“True Christian politeness will always be the result of an unselfish regard for the feelings of others, and though you may err in the ceremonious points of etiquette, you will never be impolite.”

“If you wish to be a well-bred lady, you must carry your good manners everywhere with you. It is not a thing that can be laid aside. True politeness is uniform disinterestedness trifles, accompanied by the calm self-possession which belongs to a noble simplicity of purpose; and this must be the effect of a Christian spirit running through all you do, or say, or think; and, unless you cultivate it and exercise it, upon all occasions and towards all persons, it will never be a part of yourself.”

The Ladies Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness

Author: Florence Hartley Published: 1860


Chapter I.


Chapter II.


Chapter III.


Chapter IV.

How to Behave at a Hotel

Chapter V.

EVENING Parties--etiquette for the Hostess

Chapter VI.

EVENING Parties--etiquette for the Guest

Chapter VII.

Visiting--etiquette for the Hostess

Chapter VIII.

Visiting--etiquette for the Guest

Chapter IX.

MORNING RECEPTIONS OR Calls--etiquette for the Hostess

Chapter X.

MORNING RECEPTIONS OR Calls--etiquette for the Caller

Chapter XI.

DINNER Company--etiquette for the Hostess

Chapter XII.

DINNER Company--etiquette for the Guest

Chapter XIII.

Table Etiquette

Chapter XIV.

Conduct in the Street

Chapter XV.

Letter Writing

Chapter XVI.

Polite Deportment and Good Habits

Chapter XVII.

Conduct in Church

Chapter XVIII.

BALL ROOM Etiquette--for the Hostess

Chapter XIX.

BALL ROOM Etiquette--for the Guest

Chapter XX.

Places of Amusement

Chapter XXI.


Chapter XXII.


Chapter XXIII.

On a Young Lady's Conduct When Contemplating Marriage

Chapter XXIV.

Bridal Etiquette

Chapter XXV.

Hints on Health

Chapter XXVI.



For the Complexion




The usual hours for paying morning calls are between eleven and two, or twelve and three, and all calls of ceremony should be made between these hours.

Never, in paying a ceremonious call, stay more than twenty minutes, or less than ten. If your hostess has several other visitors at the same time that you are in her parlor, make your visit short, that she may have more attention to bestow upon others.

After you have received an invitation to a party, call within a week or fortnight after the evening, whether you have accepted or declined the invitation. If you have declined on account of mourning, the excuse extends also to the call.

When the servant answers your ring, hand in your card. If your friend is out or engaged, leave the card, and if she is in, send it up. Never call without cards. You may offend your friend, as she may never hear of your call, if she is out at the time, and you trust to the memory of the servant.

If your friend is at home, after sending your card up to her by the servant, go into the parlor to wait for her. Sit down quietly, and do not leave your seat until you rise to meet her as she enters the room. To walk about the parlor, examining the ornaments and pictures, is ill-bred. It is still more unlady-like to sit down and turn over to read the cards in her card basket. If she keeps you waiting for a long time, you may take a book from the centre-table to pass away the interval.

Never, while waiting in a friend's parlor, go to the piano and play till she comes. This is a breach of good-breeding often committed, and nothing can be more ill-bred. You may be disturbing an invalid unawares, or you may prevent your friend, if she has children, from coming down stairs at all, by waking the baby.

If you are a stranger in the city, and bring a letter of introduction to your hostess, send this letter up stairs with your card, that she may read it, and know how to welcome you when she comes down stairs. In this case, write upon the card the name of the hotel at which you are staying, and mention in the course of conversation, how long you will be in the city.

If you have a visitor, and desire to introduce her to your friends, you may invite her to accompany you when paying calls.

In making a call for condolence, it is sufficient to leave a card with your enquiries for the health of your friend, and offers of service. The same if calling upon invalids, if they are too ill to see you.

In visits of congratulation, go in, and be hearty in your expressions of interest and sympathy. Pay visits, both of condolence and congratulation, within a week after the event which calls for them occurs.

