Sunday, November 29, 2015

Etiquette of Gilded Age Dance Parties

A man gives the first and last dances to his partner of the evening.


In selecting a company for a dancing party the hostess will naturally choose only those who dance, and she should see, as far as possible, that all the women are provided with partners.

It is better to dance first with one acquaintance and then with another, rather than to make one’s self conspicuous by giving a great number of dances to one man.

A man gives the first and last dances to his partner of the evening.

No man should invite a young woman to attend a dress affair without providing a carriage for her. When the party is small and informal, it is allowable to go on the street-cars.

At the end of the dance, the man should offer his arm to his partner, and take at least one turn around the room before consigning her to her seat.

A man who can dance, and will not, ought to remain away from a ball.

If for any reason a girl should refuse to dance with one man, she should not accept another invitation for the same dance.

An invitation to a ball may be asked for a friend who is a stranger in town, and has had no opportunity of making the acquaintance of the one who gives the ball.

A man should not ask a girl, to whom he has been introduced for the purpose of dancing with her, for more than two dances the same evening
.– From Cora C. Klein's, "Practical Etiquette," 1899



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Party Etiquette and Who to Invite

Avoid giving invitations to bores. They will come without.
Where the company is large, the ladies of the house should have tact enough to avoid introducing and placing together persons who cannot possibly assimilate, or take pleasure in each other's society. The dull, and the silly, will be far happier with their compeers. To a woman of talent, and a good conversationist, it is a cruelty to put her unnecessarily in contact with stupid, or unmeaning people. She is wasted and thrown away upon such as are neither amusing nor amusable. 

Neither is it well to bring together a gay, lively woman of the world, and a solemn, serious, repulsive dame, who is a contemner of the world and all its enjoyments. There can be no conversation that is mutually agreeable, between a real lady of true delicacy and refinement, and a so-called lady whose behaviour and talk are coarse and vulgar,—or between a woman of highly cultivated mind, and one who is grossly ignorant of every thing connected with books, and who boasts of that ignorance. We have heard a lady of fashion say, "Thank God, I never read." The answer might well have been, "You need not tell us that."

In inviting but a small company, it is indispensable to the pleasure of all, that you ask none who are strikingly unsuitable to the rest—or whose presence will throw a damp on conversation. Especially avoid bringing into the same room, persons who are at notorious enmity with each other, even if, unhappily, they should be members of the same family. Those who are known as adversaries should be invited on different evenings.

Avoid giving invitations to bores. They will come without. The word "bore" has an unpleasant and an inelegant sound. Still, we have not, as yet, found any substitute that so well expresses the meaning,—which, we opine, is a dull, tiresome man, or "a weariful woman," either inveterately silent, or inordinately talkative, but never saying any thing worth hearing, or worth remembering—people whom you receive unwillingly, and whom you take leave of with joy; and who, not having perception enough to know that their visits are always unwelcome, are the most sociable visiters imaginable, and the longest stayers.

In a conversation at Abbotsford, there chanced to be something said in reference to bores—those beings in whom "man delights not, nor woman neither." Sir Walter Scott asserted, humourously, that bores were always "good respectable people." "Otherwise," said he "there could be no bores. For if they were also scoundrels or brutes, we would keep no measures with them, but at once kick them out the house, and shut the door in their faces."

When you wish an introduction to a stranger lady, apply to your hostess, or to some of the family, or to one of the guests that is acquainted with that lady: you will then be led up and presented to her. Do not expect the stranger to be brought to you; it is your place to go to her.
From The Ladies Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners, by Miss Leslie, 1864
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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Etiquette History and America


One theme commonly seen in Native American legends is that of hospitality. In particular, stingy hosts are derided, and tribespeople who mistreat orphans, stepchildren, or captives are often harshly punished. (It was the custom in many tribes for prisoners-of-war to be adopted into the tribe that captured them, and although many former captives integrated easily into their new families, there were some who were badly treated. This was naturally a matter of great concern among Native American tribes, since they had to trust one another to treat each others' captives fairly. –Native Languages.org




The Native Americans taught our forefathers much in the art of hospitality. It is believed by many, that the Native Americans are, and always have been, the most hospitable groups of the world. Much that is Native American is woven into our social fabric.

