The Project Gutenberg EBook of Book of Etiquette, by Lillian Eichler This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Book of Etiquette Volume I Author: Lillian Eichler Release Date: April 27, 2011 [EBook #35975] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BOOK OF ETIQUETTE *** Produced by Juliet Sutherland and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
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Success without culture is like old-fashioned strawberry short cake without the whipped cream. It has no flavor.
There are certain little courteous observances, certain social formalities that bespeak the true lady, the true gentlemen. Some of us call it good form. Some of us call it culture. Some of us call it etiquette. But we all admit that it makes the world a better place to live in.
In Italy, young men and women are considered ben educato, not when they can read and write, but when they know the established forms of convention—when they can show by a correct dignity and ease of manner that they are perfect in their knowledge of the rules of good society. And, after all, don't you yourself judge people by what they do, and say, and wear? Don't you read in their manner and appearance the secret of their inner worth? Isn't character and disposition revealed in the outer personality?
Perhaps you have heard the story of the "gentleman" who prided himself on being perfect in the art of etiquette. On one occasion, he passed a lake and heard a drowning man call for help. Quickly he threw off his coat and was about to plunge into the water, when he suddenly remembered that he had never been introduced to the struggling victim. Putting on his coat again, he proceeded on his way quite self-satisfied.
This is an instance where common-sense would have been the better part of etiquette. Too rigid an observance of the laws of good society makes them nothing short of an absurdity. The purpose of correct manners is not to enable us to strut about in society and command the admiring glances of the people around us—as the peacock, in its vanity, parades before onlookers in a proud dignity that is quite obviously assumed. The true service of etiquette is so to strengthen and simplify the social life that we are able to do what is absolutely correct and right without even stopping to think about it.
That, then, is the purpose of THE BOOK OF ETIQUETTE—to give to the reader so clear and definite an understanding of the social life that he will be able to have at all times, under all conditions, that unaffected grace and charm of manner that the French like to call savoir faire. It has been written, not for the exceedingly ill-bred or for the highly polished, but for those who find a certain sense of satisfaction in doing what is correct—sincere men and women who, in the performance of their business and social duties, find that there is a constant need for cordial and gracious relationship with those around them.
If the following chapters awaken in the reader the desire for closer companionship with the vast world of human nature, of which we are all a part; if it takes from his nature all that is coarse, awkward and unrefined, substituting instead a gallantry of spirit and a gentleness of breeding; if it makes him a more loving and a more lovable person—then THE BOOK OF ETIQUETTE will have served its purpose.
Incidentally, the author is indebted to Mr. L. E. Smith, without whose coöperation this book would never have been written.
|I.||Introduction To Etiquette||1|
|What is Etiquette?—Laws of Society—Control of the Impulses—Regard for the Rights of Others—The Danger of Intolerance—Why it Pays to Be Agreeable—The Simplest Culture.|
|The Origin of Manners—The Manners of To-day—Good Society in America—The True Lady and Gentleman—The Secret of Social Success—What Manners Will Do for You—Etiquette's Reward.|
|Of Special Importance—The Proposal—The Engagement Ring—Announcing the Engagement—The Most Usual Method—Announcing an Engagement in the Newspapers—Engagement Gifts—Bridal Showers—Length of the Engagement—Responsibility for the Wedding—Families and Friends.|
|IV.||Wedding Invitations and Announcements||31|
|The Wedding Invitation—Size and Material—Kinds of Envelopes— Addressing the Envelopes—Invitations to Church Wedding—Invitation to Home Wedding—Wedding in a Friend's Home—When Cards are Enclosed —Invitations to Second Marriages—Invitation to Wedding Anniversary —Informal Wedding Invitation—Acknowledging the Formal Wedding Invitations—Whom to Invite—Sending the Invitations—Recalling the Wedding Invitation—Breaking an Engagement—Returning Gifts— When Death Intervenes.|
|The Church Wedding—Attendants—The Bridesmaids—Rehearsals— Regarding the Ushers—The Wedding Day—Arriving at the Church— Wedding Music—The Wedding Procession—The Ceremony—Leaving the Altar—Rice, etc.—The Wedding Reception—The Wedding Breakfast— The Wedding Present—Acknowledging Wedding Presents—The Home Wedding —The Second Wedding—Some Important Conventions—Seeking Advice— Wedding Anniversaries—The Silver Wedding—The Reception—Tin and Wooden Weddings—The Golden Wedding—The Golden Wedding a Glorious Achievement.|
|VI.||The Bride's Outfit||73|
|Origin of the Trousseau—The Trousseau of To-day—About the Linens —For the Bride—The Wedding Dress—The Bride's Veil—Wedding Flowers—Dress of the Maid of Honor—Marrying in Traveling Dress.|
|Funeral Customs—The Funeral of To-day—When Death Enters the Family—Taking Charge—Announcing the Death—Some Necessary Preparations—The Ladies of the Family—The Pall-Bearers—Duties of Pall-Bearers—The Church Funeral—Order of Precedence—The House Funeral—A Point of Importance—Removing Signs of Grief —Seclusion During Mourning—Dress at Funerals—Interment and Cremation—Mourning Dress—Mourning Dress for Men—Mourning Stationery.|
|Announcing the Birth of the Child—Responding to the Announcement— Godparents—Invitations to a Christening—A Church Christening—The House Christening—After the Baptism—Gifts.|
|Purpose of the Introduction—Creating Conversation—When to Introduce—Importance of Care—Special Introductions—When the Name Isn't Heard—The Correct Introduction—Group Introductions— The Chance Introduction—Incomplete Introductions—Indirect Introductions—The Acknowledgment—Forms of Acknowledgment— Future Recognition of Introduction—Introducing at Dinner— Introducing at the Dance—Introducing at Receptions—Speaking without Introduction—Introducing Children—Cordiality in Introductions.|
|II.||Letters of Introduction||135|
|The Letter of Introduction—Presenting the Letter—Acknowledging a Letter of Introduction—Model Letters of Introduction—The Card of Introduction—Business Introductions.|
|III.||Calls and Calling Customs||142|
|The Beginning of Social Calls—When Calls are Made—The Proper Length of a Call—The Day at Home—Dress for Calls—Paying the First Call—Calls of Obligation—About Returning Calls—The Call of Condolence—The Call of Congratulations and Inquiry— The Social Calls of Men—The Invalid's Call—Asking a New Acquaintance to Call—The Woman's Business Call—Receiving Calls—Duties of the Hostess—Receiving the Chance Caller— When the Host is at Home—Taking Leave of the Hostess—The Evening Call—When Gentlemen Receive Callers—Making a Chance Call—Informal Calls.|
|IV.||Visiting Cards—and Others||165|
|Your Card a Representative of You—General Rules Regarding Cards —Size of Cards for Women—Size and Material of Cards for Men— Titles on Cards for Women—Cards for Widows—The Young Lady's Card—Indicating the Day at Home—The Married Couple's Card— Using Jr. and Sr.—Titles on Cards for Men—Professional Cards for Men—Cards for Mourning—When the Woman Goes a-Calling—When More than One Card is Left—Some More Points About Calls and Cards—The Chance Call—Simple Card-Leaving—Should a Stranger Leave Cards?—Cards and Business Calls—When a Man Leaves Cards —The Man's Chance Call—About Leaving and Posting Cards—Leaving Cards of Inquiry—Acknowledging Cards of Inquiry and Condolence —Announcement Cards—When Traveling—P.P.C. Cards.|
|Some General Rules—Invitation to a Formal Dance—Accepting the Invitation—For the Informal Dance—The Dinner Dance—The Début Dance—Invitations for the Subscription Dance—Acknowledging Subscription Dance Invitations—Invitation to Public Ball— Requesting an Invitation—The Dinner Invitation—In Honor of Celebrated Guests—The Acknowledgments—For the Informal Dinner —When the Dinner is Not at Home—The Daughter as Hostess— Inviting a Stop-Gap—To Break a Dinner Engagement—Invitations for Luncheons—Acknowledging the Luncheon Invitation—The Informal Invitation—Reception Invitations—Reception in Honor of a Special Guest—Invitations to Garden Parties— Acknowledging the Garden Party Invitation—House or Week-End Parties—The "Bread-and-Butter" Letter—Invitations to the Theater and Opera—Invitations to Musicales and Private Theatricals—Children's Party Invitations—Invitations to a Christening—A Word of Special Caution.|
|To-day and Yesterday—The Letter You Write—The Business Letter —Function of the Social Letter—The Etiquette of Stationery— Letter and Note Paper—Crests and Monograms—Use of the Typewriter —Regarding the Salutation—Closing the Letter—Addressing the Envelope—Letter of Condolence—Acknowledging a Letter of Condolence—Etiquette of the Friendly Letter—The Child's Letter—Letters to Persons of Title.|
|VII.||Parents and Children||254|
|The Home—Appearance of the House—Dress—Dress for Children— Children and Development—Know Your Children!—Imitation—The Child's Speech—At the Table—Playmates—Children's Parties— Planning Surprises—Receiving the Young Guests—About the Birthday Party—When the Young Guests Leave—Children's Entertainments Away from Home—Children and Dancing—A Word to Parents—Amusements—Let the Child be Natural—The Young Girl—The Girl's Manner—The Chaperon—The Young Country Miss —The Girl and Her Mother—For the Shy and Self-Conscious— Forget About Yourself—Why the Shy are Awkward—Self-Confidence Versus Conceit—Country Hospitality—Importance of Simplicity— The Hostess—The Guest—For Country Folks—The Endless Round of Hospitality—When to Invite—The Guests and Their Duties— Addressing Titled People.|
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
|On Her Wedding Day||Frontispiece|
|Church Decorated for a Formal Wedding||62|
|An Altar for a Home Wedding||142|
|Decorations for a Wedding in a Small Church||190|
"The power of manners is incessant—an element as unconcealable as fire. The nobility cannot in any country be disguised, and no more in a republic or a democracy than in a kingdom. There are certain manners which are learned in good society, of that force that, if a person have them, he or she must be considered, and is everywhere welcome, though without beauty, or wealth, or genius."
—From Emerson's Essays.
INTRODUCTION TO ETIQUETTE
WHAT IS ETIQUETTE?
At a meeting of army officers during the Civil War, one of them began to relate a questionable story, remarking, as if to excuse his lack of good taste, that "there were no ladies present." General Grant, who was acting as chairman of the meeting, remarked, "No, but there are gentlemen"—and he refused to allow the officer to continue the story.
What is a gentleman? The question is an old one. It cannot be ancestry, for often the son of most noble and honored parentage is merely a coarse compound of clay and money, offered to society as a gentleman, It cannot be dress—for surely Beau Brummell was not what the world loves to call a gentleman, despite his stiffly starched cravats and brightly polished boots. It cannot be money, for then many a common thief, made wealthy by his ill-gotten gains, would be entitled to the name of gentleman.
No, it is something that goes deeper than ancestry or dress or wealth—something that is nobler and finer than any, or all, of these. Perhaps it can be best expressed by this beautiful example of what true etiquette can mean:
Henry Ward Beecher, on a very cold day, stopped to buy a newspaper from a ragged youngster who stood shivering on a corner. "Poor little fellow," he said, "aren't you cold standing here?" The boy looked up with a smile and said, "I was, sir—before you passed."
The word etiquette itself does not mean very much. It comes from the same origin as the word "ticket" and originally meant the rules of court ceremony printed on tickets that were given to each person presented at court. But through generations the ideal of perfected culture surged, until to-day we have a code of manners that is the pride and inspiration of refined living.
LAWS OF SOCIETY
Etiquette, after all, is not the finished work, but merely a tool that opens the portals to a broader life, to a greater social happiness. Through its influence we are brought into close companionship with the really worth-while minds of our day. By faithful constancy to its rules we gradually mold our characters until, in our outward dignity and charm, the world reads and understands our ideals.
There is in every human nature the desire for social happiness—which is, frankly, in other words, the desire so to impress by one's manner that one will be welcome and respected wherever one chances to be. And it is only by adhering to the fundamental laws of good society that this social happiness can ever be attained.
In observing the established etiquette of modern society it is necessary to pay particular attention to one's appearance, manner, and speech. It must be remembered that the world is a harsh judge and is perfectly willing to condemn us by outward appearances. In the street-car, in the ball-room, at the theater—every day people are reading the story of our characters and ideals.
Society has its own definite code of manners that must be observed before one can enter its portals. There are certain rules that must be followed before one can enter its envied circle. There are conventionalities that must be observed in requesting a lady to dance, in acknowledging an introduction, in using the knife and fork at the dinner table. There are certain prevailing modes in dressing for the theater and reception. To know and adhere to these laws is to be admitted to the highest society and enjoy the company of the most brilliant minds.
Etiquette is an art—the art of doing and saying the correct thing at the correct time—the art of being able to hold oneself always in hand, no matter how exacting the circumstance. And like music or painting or writing, the more you study it, the more you apply yourself to its principles, the more perfectly your own character is molded.
CONTROL OF THE IMPULSES
The cultured man is never angry, never impatient, never demonstrative. His actions and speech are tempered with a dispassionate calmness and tranquillity that the French admiringly call sang froid. He knows how to control his emotions so effectively that no one can read, in his self-possessed expression, whether he is angry or pleased, discouraged or eager.
Perhaps the most striking and admirable thing about a man of breeding is his carefully disciplined impulses. He may at times lose control of himself, but he is never petulant, never incoherent. He may be greatly enthusiastic about some unexpected happening, but he never becomes excited, never loses control of his reasoning faculties. He never gives the appearance of being in a hurry, no matter how swift his actions may be—there is always about him the suggestion of leisure and poise.
Swearing is essentially vulgar. It was Dr. Crane, the famous essayist and philosopher, who said in one of his delightful talks, "The superior man is gentle. It is only the man with a defective vocabulary that swears. All noise is waste. The silent sun is mightier than the whirlwind. The genuine lady speaks low. The most striking characteristic of the superior ones is their quiet, their poise. They have about them a sense of the stars." Strong feeling, anger, have no place in the social life.
We are all uneasy at times. We all have our embarrassing moments. But the well-bred person knows how to conceal his emotions, and impulses, so well that no one but himself knows that he is uneasy or embarrassed. It is not only exceedingly unpleasant, but it is also very poor form to show by our gestures and frowns and speech that we are annoyed by some circumstance that is entirely beyond our control.
Impulsiveness is often the cause of serious breaches of etiquette—breaches that are, socially speaking, the ruin of many a rising young man, of many an otherwise charming young woman. The gentleman never shows by hasty word or angry glance that he is displeased with some service. The lady never shows, either in her speech or manner, that she is excited with some unexpected happening, or disappointed because something did not happen the way she planned it. It is only by studying the rules of etiquette and knowing absolutely what is right to do and say under all conditions that one acquires this splendid self-possession and composure of manner.
REGARD FOR THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS
William De Witt Hyde, in his book, "Practical Ethics," says, "Politeness is proper respect for human personality. Rudeness results from thinking exclusively about ourselves and caring nothing for the feelings of anybody else. The sincere desire to bring the greatest pleasure and least pain to everyone we meet will go a long way towards making our manners more polite and courteous."
The man or woman who is truly cultured, truly well-bred, tries to make everyone happy and at ease. It is only the exceedingly vulgar person who finds pleasure in hurting the feelings of the people with whom he comes into contact. It makes no difference how wealthy or how poor a person is, how ignorant or educated he happens to be—as a fellow-being he is entitled to a hearty sympathy and respect. Both servility and arrogance are ungentlemanly. Gentleness, simplicity and a sincere regard for the rights of one's companions are the distinguishing marks of a fine character.
THE DANGER OF INTOLERANCE
There is no room for intolerance in the social world. To be honored, respected, one must have a certain friendliness of spirit. The gentleman, the lady treats everyone, from the lowliest beggar to the most distinguished personage with consideration. It is only the man who is unpretentious, who is always eager to please, who is as courteous and considerate in manner to his inferiors as to his equals, that fully deserves the name of gentleman.
The author recently chanced to witness an amusing incident which might be of value to repeat here. It shows forcibly how important the little things are, and how they reveal to the gaze of the world the true story of our actual worth:
An elderly man, who showed quite obviously by his lordly and self-satisfied manner that he was accustomed to travel about in his own car, was on one occasion forced to ride home in the subway. It was rush hour, and thousands of tired men and women were in a hurry to get home. The man impatiently waited his turn on a long line at the ticket office, constantly grumbling and making it disagreeable for those about him. When he finally did reach the window, he offered a ten dollar bill in payment for one five-cent ticket and deliberately remained at the window counting and recounting his change while the people behind him anxiously awaited their turn. When at last he did move away, he had a half smile, half frown of smug and malicious satisfaction on his face which, interpreted to the people he had kept waiting, said that he now felt repaid for having had to travel in the same train with them.
This man, in spite of his self-satisfied manner and well-tailored suit, was very far from being a gentleman. The shabby young man behind him, who also offered a bill in payment for his ticket, but stepped quickly to one side to count his change, and smiled cheerfully at the man behind him, was infinitely more of a gentleman than the one who maliciously, and with evident keen enjoyment, kept the long line waiting.
The true worth of a gentleman is revealed, not in his fashionable clothes or haughty demeanor, but in his regard for the rights of others. It is the little kindnesses that count—and the instinctive recognition of the rights of others. As England's inimitable J. M. Barrie has so aptly remarked, "Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves."
WHY IT PAYS TO BE AGREEABLE
Why should we know the laws of etiquette? Why should we know the way to do and say things? Why should we be agreeable? These are questions that will undoubtedly arise in the mind of the young man or woman who is eager to cultivate and refine his or her manner and speech.
The answer is: to make one's own life happier—to bring into it a new sunshine, a new joy of living that was not even dreamed of when the mind and spirit were shrouded in the gloom of discourtesy, coarseness and vulgarity.
For how can the boor be happy? With his gloomy face, sour disposition, complaining habits and inherent lack of good taste and culture, he sees only the shadows of life. People are repulsed by him, never attracted. Brilliant men and women, people of refinement and taste, will have nothing to do with him. He lives his own life—his ill-bred, complaining, gloomy, companionless life—an outcast from that better society of which we all long to be a part.
Culture and cheer go hand-in-hand. The cultured man or woman is always cheerful, always finding something good and beautiful in all mankind and nature. Cheerfulness itself means poise—a wholesome, happy, undaunted poise that makes life well-balanced and worth the living. The person of low, vulgar tastes and desires is seldom contented, seldom happy. He finds everywhere evil, ugliness, selfishness, and a tendency for the world generally to degrade itself to the lower levels of coarseness. He finds it because he looks for it. And he looks for it because it already exists in his mind.
And yet, he may be educated; he may be a recognized power in the financial world; he may even possess enviable talents. But if he lacks that glorious open-hearted generosity, that sincere sympathy and simple understanding with all mankind, that helpful, healthful, ever-inspiring agreeableness of mind and spirit—the world will have none of him.
The man who feels constantly grieved and injured at some injustice, real or imaginary, is sacrificing some of the best things life has to offer. He does not know what it means to be greeted with a smile of pleasure and a warm handclasp. He does not know what it means to be taken whole-heartedly into one's confidence, to be relied upon, to be appealed to. He does not know what it means, in his hours of darkest adversity, to receive the genuine sympathy and encouragement of a friend.
But with culture, with development of mind and spirit, with the desire to adhere truly to society's laws and regard as inviolable the rights of others, there comes a new understanding of human relationship. Where once everything seemed narrow and selfish, one now sees love and beauty and helpfulness. Instead of harsh words and unkind glances, there are words of cheer and encouragement, smiles of friendliness and understanding. The world that once seemed coarse, shallow and unpolished, seems now strangely cordial and polite.
THE SIMPLEST CULTURE
Yes, it pays to be agreeable. We are all like huge magnets, and we tend to attract those things which we ourselves send out. If we are coarse and unrefined, we attract to our company those people who are also coarse and unrefined. If we are disagreeable and unmindful of the rights of others, they in turn will be disagreeable to us, and unmindful of our rights. And similarly, if we are kind and agreeable, we are bound to meet and attract people of the same kind.
There is a pretty little story of a woman and a child, in which the simple friendliness of a little girl opened the door for a woman whose life had been embittered by much hardship and disappointment. She was strolling one day through a mountain farm-house. She did not know where she was going, and she did not care. She just wanted to forget, forget.
She stopped near a well and gazed angrily about her, wondering how there could be so much peace and quiet in a world that held nothing but turmoil and heartache for her. She was an attractive woman, and her smart clothes and haughty bearing were a disappointing contrast to her scowling face and angry eyes.
Suddenly she glanced down. A tiny girl was watching her intently—a little girl who had lived all her seven short years in the untutored expanse of the mountains. The woman was annoyed, and she did not hesitate to show it.
"What are you looking at; what do you want?" she demanded irritably.
Instead of returning the frown, the child smiled and stepped a little closer. "I was just thinking how pretty your face would be if it smiled instead of frowned," she answered.
The woman's face relaxed. The bitter look in the eyes vanished and was replaced by a bright new light. The scowl became a grateful smile, and with an impulsive sob of pure joy, she knelt down and hugged the little girl who had been the first in a long time to speak gently to her, the first in a long time to return her frowns with sincere smiles of friendliness. And when she finally left the little child, and returned to the exacting conventionalities of the town, she was a nobler, better and finer woman.
The simple heart of a child who knew no other creed or law than the sincere love of all mankind triumphed over the bitterness of a woman who had known years of education and worldliness.
Culture is of the heart and spirit rather than of the outward appearance. But it is by what we do and say that we prove that it truly exists within us.
THE ORIGIN OF MANNERS
Why do we observe certain set rules of convention? Why do we greet people in a certain ordained way—by nodding or by lifting the hat? Why do we make introductions and send invitations and cultivate our manners and speech? To find the answer we must trace civilization back to its very source.
One of the first necessities of the savage was to devise some means of showing savages of other tribes that he did not mean to fight—that he wanted to live with them peaceably. At first it was difficult to do this; primeval man was always suspicious, always watchful. He had to be, for his life depended upon it. But slowly certain peaceful observances and signs were established, and the savages began to understand them as greetings of peace and good-will. The salutation and greeting of to-day is a direct result of this early necessity.
This peace-greeting, as we shall call it, was the first semblance of order, the first token of good fellowship that appeared out of the primeval chaos of warfare and destruction. A certain greeting, and things were on a peaceful basis. But let that greeting be forgotten, and the savage's life was the forfeit.
Man developed, and with him developed civilization. From that first "peace greeting" there came certain set salutations, certain forms of homage that bound men together in mutual protection and friendliness. Then slowly, out of this first beam of manners, this first bit of restraint from the savagery of primeval man, there were created certain ceremonies. Some were weird dances to the spirit of the Sun; others were animal or human sacrifices to some God of Fear; still others were strange ceremonies for the departed spirit of the dead. But they were ceremonies—and as such they presaged the ceremonies upon which all etiquette, all good manners, are based to-day.
We find that the history of manners keeps pace with the history and evolution of man. And we find that manners, or ceremonies, or respect for fellowmen—or whatever you want to call it—was the first tie that bound men together. It is the foundation upon which all civilization is built.
THE MANNERS OF TO-DAY
Certain sensible rules of etiquette have come down to us from one generation to another. To-day only those that have stood the test of time are respected and observed. They have been silently adopted by the common consent of the best circles in America and Europe; and only those who follow them faithfully can hope to be successful in business and in social life.
There are some people who say that etiquette, that manners, are petty shams that polish the surface with the gilt edge of hypocrisy. We all know that a few people believe this. Who of us has not heard the uncultured boor boast that he is not restricted by any "sissy manners"? Who of us has not heard the successful business man decline an invitation to a reception because he "had no time for such nonsense"? To a great many people manners mean nothing but nonsense; but you will find that they are almost invariably people who never win social or business distinction.
The rules of etiquette as we observe them nowadays are not, as some people suppose, the dictates of fashions. They are certain forms of address, certain conduct of speech and manner, that have been brought down to us through centuries of developing culture. And we observe them to-day because they make contact in social life easier and more agreeable; they make life more beautiful and impressive.
You do not have to observe the laws of good conduct if you do not wish to. Certainly not. You may do just as you please, say just what you please, and wear just what you please. But of course you must not complain when you find the doors of good society closed against you, when you find that people of good manners and correct social conduct avoid you and bar you from their activities. Good manners is the only key that will open the door to social success—and men and women often find that it fits the door to business success as well.
GOOD SOCIETY IN AMERICA
Everyone loves to mingle with cultured, well-bred people; with brilliant and celebrated individuals. Everyone loves to attend elaborate social functions where the gay gowns of beautiful women are only less charming and impressive than their faultless manners. But it is not everyone who can be admitted to these inner portals of good society.
It is a well-known truth that manners rather than wealth decide social rank. A man may be fabulously wealthy, but if he does not know how to act, how to dress and speak, he will not be respected. American society has rules of its own, and those who are not willing to learn these laws are shunned, banished. Etiquette is the wall which divides the cultured from the uncultured, which keeps the ill-bred out of the circles where they would be awkward and uncomfortable, and where they would undoubtedly cause mortification to others.
On the other hand, to know these rules of good conduct is to be admitted to the highest circles of society. To know that one is correct banishes at once all uncertainty, all embarrassment. And one mingles with perfectly-mannered people, calm in the assurance that one knows just what is correct, and that no matter what happens one can do or say nothing to reflect on one's breeding.
THE TRUE LADY AND GENTLEMAN
It is not enough to be wealthy. It is not enough to be widely famed. But if one is well-mannered, if one knows how to conduct oneself with poise, grace and self-confidence, one will win respect and honor no matter where one chances to be.
There are very few men indeed who do not value good manners. They may ridicule them, they may despise them—but deep down in their hearts they know that good manners have a certain charm, a certain power, that wealth and fame together do not possess. They know that right in their own business spheres there are men who owe their success and position to the appearance that they make, to the manner in which they conduct themselves. And they know that there are beautiful women who are coldly repellent; while some plain women win the hearts of everyone with whom they come in contact, merely by the charm of their manners.
The perfect gentleman is not the dude, the over-dressed "dandy" who disdains the workingman in his patched clothes and who sniffs contemptuously at the word "work." The true gentleman is kindly, courageous, civil. He is kind to everyone—to the tottering old man he helps across the street, and to the mischievous young rascal who throws a ball through his window. He does not know what it is to become angry, to lose control of his temper, to speak discourteously. He never shows that he is embarrassed or ill at ease. He is as calm and unconcerned in the presence of a world-wide celebrity as he is when he is with his most intimate friend. Nor is he ever bitter, haughty or arrogant. And he is as far from being effeminate as he is from being coarse and brutal. In short, he knows the manners of good society and he does not hesitate to use them.
The perfect lady is not the ornamental butterfly of society, as so many would have us believe. She is gentle, and well-dressed and graceful—not merely ornamental. She does some useful work, no matter what it is. She is patient always, and generous. She never speaks harshly to tradespeople or to servants; gentleness and reserve are the very keynotes of her manner. She is never haughty, never superior. She is kind and courteous to everyone, and she conducts herself with the calm, unassuming grace that instinctively wins a responsive respect. In her manner towards men she is reserved, modest. But she is self-reliant and not afraid to assert herself. Her speech and manner are characterized always by dignity, repose and self-confidence.
It is only by knowing the laws of good conduct, and by following them faithfully, that one can hope ever to become a true gentleman or true lady.
THE SECRET OF SOCIAL SUCCESS
Every man who so wishes may become a gentleman, and every woman may become a lady in every sense of the word. It requires only the cultivation of those qualities outlined above. And it is here that the use of etiquette lies, that the importance of good manners is most strikingly portrayed.
Etiquette teaches you how to be gentle, calm, patient. It tells you how to be at ease among strangers. It tells you how to cultivate grace, poise, self-confidence. Not only does it tell you how, but it gives you poise and self-confidence. By teaching you the right thing to do at the right time, it eliminates all possibility of mistakes—and hence all embarrassment and awkwardness vanish.
The existence of these fixed social laws, these little rules of etiquette, makes it easy for the man and woman who have not been bred in the best society, to master the knowledge which will enable them to enter that society and mingle with the most highly cultivated people without feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable. It tears down the barriers between the wealthy and the poor, between the educated and the ignorant. By knowing what to do and say and write and wear on all occasions, under all conditions, any man or woman can enter any society and mingle with any people. The old proverb might well be changed to read, "Culture makes the whole world kin!" Of course if a man suddenly became wealthy and he wished to enter the highest society, his wealth might serve as an opening. But he would soon find that money was not enough—that he needed manners. He might mingle with society for years, slowly acquiring the correct table manners, the correct mode of address, the correct manner of making introductions, the correct way to conduct himself at all times, in all places. But it would take many years before the rough edges of his previous uncultivated manners were rubbed away. Instead of waiting for years of contact with cultured people to bring him the correct manners befitting a man of wealth, he need only learn at once from a dependable authority the etiquette of society, the good form that has been crystallized into rules after years of social intercourse. It is the easiest road to social success.
WHAT MANNERS WILL DO FOR YOU
Every day you come into contact with people, with strangers, who judge you by what you do and say. They go away carrying an impression of you—and it depends upon your manners whether it is a good impression or a bad impression.
It is a mistake to think that good manners are meant for the elaborate ball room or for the formal dinner. Society is not necessarily too formal or too "showy." Society implies also that society of fellow-men you meet every day of the year—people you come into contact with in the social and business worlds. And in order to make contact with these people agreeable and pleasant, in order to win the admiration and respect of strangers, in order to avoid embarrassment and humiliation because of bad blunders at most conspicuous moments, it is essential to know what is right and what is wrong.
Good manners will enable you to be easy and graceful at all times. You will be able to mingle with the most cultured people and be perfectly at ease. You will lose all self-consciousness, all timidity. And instead you will become dignified, well-poised, calm. Instinctively people will respect you; in business and in society you will find yourself welcomed and admired.
Etiquette is like the binding of a book—just as the binding reveals the name of the book, and protects the valuable pages that are inside, so does etiquette reveal the breeding and culture of an individual, and protects him from the disrespect, ridicule and snubs of the world.
Etiquette will make you dignified. It will make your actions and speech refined, polished, impressive. It will make you a leader instead of a follower, a participant instead of a looker-on. It will open the doors of the highest society to you, make you immune to all embarrassment, enable you to conduct yourself with ease and confidence at all times, under all circumstances.
The rewards of etiquette are too numerous to recount. If you follow the laws of good conduct, if you do only what is right and in good form, you will find yourself an acknowledged leader, an acknowledged success, no matter in what station of life you may be. The world is quick to perceive good manners, just as it is quick to perceive the blunders in etiquette. If you study the rules of good conduct, and follow good form in everything you do and say, you will become courteous and kind and well-mannered. Etiquette will attract people to you, make you and your home a center of social activity. But most of all, it will make you respect yourself. And that is more important than riches or fame—for self-respect is the only thing that brings true happiness.
Remember the words of the prophet, "He who respects himself will earn the respect of all the world."
OF SPECIAL IMPORTANCE
There is perhaps no time when the rules of etiquette need to be so strictly observed as during the period of courtship. All the world loves a lover—but this does not keep the world from watching closely and criticizing severely any breach of good manners, especially on the part of the young lady.
Any public display of affection anywhere at any time is grossly unrefined. Love is sacred, and it should not be thrown open to the rude comments of strangers. The young couple should conduct themselves with quiet dignity and reserve, neither indulging in terms of endearment or caresses, nor purposely ignoring each other so as to create the impression that they are not, after all, so very much in love. There is no reason why their conduct in public after they are engaged should be any more demonstrative than it was before.
At parties, dinners, and other entertainments it is their privilege to be with each other more than they are with anyone else, but this does not mean that they should neglect the other guests. If the occasion has been planned especially for them they are in part responsible for each one present finding it an enjoyable one. And each one should be very cordial to the friends of the other.
Many an engagement that held promise of golden happiness to come was abruptly broken because one or the other was not sufficiently circumspect in conduct. A young lady must remember that while she is not exactly expected to give up indiscriminately all her friends of the opposite sex, she must not receive them as guests, or go to the theater or ball with them, without the knowledge and consent of her fiancé. He is, of course, expected to be equally considerate of her with regard to his own relations with other women.
The engaged couple of to-day enjoys much greater freedom than the engaged couple of our grandmothers' time. The chaperon has been almost entirely dispensed with, except in a few individual cases. Although it is still considered rather poor form to attend the theater or opera together, without other friends in the party, it is often done without any very serious consequence to the young people. Perhaps it is because the young men and women of this country have that instinctive grace and dignity of manner that the severe laws of conduct practiced abroad have been deemed unnecessary.
At one time, not so very long ago, it was considered an irrevocable law of etiquette that a young man obtain the formal consent of a young lady's parents before asking her hand in marriage. Prevalent customs have almost eliminated this formality, and modern mothers and fathers, by the welcome which they accord him in their home, show a young man whether or not they think him eligible for their daughter's hand. And it is really a much wiser plan to object to a friendship when it first begins instead of waiting until it has developed into something more serious. If the young man wishes to proceed upon the old-fashioned formula he may do so, first assuring himself insofar as he is able that his attentions are welcome to the young lady.
The time for the proposal depends upon attending circumstances. Someone has said that there would be fewer divorces if more proposals were made in the middle of the day under ordinary conditions, but the timid or romantic youth usually prefers the witchery of moonlight and the magic of solitude. The proposal itself should be sincere and earnest. Glowing terms and impassioned emotion are, indeed, very bad taste; and often the more simple a proposal is the more forcibly it expresses the suitor's ardor.
If he is accepted the well-bred young man will immediately seek the young lady's parents and impart the happy news to them. At this point, if it has not already been disclosed it is customary for him to reveal his true status, financially and socially, and answer politely any questions that her parents may ask him. If there are dissensions he must explain calmly and carefully, making sure all the time to keep complete control of his feelings and not to allow himself to become either angry or impatient.
THE ENGAGEMENT RING
It is the custom to seal the engagement pact with a ring. As soon as the prospective bridegroom has won the consent of the young lady whom he wishes to be his wife, he places the engagement ring on the third finger of her left hand. The convention is that the ring be a diamond solitaire set in gold or platinum, or, if it is preferred, a diamond set with other stones. It is always wise to consult the individual preference of the young lady in determining the choice of the ring, and it is her privilege to choose whatever kind she wants regardless of tradition or convention.
ANNOUNCING THE ENGAGEMENT
After the proposal has been accepted announcement of the fact is made, and it is here that the young lady takes the leading part.
There are several established conventions in announcing the engagement. Each one is good form, and the choice is merely a matter of taste and convenience. But always the initiative must come from the family of the future bride. The young man must not even announce the engagement to his best friends until he is quite sure that his fiancé has already made it known to her friends.
It has always been a popular custom in better society to give the announcement of an engagement as nearly an appearance of "leaking out" as possible. Perhaps it is because it adds to the interest of the occasion. To obtain this effect, a number of intimate friends and relatives are invited to a dinner party—really the engagement dinner—where, in the course of the conversation, the news of the engagement is casually imparted to the guests for the first time. It is usually announced by the father of the young lady; sometimes by her older brother, and in some cases by her mother.
The guests, of course, will offer warm and sincere congratulations. The happy couple mingle among their guests and receive their good wishes with modesty and smiles of thanks.
Sometimes the young lady gives a luncheon for her friends, at which the announcement is made. It is always very pretty to make the announcement in some novel way, and if the hostess does not find her own ingenuity equal to it she will find her stationer her best guide. He has various novelty cards, etc., specially designed for such occasions.
Often, instead of formally announcing the engagement, the young lady gives the news to several of her closest friends, depending on them to spread it among their friends and acquaintances. This manner of announcement is usually followed with a little informal reception, to which are invited the members of the prospective bridegroom's family and the relatives of both families.
THE MOST USUAL METHOD
Perhaps the best way to announce an engagement is for the young lady and her mother to send small engraved cards to their circle of friends and relatives, making the announcement in a simple statement, and mentioning an afternoon when they will be "at home" to visitors. The young man may also send notes or cards to his friends, having first made sure that his fiancé has already announced it to her friends. The "at home" offers a splendid opportunity for each one to meet the friends of the other, and for the families of the two young people to become better acquainted. Care must be taken that there is no constraint, no drifting into "circles." The young lady must welcome her future husband's friends with sincere cordiality, and see that they are properly introduced to her own friends. He must mingle with her friends and make himself companionable and agreeable. To be constantly together, selfishly enjoying each other's company while the neglected guests are left to their own devices is a breach of etiquette and must be conscientiously avoided if the "at home" is to be hailed a success.
If this last method of announcing the engagement is decided upon, the home should boast no decorations except flowers simply arranged. The young lady and her mother, in conservative afternoon frocks, receive together. The young man is usually presented to the guests by his future father-in-law. Entertainment, such as music and dancing, may be provided for the occasion if it is convenient. Simple refreshments may be served—dainty sandwiches, cake, tea and sweets are appropriate when served in an attractive manner.
It is also customary to place an announcement in the society columns of the newspapers simultaneously with the giving of the dinner party. It should always be written by the parents about their daughter, or by the guardian if she has no parents—never by the engaged girl herself.
ANNOUNCING AN ENGAGEMENT IN THE NEWSPAPERS
The vogue to-day seems to favor announcing engagements in the newspaper rather than through the issuing of announcement cards. Such items of announcement should be sent to the society editor of the paper selected, and should be signed with the full name and address of the sender. Brief items are always better than long ones.
Here are two typical newspaper announcements of recent engagements:
"Mr. and Mrs. Henry M. Bower announce the engagement of their daughter Rose to Mr. Walter Barrie of Boston. The date of the wedding will be announced in this paper later."
"The engagement of Miss Lillian Hall to Mr. Robert G. Manning is announced by Mr. and Mrs. John B. Hall. The wedding is to take place in St. Thomas's Church on the 15th of June."
It is not customary for elaborate engagement gifts to be presented, even by near relatives. In fact, the mode of the engagement gift has been gradually disappearing until to-day congratulations are considered sufficient. However, the close friends of the young lady may send her, with their congratulations, pleasing bits of chinaware, glassware, and sometimes even silver. Odd pieces of bric-à-brac and quaint, unusual gifts, and antiques are always acceptable. Markings on gifts are usually in the maiden name of the bride—but if any doubt is felt as to which she herself would prefer, it is best to ask her.
There is an old tradition regarding the giving of tea-cups as an engagement present. A lover, who was obliged to go away on an extended sea journey, gave to his betrothed a delicate china cup, asking her to drink tea from it every afternoon. He said, "If I am unfaithful, the cup will fill to overbrimming and the tea pouring over the sides will crack the thin china. Then you will know I have broken faith." The custom has been brought down to us, and now we find that the giving of a tea-cup or a tea-set as an engagement present signifies faithfulness—and it may mean faithfulness to friendship or love as the case may be. We usually find that a young lady's spinster friends are partial to the custom; they seem to find particular enjoyment in presenting her with dainty tea-cups, either separately or in sets.
Expensive gifts should never be exchanged during an engagement, barring of course the engagement ring. The young man may present his prospective bride with books, flowers or candy, but articles of wearing apparel are considered bad taste.
To be modest, gracious, dignified during the engagement, to continue one's social duties faithfully, neither neglecting one's friends nor becoming self-consciously enthusiastic, to be self-possessed and unaffected even while one is the center of much lively interest and animated discussion—this is the end to be desired, and the young man and woman who have accomplished it are indeed fortunate.
A good many years ago a friend of a young woman who was about to be married decided that the only gift she could afford was too slight an offering to express the love and good wishes that she felt. Knowing that there were other friends who felt the same way she called them together and suggested that they present their gifts at the same time. Then and there the idea of the "shower" was born.
