are entered; but a duplicate is never
retained by the wife, and therefore she has no check whatever. We have
known an article of dress paid for in this manner, far above its value,
and have heard a poor young woman, who has been thus duped, say to a
lady, who remonstrated with her: "Alas! what can I do? I dare not tell
my husband." It may be that the same system, though differing according
to circumstances, is pursued in a superior class of life. We have reason
to think that it is so, and therefore affectionately warn our younger
sisters to beware of making purchases that require concealment. Be
content with such things as you can honorably afford, and such as your
husbands approve. You can then wear them with every feeling of

Before dismissing this part of our subject, we beseech you to avoid all
bickerings. What does it signify where a picture hangs, or whether a
rose or a pink looks best on the drawing-room table? There is something
inexpressibly endearing in small concessions, in gracefully giving up a
favorite opinion, or in yielding to the will of another; and equally
painful is the reverse. The mightiest rivers have their source in
streams; the bitterest domestic misery has often arisen from some
trifling difference of opinion. If, by chance, you marry a man of a
hasty temper, great discretion is required. Much willingness, too, and
prayer for strength to rule your own spirit are necessary. Three
instances occur to us, in which, ladies have knowingly married men of
exceeding violent tempers, and yet have lived happily. The secret of
their happiness consisted in possessing a perfect command over
themselves, and in seeking, by every possible means, to prevent their
husbands from committing themselves in their presence.

Lastly, remember your standing as a lady, and never approve a mean
action, nor speak an unrefined word; let all your conduct be such as an
honorable and right-minded man may look for in his wife, and the mother
of his children. The slightest duplicity destroys confidence. The least
want of refinement in conversation, or in the selection of books, lowers
a woman, ay, and for ever! Follow these few simple precepts, and they
shall prove to you of more worth than rubies; neglect them, and you will
know what sorrow is. They apply to every class of society, in every
place where man has fixed his dwelling; and to the woman who duly
observes them may be given the beautiful commendation of Solomon, when
recording the words which the mother of King Lemuel taught him:

"The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her; she will do him
good, and not evil, all the days of her life. Strength and honor are her
clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. Her children rise up,
and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."--Prov.

We shall now address ourselves exclusively to our brethren; to them who
have taken upon themselves the sacred and comprehensive names of husband
and of master, who have formed homes to dwell in, and have placed
therein, as their companions through life's pilgrimage, gentle and
confiding ones, who have left for them all that was heretofore most
dear, and whom they have sworn to love and to cherish.

When a man marries, it is understood that all former acquaintanceship
_ends_, unless he intimates a desire to renew it, by sending you his own
and his wife's card, if near, or by letter, if distant. If this be
neglected, be sure no further intercourse is desired.

In the first place, a bachelor is seldom _very particular_ in the choice
of his companions. So long as he is amused, he will associate freely
enough with those whose morals and habits would point them out as
highly dangerous persons to introduce into the sanctity of domestic

Secondly, a married man has the tastes of _another_ to consult; and the
friend of the _husband_ may not be equally acceptable to the _wife_.

Besides, newly-married people may wish to limit the circle of their
friends, from praiseworthy motives of economy. When a man first "_sets
up_" in the world, the burden of an extensive and indiscriminate
acquaintance may be felt in various ways. Many have had cause to regret
the weakness of mind which allowed them to plunge into a vortex of
gaiety and expense they could ill afford, from which they have found it
difficult to extricate themselves, and the effects of which have proved
a serious evil to them in after-life.

Remember that you have now, as a married man, a very different standing
in society from the one which you previously held, and that the
happiness of another is committed to your charge. Render, therefore,
your home happy by kindness and attention to your wife, and carefully
watch over your words and actions. If small disputes arise, and your
wife has not sufficient good sense to yield her opinion; nay, if she
even seems determined to have her own way, and that tenaciously, do not
get angry; rather be silent, and let the matter rest. An opportunity
will soon occur of speaking affectionately, yet decidedly, on the
subject, and much good will be effected. Master your own temper, and you
will soon master your wife's; study her happiness without yielding to
any caprices, and you will have no reason to regret your self-control.