The United States, which is less then three hundred years old as a nation, has borrowed most of its manners and customs from other, older civilizations. Though there have been in this country, many writers on etiquette, the truth is that we have accepted our etiquette ready-made. There are, of course some customs and fashions that are distinctly American; but most of the things we do and say show the influence of the Old World.

After all, what customs could we have created here in young America? What code of etiquette could we have developed in the short time that we have been a separate people and to separate nation call? Etiquette is a growth. It began in earliest times and has been progressing, developing, growing ever since. 

The history of its development differs in the various countries; sometimes we find a highly developed etiquette as in the time of Marcus Aurelius who, in the Golden Age of Rome, taught politeness and consideration for others, taught courtesy and ease and gentleness. And then we see etiquette sink far below the levels of civilization, as in the time of Nero, who originated so many new ways of torture, who made death in a plaything and his savage arena a playground.

This etiquette, while it remains essentially and fundamentally the same, is to a certain extent a reflection of the periods through which it is passed. The age of man in the long ages of antiquity—they blend into one shadowy beautiful whole, the fabric of human existence. –The Customs of Mankind


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Evolution of American Etiquette

The early struggle for existence was a great leveler of castes and classes, and everyone worked together for the general good.



During the early colonization (in America) etiquette was negligible, of course. The early struggle for existence was a great leveler of castes and classes, and everyone worked together for the general good. There was a wholesome simplicity, an inspiring generosity, a kindliness and thoughtfulness toward one another.

Before the colonies declared their independence there was an influx of French and other foreign ideas. From France, Italy, Holland, England emanated much that we ourselves are. After the Revolution, peculiarly enough, the social ideas and ideals of the United States were distinctly English. The Colonial style was the English style; the young nation could break away from the power of the older nation, but not from the influence of its manners and customs.

Washington set the pace for diplomatic simplicity in the United States, although there was a certain courtliness. A contemporary of France, visiting the young nation, reports of Washington: "He was as gracious as a king."

During the first hundred years of its existence, United States was the forcing house for the customs, whims, fantasies, fashions of all the world. We imported are customs with her clothes and food-stuffs, although we pride ourselves upon being absolutely free from the Old-World influence.
The Southern colonies, before the Civil War, however, had a certain style and chivalry all their own. There was a careful regard for dress and for table service. The simplest dinner was served faultlessly. Gallants were ready to draw their swords at a moment's notice to protect (or amuse) the ladies of their fancy. All of this chivalry and extreme etiquette appears to have gone out when slavery went out.
The Northern colonists, the New Englanders, were of sterner stuff – truer English than their Southern cousins. Braving the rigors of the northern climate, the Puritans determined to live up to their ideals of independence, simplicity, and freedom. – From Lillian Eichler's, "The Customs of Mankind"

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

A Gilded Age Etiquette Critique of America

Mrs. Desmond Humphreys, aka "Rita", the self-appointed British judge and jury of American etiquette and excess in the Gilded Age
"
I was told I ought to go to Maine, or Illinois, or Chicago, or California before I criticised American life or manners, but I concluded that New York and Washington and Boston were very good specimens of the American States, and quite important enough for my attention !" 
A BRIEF two months' experience of American cities, life, manners, habits, and hospitality, is scarce equipment for criticism. One forms opinions which after-results modify. One salutes the Goddess Liberty with respect, and finds oneself laughing in one's sleeve a week later at the free translation of the word "Freedom." One is called upon to admire in one city what is scoffed at in another. But above all one speedily learns that the term "American" is too comprehensive for general use.