The custom has prevailed and in most instances to-day the shower has a special purpose, such as the linen shower or the kitchen shower or the book shower. It is a very charming way of presenting gifts that would seem too trifling if they were presented alone.
Intimate friends of the bride are the guests at a shower. It is usually a very informal affair and nearly always a surprise to the bride. The gifts may be hidden in a Jack Horner pie, they may be wrapped in all sorts of odd packages, or they may be presented in any of a hundred and one attractive ways. Originality in this, as in all entertainments, is greatly to be desired.
The young lady who is honored with a shower thanks the guests verbally, and afterwards she may write each of them a little note expressing her gratitude. It is necessary to do so if the affair was an elaborate one and the gifts were expensive.
LENGTH OF THE ENGAGEMENT
The question of how long an engagement should last is usually governed by attendant conditions. There is, however, a marked tendency for engagements to be short; in fact, fashion now demands that the wedding-day be at least tentatively fixed before the engagement is announced.
Many times there are excellent reasons why it should be of several years' duration. It is best not to announce the fact formally, though it may be understood among one's friends. Matters of this kind are to be determined by the two people who are most concerned, and if a young man and his fiancé have decided that they would like to have a long engagement the rules of etiquette have nothing to say against it.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WEDDING
The father and mother of the young lady who is about to be married assume all responsibility for the preparation for and the celebration of the wedding. The groom is not expected to pay for anything except the ring and flowers for the bride and, if he wishes, the flowers for the bridesmaids and trifling gifts for the ushers and other attendants. The clergyman's fee also devolves upon him, but all other expenses are paid by the bride's parents or guardians. Indeed, it would indicate a great lack of tact or delicacy on the part of the groom to offer to provide a part of the trousseau or to pay for any of the other expenses incidental to the occasion.
Announcement cards, invitations, music, flowers and other decorations for the church, the preparations for the breakfast or reception to follow the ceremony—all of these are paid for by her parents. The wedding should never be more elaborate than the parents of the bride can afford.
FAMILIES AND FRIENDS
It is always very delightful when the families of an engaged couple find themselves congenial, and every effort should be made by the young people to bring about, if it does not already exist, a harmonious relationship between their immediate families. It is almost equally desirable that each shall like the friends of the other and heroic efforts must be made to do so. A pleasing way to bring friends together is by means of an informal reception. The invitations should be cordial notes written by hand. The following indicates the usual form:
Bayside, April 4, 19—
No doubt you already know that I am engaged to be married to Ralph Curran. Thursday afternoon from three to five mother is giving a little reception for his friends and mine, and we both hope that you will be able to attend.
For the members of the immediate families or for very close friends a dinner is suggested but the most important point for the family which is doing the entertaining to keep in mind is the style of living to which the other has been accustomed, and nothing should be done which might embarrass them. If the family has been accustomed to great elegance the one that is acting as host need have no fear for people who are worth knowing appreciate simplicity wherever they find it; but if they are in very moderate circumstances it is the cruellest kind of discourtesy to attempt to overawe them with ceremonious hospitality.
It is ordinarily the family of the groom that is first to approach the other with an invitation of some kind, but extenuating circumstances make the convention vary. Often a young girl is invited to visit in the home of her fiancé before her marriage. It is an invitation which she may accept with perfect propriety.
WEDDING INVITATIONS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
THE WEDDING INVITATION
Not later than fifteen days, and not earlier than four weeks before the date set for the marriage, wedding invitations are sent to those friends, relatives and acquaintances who are to be present at the ceremony. When the wedding is to be a large church affair, invitations are sent to all those whose names appear on the visiting lists of the two families. They are also issued to relatives and friends of the bride and groom who may be traveling abroad, to the important business associates of the groom, and those of the bride's father. Intimate friends and relatives in mourning are also invited, whether they are expected to attend or not.
For a home wedding, more discrimination is shown in the issuing of invitations. Intimate friends and relatives of both families are invited, but no casual acquaintances. In sending out the invitations, the bride-to-be and her mother should take into consideration the number of people who will fit comfortably into the reception or drawing room.
SIZE AND MATERIAL
Formal wedding invitations should always be engraved. They are issued in the name of the bride's parents, or, if she is an orphan, in the names of a married brother and his wife, of her guardian or her nearest male relative.
Pure white or cream-tinted paper, unglazed but smooth in surface, should be used for wedding invitations. A conventional size, although each year sees another size in wedding invitations, is seven inches in length by six inches in width. These dimensions vary, but never more than an inch or so. They fold once into the envelope. Plain script is favored for the engraving of the wedding cards; old English script, Roman capitals and block lettering are all effective. A good stationer will show you the types of lettering most suited to wedding invitations at the present time. It is his business to be able to advise you.
If there is a family crest (the bride's family) it may be embossed in white in the center at the top of the engraved sheet, but not on the flap of the envelope. A recent fashion is to have the bride's initials embossed in white where the crest would appear. Both are effective; but such decorations as gilt-edges, entwined letters of coats-of-arms in colors are in bad taste.
Very fine paper should be selected for the wedding invitation. No tint except cream may be used; pure-white is considered the very best form. The paper should be of medium weight, unglazed, and smooth. Light-weight paper through which lettering can be easily seen should not be used. Nor should the paper be so thick and heavy that it breaks when folded.
KINDS OF ENVELOPES
The wedding invitation demands two envelopes. The first, matching in texture and quality the paper of the invitation, is used as a protection for the card. It remains unsealed. The second envelope is a trifle larger, though it must also be of a similar texture. Into this envelope the card and the inner envelope are slipped for mailing.
The large envelope is sealed and stamped. It bears the complete name and address of the person for whom it is intended, while the inner envelope bears only the name. The church cards are enclosed with the wedding invitation if there is necessity for them. And if there is to be a wedding reception to which this particular guest is invited, a special card is also enclosed. The "at home" cards of the bridal couple are sent separately after the wedding.
ADDRESSING THE ENVELOPES
The wedding invitation is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Blank. The expression "and family" following the name of a husband and wife is not used in polite society. If there are unmarried daughters to be invited, a separate invitation is addressed to "The Misses Blank." Sons may be invited either by sending a separate invitation to each one, or addressing one invitation to "The Messrs. Blank." All these invitations, in their proper envelopes, addressed appropriately, are placed in the large envelope for mailing. This single envelope is addressed in full to the matron of the family, "Mrs. Henry Mason Blank."
INVITATION TO CHURCH WEDDING
The invitation to a church wedding is worded with a bit more formality than the invitation to the home ceremony. It is sent out two or three weeks before the day set for the wedding. The church wedding invitation requires no written acknowledgment, except in those rare cases when there is a request for it. Instead of the initials, R.S.V.P., it is better form to say simply, "Please reply." Invitations for the home wedding, of course, require prompt acknowledgment.
Following are two forms of church wedding invitations which may be used:
Mr. and Mrs. John Grey Taylor
request the honor of
presence at the marriage of their daughter
Mr. Raymond Mitchell
on Thursday, the ninth of May
at four o'clock
St. Thomas's Church
Mr. and Mrs. John Grey Taylor
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Mr. Raymond Mitchell
on Friday, the fourth of June
at six o'clock
at the Presbyterian Church
In the first invitation, the name of the guest is written by hand in the space left for that purpose. The use of "marriage and" and "marriage with" is now customary in preference to "marriage to." All three words are in good form, however, and any one of them may be used. Below is a model engraved admission card, used when the church wedding is to be a large one and tickets of admission are necessary. The correct size is denoted:
PLEASE PRESENT THIS CARD
at St. Michael's Church
on Monday, the fifth of May
INVITATIONS TO HOME WEDDING
For the home wedding, invitations are engraved as for the church wedding, but for the phrase "request the honor of your presence" the phrase "request the pleasure of your company" is substituted, though "honor" may be used in place of "pleasure" if one prefers.
As in the case of the church wedding, a space may be left for the name of the guest to be filled in, or the form that follows may be used:
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Guy Brown
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Mr. Henry Van Buren
on Tuesday afternoon, June the first
at four o'clock
Twenty-two West End Avenue
When the wedding takes place in the country, or a guest at a great distance is invited, a small card like the one following is generally included:
Train leaves Grand Central Station
for Glenville at 11:42 A.M.
Returning train leaves Glenville
for New York at 6:10 P.M.
Wealthy people often place a special train at the disposal of special city friends whose presence is eagerly desired at the wedding. A card, like the one following, is enclosed with the invitation, and it serves as a pass, entitling the bearer to a seat in the reserved train. Here is the form most generally used:
The special train leaves
Grand Central Station for Glenville
at 11:42 A.M.
Leaves Glenville for Grand Central Station
at 6:10 P.M.
Please present this card at station door
WEDDING IN A FRIEND'S HOME
Sometimes, either because of convenience or personal preference, arrangements are made to have a wedding take place at the home of a friend or relative. The following wording is suggested as the correct form for the invitation:
The pleasure of your company is requested
at the marriage of
Miss Marian Benson Joyce
Mr. John H. Brown
on Monday, the fifth of June
at twelve o'clock
at the residence of
Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Smith Hopkins
Eighteen Johns Street
WHEN CARDS ARE ENCLOSED
When a church wedding is followed by a reception or breakfast, special engraved cards are enclosed with the invitations to those guests whose presence is desired. It may be a very small card, inscribed merely with these words:
from four o'clock
Forty-six Lafayette Street
For the wedding breakfast a card of this kind is usually enclosed:
Mr. and Mrs. John Hay
request the pleasure of
company, at breakfast
on Thursday, the fifth of May
at twelve o'clock
INVITATIONS TO SECOND MARRIAGES
The second wedding invitation of a widow should be issued in the name of her parents or nearest living relatives. She uses her own first name with the surname of the deceased husband. Here is the correct form:
Mr. and Mrs. Robbert Manning
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage of their daughter
Mrs. May Ellis Bruce
Mr. Stanley Kenworth
on Monday, September the fifth
at six o'clock
St. Paul Chapel
It may be that the woman who is to be married for the second time has no near relatives to serve as hosts for her. Her invitations may be like this:
The honor of your presence is requested
at the marriage of
Mrs. Helen Roy Chadwick
Mr. Bruce Kenneth
on Wednesday, August the tenth
at four o'clock
Church of the Redeemer
Announcement cards are sent after a wedding if there were no invitations issued. They are often sent instead of invitations to friends who live at too great a distance to be present at the ceremony. They require no acknowledgment though it is customary to send either a note expressing good wishes or a gift of some kind. If one lives in the same community one should call on the bride's mother, and if the bride's card in inclosed, on the bride herself shortly after she returns from the honeymoon. This is the usual form for the announcement card:
Mr. and Mrs. Roger Smith
announce the marriage of their daughter
Mr. Frank Breckenridge
on Thursday, April the first
one thousand nine hundred and twenty-one
In case of a second marriage of the bride, the announcement card reads in this manner:
Mr. Robert G. Gainsworth
Mrs. Herbert Gaylord Smith
announce their marriage
on Thursday, August the Eleventh
one thousand nine hundred and twenty-one
The bride uses the announcement above only when she is a widow. A divorcée uses her own first and second names, with the surname of the divorced husband.
The announcement card is engraved on sheets of white paper similar in size and texture to those used for the invitation. It is posted on the day of the wedding. The forms given above may be modified by adding the name of the Church in which the ceremony was held, or the home address of the bride if it was a home wedding.
With the wedding invitation or the announcement card the "at home" card of the bride may be included, giving the date of her return from the honeymoon and her future address. Thus:
Mr. and Mrs. K. N. Littleton
At Home in Forest Hills
After the eighteenth of August
INVITATION TO WEDDING ANNIVERSARY
Unlike the wedding invitation, that of the anniversary may display some delicate, unostentatious design significant of the occasion. It is engraved on sheets or cards which may display the entwined initials of husband and wife, and the year of the marriage and wedding anniversary. For a silver wedding, the engraving may be done in silver, and gold lettering is permissible for the fifty-year anniversary. The two most approved forms for the anniversary invitations are given below:
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Guy Ascher
Wednesday evening, May third
after eight o'clock
Thirty-two Pine Street
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Guy Ascher
request the pleasure of your company
on the Fiftieth Anniversary
of their marriage
on Thursday, June the third
at eight o'clock
Thirty-two Pine Street
INFORMAL WEDDING INVITATION
When a recent death in the family, or when personal preference results in a so-called "quiet" wedding, when only the immediate family and very close friends are invited, a short note written either by the bride-to-be or her mother, is the only invitation. Following is a note of this kind from the bride-elect to her friend—and immediately below it the correct form of acknowledgment:
Two weeks from Monday, on the ninth of September, Mr. Brill and I are to be married. We are asking only a few of our most intimate friends to be present, and would be very glad to have you among them. The ceremony will take place at four o'clock.
With kindest regards, I am
Harriet B. Howe.
I shall be delighted to attend your wedding on September ninth, at four o'clock.
With cordial good wishes to you and Mr. Brill, I am
Janet B. Robbins.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE FORMAL WEDDING INVITATION
When a breakfast or reception card is included, a response must be made promptly. The form of the invitation should be followed as nearly as possible. It is written on the first page of a sheet of social note paper, and addressed to the parents or guardians of the bride. Here is the form used for acceptance:
Mr. and Mrs. John Mortimer
accept with pleasure
Mr. and Mrs. Henry B. Fletcher's
kind invitation to be present at the
marriage of their daughter
Mr. Thomas Wolcott
on Tuesday, the seventh of May
at twelve o'clock
and afterward at the wedding breakfast
Regrets are usually worded in this manner, following closely the invitation. The reason for non-attendance may or may not be given:
Mr. and Mrs. John Mortimer
exceedingly regret that they
are unable to accept
Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher's
kind invitation to be present at the
marriage of their daughter
Mr. Thomas Wolcott
on Tuesday, the seventh of May
at twelve o'clock
and afterward at the wedding breakfast
In the fourth line of the first acknowledgment above the two last words "at the" may be prefixed to the fifth line; the same holds true of the fifth line of the second acknowledgment. A good stationer will be able to give you the exact prevalent vogue in this matter.
WHOM TO INVITE
It is necessary for the young man and woman who are about to be married to make out their list of those to whom invitations are to be sent together. If the wedding is to be a large affair, not only their friends but the friends of their parents as well, and business acquaintances of both families should be invited. Relatives and friends in mourning should be invited but no resentment should be felt if they do not attend. If the wedding is a small one great care should be taken lest the guests are so numerous as to overcrowd the church or home. Especially is this true of the home where the space is usually more circumscribed.
SENDING THE INVITATIONS
All invitations should come from the home of the bride, even those that are for the personal friends of her husband even if they are unknown to the bride. They should be mailed from one month to two weeks or ten days before the day set for the wedding. If the bride is an orphan they are sent in the name of her nearest relative. If there is an older brother they may be issued in his name, but never in the name of a sister unless she is a great deal older than the bride or is herself a married woman. If the bride has lost one parent and the other has remarried she may use her own judgment as to whether to send the invitation in the name of her parent or in the names of them both. The latter is usually preferred, as a matter of consideration toward the step-parent.
RECALLING THE WEDDING INVITATION
A sudden death in the family, illness, accident, or other serious happening, warrants the recall of wedding invitations. The parents of the bride should immediately notify guests of the postponement of the wedding, by issuing printed cards. A good size for these cards is three and a quarter inches in length by one and one-quarter inches in width. The text is usually worded in this manner:
Owing to the sudden death of Mr. Henry
Robert's father, Mr. and Mrs. James Curtis
are compelled to recall the invitations for
their daughter's wedding on Thursday,
February the fourth.
Mr. and Mrs. James Curtis beg to recall
the invitations issued for the marriage of
their daughter, Grace Helen, and Mr. Henry
Roberts, on Thursday, February the fourth.
BREAKING AN ENGAGEMENT
A broken engagement is always embarrassing for both the young man and the young lady. Friends, if they are truly well-bred, will not ask questions, and relatives will not demand explanations. The obligations which such a situation entails are unpleasant, but it is infinitely better to go through the ordeal than to face a marriage which is certain to end in disaster.
At such a time it is important for the young lady to have the utmost dignity and self-possession. She is not expected to make any announcement or offer any explanations. If a reception has been scheduled, her mother sends brief notes or engraved cards to those who have been invited, informing them that the engagement has been broken. The young lady, if she wishes, may confide in her intimate friends; but to be bitter, to condemn her former suitor in any way, to suggest that perhaps he was not all that she thought he was at first, not only reflects on her own good judgment, but is very poor form and shows lack of delicacy.
If the announcement of the engagement has been made in the papers such a notice as this might be inserted in the name of the person or persons who first made the announcement:
Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Simmons announce
that by mutual consent the engagement
between their daughter Agnes and George
Francis Richards is at an end.
If invitations have been sent out a similar announcement may be dispatched to each intended guest. These should be engraved on white cards of the size recommended by the stationer.
If the engagement was announced only to intimate friends the bride should send each of them a note stating that the engagement is at an end. It is much better never to give an explanation. Such occasions as this must have given rise to the proverb, "Least said, soonest mended." Even to the bride's dearest friend the following note is sufficient:
Bellevue, June 1, 19—
Since I wrote you last week something has happened which has made George and me reconsider our engagement. You will therefore please disregard the invitation for Thursday afternoon.
Ever sincerely yours,
When an engagement is broken off the young people return all expensive gifts and all letters that have passed between them. The young lady always, of course, returns the engagement ring.
If wedding presents have been received from friends these also must be returned with a brief note explaining that the wedding is not to take place. It is necessary to thank the donor as warmly as if nothing had happened.
It takes a great deal of courage to face the situation bravely and to go through it without a sacrifice of dignity. One thing must be remembered: Don't be afraid of what people will say. It is not their happiness which is at stake.
WHEN DEATH INTERVENES
Often a death in the family occurs when preparations are under way for a wedding. If the death is that of a parent or very dear relative the wedding should be postponed, if circumstances permit, as a mark of respect and sincere sorrow for the deceased. But if the wedding must take place as scheduled, or even two or three months after the death, good taste and delicacy demand that it shall be quiet and simple, with only a few near relatives and friends present.
If the ceremony is performed in church there should be no garlands of gay flowers to strike a festive note. A bit of fern or other green foliage here and there is sufficient decoration. The bride may have one bridesmaid and a maid of honor—but an elaborate bridal train is considered poor taste within six months of a dearly beloved one's death. The ceremony itself is dispatched with expedience and rapidity, yet without any semblance whatever of haste.
Whether it is held in church or at home, the wedding during the period of mourning is characterized by a solemn simplicity that has none of the triumphant joyousness of the elaborate wedding. And still the occasion sacrifices none of its happiness, for sorrow brings to human nature the same mellow sweetness that the flight of time brings to untasted wine.
To pay fitting reverence to the dead, weddings and receptions of all kinds should be postponed. But if circumstances decree that they shall take place, then the occasion may be marked by so quiet and unpretentious a ceremony that the respect due the deceased is in no way violated.
THE CHURCH WEDDING
The bride and groom decide between them the church where they wish the wedding to take place and the clergyman whom they wish to officiate. When there is no religious difference between the couple the matter is a very simple one and the church which the bride's family regularly attends is the one chosen, but when he is of one faith and she of another it may assume serious proportions. If neither is inclined to yield gracefully the laws of etiquette decree that the groom should give in, not only because chivalry demands it but also because the wedding day by right and tradition belongs primarily to the bride.
The church should be decorated for the occasion but not with great elaboration. Palms, ferns, and smilax, roses, lilies and other flowers are appropriate. Ribbon also may be used effectively. White streamers are sometimes used to mark off the seats which are to be occupied by the relatives and intimate friends of the bride and groom, but there are many people who do not like to indicate so definitely the lines of demarcation among their guests.
Extravagance in any of the appointments of the wedding are in extremely bad taste. It is sometimes well to remember the delightful logic of the old lady who said that she did not dress better than she could afford to at home because everybody knew her and there was no use trying to impress them; and she did not dress better than she could afford when she went to the city because nobody knew her and it did not make any difference whether she impressed them or not. No set form of decoration can be given, but magnificent ornamentation is out of place in a simple chapel or church, and in every place profusion beyond one's means is not only ill-bred but foolish.
Among the Anglo-Saxons the custom of an impressive escort for the bride had its origin. To-day it is a matter of choice, and the bride may have as many or as few as she pleases. Her maid of honor is usually her sister or her best friend and her bridesmaids are chosen from among those who are dearest to her. The groom chooses the best man and the bride and groom together select the ushers.
Although the number of bridesmaids is entirely a matter of choice, it is the fashion at an elaborate church wedding to have not less than five nor more than ten. A maid or matron of honor, two little pages or flower girls, and, if it is desired, a third child to bear the cushion to the altar, completes the bridal train.
The bevy of bridesmaids consists of the bride's dearest friends. If she has sisters, one of them, as well as one of the bridegroom's sisters, must be included in her escort. For maid or matron of honor, the bride selects a sister or intimate friend.
It is sometimes customary for the bride to provide the dresses of her bridesmaids. This, however, is dependent upon circumstances and conditions, and is not really essential. It is important, though, that the bride visit each bridesmaid personally and request her services at the wedding, unless she lives at some distance.
The bride, if the wedding is to be an elaborate one, may suggest to the bridesmaids the kind of gowns she would like them to wear. The young ladies may be trusted to follow her wishes implicitly. No one would willingly mar a friend's wedding by appearing in a gown that does not agree with the general plan. The gowns need not be identical; but the colors must be the same, or at least harmonize. Light shades are always the fashion for bridesmaids. White, of course, for the bride.
The bridesmaids should be invited many weeks before the wedding so that they will have ample time for preparation. Nearly always the dress has to be made, and this takes time.
It is customary for the bridesmaids to be dressed alike or very nearly alike. The custom had its origin in primitive times when evil spirits were supposed to attend wedding ceremonies and the bride and groom were surrounded by friends of their own age and sex dressed similarly so that the spirits could not single out the happy couple for their evil designs. It is a far cry from that time to this, and the only reason why the bridesmaids are dressed similarly now is because the effect is so much prettier than could be attained by a miscellaneous array of gowns, however beautiful each one in itself might be.
They carry flowers, either cut flowers or bouquets, but their bouquets are never so elaborate as that carried by the bride. Usually they wear a bit of jewelry which was presented by the groom. This, too, is a curious survival of primitive marriage customs when the groom had to capture the bride, and because she was fleet-footed and wild (or perhaps because he was lazy), bribed her friends to lure her to the place where he was waiting.
Elaborate weddings should always be rehearsed at least once beforehand. In arranging these rehearsals the bride must have in mind the convenience of her attendants, and by consulting them, should settle upon a time that will be agreeable for the majority. The requests for one's presence at a rehearsal may be made verbally or by notes. Refreshments are usually served afterward at the home of the bride.
She must arrange for the opening of the church, and she should provide a way for the young ladies who are at some distance to get there. The details of the ceremony should be practiced until the whole thing can be accomplished with ease and grace. Every possible effort must be made to eliminate a stilted and wooden effect on the actual day of the wedding.
REGARDING THE USHERS
At the rehearsal they should receive careful instructions (usually from the clergyman), as a large part of the smoothness and charm of the wedding ceremony depends upon their knowledge of the right thing to do at the right time.
On the day of the wedding, they must be at the church at least an hour before the scheduled time for the ceremony. It is part of their duty to welcome the guests and escort them to their seats. An old custom was for the usher to offer his right arm to a lady, and although it still prevails, a more accepted form is for him to welcome each guest with a smile, precede her down the aisle, and with a graceful indication, direct her to her place.
Front seats should always be reserved for the relatives and most intimate friends of both families. At most fashionable weddings, the names of the people to receive these front seats are tabulated on cards and given to the ushers. Another custom that is permissible is to mark off the number of seats in front that are to be reserved with a white ribbon, extending from aisle to aisle and terminating at the end seats with pretty bows or festoons. This manner of reserving seats for the "guests of honor" is not only effective, but is also decorative.
THE WEDDING DAY
June and October, because the weather is usually beautiful and flowers are more abundant than at other times, are the favorite months for brides, though there is not a single month out of the twelve that does not see its full quota of elaborate weddings. During Lent there are fewer than at any other time.
There is an old superstition which says that Friday is an unlucky day for a wedding, but the prejudice that rose from it has so largely been done away with that the only choice among the days of the week is that which rises from the bride's personal convenience and desire.
A wedding may take place at any hour of the day. Morning weddings are usually very simple. Elaborate ceremonies are usually performed at high noon or in the evening while the wedding that is neither very simple nor very elaborate (and this means most weddings) takes place in the afternoon. In a great many instances the hour has to be arranged with reference to the time the train on which the bride and groom expect to leave departs.
ARRIVING AT THE CHURCH
The wedding party should arrive promptly at the church a few minutes before the time mentioned for the ceremony. Few moments are more tensely anxious than those in which a belated member of the wedding party is awaited by the others. For this reason, it is always better to assemble at the home of the bride rather than in the vestibule of the church or elsewhere. Except the groom and best man, who await the others in the vestry and the ushers who have gone on ahead an hour or so earlier.
The bride's mother, the maid of honor and guests leave the home of the bride first. They are followed by the bridesmaids. The last to leave are the bride and her father.
The bride's mother is escorted to her place (the aisle seat of the front pew on the left side) by the head usher. Those of her children who have no part in the procession accompany her. The family of the bridegroom are similarly conducted to their reserved place, the front pew on the right side. As soon as the bridesmaids and the bridal party arrive at the door of the church, the bridegroom is informed, and the entire cortége assembles in the vestibule. The organist has previously been informed as to what musical selections are to be played, and as soon as he gets his cue, he strikes a chord—and while the mellow notes of the organ peal forth (usually the beautiful tones of the wedding-march from "Lohengrin") the doors at the foot of the aisle slowly swing open.
The bride usually enters on Lohengrin and goes out on Mendelssohn. Throughout the ceremony, except when prayers are being said, there should be soft music and the organ should continue to play until all the guests have left the church, unless chimes are rung. In the event that there are chimes they should begin to ring as soon as the bridal party has left the church. The music for a church service may be very stately and impressive. Besides the organ stringed instruments may be employed and soloists or a choir may be asked to sing. Music is especially pleasing during the time when the guests are waiting for the wedding party to assemble.
The musical program in the home is not very different. A piano and one or two stringed instruments furnish the instrumental music while friends of the bride and groom may be requested to sing. These should be rewarded by a gift from the groom. There is a wider choice in the kind of music which may be used at the home wedding, for the beautiful secular love songs which are out of place at the church are most appropriate here.
THE WEDDING PROCESSION
The order of the wedding procession depends largely upon the number of attendants. The following arrangement is frequently observed: The ushers enter first, walking slowly down the aisle two by two. The bridesmaids follow in the same manner, the maid of honor, who is unattended, comes next, followed by the bride, who leans on the arm of her father. Flower girls may precede the procession or they may walk just in front of the bride and a page or pages may be added to the group to bear the train of the bride's gown. The bride is always the last to enter and she comes alone or with whoever is to give her away at the altar.
As they reach the altar the ushers separate, one half moving to the right, the other to the left. The bridesmaids do likewise, and the maid of honor steps to the left of the bride while she and her father advance toward the space left at the foot of the altar for them. At this point the groom and best man come forward and the bride slips her hand from her father's arm and places it in the hand of the groom, who leads her to the clergyman. Her father stands at her right.
The ceremony is performed in accordance with the rites prescribed by the religious belief of the young people who are about to be married. The clergyman is the person to consult about any embarrassing situations that might arise.
As the wedding ring is worn on the same finger that has previously worn the engagement ring the bride usually removes the latter and places it on the corresponding finger of the right hand. She may allow it to remain there after the ceremony or she may place it on the same finger with the wedding ring. It is allowable to leave the engagement ring in place and slip the wedding ring on over it.
A word about the ring itself. Like many another of our practices to-day its use is a survival from primitive times when women were chattels and a man's wife was his property, his slave to do with as he pleased, and the ring was of heavy iron, a sign of bondage. Not more than a decade back the ring was too heavy to be comfortable on the finger, but now it is a slender band of gold or platinum with or without scroll-work or other ornamentation, as the wearer may desire. Its symbolism is very beautiful. The precious metal is an emblem of the purity of the love between a man and his wife and the circle itself is a symbol of eternity.
Before entering the church the bride removes the glove from her left hand and she may give it with her bouquet to the maid of honor to hold during the ceremony. The practice of ripping one finger of the glove so as to leave it bare for the ring is a very foolish one and has never found favor among people of good breeding.
It is the part of the best man to look after the groom. His services may be required in connection with many of the preliminary details of the wedding even in the procuring of the license. At the wedding itself he takes charge of the ring and the clergyman's fee, giving the former to the groom just before the ceremony requires him to place it on the bride's finger.
The bride's father remains directly behind her until the clergyman asks, "Who giveth this woman to this man?" when he comes forward, takes his daughter's hand, lays it in that of the groom, and says, "I do." He then turns away and retires to the pew, where his wife is sitting.
LEAVING THE ALTAR
When the final blessing has been pronounced the bridal group may stand at the altar for a while receiving their friends and then break up informally, or the procession may leave the church in reverse order from that in which they entered, the bride and groom walking first together, followed by the best man and the maid of honor and the bridesmaids and the ushers walking in pairs. The automobile of the bride and groom should be waiting at the door to whisk them away to the home of the bride, where preparations are made for the wedding journey.
THROWING THE BOUQUET
It is a pretty custom for the bride to throw her bouquet among the bridesmaids (especially lovely when the wedding takes place at home and the bride turns to throw the flowers as she mounts the stairs). It is a happy omen for the young lady who catches the bouquet. She may divide it among the others or she may keep it for herself. It is not compulsory for the bride to part with the bouquet if she prefers to keep it herself. She may press the flowers or she may have rose beads made from the petals or she may dispose of it in any way she desires.
A well-known young society woman who was married recently in one of New York's most exclusive churches, ordered all the flowers used in decorations to be sent to a certain hospital to gladden the slowly dragging hours of the sufferers. She has created a precedent that every bride should be proud and happy to follow.
After all, the greatest happiness is in making others happy. The joy of the wedding day will gain a new sweetness when a kind deed adds to its pleasure. Rather let the sufferers in a hospital enjoy the colorful fragrance of the flowers than permit them to wilt, forgotten, in the church.
Frequently a shower of rice follows the departing couple, and satin slippers are thrown after the car. Care must be taken not to overdo this ancient custom, for although it is considered good luck for one of the satin slippers to alight on the top of the car, it is certainly bad form to give the occasion any appearance whatsoever of vulgarity.
It is interesting to trace this custom back to its origin. Among the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews a slipper or sandal was a symbol that denoted an exchange of property. Women at that time were regarded as property, and they were given in exchange for other property. Later we find, in Anglo-Saxon marriages, that the bride's father delivers her shoe to the bridegroom, who touches her on the head with it in token of his ownership and authority. The custom prevailed, and still later we find that the idea of good luck is associated with the throwing of slippers at weddings. Rice and grain were combined with the ceremony of throwing shoes, obviously indicating a plea to the deity of Productiveness to bless the marriage with an abundant supply of nature's bounties.
To-day the custom is still in vogue. Old satin slippers and handfuls of rice are thrown after the departing couple. It would not be an objectionable custom if some over-enthusiastic individuals did not overdo it to the extent that it becomes almost riotous. After a solemn, dignified, well-ordered wedding ceremony, and a charming reception, it is nothing short of ridiculous to spoil it all by boisterously overdoing an old tradition. The cultured person is always well-poised, always calm—whether it be during the tense moments of the wedding-vow utterances, or the half-glad, half-sad moments of seeing the happy pair off.
THE WEDDING RECEPTION
Fashionable weddings, if not celebrated with a wedding breakfast, are followed by a reception either in the afternoon or evening. All the bridal attendants are present, and those relatives and friends who have previously received invitations.
The reception takes place in the drawing room of the bride's home. The room is decorated with flowers, and in the hall is a refreshment table on which is punch, cakes and boxes containing favors for each of the guests.
The bride and groom stand together under a floral bell and accept the congratulations and good wishes of the guests. The bride's mother and father are at the door of the drawing room to welcome them, and the parents of the groom are also ready to receive and welcome the guests as they arrive.
It is an important duty of the ushers, at the wedding reception, to introduce to the bride all those guests whom she does not know. She accepts their congratulations with a smile and a cordial word or two in acknowledgment of the introduction.
THE WEDDING BREAKFAST
Wedding breakfasts, though an old English custom, are often held after the church wedding. If it is decided upon, the guests to be invited should be informed at least two weeks in advance. The occasion has all the dignity and formality of a dinner party.
The bride and groom enter the dining room first. They are followed by the bride's mother and the groom's father, and the groom's mother and the bride's father. The bridesmaids and ushers are always invited to the wedding breakfast, and they follow immediately after the parents of the happy couple. The precedence of the other invited guests is arranged by the mother of the bride.
The menu at a wedding breakfast is never elaborate. Consommée or bouillon, salads, birds, ices, jellies and bonbons are the usual order. Coffee and dainty cakes are served last. The wedding cake, if one is served at all, is set before the bride.
The bride gives one-and-one-half to two hours to her guests at the wedding breakfast. Then she retires to her room, accompanied by the maid of honor and her most intimate friends among the bridesmaids; and when she appears again she is in traveling costume. The groom has also retired to change his clothes, and he meets the bride at the foot of the stairs. The motor is at the door in readiness, and after the last whispered good-bys, warm handclasps and hasty kisses—the bride and groom are off!
THE WEDDING PRESENT
The custom of giving wedding presents dates from away back in Dutch history when the relatives and friends of the bride and groom took upon themselves the responsibility of furnishing the new household.
Great taste and discrimination should be exercised in the selecting of gifts and they should be sent early. Two months before the wedding is not too soon. It is wise for the friends whenever possible to consult each other so that they will not duplicate gifts. If most of the silver, etc., is gotten from the same jeweler he is a great help in selecting something that is not only appropriate in itself but in harmony with the other gifts.
Anyone who receives an invitation may send the bride a gift, though it is not absolutely necessary to respond to the invitation in this way. To the question: "What shall the gift be?" the answer is the prettiest and most useful article within one's means. China and silver are always appropriate, and cut glass, linen, books, and even checks or gold pieces are most acceptable.
There is a slight prejudice against giving money as a present at a wedding or at any other time, but one has only to see the joy that the bride and groom get out of spending the money over and over again before they finally do spend it to have this prejudice dispelled.
Silver and linen are usually marked with the initials of the bride, more often than not with the initials of her maiden name. If there is any doubt as to which she prefers and one is not able to find out indirectly, it is permissible to ask her.
Gifts should always be accompanied by the cards of the donors, but these should be removed when they are placed on display.
ACKNOWLEDGING WEDDING PRESENTS
It is not sufficient merely to keep the cards which accompany the wedding gifts but there must be some system by which the bride can remember which gift each one accompanied. She may indicate this on the card itself or she may keep a list of the names of the donors with the names of the gifts opposite, but she must be absolutely sure that she is thanking the right person.
© Brown Bros.
If the honeymoon is to be only two weeks or thereabouts the bride may wait until her return to thank her friends, but if it is to be of long duration she should write the notes of acknowledgment as soon as she finds it convenient to do so. These personal notes—and a personal note is the only proper way to thank one for a wedding present—are usually written by the bride, but she should always be careful to introduce her husband's name unless the gift was a very intimate one for her alone. The following note is a graceful way for both husband and wife to express their gratitude:
July 1, 1921.
George and I both wish to thank you for the lovely picture. When we return from Atlantic City we shall hang it in our living room where all of our friends can enjoy it with us. We hope that you will be among the first to visit us in our new home.
Very sincerely yours,
Annie Beard Hill.
Sometimes the groom receives personal gifts from friends of his. To these he writes notes of thanks in his own name.
THE HOME WEDDING
Home weddings can often be made as impressive as church weddings. With correct decorations the most spacious rooms in the bride's house can be transformed into an interior as lovely as the interior of a beautifully decorated church.
For instance, at a fashionable home wedding, held recently, the drawing room was decorated with massive floral wreaths and clusters of palms. A huge bell of flowers hung in the center of the room, and a canopy of flowers, occupying one corner, simulated a chapel. The effect was altogether delightful.
Only close relatives and friends should be invited to the home wedding. The bridegroom does not enter the home of the bride until a half hour before the ceremony begins, and when he does arrive, he and his best man do not mingle with the other guests but retire to an adjoining room provided for them. The clergyman also retires to this room when he arrives, and it is here that he dons his official robe. The three remain until it is announced that the bride is ready to enter the drawing room.
The bride's mother, assisted by her husband, receives the guests. It is not considered good form to begin the ceremony until they have all arrived. Then, when everything is in readiness, the bride is met at the head of the stairs by her father, and is conducted by him to the entrance of the room. Usually there is no elaborate wedding procession, and even in the most fashionable home wedding there is often only a maid or matron of honor to precede the bride. There are rarely more than half a dozen bridesmaids at most. The order of precedence is similar to that of the church wedding; the clergyman performs the ceremony under a floral canopy, and when it is completed, he steps aside and the newly married couple take his place to receive the congratulations and good wishes of the guests.
The wedding breakfast or reception proceeds immediately upon the conclusion of the ceremony. Everyone present is a guest; and everyone present attends the reception.
THE SECOND WEDDING
When a woman marries for the second time, her wedding should be very conservative. Elaborate ceremonies would, indeed, be out of place. However, the more important conditions of the ceremony are followed very much along the same lines.
White is for the girl-bride only. The woman who marries for the second time indulges in none of the age-old customs that the first bride does. She does not wear a white veil; she does not carry orange blossoms; she does not have flower girls or pages or bridesmaids. The more inconspicuous the second wedding is, the more it is in accordance with the rules of etiquette.
The bride-for-the-second-time may have a maid of honor only on one occasion. If she has a church wedding and invites numerous guests, she may have a maid of honor to precede her to the altar. As in the first wedding, her father gives her away. Her family assumes all responsibility for the expenses involved unless she prefers to do so herself. If a reception is given after the ceremony, the same order of precedence is followed as after the first wedding; the reception may be held either in the home of the bride's parents, or in her own home.
If married in church, there are none of the elaborate decorations that characterize the first bridal, although flowers are always acceptable. Especially if the second ceremony takes place only a short time after the mourning period for the first husband, any conspicuous display is in very bad taste.
SOME IMPORTANT CONVENTIONS
It is customary for a widow to remove the engagement ring and wedding ring of her first husband before the day of her second wedding. The sight of them cannot be in any way pleasant to her new husband, and they may be a source of sorrowful memory to her. It is best to discard them as soon as the second marriage is decided upon.
There has always been some doubt as to whether or not the family of the second-bride's first husband should be invited to her wedding. Absolutely. There is no reason why they should be ignored, any more than any of the other friends and acquaintances of the bride. In fact, she owes them a special courtesy, and if they accept the invitation, they must be treated with the kindest attention and courtesy. They must always occupy seats below the white ribbon, if the wedding is held at church. If there is for any reason dissension or disagreement between her and her first husband's family, she will not of course invite them. But that may only be an individual case; the general rule is to invite them and treat them with the utmost consideration.
Gifts at the second wedding will not be as elaborate as those at the first wedding. However, each gift must be acknowledged with a cordial note of thanks. In fact, all the etiquette of the first wedding is observed, except that it is on a much simpler scale.
As for the man who marries for the second time, he, too, follows the original dictates of wedding etiquette, and eliminates only the farewell bachelor dinner. Here also the ceremony and reception is on a considerably less extravagant style.
The girl or woman who is about to be married can always get helpful suggestions from her friends who have been married or have witnessed fashionable weddings. The minister in charge is especially qualified to give you a great deal of important advice, and one should never hesitate to consult him. In his official capacity he has doubtless served at many weddings, many of them well-nigh perfect, some of them marred by the very blunders that he can teach you to avoid.
