Social Etiquette

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The Qualities of a Lady

A lady should be quiet in her manners, natural and unassuming in her language, careful to wound no one’s
feelings, but giving generously and freely from the treasures of her pure mind to her friends. Scorning no one openly, she should feel gentle pity for the unfortunate, the inferior and the ignorant, at the same
time carrying herself with an innocence and single heartedness which disarms ill nature, and wins respect and love from all.
General Rules for Both Ladies and Gentlemen
In a carriage, a gentleman takes the seat facing backward.  If he is alone in a carriage with a lady, he does not sit next to her unless he is her hus-band, brother, father, or son.  He alights from the carriage first so he may hand her down.  He takes care not to step on her dress.
Meeting a lady in the street or in the park whom you know only slightly, a gentleman waits for her acknowledging bow--then and only then may he tip his hat to her, which is done using the hand farthest away from her to raise the hat.  A gentleman must not speak to her--or to any other lady--unless she speaks to him first.
A gentleman is always introduced to a lady--never the other way around.  It is presumed to be an honor for the gentleman to meet her.  Likewise (and it is the more general rule of which this is only a specific example), a social inferior is always introduced to a superior--and only with the latter's acquiescence.
In going up a flight of stairs, a gentleman precedes the lady; in going down, a gentleman follows.
At a public exhibition or concert, if accompanied by a lady, a gentleman goes in first in order to find the lady a seat.  If he enters such an exhibition alone and there are ladies or older gentlemen present, he removes his hat
If a gentleman meets a lady who is a good friend and who signifies that she wishes to speak to him, he must turn and walk with the lady if he wishes to converse.  It is not "done" to make a lady stand talking in a street.
In riding horseback or when walking along the street, the lady always has the wall. This was so when nightjars/bedpans were thrown from the windows into the street sewers, the mess would land on the gentleman and not the lady with her pretty dress.
Under no circumstances may a lady call on a gentleman alone unless she is consulting that gentleman on a professional or business matter.
If unmarried and under thirty, a lady is never to be in the company of a man without a chaperone.  Except for a walk to church or a park in the early morning, she may not walk alone, but should always be accompanied by another lady, a man, or a servant.
Dining Etiquette for Both Ladies and Gentlemen
It is of primary importance for all guests to arrive punctually, even ten to fifteen minutes before the appointed time.  It is a serious offense to arrive ten minutes late, keeping the dinner waiting, and no one should be guilty of doing so.
Sit upright, neither too close nor too far away from the table.  Open and spread upon your lap or breast a napkin.  Do not be in haste; compose yourself, put your mind into a pleasant condition, and resolve to eat slowly.
Keep the hands from the table until your time comes to be served.  It is rude to take knife and fork in hand and commence drumming on the table while you are waiting.  Eccentricity should be avoided as much as possible at the table.
Never expectorate at the table; also avoid sneezing or coughing.   
      It is better to arise quietly from the table if you have occasion to do either.  A sneeze is prevented by placing the finger firmly on the upper lip.
While waiting to be sereved is the most appropriate time for you to put into practice your knowledge of small talk and pleasant words with those whom you are sitting near.
If soup comes first, and you do not desire it, you will simply say, "No, I thank-you," but make no comment; or you may take it and eat as little as you choose. The soup should be eaten with a medium-sized spoon, so slowly and carefully that you will drop none upon your person or the tablecloth.  Making an effort to get the last drop, and all unusual noise when eating, should be avoided.
The gentleman, when a dish is brought, having seen the lady he escorted provided for, will help himself and pass it on.  He will pay no attention to the other lady near him, but will leave that to her escort.
In all cases he will be careful and attentive to the wants of the lady in his charge, ascertaining her wishes and issuing her orders to the waiters.
No polite guest will ever fastidiously smell or examine any article of food before tasting it.  Such conduct would be an insult to those who have invited him.
  Neither will the host or hostess apologize for the cooking.
Etiquette demands that each member of the company remain at least an hour after the dinner is finished, it being impolite to hurry away immediately.
Never spit out bones, cherry pits, grape skins, etc., upon your plate.
Quietly squeeze them from your mouth upon your fork, then lay them upon the side of your plate.
As consideration of deep and abstruse principles will impair digestion, never allow the conversation at
the table to drift into anything but chitchat.
Never allow butter, soup, or other food to remain upon your whiskers.
Never wear gloves at the table, unless--for some special reason--your hands are unfit to be seen.
Never, when serving others, overload the plate nor force upon them delicacies which they decline.
Never make a display when removing hair, insects, or other disagreeable things from your food.  Place them quietly under the edge of your plate.
Never open your mouth while chewing.
Never make noises with the mouth or throat.
Never leave the table with food in your mouth.
Never tip back in your chair nor lounge upon the table.
Never permit yourself to use gestures, nor illustrations made with a knife or fork upon the tablecloth.
Never hold bones in your fingers while you eat from them.
Never explain at the table why certain foods do not agree with you.
Never pick your teeth or put your hand in your mouth while eating.
Never wipe your fingers on the tablecloth, nor clean them in your mouth.
Always use the napkin. 
Street Manners for Both Ladies and Gentlemen
The true lady walks the street, wrapped in a mantle of proper reserve, so impenetrable that insult and coarse familiarity shrink from her, while she, at all times, carries with her acongenial atmosphere which attracts all, and puts all at their ease.
A lady walks quietly through the streets, seeing and hearing nothing that she ought not to, recognizing acquaintances with a courteous bow, and friends with words of greeting. She is always unobtrusive, never talks loudly, or laughs boisterously, or does anything to attract the attention of the passers-by. She walks along in her own quiet, lady-like way, and by her preoccupation is secure from any annoyance.
 A true lady in the street, as in the parlor is modest, discreet, kind and obliging.
It is proper that the lady should first recognize the gentleman. A gentleman will never fail to bow in return to a lady; but a lady may not feel at liberty to return a gentleman’s bow, which places him in a rather unpleasant position. Therefore, a lady should give the first smile or bow. She must refrain, at all times, from using the gentleman’s Christian name. She should use his formal name of Mister ______ .
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 bow, touch your hat, or bid your friend good day. Lift your hat from your head with the hand farthest from him.
If you are on such terms that it is necessary to shake hands, lift your hat with your left hand and then give a hearty shake with your right. 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 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 fail to raise your hat politely to a lady acquaintance, nor to a male friend who may be walking with a lady -- it is a courtesy to the lady.
When you meet a lady with whom you are slightly acquainted, wait until she gives you some mark of recognition; if she fails to do so, pass on. Should she bow, lift your hat and slightly bend.
If you are smoking, remove your cigar with your disengaged hand.
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. She too, decides when the conversation is to end. If, while speaking, she moves onward, you should turn and accompany her. If she makes a slight inclination, as of dismissal, raise your hat, bow and go your own way.
In walking with a lady, never permit her to encumber herself with a book, parcel or anything of that kind, but always offer to carry it.
If, when on your way to fulfill an engagement, a friend stops you on 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.