Never let your wife go to church alone on Sunday. You can hardly do a
worse thing as regards her good opinion of you, and the well-being of
your household. It is a pitiable sight to see a young wife going toward
the church-door unattended, alone in the midst of a crowd, with her
thoughts dwelling, it may be very sadly, on the time when you were proud
to walk beside her. Remember that the condition of a young bride is
often a very solitary one; and that for your sake she has left her
parents' roof, and the companionship of her brothers and sisters. If you
are a professional man, your wife may have to live in the neighborhood
of a large city, where she scarcely knows any one, and without those
agreeable domestic occupations, or young associates, among whom she had
grown up. Her garden and poultry-yard are hers no longer, and the day
passes without the light of any smile but yours. You go off, most
probably after breakfast, to your business or profession, and do not
return till a late dinner; perhaps even not then, if you are much
occupied, or have to keep up professional connections. It seems unmanly,
certainly most unkind, to let your young wife go to church on Sunday
without you, for the common-place satisfaction of lounging at home. To
act in this manner is certainly a breach of domestic etiquette. Sunday
is the only day in which you can enable her to forget her father's
house, and the pleasant associations of her girlhood days--in which you
can pay her those attentions which prevent all painful comparisons as
regards the past. Sunday is a day of rest, wisely and mercifully
appointed to loose the bonds by which men are held to the world; let it
be spent by you as becomes the head of a family. Let no temptation ever
induce you to wish your wife to relinquish attending Divine service,
merely that she may "idle at home with you." Religion is her safeguard
amid the trials or temptations of this world. And woe may be to you if
you seek to withdraw her from its protection!

Much perplexity in the marriage state often arises from want of candor.
Men conceal their affairs, and expect their wives to act with great
economy, without assigning any reason why such should be the case; but
the husband ought frankly to tell his wife the real amount of his
income; for, unless this is done, she cannot properly regulate her
expenses. They ought then to consult together as to the sum that can be
afforded for housekeeping, which should be rather below than above the
mark. When this is arranged he will find it advantageous to give into
her hands, either weekly, monthly, or quarterly, the sum that is
appropriated for daily expenditure, and above all things to avoid
interfering without absolute necessity. The home department belongs
exclusively to the wife; the province of the husband is to rule the
house--hers to regulate its internal movements. True it is, that some
inexperienced young creatures know but little of household concerns. If
this occur, have patience, and do not become pettish or ill-humored. If
too much money is laid out at first, give advice, kindly and firmly, and
the young wife will soon learn how to perform her new duties.

No good ever yet resulted, or ever will result from unnecessary
interference. If a man unhappily marries an incorrigible simpleton, or
spendthrift, he cannot help himself. Such, however, is rarely the case.
Let a man preserve his own position, and assist his wife to do the same;
all things will then move together, well and harmoniously.

Much sorrow, and many heart-burnings, may be avoided by judicious
conduct in the outset of life. Husbands should give their wives all
confidence. They have intrusted to them their happiness, and should
never suspect them of desiring to waste their money. Whenever a
disposition is manifested to do right, express your approbation. Be
pleased with trifles, and commend efforts to excel on every fitting
occasion. If your wife is diffident, encourage her, and avoid seeing
small mistakes. It is unreasonable to add to the embarrassments of her
new condition, by ridiculing her deficiencies. Forbear extolling the
previous management of your mother or your sisters. Many a wife has been
alienated from her husband's family, and many an affectionate heart has
been deeply wounded by such injudicious conduct; and, as a sensible
woman will always pay especial attention to the relations of her
husband, and entertain them with affectionate politeness, the husband on
his part should always cordially receive and duly attend to her
relations. The reverse of this, on either side, is often productive of
unpleasant feelings.

Lastly, we recommend every young married man, who wishes to render his
home happy, to consider his wife as the light of his domestic circle,
and to permit no clouds, however small, to obscure the region in which
she presides. Most women are naturally amiable, gentle, and complying;
and if a wife becomes perverse, and indifferent to her home, it is
generally her husband's fault. He may have neglected her happiness; but
nevertheless it is unwise in her to retort, and, instead of faithfully
reflecting the brightness that still may shine upon her, to give back
the dusky and cheerless hue which saddens her existence. Be not selfish,
but complying, in small things. If your wife dislikes cigars--and few
young women like to have their clothes tainted by tobacco--leave off
smoking; for it is, at best, an ungentlemanly and dirty habit. If your
wife asks you to read to her, do not put your feet upon a chair and go
to sleep. If she is fond of music, accompany her as you were wont when
you sought her for a bride. The husband may say that he is tired, and
does not like music, or reading aloud. This may occasionally be true,
and no amiable woman will ever desire her husband to do what would
really weary him. We, however, recommend a young man to practice
somewhat of self-denial, and to remember that no one acts with a due
regard to his own happiness who lays aside, when married, those
gratifying attentions which he was ever ready to pay the lady of his
love; or those rational sources of home enjoyment which made her look
forward with a bounding heart to become his companion through life.