There is something strangely beautiful and poetic in the celebration of a wedding anniversary. It arouses slumbering sentiments and mellows old memories into a throbbing happiness. Here are the wedding anniversaries that are usually celebrated in our better society:
Although many families celebrate all of these anniversaries, it is more generally the fashion to disregard all those that come before the quarter-century mark. The first anniversary to be celebrated is usually the silver wedding. The most favored way of doing this is to have a dinner party or a reception. Sometimes, especially when there are young unmarried daughters, a dance is given and a dinner follows later.
THE SILVER WEDDING
Cards for the silver wedding reception should be printed on white or silver-gray paper. They may be printed in silver or black. They may be worded in the usual "at home" form, or may be in this form:
Mr. and Mrs. S. Brown
request the pleasure of ............'s presence
at the dinner reception of their
on Tuesday, June the fourteenth
at seven o'clock
If an invitation like the one above is issued, the guests will undoubtedly send beautiful gifts of silver—unless, as is often the case, it is requested in the invitation that no gifts be presented. Sometimes, in fact, the bride and groom of twenty-five years commemorate their silver wedding by themselves, sending handsome gifts of silver to those who started out in married life at about the same time that they did, but who have not been materially so fortunate.
If a reception celebrates the silver wedding, the husband assists his wife in receiving. Often the occasion begins at the precise hour at which the marriage took place; but usually the preferred time is in the late afternoon or evening. The "bridal couple" should make an effort to have as many as the original party of bridal attendants present as possible. It will be interesting for the best man and the maid of honor to have a little chat together after twenty-five years.
The husband leads the way to the dining room with his wife on his arm, and she sits at the right of him at the table. If the historic wedding cake is included in the collation, it is placed before the bride, just as it was twenty-five years ago. The table decorations should be white and silver, with a touch of green.
The menu will be the regular formal dinner menu, served and garnished with a regard for decorative effect. Speeches are in order, and a toast is usually proposed for the couple. The husband responds with a little speech in which he honors his wife, and she acknowledges with a smile that is in itself sufficient eloquence for the occasion. Tiny silver favors, packed neatly in small white boxes and tied with silver ribbon are effective novelties at the silver wedding.
TIN AND WOODEN WEDDINGS
A general frolic is in order at the tin wedding. It is rarely celebrated, in fact, unless the ten-year-married husband and wife wish to gather together all their old friends and have a jolly good time. Gifts are usually in the form of tin kitchen utensils, tin candle-sticks, tin fans, tin ornaments—even tin tables and chairs are offered as gifts to celebrate the tenth anniversary. A dinner, very much like the ordinary informal dinner except for the additional "tin" celebrations, follows the reception.
Wooden weddings are not very often held, although some very fashionable ones are recorded in the annals of social history. Rolling-pins, step-ladders, and wooden kitchen utensils cause much merriment when presented as gifts, and the occasion is generally one of much pleasant raillery. Wooden ornaments make very appropriate gifts for this wedding, and a bit of wood artistically carved is always welcome to the five-year bride who loves pretty things for the home.
THE GOLDEN WEDDING
To have lived fifty years together, to have shared for fifty years each other's sorrows, joys and hopes, is to have enjoyed one of the greatest gifts life has to offer. It is an occasion well worthy of the most elaborate celebration.
A golden wedding has a touch of the romantic, a touch of the sentimental about it. Poets like to write about it; people like to dream about it. When it becomes a reality, all the world likes to watch—and wonder. It is a solemn and dignified event and should be treated as an occasion of the utmost importance.
The couple should issue pure white cards engraved in gold, announcing the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of their wedding day. It is touching to have the maid of honor and the best man present, if they are both still living. As many of the original bridal attendants as are available should be invited, and all the old friends and acquaintances of the family. There must be no levity, the couple must be treated with reverence and honor, and the occasion must be given every appearance of dignified importance.
Unlike the silver wedding, gifts are always presented to the aged couple at the golden wedding. Delicate pieces of gold jewelry are always pleasing to the "bride." The "groom" may be presented with gold shirt-studs, cuff-links or rings. Gold services, gold chased cups, golden goblets and golden candle sticks are most appropriate.
The dinner should be elaborate. A huge wedding cake, inscribed with a frosting of the surnames and wedding date of the couple is worthy of holding the place of honor in the center of the table. Once again the "bride" enjoys the privilege of being the first to cut the cake—and in or with each slice that is given to the guests there should be some little golden token, a ring or thimble or tiny jewel box. If this is too costly, a golden flower such as a daffodil may be placed on each plate.
A beautiful and touching sentiment to be observed on the golden wedding is for the bride to wear something from her wedding day. Perhaps it is a treasured bit of the bridal veil. Perhaps it is a fan, or a pair of gloves, or even the wedding dress itself. She also carries a bouquet of white flowers—as she did fifty years ago on her first wedding day.
THE GOLDEN WEDDING A GLORIOUS ACHIEVEMENT
Beautiful indeed is the celebration of the golden wedding. With her children and grandchildren and friends grouped around her, with her husband at her side, doing her every honor he might pay a newly-won bride, the bride of fifty years can be naught but inexpressibly happy—though memories of lost youth rise constantly to haunt her. It is glorious—this reaching fifty years of married life—and any couple may well be proud to commemorate its occasion.
And, after all, isn't it happiness that makes life worth while? Of what use is wealth and power and position if we cannot have the ones we love, the ones who love us? The man and woman who have lived together in happy companionship for fifty years have more in their love of each other than the man who has lived alone for fifty years and amassed tremendous riches.
THE BRIDE'S OUTFIT
ORIGIN OF THE TROUSSEAU
One must study the marriage customs of many countries before the development of the trousseau idea can be fully traced. But it is interesting—especially to the bride—to discover that at her impressive marriage ceremony to-day she is merely repeating the ancient customs of her ancestors, so very far back that Europe itself was not yet known.
We find the first trace of it in the book of Genesis (Gen. xxiv. 53). Perhaps you remember the story. Abraham's servant Eliezer brought handsome jewels to Rebecca as a seal to the marriage compact. It is one of the earliest evidences of outfitting for the wedding. And then we find a trace of it among the early Eskimos, where the bridegroom must supply his bride with all the clothes necessary for the "honeymoon." Later, in Roumania, we find the clothes and shoes are a very important part of the gifts to the bride. Largely from the customs practiced in this latter country, but also from Italy, Sweden, and Greece, the idea of the marriage trousseau sprang.
The development is most marked in Roumania. Here we find the tiniest girls, some of them as young as five years, working on bridal finery—each one striving to outdo the other in beauty and elaboration of work. Each finished article is laid carefully away in a huge chest, until such time as a suitor appears. In days gone by, the bridegroom had the privilege of examining the trousseau and deciding whether or not it was complete, and often his choice rested upon the worth of the bride's outfit.
Perhaps it was because a complete outfit was so very necessary to the young girl starting out upon her new duties as a wife that the development of the trousseau has been so rapid. In the year 1308, at the wedding of Edward II to Isabella of France, the trousseau played an important part indeed. Here is a description of the bride's outfit, as taken from E. L. Urlin's book, "A Short History of Marriage:"
"She (Isabella) brought two gold crowns ornamented with gems, gold and silver drinking vessels, golden spoons and fifty silver plates. Her dresses were made of gold and silver stuff, velvet and taffetas. She had six dresses of green cloth, six of rose scarlet and many costly furs. For linen she had 419 yards, and the tapestries for her chamber were elaborate with the arms of England and France woven in gold."
Elaborate, yes, and certainly "fit for a queen." But perhaps we find the trousseaux of our misses of the twentieth century more interesting!
THE TROUSSEAU OF TO-DAY
It would be ridiculous to attempt to list the articles that must be included in the trousseau of the bride of to-day. This matter must be entirely dependent upon circumstances, means and convenience. There can be no definite set of rules to govern the contents of one's wedding outfit. But there are certain conventionalities we can discuss that may be of value to the bride in preparing for her wedding.
There is, of course, something very beautiful in the thought of making one's trousseau entirely by hand. And there is an old tradition about "sewing happiness into the wedding outfit" that brides like to believe. But when we glance at the shop windows with their lavish displays of the daintiest creations, and when we think of the professional modiste with her developed sense of the artistic, we must admit that it is not a practical custom.
It used to be the practice for each young girl to have a "hope chest" into which she put linens, etc., against the wedding day. This was during the time when most of the trousseaux were made by hand.
It seems rather a foolish waste of time for the girl of moderate means to sit for endless hours sewing on rows and rows of lace when machine made garments may be had at reasonable figures. If she chooses her things carefully they will bear the stamp of her personality almost as much as if she had fashioned them herself; and, of course, there are many finishing touches that she can add which make the things peculiarly her own, such as initials and monograms, crocheted edges, etc.
It is gratifying to note that the trousseau of to-day does not contain such frilly, useless things as did the trousseaux of our grandmothers' time. Linens boast deep folds of the material and neat hemstitching instead of huge borders and inserts of lace. Under-things are made and bought with a regard for wear and utility, rather than merely to be pretty to look at. The entire outfit shows a tendency to be more useful and less ornamental. Which is, of course, as it should be.
And now let us consider some of the more important items to be included.
ABOUT THE LINENS
In selecting her linens the bride should pay particular attention to quality; the amount she buys depends upon the size of the new home, and upon the means at her command. There must be sheets and pillow-cases; bath towels and kitchen towels, napkins and table-covers. If she is fond of handwork, there may be hand-embroidered linens for the bed-spreads, hand-embroidered linen scarfs and hand-embroidered centerpieces of linen. One bride we know included a twenty-yard bolster of uncut linen in her trousseau in addition to the items mentioned above. If one can afford it, it is best to start out with a generous supply of linens, as somehow the older they grow, the longer we have them, the more precious they become.
Linens are usually initialed. When household and personal linens are marked, they bear the initials of the bride's maiden name. Towels for the bath are marked with a single initial in white or colored thread, to match the border. Table-covers, if initialed at all, have the letters placed in the center, half-way between the middle and edge of the table; napkins are initialed in the corner. White linens are invariably initialed in white.
FOR THE BRIDE
"Girl, do not exult in thy wedding dress; see how much trouble lurks behind it," says an old Syrian proverb. But where is the little American bride who does not exult in her dainty wedding things—who does not glory in the silks and cottons and laces and ribbons of her trousseau? Always a lover of the beautiful—especially in clothes—she finds a new charm in these pretty things that portend so much happiness to come.
There are her underthings—soft, frivolous, much-beribboned chemises, camisoles and petticoats. Some are of practical muslin or soft, crinkly crêpe. Others are of rich crêpe-de-chine, and lately, knitted undergarments of silk are favored. Then, there are the dresses, her chief delight. There is one smart street dress of serge or poiret twill; an afternoon frock or two of taffeta, georgette or satin as she prefers; one elaborate evening gown for important occasions, and one very much less elaborate for semi-evening affairs. And if she is a wise bride, she will include a smart dark-colored suit, with several fluffy little blouses. Then, of course, there are the crisp, neat, becoming little frocks for the morning-at-home. But she should not make the mistake, which is all too common to brides, of getting several times as much as she needs.
Other details, such as hose, shoes and hats are best decided by the bride herself. In fact, the entire trousseau must be determined by the bride in proportion to such important considerations as her means, the length of the honeymoon, and the distance of the trip she expects to make. The items above were offered as a suggestion, and one may add or detract according to the dictates of common sense. It is suggested, however, that the trousseau be small and carefully selected, rather than large and expensive, for the fashions are constantly changing and not even so momentous an occasion as one's wedding warrants heedless extravagance.
THE WEDDING DRESS
The origin of the white gown for the bride is not very difficult to trace. White, since time immemorial, has been the color used to denote purity. White animals, in certain countries, are held sacred, just as the white flowers are sacred elsewhere. The exclusive use of white for the bride is supposed to have grown out of an old custom of the Patagonians, who cover the body with white paint on the eve of the wedding ceremony.
To-day the keynote of the wedding gown is simplicity. The days of elaborate gowns with trains so heavy with the weight of precious jewels that eight girls had to carry them, is over. The sensible American bride knows that simplicity is more becoming to the solemn dignity of the occasion than extremely elaborate dress.
With styles constantly changing as they do, it would be of no value to offer any description here. However, this little item, taken from the announcement of a fashionable wedding recently held, may offer some helpful suggestions: "The gown in which Miss —— became the Countess —— was of heavy white satin cut with an almost austere simplicity. The drapery of the skirt was marked with a garland of lilies and orange-blossoms. The tulle veil was bordered with old English point lace, an heirloom of the —— family."
From a study of the descriptions of other bridal gowns at recent important weddings, we find that satin is without doubt the favorite material. Crêpe-de-chine and heavy white brocade are also used; and the bride may select whichever material she likes best, something soft and clinging unless she is inclined to be too slender, when taffeta is more suitable. Undoubtedly, no matter what the style of the gown happens to be, it should boast a train; and a draped skirt is always a popular wedding mode. The length of the sleeves and skirt is entirely governed by the fashion of the moment.
White satin slippers and white gloves enhance the simple beauty of the wedding gown. Jewels are rarely worn, except, perhaps, one large gem—a gift of the groom.
THE BRIDE'S VEIL
According to the marriage rites of the ancient Hebrews, ordained in days when marriage itself was unknown in many countries, a canopy must be held over the bride and groom by four intimate friends of the family. Later, we find that this custom among the early Hebrews, presaged an Anglo-Saxon custom of erecting a "care cloth" (a square vestment) above the bride and groom. Out of this developed that of covering the bride alone; to-day the beautiful bridal veil is the result of those ancient customs.
Not so long ago, the veil was of tulle, and from the top of the bride's head it fell over her shoulders, completely enveloping her to the very tips of her shoes. This all-enveloping veil is no longer considered good form. In its place, is the very charming veil that is gathered into a becoming, flower-trimmed crown at the back of her head, falling gracefully to the train of the dress, leaving the face entirely uncovered.
The veil is always of filmy material. Tulle is favored; and lace is particularly beautiful, especially if it is old lace that has been a long time in the bride's family. However, tulle is preferable to imitation lace. Orange blossoms or tiny lilies-of-the-valley may be entwined around the crown of the head, a spray or two nestling in the folds of the veil.
Important, indeed, is the bride's bouquet. Many a delicate flower pressed between the leaves of a book and cherished in mind and heart alike is silent and eloquent proof of this fact.
The most conventional form is the shower bouquet. This is a veritable cascade of flowers and ribbon; white roses, orange-blossoms or lilies-of-the-valley—or a combination of all three—are massed together in the center, entwined with narrow satin ribbon. From this "heart of flowers" lengths of ribbon wound around individual flowers trail almost to the hem of the bride's gown. It produces a most charming effect.
Often an ordinary bouquet of flowers is carried, which is just as pretty if not as elaborate as the shower bouquet. Green foliage is, of course, permissible; but there is a tendency against flowers of bright hues. Appearing entirely in white, is one of the customs which, ordinarily, the bride should observe, not only for the traditions woven around it, but the suggestions of sweet dignity, purity and girlishness that are associated with it. Lilies are appealing bridal flowers for this same reason.
An exception is the civil wedding, or the hurried, simple wedding when the bride is attired in traveling costume. But this will be taken up in detail in a later paragraph.
DRESS OF THE MAID OF HONOR
Satin is the most favored material for the dress of the maid of honor. It may be white, trimmed with pale colors, or it may be entirely pale pink or pale blue or some other becoming color. On no occasion may the maid of honor be dressed in pure white.
Her dress is always different from those worn by the bridesmaids. The style is a matter of taste and prevalent fashion. If the wedding takes place at noon in a church, the gown is either sleeveless or with very short sleeves, and it may or may not have a train, according to the taste of the wearer. Like the bride, she wears white gloves and carries flowers.
If the wedding is held in the afternoon or evening, at home, the maid of honor's gown is less formal. It may be a dainty afternoon frock of taffeta or satin, sometimes embroidered georgette dresses are worn—that is, for the afternoon alone. When it is in the evening, a silk gown may be worn.
MARRYING IN TRAVELING DRESS
Very often, when a wedding takes place before twelve o'clock, or when because of a difference of religious opinion the ceremony is performed by a Justice of the Peace, or when the wedding is to be a very simple one, or when for a number of other possible reasons the bride wishes it she wears a smart traveling suit instead of the white wedding gown.
The suit should be conservative in style and color. Flowers should be in the form of a corsage. Neither bouquets nor cut flowers are carried when one is in traveling costume. Instead of a suit a dress may be worn but it must be an attractive afternoon frock or street dress, not an evening dress of any sort.
When the bride is a widow marrying for the second time her dress is characterized by extreme simplicity whether the wedding takes place in the afternoon or evening.
There is no more eloquent commentary on the vanity of human wishes than the pomp and ceremony which, since the first syllable of recorded time have attended funeral services. Kings and emperors have erected splendid mausoleums in which they and their families might be buried, Pharaohs have kept slaves at work for twenty years on a pyramid beneath whose stones their bones might rest, savages in lonely forests have builded great mounds under which their chiefs may wait for the time to go to the Happy Hunting grounds. Slave and emperor, prince and pauper—it is all the same. Last week in New York a woman died in the ward where they treat patients free of charge, yet for more than fifteen years she had been paying premiums on an insurance policy which would permit her to have a funeral "as good as anybody's funeral." Three weeks ago a boy in a small town in Iowa spent nearly all he had in defraying the expenses of the funeral of his mother. In this case, and indeed in many another, a simple ceremony would have been far more appropriate, for even in paying the last tributes of respect to the dead there must be the saving grace of common sense. It is like salt—everything is the better for a pinch of it.
Recently a candidate for the Doctor's degree at one of the largest universities in the country chose for the subject of his thesis "Funeral Customs throughout the Ages." It is too large a subject for us to enter into here, and it would profit us little, for the day of hired mourners and splendid pageantry together with obtrusive music and gorgeous flowers is past. Simplicity characterizes the entire service among well-bred people everywhere. The music is soft and the flowers in many cases are sent to the hospitals where they may gladden the sufferers there instead of being allowed to wilt neglected on the grave. More often than not, nowadays, there is added to the notice of the funeral which is inserted in the newspapers the sentence, "Please omit flowers."
Even in the most primitive times it was felt that the dead were going forth on a long, long journey from which they would never return, and their friends wanted to do whatever they could to speed them along the way. It was in this manner that the custom of offering gifts to the dead came about. These gifts range all the way from food and household utensils to clothing, weapons and money. The money was sometimes gold, sometimes silver and sometimes paper, but in most instances it was to serve as a tip to the ferryman who was to row them across the river that separates this life from the next.
THE FUNERAL OF TO-DAY
Not long ago a New York newspaper devoted a full page in its magazine section to an article called "A King's Mother Buried." The purpose of the article was to reveal forcibly the mockery of some of our elaborate funerals of to-day, and show how they are proportionately no more civilized than those barbarous rituals of the early days. The story is worthy of repetition here.
A certain savage queen was murdered by her son. To convince the people that she had died a natural death, the son made her burial especially elaborate and impressive. First a huge hole was dug in the ground, in which the dead queen was placed in an upright position. Beside her was placed a large jug of water. And into this great hole were placed also ten young girls, who were to be buried alive to accompany the dead queen upon her journey. The hole was then covered with earth, and above it thousands of men were set to fighting each other until the ground was soaked with blood. This was not only to honor the dead queen, but to keep ill-luck away from the king.
You are horrified when you read about this savage burial. You wonder at the superstitious ignorance that allows ten girls to be buried alive, and thousands of young men to be slaughtered, merely in honor of a murdered queen and her brutal son. But considering the knowledge of those savages and our knowledge to-day, their education and our education, we find that we are entitled to no excessive praise. The funerals to-day are often comparatively as ridiculous and uncivilized, though the tendency is certainly toward better things.
To give one specific instance, there is the widow who spends every dollar left her by a departed husband to pay for an elaborate funeral for him. In the eyes of the world, he must be buried "right"; and though it leaves her in debt, she makes an impressive funeral service. Would it not have been more sensible to bury him simply and unostentatiously, preserving a little of the money left her for the necessities of life? It is one of the ironies of life that often more attention and honor are paid to the dead than they ever receive in life.
If we study present-day funerals carefully we will find that they have much in common with those savage burials of other days. It is because we do things merely because others did the same things before us. We have certain beliefs because tradition says they are true, and therefore, no matter how absurd they are, they are right, and we must hold to them with the same fervor of conviction that makes the savage cling to his.
WHEN DEATH ENTERS THE FAMILY
Aside from its psychological aspects—those entailing fear, superstition and the belief in religious and traditional customs—death brings with it heartache and sorrow. To lose a beloved one in death is to be conscious of the intangible something that binds the world together, and upon which all civilization is based. We call it love; and we know that it is the deepest tie of affection—indeed, the deepest emotion—of which human nature is capable.
And so, death brings with it sorrow and misery. Those of us who are most directly concerned can think of no rules of etiquette, no customs of good society, when we are suffering a deep bereavement. We think only of our great loss, and of our great sorrow. That is why it is necessary for us all to know the rules of correct conduct, so that when death does enter our household we will instinctively do what is correct. It is a test like this that shows innate good breeding.
One great rule to remember, for those who come in contact with people who have lost a beloved member of the family, is that sorrow is sacred, and that it is one of the most unforgivable breaches of good behavior to intrude upon it. A note of condolence, or a brief visit is a necessary social duty; but constant intrusion upon grief is as unkind and inconsiderate as it is ill-bred.
The world over, funeral customs have one factor in common: the belief that the dead man has not ceased to live. This belief finds expression in rites and ceremonies. It is for this reason that funeral and mourning practices are highly conventional. Another reason, perhaps, is because death is a shock, and a round of conventional ceremonies alleviates that strained feeling during the period of readjustment.
Thus, the members of the bereaved family should be left as nearly alone to their grief as possible. Nothing in the nature of business should be thrust upon them. A male member of the family should take complete charge; or the immediate duties may be left in the hands of the nearest outside relatives. But whoever does take charge should see that the family is not troubled with the minor details, and that the funeral ceremony is carried out according to the family's preconfided wishes.
The duties of the person, or persons, who take charge are many and varied. The first duty is to see that all the blinds are drawn and that the door-bell is muffled. Proper announcements must be made in the newspapers, pall-bearers must be selected, and the arrangements must be made with the sexton for the funeral itself. The clergyman who is to officiate must be interviewed and all the details concerning services, music and decorations of the church must be determined. Upon the person in charge also rests the duty of seeing that the undertaker does not take advantage of his authority to the extent of making the funeral unduly lavish.
It is within the power of the person who takes charge at a funeral to mitigate considerably the grief of the family. And it is a service that the family will not soon forget.
ANNOUNCING THE DEATH
Modern funeral customs demand a few lines in the newspapers making public announcement of a death. Attendant ceremonies are also included for the benefit of friends and acquaintances of the family. Following is a typical announcement of a death, copied with only a change in names from the newspaper:
Radcliff—At her residence, 410 West Fiftieth Street, Rose Speyer Radcliff, daughter of James and Helen Wilson Speyer, and beloved wife of Robert L. Radcliff. Funeral services in the Chapel of St. Bartholomew's Church, Park Avenue and Fiftieth Street, New York City, on Saturday morning, 11 o'clock. Interment at Waterbury, Conn.
When an announcement of this kind appears in the newspapers all friends and relatives of the family are expected to appear at St. Bartholomew's Church on Saturday morning at 11 o'clock to attend the services. If the words "Funeral private" or "Interment private" are added to the announcement, it is the height of ill-breeding for any except very intimate friends and relatives to be present. Very often the request "Kindly omit flowers," or "Please omit flowers" is added to the announcement of a death. In this event it is still the privilege of a friend to send flowers to some member of the family or to the family as a whole after the funeral ceremony has taken place.
SOME NECESSARY PREPARATIONS
Where there are servants, one should be stationed at the door to receive cards and messages. Otherwise this duty devolves upon the person who is taking charge. The servant should wear a black gown, white collar and cuffs and a white apron and white cap with black ribbons. If a man-servant is stationed at the door he wears a complete black livery.
With the growing taste for privacy and simplicity, many of the foolish demonstrations of grief, expressed in outward display, have been eliminated. It is now a very rare occurrence for the room in which the dead body lies to be filled with wreaths and masses of flowers, for people are beginning to realize that this is a relic of ancient and savage burial customs, and that it is not so much a manifestation of grief as a display of vanity. Of course it is a pretty way of expressing sentiment to send a floral offering to some one who has died; but modern principles of good conduct acclaim it better taste, and certainly more dignified, to express these sentiments of regard in some other way. A short expression of sorrow appearing as a semi-public announcement in the newspaper after the announcement of the death may be offered by a group of friends or business associates but it is not good form for a member of the family of the deceased to insert such an announcement in the papers. Family grief is private; and publicity cheapens it.
The somber crêpe announcing to the world that a death has occurred in the family is also fast becoming a thing of the past. One can easily see in this custom of crêpe-hanging a relic of that custom of ancient Patagonia that required all belongings of the deceased to be painted black. Even the body of the person who died was covered with black paint. The black crêpe of to-day is merely another form of that same custom. Now, instead of the broad black ribbon, a wreath or long sprays of white or lilac flowers are entwined around the flowing ends of white ribbon. This is especially appropriate when the deceased is a young person—man or woman. For a girl of tender years, or for a very young child, a sheaf of white roses or white carnations with white ribbons should be used; roses and violets with a white ribbon, or roses with a black ribbon denote the death of an older unmarried man or woman. The plain crêpe streamers are usually used for married people. Custom still demands this flower-and-ribbon tribute to the dead on the door of his or her residence, but gradually this custom, too, will be relegated to the forgotten things of the past.
THE LADIES OF THE FAMILY
A close friend or relative of the bereaved family should make the necessary purchases for the women members of that family. It is considered bad form for them to be seen abroad before the funeral. A dressmaker should be summoned to the house if orders are to be given for mourning dress.
The duty of writing necessary notes and seeing callers also devolves upon some intimate relative or friend. Notes or letters written in the name of the family are on either black-edged or plain white paper, and signed with the names of the people for whom they are written. Thus, if Mrs. Carr's husband has died, and her cousin is attending to the incident preparations and duties, the notes and letters written for Mrs. Carr would be signed with her name and not the name of the cousin, but with the initials of the cousin beneath the signature.
The ladies of a bereaved family should not see callers, even the most intimate friends, unless they are able to control their grief. It is a source of discomfort to the visitor, as well as to the mourner, to enact a scene of semi-hysteria in the drawing-room. Yet, at a time like this, one can hardly be expected to be in full control of one's emotions. Therefore it is always wise for the women to keep to their rooms until after the funeral.
If a guard of honor is to be appointed, the person in charge should consult the wishes of the immediate family. Those who are asked to serve receive an invitation by note or by messenger, sent either by the head of the family of the deceased or by the person in charge. Relatives are seldom appointed as pall-bearers. A request to serve as pall-bearer should be refused only for the most imperative reasons.
The number and age of the pall-bearers is a matter of taste and not of obligation. But it is considered good form to have six young girls, dressed in white, as the guard of honor for a young girl or woman. They should be selected from among intimate friends. Similarly, six young men are appropriate for a young man who has died; while for an elderly married man, eight gentlemen from among his closest friends and business associates form the usual guard of honor.
The pall-bearers, in the invitation, are told just when they are expected to assemble at the house of the deceased, and they should make it a particular point to be on time. There can be no greater breach of good manners, and in fact no greater unkindness, than to keep a funeral party waiting. If the pall-bearers are to be women, the carriages or cars may be sent for them individually; but as a general rule, pall-bearers are shown to their carriage or car before the door, when the funeral procession begins.
It is customary for all who attend a church funeral to assemble at the church, but this rule does not pertain to the pall-bearers. They are the only ones who accompany the immediate family and relatives from the house. Unless a special request to the contrary has been made, pall-bearers may send flowers if they wish.
DUTIES OF PALL-BEARERS
A prompt answer is necessary upon receipt of an invitation to serve as pall-bearer. Illness or absence from town at the time of the funeral are the only excuses for refusing to accept the invitation. The written answer must be followed by a personal call at the home of the deceased, and cards must be left.
Formerly the duty of the pall-bearer was to carry the cloth or velvet pall that covered the coffin—hence the name. Later the custom developed into a more important duty—the pall-bearers actually carried the casket into and out of the church. This is still done, although now the accepted form is for the pall-bearers to appear solely as a guard of honor for the dead.
In this latter case, they walk before the casket which is carried by the undertaker's or sexton's assistants. They halt before the hearse and stand in silent reverence with heads uncovered, while the casket is being placed into it, and again when it is taken out to be conveyed into the church. They do not enter their cars until the hearse has passed on ahead.
Each pall-bearer should speak a few words of condolence to the members of the bereaved family. However, he must not make obvious efforts to observe this duty, nor must he intrude upon grief. He offers his words of comfort only when it is convenient and when he is brought, by his duties, into the presence of his sorrowing friends. He should be kind, and most of all, tactful. He should not say anything that will cause a fresh outburst of grief.
A few days after the funeral, it is expected that the pall-bearer call and leave his card for the mourners. It is necessary only for him to inquire at the door after the ladies and to leave his card. It is more considerate not to ask to see the members of the family.
THE CHURCH FUNERAL
Because it is closely allied with religion, the funeral ceremony is nearly always conducted at church. Of course this is something entirely dependent upon conditions and personal preferences, but the church funeral is always more dignified and impressive.
The pall-bearers and nearest relatives of the deceased assemble at the house. Otherwise, all who are to attend the funeral assemble at the church. The casket is borne from the house by the undertaker's assistants, the pall-bearers preceding it two-by-two. As soon as the hearse drives off, the pall-bearers enter the carriages or cars immediately behind it, and the relatives follow in the next cars in the order of their relationship.
When the procession is ready to move, the music begins and the casket is borne down the aisle to the altar by the sexton's assistants. Sometimes the pall-bearers carry the casket to the altar.
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
When attending the body of their child, parents walk arm in arm, their other children following immediately behind them in the order of seniority. Pall-bearers invariably precede the casket. A widow attends the body of her husband on the arm of her eldest son or daughter, with her other children just behind. After them come the deceased man's parents, followed by his brothers and sisters. Similarly, a widower follows the body of his wife attended by his eldest son or daughter. Children following the body of their only parent take precedence according to their ages, the elder always leading. A widow who has no children follows her husband on the arm of a brother or other near masculine relative.
During the services at the church, the relatives occupy the front pews on the right of the center aisle. The pall-bearers sit in the opposite pews on the left-hand side. After the services the procession leaves the church in the same order observed upon entering. If prayers are to be offered at the grave, the car of the clergyman follows immediately after the hearse.
Different religions have different burial services, but these are matters of faith rather than of etiquette.
THE HOUSE FUNERAL
A house funeral should always be very simple. Few flowers are used by people of good taste.
At a house funeral, a number of folding-chairs may be provided by the undertaker. The casket is placed on a draped stand at one end of the drawing-room, such flowers as are used being placed on and around it. The room may or may not be darkened according to the wishes of the family. Each guest should be greeted at the door by some representative of the family and shown to a seat in the drawing-room. A row of seats should be reserved near the casket for the immediate family, one being set aside for the clergyman who is to officiate. Though it is not obligatory it is very courteous to send a carriage or an automobile for him. A Protestant clergyman does not expect a fee but if he has come some distance or if the family wishes to express their thanks in that manner they may offer one which he is privileged to accept with perfect propriety.
It is not necessary to appoint pall-bearers for a home funeral. A quiet reserve and dignity should characterize the occasion, and it should be carried out with the greatest amount of expediency possible. If music is desired, the musicians or choristers should be in an adjacent room and the notes should be very low and soft.
Women do not remove their wraps during the ceremony, and men carry their hats in their hands. The women members of the bereaved family enter on the arms of masculine relatives, and if they intend going to the cemetery, they wear their hats and veils. The members of the family, however, do not enter the drawing-room until the clergyman arrives.
After the ceremony the guests quietly disperse, only those remaining who intend going to the cemetery. It is not expected that expressions of sympathy be offered on this occasion; cards are left for the family immediately after the announcement of the death, and a call of condolence is made, according to society's rules, within a week after the funeral. Thus it is superfluous to offer sympathy at the services, unless one is a very dear friend and wishes particularly to do so.
A POINT OF IMPORTANCE
Very often the women of the family, or perhaps just one woman, finds her grief uncontrollable. Even though the funeral is private, and only relatives and close friends are present it is the privilege of the bereaved to keep to her room and find solace in solitude. The world will not censure her for being absent; it is a time when petty conventions may safely be overlooked. When one is grieving, suffering, miserable; and prefers to find peace alone, without the sympathies of others, she has every right in the world to do so. And she is breaking no rules of good conduct, either, for people of good breeding will recognize the depth of her overpowering grief.
Surely it is better to remain away from the services than to go in a state of hysteria. When sorrow is so poignant, private home services are usually held, in which case the immediate members of the family may gather in a room adjoining that in which the guests are assembled. Even in the deepest grief it is possible to remember and observe the great law—"be calm, be silent and serene," and tears do not always mean sorrow, nor loud wailing, grief.
REMOVING SIGNS OF GRIEF
Upon their return from the funeral, the family should find the windows open with the warm sunlight streaming through them and all outward signs of sorrow removed. The ribbon and flowers on the door are generally taken down as soon as the procession leaves.
In the house, all signs of the bereavement should be effaced. The furniture should be placed in its usual order. Everything connected with the funeral must be out of sight. The members of the family should be greeted with nothing, upon their return, that would possibly give cause for fresh sorrow. A considerate friend or relative should stay behind to attend to these details. It is not enough to leave everything in the hands of the undertaker and his assistants.
But even relatives should remember that the bereaved ones will want to be by themselves, and that solitude is often the greatest solace for grief.
SECLUSION DURING MOURNING
For three weeks after a bereavement, women seclude themselves and receive no visitors except their most intimate friends. After this they are expected to be sufficiently resigned to receive the calls of condolence of their friends and acquaintances. They themselves make no visits until six months after the death.
While wearing crêpe veil and crêpe-trimmed gowns, a woman should refrain from taking part in all social gaieties. After the crêpe has been discarded, she may attend concerts, dinners and luncheons, and the theater; but she attends no large social functions or fashionable dinners until at least a year after the date of death. The usual round of social duties, including balls and the opera, are not resumed until colors are once again adopted.
A man does not observe the etiquette of mourning as rigidly as his wife or daughter; but it is necessary to mention here that it is exceedingly bad form for him to resume his active social duties, such as club dinners and entertainments, the theater, calls, small dinners with friends, until at least two months have elapsed. If business permits, he may observe ten days or two weeks of absolute seclusion.
DRESS AT FUNERALS
Those who attend the funeral should not appear in gay or brightly-colored clothes, in deference for the feelings of the sorrowing relatives. Women who wear simple, unrelieved black display an excellent taste although any subdued color is equally good. Gentlemen should wear either complete suits of black, or those of material dark enough to be suited to the solemnity of the occasion. Gray trousers with a black cutaway are permissible. A quiet hat, gloves and necktie are worn. Vivid colors, either on a man or woman, show a disregard for the feeling of the mourners, a lack of respect for oneself, and a distinct ignorance of the laws of good conduct. It is not a gala occasion and levity of any sort is atrociously bad form.
INTERMENT AND CREMATION
Etiquette has nothing to say with regard to the disposal of the body of the deceased. Whether it is to be interred or cremated, whether the casket shall rest in a grave or a vault or a mausoleum or whether the ashes shall be preserved in an urn or scattered upon a well-loved river or hill or upon some other chosen spot is entirely a matter of personal preference.
But etiquette unites with the laws of beauty and refined sentiment in protesting against the erecting of hideous monuments with absurd inscriptions. The purpose of the tombstone is to mark the resting place and to bear the name and the date of the birth and death of the person who lies beneath it. If the life itself has not left a record that will last a marble slab will not do much to perpetuate it. Sometimes there is a special achievement or a mark of distinction which may with propriety be cut into the stone or the family of the deceased may inscribe thereupon an expression of their grief or love; but flowery inscriptions belong to the past and since there are no words that can adequately express the grief of a sorrowing family for one who has died it is perhaps best not to attempt it.
The hour at which the interment is to take place is appointed to suit the convenience of the family. In cities where a multiplicity of duties makes attendance in the daytime difficult it is customary to have evening services, but under all other circumstances the funeral is scheduled to take place during the day.
Grief turns instinctively to the somber garments of mourning for the slight measure of comfort which they give, but modern ideas of enlightened civilization look with disfavor on long crêpe veils and any other form of mourning that is so pronounced as to be ostentatious. Black is very depressing, especially to young children, and a mother, however deep her sorrow because of the death of one of her children should keep this in mind and should, at any rate, not wear black every day. If she likes she may wear mourning when she leaves the house. It is a sort of protection, for strangers and thoughtless friends will not be so likely to make remarks that will wound, if they have the black dress to remind them of the bereavement which the mother has suffered. Under any other circumstances the wearing of colors at home and black abroad is a form of hypocrisy, and is, of course, to be deplored.
Black fabrics for mourning should not have a shiny finish nor should they be trimmed except in the simplest way possible. Serge, cloth, duvetyn, Canton crêpe, pongee, chiffon, and georgette are appropriate but one should avoid velvets and most fur trimmings. The most suitable furs are plain black seal, fox, lynx, etc., though others may be worn. Bright linings are not permissible.
A woman in mourning does not wear jewelry aside from the wedding and engagement rings. Dull bar pins may be used whenever needed and a brooch, plain or set with pearl, may be worn. Dress accessories should be of dull black, purse, gloves, etc. Handkerchiefs may have a black border or they may be pure white.
The length of the mourning period depends upon the tie which existed between the deceased and the bereaved. Except for an elderly woman whose husband has died and who never intends taking off black the longest period is usually two years, the first in deep mourning, the next in "second mourning" during which time gray, lavender, purple and black-and-white may be worn. This may be shortened at discretion to six months of deep mourning followed by six months of semi-mourning or three months of deep mourning and six of half mourning. The change from black to colors should never be so abrupt as to be startling.
A girl does not wear mourning for her fiancé except under extenuating circumstances. If he died on the eve of the wedding it is permissible but if the date for the wedding had not been set or if the engagement had not been announced it is questionable form for her to go into mourning for him. It is a very delicate matter and the final court of appeals is the young lady herself. But she should remember that the garments of mourning are after all only a symbol of grief and she should hesitate a long time before assuming them. Her mourning outfit is like that of a widow and she wears it for the same length of time.
Children should never wear black. Upon the death of a parent they may wear white perhaps relieved by lavender for six months or so. They do not use mourning stationery and they do not carry black bordered handkerchiefs. A girl fifteen or sixteen may wear delicate grays, lavenders, and mixed goods as well as white, but she should not wear black.
There is no iron-clad rule concerning mourning, and one may or may not wear it. Even a widow, a daughter, or a mother is under no compulsion to do so, though to appear in bright colors shortly after the death of a beloved one is certainly an evidence of bad taste.
MOURNING DRESS FOR MEN
The mourning outfit for men is not so pronounced as that for women. A black suit with dull black shoes, black gloves and white linen constitutes first mourning. Many men use only the black band around the coat sleeve. The custom grew out of the English practice of having the servants wear the black band in households that could not afford a complete mourning outfit, and for this reason has met with disfavor among the fastidious in this country. It has this much in its favor: it accomplishes the purpose of full mourning with the added virtue of economy, and when one's life has to be conducted on a frugal scale it is better to wear the simple black band than to spend one's substance foolishly for mourning.
