“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



In entering a church of a different denomination from the one you have been in the habit of frequenting, ask the sexton to show you to a seat. It is the height of rudeness to enter a pew without invitation, as the owner may desire, if her family do not require all the seats, to invite her own personal friends to take the vacant places. If you are not perfectly familiar with the manner of conducting the worship, observe those around you, rise, kneel, and sit, as you see they do. It is a mark of disrespect for the pastor as well as irreverence for the Most High, to remain seated through the whole service, unless you are ill, or otherwise incapacitated from standing and kneeling.

Enter the sacred edifice slowly, reverentially, and take your seat quietly. It is not required of you to bow to any friend you may see in passing up the aisle, as you are supposed yourself to be, and suppose her to be entirely absorbed in thought proper for the occasion. To stare round the church, or if you are not alone, to whisper to your companion, is irreverent, indelicate, and rude. If your own feelings will not prompt you to silence and reverence, pay some regard to the feelings of others.

Be careful not to appear to notice those around you. If others are so rude as to talk or conduct improperly, fix your own mind upon the worship which you come to pay, and let the impertinence pass unheeded.

If there is another person in the same pew with yourself, who, more familiar with the service, hands you the book, or points out the place, acknowledge the civility by a silent bow; it is not necessary to speak.

In your own pew, extend this courtesy to a stranger who may come in beside you, and even if it is a gentleman you may, with perfect propriety, hand him a book, or, if there is but one, offer him a share of your own.

Endeavor always to be in your seat before the service commences, and after it is over do not hurry away, and, above all, do not begin your preparations for departure, by shutting up your book, or putting on any article of dress you have removed, before the benediction.

If you are invited to accompany a friend to church, be sure you are ready in good season, that you may not keep her waiting when she calls, or cause her to lose any part of the service by detaining her at your house. If you invite a friend to take a seat in your pew, call for her early, give her the most comfortable place, and be sure she has a prayer and hymn-book.

If you are invited to stand as god-mother to a friend's child, be at the house of the parents in season to accompany the family to church, and send, the day before, the gift you design for the babe. A silver cup is the usual present, with your little namesake's initials, or full name, engraved upon it.

In assisting at a wedding at church, if you are one of the bridesmaids, wear white, a white bonnet but no veil. If you occupy the first place, the bride's, it is in better taste to be married in a simple dress and bonnet, and don your full dress when you return home to receive your friends. In such ceremonies the wedding-party all meet in the vestry, and go to the altar together.[A]

[A] For further particulars, see chapter on Bridal Etiquette.

At a funeral, enter the church quietly, and, unless you belong to the mourners, wait until they leave the church before you rise from your seat. Never attempt to speak to any of the afflicted family. However heartfelt your sympathy, it will not be welcome at that time.

If, when entering a crowded church, a gentleman sees you and offers his seat, acknowledge his civility, whether accepted or declined, by a bow, and a whispered "thank you." Many, who claim the name of lady, and think they are well-bred, will accept such an act of politeness without making the slightest acknowledgement. If the service has commenced, do not speak; a courteous inclination of the head will convey your sense of obligation.

Remember, as an imperative, general rule, in whatever church you may be, whether at home or abroad, conform to the mode of worship whilst you are in that church. If you find, in these modes, forms which are disagreeable to you, or which shock your own ideas of religion, avoid a second visit, but do not insult the congregation, by showing your contempt or disapproval, whilst you are among them. Silence, quiet attention, and a grave, reverential demeanor, mark the Christian lady in church.

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