Etiquette is a comprehensive term; and its observances are nowhere more
to be desired than in the domestic circle.


To cultivate the art of pleasing is not only worthy of our ambition, but
it is the dictate of humanity to render ourselves as agreeable as
possible to those around us. While, therefore, we condemn that false
system of philosophy which recommends the practice of flattery and
deception for the purpose of winning the regard of those with whom we
come in contact, we would rather urge the sincere and open conduct which
is founded on moral principle, and which looks to the happiness of
others, not through any sordid and selfish aim, but for the reward which
virtuous actions bestow. Indeed, we do not discover the necessity of
duplicity and hypocrisy in our intercourse with society. The virtues and
the graces are not antagonistic. The sacrifice of personal convenience
for the accommodation of others; the repression of our egotism and
self-esteem; the occasional endurance of whatever is disagreeable or
irksome to us through consideration for the infirmities of others, are
not only some of the characteristics of true politeness, but are in the
very spirit of benevolence, and, we might add, religion.

The English have a rule of etiquette, that if you are introduced to a
person of higher position in society than yourself, you must never
recognize him when you meet, until you see whether he intends to notice
you. The meaning of this rule is, that you should be polite to nobody
until you see whether they mean to be polite to you, which is simply
refusing politeness in the name of politeness itself. There is a story
of an unfortunate clerk of the Treasury, who dined one day at the
Beef-steak Club, where he sat next to a duke, who conversed freely with
him at dinner. The next day, meeting the duke in the street, he saluted
him. But his grace, drawing himself up, said: "May I know, sir, to whom
I have the honor of speaking?" "Why, we dined together at the club
yesterday--I am Mr. Timms, of the Treasury," was the reply. "Then," said
the duke, turning on his heel, "Mr. Timms, of the Treasury, I wish you
_a good morning_." Though this anecdote is related in the English books
as an example of etiquette, it is undoubtedly true that Mr. Timms, of
the Treasury, was the politest man of the two; for even if he had made a
mistake in being a little familiar in his politeness, had the duke been
really a polite man he would have made the best of it, by returning the
salutation, instead of the brutal mortification which he heaped upon the
clerk of the Treasury. Everybody has read the anecdote of Washington,
who politely returned the salutation of a negro, which caused his friend
to ask if he "bowed to a negro." "To be sure I do; do you think that I
would allow a negro to outdo me in politeness?" said Washington. This is
the American rule. Everybody in this country may be polite to
everybody--and if any one is too haughty and too ill-bred to return the
salutation, with him alone rests the responsibility and the shame.

A lady in company should never exhibit any anxiety to sing or play; but
if she intends to do so, she should not affect to refuse when asked, but
obligingly accede at once. If you cannot sing, or do not choose to, say
so with seriousness and gravity, and put an end to the expectation
promptly. After singing once or twice, cease and give place to others.
There is an old saying, that a singer can with the greatest difficulty
be set agoing, and when agoing, cannot be stopped.

Never commend a lady's musical skill to another lady who herself plays.

Modern Chesterfields, who pretend to be superlatively well-bred, tell
one never to be "in a hurry." "To be in a hurry," say they, "is
ill-bred." The _dictum_ is absurd. It is sometimes necessary to be
hurried. In the streets of the city one must hasten with the multitude.
To walk or lounge, as people who have nothing else to do, in Wall
Street, or Broadway, would be out of place and absurd. Judgment requires
us, not less than manners, to conform slightly with the behavior of
those with whom we associate or are forced to remain.

Never lose your temper at cards, and particularly avoid the exhibition
of anxiety or vexation at want of success. If you are playing whist, not
only keep your temper, but hold your tongue; any intimation to your
partner is decidedly ungentlemanly.

Do not take upon yourself to do the honors in another man's house, nor
constitute yourself master of the ceremonies, as you will thereby offend
the host and hostess.

Do not press before a lady at a theater or a concert. Always yield to
her, if practicable, your seat and place. Do not sit when she is
standing, without offering her your place. Consult not only your own
ease, but also the comfort of those around you.