New York is not American ; assuredly Washington is not American ; and only a benighted foreigner would ever so misname Boston. Between all these cities there exists a frantic rivalry and a curiously ingenious diversity of claims. Yet if each looked into the heart of the other they could not but recognise brotherhood and amity. They would lose sight of foibles, and grow tolerant of mistakes. The factors of national strength are often the products of national weakness, and the true history of America is at once the most romantic and the most extraordinary yet — unwritten.


Here are cities so splendid and so rich that one would expect perfection of civilisation. Yet one finds palaces set beside tenements, and avenues that run into filthy slums. Slavery has been abolished by civil war ; but there is not a factory, or a foundry, or a dockyard, or an emporium that does not own thousands of white slaves, earning hardly a living wage, worked for long toilful hours, herded together like cattle, tricked by politicians, hounded down by legislature, and yet content to wave a bit of coloured rag on Independence Day and call themselves patriots!


The wealth of America is amazing. The poverty and vice and degradation of America are heart-rending. If the country were not so rich, if dollars were not a blatant fact for ever poured into your ear, for ever appraising every public or private building you admire, every statue, bridge, park, or street you notice, the bewildered tourist might excuse poverty and misrule ; might even class them as incidents too universal for drastic criticism. But the loudly uttered boasts, the useless and absurd extravagance and costly idiocies of society, these are things that draw down harsher censure on a new country than on one long founded on traditions, and in a measure bound to up-hold them.


In Europe we have feudalism, state, royalty, and aristocracy. America claims none of these. Its sole aristocracy is that of Wealth, and it is not one to be proud of, judged by its proclaimed methods. If one surveys the great Republic's life through the noble prescience of a Lincoln, or Washington, it is but to quote Hamlet and murmur : " What a falling-off is there!


The Republic of their dreams, political, ecclesiastical, and social, is now transformed into a huge iconoclastic machine ; a thing of tyranny and cruelty and unsparing greed. The word " millionaire " is no longer expressive enough to acclaim riches. Even a unit with eighteen ciphers scarcely advertises multi-millionairism to the satisfaction of the New York or Chicago standard. 



New York itself seems to abhor economy in any shape or form. It only believes in glitter, show, and ostentation. The wildest extravagance, and a perpetual advertisement of startling absurdities, mark the deeds of its social world.


If a stranger comes to New York unheralded by the ubiquitous reporter, inclined for comfort, not display, with a desire to study life from an outsider's and not an American's point of view, that stranger is unwelcome. Only the credentials of rank open the door of democracy ; and the cranks and tricks of the wildest madman would be received with acclamation if they meant novelty for a blase society. There is sort of social insanity in the United States that sets the rest of the world agape. But also it brings down the ridicule and condemnation of calm and sensible minds. 



Yet the individual American is so thin-skinned that the very fact of unfavourable criticism makes him your lifelong enemy. Give him praise, flattery, admiration, wonder, and he will perhaps lend you a — greenback. Tell him straight that his nation is vulgar, ostentatious, and blind to its own best interests, and he will advise you to "git."


Possibly this is a somewhat sweeping assertion from the point of view of a mere writer ; but the three great cities I have seen, and about which I have written the following articles, are sufficiently representative as subjects for such an assertion.


I was told I ought to go to Maine, or Illinois, or Chicago, or California before I criticised American life or manners, but I concluded that New York and Washington and Boston were very good specimens of the American States, and quite important enough for my attention !


So of these three cities I have written, calling down much wrath, and much criticism, and many vituperative letters from unknown American correspondents by so doing.


I am sorely tempted to publish some of these letters, but for sake of many kindnesses received, and many pleasant friendships made, I refrain from retaliation. Yet I would like to say that no English writer, however severe or however critical, has ever written harsher truths of the Americans than the Americans have written of themselves.  –" Rita"·1910


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Monday, November 23, 2015

Gilded Age Wedding Etiquette and New York Society

American Weddings... "Rita" doesn't approve!
Rita Gives Her Opinion of  New York Society and Social Functions – 
Her American Friends Fume!