A widower wears mourning for a year or a year and a half while a man grieving for some other relative than his wife may wear mourning a year or six months as he prefers. First mourning consists of a suit of black with white linen, and dull accessories such as shoes, gloves, cuff links, etc. The hat may have a crêpe border but it should not be a very wide one. For second mourning his suit is of gray or black, with gray gloves, white linen, etc. Men should never carry black bordered handkerchiefs. A man wears mourning for a wife, a child, a parent, or a brother or sister the length of time depending upon the strength of the bond which held them together.
White stationery of a good quality is correct for all occasions and mourning is no exception. That which has a narrow black border is good but a border nearly an inch wide is in bad taste. After three months have passed gray stationery is permissible.
Since there are no formal invitations issued during the period of mourning there are no special forms for them. There are, however, in addition to the regular mourning stationery cards acknowledging expressions of sympathy. These may be had from any up-to-date stationer's. They may or may not have the black border. The following is an example of such a card:
Mr. and Mrs. N. C. Graham
thank you for your kind expression of sympathy
during their recent bereavement.
The visiting card may have an unobtrusive border of black. The border on this and on the stationery may be lessened from time to time during the period of mourning or it may remain the same until it is discarded altogether.
ANNOUNCING THE BIRTH OF THE CHILD
When a child is born the mother and father announce the fact to their friends by means of cards. These may be obtained in the prevailing style from any good stationer. Sometimes only one card is sent bearing the names of the parents and that of the child or the word, "Son" or "Daughter" if the name has not been decided upon. Another fashion which has become standard is the use of two cards, one somewhat larger than the ordinary visiting card and attached to it by a tiny white ribbon one very much smaller bearing the name of the infant. There are also dainty and attractive cards specially designed for the occasion. While these are not so formal as the plain white cards they are, when chosen with discrimination, very delightful and almost as personal as a note. Notes are usually sent only to one's most intimate friends.
RESPONDING TO THE ANNOUNCEMENT
Friends of the parents will, of course, hasten to congratulate them upon their good fortune. They may send flowers, magazines, jellies, etc., to the mother and to the youngster some little article pleasing because of its beauty or its utility. Gifts are not necessary, however, and a warm and sincere note expressing one's happiness at the good fortune of the parents is quite sufficient. The note must not be perfunctory. You must remember that the child of your friend is the most wonderful infant that ever came to earth to live (and if your private opinion is to the contrary it is best to keep it private), and that conventional phrases are entirely inadequate. On the other hand it will not do to gush. Simplicity and sincerity are the best means to attain the end desired.
In the old world the selection of godparents is a very important duty and the office of the godfather and the godmother is actual rather than theoretical; but in this country it has a tendency to become a mere form. This should not be the case, for it is a high tribute to a friend to ask him to be the godfather of one's child and it is often an excellent thing for the child. It assures him at least one friend older than himself who has a very special interest in his welfare.
There may be four sponsors, or two, as one chooses, but in America there are usually only two, a godfather and a godmother. Whenever possible they should be asked in person and they should never be asked through a formally engraved card. For the sponsors are always intimate friends of the mother and father or relatives for whom they feel the highest regard. It is the interest of the child that is at stake and this should be taken into consideration by the parents before they make their final selection.
The duties of the godparents are not onerous. They promise always to befriend the child and at the time of the christening they present it with a gift of some sort—jewelry, garments, carriage or toilette accessories. They are present at the baptism, if possible, and accompany the mother and father to the altar. The father and godfather have little to do beyond lending the grace of their presence to the occasion. The godmother carries the infant to the altar, resplendent in his christening robe, and at the proper time hands it to the clergyman. If there are no sponsors the office of the godmother at the church may be filled by the baby's nurse or by the mother herself.
INVITATIONS TO A CHRISTENING
The christening is rarely an elaborate affair and the only guests are relatives and close friends. If it is not too much of a tax on the mother it is very lovely for her to write personal notes to each guest asking him or her to be present at the ceremony. If there is to be a considerable number present engraved cards may be dispatched. Examples of both the formal and the informal invitation are given below:
June 6, 19—
My dear Grace,
The baby is to be christened next Sunday at four o'clock at the Brick Church and both Harry and I are anxious to have you present. I think Harry Jr. would be also if he were old enough to know what it is all about.
Alice F. Duncan.
Mr. and Mrs. Harry T. Duncan
request the pleasure of your company
at the christening of their son
on Sunday afternoon, June 6
at four o'clock
at the Brick Church
A CHURCH CHRISTENING
If the christening is to be an occasion of great formality and elaboration the church should be decorated, not elaborately as for a wedding but simply and prettily with smilax and ferns and delicate white flowers or in some other way that will indicate that the event is for a child and not for an older person.
The child's christening robe should be simple but exquisite. He may be brought in more gracefully if he is carried on a pillow or a porte-bébé.
The mother usually wears a reception gown, hat, and gloves. The women sponsors are similarly dressed while the masculine guests wear the prescribed outfit for afternoon receptions, the cutaway coat, etc., unless the christening takes place in the summer when light flannels may be substituted.
THE HOUSE CHRISTENING
There is very little difference between a christening that takes place at home and one at church. The house should be decorated and a font may be placed in the drawing-room. The mother's gown is less formal than the one she would wear to the church but the other details are practically the same.
AFTER THE BAPTISM
After the ceremony is over and the youngster has been duly admired and sent back to the nursery, there may be a reception or tea or even a dinner or breakfast, according to the time of the christening, for the guests. If the baptism took place at church the guests may drive immediately from there to the home, allowing the automobile containing the mother and father to precede them by a few minutes. If it took place at home matters are simplified, for the guests may pass into another room or the font may be placed to one side.
If there is a breakfast or luncheon served the clergyman who performed the ceremony is invited to be present, and whether or not it is customary to ask a blessing he is requested to pronounce one. He enters the dining-room with the child's grandmother, or if both grandmothers are present, with the elder.
Each person who is invited to the christening is expected to remember the infant with a gift of some sort. In view of the fact that there is usually nothing that he needs and that he is too young to appreciate anything, many people give for the future rather than for the present. Sometimes a friend of the mother will give the infant daughter a silver spoon, adding duplicates each year after on its birthday or at Christmas until they form a complete set. Books which he will appreciate later may be given. Money in the form of gold pieces or checks is most appropriate and is one of the most popular of gifts. Carriage and toilette accessories, jewelry, etc., are, of course, suitable but one should make sure that there is an actual need for them. Most people nowadays live in a limited amount of space with neither a garret nor a cellar to store things in.
"Politeness itself is always the same. The rules of etiquette which are merely the forms in which it finds expression, vary with time and place. A sincere regard for the rights of others, in the smallest matters as well as the largest; genuine kindness of heart; good taste and self command, which are the foundations of good manners, are never out of fashion."
—Samuel R. Wells.
PURPOSE OF THE INTRODUCTION
The days of gallant cavaliers and courteous knights who bowed profusely and doffed their feathered hats to the very ground when introduced to ladies of the court are over. To-day, simplicity is the keynote in introductions—as in everything else. But the significance of those charming introductions of yore remains. We find that the introduction of to-day is still made and acknowledged with a certain measured grace and courtesy of manner. What it lacks in old-time picturesque gallantry it gains in a new friendliness that is in accord with whole-hearted warmth for which the Americans are famous.
Every day, in the social and business worlds alike, there is the constant need of introducing people correctly. But the correct introduction does not consist merely of making two strangers known to each other—perhaps just temporarily. To create an immediate friendliness between two people who have met for the first time, to do away with all hesitancy and embarrassment, to create smooth and pleasant conversation, to make the strangers want to continue their acquaintance—that is the purpose of the correct introduction. And its achievement rests entirely with the man or woman who is the medium of introduction.
A great many people have the mistaken impression that an introduction is meant solely to make two people known to each other for the short time that they are in company together. The correct introduction helps to create friendship—the kind of friendship that lasts. It is not enough to exchange names. It is not enough to present one person to another, and then forget about it completely. The adroit introducer draws the strangers into conversation at once, and leads casually into channels that he, or she, knows are of interest to both.
To introduce people correctly is an art in itself, and like any other art, it requires constant study and practice before one becomes adept.
We have mentioned conversation as being an ideal means of establishing immediate understanding between two strangers—or between a stranger and a group of guests. Let us consider first the best means to employ in creating conversation between two persons who have just been introduced.
Elaborate manner should be avoided. Simple words and phraseology are always most effective, especially when one's manner and tone are sincere. Brevity is also a virtue to be developed in introducing people. If a scientist and a student meet in your home for the first time, the student is presented to the older man. The host or hostess might introduce them in this manner: "Mr. Rogers, let me present Mr. Brown, who is making a study of social science at Pennsylvania University." Naturally, an introduction of this kind would lead directly into a discussion on science—and both men would feel entirely at ease in each other's company.
In introducing a gentleman to a lady, the same rule of mutual interest for creating conversation holds true. The hostess might say, "Miss Murray, allow me to present Mr. Smith, who stopped at the Palms last summer just before you arrived." Of course, the young people would immediately have something to talk about, and there would be no strained feeling of the sort that usually follows in the wake of a poor introduction. Or, if Mr. Smith is an author, and Miss Murray is very fond of reading, the hostess would say, "Miss Murray, I'm sure you will be pleased to meet Mr. Smith, who writes such charming fiction. You remember how much we enjoyed 'The Rose Garden.'"
A great deal depends upon the strangers themselves, whether or not conversation will move forward, but the hostess who has introduced them skilfully has certainly given them a pleasant opening.
WHEN TO INTRODUCE
"To introduce or not to introduce?" has often puzzled men and women of better society. It requires infinite tact, and also a certain keen knowledge of the world, to determine just whom one should and one should not introduce to one's friends.
This does not refer to home or private entertainments where everyone is an invited guest. In this case, the host and hostess make whatever introductions they deem necessary, being sure that a stranger is carefully presented to each guest. When the reception is a large one—a ball, for instance—the roof may serve as an introduction; that is, the guests may take it for granted that everyone present, being an invited guest, has already the endorsement of the hostess. Thus they may address and converse with anyone they choose, without trespassing any laws of good conduct.
If a lady passes two gentlemen, one of whom she knows, both raise their hats and greet her, but no introductions are made. If he stops for a moment—and it must be only for a very brief moment—he does not present his companion. Street introductions are bad form unless the little group joins forces and walks on together.
In the business world, introductions are made whenever a mutual acquaintance or friend is present. Business introductions are governed very largely by diplomacy, although the gentleman will make sure that his business introduction is just as courteous and graceful as his social introduction.
Granting that all your friends and acquaintances are of the very best society, it is quite safe to say that you may introduce two people to each other, or a group of people to one another, whenever you chance to be a mutual friend. Whether or not the acquaintanceship continues depends entirely upon the people who have been introduced. It is certainly better form to introduce two people, even though you are in doubt as to their similarity of character and personality, than to have one of your friends—or several of them—feel slighted. There are few things more unkind and discourteous than to neglect introducing strangers to each other.
IMPORTANCE OF CARE
An awkward or haphazard introduction can not be effective. A common fault seems to be to mumble hurriedly over names—a very bad fault, indeed, as it leaves the strangers in ignorance as to each other's identity. Names should be pronounced carefully and distinctly, leaving no doubt whatever in the minds of those who are being presented to each other. To slur over names in haste or embarrassment, is to create a strained and uncomfortable atmosphere.
As in everything else in good society, ostentation is extremely vulgar. Deep bows, flourishes, and forced phrases have no place in the right sort of presentations. Brief, simple introductions, with a note of sincere cordiality, are certainly more impressive than much elaborate waving of hands and bowing.
It is, of course, an established rule that a man should always be presented to a lady. But the rule does not hold true when a lady is presented to some gentleman of exceptionally high and distinguished position. Thus, if a lady is presented to the President of the United States, or to an ex-President, or prince, duke, or archduke, the gentleman's name is mentioned first. Another exception to the rule is when unmarried ladies are presented to important members of the clergy, such as the bishop or archbishop; here also the gentleman's name is mentioned first.
There is only one great exception to the rule that all unmarried women are presented to matrons: all women, no matter whether they are young unmarried women or elderly matrons, are introduced to the wife of the President of the United States.
There are several exceptions to the rule that all young and unmarried men be presented to older men. First, there is the President of the United States, to whom all men, young and old, are presented. Similarly, a host in his own home is always mentioned first. A member of a royal and reigning family is never presented to anyone unless it is someone of higher royalty; all introductions are made to him. A guest of honor at an entertainment is also given the distinction of having all guests presented to him.
WHEN THE NAME ISN'T HEARD
It very often happens, in making introductions, that one does not quite understand the name murmured by the one who is making the introduction. There is absolutely no reason to become flustered and embarrassed. Simply smile or nod in acknowledgment, and say, "I beg your pardon, I did not catch your name." Or one might say, "I am sorry, but I did not catch the name." Profuse apologies are not good form; in fact, they are entirely out of place, for the fault lies completely with the man or woman who has made the introduction. Address yourself to the stranger, when you wish the name to be repeated, and make your request simply, directly and with calm dignity. Do not show either by haste or embarrassment that you are ill at ease because the name escaped you.
Many times it is the fault of the people who are being introduced that they do not understand the names. They do not listen for them. It is one of the secrets of social success, if there can be anything secret about a thing so obvious, to be able to remember names correctly. People in business realize this and salesmen devote special time to training themselves to remember the names of their customers.
A very bad fault is to attempt to guess at a name when it is not heard distinctly. It is perfectly correct to ask: "Did Mrs. Roberts call you Miss Gray?" But never address the young lady as Miss Gray if you have the least doubt as to whether or not that was the name given. Her name may be Graham, or Grayerson! It is much wiser to ask and be correct, than to guess and be corrected.
THE CORRECT INTRODUCTION
Let us now consider the correct forms for the general introduction. For all ordinary occasions the simple form, "Mrs. Johns, let me present Mr. Brown," is the best. Because it is brief, direct and simple it may be used effectively on almost any occasion. In introducing men to women, the woman's name is invariably spoken first, and the gentleman is presented to her. Several phrases that are quite generally used in social circles are: "Mrs. A, allow me to introduce Mr. B," or "Mrs. A, Mr. B wishes to be presented to you," or "Mrs. A, may I present Mr. B?" Such phrases as "Let me make you acquainted with" and "I want you to shake hands with" are awkward and altogether too casual. They should never be used.
When there is a great difference in the ages of two women, the younger is presented to the elder. Thus, if Mrs. Brown is an elderly matron, and Mrs. Smith is a recent bride, one would say: "Mrs. Brown, let me present Mrs. Smith." An unmarried woman is always presented to a matron in this manner: "Mrs. Brown, may I present Miss Jones?" or "Mrs. Brown, this is Miss Jones." When it is hard to decide which of two married women is older, one may give due reference to both by introducing in this most satisfactory manner: "Mrs. Brown, let me present Mrs. Smith; Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Brown."
Similar distinctions are made in the introducing of two gentlemen. Where there is no difference in age, title or dignity, the introduction may be merely: "Mr. White, Mr. Jones." A young man is presented to an older man, a bachelor to a married man. However, if the bachelor is a venerable old gentleman, a married man is presented to him, in deference to his age. Citizens without official distinction are invariably presented to senators, judges, governors, etc.
When introducing a friend to one's parents it is correct to say, "Mother, may I present Miss Smith?" or "Mother, this is Mr. Jones." The friend is always introduced to the mother first, then to the father. Other relatives are introduced in the order of their age and position in the family.
In presenting a relative whose name is the same as your own it is unnecessary to repeat the name. For instance, "Miss Daniels, do you know my sister, Mildred?" or "Miss Daniels, may I present my brother, Harry?" If the name is different particular pains should be taken to pronounce it. "Miss Daniels, this is my sister, Mrs. Graham." Or, "Miss Daniels, may I present my brother, Mr. Franklin?"
It is considered bad form to interrupt a conversation to introduce a newcomer. Always wait until the conversation has subsided before you venture to present a stranger to a group of people.
The best way to introduce a gentleman to a group of guests is to mention the names only, in this manner: "Mr. Jones—Miss Smith, Miss Roberts, Mr. Frank and Mr. Brown." Or one might say, "Mr. Jones, let me introduce you to——" and then give the names of the guests in the group, being sure to mention the ladies first.
A lady is introduced to a group of people in the same manner. It is indicative of bad taste to conduct a young lady around a large room and introduce her individually to each stranger. Gentlemen should always be taken to her to be presented to her. It is only when the young lady is a débutante or a youthful member of society that she is conducted across a room to be presented to some elderly dowager or to the guest of honor. It is inconsiderate to present any one person to a great number of others all at once. It is not only embarrassing but the task of remembering anyone of the people introduced is hopeless.
THE CHANCE INTRODUCTION
Before we go any further in the correct forms for introductions, we will offer a word of caution that should be carefully heeded. Never introduce people to each other unless you are quite certain that it will be agreeable to both. For instance, if two young women of your acquaintance have been attending the same church for several years and yet do not greet or recognize each other, it may be assumed that they have a reason for remaining strangers. In such a case, an introduction could only be painful to both.
An introduction is not merely a trivial convention—a duty that must be attended to. It is an important ceremony, the very corner-stone of friendship. To be formally introduced is to have a certain demand on one's future good graces and friendliness. Thus, it is bad taste to introduce rashly and indiscriminately.
Assuming that you have no reason to believe that they do not wish to know each other, this is the best form to employ in introducing two young women, both of whom you meet at the same time: "Miss Jones, Miss Smith." This form should invariably be used in making public introductions, at church, the theater, the opera, etc. If the name of one of the young women has been forgotten, one may say, "I'm afraid I have forgotten your name," or "Forgive me, but I cannot recall your name just now." As soon as the required information is given, the introduction may proceed as above.
Some careless hostesses neglect to complete introductions. This causes embarrassment for both, or all, people concerned, and reflects discreditably on the hostess.
Who has not heard the otherwise charming hostess greet a friend cordially in this manner: "Oh, how-do-you-do, my dear! Let me introduce Mrs. Allen, Mrs. Baker and Mr. Carter." The young person who has just arrived can hardly avoid feeling a bit confused, and perhaps a bit slighted. And the people to whom this introduction was made will certainly feel embarrassed when they meet the stranger again and must ask his or her name.
Another type of incomplete introduction is to draw two strangers into conversation by saying casually: "Mrs. Roberts, Mrs. Jones was at the opera last night and heard the same pianist you heard two weeks ago." This is hardly sufficient. The remark should have been either preceded or followed by a bona fide introduction, though the smile and bow of the hostess as she speaks may be so cordial as to remove whatever feeling of constraint there might have been.
The incomplete introduction is careless and unkind. The hostess is unfair to her guests if she does not make each introduction definite and formal, if she does not pronounce clearly the names of both people to be presented to each other.
The indirect introduction is entirely different from the incomplete introduction. The former is often necessary and purposely resorted to; the latter is invariably a mistake or the result of carelessness.
When it is desirable to draw another into conversation, then the hostess may make an indirect introduction to avoid stiffness and constraint. Thus, while conversing with one guest, she may turn to another and say: "Mrs. Blank, Mrs. Smith was just telling us about the famous picture that was brought recently to America. Have you seen it?" The purpose of the hostess will be achieved, for the guest addressed will join the conversation, although there has been no formal introduction.
When two people are brought together in this manner, the question of whether or not they continue their acquaintanceship depends entirely upon themselves. In taking leave of each other, women who have been only semi-introduced may nod or shake hands as they please. It is not necessary to seek out a woman to whom one has been indirectly introduced in order to take leave of her. If the semi-introduction is between a man and woman, the woman must either nod first, or offer her hand first, in leave-taking. It is the sign of her willingness to be formally introduced.
A courteous acknowledgment is essential to every introduction. It is not enough to chant a stilted phrase each time the hostess presents you to a stranger. Parrot-like repetition will make you appear dull and ordinary. But to make gracious, cordial acknowledgments is to gain the immediate sympathy and friendliness of those to whom you have been introduced.
The stiff formal bow is quickly losing all its prestige in the best social circles. In its place is the warm, cordial handclasp, or the friendly smile and inclination of the head. The bow is only acceptable when a stranger is presented to a group of guests. And even then it should consist merely of a nod and genial smile that includes the entire company.
A hostess rises to receive all introductions, and offers her hand both to men and women. But a woman guest retains her place when introduced to a gentleman, or when she is one of a group to whom a woman guest is presented. However, if the stranger is introduced to her individually, she rises in acknowledgment. Other occasions that require the woman of culture to rise are when she is being introduced to the hostess, to an elderly or distinguished gentleman, to a guest of honor, or to an elderly woman.
A gentleman invariably stands when introduced. If the introduction takes place out of doors, he is expected to lift his hat and bow slightly. When introduced to a lady, he must wait until she takes the initiative in offering him her hand. If she does not offer her hand in acknowledgment of the introduction, he may merely nod, lift his hat, and offer a word or two of gracious pleasure at having been introduced to her.
FORMS OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The hostess extends her hand and says cordially, "I am delighted to know you Mrs. Brown," or, "Mrs. Brown, I am most pleased to meet you." "How do you do, Mrs. Brown," is used a great deal.
On being presented to a lady, a gentleman might say, "Delighted to know you, Miss Jones," or "Miss Jones, I am very glad indeed to meet you." The correct form to use when one man is introduced to another is usually, "How do you do?" although a great many men like to use the expression, "I'm very glad to meet you." A young woman introduced to a matron might say, "This is a pleasure indeed, Mrs. Rogers." A gentleman might acknowledge an introduction to a lady by saying, "I am pleased to know you, Mrs. Jones," or simply, "How do you do, Mrs. Jones?" It is not so much a question of what is said as of how it is said.
It happens, sometimes, that a hostess unknowingly will introduce to each other two men, or two women, who have long been on unfriendly terms. To ignore each other completely under such circumstances would be a breach of good conduct, and an embarrassment to everyone concerned. It is certainly wiser, if not more agreeable, to nod as though one were a stranger, and later tactfully avoid the man or woman whose company you do not wish to share.
The acknowledgment to an introduction is important. It is the first impression the stranger gains of you, and it is your duty to make it a good—and lasting one.
It is always best to repeat the name—in fact, the repeating of the name is all that is necessary—since it gives an opportunity for correction if the person to whom the introduction was made misunderstood it. For example, when the hostess says, "Mrs. Davis, let me present Mrs. Raymond," the ladies may bow politely, each murmuring the name of the other.
FUTURE RECOGNITION OF INTRODUCTION
With introductions made as hurriedly and haphazardly as they are to-day, at large receptions and balls, it is often puzzling to determine whether or not one should greet a certain new acquaintance at the next meeting. There are certain definite rules that may be followed with confidence.
It is important to remember that the first intimation of recognition after an introduction must always come from the lady. A gentleman does not offer his hand, nor does he bow or nod to the lady he has met only once before until she has made the first movement. The privilege of continuing or ending the acquaintanceship rests with her.
As a general rule, one bows to all those whom one has met at dinner, luncheon or breakfast. It is also usual to greet those with whom one may have drunk tea at a reception, and with whom one may have played a game of tennis or golf. Incomplete introductions require no future recognition, unless the people introduced desire to cultivate a friendship.
If two people are presented to each other for the second time, polite acknowledgment must be made. It is not necessary, though often it is pleasant, to recall a former introduction, especially if one feels sure that the other will have no difficulty in recollecting the occasion. It is the duty of the gentleman to recall a previous introduction. He may say, "I think I have had the pleasure of meeting Miss Stone last week," or, "Miss Stone and I have already been introduced." If two ladies are presented to each other for the second time, the younger or unmarried one incurs the duty of recalling the first introduction. "I have already met Mrs. Jessup," is a form that may be used on any occasion.
INTRODUCING AT DINNER
At a formal or informal dinner, the host and hostess must make all guests known to one another before leading the company to the table. It is neither graceful nor good form to introduce after the guests are seated.
The secret of correct introduction at dinner is to avoid all obvious efforts to present certain guests to one another. For instance, it is not the best form to interrupt a conversation and draw a young man to another part of the room to present him to a young lady. Nor is it necessary for the hostess to incommode herself by rising, during the course of the dinner, to greet a late-comer and make him known to the other guests. She may merely nod to him, accept his excuse for tardiness with a gracious smile or word of welcome, and retain all introductions until later in the evening when the guests have assembled in the drawing-room.
Sometimes, at a very large formal dinner, it is not possible for the host and hostess to introduce every guest. In this case it is necessary to introduce only the gentlemen and ladies who are to go in together to table. Later, when the ladies gather in the drawing-room, the clever hostess will contrive to make all her guests known to each other; and when the gentlemen join them after their cigars, both host and hostess may adroitly conclude the introductions. However, it is also good form for the host to make his complete introductions while the gentlemen are having their after-dinner smoke and chat, and for the hostess to make her introductions in the drawing-room among the ladies. The gentlemen may then be presented to the ladies during the course of the evening.
If there is a distinguished guest, or a guest of honor, for whom the dinner is given, all guests must be presented to him at some time during the evening. If the introductions cannot be completely achieved before dinner, the host and hostess may continue them when the guests reassemble in the drawing-room.
INTRODUCING AT THE DANCE
When a ball or dance is given in honor of a débutante daughter, or in honor of a visiting guest, the hostess, on receiving her guests, presents them to the honored person who stands at her side. During the course of the dance itself, the host and hostess, as well as the members of their family, make all the introductions they can without inconveniencing either their guests or themselves.
At a private dance the host and hostess must constantly contrive to present gentlemen to ladies, so that there will always be new partners for each dance. If it is a very small dance, the strictly formal introduction is rarely performed; the girls introduce their partners to their particular friends, and the young men present their friends to their partners without asking permission to do so.
At a very large, formal ball or dance, it is good form to ask permission of a lady before presenting a gentleman to her. It is certainly the safest and most satisfactory way, and reflects good taste and courtesy both on the part of the gentleman who wishes to be introduced and the gentleman who is the medium of introduction.
The gentleman who escorts a lady to a dance has a very distinct duty with regard to introductions. He must present to her, at various intervals during the dance, as many of his masculine friends as he feels she would welcome as partners. At a public ball, he invariably asks her permission to make these introductions, as he does also at a very large formal ball. But if the young lady is a friend of long standing, and his own comrades personal friends for whom he can vouch, it is not necessary to request formally the lady's permission before making the introductions.
At public balls, the reception committee presents each guest to the guest of honor. If there is no guest of honor, the committee merely welcomes the guests, and leaves the duty of introduction to chaperons and escorts. Patronesses and reception committees are not obligated in any way to make introductions at subscriptions or public balls, though it often helps to make the affair more pleasant when they take part in presentations.
INTRODUCING AT RECEPTIONS
The hostess of an afternoon or evening reception presents each guest who arrives to the guest of honor or débutante daughter, who stands at her side and receives with her. She may not leave her post at the door to make introductions, but she may present as many guests to one another as is possible without leaving her place.
The wise hostess always has several feminine members of her family to assist her in making guests known to one another. These young women may introduce any strangers in the company. The ladies in charge of the refreshments in the dining room may also speak without introduction to guests of either sex, in order to offer tea, chocolate or bonbons. They are privileged to make introductions whenever it is in their power to do so.
A committee is usually appointed to receive the guests at a public reception. The committee, or part of it, stands by the door to receive each guest formally, and introductions are made merely by having a liveried servant announce the name in a loud, clear voice. The guest bows to the committee, and considers himself introduced. Then the committee may be addressed by the stranger who desires further introductions to other guests. It is important, at these public receptions that the committee in charge perform as nearly as possible the duty of host and hostess.
SPEAKING WITHOUT INTRODUCTION
Some people who pride themselves upon being well-bred make themselves appear actually ludicrous by being highly indignant when addressed by someone to whom they have not been introduced. Surely in this world of good-fellowship and open-hearted friendliness it is ridiculous to seal one's mouth and be aloof, merely because one has not been formally presented!
There is, for instance, the gentleman one sits next to on the steamer deck. A lady, of course, may not on any condition address a gentleman whom she does not know, nor may a gentleman address a lady who is a stranger to him. But when two men are sitting side-by-side on a steamer deck, both glorying in the solemn dignity of the sea, and the wide expanse of sky, it would be petty indeed to refrain from conversation. If a friendship is to be developed later, a formal introduction may be sought; but for the present, though they have never been presented to each other, the men may enjoy a conversation without feeling that they are trespassing beyond the boundaries of etiquette.
Similarly, the lady traveling across country may comment upon the splendid open stretches of country, the hazy impressiveness of the mountains in the distance and the surprising beauty of the train's smoke against the azure sky, to the lady sitting opposite her, even though they have never been introduced. And they may carry on quite a delightful conversation without being formally presented to each other.
There can be nothing quite as shallow as refusing to answer, or answering coldly, the person who addresses you in a spirit of friendliness, merely because there have been no formal introductions. One must have vision enough to see that what is correct in the ballroom would be strained and narrow in the shadow of the huge mountains where men and women of every social standing gather to enjoy the same glorious bigness of things.
It is important for children to be taught early the significance and value of formal introductions. But parents must carefully avoid all suggestion of snobbishness in their young sons and daughters. There is an amusing story related of a certain little English lad who was visiting in America with his father, who happened to be a member of the House of Lords. The youngster had a well developed case of snobbishness.
At an afternoon reception given in honor of his father, the boy was introduced to several young Americans, invited especially for his benefit. During the course of the afternoon, the hostess noticed that he was sitting off to one side, avoiding the other young guests. When she spoke to him about it, and asked him why he didn't join the other young people, he remarked stiffly: "In England, the son of a member of the House of Lords does not associate with commoners!" While the father crimsoned, the little American guests laughed in amusement. And a newspaper correspondent who was present enjoyed the humor of the situation so keenly that he devoted a whole column to it.
A well-bred child introduces his or her small friend to older persons by saying, "Mrs. Thompson, this is my sister Ray," or, "Mother, may I present my schoolmate, Bob, to you?" Children should be taught not to use stilted, unnatural phrases. Their introductions should be easy and natural. A child introducing his young cousin to a friend would say, "Bob, this is my cousin, Ralph." When introduced to an adult, the properly trained child waits for the elder to speak first. If some expression of pleasure at the meeting is made, the child may say, "Thank you, Mrs. Anderson."
A parent would introduce her daughter in this manner: "Mrs. Brown, this is my little daughter Anne," or, "Mrs. Brown, my boy John wishes to be presented to you." Children should be introduced to each other in a casual way for strained introductions cause them to feel ill at ease in one another's company. "Harry, this is John Brown. I am sure you will enjoy hearing all about his new pony," or, "Mary, Bob wants to tell you about something funny that happened at school the other day." The simple expression, "How do you do," is always best for children who are acknowledging introductions.
CORDIALITY IN INTRODUCTIONS
With the passing of the ridiculous half-finger handshake, with the arm extended upward and the wrist bent awkwardly, introductions have become more cordial and sincere. Which is entirely as it should be. Too many people go through the ceremony of an introduction merely as a matter of duty, without realizing its portent in the matter of friendship and future acquaintance.
We have all met the man or woman who nods stiffly in acknowledgment of an introduction, and offers some stereotyped expression of welcome. And we have all met the man or woman who smiles warmly, offers a sincere handclasp, and acknowledges the introduction so cordially that one feels entirely at ease. In the latter case, a brief acquaintance usually ripens into friendship, while in the former instance, one is inclined to forget promptly the one to whom the introduction has been made.
The next time you are introduced to a stranger, smile sincerely, make your handclasp warm and firm, put cordiality into your welcome and see how your new acquaintance responds! The correct introduction alone is not the corner-stone of friendship; but the correct introduction that is also cordial opens the door to friendships that perhaps are sealed to every other effort.
Whether you are making an introduction or acknowledging one, be sure that it is both correct and cordial.
LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION
THE LETTER OF INTRODUCTION
Letters of introduction should be drawn only on relatives, or on very close friends. It is not considered entirely ethical to introduce by a letter an individual of whom the writer knows very little, or toward whom the writer is not especially friendly. It is also scarcely good form to ask for a letter of introduction; the truly cultured person will depend upon the kind impulses of a friend or relative to recognize the need for such presentation.
Care should be exerted in the issuing of these letters. Some people, because they have not sufficient willpower to refuse a direct request, will issue such a letter to a person whom they hardly know, and for whose character they cannot vouch. Thus they are forced to send a private letter to the person to whom the letter of introduction is addressed, explaining that the stranger is really not very well known to them, and that perhaps the hostess had better find out more about him, or her. This always causes an embarrassing and uncomfortable situation; it is always better to refuse frankly, unless one knows the man or woman and is willing to endorse him heartily and sincerely.
A letter of introduction should be brief, concise and free from matters of personal or private interest. If the bearer of the letter is in mourning, or has suffered some recent grief or loss, or if he is the victim of unhappy circumstances or peculiar prejudices, a private letter should be sent to the person to whom the letter is addressed, explaining the situation. This does not hold true when the stranger has some special mission to perform; in this case, the explanation is written directly in the original letter of introduction.
A note of introduction rarely covers more than a page or a page and a half of medium-size note paper, and it should be confined strictly to the presentation of the person in whose behalf it is written. Nothing irrelevant, such as inquiry regarding the health of certain people of mutual acquaintance, or of domestic interest, should be included. The letter is placed in an unsealed envelope.
PRESENTING THE LETTER
Usually letters of introduction are not presented in person, but sent with the card of the man or woman to be introduced. This relieves the ceremony of that awkwardness which usually follows when someone presents a letter of introduction and waits while it is being read. If one does not wish to send it through the mails, the letter may be left with one's card at the door of the one to whom it is addressed.
When the letter of introduction is from a gentleman to a lady, or rather when the letter introduces a gentleman to a lady, he invariably calls in the afternoon and sends up the letter with his card. If the lady is not at home, he may slip the card into the same envelope as the letter, and leave it with the servant to be delivered. A gentleman also calls to present a letter of introduction to a member of his own sex.
A woman who wishes to present a letter of introduction to another woman, calls personally and leaves the letter with her own card, or slips her card into the envelope, seals it, and sends it through the mails. Either method of presentation is correct. However, when the letter is addressed to a gentleman, she does not call, unless it is some very special and unusual occasion, but trusts the letter to the mails for safe delivery.
ACKNOWLEDGING A LETTER OF INTRODUCTION
A letter of introduction requires immediate recognition in some form. Either a call or an invitation should be made within three or four days. If it is impossible to honor a letter of introduction by the usual form of visiting or entertaining then it is absolutely essential that a prompt and adequate explanation should be written to the author and bearer of the letter.
Ordinarily, when the bearer of a letter of introduction is a woman, a call is made within three days. This call is followed by the offer of some hospitality, usually a luncheon or tea. A gentleman calls upon a lady or upon another gentleman as soon as he receives a letter of introduction. But a lady, instead of making a call, sends an invitation to the gentleman who is introduced to her by means of a letter.
Any delay in acknowledging a letter of introduction is uncivil, both to the person who wrote the letter and the one being introduced. If one is invalided, a short note should be written explaining why a call cannot be made, and arranging for a meeting as early as circumstances permit. But to wait a week or two before acknowledging a letter of introduction, and then writing to explain, is to show lack of good breeding and ignorance of the laws of good conduct.
It is a mark of courtesy to write to the person who brought about the acquaintance with a new friend by means of a letter of introduction, thanking him or her for the note that inspired the friendship.
MODEL LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION
A letter of introduction should be simple and to the point. It should also be friendly, cordial and explanatory. It is placed in a single envelope, unsealed, with the full name and address of the person to whom the bearer is introduced. Here are some letters that are offered merely as suggestions. Of course they may be changed and added to, to meet certain conditions:
New Haven, Conn.,
March 4, 19—
My dear Mrs. Brown:
This will introduce to you Miss Rose Johnson of Camden, New Jersey, who intends staying in your charming city during December and January.
I have known Miss Johnson for three years, and feel sure that you will find pleasure in her company.
With warmest personal regards, I am
Margaret F. Dowe.
New York, N.Y.,
April 4, 19—
The bearer of this note, Mr. Robert Duncan, of Chicago, plans to be in your town for two months. Besides being a personal friend of mine, he is the advertising manager of the Goodfield Company in Los Angeles, and knowing as I do how interested you are in advertising, I feel that you would like to know him.
You will find him good company everywhere, I think, for he not only talks entertainingly but he plays tennis and golf and bridge and plays them well. I hope that you will be able to help him enjoy his stay in Madison.
With kindest regards to Mrs. Travers, I am
Oct. 19, 19—
My dear Mrs. Rowell:
It gives me great pleasure to present to you Mr. Raymond Gordon, the bearer of this note, with whom I have been associated in business and socially for many years. Business takes him to Baltimore, where he is an entire stranger. I will personally appreciate any kindness you may show him during his stay there.
Yours most sincerely,
Robert S. Balfour.
THE CARD OF INTRODUCTION
Very often a card of introduction, instead of a letter, is issued. The letter is preferred in the case of special friends, as it conveys a certain courtesy that the strictly formal card lacks. Yet the card is no less powerful an agent in soliciting and securing civilities for a man or woman in a strange town. Its place is in the business rather than the social world, where often it is the means of securing an interview which it would be almost impossible to get without some kind of endorsement.
The card of introduction consists merely of a visiting card with the name of the person to be introduced written above that of the sender. A card so prepared should be placed in a card envelope, left unsealed, and addressed to the person to whom the introduction is to be made. The words which appear at the top of the card are written also at the extreme bottom of the envelope, either below the address or in the left-hand corner.
Here is a typical visiting card, inscribed correctly with the name and address of the medium of introduction, and bearing the correct introduction above the name:
Introducing Miss Rose M. Roberts
Mr. Charles Hanson Morton
28 West 18th St.
The man who values his good name among his business associates will not give letters of introduction indiscriminately. There are no special rules governing such letters in the business world beyond those of the social world. It is very annoying to a busy man to have to interrupt his work to make himself agreeable to all sorts and conditions of men who may come bearing missives which give them entrance. People should remember this in giving letters of introduction and should absolutely refuse unless they feel sure that something of mutual benefit may arise from the meeting. To give a letter of introduction for the same reason that one sometimes buys goods of a persistent agent—to get rid of him—is a very poor way out of the difficulty.
It is permissible to ask for a letter of introduction to a business man if the person from whom it is requested is a good friend and the person who asks for it has an excellent reason for doing so. Of course it is much better when the letter comes as a free-will offering, for there is no possibility of having to meet with a refusal. A refusal to grant a letter should not anger the person who asked for it, and the person who feels compelled to deny the request should give a courteous reason—there is usually such a reason—for doing so.
CALLS AND CALLING CUSTOMS
THE BEGINNING OF SOCIAL CALLS
The origin of the "social" call dates from the Stone Age, when the head of a family used to leave a roughly carved block of stone at the door of another, as an expression of good-will and friendship. The most marked development in calls and visiting is traced among the Orientals, and especially the Chinese. In China, even to-day, the social call is practically a sacred ceremony, and it is only the very lowest coolie who does not pay regular calls upon his friends and neighbors.
It is contrary to the American ideal to develop or encourage highly complicated social ceremonies, and even the most formal call in this country to-day is simply a meeting of good friends. With the rush of modern life and the multitudinous opportunities which it offers for diversion and instruction there is a tendency to neglect one's social calls. It is a great pity, for nothing is quite so precious as one's friends, and was it not Emerson who said, "Go often to the house of thy friend for weeds choke the unused path"?
WHEN CALLS ARE MADE
In the city, formal calls are made between four and six o'clock in the afternoon. Morning calls are considered informal in the city; they are made only to transact business, or by special appointment. Only a very intimate friend is privileged to call in the morning merely for social purposes.
© Brown Bros.
A similar plan of decoration may be used effectively in a much less pretentious home.