Do not cross a room in an anxious manner, and force your way up to a
lady merely to receive a bow, as by so doing you attract the eyes of the
company toward her. If you are desirous of being noticed by any one in
particular, put yourself in their way as if by accident, and do not let
them _see_ that you have sought them out; unless, indeed, there be
something very important to communicate.

Gentlemen who attend ladies to the opera, to concerts, to lectures,
etc., should take off their hats on entering the room, and while showing
them their seats. Having taken your seats remain quietly in them, and
avoid, unless absolute necessity requires it, incommoding others by
crowding out and in before them. If obliged to do this, politely
apologize for the trouble you cause them. To talk during the performance
is an act of rudeness and injustice. You thus proclaim your own
ill-breeding and invade the rights of others, who have paid for the
privilege of hearing the performers, and not for listening to you.

If you are in attendance upon a lady at any opera, concert, or lecture,
you should retain your seat at her side; but if you have no lady with
you, and have taken a desirable seat, you should, if need be, cheerfully
relinquish it in favor of a lady, for one less eligible.

To the opera, or theater, ladies should wear opera hoods, which are to
be taken off on entering. In this country, custom permits the wearing of
bonnets; but as they are neither convenient nor comfortable, ladies
should dispense with their use whenever they can.

Gloves should be worn by ladies in church, and in places of public
amusement. Do not take them off to shake hands. Great care should be
taken that they are well made and fit neatly.

If you would have your children grow up beloved and respected by their
elders as well as their contemporaries, teach them good manners in their
childhood. The young sovereign should first learn to obey, that he may
be the better fitted to command in his turn.

Show, but do not show off, your children to strangers. Recollect, in the
matter of children, how many are born every hour, each one almost as
remarkable as yours in the eyes of its papa and mamma.

Notwithstanding that good general breeding is easy of attainment, and
is, in fact, attained by most people, yet we may enlarge upon a saying
of Emerson's, by declaring that the world has never yet seen "a perfect

It is not deemed polite and respectful to smoke in the presence of
ladies, even though they are amiable enough to permit it. A gentleman,
therefore, is not in the habit of smoking in the parlor, for if there is
nobody present to object, it leaves a smell in the room which the wife
has good reason to be mortified at, if discovered by her guests.

It is very common to see persons eat, drink, and smoke to excess. Such
habits are vulgar in the lowest degree. Some men pride themselves on
their abilities in drinking and smoking--more especially in the latter.
These are blunders that need no reasoning to expose them. The man who
exhibits a tendency to excesses will, sooner or later, be shunned by all
except a few of his own stamp, and not even by them be respected. Guard
against excess in all things, as neither gentlemanly nor human.

Spitting is a filthy habit, and annoys one in almost every quarter,
in-doors and out. Since vulgarity has had its way so extensively amongst
us, every youth begins to smoke and spit before he has well cut his
teeth. Smoking is unquestionably so great a pleasure to those accustomed
to it, that it must not be condemned, yet the spitting associated with
it detracts very much from the enjoyment. No refined person will spit
where ladies are present, or in any public promenade; the habit is
disgusting in the extreme, and one would almost wish that it could be
checked in public by means of law.

Never scratch your head, pick your teeth, clean your nails, or, worse
than all, pick your nose in company; all these things are disgusting.

To indulge in ridicule, whether the subject be present or absent, is to
descend below the level of gentlemanly propriety. Your skill may excite
laughter, but will not insure respect.

A reverential regard for religious observances, and religious opinions,
is a distinguishing trait of a refined mind. Whatever your opinions on
the subject, you are not to intrude them on others, perhaps to the
shaking of their faith and happiness. Religious topics should be avoided
in conversation, except where all are prepared to concur in a respectful
treatment of the subject. In mixed societies the subject should never be

Frequent consultation of the watch or time-pieces is impolite, either
when at home or abroad. If at home, it appears as if you were tired of
your company and wished them to be gone; if abroad, as if the hours
dragged heavily, and you were calculating how soon you would be

Never read in company. A gentleman or lady may, however, look over a
book of engravings with propriety.

The simpler, and the more easy and unconstrained your manners, the more
you will impress people of your good breeding. _Affectation_ is one of
the brazen marks of vulgarity.

It is very unbecoming to exhibit petulance, or angry feeling, though it
is indulged in so largely in almost every circle. The true gentleman
does not suffer his countenance to be easily ruffled; and we only look
paltry when we suffer temper to hurry us into ill-judged expressions of
feeling. "He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly."