It is proper, when you have already made your call of the usual length, and another caller is announced, to rise and leave, not immediately, as if you shunned the new arrival, but after a moment or two. Never out-sit two or three parties of visitors, unless you have private business with your hostess which cannot be postponed. Many denounce the system of morning calls as silly, frivolous, and a waste of time. They are wrong. It may be carried to an excess, and so admit of these objections, but in moderation the custom is a good and pleasant one. You have then an opportunity of making friends of mere acquaintances, and you can, in a pleasant chat with a friend at home, have more real enjoyment in her society than in a dozen meetings in large companies, with all the formality and restraint of a party thrown around you. There are many subjects of conversation which are pleasant in a parlor, tete-a-tete with a friend, which you would not care to discuss in a crowded saloon, or in the street. Personal inquiries, private affairs can be cosily chatted over.

In paying your visits of condolence, show, by your own quiet gravity, that you sympathize in the recent affliction of your friend. Though you may endeavor to comfort and cheer her, you must avoid a gay or careless air, as it will be an insult at such a time. Avoid any allusion to the past that may be trying for her to hear or answer, yet do not ignore the subject entirely, as that appears like a want of interest in it. Though you may feel happy, avoid parading your own joyousness at such a time; whatever your own feeling may be, respect the sorrow of another.

Never sit gazing curiously around the room when paying a call, as if taking a mental inventory of the furniture. It is excessively rude. It is still worse to appear to notice any disorder or irregularity that may occur.

If, while paying a call, you perceive that any unforeseen matter in the family, calls for the attention of the lady of the house, leave instantly, no matter how short your call has been. Your friend may not appear to notice the screams of a child, a noise in the kitchen, or the cry from the nursery that the fire board has caught fire, but you may be sure she does hear it, and though too well-bred to speak of it, will heartily rejoice to say good-bye.

Do not take a child with you to pay calls, until it is old enough to behave quietly and with propriety. To have a troublesome child constantly touching the parlor ornaments, balancing itself on the back of a chair, leaning from a window, or performing any of the thousand tricks in which children excel, is an annoyance, both to yourself and your hostess.

Make no remark upon the temperature of the room, or its arrangement, when you enter it. Never open or shut a window or door without asking permission, and unless really suffering from excessive heat or cold, refrain from asking leave to take this liberty.

If you are invited to go up stairs to your friend's private apartment, you will, of course, accept the invitation, but never go up stairs uninvited. When you reach her door, if the servant has not preceded and announced you, knock, and await her invitation to enter. Then, once in, take no notice of the room, but go instantly to your friend. If she is sewing, do not speak of the nature of her work, but request her to continue, as if you were not present.

In cases of long standing friendship, you will not, of course, stand upon the ceremony of waiting for each and every one of your calls to be returned before paying another, but be careful that you are not too lavish of your visits. The most cordial welcome may be worn threadbare, if it is called into use too often.

If you are visiting an invalid, or one confined by physical infirmity to one apartment, while you are cheerful and ready to impart all the news that will interest them, do not, by too glowing descriptions of out-door pleasures, make them feel more keenly their own deprivations. It is well, when making such calls, to converse upon literature, or such general subjects as will not remind them of their misfortune.

In cases where, from long illness or other infirmity, a gentleman friend is confined entirely to his room, you may, with perfect propriety, call upon him. It is both polite and kind to do so, as otherwise he would be deprived entirely of the society of his lady friends. Many thus unfortunately situated, from study and reading while so shut out from the world, become the most delightful companions.

If, when you make a call, you unfortunately intrude upon an early dinner hour, do not go in, but leave your card, and say that you will call again.

If you call upon two ladies who are boarding at the same house, do not send up your card to both at the same time. If one is out, send a card to her room, and then send up for the other. If the first one is in, wait till she comes down, and then chat as long as a call usually lasts. When you rise as if to take leave, accompany your friend to the parlor door, then tell her that you are going to send up for your other friend. She will bid you good-morning, and go to her own room; ring the bell after she leaves you, and send your card by the waiter to your other friend.

In calling at a hotel, enter by the ladies' door, and send your card to the room of your friend by the waiter. It is well, if you are calling upon an entire stranger, to choose a seat, and tell the waiter to say to the lady exactly where she will find you. She will probably enter with your card in her hand; then rise, greet her by name, and introduce yourself. If you speak to another stranger upon the same errand as the one you expect, the error will be instantly perceived by the difference in name. If a stranger, bringing a letter of introduction, sends the letter with her card, instead of calling, courtesy requires you to make the first call, immediately; the same day that you receive the letter, if possible, if not, the day after.

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