“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



A lady's conduct is never so entirely at the mercy of critics, because never so public, as when she is in the street. Her dress, carriage, walk, will all be exposed to notice; every passer-by will look at her, if it is only for one glance; every unlady-like action will be marked; and in no position will a dignified, lady-like deportment be more certain to command respect.

Let me start with you upon your promenade, my friend, and I will soon decide your place upon the list of well-bred ladies.

First, your dress. Not that scarlet shawl, with a green dress, I beg, and--oh! spare my nerves!--you are not so insane as to put on a blue bonnet. That's right. If you wish to wear the green dress, don a black shawl, and--that white bonnet will do very well. One rule you must lay down with regard to a walking dress. It must never be conspicuous. Let the material be rich, if you will; the set of each garment faultless; have collar and sleeves snowy white, and wear neatly-fitting, whole, clean gloves and boots. Every detail may be scrupulously attended to, but let the whole effect be quiet and modest. Wear a little of one bright color, if you will, but not more than one. Let each part of the dress harmonize with all the rest; avoid the extreme of fashion, and let the dress suit you. If you are short and plump, do not wear flounces, because they are fashionable, and avoid large plaids, even if they are the very latest style. If tall and slight, do not add to the length of your figure by long stripes, a little mantilla, and a caricature of a bonnet, with long, streaming ribbons. A large, round face will never look well, staring from a tiny, delicate bonnet; nor will a long, thin one stand the test much better. Wear what is becoming to yourself, and only bow to fashion enough to avoid eccentricity. To have everything in the extreme of fashion, is a sure mark of vulgarity.

Wear no jewelry in the street excepting your watch and brooch. Jewelry is only suited for full evening dress, when all the other details unite to set it off. If it is real, it is too valuable to risk losing in the street, and if it is not real, no lady should wear it. Mock jewelry is utterly detestable.

What are you doing? Sucking the head of your parasol! Have you not breakfasted? Take that piece of ivory from your mouth! To suck it is unlady-like, and let me tell you, excessively unbecoming. Rosy lips and pearly teeth can be put to a better use.

Why did you not dress before you came out? It is a mark of ill-breeding to draw your gloves on in the street. Now your bonnet-strings, and now--your collar! Pray arrange your dress before you leave the house! Nothing looks worse than to see a lady fussing over her dress in the street. Take a few moments more in your dressing-room, and so arrange your dress that you will not need to think of it again whilst you are out.

Do not walk so fast! you are not chasing anybody! Walk slowly, gracefully! Oh, do not drag one foot after the other as if you were fast asleep--set down the foot lightly, but at the same time firmly; now, carry your head up, not so; you hang it down as if you feared to look any one in the face! Nay, that is the other extreme! Now you look like a drill-major, on parade! So! that is the medium. Erect, yet, at the same time, easy and elegant.

Now, my friend, do not swing your arms. You don't know what to do with them? Your parasol takes one hand; hold your dress up a little with the other. Not so! No lady should raise her dress above the ankle.

Take care! don't drag your dress through that mud-puddle! Worse and worse! If you take hold of your dress on both sides, in that way, and drag it up so high, you will be set down as a raw country girl. So. Raise it just above the boot, all round, easily, letting it fall again in the old folds. Don't shake it down; it will fall back of itself.

Stop! don't you see there is a carriage coming? Do you want to be thrown down by the horses? You can run across? Very lady-like indeed! Surely nothing can be more ungraceful than to see a lady shuffle and run across a street. Wait until the way is clear and then walk slowly across.

Do not try to raise your skirts. It is better to soil them. (You were very foolish to wear white skirts this muddy day.) They are easily washed, and you cannot raise all. You will surely be awkward in making the attempt, and probably fail, in spite of your efforts. True, they will be badly soiled, and you expose this when you raise the dress, but the state of the streets must be seen by all who see your share of the dirt, and they will apologize for your untidy appearance in a language distinctly understood.

Don't hold your parasol so close to your face, nor so low down. You cannot see your way clear, and you will run against somebody. Always hold an umbrella or parasol so that it will clear your bonnet, and leave the space before your face open, that you may see your way clearly.

If you are ever caught in a shower, and meet a gentleman friend who offers an umbrella, accept it, if he will accompany you to your destination; but do not deprive him of it, if he is not able to join you. Should he insist, return it to his house or store the instant you reach home, with a note of thanks. If a stranger offers you the same services, decline it positively, but courteously, at the same time thanking him.

Never stop to speak to a gentleman in the street. If you have anything important to say to him, allow him to join and walk with you, but do not stop. It is best to follow the same rule with regard to ladies, and either walk with them or invite them to walk with you, instead of stopping to talk.

A lady who desires to pay strict regard to etiquette, will not stop to gaze in at the shop windows. It looks countrified. If she is alone, it looks as if she were waiting for some one; and if she is not alone, she is victimizing some one else, to satisfy her curiosity.

Remember that in meeting your gentlemen friends it is your duty to speak first, therefore do not cut them by waiting to be recognized. Be sure, however, that they see you before you bow, or you place yourself in the awkward position of having your bow pass, unreturned.

You are not expected to recognize any friend on the opposite side of the street. Even if you see them, do not bow.

Avoid "cutting" any one. It is a small way of showing spite, and lowers you more than your enemy. If you wish to avoid any further intercourse bow, coldly and gravely, but do not look at any one, to whom you are in the habit of bowing, and pass without bowing. If you do this, they may flatter themselves that they were really unrecognized, but a distant, cold bow will show them that you speak from civility only, not from friendship.

In the street a lady takes the arm of a relative, her affianced lover, or husband, but of no other gentleman, unless the streets are slippery, or in the evening.

When a lady walks with two gentlemen, she should endeavor to divide her attention and remarks equally between them.

If you do stop in the street, draw near the walls, that you may not keep others from passing.

Loud talking and laughing in the street are excessively vulgar. Not only this, but they expose a lady to the most severe misconstruction. Let your conduct be modest and quiet.

If a gentleman, although a stranger, offers his hand to assist you in leaving a carriage, omnibus, or to aid you in crossing where it is wet or muddy, accept his civility, thank him, bow and pass on.

If you wish to take an omnibus or car, see that it is not already full. If it is, do not get in. You will annoy others, and be uncomfortable yourself.

It is best to carry change to pay car or omnibus fare, as you keep others waiting whilst the driver is making change, and it is apt to fall into the straw when passing from one hand to another.

If a gentleman gives you his seat, hands your fare, or offers you any such attention, thank him. It is not countrified, it is lady-like. If you do not speak, bow.

Be careful not to be alone in the streets after night fall. It exposes you to insult. If you are obliged to go out, have a servant, or another lady, if you cannot procure the escort of a gentleman, which is, of course, the best.

Walk slowly, do not turn your head to the right or left, unless you wish to walk that way, and avoid any gesture or word that will attract attention.

Never look back! It is excessively ill-bred.

Make no remarks upon those who pass you, while there is even a possibility that they may hear you.

Never stare at any one, even if they have peculiarities, which make them objects of remark.

In taking your place in an omnibus or car, do so quietly, and then sit perfectly still. Do not change your place or move restlessly. Make room for others if you see that the opposite side is full.

If you walk with a gentleman, when he reaches your door invite him in, but if he declines, do not urge him. If you are returning from a ball or party, and the hour is a very late (or early) one, you are not bound in politeness to invite your escort to enter; the hour will be your apology for omitting the ceremony.

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