If inquiring for goods at a store, do not say, "I want so and so", but say to the clerk -- "Show me such or such article, if you please." -- or use some other polite form of address. If you are obliged to examine a number of articles before your are suited, apologize to him for the trouble you give him.
If you make only small purchases, say to him -- "I am sorry for having troubled you for so trifling a thing."

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 about 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.

A lady never demands attentions and favors form a gentleman, but always accepts them gratefully and graciously and with expressed thanks.

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. However, 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 offered to a lady, and also when ascending the steps of a public building. 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 her.
When two gentlemen are walking with a lady in the street, they should not be both upon the same side of her, but one of them should walk upon the outside and one upon the inside.
A lady should never take the arms of two men, one being on either side, nor should a man carry a woman upon each arm. There are, to be sure, some cases in which it is necessary for the protection of women; that they should both take her arm, as in coming home from a concert, or in passing, on any occasion, through a crowd.
 If when passing through a crowd you are compelled to proceed singly, the gentleman should always precede his lady companion.
When you salute a lady or a gentleman to whom you wish to show particular respect, in the street, you should take your hat entirely off and cause it to describe a circle of a lease ninety degrees from its original resting place.

A man to a woman - introduce the lady first -" Mrs.____ or Miss ____ , permit me to present you to Mr. ____."

When one lady is married, and the other single, present the single lady to the matron "Miss _____, allow me to introduce you to Mrs. _______."

Always introduce a person with their title if they have one.

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,' ....
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,' while her younger sisters, as ‘Miss Maud Sherwood,' ‘Miss Mary Sherwood.",
It is neither necessary nor desirable to introduce all your acquaintances to one another. If a gentleman is walking with a friend and meets another -- the same rule applies to ladies -- it is not necessary to introduce them to each other.
Two gentlemen calling upon another on a matter of business introduce each other. Introductions do not involve the necessity of shaking hands. No gentleman should offer to shake hands with a lady; if she desires to do so, she can readily express it.
A loud voice is both disagreeable and vulgar. Remember that all "slang" is vulgar.
Do not smoke in the presence of ladies, and never stand with your back to the fire, nor put your feet on the rungs of a chair, nor loll back on sofas, nor yawn, nor read aloud without being asked to do so, nor put your elbows on a table, nor drum tunes with your fingers, nor indulge in any of those minor vulgarities which may render you disagreeable to others.

In walking with a lady, it is customary to give her the right arm; but when circumstances render it more convenient to give her the left, it may be properly done (i.e. The gentleman always walks on the street side of the sidewalk).

Gentlemen offer your arm for her safety, comfort or convenience.
Rules of Paying Calls (Visits)
Visits of ceremony should be short.  If even the conversation should have become animated, beware of letting your call exceed half-an-hour's length. Take your leave when the conversation begins to lag.
Should there be daughters or sisters residing with the lady upon whom you call, you may turn down a corner of your card to signify that the visit is paid to all.  It is better taste, however, to leave cards for each.
Never take a favorite dog into a drawing-room when you make a morning call.  Their feet may be dusty, or they may bark at the sight of strangers, or, being of a too friendly disposition, may take the liberty of
lying on a lady's gown, or jumping on the sofas and easy chairs.
Rules for Traveling by Boat or Rail
Ladies will not permit their escorts to enter any apartment reserved for
      ladies only.
Ladies traveling alone should consult conductors or captains.  Ladies
     will thank gentlemen who raise or lower windows, coldly but politely.
If a person crushes or crowds you, and apologizes, accept the apology 
     by a cold bow.
Gentlemen escorts must pay the most delicate and earnest care to the
     lady or ladies under their care.  The attention must be unremitting.
At a hotel, the escort must see to everything, rooms, etc., etc.
Courtesies in traveling are always en regale, but there must be no attempt
     at familiarity.
Gentlemen will commence conversations.
Gentlemen will assist ladies to alight from the cars.
A gentleman may offer to escort a lady to the refreshment saloon.
A gentlemen may offer his newspaper.


*All pictures are curtesy of eBay, other websites, and our own production. Copyright 2005*

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