Women rarely call in the evening, unless it is a friendly informal visit. Men may make formal evening visits both in the city and country. In the city they may call as early as eight o'clock or as late as half-past nine. It is not in good taste to call very late in the evening, especially in the country where the retiring hour is early. It is perfectly correct for a woman who is at business during the day to pay her calls during the early part of the evening.
Morning calls in the country may be made between half-past ten and one o'clock. Both men and women should observe these hours. It is only in the centers of formal and fashionable society, where luncheon is usually served at one o'clock that morning calls are reserved for occasions of business.
When a call is paid for the purpose of condolence, or of inquiring after a sick friend, no special hour need be observed, as the caller rarely advances beyond the threshold of the front door. Before calling on a friend in a hospital one should ascertain the hours during which visitors are allowed.
THE PROPER LENGTH OF A CALL
Never prolong a call until it becomes a relief to depart—both for you and your hostess. This is not irrelevant, nor is it too severe. There are many people who do not know when to depart, and simply because they are afraid of leaving too early and offending the hostess, they prolong the visit unduly and depend upon gossip and forced conversation to pass the time. It is not good taste to make a call that lasts ten minutes; but it is certainly no better to make one that lasts three hours.
When a first and formal call is paid, fifteen or twenty minutes is the usual time for exchanging civilities, and for making a graceful exit. The ordinary formal call may be extended from a quarter to three-quarters of an hour. A friendly call may be continued an hour, and sometimes an hour and a half.
Calls of inquiry, condolence and information should never be prolonged longer than is required to obtain the information required. Calls of condolence should be made especially short, as it is a mark of inconsideration to force oneself on a hostess who is suffering a recent bereavement.
THE DAY AT HOME
Calls should always be paid on the hostess' day at home, if possible. It is always more complimentary and considerate to observe a day at home than to call on an afternoon when the hostess does not expect you.
In large cities and fashionable circles, it is customary for every hostess to issue at-home cards, giving the day and hour, or just the day, when she will be at home to visitors. These are issued to all her friends and acquaintances and they are expected to make their social calls, calls of congratulation, calls of appreciation—all calls except those that have to do with business—on that afternoon.
Sunday calls are now considered informal. In small towns and country neighborhoods they may be made after church or in the evening, but in large cities formal visits are rarely made on Sunday. Here again men (and business women) enjoy a special privilege; they may make their formal calls any afternoon or evening of the week, Sunday not excepted. Perhaps this is only fair, as the American man, and many of the American women, have their mornings and afternoons completely absorbed by the exactions of their business.
DRESS FOR CALLS
In making business calls a woman should wear street dress of the most simple and conservative type. For her social calls also she should wear street attire, but it need not be so severe as for business purposes. Especially if she is to go by public conveyance she should be careful not to make herself conspicuous by her dress. The hostess is always more or less informally dressed unless her at home takes on the proportions of a reception, in which case she wears an elaborate reception gown.
Men seldom pay calls, and when they do, for the most part, they wear ordinary business suits unless the occasion is one of importance. Formal evening calls require formal evening dress.
PAYING THE FIRST CALL
In the country, all newcomers wait until they are called upon before calling or leaving cards. Formerly, calls were paid only upon those newcomers who were in one's immediate neighborhood, but now motoring has greatly increased the area of visiting. Thus, when a newcomer builds or rents a home within easy motoring distance, one must feel obligated to call and leave cards.
Brides also wait to receive first calls. Neighbors and friends are expected to call and leave cards immediately upon the return from the honeymoon. It is the particular duty of all wedding guests to call promptly as soon as the bride announces her return.
When a lady comes to visit a friend in another town, it is the duty of all friends of the hostess to make the first call. It is also the rule for women who have been entertained in a friend's house in the country to be the first to call on that friend immediately upon her return to town. Where there is no indebtedness of this kind and when two women arrive home from their respective summer vacations at about the same time, it is customary for the younger to make the first call upon the older.
The matter of paying the first call is often a very delicate one. Frequently sensitive people are offended by some unconscious slight on the part of a friend. The following rules will help those who are in doubt, and who are anxious to follow the correct usage, and thus avoid blunders that may result in broken friendships.
An unmarried woman always pays the first call of the season upon a matron. The elder of two women is entitled to the first visit. This same rule holds true among men, when the question of the formal call arises. In large cities, when the recognized winter period for exchanging formal calls opens, very little attention is paid to the matter of the first calls of the season. It is usually dependent upon convenience and inclination of individuals, and upon the settling of an at-home day. Sometimes women who are exceptionally punctilious make their first calls with reference to courtesies extended or received in the foregoing season. Thus, they refer to their calling lists of the preceding winter, in deciding on whom to make the first calls. However, this is entirely in the hands of the individual.
CALLS OF OBLIGATION
There are certain obligatory calls that must be made, if one wishes to be in accord with the laws of etiquette. These are sometimes referred to as "duty calls." For instance, it is essential for all wedding guests, bridesmaids, ushers, and for the best man, maid of honor and matron of honor to call on the bride's mother within three weeks after her daughter's wedding. They must also call upon the bride as soon as she returns from her honeymoon. If the wedding was held at the home of a sister or other relative, the call is made to the lady who acted in the capacity of hostess. The guests at a home wedding, wedding reception or breakfast, are also obligated to call on the bride's mother, and on the bride herself, in due course.
It is distinctly important for all guests, both men and women, at a formal dinner to call upon the hostess within two or, at the most, three weeks after the dinner. This holds true even if the invitation was not accepted. The dinner call should be paid promptly; if a man or woman who has not accepted an invitation to dinner does not call within three weeks, the hostess has every reason to believe that he, or she, does not desire her friendship and hospitality. This same holds true of balls, suppers, parties and receptions. Not to accept an invitation, and not to call, is a gross incivility and reflects upon the good manners of the person who has neglected to make the obligatory call.
Duty calls are necessary after formal luncheons or breakfasts, and after musicales, theater parties, opera parties, garden parties, and after attending a christening. Such a call should be made within the two weeks following the event.
Other obligatory calls are made both before and after a funeral. The first call is merely a matter of card-leaving, unless one is an intimate friend of the bereaved family. After the funeral a call of condolence should be made.
A hostess who follows the laws of good society to the letter, invariably calls on a new acquaintance before offering her any hospitality, or before issuing any invitations to her. Other calls that are a matter of obligation are those of inquiry regarding a friend's health, of congratulation to parents on the birth of a child, and of congratulation to the young lady who has announced her engagement. All these calls are social necessities, and the man or woman who is well-bred never neglects them.
ABOUT RETURNING CALLS
It is of the utmost importance that calls be promptly returned. But perhaps the most exacting of all is the first call. To neglect to return it within two weeks, or three at the most, or to explain by letter why it cannot be returned, is to indicate tacitly that the caller's friendship is not desired. This, of course, is an extremely rude and inconsiderate method to choose, if one really does not desire to cultivate a certain friendship, for there are many gracious and less unkind means to employ.
A bride, or a visitor in a neighborhood, or a newcomer to a town, should not let more than ten days, or at the most two weeks, elapse before returning the civilities of their new neighbors. The first call of a new acquaintance should be just as promptly returned. After the first call is returned, it depends upon the individuals concerned whether a friendship shall be developed, or whether a "calling acquaintance" shall be kept up. (The expression "calling acquaintance" is used to indicate the custom of ladies calling upon each other once or twice during the year as a social duty, rather than as a means of developing friendship.)
When calls are exchanged only once in twelve months it is an indication that only a purely formal acquaintance exists between two people. But when two women are friends, they may exchange calls at intervals of three weeks or a month, and sometimes very dear friends exchange calls every week. However, in this latter case the calls are more or less informal.
Calls of condolence, sympathy, inquiry and congratulation are usually answered by sending cards or brief notes to the callers. Later, on issuing from mourning, or on recovery of health, the calls of condolence and inquiry may be returned, but it is not entirely necessary, and depends largely upon the convenience and individual desire of the person on whom the call was made.
When a hostess is asked to invite the friends of her friends to a reception at her home, she is not obligated to return their "calls of duty." Nor does a woman return any of the calls, formal or informal, of her gentlemen acquaintances. When one woman receives a call from another woman who bears a letter of introduction, a return call must be made promptly, or a letter of explanation written within two weeks after the day of the first call. The same rule is observed between men.
THE CALL OF CONDOLENCE
It should be remembered that no hasty intrusions should ever be made upon grief. It shows lack of good taste and extreme inconsideration.
Only intimate friends of a bereaved family, or of one member of that family, call for any length of time. Others merely leave their cards with cordial inquiries regarding the health and spirits of the members of the family.
They may forward a box of flowers, including their personal card in the box, instead of calling to leave a card in person. But when the formal call of condolence is made, ten days or two weeks after the funeral, the intimate friends of the family should be careful to avoid all subjects that would cause pain to the bereaved ones. They should not, unless gifted with rare tact, make any reference to the death but should rather speak of cheerful things. However, it may be necessary to give some word of sympathy either upon greeting or departure. A tactful way to greet a sorrowing person is to say simply, "I have called to assure you of my sympathy." The subject should then be dropped and other matters discussed.
On departure a word of cheer and sympathy, and a hearty warm hand-clasp go a long way towards helping matters.
Calls of condolence should be brief. It is poor form to remain longer than fifteen minutes, unless one is a particularly intimate friend and able to relieve the intensity of grief by his or her presence. If the person called upon feels the loss so poignantly that he or she cannot be composed, it is far better to leave a cordial note at the door asking to be excused from all callers, than to greet them and cause embarrassment by a display of emotion. Persons in affliction often prefer to be alone, and the intrusion of anyone except their very dearest friends causes fresh grief.
THE CALL OF CONGRATULATION AND INQUIRY
Calls of congratulation are warranted only by intimacy or by friendship of long standing. After the birth of a child, feminine friends of the mother incur the duty of calling upon her and leaving inquiries about her own and her child's health, along with the customary congratulations. Friends of the young lady who announces her engagement are expected to call and offer congratulations. This call is usually made between ten days and two weeks after the announcement is received. Married women who are friends of the young woman's mother also call to make their congratulations.
Calls of inquiry are made during the illness or convalescence of a friend or acquaintance. Sometimes these calls are made after a fire or accident, or after some several financial loss or other disaster. Extreme tact is needed in paying such calls. The call itself assumes no greater proportions than that merely of doorstep card-leaving, yet it is an expression of genuine sympathy and a desire to show that friendship will be continued no matter what happens. The chapter devoted to visiting cards contains several model cards of inquiry that can be used on the various occasions mentioned.
THE SOCIAL CALLS OF MEN
Gentlemen of good society usually devote Sunday afternoons and evenings to their formal visits. Weekday evenings are also often given over to the same purpose. The gentleman who calls upon a lady shows good taste and consideration by selecting her day at home.
A man is expected to make calls of condolence, inquiry and congratulation upon all his intimate friends, men and women. He is also expected to pay a call promptly upon a hostess who has entertained him either at dinner or a dance. However, he may not call again unless he is invited to do so by the hostess. A bachelor residing in a new neighborhood is expected to return all first calls made upon him, but he has the privilege of requesting a sister or woman relative living with him to make the return call in his name.
When introduced to a gentleman by means of a letter of introduction from a mutual friend, it is essential that the recipient return the call within three days. This holds true also if it is a lady who presents the letter of introduction. Gentlemen who are invited to balls, dinners, theater parties, garden parties, etc., are expected to make calls within ten days or two weeks, even though they do not accept the invitation.
THE INVALID'S CALL
An invalid may return calls by sending a daughter or a close friend in her stead. A sister may also make calls for an invalided woman. When a member of society is an invalid, with no daughters or sisters, and with no very intimate friends, she may issue cards or notes through the mails if she wishes to keep up her social activities.
A daughter of an invalid calls upon all her mother's friends, introduces herself, and explains why she is appearing in her mother's place. Or she may just leave her mother's card, with her own name and a word of explanation written above it. The latter method is undoubtedly the most satisfactory.
A person who is invalided temporarily may send cards in answer to the courtesies of friends or she may allow her daughter to assume her social responsibilities. Usually because of the heavy demands which society places upon one she goes back to her round of calls, teas, receptions, etc., gradually rather than all at once. Friends are always considerate under such circumstances and etiquette never exacts more than one can possibly do.
ASKING A NEW ACQUAINTANCE TO CALL
You cannot, except under special conditions, invite people to your home unless you have called on them in formal manner and they have returned the visit. A young woman, and an unmarried woman, wait for an invitation to call from an older woman and matron. It is not advisable for a young woman to ask a gentleman to call until she has met him several times and is quite sure that she wishes to develop his friendship. A woman never calls upon a gentleman except on a business mission, in which case she may not discuss social or domestic topics. A married woman does not leave a card for an unmarried man unless she has been to a reception at his house; then she leaves one of her own cards with one of her husband's.
It is expected of a young matron or of a débutante that she request being permitted to call upon an elderly matron or old lady after the two have met at a watering-place or in the home of a mutual friend, and after having exchanged cards. A gentleman who wishes to call upon a young girl he admires, first asks permission of the lady's mother, being quite certain, of course, that his visit would be agreeable to the young lady herself. To ask permission of the mother is to convey a very distinct compliment to both women, and reflects culture and breeding upon the character of the young man himself.
When asking a gentleman to call it is sufficient to say, "Mother and I will be at home Wednesday at three o'clock, Mr. Blank. I hope you will come to see us," or, "I should be very glad to have you visit me, Mr. Blank. Mother and I are usually at home in the evenings."
In some sections of the country it is customary for the gentleman to ask permission to call upon a young lady, rather than for the young lady to request him to call. He may say, "Miss Blank, I hope I may call on you sometime before very long," or "I would like to call upon you at your home, Miss Blank. May I call some evening when you and your mother are at home?"
THE WOMAN'S BUSINESS CALL
A woman may call on a man only for business purposes. In this case the man is usually her clergyman, editor, lawyer, physician or merchant, and the call is made during office hours.
The woman who is making a business call does not usually send in a visiting card, but merely gives her name to the attendant. She states her business briefly, remembering to avoid all personal, social or domestic topics not essential to the furtherance of the matter in hand. If it is necessary for a woman to call upon a man at his home, she must be accompanied by a male relative, or by a woman older than herself. This holds true only when she is entirely unacquainted with the members of the man's family, and is only acquainted with the man himself through business interests. She does not send up her cards, merely her name, and she makes her visit as short as possible. When a woman calls at a bachelor apartment or at a gentleman's studio it is an unimpeachable law of etiquette that she be correctly chaperoned. Etiquette also bars a woman from visiting a gentleman's club, even for the purpose of seeing her husband.
The lady who has been entertained at the home of a gentleman may drive to his door and send up her card. But she never enters his home for a social visit.
The day at home is devoted exclusively to the receiving and entertaining of callers. This day at home is decided by the hostess at the beginning of the season; one day each week, or one day in every two weeks, is set apart for receiving calls.
The hostess should be ready to receive her first call by a few minutes before three o'clock. She may, if she wishes, specify a certain hour for calling on her at-home card, but if she prefers to leave the hour open, she should be prepared to greet her guests from three o'clock in the afternoon until a little before half-past five.
There are three methods that may be employed in announcing a caller. The method you choose should be governed by what you can afford and by what is most convenient for you. The most formal and effective plan is to have a full-liveried butler at the door to lead each guest to the drawing-room, and then announce his or her name to the hostess. Or a servant may be at the door to offer each visitor a small silver tray, on which to place his or her card. The most simple method is to place a large tray in the hall, preferably on a small table that is conspicuously situated, and into this the cards of the callers may be cast as they pass into the drawing-room. It should be remembered that a maid-servant never announces callers, but only offers them a card-tray and helps them with their wraps.
The caller at an apartment house should first have the hall boy telephone up to the hostess—unless the caller is expected—to know if she is at home. It is not permissible except among very intimate friends to go up unannounced.
The hostess should always prepare some sort of refreshment for her guests on the day at home. In winter, tea or hot chocolate may be served with wafers or cake. Sometimes light sandwiches and bonbons are served on the day at home. In the warm summer months, if calls are made, the visitors may be refreshed with iced tea, chocolate or punch.
DUTIES OF THE HOSTESS
On her day at home, the hostess makes every effort to make her callers feel that she is glad to have them. She rises as each new guest makes his or her appearance, steps forward and offers her hand in greeting. The expressions, "How do you do, Mrs. Brown," and "I am delighted to see you, Mr. Gray," are effective phrases of greeting. It is her important duty to make general introductions, and to give some special attention to each caller as he or she arrives, drawing him into conversation with the others before leaving him to greet another newcomer.
If the rooms are warm, the hostess may invite a feminine caller to remove her wraps, but she must not assume this privilege with the gentleman. She usually serves tea or chocolate herself, but if there are many guests, she may ask one or two friends to assist her. It is poor hospitality to insist upon replenishing a cup of tea after a guest has declined with thanks.
RECEIVING THE CHANCE CALLER
It is not always very convenient to entertain chance callers, especially if one has some important business or appointment to attend to. But when the servant at the door has admitted that her mistress is at home, the hostess should exert every effort to make good the servant's assurance. She must not keep the caller waiting, nor must she ask to be excused after the caller has been admitted. If important business claims her time, she may come to the drawing-room and after welcoming the visitor, explain the situation and ask to be excused. By no means may she send a written or verbal excuse by messenger. Having been admitted, the presence of the hostess is demanded if it is for no other reason than to offer an excuse.
If the hostess has no pressing business duties or appointments to which to attend, it is her duty to afford every hospitality to the chance caller. If the call is made in the afternoon, and if the hostess ordinarily serves tea at that hour, she may serve tea, chocolate or punch with cake or wafers.
When the caller is a gentleman, and the hostess a young lady, it is proper to call one's mother or chaperon into the drawing-room to make the correct introduction, or if the visitor is already known, to welcome him. A young lady who is well-bred does not entertain gentlemen until they have been welcomed by her mother.
When two chance callers arrive at the same time, the hostess is, of course, under obligation to make the necessary introductions.
WHEN THE HOST IS AT HOME
It is not very often that the host is present at his wife's day at home, for the very good reason that business claims all his time during the day. But there is no reason why he should not be present if he desires to and if it is convenient for him.
The duty of any masculine member of a family appearing in the drawing-room on the day at home—whether it be husband, son or brother—is to share in the honors and obligations of the occasion. He will be introduced to those visitors with whom he is not already acquainted, by his wife or sister, as the case may be; and he is expected to assist in entertaining, pass the cups, make introductions, accompany departing guests to the door and join in the conversations.
When it can be arranged it is most delightful for the husband and wife to receive their friends together. For this reason even formal society is lenient with regard to time and Sundays may be utilized for "at homes," teas, or receptions.
TAKING LEAVE OF THE HOSTESS
The hostess is not expected to accompany her departing guests to the door when there are others still in the room to claim her attention. However, it is only a matter of genuine friendliness and politeness to accompany each departing guest as far as the drawing-room door. This rule does not hold true when one of the guests is infirm, or when the hostess is entertaining a very distinguished visitor. But ordinarily, it is all-sufficient to rise when a guest moves to depart, offer one's hand in cordial farewell, and say, "Good afternoon, Miss Cary. So good of you to come," or, "Good-by, Mrs. Blank, I hope to hear some more about that wonderful trip to East India."
The hostess continues to stand until the guest turns to pass out of the room. If the guest is a woman, it is a mark of extreme politeness to remain standing until she has left the room entirely. When all the guests have departed, the hostess usually accompanies the last visitor to the hall door; and if it is a special friend, she is privileged to accompany her to the very street door. However, the hostess must be careful not to extend any special courtesies to an intimate friend while other guests are present, nor may she draw a visitor aside to converse in an undertone about some private or personal affair.
On rising to depart, a caller seeks out the hostess and bids her a formal adieu. Prolonged farewells are not the best taste, for they keep the hostess standing and distracted when there are others who are entitled to her time and attention. As soon as one intimates that he or she wishes to depart, a quick but cordial farewell should be taken and the departure made as soon as possible. To bow oneself out of the drawing-room is a foreign and wholly undemocratic custom which no well-bred man or woman recognizes. A slight inclination of the head, a cordial good-afternoon to the guests, and a formal farewell to the hostess should be followed by immediate leaving of the room.
In apartment houses it is a pretty little attention for the hostess to accompany her guest to the elevator and ring the bell for her. This she should, of course, not do in the event that there are others present to claim her attention.
A gentleman rises from his seat when a woman enters and when she rises to depart. When taking leave of the hostess he waits for her to offer her hand, otherwise he merely bows and offers some word of farewell.
THE EVENING CALL
A gentleman is privileged to make his call in return for a hospitality extended him in the evening. It is considerate of him, when he cannot call in the afternoon, to call on the evening of the hostess' day at home.
When a young man has been asked to call by a young lady, he does not ask to see her alone but requests of the servant at the door that he be announced to the ladies. This is especially important, for it infers that he expects to be presented to the young lady's mother or her chaperon. After he has met her mother, it is entirely proper for him, when calling, to request to see the particular lady for whom the visit is intended.
A gentleman is usually shown into the drawing-room by the servant. He retains his overcoat and gloves until the servant returns to let him know that the young lady will receive him presently; then he divests himself of these garments and either puts them himself in the hall, or entrusts them to the servant. When the lady enters, he rises, steps forward to meet her, and does not resume his seat until she has seated herself.
WHEN GENTLEMEN RECEIVE CALLERS
A lady does not call upon a gentleman unless it is for the purpose of business. Under such conditions, the gentleman rises, finds her a seat and proceeds immediately with the matter of business. No social or domestic topics are introduced. If the interview is to be a short one, or if the man is pressed for time, he may go out to meet the lady in the corridor or outer office and stand while he hears her business.
When a lady is admitted to his private office, a gentleman does not receive her with his hat on, or with his coat off. He refrains from smoking, and gives her his whole attention during the interview. If the telephone rings, he must excuse himself before answering it. He rises when the lady is ready to leave, opens the door for her, and accompanies her to the door or elevator if he wishes to be extremely polite. However, this latter courtesy is necessary only when the visitor is a relative or special friend. A gentleman merely bows when a lady takes her departure, unless she herself offers her hand.
It is quite permissible when certain pressing affairs claim one's attention to request to be excused or postpone the business call until some later date. Or if he wishes her to be brief, the gentleman may courteously request the lady to do so, and he will invariably find that she will be only too willing to comply with his request. But there can be no excuse for the man who insists upon being curt to women who call at his office on matters of business, any more than there is an excuse for lack of gallantry and courtesy in the drawing-room.
A gentleman receives his masculine callers at his home as cordially and with as much hospitality as the lady receives her feminine friends. He must observe all the rules outlined for the hostess. He greets each caller formally, makes all necessary introductions, sees that conversation runs smoothly and pleasantly, and if he wishes, offers refreshments. When he has a mother or sister to help him entertain, he may invite women guests, and then it is his duty to accompany each lady as far as the door and see that her car is in readiness. When the last guest to depart is a gentleman, the host usually goes with him as far as the hall door, and assists him with his coat.
MAKING A CHANCE CALL
Very often a call is returned on some other day than that set apart by the hostess for the day at home. It is not always convenient for friends and acquaintances to observe a certain day at home, but when they call on other days they always are faced with uncertainty. Of course there are some women who do not have a definite day at home, but they may be found at home almost any afternoon.
A woman calling on a friend or acquaintance on no definite day makes some such inquiry as follows of the servant at the door: "Is Mrs. Gray at home?" or, "Are the ladies in this afternoon?" Having received a reply in the negative, the caller leaves her card and departs. There must be no questions as to where the ladies may be, or what time they shall return, unless one is a particularly intimate friend of the entire family.
When the servant announces at the door that her mistress is not at home, it may mean either that she is out of the house entirely or that she is so completely occupied with business that she is not able to entertain. In either case, however, the report of the servant must be taken as final, and it may not be questioned.
We will call it that—these friendly little visits that neighbors make upon each other in smaller towns, or in less fashionable circles. Informal calls. But you may call them friendly calls, if you wish.
In small towns, and especially in the country, women may "drop in" for a chat with their neighbors any time in the afternoon. Even morning calls between ten and one o'clock are permissible. There is nothing formal about these calls. It is not necessary to have a liveried butler at the door to announce the name, nor a small silver tray on which to place the caller's card. Butlers, cards and formalities are all omitted, and the call drops into a delightfully intimate visit.
It would be ridiculous to attempt to set down a definite time limit for these calls. They may be as short as twenty minutes or as long as two hours, depending entirely upon the individuals and the circumstances. Refreshments may or may not be served as one pleases. Formal greetings and farewells are dispensed with, and in their place are cordial "hellos" and "good-bys" that are entirely conducive to good friendship.
If you feel that, because you are not fortunate enough to own a pretentious dwelling and to hire impressive butlers and maid-servants to welcome your guests, you should not make calls and have them returned, you are depriving yourself of a pleasure infinitely greater than all elaborate display and ostentation. Simple, informal calls made for the purpose of creating and developing friendships, and made with a feeling of genuine cordiality and friendliness, are even more gratifying than the stiffly formal social calls.
Do not feel that you are obeying etiquette's decrees when you neglect your friendships merely because your home and facilities do not warrant extensive social intercourse. True etiquette is universal in its appeal and reaches the country-woman in her little cottage as directly as it reaches the stately dowager in her city mansion.
VISITING CARDS—AND OTHERS
YOUR CARD A REPRESENTATIVE OF YOU
An interesting anecdote we have in mind will illustrate better than anything we can say, the importance of the correct card, whether it be in business or social activities.
A rather eccentric gentleman discovered an amazing new commodity for which there had been considerable demand for many years. He became immediately famous. Reporters besieged his home and office in quest of interviews, but the reports in the newspapers were of the vaguest and most indefinite. He shunned publicity, and absolutely refused to see or speak to anyone.
Then a brilliant young chap who knew and understood the eccentricities of the inventor, conceived the idea of having a special card engraved to send in to him. The others laughed at his "foolish idea" as they called it, but he had absolute faith in his plan. He had a neat white card engraved with his name and address, much the same form and size as the ordinary social card. But in the lower left-hand corner, in tiny italics, these words were printed: "Wishes to tell the people the truth about your discovery."
The card went in to the inventor. The reporter was admitted. And his paper boasted headlines and columns of startling facts the next day that no other paper in town had. The very appearance of the card, its neatness and its obvious originality, commanded the attention of the man who hated publicity, and caused him to submit to an interview.
Of course we cannot all have special cards printed for certain occasions. Nor can we be original to the extent that we do not follow the rules of etiquette regarding correct forms for social cards. But we can make our cards so distinctive, so representative of ourselves, that the recipient will find as much pleasure in receiving them as we in offering them. And by distinctive we do not mean the fancy or embellished card, but the one that is strictly in accord with the rules of good usage as outlined in the following paragraphs.
GENERAL RULES REGARDING CARDS
Social and professional cards should be engraved either on copper or steel; plain, readable type should be used. Ornate scripts that are hardly legible should be avoided. Ordinary script type is permissible, but it must not be fancy or comprised wholly of swinging flourishes. A plain letter is always preferable. The ordinary Roman type, or any new modification of it, or Gothic lettering, is always in good taste.
When a large quantity of cards is desired, the copper-plate should be requested, as the greatest number of clear impressions can be taken from it. Requests may also be made of the stationer to use an embossed plate so that the letters stand out in relief. The color should be white or cream. Other colors are in bad taste, although sometimes buff and pale blue cards are used by professional men and women. The stock should be thin; not as thin as paper, but much thinner than that used for other kinds of cards.
Cards are engraved with the owner's name and address, or with the name alone. If it is a professional card, the word "Artist" or "Attorney-at-law" or whatever the profession happens to be may appear in the lower left-hand corner. Military men may also print their rank or position in this corner, as may also professors and others holding a title of distinction.
The engraving of names and addresses should never be in any color but black. Black engraving on a pure white card is the best form for the social card. Gilt letterings are an indication of ignorance, and so are brightly colored engraving or highly tinted paper.
SIZE OF CARDS FOR WOMEN
Each new visiting season brings with it new fashions in cards—fashions that chiefly affect the size of the card. Thus it would hardly be practical to state definitely correct sizes. But we will give here the approximate size for the woman's visiting and social cards, and exact information can be acquired from one's personal stationer or from one of the current magazines which run special departments to take care of matters of this kind.
When a lady's card bears her name only, it should never measure more than two and seven-eighths inches in length and two and one-eighth inches in width. No card should be smaller than two and one-half inches in length and one and seven-eighths inches in width. A double card, on which the names of both mother and daughter or both husband and wife appear, should be about three inches and a half in length, by two and one-half in width. No decorations of any kind should be used on a card.
Polite society at the present time favors pure white, unglazed bristol board about two and two-thirds inches in length by two and one-eighth inches in width.
SIZE AND MATERIAL OF CARDS FOR MEN
It is usual for a man's card to be narrower and the least bit shorter than a woman's. The ordinary size is two and five-eighths inches by one and three-eighths inches, but like the woman's card is subject to change. The stationer will be able to give definite information regarding the size of the man's card at the present time.
A man's card is as severely simple and unadorned as the woman's. No ornamentation, no flourish in the lettering. Just plain, readable type or script engraved in black upon white. The card itself should be of polished, but not glazed, bristol board, the kind that is flexible and thin. Some gentlemen have their cards made of especially thin stock to avoid bulky card cases or waistcoat pockets.
A bachelor may have his home address engraved in the lower right-hand corner of his card, with the name of his favorite club opposite. If he resides entirely at his club, the name is engraved in the lower right-hand corner. It is bad form to have a business address engraved on one's social visiting card. An at-home day is never given on a gentleman's card, but appears in the lower left-hand corner of his wife's card. A bachelor is not expected to devote a definite day to the entertaining of callers unless he is an artist with a studio.
TITLES ON CARDS FOR WOMEN
A woman's visiting card should be engraved solely with her name, address and day at home. Any decorations such as gilded edges, crests or superfluous engravings are an indication of bad taste.
In America a lady never assumes any title other than Mrs. or Miss on her social card. There is only one exception to this rule: a professional woman may use her title of doctor of medicine, etc. In this case, even though she is married, she drops her husband's Christian names and signs herself Marian M. Browning, M.D.
A woman does not share, on her cards, the honorary titles of her husband. For instance, the wife of our president has her cards engraved "Mrs. Warren Gamaliel Harding." The wife of a secretary, judge, general or admiral does not use any title other than Mrs. Even the woman who is a successful physician should not use her title on her social cards, unless, as explained above, she is elderly. It is wise for a woman physician to have two sets of cards, one with her name and title, and with her office hours in the corner, the other with her name alone, and her house address in the corner. A physician's social card should be engraved simply "Miss Marian Mansfield Browning."
It is always better form to give in full the Christian name or names, as well as the surname. It is not tasteful to indicate by an initial only the husband's first name, and engrave his middle name, thus: "Mrs. J. Henry Williams." Both names should be given in full. It is not considered dignified to use abbreviations of a husband's name, as Frank for Francis, Alec for Alexander, Joe for Joseph. Nor should an unmarried woman use such abbreviations of her name as Polly, Sally, Dolly, etc.
The wife who is the senior matron of the senior branch of a family may drop both her husband's first and middle names from her cards, and have them read simply: "Mrs. Robinson." Her eldest unmarried daughter is entitled to use a card reading: "Miss Robinson." When the name is a very ordinary one like Brown or Smith, it is always wiser to use the Christian names to avoid confusion.
A spinster, or as the modern woman likes to call herself, the "bachelor girl," may not use cards engraved merely Miss Gray, unless she is the oldest daughter of a family. She has her cards engraved in either of the three following forms: "Miss Mary Hammond Gray" or "Miss Mary H. Gray" or just "Miss Mary Gray." The first initial should never be used, except when the young lady is known by her middle name, unless professional purposes demand it.
Mrs. John Jay Holmes
12 West Street
Miss Helen Holmes
12 West Street
CARDS FOR WIDOWS
A widow is privileged to retain her husband's Christian name on her card if she wishes, unless her eldest son is married and bears the full name of his deceased father. In this case, of course, there would be confusion, and it is much wiser for her to have her cards engraved with her own Christian and middle names, in this manner: "Mrs. Lucille May Hopkins." If there is no reason for her to drop her husband's Christian and middle names after his death, she may sign herself: "Mrs. Henry Waltam Hopkins."
At the present time, it is good form for the woman who has been divorced to use her maiden surname with the surname of the divorced or deceased husband, dropping all Christian names. Thus a woman whose maiden name was Harris would have her cards engraved "Mrs. Harris Smith" if she is divorced from her husband. The name, even if she resumes her full maiden name, should be prefixed by "Mrs.," never by "Miss." A widow should avoid following the style prescribed for a divorced woman, since it is likely to cause embarrassing ambiguity.
It is fully permissible for a widow to revive her maiden name after several years of widowhood. The divorced woman, however, may not use her maiden name on her cards until there has been a legal annulment of her marriage, in which case, as was stated above, she uses it with the title "Mrs.," not "Miss."
THE YOUNG LADY'S CARD
When a young lady has been formally introduced to society by her mother, she uses for her first year of calls, cards that bear her name below that of her mother. She assumes a private card only when she is no longer a débutante. The joint card, as it is called, should be larger in size than the card her mother ordinarily uses, and the young lady's Christian and middle names should be used unless she is the eldest daughter of the family. A model card appears below:
Mrs. Robert Cole
Miss Jean Evelyn Cole
Tuesdays South Street
When mother and daughter pay calls together, this one card serves for both. But when the daughter makes calls alone, she runs a pencil line lightly through her mother's name—unless, of course, she is merely leaving cards and not making formal calls. The mother does not use the double card when calling alone, unless she is leaving cards for herself and her daughter. Very often the double card, with the name of mother and daughter, is used even after the daughter has emerged from her débutanteship, when both are visiting together. In less formal society the daughter has her own card bearing only her name, with or without title, which she uses whenever the occasion demands it, and in many instances, even when she makes her début she has a card of her own which she uses instead of or in addition to the one which she shares with her mother.
When daughters make their début in society at the same time, the name of the mother appears nearest the top, as before, directly below it is "Miss Cole" for the eldest daughter, and below that "Miss Edna Cole" for her younger sister. The form "The Misses Cole" may also be used when there are two or three daughters. The joint card is used to announce the address and at-home day, at the beginning of the season; but it is also used when the ladies of a family send a wedding gift with their card, when they send flowers to an invalided friend or when they make calls of condolence or congratulation together.
There are several other double, or joint, cards used besides those of the mother and daughter. A motherless girl, living with her father, may couple her name with his. Sisters who have no parents may use a double card with the name of the older engraved above that of the younger, or with the simple inscription, "The Misses Gray." A sister who is unmarried often shares a joint card with a married sister, when they are living together. A chaperon and motherless girl, an aunt and unmarried niece are entitled to use joint cards if they wish.
After her first season, a young lady, when calling alone, uses her own card. However, if her mother is an active hostess who issues her cards every season and receives with her daughters, she does not indicate a day at home on her personal cards. A supply of double cards should always be available when there are daughters in the family, even though they issue their own cards, for many instances arise when the double card is more acceptable than any other.
INDICATING THE DAY AT HOME
The lower left-hand corner of the visiting card is reserved for the day at home. If one day each week—or rather one afternoon from three until six o'clock each week—is devoted to the entertaining of visitors, the word "Fridays" or "Tuesdays" is engraved in the corner. There need be no explanation, no further details, unless the hostess for some reason wishes to state the hours during which she will be receiving, in which case it is quite permissible to add them to the names of the day or days.
Sometimes particular limits are set on the days at home. For instance some hostesses are at home only one afternoon in every second, or every third, week. This requires special wording. For instance, "First and Fourth Wednesdays" or "First Fridays" (meaning first Fridays in the month). One may also set a time limit by having one's cards engraved: "Tuesdays until Lent" or "Mondays until April," or "Wednesdays, December 9—16—23."
THE MARRIED COUPLE'S CARD
The married woman finds many occasions to use the card that is engraved with her husband's and her name. It is never used to announce her day at home, unless he is to receive with her, though she may use it when calling, if she wishes.
The double card for a married couple is larger than the individual card, but just about the size of the double card used for mother and daughter. A model is shown below.
Mr. and Mrs. John Blake
200 West End Avenue
Brides use the joint card when returning calls made upon them after their return from the honeymoon. It is also customary for such a card to be inclosed with a wedding invitation or with an announcement of marriage, to give the united names of the couple with their future address and day at home. If this last plan is not followed, the bride posts, immediately upon her return home, a double card bearing her address and day at home, to all her own and her husband's friends. The double card is then rarely used, except for such occasions as when husband and wife send a gift together, or pay calls of inquiry, condolence or congratulation together.
USING JR. AND SR.
"Jr." is a contraction of the word Junior; "Sr." is a contraction of the word "Senior." These suffixes are not generally used on women's cards, but there are several occasions when they are necessary. There is, for instance, the lady whose husband bearing the same name as his father lives in the same town. Her cards must bear the suffix "Jr." if they are not to be confused with the cards of her mother-in-law.
In this instance, if the mother-in-law were a widow using her husband's full name, it would be necessary for her to add the word "Senior," or its abbreviation, "Sr.," after her name to avoid having it confused with that of her daughter-in-law. The latter would, in this case, omit the "Jr." from her cards. If both women lost their husbands, and both wished to retain the husband's Christian names on their cards, the discriminating "Jr." and "Sr." should be used. These suffixes do not have to be used if the younger widow only retains the Christian names of her husband, and the older woman revives the use of her own Christian and middle names. "Jr." and "Sr." may appear on the cards in their abbreviated forms. Indeed, it is preferable if the name is a long one.
TITLES ON CARDS FOR MEN
A gentleman's card should always bear some distinguishing title. The only time when "Mr." may be omitted, is when "Jr." or "Sr." follows the name, or when some honorary title is conferred. A boy under sixteen may have a card which bears only his name without title.
Undignified abbreviations or contractions of names should never be used on a gentleman's card. The inscription should read: "Mr. Robert W. Blake" or, preferably, "Mr. Robert Walter Blake." Such contractions as "Mr. Bob Blake" or "Mr. R. Walter Blake" are discountenanced by good society. Only the gentleman who represents the head of the senior branch of his family may use a card with his name engraved simply, "Mr. Blake."
Very often a bachelor has his home address engraved in the lower right-hand corner of his card, with the name of his favorite club in the corner opposite. If he resides entirely at his club, its name occupies the place usually reserved on the card for home addresses. An at-home day is never given on a gentleman's card, unless he is an artist and has many friends who are fond of coming to his studio.
In the army, only those men whose ranks are above captain use their military title on their visiting cards. Others use merely the prefix "Mr." Men who are officers of volunteer regiments are not entitled to the use of military titles on their cards, and they should be careful to use only "Mr." before their names. A captain, major, or colonel in the army signifies in the corner of the card whether his command is in the artillery, the infantry, or the cavalry.
A Justice of the Supreme Court has his cards engraved with the title Mr. Justice preceding his name, thus: "Mr. Justice John Emmonds Gary." Lawyers and judges of the lower courts may use only the prefix "Mr." Presidents of colleges, officers of the navy, physicians and clergymen all signify their office, rank or profession on their cards. A physician may have his card engraved in either of these two approved manners: "Dr. Everett Johnson" or "Everett Johnson, M.D." A clergyman who has received his degree does not use the title "Dr.," but has his cards engraved, "Elmer J. Burnham, D.D." Other men with honorary titles follow a similar style.