Commands should never be given in a commanding tone. A gentleman
requests, he does not command. We are not to assume so much importance,
whatever our station, as to give orders in the "imperative mood," nor
are we ever justified in thrusting the consciousness of servitude on any
one. The blunder of commanding sternly is most frequently committed by
those who have themselves but just escaped servitude, and we should not
exhibit to others a weakness so unbecoming.

It is a great thing to be able to _walk like a gentleman_--that is, to
get rid of the awkward, lounging, swinging gait of a clown, and stop
before you reach the affected and flippant step of a dandy. In short,
nothing but _being a gentleman_ can ever give you the air and step of
one. A man who has a shallow or an impudent brain will be quite sure to
show it in his heels, in spite of all that rules of manners can do for

A gentleman never sits in the house with his hat on in the presence of
ladies for a single moment. Indeed, so strong is the force of habit,
that a gentleman will quite unconsciously remove his hat on entering a
parlor, or drawing-room, even if there is no one present but himself.
People who sit in the house with their hats on are to be suspected of
having spent the most of their time in bar-rooms, and similar places. _A
gentleman never sits with his hat on in the theater._ Gentlemen do not
generally sit even in an eating-room with their hats on, if there is any
convenient place to put them.

The books on etiquette will tell you, that on waiting on a lady into a
carriage, or the box of a theater, you are to take off your hat; but
such _is not_ the custom among polite people in this country. The
inconvenience of such a rule is a good reason against its observance in
a country where the practice of politeness has in it nothing of the
servility which is often attached to it in countries where the code of
etiquette is dictated by the courts of monarchy. In handing a lady into
a carriage, a gentleman _may_ need to employ both his hands, and he has
no third hand to hold on to his hat.

Cleanliness of person is a distinguishing trait of every well-bred
person; and this not on state occasions only, but at all times, even at
home. It is a folly to sit by the fire in a slovenly state, consoling
oneself with the remark, "Nobody will call to-day." Should somebody call
we are in no plight to receive them, and otherwise it is an injury to
the character to allow slovenly habits to control us even when we are

Chesterfield inveighs against holding a man by the button, "for if
people are not willing to hear you, you had much better hold your tongue
than them." Button-holing is not a common vice, but pointing, nudging,
hitting a man in the side with your fist, or giving him a kick of
recognition under the table, are too common not to be noticed here as
terrible breaches of deportment. Significant looks and gestures are
equally objectionable, and must be avoided by all who desire to soar
above positive vulgarity. I have often been annoyed by hearing a friend
discourse on some person's failings or excellences, the person referred
to being only known to the speaker. It is a bad rule to talk of persons
at all, but more especially if the person spoken of is not known to all
the listeners.

Do not offer a person the chair from which you have just risen, unless
there be no other in the room.

Never take the chair usually occupied by the lady or gentleman of the
house, even though they be absent, nor use the snuff-box of another,
unless he offer it.

Do not lean your head against the wall. You will either soil the paper,
or get your hair well powdered with lime.

Do not touch any of the ornaments in the houses where you visit; they
are meant only for the use of the lady of the house, and may be admired,
but not touched.

Lord Chesterfield, in his "Advice to his Son," justly characterizes an
absent man as unfit for business or conversation. Absence of mind is
usually affected, and springs in most cases from a desire to be thought
abstracted in profound contemplations. The world, however, gives a man
no credit for vast ideas who exhibits absence when he should be
attentive, even to trifles. The world is right in this, and I would
implore every studious youth to forget that he is studious when he
enters company. I have seen many a man, who would have made a bright
character otherwise, affect a foolish reserve, remove himself as far
from others as possible, and in a mixed assembly, where social prattle
or sincere conversation enlivened the hearts of the company, sit by
himself abstracted in a book. It is foolish, and, what is worse for the
absentee, it looks so. A hint on this subject is sufficient, and we do
hint, that abstractedness of manner should never be exhibited; the
greatest geniuses have ever been attentive to trifles when it so
behooved them.

