“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




If your circle of visiting acquaintance is very large, while at the same time your time is fully occupied, or your home duties make it inconvenient to dress every morning to receive visitors, it is a good plan to set aside one morning in the week for a reception day.

Upon your own visiting cards, below the name, put the day when it will be proper to return the visit, thus:



No. 1718 C---- st.

Your friends will, unless there is some especial reason for a call in the interval, pay their visit upon the day named.

Let nothing, but the most imperative duty, call you out upon your reception day. Your callers are, in a measure, invited guests, and it will be an insulting mark of rudeness to be out when they call. Neither can you be excused, except in case of sickness.

Having appointed the day when you will be at home to see your friends, you must, for that day, prepare to give your time wholly to them. The usual hours for morning receptions are from twelve to three, and you should be dressed, and ready for callers, at least half an hour before that time.

To come in, flushed from a hurried toilette, to meet your first callers, is unbecoming as well as rude.

Your dress should be handsome, but not showy. A silk or cashmere wrapper, richly trimmed, over an embroidered skirt, with a pretty cap, or the hair neatly arranged without head-dress, is a becoming and appropriate dress. Still better is a rich but plain silk, made high in the neck, with long sleeves. Wear a handsomely embroidered, or lace collar, and sleeves, and a rather dressy cap, or, still better, the hair alone, prettily arranged.

As each visitor arrives, rise, and advance part of the way to meet her. If gentlemen, rise, but do not advance.

It is not customary now to introduce callers at these morning receptions, though you can do so with perfect propriety where you know such an introduction will be agreeable to both parties.

In introducing a gentleman to a lady, address her first, as--

"Miss Jones, permit me to introduce Mr. Lee;" and, when introducing a young lady to a matron, you introduce the younger one to the elder, as--

"Mrs. Green, allow me to introduce to you my friend, Miss Brown."

In introducing strangers in the city it is well to name the place of their residence, as--Mr. James of Germany, or, Mr. Brown of New York, or, if they have recently returned from abroad, it is well to say so, as, Mr. Lee, lately from India; this is useful in starting conversation.

Be careful, when introducing your friends, to pronounce the name of each one clearly and distinctly, that there may be no mistake or necessity for repetition.

It is a good plan, if your receptions are usually largely attended, to have books and pictures on the centre table, and scattered about your parlors. You must, of course, converse with each caller, but many will remain in the room for a long time, and these trifles are excellent pastime, and serve as subjects for conversation.

It requires much tact to know when to introduce friends, when to take refuge under the shield fashion offers, and not make them acquainted with each other. It is a positive cruelty to force a talented, witty person, to converse with one who is ignorant and dull, as they will, of course, be obliged to do, if introduced.

A well-bred lady, who is receiving several 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.

If it is not agreeable to you to set aside a day for the especial reception of callers, and you have a large circle of acquaintances, be ready to receive them each day that you are at home.

If you are engaged, let the servant say so when she opens the door, and do not send down that message after your friend has been admitted. If she is told when she arrives that you are engaged, she will understand that you are denied to all callers, but if that message comes after she has sent up her card, she may draw the inference that you will not see her, though you may see other friends.

Never keep a caller waiting whilst you make an elaborate toilette. If you are not ready for visitors, it is best to enter the parlor in your wrapper, apologizing for it, than to keep your friend waiting whilst you change your dress.

If a stranger calls, bringing a letter of introduction, and sends the letter, you may read it before going down stairs, but if they wait till you are in the parlor before presenting the letter, merely glance at the signature and at the name of your caller; do not read the letter through, unless it is very short, or you are requested by the bearer to do so.

If you have a friend staying with you, invite her to join you in the parlor when you have callers, and introduce her to your friends.

If you wish to invite a caller to stay to luncheon or dinner, give the invitation as soon as you have exchanged greetings, not after she has been seated for some time. In the latter case it appears like an after thought, not, as in the former, as if from a real desire to have the pleasure of her company.

If you have but one caller at a time, rise when she does, and accompany her to the vestibule; but, if there are several in the room, rise when each one does, but only accompany them to the parlor door; there take leave of them, and return to those who still remain seated.

If, after affliction, your friends call before you are able to see them, do not fear to give offence by declining to receive them. They will respect your sorrow, and the call is made more to show their sympathy than from a desire to converse with you.

Visits of condolence, paid between the death of one of your family and the day of the funeral, you may always excuse yourself from, with perfect propriety. They are made in kindness, and show interest, but if you decline seeing such callers, there is no offence given.

In parting from a gentleman caller, rise when he does, and remain standing until he leaves the room, but do not go towards the door.

When a gentleman calls in the morning he will not remove his outside coat, and will hold his hat in his hand. Never offer to take the latter, and do not invite him to remove his coat. Take no notice of either one or the other.

If strangers in the city call upon you, enquire at what hotel they are staying, and how long they will be there, that you may return their call before they leave town.

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