Members of the cabinet, if they wish, may have their cards formally engraved "The Secretary of State," "The Secretary of War," "The Secretary of the Interior," etc. A senator, however, may use only the prefix "Mr.," having his cards engraved "Mr. Johnson." Of course the president and vice-president, and ambassadors indicate their office and rank on their card, as do also all professors and deans of colleges. A member of the faculty of Yale would have his cards inscribed, "Mr. Walter Beacon Clark, Yale University." Foreign consuls and representatives use only the title "Mr."
Business addresses should never be used on a gentleman's social card. A physician or clergyman need not follow this rule, provided that no office hours are given.
Mr. Robert Livingston
4 West Tenth Street
PROFESSIONAL CARDS FOR MEN
Professional cards and visiting cards should always be kept distinct from each other. The physician who uses his professional card, with business hours engraved on it, for a social call, is committing an irretrievable blunder in etiquette.
A physician has the privilege of choosing either of two forms for his professional card. He may prefix his name with "Dr." or add the initials "M.D." to it. In the lower right-hand corner of the card, his house address is engraved; and in the opposite corner, his office hours. For his social cards, the physician omits the office hours and uses M.D. after his name rather than "Dr." before it.
"Rev." or "Reverend," is the approved title for a clergyman. Cards are engraved: "Reverend Raymond Falke Fleming" or "Rev. Raymond F. Fleming." A clergyman who is entitled to the degree of doctor may use all his titles on his professional cards, but has his social card engraved merely: "Ralph Kendrick Williams, D.D."
Not infrequently it happens that a man has occasion to write his name on a card with his own hand. In this case he does not omit the conventional "Mr.," or his honorary titles, but writes his name identically as it would appear if engraved.
No card should be crowded with a great deal of information but a business card may bear whatever is necessary really to represent the person whose name appears upon it. The salesman or other representative of a large firm has the name of the firm on his business card and the man who is in a highly specialized kind of work such as advertising, may have the word "Advertising" engraved on his card. An agent for a particular kind of commodity may have this fact indicated on his business card. Such details have, of course, absolutely no place on the social card.
CARDS FOR MOURNING
The tradition of edging a card with black in deference to the dead can be traced back to the ancient Patagonians who used black paint to denote the passing of a spirit. They painted their bodies black, if they were near relatives of the deceased, and painted all the belongings of the dead man or woman black. This may not have been so much mourning as it was fear, for these people of long ago were afraid of death, and they used the death-color largely to please the spirit of the one who died. Perhaps the black-bordered mourning cards we use to-day are used more in the spirit of ostentation and display rather than that of mourning.
Unless one is truly sorrowing over the death of some dear one, mourning cards should not be used. When they are used, the borders should be very narrow—never more than one-fourth of an inch. They should not be carried by people who are not in strict mourning garments.
During the first year of widowhood, the mourning card should have a black border one-fourth of an inch deep. The second year the border may be diminished one-sixteenth of an inch; and every six months after that, the same amount may be detracted from the border, until mourning is put off entirely. A widower's card has a border narrower than the widow's in proportion to the size of their respective cards. It, too, is gradually decreased in width until the end of the mourning period.
This graduation, or rather gradual narrowing, of the border is not used in the mourning of a sister's, brother's or parent's death. For these relatives, a border not less than a sixteenth or more than an eighth of an inch in width should be used. Mourning cards should not be assumed for an uncle, aunt or cousin, unless genuine sorrow and heartfelt sympathy are felt. A border that is a sixteenth of an inch in width is sufficient for the complete period of mourning for these latter relatives.
The mourning cards of parents and widows should bear the broadest black borders, but even they must not exceed the conventional width, which is not more than one-fourth of an inch. Very wide, glaring borders denote bad taste on the part of the owner. (See footnote) 
WHEN THE WOMAN GOES A-CALLING
A visiting card is always left on the hall table or on the card tray, if it is not given to the servant. The caller must on no occasion carry it in and present it to her hostess like a billet d'admission. A woman never presents it herself to her hostess.
When the call is made on the hostess' day at home, cards are left on the tray in the hall as each caller passes through to the drawing- or reception-room. If it is the first call of the season, to that particular friend or acquaintance, she places one of her own cards and one of her husband's in the tray. Subsequent calls of the season do not require one of her own cards left each time in the tray; but if the call is made in return for some hospitality or entertainment accorded her and her husband, she leaves two of the latter's cards—provided, only, that the hostess is a married woman.
Until about 1893, women, when paying calls and finding that the hostess was not at home, turned down the left corner of the card towards the center, to indicate that all the women members of the family were included in the call. If the right corner was also turned down, it meant that the visitor came to make a formal call, not for the simple purpose of card-leaving. This custom has been entirely eliminated in America, at any rate, though it still prevails in certain foreign countries. And rightly so, for it is both affected and untidy.
WHEN MORE THAN ONE CARD IS LEFT
A wife beginning her rounds of first calls, leaves two of her husband's cards with one of her own. She repeats this when she comes to congratulate or condole, and when she pays her final calls of the season. It is wise for a wife always to carry a number of her husband's cards in her card case, as she is often called upon to use them for such social occasions that the busy business man is loath to attend.
If a wife calls upon a friend who is entertaining for a friend or relative and the invitation included her husband, she leaves three of his cards with one of her own if the hostess is a married woman, two of his and one of hers if she is single. She never leaves one of her husband's cards for an unmarried daughter. She should not use the card bearing both her name and that of her husband but should use two separate cards when it is in connection with social calls.
Etiquette does not permit a woman to leave a card for a man. She may call on a man only for the purpose of business, and then she uses her business cards, if she has them, instead of her social ones. A married woman calling upon a single woman who is the hostess and mistress of her own home, leaves one of her own cards and one of her husband's, or the joint card which is engraved, "Mr. and Mrs. William Allan Beckford." In many instances it may seem more courteous to leave more than one card, but a woman calling alone should never leave more than three. It has not been many years since she was almost compelled to leave half a dozen or more but common sense intervened and this custom like most others has been simplified.
SOME MORE POINTS ABOUT CALLS AND CARDS
A young lady during her first year in society may leave her name on the same card with her mother's. If there are two débutante daughters, the joint card is made to suffice for all three. If a young lady using separate cards calls on a friend's day at home, she may put two cards into the tray on entering, if the hostess is receiving with a friend or daughter, or she may leave only one card, if she prefers. This is done only when the call is the first of the season, or when it is in return for some entertainment. Otherwise, if the young lady is a frequent visitor to the house, and calls on her friend's day at home, she need not leave her card.
Neither a matron nor a young lady may leave a card for a masculine member of the household. A young lady paying a chance call on a mother and daughters, and being told that the ladies are out, leaves two of her cards. An unmarried woman calling on her married friend leaves but one card. But if this friend has a friend or relative receiving with her, or if she has a daughter or daughters in society, then a card is left for each of the ladies.
An unmarried woman, living with a father or brother, and acting as mistress of the household, has cards left for her as carefully as the matron. A widow must also be given scrupulous attention in the matter of cards.
A young lady who calls after a dance, dinner or theater party leaves a card for the mother of the young friend upon whom she calls. If a mother gives a dance or dinner in honor of her son just returned from college, or just leaving for college, the ladies who attend call afterward only on the hostess and leave their cards for her.
Sometimes, one calls upon a friend or acquaintance at a hotel or inn. If the ladies are out, the caller leaves cards marked for the persons they are intended, in pencil. Otherwise they are likely to go astray, considering the indifference and carelessness of the average servants. It is also customary for both men and women, when paying calls in strange neighborhoods, to write on their cards their temporary address. The corner that is opposite that used for the permanent address is devoted to the filling-in of this temporary address.
THE CHANCE CALLS
If a married woman calls in return for some hospitality shown her and her husband, she leaves two of her own cards and two of his. But if it is just a social call, she leaves only her own card. In this latter case, she asks at the door to see the ladies. If she is informed that they are not at home, she gives the card to the maid and departs. On the other hand, if the ladies are at home, the card is placed on the tray in the hall, and the caller goes into the drawing-room to be welcomed by her friends.
If the maid does not know whether or not the ladies are at home, and says she will see, the caller gives her own card and goes into the drawing-room to wait further word from the maid. Should the ladies be out, she leaves two of her husband's cards on the card tray in the hall before leaving. If the ladies are at home, she does not deposit her husband's cards in the tray until her departure.
Very often a lady will call on a very good friend, more for a friendly little talk and for companionship than for social duty. In this case, she is privileged to send up only one card; and leave it behind, whether that lady is out or in, without any other cards.
Frequently, cards are left when there is no intention on the part of the owner to make a call. To return calls made upon one, by persistent card-leaving, is to indicate that one wishes to draw a friendship to a close. It is accomplished merely by leaving a card, on no particular at-home day but simply by chance, and by making no inquiries of the servant. One says to a servant, "Please forward these cards to Miss Adams" or, "These cards are for Mr. and Mrs. Blakelock."
There are several exceptions—several occasions when cards may be left without a formal call and still indicate no desire to terminate an acquaintanceship. It is only persistent card-leaving that is indicative of this latter. A lady in mourning, for instance, is privileged to leave her cards only in return for invitations she may have received. It is proper for people in mourning to leave cards for all those persons who called after the burial to leave cards of condolence; these return cards are usually black-bordered, and they are left about one month after the funeral.
Another custom that remains unchanged through the constant evolution of social culture, is that of leaving cards for the bride's mother when invitations to the church ceremony only are received, and when the bride's mother is a stranger to the person invited. Upon receiving the announcement of a wedding, the proper thing to do is to leave cards for the bride's mother, even though she is a total stranger.
Cards must be left by each guest for the lady who has entertained a club, charity or literary organization, at her home. They serve the same purpose as cards that are left after an entertainment or hospitality on the part of the hostess.
The custom of card-leaving without a call is also observed when a friend or acquaintance goes to a home that has been visited by death.
SHOULD A STRANGER LEAVE CARDS?
The question has often been asked, whether or not a man or woman being entertained by friends, is obligated to leave cards when they accompany those friends on calls. There are certain varying conditions that govern the answer to this question.
The stranger is invited to accompany the caller primarily as a matter of convenience. If the person visited is not at home, no question of card-leaving is involved—only the friend leaves cards and not the stranger. But if the hostess is found at home, and if the stranger intends to spend at least two weeks in the neighborhood, it is necessary for him, or her, to leave cards. It is not necessary for the stranger to leave cards when the visit in the neighborhood is to be a short one, and the call is entirely a matter of convenience. If no card is left, the hostess will understand that no call is expected in return, and that the stranger expects no invitations to the coming social activities in the neighborhood.
Sometimes a man or woman accompanies a friend or relative to the home of a stranger, for the purpose, previously arranged, of being introduced and paying a first call. Here the etiquette of card-leaving is clearly defined. If the call is made on the day at home, the caller leaves his or her cards on the hall table, just as for any other first call. But if it happens to be a chance call, and the hostess is not at home, the stranger leaves cards with those of a friend.
When two women pay a chance call together, and one is a perfect stranger at the house visited, no question of card etiquette arises if the hostess is not at home. But if she is at home, the stranger may pencil his or her name on the card that the friend sends up. No card is left by this stranger, unless he has been cordially entertained in the hostess' drawing-room, served with tea, and unless the hostess has expressed a desire of meeting him, or her, again. In this case, a card is left when the stranger is departing, and a return call is expected.
CARDS AND BUSINESS CALLS
The laws of social calling and card-leaving do not hold true when a business call is made. A special set of rules takes care of all business calls that the woman may make.
The usage which governs the woman who is calling upon a man on a matter of business has already been described. She does not send in her card. To give her name to the attendant, stating her business, or to write both on a slip of paper provided for the purpose, is sufficient.
If the business call is made on a woman who is a stranger to the other woman who is making the call, it is necessary to send in one card, inscribed with the name of the caller and a few penciled words regarding the nature of the business. Or the card may be sent in with a brief word to the servant regarding the purpose of the call.
Two women who are on charity committees, or other committees, together, who are social equals but who do not exchange cards and calls, have a special card etiquette to follow when calling upon each other regarding matters of mutual interest on the committee. The caller sends up one of her own personal cards with a word or two explaining the object of the call. This card is left with the servant to give to the hostess if she is not at home.
WHEN A MAN LEAVES CARDS
All the rules of card-leaving outlined for the woman who follows the dictates of social calling, may be applied to the well-bred young man—but with the following exceptions:
A man never leaves the cards of any other man, nor does he assume any of the card-leaving duties incurred by the feminine members of his family. When calling on a lady's afternoon at home, the gentleman leaves one card for the hostess and one for the host on the card tray, on entering the house. Whether the host is at home or not, if the caller is acquainted with him, he must leave one of his cards for him, provided that the call is being made in return for some hospitality enjoyed. If there is a young daughter in the family with whom the caller is acquainted, a third card must be left.
A young man, calling at the home of a young lady, asks to see the ladies, meaning the mother or chaperon as well as the particular young lady herself. No well-mannered young man asks to see only one lady, when there are several others in the house. If the ladies are out, he may leave a sufficient number of cards for all of them, including one for the host or he may leave one card without explanation. If the ladies are in, he still leaves a card for the host on the hall table when he is departing.
When making his first or last call of the season, a man may leave one card for each one of the ladies and each one of the men of the household with whom he is acquainted. This holds true only when the call is made on the day at home, or on a Sunday afternoon or evening. The man who calls on a lady's day at home, and whose call has no reference to any social debts or obligations, leaves only one card—and if he is an intimate friend of the house where the call is made, he leaves no cards at all.
Men's social calls are few. Business affairs require most of their time, and the duty of card-leaving is generally given into the hands of a feminine relative—either mother, sister or wife. Married men invariably entrust their formal social duties to their wives, but single men must not take advantage of this privilege. It is all very well for a mother or sister to leave the cards of a son or brother who is busy at his office on the hostesses whose hospitality they enjoyed together. But when a young man is entertained by a hostess who is not on his mother's or sister's visiting list, it is very important for him to make his return calls in person. This is especially true in regard to dinner and ball hospitalities—they require immediate and cordial reciprocation in the matter of calls and card-leaving.
THE MAN'S CHANCE CALL
Unless the ladies are in the drawing-room, ready to receive, a man, upon making a chance call, sends up his card or cards to the people he wishes to see. If the servant who opens the door does not know whether or not the ladies are at home, or if she says that they are at home but not downstairs, the caller places his cards on the tray and waits in the drawing-room for the return of the servant.
If the call is made after a ball, dinner or theater party, and the young man is calling on the young ladies of the household, he sends up a card for each young lady, and also one for the mother or chaperon. If the call is made for the express purpose of seeing one particular young lady, a card must be sent up for her and for her mother or chaperon. Two cards are also required when a man calls upon a married couple, in whose name he has received some hospitality. He sends up one card for each.
After having called several times at a certain house, obviously for the purpose of seeing a young lady of the family and enjoying her society, it is no longer necessary to include the chaperon in the ceremony of card-leaving.  (See footnote.) One may send a card up only to the lady one wishes to see.
ABOUT LEAVING AND POSTING CARDS
When an invalid, elderly lady or woman in deep mourning desires to repay by some courtesy, calls made upon her or invitations received, she may leave cards at a door instead of paying a personal call, or sending them by post or messenger. A very busy hostess may employ the same means of returning a dinner call or first call that she owes a friend or acquaintance, especially if she is desirous of extending an invitation. Instead of leaving the card, she may even, for lack of time and opportunity, post it with an engraved or written invitation.
A man or woman unable to accept an invitation, extended by a hostess to whom he or she is a stranger, is obligated to leave cards within two weeks after the entertainment. Similarly, the guests, men and women, invited to the ceremony of a church wedding, leave cards for the bride's mother within two weeks after the wedding. Even though one is a stranger to the mother, this card must be left as a matter of courtesy and social obligation. People who receive cards announcing a marriage are also expected to leave cards for the mother of the bride. A friend of the groom who is a stranger to the bride and her family, and who finds that he is unable to attend the ceremony to which he has been invited, need not pay a call, but must leave a card for the bride's mother a week or two after the wedding.
Other occasions requiring card-leaving are those inquiries regarding the health and condition of a friend; sympathy and good feeling in the event of some misfortune; condolence; congratulation; and upon announcing a prolonged absence from, or a reëntrance into, society. A change of address is also usually made known by means of card-leaving.
© Brown Bros.
In a simple church such as the one pictured above the ribbon at the end of the pews may be omitted]
If one is invited to an afternoon or evening reception, and finds it impossible to attend, cards should be sent either by mail or messenger, so that they reach the hostess on the day of her entertainment. If the cards are sent by hand or by post, they should be enclosed in a card envelope, sealed, and addressed to the host and hostess—provided, of course, that both of their names appear on the invitation. If the affair is in honor of some special person a card is left for or sent to that person in addition to the one for the hostess.
If posted cards of regret are sent by a single woman, she includes one for the débutante or for the guest of honor, in addition to the one enclosed for the hostess. The married woman adds to these two, three more of her husband's. A single man, under the same circumstances, sends three of his cards if the reception is given in honor of a débutante or a guest of honor (masculine or feminine), and if the invitation was issued in the name of a host and hostess.
One may send cards of inquiry, congratulation and condolence by post or messenger, only if one is indisposed, invalided, or inconveniently situated at a great distance from the persons addressed. It is always better form to pay these calls in person, and leave the cards oneself. However, the cards of inquiry, congratulation and condolence may all be acknowledged by post or messenger, as one desires.
LEAVING CARDS OF INQUIRY
On one's card, the words "To inquire" or "May you recover rapidly" may be penciled when a call of inquiry regarding the health of a friend is made. During a long illness, calls by friends and acquaintances who have been in the habit of making social calls, should be made at least three times a week. By these "calls," you understand, we mean mere calls of inquiry when the card is left by the door and the patient is not seen personally.
Card-leaving for inquiry, condolence and congratulation is invariably made in person. Before a funeral, an engraved card with a word or two of regret penciled on the right side, may be entrusted to the servant. When husbands and wives call separately or together, they leave their own individual cards. In cases of this kind, they do not leave cards for each other. But when a married couple calls to offer sympathy for the loss of a daughter or son, two of the husband's and one of the wife's cards are left. Only one card each is left for a widow, as for a widower also. Cards left for orphaned children are meant for the oldest, who now represents the head of the family.
About two weeks after a funeral, cards are left with the mourning family, unless a special call of condolence is made. In this case, the cards are left just as though it were a social call being made. Black-bordered cards are never used except by people who are themselves in mourning. A matron may leave cards for her entire family, and a sister may fulfill the duty for a busy brother.
It is neither complimentary nor genuinely courteous to post a card to inquire after a friend or acquaintance who is ill. It should be left at the door in person, after asking news of the invalid's condition. A word of cheer or inquiry may be penciled below the caller's name, engraved on the card.
Calls of inquiry, condolence and the like are made without reference to social indebtedness, but in all other cases except among intimate friends, the convention of alternating calls should be adhered to.
ACKNOWLEDGING CALLS OF INQUIRY AND CONDOLENCE
A large, square card in plain white or with a black border, inscribed as follows, is ideal to send to those people who called to offer sympathy and condolence during a bereavement, posted two weeks after the funeral:
Mrs. Robert Guy Mannering and Family
your kind expression of sympathy
upon the death of their
husband and father
Robert Guy Mannering.
Another acceptable form frequently used to acknowledge calls of condolence before and after a funeral, is:
The family of the late John Ray
acknowledge with sincere appreciation
your kind sympathy.
The name "John Ray" may appear on the second line by itself, or it may be part of the first line as shown above, entirely according to taste or the prevalent popular custom. The address of the bereaved family should appear towards the bottom of the card, slightly to the left. It is always better form to have it printed in italics.
Invalids, to express gratitude for the courtesies shown them by friends, write or dictate notes of thanks immediately upon becoming well again. Often a popular hostess will receive a vast number of solicitous cards and notes of inquiry during an illness, and it will be necessary for her in her still weakened state, to trust to the mails to thank the friends and acquaintances who inquired for her. She may send her ordinary visiting card, with the words, "Thank you for your kind inquiries" or others to that effect, written across it. "Thanks" should never be used instead of "Thank you." Its brevity carries a suggestion of discourtesy.
At the present time, the vogue of sending out cards announcing a death in the family, has been almost entirely discontinued in better society. Instead, an announcement is inserted in the newspapers, giving particulars about the death and also the day of the funeral. It is by far a more satisfactory method. A typical newspaper announcement follows:
Cole.—At Whitehouse, N.J., on February 23, 1921, Rose Emily, beloved wife of Robert M. Cole, succumbed to pneumonia. Services at Chapel, Albany Rural Cemetery, Saturday, February 26, at 3 P.M.
When a betrothal takes place, announcement cards are sometimes sent out, but it is not necessary to have specially engraved cards. As a rule, the mother of the happy young bride writes notes to intimate friends and acquaintances, or inscribes the news on her visiting cards and posts them to those of her friends with whom both she and her daughter are most intimate.
Weddings are usually announced by means of engraved cards. The correct form for these is given elsewhere. Engraved cards also announce the birth of a child. For this, one may have a tiny white card engraved with the baby's name, and attached to the mother's card with a narrow white satin ribbon. It is posted to all friends and acquaintances. In lieu of an address, which appears on mother's card, baby's card bears the date of the birth in the lower right-hand corner. The joint card of the father and mother may be used to announce the birth of a child, the full name of the infant being engraved in small letters above the names of its parents.
The card announcing the birth of a child is sent by mail. Immediately upon its receipt, friends and acquaintances make calls to inquire after the health of mother and child, and to leave cards for both. When one is prevented from calling—and there should always be sufficient reason for not calling—one may respond to the card of announcement by posting one's own card to the mother, with congratulations penciled above the name. Acknowledgment of some kind must be made promptly.
To the man or woman who travels, those tiny bits of bristol board are important factors in keeping him or her in touch with the home social life left behind. When one arrives at a strange place, perhaps thousands of miles from a friend, and one intends to remain there for several weeks—or months—one's visiting cards posted to all friends and acquaintances, and bearing one's temporary address, ties one to home in a particularly pleasing way. Letters follow in their wake. News of social activities reach one. And one begins to feel that after all, this strange land is not so distant!
And so, if you travel, remember that as soon as you reach a place where you intend to stop for a short while, send out visiting cards to all your friends, relatives and acquaintances, and let them know your temporary address. It may be written in pencil or ink above the home address. When you change your address permanently, be sure that all your friends and acquaintances know of the change. For this purpose, the old visiting cards are the best to use; they may be sent with a line drawn through the old address, and the new written above it.
A man stopping at a hotel for a week or two, and desirous of letting his friends in the vicinity know of his whereabouts, posts his cards bearing the temporary address, to all his masculine friends, and calls and leaves his card upon the women he wishes to see. A woman stopping at a hotel or resort, posts her visiting cards, with the temporary address above her home address, to all whose attention she wishes to claim,—men and women.
Pour prendre congé, it means, a French expression translated to read, "To take leave." And it is used in connection with those last-day visits before one sails for Europe, or starts on a long trip to some distant place.
The ordinary visiting card is used, with the letters P.P.C. written in pencil or ink in one corner, indicating the departure and so differentiating it from other cards. Cards so inscribed are posted to, or left with, all friends and acquaintances, a day or two before setting out on the voyage. No acknowledgment is necessary as they are courtesy-cards with no relation whatever to one's social debts and dues.
P.P.C. cards are always necessary before an extended departure, but they are particularly so when one owes calls in return for hospitality, or calls in return for first calls. If there is very little time, and a great many calls to be attended to, it is entirely correct in this case to drive from house to house, leaving the cards with the servant who opens the door. The cards may even be posted a day before the departure, if time is very much limited.
It is not usual for P.P.C. cards to be distributed at the end of the season, when members of society make their regular change of residence. As explained under the head "When Traveling," a visiting card may be sent to one's friends and acquaintances, bearing the temporary address above the permanent home address. Thus the P.P.C. card would not be especially necessary.
There seems to be a tendency for widows to use, the first year of their mourning, cards that have borders measuring one-third of an inch in width. Certainly if one is in deep mourning, and genuinely sorrowing, a border of this width is permissible. But the one-quarter inch border, varying down to one-sixteenth of an inch, is always preferred, always in better taste.
Chaperon being to-day a practically obsolete term, we use it here to signify the parent or guardian most directly concerned with the social welfare of the young lady.
SOME GENERAL RULES
No matter how informal, an invitation should always be acknowledged within a week of its receipt. It should be a definite acknowledgment—either an acceptance or refusal—and no doubt should be left as to whether the writer intends to be present or not. An invitation must always be answered in kind; that is, a formal invitation requires a formal reply, following closely the wording of the invitation. The informal invitation should be cordial enough to warrant a cordial and friendly reply; both invitation and acknowledgment should be free of all stilted phrasing.
Formal invitations for evening affairs should be addressed to husband and wife, omitting neither one nor the other. (The exception to this rule is the "stag" or its feminine equivalent.) If there is only one daughter in the family, she may be included in the invitation, but when there are two or more daughters to be invited, a separate invitation addressed to The Misses Brown is essential. Invitations sent to the masculine members of a family, other than the husband, are sent individually.
Invitations sent to a husband and wife are acknowledged in the names of both. If a daughter is included, her name is also added to the acknowledgment. The wife usually answers the invitation, and although it was sent in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Blank, she sends her acknowledgment to Mrs. Blank alone.
An invitation may never be acknowledged on any kind of a visiting card, although a visiting card may be used in an invitation. For very large, formal functions, invitations are always engraved. A young girl does not issue invitations to men in her own name, but in that of her mother or guardian. She should say in her invitations that her mother, Mrs. Blank, desires her to extend the invitation to Mr. Brown, etc.
In replying to invitations, explicit details must be given. The day of week, date and hour should be quoted, copying from the invitation, so that any discrepancy made in the invitation will be noted and corrected by the hostess when she receives the acknowledgment. This does away with any possibility of such embarrassing blunders as calling on the wrong day or at the wrong hour.
Only the most informal invitation should be given by telephone, by word of mouth or orally by a messenger, but every invitation should be either declined courteously or accepted with enthusiasm promptly.
INVITATION TO A FORMAL DANCE
The word "dancing" is usually placed in the lower left-hand corner of the invitation to denote the object of the evening's gathering; thus no specific mention that the entertainment is to be a ball is necessary.
Following are the most approved forms of invitations used for the very formal balls:
Mr. and Mrs. James Kilgore
request the pleasure of your company
on Thursday evening, January the tenth
at nine o'clock
Mr. and Mrs. James Kilgore
request the pleasure of
company, at a costume dance
to be given at their home
on Thursday, January the twenty-sixth
at eleven o' clock
Costume de Rigueur 14 Main Street
The words, "Please reply," may be added although they should be unnecessary since every person of good breeding will reply immediately to such an invitation whether he intends to accept or refuse.
ACCEPTING THE INVITATION
When the invitation to a dance bears a request for a reply, a prompt answer should be sent. If the invitation itself is in the third person, the reply should follow the same form. For a formal ball, an acceptance or regret should be mailed within forty-eight hours after receipt of the invitation. Here are the correct forms for the invitations above:
Mr. and Mrs. John Harris
accept with pleasure
Mr. and Mrs. James Kilgore's
kind invitation to be present
on Thursday evening, January the tenth
at nine o'clock
148 Grand Boulevard
Mr. and Mrs. John Harris
regret exceedingly that they
are unable to accept
Mr. and Mrs. James Kilgore's
kind invitation to a costume dance
to be given at their home.
When the acknowledgment is a regret, it is not necessary to repeat the date and hour for the obvious reason that as long as one is not going, it makes no difference whether or not the details of time are correct.
FOR THE INFORMAL DANCE
When the dance is a small and less formal affair, a short note is used, though the more punctilious social usage frowns upon the employment of visiting cards for such purposes. Following is the correct visiting card for informal dance purposes:
Mr. and Mrs. Harold Champ
Dancing at Ten 432 Maple Street
April the Fifth
The acknowledgment should be hand-written on white note paper, and couched in a cordial, informal manner.
THE DINNER DANCE
The dinner dance seems to be one of society's most favored functions. For this affair it is necessary for the hostess to issue two sets of invitations; one set to the people she wishes to entertain at dinner, and one to those whom she wishes to invite for the dancing only. The dinner invitation would be the regular engraved dinner card with the words "Dancing at ten" written in the lower left-hand corner. The dance invitations would be her regular at-home cards with the words "Dancing at ten" written in the lower left-hand corner.
A very popular method of inviting people to informal dance parties—a method that has won favor among hostesses who are fond of inviting just a few young men and women in to dance and enjoy simple refreshment—is that of using the joint visiting card of herself and her husband and writing in the lower left-hand corner:
Dancing at eleven
April the fourth
This may be written in in ink—and as an invitation the card may be used to take the place of the written invitation or the formal third-person note.
THE DEBUT DANCE
An ordinary dance invitation with the calling card of the débutante included may be used for the occasion of introducing the début daughter to society. A more strictly formal form follows:
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wendover
request the pleasure
of introducing their daughter
on Tuesday, May the third
at eight o'clock
10 Merril Parkway
INVITATIONS FOR THE SUBSCRIPTION DANCE
Following is the correct invitation to use when the subscription dance is held in the drawing-room of a hotel. It should be engraved in script upon large white letter sheets:
The pleasure of
company is requested at the
at the Richelieu Hotel
on Friday evening, April the tenth
from nine until one o'clock.
Mrs. Johnson Mrs. Meredith
Mrs. Mooers Mrs. Thompson
With the invitation above, "vouchers" are invariably included. These "vouchers" are for the purpose of enabling subscribers and patronesses to extend hospitalities to their friends, but also to bar the admittance of those people who were not invited. Here is the form usually used for the "voucher":
on Friday evening, April the tenth
Compliments of ...................
To do away with the necessity of the "voucher" a card like the following is used:
The pleasure of your company is requested
on Tuesday, the tenth of June
at eight o'clock
18 Forest Avenue
Please present this card at the door.
If the invitations are issued and distributed by a committee or board of directors, instead of by private subscribers, the words:
The Committee of the Third Reunion
234 Kingston Avenue
appear beneath the engraving, in the left-hand corner. The proper form is to use a letter sheet, engraving the invitation on the outer face, and listing on the second inner face, the names of the men who are giving the ball. However, it is also correct to use a large bristol board card, listing the hosts on the reverse side, or on another similar card.
ACKNOWLEDGING SUBSCRIPTION DANCE INVITATIONS
An invitation to a subscription ball, received in the name of the whole body of subscribers, requires a prompt acknowledgment of acceptance or denial to the address given on the card. But if a subscriber extends an invitation to a friend, enclosing with the invitation his or her own card, the answer is sent to this subscriber individually. It is usually a short, informal note, something like the following, and it may be addressed to the entire Committee or merely to its Chairman:
19 West Street,
April 18, 19—
My dear Mrs. Blake:
It is with great pleasure that I accept your invitation to attend the Third Reunion of the Hilldale Club, on Friday, the tenth of April.
Helen R. Haddock.
INVITATION TO PUBLIC BALL
Public balls that require purchased tickets have a very distinct kind of invitation. The following invitation should be printed or engraved on very large letter sheets or cards, giving, either on the second inner sheet or on the reverse of the card, the names of the patronesses.
The pleasure of your company is
requested at the
Annual Masquerade Ball
To be given at the Taft Hotel
January the fifth, at ten o'clock
Cards of admission, Three Dollars
On sale at the
Taft Hotel and homes of the Patronesses
REQUESTING AN INVITATION
When one is invited to an entertainment and finds it impossible to attend without a visiting guest or relative, an invitation may be requested. But a great deal of tact and good judgment must be exerted. A note of request follows, but in writing notes for your own particular instances, you must remember that each note has to be adapted to the occasion in hand.
27 Claremont Terrace,
May 8, 192—.
My dear Mrs. Jolson:
Elsie Millerton, whose brother you remember was at Hot Springs last year when we were, is spending a few days with me. I wonder if I may bring her to your dance next Thursday?
Mary B. Hall.
It is rarely necessary to refuse such a request as this; but if the ballroom is already too crowded and if the hostess has received a number of similar petitions she may with propriety send a brief note of refusal with a courteous word or two of explanation.
THE DINNER INVITATION
A dinner invitation is the highest form of courtesy. That is why it requires prompt and very courteous acknowledgment.
Ordinarily dinner invitations are issued ten days ahead, unless it is a very large formal affair, when two full weeks are allowed. It is not good form to send an invitation just about a day or two before the day set for the dinner-party, for then the guest will be perfectly correct in feeling that the invitation was issued to her (or him) only because some other guest was unable to attend. If there are only three or four guests informal notes are usually sent, however elaborate the dinner itself is to be. Such an invitation should occupy only the first page of a sheet of note paper.
Dinner invitations may either be written on ordinary sheets of white stationery, or engraved on cards. If the latter is decided upon, it must be large, pure white, and of rather heavy bristol board. The hostess who gives many large and elaborate dinners may have cards like the following printed, leaving spaces for the insertion of the name of the person invited, the day, hour and date:
Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Knight
request the pleasure of
company at dinner
on ................ evening
at ................ o'clock
55 Court Street
The words "To meet Mr. and Mrs. John Staple" may be written in ink at the bottom of the engraved card, when the dinner is in honor of a special guest. Or small cards may be printed and enclosed with the invitations.
IN HONOR OF CELEBRATED GUESTS
Often, to introduce someone of distinguished position to the hostess' acquaintances and friends, a large and elaborate dinner is given. The cards should be engraved in a fine script or block letter, in the following wording:
Mr. and Mrs. McAllister Van Doren
Mr. and Mrs. John King
request the pleasure of
company at dinner
on Thursday, January the sixth
at eight o'clock
455 North Avenue.
For the formal invitation, written in the third person, a similar acknowledgment must be sent within twenty-four hours. Following are an acceptance and a regret that may serve as suggestions for the dinner invitations that you will accept and refuse in the future:
Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Thorne
accept with pleasure
Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Knight's
kind invitation to dinner on
Friday, August the fifth
at eight o'clock
64 West Drive
Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Thorne
regret that a previous engagement
prevents their accepting
Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Knight's
kind invitation to dinner on
Friday, August the fifth
64 West Drive
It is not necessary to give complete details regarding time and hour, in the second acknowledgment—which is a regret. Inasmuch as one does not expect to attend, it is unnecessary to pay great attention to details that are important only for those who expect to be guests. In writing regrets, it is always more courteous to give the reason for being unable to accept, but it is not important to do so unless one really wishes to.
FOR THE INFORMAL DINNER
The informal dinner invitation is invariably sent by the wife for her husband and herself, to the wife, including the latter's husband. The invitation takes the form of a short, friendly little social note, and is answered as such. For instance, here is an invitation to an informal dinner, and the acknowledgment:
356 Cosgrove Avenue,
November 1, 19—
My dear Mrs. Harris:
Will you and Mr. Harris give us the pleasure of having you with us at a small dinner on Thursday, November the eighth, at seven o'clock?
Hoping that you will be disengaged that evening, I am
Yours very sincerely,
Margaret B. Leanders.
You will notice that in signing herself, the wife uses her Christian and married name, and the initial of her maiden name. She may spell her maiden name out, if she wishes, but the form given above is the most usual. Here is the correct acknowledgment to the invitation above:
654 Milton Street,
November 5, 19—
My dear Mrs. Leanders:
Mr. Harris and I will be delighted to dine with you and Mr. Leanders on Thursday, November the eighth, at seven o'clock.
With kindest regards, I am
Mildred Travers Harris.
WHEN THE DINNER IS NOT AT HOME
It happens quite frequently that a hostess gives a dinner for her friends outside of her own home. In this case, the fact must be fully noted on the invitation. For instance:
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bruhn
request the pleasure of
Mr. and Mrs. John Perry Blascon's
company at dinner
on Wednesday, March the sixth
at eight o'clock
41 Tompkins Place
The acceptance and regret would be exactly the same as the forms given previously, except that the words "At Shanley's" would necessarily have to appear.
THE DAUGHTER AS HOSTESS
It is necessary for the daughter, who is hostess in her father's house, to include his name in every dinner invitation she issues. Following is a model informal invitation to dinner, issued by a young daughter-hostess:
My dear Mrs. Curtis:
Father has asked me to extend an invitation to you and Mr. Curtis to dine with us on Tuesday, April the fifth, at half-past seven o'clock. We are looking forward to your coming with a great deal of pleasure.
In acknowledging this invitation, whether it be acceptance or regret, the answer must go to the daughter, not the father. It is discourteous and rude to receive a letter or an invitation from one person, and acknowledge it to another.
POSTPONING OR CANCELING A DINNER
When it happens (and it often does!) that something unforeseen and unexpected happens to prevent one from giving the dinner for which engraved cards have been issued, the hostess must immediately dispatch, either through messenger or special delivery, short written notes canceling the engagement. The third-person formula may be used, but there must be a certain warmth in the note to avoid any semblance of indifference. And it is a mark of fine courtesy to offer the reason why the dinner has to be postponed. Here are two forms that may be used:
Because of the severe illness of their son Mr. and Mrs. John Smith beg to cancel their dinner, arranged for Tuesday, May the fifth
Mr. and Mrs. John Smith regret that the damages done to their home by a recent fire make it necessary for them to postpone the dinner arranged for May the fifth until May the thirtieth.
INVITING A STOP-GAP
When a vacancy occurs in a dinner party at the last moment, one may call upon a friend to fill the place as a special courtesy. This is an instance when tact and discretion are important, for not everyone is broad-minded and sensible, and some people may take offense at being asked to take the place that someone else relinquished. A short cordial note should be written, explaining the situation, and frankly asking the friend to come in the place of the invited guest who cannot be present. Here, for instance, is a typical note for just such a purpose:
41 Hemingway Place,
March 14, 19—
My dear Mr. Cook:
I am going to ask a very special favor of you, and I know that you will be good enough to comply—if no other engagement stands in the way.
Ralph Townshend, who was to have been present at a little dinner party that I am giving to-morrow evening, has just written that he has been called out of town on business. Won't you be good enough to take his place and give me more reason than ever for subscribing myself
Janet B. Raines.
In answering this letter, Mr. Cook must either accept or decline definitely. To be courteous, he must give a reason for declining. To write merely and say that one cannot serve as a stop-gap is both impolite and inconsiderate. Either a good reason or an acceptance must be given. Here is the way the acceptance may be worded:
1465 Emmet Road,
March 16, 19—
My dear Mrs. Raines:
I'm rather glad that Ralph was called out of town, since it gives me an opportunity to be present at another of your delightful dinners. Thank you very much for the invitation.
Yours very sincerely,
Ralph B. Cook.
TO BREAK A DINNER ENGAGEMENT
There is no reason to feel embarrassed and unhappy because some unexpected happening prevents you from keeping a dinner engagement. A cordial note, containing a genuine and worth-while excuse for the cancellation of the engagement may be sent by messenger, or if there is time, by special delivery post, to the hostess. Here is an example of the kind of note that may be written to break a dinner engagement:
156 South Bend,
March 18, 19—
My dear Mrs. Christy:
Mr. Cross has been called to Chicago on account of the illness of his mother. We are very anxious about her, and I am sure you will understand why it is impossible for either of us to attend your dinner party next Friday. With many regrets, I am
Florence Bartlett Pitkin.
INVITATIONS FOR LUNCHEONS
Although considerably less formal than dinner invitations, those of the luncheon follow them in wording. They are issued about ten days before the day set for the luncheon, if it is to be an elaborate, formal affair, and only in the name of the hostess, unless men are invited and the hostess' husband intends to be present. They are engraved on large square white cards, with the name of the person invited, the day and hour, written in by the hostess' own hand. The correct form follows, but it must be remembered that this form can be used only when the luncheon is an elaborate, formal occasion:
Mrs. John Roy-Thorndyke Blake
requests the pleasure of
company at luncheon
at ................. o'clock
11 Park Row
Very often a hostess invites friends and acquaintances to a luncheon for the purpose of presenting to them a certain visiting guest, and perhaps to attend, after the luncheon, a matinée planned for the purpose of enabling the newcomer to become better acquainted with the hostess' friends. In this case, an invitation like the one following should be used:
To meet Miss Helen Rhodes
Mrs. Robert Blake
requests the pleasure of
company at luncheon
on Tuesday, April the eleventh
at one o'clock
and afterward to the matinée
167 Grand Concourse
The name of the play and the theater may be included in the wording of the invitation.