Affectation of superiority galls the feelings of those to whom it is
offered. In company with an inferior, never let him feel his
inferiority. An employer, who invites his confidential clerk to his
house, should treat him in every way the same as his most distinguished
guest. No reference to business should be made, and anything in the
shape of command avoided. It is very easy by a look, a word, the mode of
reception, or otherwise, to advertise to the other guests, "This is my
clerk," or, "The person I now treat as a guest was yesterday laboring in
my service;" but such a thing would lower the host more than it would
annoy the guest. Before Burns had arrived at his high popularity, he was
once invited by some puffed-up lairds to dine, in order that they
might have the gratification of hearing the poet sing one of his own
songs. Burns was shown into the servants' hall, and left to dine with
the menials. After dinner he was invited to the drawing-room, and a
glass of wine being handed to him, requested to sing one of his own
songs. He immediately gave his entertainers that thrilling assertion of
independence, "A man's a man for a' that," and left the moment he had
finished, his heart embittered at patronage offered in a manner so
insulting to his poverty.

People who have risen in the world are too apt to suppose they render
themselves of consequence _in proportion to the pride they display_, and
their want of attention toward those with whom they come in contact.
This is a terrible mistake, as every ill-bred act recoils with triple
violence against its perpetrators, by leading the offended parties to
analyze them, and to question their right of assuming a superiority to
which they are but rarely entitled.

Punctuality is one of the characteristics of politeness. He who does not
keep his appointments promptly is unfit for the society of gentlemen,
and will soon find himself shut out from it.

In private, watch your thoughts; in your family, watch your temper; in
society, watch your tongue.

Avoid restlessness in company, lest you make the whole party as fidgety
as yourself. "Do not beat the 'Devil's tattoo' by drumming with your
fingers on the table; it cannot fail to annoy every one within hearing,
and is the index of a vacant mind. Neither read the newspaper in an
audible whisper, as it disturbs the attention of those near you. Both
these bad habits are particularly offensive where most common, that is,
in a counting or news-room. Remember, that a carelessness as to what may
incommode others is the sure sign of a coarse and ordinary mind;
indeed, the essential part of good breeding is more in the avoidance of
whatever may be disagreeable to others, than even an accurate observance
of the customs of good society."

Good sense must, in many cases, determine good breeding; because the
same thing that would be civil at one time and to one person, may be
quite otherwise at another time and to another person.

Chesterfield says, "As learning, honor, and virtue are absolutely
necessary to gain you the esteem and admiration of mankind, politeness
and good breeding are equally necessary to make you welcome and
agreeable in conversation and common life. Great talents, such as honor,
virtue, learning, and parts, are above the generality of the world, who
neither possess them themselves nor judge of them rightly in others; but
all people are judges of the lesser talents, such as civility,
affability, and an obliging, agreeable address and manner; because they
feel the good effects of them, as making society easy and pleasing."

If you are in a public room, as a library or reading-room, avoid loud
conversation or laughing, which may disturb others. At the opera, or a
concert, be profoundly silent during the performances; if you do not
wish to hear the music, you have no right to interfere with the
enjoyment of others.

In accompanying ladies to any public place, as to a concert or lecture,
you should precede them in entering the room, and procure seats for

Never allow a lady to get a chair for herself, ring a bell, pick up a
handkerchief or glove she may have dropped, or, in short, perform any
service for herself which you can perform for her, when you are in the
room. By extending such courtesies to your mother, sisters, or other
members of your family, they become habitual, and are thus more
gracefully performed when abroad.

Etiquette in church is entirely out of place; but we may here observe
that a conversation wantonly profligate always offends against good
manners, nor can an irreligious man ever achieve that bearing which
constitutes the true gentleman. He may be very polished and observant of
form, and even if so, he will, out of respect for others, refrain from
intruding his opinions and abstain from attacking those of others.

Chesterfield says, "Civility is particularly due to all women; and,
remember, that no provocation whatsoever can justify any man in not
being civil to every woman; and the greatest man would justly be
reckoned a brute if he were not civil to the meanest woman. It is due to
their sex, and is the only protection they have against the superior
strength of ours; nay, even a little is allowable with women; and a man
may, without weakness, tell a woman she is either handsomer or wiser
than she is."

Keep your engagements. Nothing is ruder than to make an engagement, be
it of business or pleasure, and break it. If your memory is not
sufficiently retentive to keep all the engagements you make stored
within it, carry a little memorandum book and enter them there.
Especially keep any appointment made with a lady, for, depend upon it,
the fair sex forgive any other fault in good breeding, sooner than a
broken engagement.