Breakfast invitations are rarely issued, for the very good reason that formal breakfasts are very rarely given. But when they are, the wording of the invitation is identical with the wording given above for the luncheon invitations, substituting in each case the word "breakfast" for "luncheon." Acknowledgments are also the same as those used for the luncheon.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE LUNCHEON INVITATION
A prompt acceptance or regret must be sent upon receipt of an invitation to luncheon. The following two forms are correct for use with the two invitations given above.
Mrs. Frank Parsons
accepts with pleasure
Mrs. John Clancy Blake's
kind invitation to luncheon
on Friday, October the fourteenth
at one o'clock
146 Park Place
Miss Jean Joyce
accepts with pleasure
kind invitation for luncheon
on Tuesday, April the eleventh
at one o'clock
to meet Miss Rhodes and to go
afterward to the matinée
48 Fremont Avenue
THE INFORMAL INVITATION
For the informal luncheon, a brief note of invitation is sent from five to seven days ahead. In making the note brief, one must be careful not to sacrifice cordiality. We give here two notes of invitation, one for luncheon and one for breakfast; and also their respective acknowledgments:
86 Washington Terrace,
April 14, 19—
My dear Mrs. Blank:
Will you come to luncheon on Wednesday April the twentieth, at half-past one o'clock? Mrs. Frank Richards will be here, and I know you will be glad to meet her.
Helen R. Roberts.
64 Main Street,
April 16, 19—
My dear Mrs. Roberts:
I will be very glad to come to luncheon on Wednesday, April the twentieth, at half-past one o'clock. It was very kind of you to remember that I have been wanting to meet Mrs. Richards for a long time.
Yours very sincerely,
437 Fairview Terrace,
May 5, 19—
Dear Mrs. Miller:
I expect a few friends to join me at an informal breakfast at half-past eleven o'clock on Tuesday, the tenth. Won't you be one of them?
822 Jennings Street,
May 7, 19—
Dear Mrs. Curtis:
Thank you very much for asking me, but I regret that I will not be able to join you at breakfast on Tuesday. I have two young nieces stopping with me, and I promised to devote that morning to showing them the places of interest in town. They are planning so eagerly for the trip, and they are leaving here in such a short time, that I feel that I must not disappoint them.
With most sincere regrets, I am
Mary K. Miller.
There is still another approved form for inviting guests to luncheon or breakfast. When the occasion is neither too strictly formal nor too informal, the hostess may merely write, beneath the engraved name on her ordinary calling card, the words, "Luncheon at one-thirty o'clock March fourth." This is sent about five days before the chosen day. The acknowledgment must be by informal note, never by a calling card. And this holds true of all other invitations; when the personally inscribed calling card is used, a first-person note of acceptance or regret must be promptly written. The use of cards in this way is looked upon with disfavor among people who are most careful of the amenities of polite society.
The word "reception" may mean several social functions which may or may not be extremely ceremonious. There is the afternoon tea, for instance, an informal little affair to which one invites one's best friends and most interesting acquaintances. The invitation may be either written by the hostess or engraved. The at-home day is also called a reception, as is the more elaborate occasion when a special guest is introduced to the hostess' friends.
There was a time when it was considered extremely bad form for a host's name to appear on the invitation, but to-day the reception invitation often takes the form of the following:
Mr. and Mrs. Harold Blaine
Tuesday afternoon, May fifth
from four until half-past seven o'clock
Twelve, Park Terrace
The above invitation should be engraved in fine script on a large white card of bristol board, and it should be mailed at least ten days in advance of the day set for the entertainment. An acknowledgment is not expected; if the invitation is accepted, the presence of the guest on the day of the reception is sufficient. If one is unable to be present, one's visiting card is sent to arrive on the exact day of the reception—unless an answer is explicitly required on the invitation. Not to be present at the reception, and not to send one's visiting card, is to indicate either that one is ignorant of the correct social laws, or that one desires to discontinue friendship with the hostess.
When a mother and her daughter are to receive the guests at a reception together, the card is in this form:
Mrs. William B. Harris
The Misses Harris
Friday Afternoon, October fifth
from four until seven o'clock
Thirty-two Amsterdam Avenue
If the reception is for the purpose of introducing a young débutante daughter, the hostess would issue cards similar to the one above, except that the débutante's name would appear immediately below her own. It would be merely "Miss Harris" with no Christian name or initial. If a second daughter is introduced to her mother's friends by means of an afternoon tea, the cards are also like the one above, except that the name of the second daughter is inscribed in full beneath that of the hostess. Thus invited guests would know that "Miss Harris" is the elder and introduced to society first, and "Miss Merian Harris" is the second daughter to be introduced to society.
RECEPTION IN HONOR OF A SPECIAL GUEST
When the purpose of the reception is to honor a special guest the fact should be indicated on the invitations. If the invitation is written on a card, the words, "To meet Governor and Mrs. Frank Curtis" should appear. The proper form for the engraved invitation follows:
Governor and Mrs. Frank Curtis
Mr. and Mrs. James Melvin
request the pleasure of your
on Thursday afternoon, June fifth
from four until seven o'clock
Eighteen, Washington Garden Heights
No acknowledgment other than one's presence on the day of the reception is necessary to this invitation. However, if one is unable to attend, the visiting card should be mailed so that it arrives on the precise day of the entertainment, or if an unexpected happening prevents one from attending, a messenger may be dispatched with a card in an envelope, forwarding it to the hostess while the reception is in progress.
INVITATIONS TO GARDEN PARTIES
When the garden party is very formal, the invitations are engraved in black script or block lettering, on white note sheets or large white cards. The invitation is usually issued in the name of the hostess alone, and the most fashionable stationers are to-day printing cards that leave a blank space for the name of the person to be invited to be written in by the hostess. For instance:
Mrs. Maurice Bronson
requests the pleasure of
company on Friday afternoon
from four until seven o'clock
Garden Party Holyoke, West Lake
In society, the formal garden party holds the place of an at-home held out of doors. Thus the following invitation is considered the best form, better even than the form shown above, although either may be used in good taste:
Mrs. Maurice Bronson
Friday afternoon, May tenth
from four until seven o'clock
Garden Party Holyoke, West Lake
When the garden party is a small informal affair, the at-home card may be used with the words, "Garden Party, Friday, May the tenth, from four to seven o'clock," written by the hostess in the lower left-hand corner. This method is usually for personal friends only, and it is considered bad form when the garden party is elaborate and formal.
If the guest invited lives in another town, or must come from the city to the country, a small card bearing the necessary train and schedule information should be enclosed with the invitation, similar to the card explained in the chapter on wedding invitations. Or the information may be lettered neatly at the bottom of the invitation itself. The form is usually:
Train leaves Pennsylvania Station at 3 o'clock
Train leaves Holyoke Station at 6.20 and 7.10 o'clock
Still another course is open to the hostess who wishes to give a small garden party, yet not undergo the expense and trouble of specially engraved invitations. She may write brief, friendly notes, in the first person, somewhat in the following form, and send them by post to her friends and acquaintances:
May 1, 19—
My dear Mrs. Keene:
I have asked a few of my friends to have tea with me, informally, on the lawn, Friday afternoon, May the tenth, at four o'clock. May I expect you also? Perhaps there will be a few sets of tennis. There is a racquet waiting for you.
Rose M. Roberts.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE GARDEN PARTY INVITATION
Whether the garden party invitation bears a request for a reply or not, the courteous thing to do is send an acceptance or regret at once. This is especially true when the invitation is engraved, for then one may assume that the affair is to be a large and elaborate one. The reply to an engraved invitation follows:
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Bruce
accept with pleasure
Mrs. Bronson's kind invitation
for May tenth
May second, 19—
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Bruce
regret that a previous engagement
prevents their acceptance
of Mrs. Bronson's kind invitation
for May tenth
May second, 19—
In reply to a visiting card inscribed with the day and date of the garden party, a brief, polite note of acceptance or regret should be written. A similar note should be promptly written upon receipt of the informal written note of invitation.
May 2, 19—
My dear Mrs. Bronson:
Mr. Harris and I are looking forward with great pleasure in joining you on May tenth. We hope the weather will continue to be as delightful as it is now.
Janet B. Winslow.
HOUSE OR WEEK-END PARTIES
The invitation for a house or week-end party differs from any other invitation. By the week-end party we mean a visit from Friday or Saturday until Monday. Thus the invited guest knows that he is expected to arrive Friday afternoon (or Saturday morning) and leave Monday morning. On the other hand, the house party may mean a visit of ten days or two weeks' duration, or even longer. It is necessary, therefore, for the hostess to mention specifically the date deciding the length of the visit. It is also courteous for her to mention the sports that will be indulged in and any special events planned, etc., and to send the necessary time-tables, indicating the best and most convenient trains.
Whether for house party or week-end party, the invitation is always a well-worded, cordial note offering the hospitalities of one's roof for the length of time indicated. We will give here one letter of invitation and its acknowledgment, which can be, perhaps, adapted to your own purposes.
June 14, 19—
Dear Miss Janis:
We have planned a house party as a sort of farewell before our trip to Europe, and we are particularly anxious to have you join us. I hope there is nothing to prevent you from coming out to Pine Rock on June twenty-third and remaining here with us until the eighth of July.
I hope to have many of your own friends with us, including Jean and Marie Cordine, who are also planning to sail towards the end of July. Mr. Frank Parsons and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kingsley may be here, too, along with several others whom you do not know, but whom I am most anxious to have you meet.
I am enclosing a time-table for your convenience, and I have checked the two trains that I believe are most convenient for you. If you take the 3.58 on Tuesday you will arrive here at 7.10, and you will be able to meet the guests at dinner at eight-thirty. There is an earlier train in the morning if you prefer it. If you let me know which train you expect to take, I will see that there is a car at the station to meet you.
Very cordially yours,
Alice M. Bevans.
June 16, 19—
Dear Mrs. Bevans:
It was very good of you and Mr. Bevans to ask me to your house party and I shall be delighted to come. I shall arrive on the 3.58 train, as you suggest. It was so thoughtful of you to inclose the time-table.
Very sincerely yours,
Helen R. Janis.
If the letter were one of regret, it would be necessary for Miss Janis to write definitely just what was making it impossible for her to accept the invitation. It would not be correct form to write vaguely, saying that "you hope you will be able to come," or that "if you are in town you will come." No doubt must be left in the hostess' mind as to whether or not you will be present.
THE "BREAD-AND-BUTTER" LETTER
From constant usage, the term "bread-and-butter" letter has become custom. Now, upon return from a week-end or house party, it is considered necessary and, indeed, it would be a gross neglect to fail in so obvious a duty, to write a cordial note to the hostess, expressing appreciation of the hospitality received, and informing her of your safe arrival.
The letter may be as long and chatty as one pleases, or it may be only a brief note such as the following:
June 23, 19—
Dear Mrs. Bevans:
This is to tell you again how very much I enjoyed the week-end at Pine Rock. We got into the city at five and Morgan brought me out home in a taxi. Mother is giving a small bridge this afternoon and so I found everyone busy, for while there is not a great deal to do it is impossible to get anyone to help do it.
Tell Mr. Bevans that I am arranging for three or four tennis games next week, so that when I come again, if I don't win, I shall at least not be beaten quite so shamefully.
Let me know when you come to town on your next shopping trip. Perhaps we can arrange for lunch together somewhere.
Very sincerely yours,
Helen R. Janis.
INVITATIONS TO THE THEATER AND OPERA
The host or hostess planning a theater or opera party should strive to have an equal number of men and women guests. For this reason, the person who receives an invitation should make prompt reply, so that if he or she is unable to attend, someone else can be asked to take the place. It is not necessary to have invitations engraved for these occasions; in fact, a brief note, written with just the correct degree of formality, yet with no sacrifice of cordiality, is much to be preferred. The following form is correct for theater or opera, changed to accord with the names, dates, and circumstances of the particular party:
22 South Street,
October 13, 19—
My dear Miss Johnson:
Mr. Roberts and I have planned to have a small group of friends hear "Faust" at the Central Opera House, and we are hoping that you will be one of us. The time is Friday evening, the seventeenth of October. I have been fortunate enough to obtain a box in the parquet, where the eight of us who will comprise the party will be comfortably seated.
If you are free to join us on that evening, Mr. Roberts and I will stop for you in the car at half past seven.
Evelyn T. Roberts.
The acknowledgment must be made promptly. The host and hostess must not be kept waiting for a definite reply.
INVITATIONS TO MUSICALES AND PRIVATE THEATRICALS
A ceremonious drawing-room concert requires engraved invitations, issued at least two weeks in advance of the date decided upon. The two approved forms follow:
Mrs. John M. Cook
Tuesday evening, October first
at nine o'clock
Ten, Farnhut Terrace
Mr. and Mrs. John M. Cook
request the pleasure of
company at a musicale
on Tuesday evening the first of October
at nine o'clock
Ten, Farnhut Terrace
It is also permissible for the hostess to write in the lower left-hand corner of her visiting-card the following words, when she wishes to invite friends to hear a famous soloist or orchestra: "Tuesday, October first, half past three o'clock, to hear Mischa Elman." These cards are then posted to friends and acquaintances, and the recipient either accepts by attending, or sends his or her cards to the hostess' house while the entertainment is in progress, or shortly beforehand.
For private theatricals, invitations follow very much the same form as those used for musicales. The hostess may either add the phrase, "Theatricals at nine o'clock," to her invitation, or she may issue engraved cards requesting the pleasure of a friend's company at Private Theatricals. The word "dancing" may be engraved in the left-hand corner of the card, if dancing is to follow the theatricals. It is courteous to send a reply to these invitations.
CHILDREN'S PARTY INVITATIONS
The invitation to the child's party is the one exception to the rule of simplicity. Children love color and decoration, and so etiquette very graciously permits them to have cards and invitations that boast colorful designs. For instance, in a well-known stationer's shop in New York, there are little sheets of pink note paper, in the upper corner of which is a little girl courtesying and smiling. Beneath the picture the words "Won't you please come to my party?" are printed in fine italics. It makes most attractive stationery for the youngsters.
On stationery like that described above, mother might write in the following strain, providing the little host (or hostess) is not old enough to do the writing himself:
16 Blake Hall,
June 14, 19—
My dear Mrs. Blank:
Harold will be seven years old on Thursday, the eighteenth of June. We are planning to give a little party for his friends on the Sunday following, June the twenty-first. I know he will not be happy unless little Marian is present. I do hope you will let her come.
If the nurse brings Marian here at three o'clock, she will be in time for the opening game, and I will see that she arrives home safely at about half past six.
Helen M. Roberts.
A friendly note of acceptance or regret should be written promptly upon receipt of the above, and if the child is unable to attend, the reason should be given.
Very often, a young host or hostess has a very large and formal party, in which case the invitations must be quite as dignified and formally correct as mother's. For instance, the youngsters who entertain their friends at a small afternoon dance word their invitations in the following manner:
Miss Jean and Master Walter Curran
would like to have the pleasure
Miss Helen Thompson's company
at a dance at 3 o'clock
Thursday afternoon, November third
A young boy or girl just old enough to write his or her own invitations, may find some useful suggestions in the following model for a birthday party:
October 6, 19—
I am going to have a birthday party on Saturday afternoon, the thirteenth of October, at 3 o'clock. All of our friends from dancing school and a good many of Jack's friends from his school will be here. We are planning a donkey game, and I am sure we will all have a great deal of fun. Won't you come, too? I shall be very disappointed if you cannot.
It is always wise, however, for the children to make some sort of acknowledgment of the formal engraved invitation, for it impresses upon them the importance of their social duties.
INVITATIONS TO A CHRISTENING
It is not usual for many guests to be invited to the christening of a child. But when it is made an occasion of formal entertainment, it is necessary to have engraved cards prepared and issued to friends and relatives. Here is the correct form:
Mr. and Mrs. John B. Meredith
request the pleasure of your company
at the christening of their son
on Tuesday, April second
at three-thirty o'clock
Ten, Jerome Avenue
The letter requesting a relative or friend to serve as godfather or godmother must be tactful and well-worded. It is usually very intimate, for no one with fine sensibility will ask any except a dear friend to act as godmother or godfather. Such a request is much better given in person than by letter, whenever it is possible. And it requires an answer in kind. We give here one brief letter of request, and another of acknowledgment, to serve as suggestions:
34 Kinston Road,
March 5, 19—
Dear Mr. Burke:
Jack and I have both agreed that we would rather have you serve as godfather for John Paxton, Jr., than anyone else. We hope that you will not refuse.
The baptism has already been arranged for four o'clock, next Sunday, at St. Peter's Church. We hope you will be present at the church, and later at a small reception here in our drawing-room.
With kindest regards from us both, I am
Amelia B. Johnson.
18 Woodlawn Hills,
March 7, 19—
Dear Mrs. Johnson:
It will give me great pleasure to be godfather for your son. Truly, I count it no small honor, and no slight responsibility. I am very eager to see young John Paxton, and shall be present both at the christening and at the reception.
With every good wish for him and for his father and mother, I am
William A. Burke.
A WORD OF SPECIAL CAUTION
In answering an invitation never say "will accept." The act of writing the answer involves either the acceptance or the regret, as the case may be, and the present tense should be used.
TO-DAY AND YESTERDAY
It is customary nowadays to deplore the fact that the art of letter-writing has fallen into decay, and when we read that the entire correspondence of an engaged couple recently was carried on for two years by telephone and telegraph we are inclined to believe it. Yet such is not the case. It is true that we no longer have—and for this we should be truly grateful—flowery expressions of rhetorical feeling interlarded with poetic sentiments selected from a "Home Book of Verse," or some similar compilation, but we do have letters which are genuine and wholesome expressions of friendship.
It is a gift to be able to write lovely notes of congratulation, sympathy and appreciation, and one that has to be cultivated. Writing of all kinds grows perfect with practice and the large majority of people have to serve a long apprenticeship before they have mastered the gentle art of expressing themselves on paper. It is an art worth mastering even if one never has to write anything but polite social notes and letters.
THE LETTER YOU WRITE
From Buckingham we have the following little rhyme that does full justice to the important art of letter-writing:
Of all those arts in which the wise excel,
Nature's chief masterpiece is writing well.
A letter, business or social, is simply talk upon paper. And as a wise philosopher once said, "Never put on paper what you would not care to see printed in the newspaper for all to read." As in everything else connected with the social world, ease is absolutely essential to the correct letter. The style must not be cramped, stilted, forced. A free and easy flow of language, simple and understandable, and with just that acceptable degree of cordiality and heartiness that makes one enjoy reading, is essential in all correspondence.
And yet, letters should be written personally—that is, they should represent the sender. Be sure, first, that you know exactly what you want to say, and how you want to say it. Then put it down on paper as though you were speaking; make no pretense at being so very highly educated that you must use flowery language and poetical phrases. Simplicity in form and wording is the most effective and graceful method. It is a greater mark of learning and intelligence to write a simple, ably expressed, cordial letter, than to write one that shows an obvious effort to cover, by extravagant expressions and highly figurative language, the reserve and dignity that are the foundation of all good-breeding.
In the following pages it is possible for us only to give the prescribed principles of correct form, suggesting the forms and expressions to be avoided. But the true art of letter-writing rests with you—and your own personality. We would suggest that you read carefully each letter you receive, noting and remembering those expressions that most appeal to you. A good appeal is generally universal; what appeals to you in a letter you receive will appeal to others. Thus you will find that personal experience in this matter will help you much more than any book that gives you only the foundation of form and style.
THE BUSINESS LETTER
It is interesting to find in the midst of the lament that in the twentieth century people have ceased to find time to write letters or to be courteous that the Postmaster General has rescinded previous orders which directed that departmental correspondence should not begin with the ceremonial form of "My dear Sir," and that the complimentary close, "Yours sincerely," etc., should not be used. His order is worth quoting:
"In no part of our work does the demand for the human quality apply more than in the matter of writing letters. By far the largest contact of this department with the public is by means of the letters which are written. Letters can be cold, stereotyped, following the same routine day by day, appearing more or less machine made, and the impression which the recipient has upon reading the letter is that the suggestion, complaint, petition or application made has been given scant consideration.
"I want every letter that goes out from this department or any of the Post Offices or other field offices to convince the reader of the fact, for it must be a fact, that whatever he has written has been received sympathetically and that an effort has been made to give the writer the benefit of every possible service which the department affords.
"To this end I think the writers should endeavor to make their letters more informal than is now the case generally; that they should, wherever the exigencies of the case do not require otherwise, be as explicit as possible, and that reasons for the position taken by the department should be given. Above all, I do not want the letters to be stereotyped."
A business letter is written with a purpose. It is a good letter when it accomplishes that purpose briefly, thoroughly, and courteously. Women especially should be careful not to be discursive. Business men have not time to puzzle over bad handwriting or ambiguous sentences. Whenever it can be done conveniently the business letter should be written on the typewriter. Tinted stationery is never appropriate, and ruled stationery should never be used either for business or social correspondence.
The correct form for the salutation of a business letter includes the name and address of the person or firm to whom the letter is written as well as the ceremonial form of salutation. Thus:
Bradford and Munro,
534 Fifth Avenue,
New York City, N.Y.
Gentlemen: (or Dear Sirs or My dear Sirs)
Mrs. H. K. Weatherly,
Secretary of the Citizens' League,
Dear Mrs. Weatherly: (or Dear Madam or My dear Madam)
Except when it is the first word of the salutation, dear should not begin with a capital letter. The address in the salutation should be repeated exactly on the envelope and particular care should be taken to make it legible. The stamp should always be placed in the upper right-hand corner. It is bad form to put it on obliquely or upside down or to place it in the left-hand corner or on the back flap of the envelope. It is a silly practice to do so and causes the postal clerks a great deal of trouble.
FUNCTION OF THE SOCIAL LETTER
There are, necessarily, several kinds of letters, the three most important divisions of which are the friendly letter, the business letter, and the social letter. In its strictest sense, the social letter is written for a distinct social purpose—usually about, or in response to, some purely social circumstance. The difference between a friendly letter and a social letter is relatively the same as the difference between a strictly formal and a friendly informal visit.
To write a friendly letter, one simply writes what one feels, heeding no very stringent rules regarding letter-writing. But the social letter-writer finds that there are certain forms that must be carefully observed, if his or her letters are to be considered entirely correct. There are two distinct forms of the social letters—the formal and the informal. The formal social note is used only for invitations, announcements and their respective acknowledgments. It is always written in the third person, and always requires an answer. Even though it is sent to the most intimate friend, the formal note remains formal; although later a friendly letter may be sent to remove any possible constraint or "chill." The informal note has no definite formula, except that it can be generally compared to all the informal trend of correct social usage. The first person is used in the writing of informal notes.
Whether formal or informal, the social note always bears the name of the person to whom it is addressed. To illustrate, when writing socially to Mrs. Joselyn, one does not use the expression, "Dear Madam," but "Dear Mrs. Joslyn." In America the form "my dear" is considered a trifle more formal than just "dear," although in England the reverse is true. "Dear Madam" and "Dear Sir" are forms reserved exclusively for use with business letters.
THE ETIQUETTE OF STATIONERY
The well-known proverb may well be changed to read, "A man is known by the stationery he uses." There is no greater opportunity to show good taste—or bad—than in the tone, design and type of note paper we use. It is as effective an index to one's individuality as are the clothes we wear.
Just as in everything else, there are new fashions in the sizes, forms and general appearance of social correspondence each season. Invariably, the new form is an improvement on the older and more stilted form. However, there are slight changes, and the general rules of correct correspondence remain unchanged from year to year. A good stationer is the best authority in regard to the minor modifications that come each new season.
The outré in everything pertaining to good social usage is offensive to good taste. Thus, those who are refined and well-bred avoid such startling color combinations as deep purple paper inscribed with white ink. Of course, by its very daring, such a letter would gain immediate attention. But the impression made would be one of poor taste and eccentricity, rather than the striking personality the writer doubtless tried to convey. Let us, then, avoid all fads in size and color of social stationery
LETTER AND NOTE PAPER
Plain, unruled sheets, either white or light gray in color, and folding once into their envelopes are the approved materials for all social correspondence. Black ink should always be used—violet, blue or purple expresses extremely bad taste. There are, of course, many varying qualities of note paper, depending entirely upon the means and preferences of the individual. Some manufacturers are to-day issuing delightful stationery in delicate tones of gray, blue and buff, and it is necessary to mention here that there can be no objection to note paper of this kind. It is only bad taste to use paper of vivid red, yellow or green—so glaring in color that it is conspicuous. Colored borders on stationery are in poor taste, as are also heavy gilt edges. Paneled stationery and that with the deckle edge are both very lovely and in excellent taste, if the color is subdued or pure white. And to be conspicuous is to be ill-bred.
The complete text of a formal note must appear on the first page only. Thus, a good size for a woman's social correspondence stationary is four and a half inches by six inches, although it may be slightly larger than that for general correspondence. Then there are the very small sheets used merely for a few words of condolence or congratulation. The size of stationery for men's social correspondence varies, but it is usually a trifle larger than a woman's note paper. A man never uses small sheets of paper, nor may he conduct social correspondence upon business or office paper. It is only when private stationery is not easily available, and a letter must be immediately mailed, that club or hotel paper may be used for social correspondence.
Letter paper and envelopes should be of the same color and of about the same material. We say "about" for, when the note paper is very thin, a slightly thicker paper should be used for the envelope. Incidentally, very thin paper is objectionable for social correspondence when both sides of the sheet are written upon.
Some women like to use perfumed paper for their social correspondence. While it is not exactly bad form to use perfumed stationery, a very strong fragrance is most objectionable. Thus only the most delicate of perfumes may be used. The use of perfumes for men's stationery is entirely discountenanced.
CRESTS AND MONOGRAMS
Just as the gaudy frills and furbelows of the dress of Queen Elizabeth's era have disappeared, so have the elaborate crests, seals and monograms of earlier social stationery gradually given way to a more graceful and dignified simplicity. Originality may be the possession of those who can attain it, but it must always be accompanied by simplicity of style.
Gorgeous monograms are not desirable. If used at all—and very few even of our proud and aristocratic families do use them—they should be decorative without being elaborate. A good stationer should be consulted before one determines upon a monogram. His taste and knowledge should direct the ultimate choice.
Monograms and crests should not appear on the envelope, only on the letter paper. Seals may be stamped wherever one wishes on the back of the envelope, although the most fashionable place is in the direct center of the flap. On mourning stationery, black wax is permissible for the seal; red, blue or any dark color may be used on white or light gray paper. Care should be taken in dropping the hot wax and pressing the seal, for nothing is so indicative of poor taste as an untidy seal on the envelope of a social letter. A seal should not be used unless it is actually needed. It is bad form to use it in addition to the mucilage on the flap of the envelope unless the mucilage is of a very poor quality.
A monogram or crest is placed in the center at the top of the page when no address is given. It should be omitted entirely when the address appears at the top of the page. The space occupied by a crest or monogram should not cover more than the approximate circumference of a silver dime. A crest is usually stamped in gilt, silver, black, white or dark green. Vivid colors must be avoided.
When an address is engraved on a sheet of paper the chest or monogram should be omitted. The stationery of a country house frequently has the name of the place in the upper right hand corner with the name of the post office or railroad station opposite. Authors sometimes have their names reproduced from their own handwriting and engraved across the top of the paper they use for their business correspondence.
The most fashionable stationery to-day does not bear crests or monograms or seals, but the address engraved in Gothic or Roman lettering in the upper center of note and letter sheets, also on the reverse side of the envelope. Black ink, of course, is used.
USE OF THE TYPEWRITER
Having invaded and conquered the business world, the typewriter has now become a social necessity. Personal typewriters, made in portable sizes, are now being used for social correspondence, although many conservative people prefer to remain loyal to the use of the old pen and ink method. Yet, when the best handwriting is often illegible and hard to read, a modern invention so necessary as the typewriter should be hailed with delight and used with enthusiasm.
There still may be a few "extremists" and etiquette fanatics who insist that typewritten letters are for business purposes only, and that they are an insult when used socially. Prevalent custom to-day permits typewritten correspondence for nearly every occasion, and the well-typed social letter reflects better taste upon the sender than a hand-written letter that is difficult to read—and yet took a much greater length of time to write.
Social letters, whether hand or typewritten should not be on ordinary commercial paper. The letter written on the machine should have a wide margin at the top, bottom and sides. Signatures to a typewritten letter, social or business, should be made personally, in ink.
REGARDING THE SALUTATION
It is only in cases of extreme formality that the expression "Dear Madam" or "Dear Sir" is used. For ordinary social correspondence, the salutation is either "Dear Mr. (Mrs.) Roberts" or "My dear Mr. (Mrs.) Roberts." The use of "My dear" is considered more formal than merely "Dear," except in England where the first form is considered the more intimate.
The form "Dear Miss" or "Dear Friend" may be used on no condition whatever. It is either "Dear Miss Wimberly" or "Dear Madam." It is considered presumptuous, in good society, for a man to address a lady as "Dear Mrs. Brown" until she has first dropped the formal "my" in her correspondence with him.
The strictly formal method for addressing a letter to a man by a woman who is a total stranger to him, is:
"Mr. John D. Brown,
If he is a distant relative, addressed for the first time, or the friend of a very intimate friend, the salutation may read, "My dear Mr. Brown."
CLOSING THE LETTER
The endings "Very truly yours" or "Yours truly" express a certain formality. Friendly letters are closed with such expressions as, "Yours most sincerely," "Cordially yours," "Very affectionately yours," "Lovingly yours." The latter two expressions are confined largely to intimate friends and relatives, while the others are used when letters are written to new acquaintances or casual friends. The pronoun yours should never be omitted, as it leaves the phrase unfinished and is not complimentary to the person addressed. Thus, closings, such as "Very truly" or "Sincerely" are in bad form.
Always remember in social letter-writing, to make a "graceful exit." An awkward sentence in closing often mars what would otherwise be a perfect letter. Forget certain strained expressions that remain in the mind and demand to be used as closings, merely because they have been used by so many people, over and over again. Make the farewell in your social letters as cordial and graceful as your farewell would be if you were talking to the person, instead of writing. Such kind expressions as "With kindest personal regards" or "Hoping to have the pleasure of seeing you soon" or "With best wishes to your dear mother and sisters" always add a note of warmth and cordiality to the social letter. These should be followed by "I am." It is not considered good form to end a letter,
Hoping to hear from you soon,
but it should be
Hoping to hear from you soon, I am
No comma is used after "am."
It is not good taste to use only the initials, the surnames or given names alone, or diminutives, when signing notes or letters except when they are addressed to one's most intimate friends. A married woman signs her self Ellen Scott, not Mrs. Guy Scott, in social correspondence. Often, in business letters, when the recipient would be in doubt as to whether or not the lady were to be addressed as Mrs. or Miss, the conclusion to the letter should be in this form:
(Mrs. Guy Scott)
An unmarried woman signs her letters "Margaret Scott," unless it is a business communication and she is liable to be mistaken for a widow. In this case, she precedes her name by the word Miss in parentheses.
The first and last names of the man writing the letter must be given in full, and if there is a middle name, either the initial or full spelling may be given. But such a signature as J. Ferrin Robins is bad form.
It is both undignified and confusing to sign a letter with one's Christian name only, unless one is a relative or very intimate friend. A woman never signs her Christian name alone in a letter to a man unless he is a relative or her fiancé or a very old friend of the family.
ADDRESSING THE ENVELOPE
Although there is a distinction in England regarding the use of "Mr." and "Esq.," both forms are optional here in America. Either one may be used in good form. But to omit both, and address a man just as "Walter J. Smith" is exceedingly rude and bad taste. Neither should "Esq." and "Jr." be used together in this manner, "Walter J. Smith, Esq., Jr." The correct form would be "Walter J. Smith, Jr." A servant would be addressed merely as Walter J. Smith, without any title.
"Mrs." or "Miss" must invariably precede the name of a woman on an envelope unless she is a professional woman with some such title as "Dr." A woman does not assume her husband's honorary title; thus, it is not good form to address an envelope in this manner: "Mrs. Captain Smith" or "Mrs. Judge Andrews."
A practicing woman physician is addressed in this fashion, when the communication is professional: "Dr. Ellen R. Blank." This form is not used in social correspondence, except in the case of a very famous, elderly physician who is entitled to the honorary title at all times. Otherwise this form is used when the communication is social: "Miss Ellen R. Blank" or "Mrs. John T. Blank."
LETTERS OF CONDOLENCE
Letters of condolence should never be written, unless the writer has been genuinely moved to sympathy. For that reason, they are usually forthcoming only from relatives and intimate friends of the bereaved family. A letter of sympathy should be brief and cordial. Those pretentious letters that are filled with poetic quotations and sentimental expressions are not genuinely sympathetic, and those that refer constantly to the deceased are unkind. A few well-chosen words of sympathy are all that is necessary. Following are two model letters of condolence, that may be used as basic forms for other letters:
New York, August 24th.
Dear Miss Curtis:
I hasten to offer you my most profound sympathy for the great grief that has fallen upon you and your house-hold. If there is anything I can do, I hope you will not hesitate to call upon me.
Harriet B. Wainwright.
Philadelphia, May 5th.
My dear Mrs. Andrews:
Knowing as I do from my own experience how deep your grief must be I also know that there is little that anyone can say or do to make your sorrow any the less. Yet I cannot refrain from offering my sincerest sympathy, and along with it the hope that Time, which softens all things, will make even this easier to bear.
Believe me, most sincerely yours,
Lillian M. Roberts.
ACKNOWLEDGING A LETTER OF CONDOLENCE
Mourning or white paper is always used when answering a letter of condolence, except when the engraved cards of acknowledgment are sent. These are severely plain, and the message is always brief. Often they are sent in the name of the entire family, as:
Mr. and Mrs. John Hall Hammond
gratefully acknowledge your expression of
sympathy upon the death of their daughter.
June 6, 1921.
This is certainly the easiest way for the bereaved to express their gratitude, though simple notes of thanks may be sent instead of the more formal card.
ETIQUETTE OF THE FRIENDLY LETTER
It is often a moot question among friends as to who shall write the first letter. Generally speaking, it is the one who has gone away rather than the one who remains behind who writes first, though among good friends there is no more necessity to count letters than there is to count visits. The writer knew a college girl who, when she came home, decided to wait before writing and see how many of her friends cared enough for her to write to her. She was rather gratified by the result but if each girl who came away from the school had arrived at the same decision the situation would have been a very queer one, to say the least of it.
A young lady who has gone away may send a card or write a brief note to a gentleman but if he is the one who has departed she should not write to him until she has received a letter from him.
Some people may feel that a discourse on friendly letters has no place in a book on social intercourse. But we feel that social success is just as largely dependent upon one's simple friendships as it is upon highly extravagant social activities, and therefore it is necessary to know something about the friendly letter.
The salutation in a friendly letter should always be "Dear Mary" or "Dear Miss Jones." The text of the letter should be written with ease, and instead of a long list of questions (as some letter-writers delight in using), bits of choice news of the day, interesting personal experiences, and the like should be disclosed. As Elizabeth Myers in her book "The Social Letter," says: "The friendly letter is our proxy for a little tête-à-tête, telling of the personal news of the day, and should be as extemporaneous as daily speech. Such letters are given free scope and it would be as bootless to dictate rules as it would be to commit a monologue to memory prior to a friendly visit."
Unless you are very intimate with a friend, and your letter contains "identifying" news, do not sign yourself merely with your Christian name. There are many Marys, and Johns and Harolds; and a letter signed with the full name is as cordial as one which gives only the baptismal name.
There is an old Latin proverb, "Litera scripta manet," meaning "The written letter remains." A very pretty sentiment is attached to this one short sentence. It means not only that the letter itself remains, but that the thoughts contained in that letter, the kind, unselfish, pretty thoughts of friendship, remain forever in heart and mind of the person for whom it was intended. When you write to your friends, make your letters so beautiful in form and text, that they will be read, re-read, and cherished a long time after as a fond memory. It will be a big step on the road to social perfection. Another point to be kept in mind is that nothing should be written in a letter that one would not be willing for almost anyone to see. Letters sometimes travel far, and one can never be altogether sure into what hands they may fall.
THE CHILD'S LETTER
The sooner the child is taught to take care of his or her own personal correspondence, the sooner he or she will become perfect in the art of letter-writing. The little ones should be taught early the significance of the correct letter, the importance of correct social correspondence. Their duties at first may be light, and guided entirely by mother's suggestions; but the youngsters will soon find keen pleasure and enjoyment in creating letters themselves.
Here are a few letters that might have been written by children between the ages of seven and twelve. They are not offered as model letters, for children have a great deal more personality than grown-ups, and they must get that personality into what they write; otherwise the letter will be strained and unnatural. Do not be too critical of their first efforts. Pass over mistakes, and let the letter sound as if the child and not you had written it. At the same time teach them to be careful. With a very small bit of diplomacy the child can be brought to take great pride in a letter which he wrote "with his own hand." And don't make the children say things that they do not want to. Protect them from the petty insincerities of social life as long as possible.
Dear Aunt May:
Thank you ever so much for the pretty doll. I have named her May. Mother thinks she is very pretty but Tom does not. Tom does not like dolls. He plays with the dog and his tops and marbles nearly all the time. The dog's name is Mike. He is black. I like him lots. We are going to have strawberry ice cream Sunday. I wish you could be here. I would give you a big plate full.
Please come to see me soon.
Your loving niece,
Dear Uncle Frank,
I have a box of paints. I painted a dog and a soldier this morning. The soldier has on a red coat. The dog is a pointer. My dog is a rat terrier named Jack. He caught a big rat this morning in the barn. Mother says she thinks he has been eating the chickens. School will be out in a week. I will be glad. Mother says she will not. I know how to swim. There is a creek near here. The water is over my head in one place. I am going fishing one day next week. I caught two perch last time I went.
I wish you a very happy birthday, and I hope that you will like the present I sent you. Mother says that she will take me to see you soon. I wish she could take me to-day.
Your loving grandchild,
LETTERS TO PERSONS OF TITLE
A certain set of definite rules is prescribed for all communication with titled people. The general rules given for ordinary social correspondence are not the same for persons of title, and as each executive, dignitary and man or woman of royal blood requires special address, it will be necessary to incorporate them into a compact scale that can be easily referred to. At the end of this volume is a scale giving the opening, closing and address, formal and informal, for every person of title.
PARENTS AND CHILDREN
The home is the unit of our social life, and just as the whole can be no greater than the sum of its parts so the standard of behavior in a community can be no higher than the sum of the standards in the homes that make up that community. If in the home one observes strictly the rules of politeness, which means kindness, one will have very little trouble with the rules of etiquette, which is simply the way politeness finds expression in our intercourse with each other. Minor canons of etiquette change from time to time but good manners are always the same, and never out of fashion.
APPEARANCE OF THE HOUSE
Obviously a book on etiquette cannot go into the problems of interior decoration; yet a word or two will not be out of place. The influence of one's surroundings on one's temper is enormous though the person may be unconscious of the fact. A disordered room gives a feeling of depression and hopelessness to the one who enters it while one that is tidy tends to impart a feeling of restfulness. If in addition to its neatness it is furnished in harmonious colors—and one cannot be too careful of the colors that are used in the home—in subdued tones it will contribute much more to the peace and happiness of the home than even those who live there realize. It will not eliminate bad tempers or do away with disagreeable moments but it will certainly help to reduce them to a minimum.
In another volume in the chapter on funerals we have spoken of the influence of dress, especially of the influence of the constant presence of black on young children. This is only one small phase of a very big subject.
In the home the chief requisite of one's dress is neatness. A man will find it much easier to accord the little courtesies of well-bred society to his wife if she is neatly and becomingly dressed, however simple the gown may be, than if she is slatternly and untidy. The children also will find it much easier to love, honor and obey if their parents give a reasonable amount of time to taking care of their personal appearance. It is not the most important thing in life but it is one of the little things "that of large life make the whole" and one that has much to do with making it pleasant or unpleasant.
In one of O. Henry's stories a little girl down on Chrystie Street asks her father, "a red-haired, unshaven, untidy man sitting shoeless by the window" to play a game of checkers with her. He refuses and the child goes out into the street to play with the other children "in the corridors of the house of sin." The story is not a pretty one. Six or seven years later there is a dance, a murder and a plunge into the East River. And then the great short story writer says that he dreamed the rest of the story. He thought he was in the next world and "Liz," for that was the girl's name, was being tried for murder and self-destruction. There was no doubt but that she had committed the crimes ascribed to her, but the verdict of the officer in the celestial court was, "Discharged." And he added, "The guilty party you've got to look for in this case is a red-haired, unshaven, untidy man, sitting by the window reading, in his stocking feet, while his children play in the streets." It is not so much that dress in itself is important but that it is an index to so much else, and while it is not an infallible one it is about as near right as any we have.
DRESS FOR CHILDREN
There can be nothing quite so humiliating to a child as to be dressed in an outlandish fashion that renders him conspicuous. Some mothers, delighting in the attractive clothes that they buy for their children, do not realize what havoc they are causing to the tastes of the child. A little boy should be dressed like a little boy, and he should be allowed to develop his own tastes in the selection of his suits and blouses. A little girl should by all means be allowed to make her choice of the clothes she is to wear, guided by mother's superior knowledge and experience. But to force a child to wear a garment against which its very soul revolts, is to crush whatever natural instincts the child may have for the beautiful and artistic.
It is sad to see a child fretting uncomfortably in a suit that is too tight, or a huge sailor hat that laps down over the eyes. Simple, comfortable clothes are the best for children, but they should be excellent material. Rather give the child one dress of excellent material and workmanship, than two that are faulty and inferior. Teach her to appreciate material and she will always prefer quality to gaudiness.
CHILDREN AND DEVELOPMENT
It is not enough to give children the material things of life. There are some things that money cannot buy, and this thing we call "culture" is one of them. It is a part of the heavy responsibility of parents to lead the children in their charge into the paths of right thinking and right living and the task should be a joyous one. For every child born into the world has infinite possibilities and at its very worst the task is illumined by the ray of hope. Even the ugly duckling became a swan.
KNOW YOUR CHILDREN!
Make that your first commandment in your plan of child-nature. Know your children! And by "knowing" we do not mean their faults, their likes and dislikes, their habits. Know their ambitions, their little hopes, their fears and joys and sorrows. Be not only their advisors and parents, but their friends.
In his book, "Making the Most of Children," La Rue says: "We may say there are four kinds of parents,—spades, clubs, diamonds and hearts." The spade parent, he explains, is buried in his work, eager only to clothe attractively the body of the child, but willing that the soul go naked. The club parent is engrossed in social activities; the father with his clubs and sports, the mother with her dinners and entertainments. The diamond parents love glitter and ostentation. They must seem wealthy and prosperous at all cost. They devote their time and thoughts to their home and outward appearance—they never think about knowing their children.
But the heart parent, La Rue tells us, is the man or woman who is essentially a home maker. He provides a library for the child, a cozy room, an environment that is truly home. And he spends time with him, learning all about his hopes and ambitions, encouraging him, teaching him. He knows the child; and the child knows that he has a friend upon whom to depend not only for material comforts but for spiritual advice and guidance.
You must know your children, before you can attempt to make them well-mannered and well-bred.
The strongest force that enters into the molding of children's character and deportment is the character and deportment of their own parents. Youngsters cannot find the beautiful gift of good manners in some unknown place; whatever they do and say is in imitation of something they heard their elders do and say. The whole life of a man or woman is colored by the environment and atmosphere of his or her early childhood.
Children should not be taught "party manners." If they are to be well-bred at all, they must be so at all times; and ill-bred parents can no more have well-bred children than an oak tree can have pine needles. And the chief beauty of perfect manners is that they are so habitual as to be perfectly unconscious.
Of great importance, therefore, is the law of teaching by example. Show the children that you yourself follow the laws of good conduct and courtesy. Whether guests are present or not, let your table etiquette be faultless. Address everyone, and especially the children themselves, with studied courtesy and thoughtfulness. A well-bred child is known immediately by his or her speech; and when courtesy and gentle, polite conversation is the rule in the home, it will follow as the night the day that it will be the rule elsewhere.
Parents invariably feel embarrassment at the ill-manners and lack of courtesy on the part of their children. They would often be able to avoid this embarrassment if they realized that it was simply their manners and lack of courtesy in the home, an indication that they themselves neglect the tenets of good breeding.
THE CHILD'S SPEECH
It is a very grave mistake to repress constantly the speech of children. But it is necessary that they should be taught early the true value of conversation, instead of being permitted to prattle nonsense. An excellent training is to converse with the child when you are alone with him, drawing out his ideas, giving him "food for thought," telling him interesting stories and watching his reactions.
In addressing elders the child should know exactly the correct forms to use. For instance, it is no longer considered good form for anyone except servants or tradespeople to use the expressions "Yes, ma'am," and "Yes, sir." Still there is some deference due parents and elders, and the correct method of address is, "Yes, mother," or "No, father," or "Thank you, Mr. Gray." The manner of the child is just as important as the form of expression; a courteous, respectful manner should always be used towards elders.
Contradictions are unbecoming in children. Yet the young girl or boy must be entitled to his or her own opinion. If something is said with which he does not agree, and if he is taking part in the conversation, he may say, "I beg your pardon, but...." or, "I really think you are making a mistake. I think that...."
AT THE TABLE
The final test of good manners comes at the table. Remembering this the parents should lay special stress on this part of a child's training, so as to make his manner of eating as natural as his manner of breathing. And one is almost as important as the other. There are no particular rules for children beyond those which older people should follow and these are given further on in this volume. Children are really little men and women and their training is all for the purpose of equipping them to live the lives of men and women in the happiest and most useful way possible.
A child should never seat himself until those older than he are in place though even this should not be ostentatious. As soon as the mother or whoever is presiding at the table indicates that it is time for them to be seated they all should take their places almost simultaneously.
Disparaging comments on the food are ill-bred. Unpleasant incidents should be passed over lightly whether they take place in the intimacy of the home circle or in a more formal gathering.
The conversation should be agreeable. Quarreling, nagging, gossiping, scandal-mongering, and fretting are absolutely taboo.
We have already said that children catch their manners from the people about them. This is as true of their playmates as of their parents and when the child is in school nearly all day and playing out somewhere the rest of the time except during the evening when he is at home studying it is perhaps even more so. The most rigid discipline and the most loving care will not prevail against the example of Tom, Dick, or Harry, if these three have been allowed "to run wild." There is a glamor about lawlessness even among children. This should be kept in mind by their parents, and while they should be placed, insofar as it is possible, among desirable playmates, there should not be too stern repression. For this may stifle development, it may breed sullenness, or it may engender rebellion.
There are too many parents to-day who try to bring up their children "by the rule." There is no rule. Each child is a law unto himself and the best way the mother or father can learn to take care of him is to study the youngster himself.
Instead of the swaggering playmate or one that is otherwise undesirable the parent should offer something better. Of course, he should be his child's friend and counselor as well as his parent, but the wisest and most lovable parent that ever lived could not satisfy all the longings and desires of the child's heart. He needs companionship of his own age. The constant friction among playmates is the best way in the world to rub away sharp corners and rough places.
Games, books, music, toys, friends—carefully chosen, these are the most important elements which enter into the molding of the child's life and are therefore the ones to which greatest attention should be given.
A party is something that the average child looks back upon with pleasure for a long, long time. There is no more pleasant way of inculcating a feeling of genuine hospitality or of bringing about an easy manner in the drawing-room than through allowing children to have parties and giving them a large share of the responsibility for making them successful. The mother should superintend everything but she should consult and advise the child about favors, refreshments, etc. The most attractive invitations are those which the youngster himself writes. Charming designs may be had from the stationers with blank spaces to be filled in by the person sending them. This makes the child's task delightful as well as simple.
Until he is old enough to write, his mother pens his invitations. Rarely are engraved invitations used for a children's affair. The invitation may be addressed to the child or to its mother and since parties for little people are usually very informal the invitation should be informal also. The following shows a form which is sometimes used:
Dear Mrs. Grant,
I am having a little party for some of Julian's friends Thursday afternoon and am so anxious for Mary to come. If you will send her about four o'clock I will see that she gets back home around six.
Agnes K. Marshall
If the invitation is addressed to the child it might be worded something like this:
Julian is planning to have a little party Thursday afternoon and he wants you to come about four o'clock. Tell your mother that we will see that you get home about six. We both want you very much.
Cordially your friend,
Agnes K. Marshall.
Birthday parties are usually held in the afternoon between three and six. Older children, those of the Sweet Sixteen age, may have parties from four to seven, or eight o'clock. Hallowe'en, New Year and St. Patrick's Day parties for little tots, are invariably in the afternoon. Mother should arrange for sufficient interesting games to keep the youngsters amused and entertained; and it always adds greatly to the fun, if a little prize is offered for the winner of each game.
Parties and ice-cream, of course, go hand in hand. Sweets, cakes and fruit usually accompany the ice-cream. Sometimes hot chocolate and wafers are served to the youngsters. At the birthday party, the inevitable birthday cake is usually cut and served by the young host or hostess. Mother must not forget the candles, "one for each year and one for good measure." The refreshments at young folks' parties are usually served at or about four o'clock.
It is most essential to have a sufficient number of amusements planned to keep the children entertained every minute of the time. They cannot be trusted to take care of themselves especially if the party is a mixed one. The hostess must also be careful not to have the games so active as to tire the youngsters out and she must be sure that the refreshments are wholesome. It is no very small undertaking to give a successful children's party but the reward is great enough to make it worth while.
The two important rules of children's parties may be analyzed briefly as: simplicity and a surprise combined with suspense. Suspense is especially important; children have impatient little souls and when they are promised some strange and vague surprise, they are delighted beyond measure, and spend the time awaiting it with keen delight and expectation.
The surprise may consist of a huge Jack Horner pie, filled with pretty souvenirs. It may be a Brownie party, with cunning little Brownie hoods and caps previously prepared for the young visitors. It may be any one of a thousand gay, simple, childhood games that youngsters delight in. To offer a prize for the winner always arouses keen interest in the game.
RECEIVING THE YOUNG GUESTS
At children's parties, the hostess stands in the background cordially seconding the welcomes extended by her little son or daughter. When everyone has arrived, the young host or hostess leads the way into the dining-room and the dinner.
After the dinner there will be games until it is time to leave. The wise hostess will see that all fragile bric-à-brac and expensive furniture is well out of the way before the children come. And she will see that as soon as a game is becoming too boisterous, or too tiresome, another is suggested. There must be variety to the entertainment for children grow weary very quickly.
ABOUT THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
If the party is in honor of a child's birthday, an effort should be made to make it as festive as possible. The birthday flower, whatever it happens to be, should be given prominence. The table should have an attractive floral centerpiece, and must be as well-laid as the correctly formal dinner-table of the older folks.
It is customary for the guests to bring a gift for the child, but lately it has been forbidden by some parents. There is no reason to forbid it, however, as the custom is a pretty one and the gifts are usually trifling. And it is as amusing as it is pleasing to watch how proudly and importantly the young visitor bestows his gifts upon his comrade.
The birthday cake holds the place of honor on the table. Around the edge of it, in small tin holders, are candles—one for each year the child has thus far celebrated. One candle is blown out by each little guest, and with it goes a secret wish of happiness for the boy or girl whose birthday it is. Some parents do not wish to run the risk of accidents caused by burning candles. In this case, it is pretty to have the icing on cake represent the face of a clock, with the hour hand pointing to the hour which indicates the child's age. Very often when the slices of birthday cake are distributed, tiny gifts are presented with them.
WHEN THE YOUNG GUESTS LEAVE
A problem which the hostess of children's parties invariably meets, is how to get the children home safely. Undoubtedly, the parents of the young children should provide some means of having them escorted home safely after the party; the duty should not be allowed to devolve upon the hostess. If the children are older, of high-school age, the young boys may be trusted to escort the girls to their homes. When children are very young they have no idea when to leave. The hostess may say, "Let us have one more game before you start for home, children," and immediately proceed to explain what the game shall be, impressing it upon them that they are expected to leave for home as soon as it is over. Or she may suggest a final grand march which the youngsters will no doubt enter into whole-heartedly—and the march may lead into the room where their wraps are waiting.
There is nothing quite as beautiful and gratifying as a group of laughing, happy children; and the hostess who has attained this may indeed feel repaid for her trouble. Children are easy to please, too. Something absurd, something the least bit out of the ordinary, something queer or grotesque, is bound to win their immediate applause no matter how simple and inexpensive it may be. And strangely enough, the hostess who manages to bring the sunshine and merriment into the hearts of her young guests, feels young and childish herself for the time being—and the feeling is one of such utter delight and happiness that it is well worth the effort.
CHILDREN'S ENTERTAINMENTS AWAY FROM HOME
There are many delightful ways of entertaining children away from home, and out-of-door parties are especially wholesome. Motion pictures parties for children that are old enough are very pleasing if the picture is a good one. This is a point that should be carefully attended to beforehand. It is no time to "take a chance." At the party out in the woods or down by the bank of the creek refreshments should consist of picnic fare. The motion picture party or the matinée party might be followed by ice-cream or by a simple dinner. But however many of these entertainments one may give one must remember that there is after all not a great deal of art in amusing people when the amusements are furnished by someone else, and also that the art of entertaining charmingly at home is perhaps the greatest art of them all.
CHILDREN AND DANCING
The dancing school teaches the youngster a great deal more than merely a few dancing steps. From no other source is it possible for the young boy or girl to acquire the grace, the poise, the charm of manner that the dancing school imparts.
The writer knows a very lovely young miss of twelve years, who has so charming a manner that one delights to be with her. Yet, her parents confide, that two years ago she was so nervous and fidgety that they were ashamed to take her anywhere. They attribute her present grace and ease to her lessons at dancing school.
There is no reason why boys should not also be registered at the dancing school. A young man who, in childhood learned the little formalities of the dancing school, will not be likely to feel ill at ease in the formal drawing-room, or at the elaborate dinner. He will know how to conduct himself without embarrassment or self-consciousness.
In training our children's manners and speech, we must not forget that their physical development is most important. Etiquette requires that the child know, not only how to act at the table, how to greet visitors and how to be well-behaved and mannerly, but also how to appear polite and polished. Dancing gives them just the right foundation for grace and courtesy of manner.
A WORD TO PARENTS
In your hands has been placed the destiny of a child, or of children, to be molded, developed and formed into a perfect being. Do not make the mistake that so many parents make—the mistake of thinking that the child is a miniature of yourself, a pocket edition of yourself as it were. You have certain tastes, habits, hopes and desires cultivated through years of experience and education. The child has a young mind to be expanded and developed, a young body to be molded into lines of grace and charm, a young life to be made fine and beautiful.
It is not an easy task, this leading a child through the correct channels of early life. The young minds are so sensitive, the young memory is so retentive; evil influences are so easily made, and become so readily a part of the boy's or girl's life. Someone once said, "Motherhood is made up of denial." All parenthood is made up of denial—for from the time the youngster first opens its eyes in its cradle, the parents must deny themselves everything that is necessary to make that child a perfect man or woman.
They must give up much of their social duties to attend to the development of the child's mind. They must spend hours with the youngster in his own or her play, so that there will be woven in with that play, a subtle teaching. They must deny themselves material and spiritual comforts so that those whose destiny is in their hands, will be correctly prepared to meet life.
There are several chapters to the book of childhood. It is the complete volume that counts—not just one page. Follow your child through all his chapters of childhood, enter into his play and study and ambitions. There are so many little incidents that remain in the memory and permanently change the behavior. It is one thing to be just a parent, quite another to be parent and friend. Let your child see that you are interested in all his activities, and your influence will have a great deal to do in the shaping of his future manners.
"Be as careful of the books you read as of the company you keep; for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as by the latter." This bit of wisdom from the pen of Paxton Hood reveals one great duty which confronts every parent. The child must have its own library, and one that will correctly develop its mind and manners. Even if it is only one shelf of books in the nursery, it should belong to the child itself. The pride of personal ownership increases the value of the books.
Books should be chosen with care, but there should be sufficient variety to enable the young boy or girl to select the subject that he or she is most interested in. Fiction should be of the better kind, "Robinson Crusoe," "Little Lord Fauntleroy," the "Jungle Books," "Grimm's or Andersen's Fairy Tales," "Alice in Wonderland," etc. Boys will like "Plain Tales from the Hills," "Bob, Son of Battle," "Treasure Island," "The Sea Wolf," "Huckleberry Finn," "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," etc.
There should be special attention given to the classics. It is unfortunate that so much of the time devoted to them should be spent altogether in the schoolroom for books that one has to read are rarely the ones that one likes best. Dickens, Thackeray, Shakespeare, George Eliot, and a mighty host of others are waiting for the child who is old enough to understand them. The parent should watch the tendencies of the mind of his child and should keep him supplied with books that will develop and expand the little intellect in accordance with its natural preferences. The best way to teach a child to care for books is to keep him surrounded with them and to read to him or tell him stories from time to time and to be patient if he is slow in manifesting a desire to use the key that unlocks the treasure that lies between the covers of books.
Music is one of the best means of developing the child's emotional nature and of subduing wayward impulses and of bringing about harmony in the home circle. The writer knows of one family—and there are many others—which sometimes in the evening finds itself all at sixes and sevens. Nobody agrees with anybody else; the whole group is hopelessly tangled. The mother goes to the piano and begins playing a song that they all know. One by one the members of the family join in and it is not long before they are all gathered around the piano singing song after song and the petty disagreements and the unpleasant feeling of discord have vanished into thin air.
Much is to be said in favor of the gramophones. Through them the best music is accessible to almost everyone. But it is not wise to depend on them altogether, for children have talent to be developed, and there is a charm about music in the family that is like, to use a crude comparison—home-cooking. It cannot be duplicated elsewhere.
LET THE CHILD BE NATURAL
After all, the greatest charm of childhood is natural, spontaneous simplicity. Stilted, party-mannered children are bores. They are unnatural. And that which is not natural, cannot be well-bred.
The cause of shy, bashful, self-conscious youngsters is wrong training. They are repressed instead of developed. Their natural tendencies are held down by constant reminders and scoldings and warnings. Instead, they should be brought out by proper encouragement, by kind, sympathetic understanding. Some children have the idea, in their extreme youth, that parents are made only to forbid things, to repress them and make them do things against which their natures revolt. The bond that should exist between parent and child is a certain understanding friendliness—an implicit faith on the part of the child, and a wise guidance on the part of the parent.
Remember that a child is like a flower. If the flower is not permitted to struggle upward towards the sun, and to gather in the tiny dewdrops, it will wither and die. If the child is not allowed to develop naturally, its tastes and ideals will be warped and shallow.
Teach your child to be well-mannered and polite, but do not disguise him with unnatural manners and speech.
THE YOUNG GIRL
There are two kinds of young girls—those who face life as some great opportunity, who consider it a splendid gift to be made the most of, and who help to create the beauty that they love to admire; and those who are butterflies of society, whose lives are mere husks, without depth, without worth-while impulses and ambitions. They are satisfied if they know how to dance gracefully, if they know how to enter a room in an impressive manner, if they know how to be charming at the dinner table. Their conversation is idle chatter; their ambitions are to be "social queens," to earn social distinction and importance.
Fortunately, the twentieth century girl is less of a butterfly than the tight-laced hoop-skirted young miss of the latter part of the nineteenth century. Perhaps the war had something to do with it. Perhaps it is because so many new occupations have been opened up to her. Perhaps it is evolution. But the young miss of to-day is certainly more thrilled with life and its possibilities than her sister of two or three decades ago ever was.
Life is no longer shown to the young daughter as a plaything by fond parents who plan no future except marriage and social success for the young woman whose future rests in their hands. To-day life is shown to her as it is shown to her brother—as something beautiful, something impressive, something worthy of deep thought and ambitious plan.
To-day the young girl is not only taught to dance gracefully, to enter a room correctly, and to conduct herself with ease and charm at the dinner table, but she is taught to develop her natural talents and abilities so that the world will be left a little better for her having lived in it. Her conduct, therefore, is tinged with a new dignity of purpose, a new desire to make the best of the gift of life. Instead of idle chatter her conversation assumes the proportion of intellectual discussion, and young men and women to-day discuss intelligently problems that would not have been mentioned in polite society a generation ago.
It is to help the young girl to prepare for the glorious future that awaits her that the following paragraphs are written.
THE GIRL'S MANNERS
There is nothing quite as charming in a young girl as repose of manner. A soft voice, a quiet, cultured manner is more to be admired than a pretty face, or an elaborate gown.
Let the young girl look to the ancient Greeks for inspiration. Here she will find the true conception of beauty—repose of manner and utter simplicity. She will find that to be perfect is to be natural, and that one must be simple and unostentatious to be beautiful in the true sense of the word. After all, what can be quite so lovely as beautiful manners? And what can be more worthy of admiration and respect than a sweet, well-mannered young girl?
Politeness and courtesy are two other important virtues that the young girl should develop. She should be as polite to her mother and sister as she is to strangers. She should be courteous and kind to everyone. And she should learn the art of listening as well as the art of conversation.
American girls with their independent ideas of social requirements mock the idea of a chaperon to the theater or dance. And this is especially true of the many young women who are planning careers for themselves, who intend to be more than social butterflies.
We are proud of the ideal American girl. We do not mean, of course, the self-esteemed, arrogant young miss who derides all conventions and calls herself "free." In her we are not interested at all. But there is the true American type—the young girl who is essentially a lady, who has self-reliance but is not bold, who is firm without being overbearing, who is brainy but not masculine, who is courageous, strong and fearless, yet feminine. She has no need of the chaperon; and it is because of her that the "decay of the chaperon" has been so rapid in America.
And so we find that the American girl who is well-bred, who is well-mannered and high-principled, may attend the theater and the dance with gentlemen, unchaperoned. It is only when she travels abroad or stops at a hotel for any length of time that social requirements still command that she be chaperoned. But even then, the girl who travels on business purposes, need feel no embarrassment when she is alone, if her manner and speech are as polished and correct as they should be.
THE YOUNG COUNTRY MISS
In the small town or in the country, if a young girl goes to a party or other social meeting with a young man, he is, of course, expected to escort her home again. If the hour is early and the family will probably still be up, she may invite him in if she wishes to do so. But it is not an obligation. If it is late, she does not invite him into the house, but she may ask him to call. In some sections of the United States it is still considered correct for the young man himself to request that he be permitted to call.
A correspondent has written to inquire whether or not it is correct for a young girl to thank a young man for his escort just before leaving him at her own door. Evidently the young lady who has written has herself been in doubt as to whether or not it is correct. In this instance, circumstances alter cases. If she were a young country miss returning from an informal village function, she would by no means offer thanks. But if the young man has obviously put himself to an inconvenience to escort her home, then it is only polite that she offer him some expression of gratitude. A city girl does not thank her escort, but he on the other hand, may thank her for a very pleasant afternoon or evening if he wishes to do so.
THE GIRL AND HER MOTHER
The young girl should follow her mother's example and advice in all things. Eighteen is the correct coming-out age for the young American girl, and until then she should obey her mother without question. She should be guided by her wider experience, by her more mature knowledge. But unfortunately this is not always so. Mothers and daughters are not the "pals" they ought to be.
Recently a woman was asked by a very close friend why she allowed her daughter to attend the theater and the dance with a young man who was of questionable character. "Surely you have some influence over her," the friend persisted. "Tell her to avoid him." But she simply smiled in a tired sort of way and said, "I am only her mother."
This should not be. The mother should guide her daughter in all she does, and the daughter should be willing to abide by her mother's decisions. Otherwise that sacred, beautiful friendship that can be created only between a mother and daughter will never exist.
FOR THE SHY AND SELF-CONSCIOUS
A great many of us suffer from self-consciousness. We always imagine that people are looking at us, talking about us, ridiculing us. We are never at ease among strangers, never happy when people are around. We are always embarrassed, shy, ill at ease.
There is a story told about the famous Hawthorne who was so shy and self-conscious that he ran out of the house or hid himself whenever he saw visitors approaching. His wife, who was also very timid and retiring by nature, was left to entertain the guests as best she could. Hawthorne was heartily ashamed of himself, but instead of trying to overcome his self-consciousness he sought and found forgetfulness in his books and writings. His wife, on the other hand, was forced to overcome her natural timidity for the sake of her husband and for the sake of the hospitality of the Hawthorne home. And because she determined to do it, she soon became entirely unself-conscious and able to conduct herself with ease and unconcern even among the most celebrated people.
And so you see that self-consciousness can be overcome. There is no reason for the bride to feel embarrassed and ill at ease when she is hostess for the first time in her new home. There is no reason for the young girl to feel shy and timid when she is introduced in society. There is no reason for the young man to be self-conscious in the presence of ladies. A little will power and a little sincere effort will banish this fault forever.
FORGET ABOUT YOURSELF
That is the only way you can hope to cure yourself of self-consciousness—forget about yourself! There are so many delightful things you can think of, so many interesting things beyond the selfish little boundaries of your own self. Send your thoughts abroad, send them into the universe to drink deeply of knowledge and learning, to delve into the wells of profound interest that surround us on every side—and forget about the petty commonplaces of life, the unimportant everyday conventionalities. Then you will forget about yourself also, and before you realize it you will be calm, dignified, unafraid. All suggestion of self-consciousness will have vanished.
WHY THE SHY ARE AWKWARD
When a bride leaves a small country place to become the hostess in a large house in a large city, she is very likely to feel ill at ease and conscious of herself. Naturally, this makes her awkward in her manners.
Shyness is over-sensitiveness—a shrinking from observation. It causes us to worry about what others are thinking about us, and naturally it makes us morbid. Thus we are kept from appearing at our best, and in all our manners and actions we appear awkward and nervous. It is very necessary to overcome this fault if one wishes to mingle with people of the best society.
Orison Swett Marden says, "If you are a victim of timidity and self-depreciation, afraid to say your soul is your own; if you creep about the world as though you thought you were taking up room which belonged to somebody else; if you are bashful, timid, confused, tongue-tied when you ought to assert yourself, say to yourself, 'I am a child of the King of Kings. I will no longer suffer this cowardly timidity to rule me. I am made by the same Creator who made all other human beings. They are my brothers and sisters. There is no more reason why I should be afraid to express what I feel or think before them than if they were in my own family.'"
The great inspirational writer has shown you in this little paragraph the way to overcome your self-consciousness—the foolish timidity that is robbing you of your privilege of self-assertion, of your ease and grace of manner, of your very happiness. Whenever you feel embarrassed and ill at ease in the presence of strangers, think of the words of Marden. Remember that you are one of the children of the universe, that we are all brothers and sisters, and that you have as much right to assert yourself as any other man or woman in the world. And when you finally do overcome your timidity you will find that you have acquired a splendid new grace and charm of manner.
SELF-CONFIDENCE VERSUS CONCEIT
Do not have the mistaken idea that confidence in oneself, lack of self-consciousness, is conceit. As a matter of fact, it is much better to be shy and self-conscious than to be a pert, aggressive egotist.
The first lesson to learn, in your crusade against self-consciousness, is that you must not be ashamed of your shyness. That will make you even more conscious of yourself. Forget that you are shy. Or if you cannot forget, tell yourself that it is better to be reserved and modest than to be conceited and aggressive. Do not shrink from strangers, but meet them and talk to them as though they were your brothers, or sisters. Treat everyone like an equal, but do not treat yourself as an inferior.
Self-confidence is what makes success, whether it is in the social world or the business world. It was self-confidence that helped Edison with each new invention. It was self-confidence that enabled Madame Marie Curie, penniless and obscure, to discover radium, the greatest and most wonderful metal in the world. All achievement is founded on self-confidence—not of the aggressive sort, but of the quiet, calm, unassuming sort that is so easy to develop if one will only try.
Determine that you will no longer allow timidity and shyness to rule you. Assert yourself! And watch how your manners improve.
The country hostess must not feel that she is expected to entertain her guests in city fashion. There is a great deal of difference between the facilities and conditions of country and city life, and social activities are consequently different in both localities.
In the country there is much less mingling with strangers than there is in the city. Social entertainments are confined very largely to the home fireside. There are few clubs, few large halls and auditoriums. A feeling of intimacy and good-fellowship exists which is entirely lacking in large cities. Almost everybody knows everybody else, and when a large entertainment is given, the whole village knows about it.
To attempt to emulate her city sister would be folly for the country hostess. She hasn't the facilities nor the natural conditions conducive to the elaborate and strictly formal entertainments and activities of the city. In the country everything should be on a simpler, more informal basis; the natural beauties of the country are certainly not compatible with the fashionable and often ostentatious activities of the city.
IMPORTANCE OF SIMPLICITY
We go to the country because we are tired of the town and we want rest, quiet, peace. We do not expect to find a frenzied attempt at imitation of city entertainments. Yet this is what so many hostesses do—instead of retaining the delightful natural simplicity of their homes, they feel that they must entertain their city friends in city fashion. And invariably they fail.
Very often when a city man or woman is tired of the sham and narrow conventionalities of city life, he or she will plan to visit a country friend. If that country friend is wise, he or she will make no elaborate preparations, but just greet the friend with the simple country hospitality that is so alluring to city people. Where in the city can you find the good-fellowship, the spontaneity, the courteous kindliness that you find in the small town and village? Where in the city can you find the open-hearted generosity, the sympathetic understanding and the simple courtesy that you find among country people? The elaborate ball room with its richly gowned women is charming and impressive; but the simple country party with its Virginia reel, the daughters in their party clothes and mothers in their "best black silks" are no less charming.
For the sake of those young men and women who live in the country and know liveried chauffeurs and uniformed butlers only through books, for the sake of those men and women who live in the country because they love simplicity and the beauties of nature, but for those who are eager to know good manners and know what is correct at all times, we are writing the following paragraph on etiquette in the small town. Let us first write about
When entertaining guests from the city, fresh flowers should be brought into the house every day. The meal served should be simple; elaborate course dinners are not in good form when the facilities of the hostess do not permit them. Nothing ostentatious should be attempted; just simple, homelike hospitality such as is offered the neighbors and friends of the village.
Early dining is usual in the country, especially in the summer. Sometimes high tea is served. The tea-urn is placed on the table before the hostess to give a homelike air to the function, and fruits and flowers are placed in cut glass bowls on the table. Preserves, honey and cakes should also be on the table in cut glass or china dishes. Hot biscuits, muffins and wafers are usually served at high tea, with one substantial dish like cold chicken, salad or cold sliced meats.
Hammocks, tennis courts, rowboats, etc., should be placed at the disposal of visiting guests. The considerate hostess always plans some sort of entertainment for guests that have come a long way to visit her, but she does not make any attempt to provide anything elaborate. A simple country dance or a musicale is relaxing and entertaining.
Protection from flies, mosquitoes, etc. should be provided for guests. If chairs and hammocks are on the porch, it should be completely screened in to prevent mosquitoes from annoying the guests. It is just such little considerations as these that make country hospitality so delightful.
Whether you are a guest from the city, or a friend from the village, you have a certain definite etiquette to observe when you are at the home of a country hostess. First you must make yourself agreeable and helpful. If you are from the city, forget the restricting formalities you have been accustomed to. You may speak to everyone in the hostess' drawing-room—or parlor—even though there have been no introductions. And if you see an elderly man or woman standing all alone in one corner of the room, you can go over to him or her, start a conversation, and offer to get a chair or an ice for the stranger. It is not necessary to wait for an introduction.
Do not be dull during the afternoon or evening. Be pleasant and agreeable; if conversation lags, stimulate it with an interesting anecdote. If you can entertain in some way, either by singing, playing some musical instrument, or reciting, don't be backward about offering your services. Remember you are not in an elaborate ball room but among simple country folks, and if you can provide enjoyable entertainment for them, they will appreciate it just as much as you yourself will enjoy it.
An offish person always spoils the fun of a country party. If you feel you are superior to the Virginia reel and the apple paring contests, do not attend. Move to the city where you can attend elaborate social functions. But while you are at the party, do your best to add to the general enjoyment, and do not spoil things by being disagreeable and unpleasant.
It is poor taste to wear very fashionable city clothes to a simple country entertainment. If you come from the city, wear something simple and pretty, but not something that will make you conspicuous. If you are a man and you know that none of the other men will wear full dress, then don't be presumptuous enough to appear in your swallow-tail. But if you are a village friend, you may wear your "Sunday best" for undoubtedly everyone else who attends the party will do likewise.
FOR COUNTRY FOLKS
Never attempt to make false impressions. That is one great fault found among certain country people. When city friends call, they attempt to overawe them with their superiority. While the city friends are with them, they do not notice their village friends at church, nor do they invite them to their house. They devote themselves exclusively to their friends from the city—and invariably those friends return home disappointed and disillusioned.
When people move in the neighborhood, it is considered polite to pay them the first visit—"to extend the hand of welcome," as the expression is. The hostess should offer a cup of tea with crackers or cake, and should make herself agreeable in every way. However, the acquaintance should not be forced; if the newcomers are haughty and aloof, it is well to leave them to themselves, until they have absorbed some of the good-fellowship and courtesy of the village.
There is very little need for formal calling cards in the small village where everybody knows everybody else. A great many of the conventionalities of city life are, of course, found in the country; but a great many more of them are lacking. And among them are the strictly formal introductions, calls and social functions that are observed with such punctiliousness in the city. Simplicity should be the keynote of country life, and quiet, dignified manners should be the ideal of country people.
THE ENDLESS ROUND OF HOSPITALITY
Hospitality does not mean the giving of sumptuous banquets or elaborate dinners. It does not mean the extravagant recklessness of much-talked-about house parties, or extended yachting trips. It does not mean the holding of gay and festive balls.
No, it means none of these, for even in the most humble home one can find the truest hospitality. There need be no rich display, no obvious effort at ostentation. For hospitality is that open-hearted, open-handed, generous, lovable, beautiful fellow-feeling for fellow-mortals—the kind of feeling that makes you throw open your home, small apartment or mighty mansion, as the case may be, and bid your friends and acquaintances welcome. Welcome, mind you, that has in its greeting none of the sham cordiality, that wealthy people sometimes parade merely for the sake of being able to show their worldly goods to the envious eyes of their guests,—but a whole-souled and whole-hearted welcome that is willing to share everything one has.
And so, the round of hospitality goes endlessly on, host and hostess making the pleasure and comfort of the guest their prime consideration. Parties, receptions, dances, balls, dinners—all are instances of the eagerness of the world, the social world, to entertain, to give pleasure, to amuse. And the guests, in their turn, repay the hospitalities with other hospitalities of their own. And we find, in this glorious twentieth century it is our fortune to be living in, a wholesome, generous hospitality that puts to shame the history-famed achievements of kings and princes of yore.
WHEN TO INVITE
The question naturally arises, what are the occasions that require hospitality? Frankly, there are no definite occasions. Hospitality is the index to breeding and culture at all times. But there are certain ceremonious occasions that warrant the invited hospitality—and such are the occasions that we will study in this chapter.
First, we find the wedding anniversary claiming the ceremony of many invited guests and much festive entertainment. Thus, wedding anniversaries offer an excellent opportunity for hospitality. Then there is the occasion of the young daughter's introduction to society—an event which is important, indeed, and requires the utmost hospitality on the part of host and hostess alike. When one's son graduates from college, a little dinner party and perhaps some musical entertainment afterward is an appropriate time to show by one's hospitality, sincere gratitude for the splendid educational opportunities afforded the youth of America. Oh, there are countless opportunities, countless "excuses," if you will call it that, countless occasions when hospitality can be shown to one's friends and acquaintances! And it is only by taking advantage of these opportunities, by revealing one's unselfish, ungrudging hospitality, that one rightly earns the name of cultured.
The hostess who sighs in relief when the guest has departed is not truly hospitable. She should have a certain sense of satisfaction in the knowledge of her very weariness. For hasn't she served her guests well? Hasn't she sent them to their homes a little happier than when they first came? The sigh should be one of sheer joy.
No one invites guests to his or her home to make them unhappy. Therefore, if among your friends you number one whose worldly goods are very much less than your own, do not invite him or her to a fashionable ball where rich display will make him feel sadly out of place. Rather save the invitation for a quiet, afternoon tea. And on the other hand, if you are unable to care for the wants and comforts of several guests, do not invite them to house parties.
Be hospitable—but above all use good sense and good judgment before you invite.
THE GUESTS AND THEIR DUTIES
The fact that America is the home of hospitality and land of the most generous hostesses, does not indicate necessarily that the guest, in his selfishness, should take advantage of it. A well-bred, considerate person always seeks to minimize as far as possible the efforts of his or her hostess, and to make the visit or stay pleasant. She, or he, constantly endeavors to aid the hostess in providing entertainment. In short, he returns the hospitality of the host and hostess, with a hospitality of his own—a hospitality that, in itsconsideration and regard for the rights of others, is one of the beautiful things that makes life worth the living.
It is superb—this giving and returning of hospitality: We find a worried, anxious business man, forgetting for the moment his pressing affairs in the diverting entertainments provided for him by his hostess; in return, exerting every effort to contribute to the success of the evening, to join in the conversation when he would rather be silent and pensive, to be witty and humorous when he would much prefer being moody and despondent. And so it goes on, a constant giving and returning of hospitality, so beautiful and so inspiring that it is worthy of the stress given to it in the social world.
There are some paramount obligations which the guest must observe. Among them, perhaps most exacting, is punctuality. To keep others waiting, to be continually tardy, is to demonstrate one's rudeness and want of good breeding. Promptness in regard to the answering of invitations, punctuality in attending dinners, luncheons and parties of any kind,—these are marks of good breeding.
If one is invited to a dance or party and does not wish to attend without an out-of-town friend who happens to be stopping with him or her at the time—a friend who certainly cannot be deserted on the afternoon or evening of the occasion—it is permissible to write a cordial note to the hostess explaining the situation and requesting that an invitation be extended to the friend. However, no resentment should be felt if the hostess finds she must refuse the request; for she may have had to refuse some of her own friends on account of conditions beyond her control.
But no guest may bring to a party, dance or dinner, a friend or acquaintance who has not been invited. This is considered a breach of etiquette, and the hostess is not inhospitable when she does not invite that particular guest again.
The guest must conform in all things to the tastes and customs of his host and hostess. He must find (or feign) enjoyment in everything that is proposed by them, everything that is offered by them in the way of entertainment.
In taking leave of the hostess it is necessary to thank her cordially. Criticisms, either of the conduct of some other guest, or of servants, are poor form and should be avoided. The ideal guest is the one who has that ease and poise of manner, that calmness and kindness of temper, that loving and lovable disposition that makes people somehow want to talk to and be with him. Such a guest needs no set of rules—inherently he knows the laws of good conduct and fine manners; he is the boon of hosts and hostesses the world over.
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