The right of privacy is sacred, and should always be respected. It is
exceedingly improper to enter a private room anywhere without knocking.
No relation, however intimate, will justify an abrupt intrusion upon a
private apartment. So the trunks, boxes, packets, papers, and letters of
every individual, locked or unlocked, sealed or unsealed, are sacred. It
is ill-manners even to open a book-case, or to read a written paper
lying open, without permission expressed or implied. Books in an open
case or on a center-table, cards in a card-case, and newspapers, are
presumed to be open for examination. Be careful where you go, what you
read, and what you handle, particularly in private apartments.

Avoid intermeddling with the affairs of others. This is a most common
fault. A number of people seldom meet but they begin discussing the
affairs of some one who is absent. This is not only uncharitable but
positively unjust. It is equivalent to trying a _cause in the absence of
the person implicated_. Even in the criminal code a prisoner is presumed
to be innocent until he is found guilty. Society, however, is less just,
and passes judgment without hearing the defence. Depend upon it, as a
certain rule, _that the people who unite with you in discussing the
affairs of others will proceed to scandalize you the moment that you

Be well read also, for the sake of the general company and the ladies,
in the literature of the day. You will thereby enlarge the regions of
pleasurable talk. Besides, it is often necessary. Haslitt, who had
entertained an unfounded prejudice against Dickens's works when they
were first written, confesses that he was at last obliged to read them,
because he could not enter a mixed company without hearing them admired
and quoted.

Always conform your conduct, as near as possible, to the company with
whom you are associated. If you should be thrown among people who are
vulgar, it is better to humor them than to set yourself up, then and
there, for a model of politeness. It is related of a certain king that
on a particular occasion he turned his tea into his saucer, contrary to
the etiquette of society, because two country ladies, whose
hospitalities he was enjoying, did so. That king was a gentleman; and
this anecdote serves to illustrate an important principle: namely, that
true politeness and genuine good manners often not only permit, but
absolutely demand, a violation of some of the arbitrary rules of
etiquette. Bear this fact in mind.

Although these remarks will not be sufficient in themselves to _make_
you a _gentleman_, yet they will enable you to avoid any glaring
impropriety, and do much to render you easy and confident in society.

Gentility is neither in birth, manner, nor fashion--but in _the_ MIND. A
high sense of honor--a determination never to take a mean advantage of
another--an adherence to truth, delicacy, and politeness toward those
with whom you may have dealings--are the essential and distinguishing
characteristics of A GENTLEMAN.



Italics indicated _like this_

Small caps capitalized LIKE THIS

Other than corrections listed below, inconsistent spellings and other
anomalies are as in original.

  p. 5 "withuot" corrected to "without"
  p. 13 double word "heard" corrected
  p. 21 "there" corrected to "their"
  p. 22 closing quotation mark added to block quotation
  p. 27 "sermom" corrected to "sermon"
  p. 43 "fluctating" corrected to "fluctuating"
  p. 49 "unmindul" corrected to "unmindful"
  p. 50 missing comma supplied after "one who is neither"
  p. 50 "similiar" corrected to "similar"
  p. 50 "supenderless" corrected to "suspenderless"
  p. 53 quotation mark supplied after "superficial observer."
  p. 56 "four and-twenty" corrected to "four-and-twenty"
  p. 61 "repectability" corrected to "respectability"
  p. 62 "uneviable" corrected to "unenviable"
  p. 70 "digusting" corrected to "disgusting"
  p. 73 "you" corrected to "your"
  p. 76 "alllowed" corrected to "allowed"
  p. 76 "canibals" corrected to "cannibals"
  p. 77 "you knife" corrected to "your knife"
  p. 83 superfluous comma removed in "very, large"
  p. 84 missing "a" supplied in "find good carver"
  p. 108 period supplied after "each other at a party"
  p. 115 "entranc" corrected to "entrance"
  p. 115 final period supplied in footnote
  p. 125 final period supplied after "been afforded them"
  p. 146 "judicioulsy" corrected to "judiciously"
  p. 148 "unless he intimate" corrected to "unless he intimates"
  p. 148 "intercourse it desired" corrected to "intercourse is desired"
  p. 149 double word "to" corrected
  p. 151 "departmemt" corrected to "department"
  p. 151 "husbands should" at start of sentence capitalized
  p. 158 "digusting" corrected to "disgusting"
  p. 159 "thought it is" corrected to "though it is"
  p. 161 double word "call" corrected

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