WINTER is the New York season. By May, the Fifth Avenue mansions and the various suites and apartments rented by the social dignitaries of the city are shut up and deserted. I arrived in April — just catching the " tail-end " of a few last functions, such as receptions, luncheons, and weddings. Among the latter was the Drexel-Gould marriage. It is worth mention.


I had read and heard much on this side the herring-pond of the way a fashionable American wedding is conducted, and the excitement it creates. Fresh in my memory lay the reports of the Roxburgh marriage and its scenes. I wondered if the Drexel-Gould affair would be a repetition. It was. It possibly exceeded in extravagant display and public interest its famous predecessor. 

The reporters, male and female, had a " lovely time/' They rioted in descriptions of the church, the trousseau, the presents, and the ceremony both before and after the marriage had taken place. The scene in Fifth Avenue on the eventful afternoon was something never to be forgotten. Thousands of crazy, hysterical women, and helpless men, squads of mounted and disregarded police, all seething, struggling, fighting, shrieking, under the pouring rain, and crowding the muddy street in order to see — what ? A commonplace young man and young woman get in and out of a motor-car — for that was all they could see.


To me, as a stranger to New York ways and customs, it was quite immaterial that Miss Margery Gould possessed a huge fortune, or that Mr. Anthony Drexel was not an impecunious English peer, but I was surprised to see a church turned into a floral theatre, and to find that the seats reserved for millionaires and their wives represented the social grade of their respective incomes !
                                                      
Mrs. Desmond Humphreys, aka "Rita" –
My American friends were annoyed at my criticism of this wedding and its methods. As usual they said " You must not judge of us by this."
– Etiquipedia is amazed you retained any American friends, by the way you wrote about them. Perhaps they were what we now call "frenemies"?
The behaviour of the senseless crowd, and the extraordinary antagonism it displayed to anything like order, decency, or police intervention, was an amazing spectacle. Women fought with their umbrellas like wild cats. Some of them had made their way into the church through an adjoining chapel on pretence of attending a funeral service that, strange to say, preceded the wedding function." 


Once in the building, they proceeded to strip off flowers and ribbons as souvenirs in a manner befitting the genus Hooligan. They had to be turned out by police, and even then were not content till they had " stormed " the bride's motor. How I pitied that unfortunate bride and bridegroom! Why did they not get married privately, and then send a dressmaker's show figure and a tailor's dummy to go through the public ceremony ? This is a suggestion offered for future American marriages.


My American friends were annoyed at my criticism of this wedding and its methods. As usual they said " You must not judge of us by this." But I was getting used to that formula. If I did not judge of an American crowd by a crowd, or an American millionairess's wedding by a representative millionairess and her family — how in the name of wonder was I to judge of such things ? After all, what I said — or say — as an onlooker is mild enough compared to the criticisms and comments of the reporters, and the " Yellow Press."


There are only two ways of conducting a marriage ceremony. It is something sacred and exclusive, or it is a theatrical show designed for public edification. Society seems to prefer the latter, and therefore delicacy and restraint are banished from the programme. The affair becomes a ceremony, a function, and the people I pity with my whole heart are the unfortunate principals in the business ; no matter whether they are of blood royal, or merely millionaires !


Another wedding I attended in New York was less pretentious than the Drexel-Gould affair. Still it gave me the impression of a "show-piece" on the stage. The solemn-faced ushers giving an arm to the lady guests, and conducting them from the church door to their seats; the lavish floral decorations ; the well-drilled, formal wedding " procession/' all care- fully rehearsed beforehand, made up a curious spectacular effect in no way concerned with the binding obligations there represented.


Then followed the ordeal of the reception, where the tired, flushed bride and bored and wearied groom had to stand for hours under a canopy of palms, or a huge bell of flowers, and shake hundreds of hands and give and receive kisses and congratulations, and then be subjected to the tricks and devices of the ingenious ushers in order to delay departure, or prevent confidences !


" Truly, a strange people," I said to myself. – From 1910's, "America, Though English Eyes," by "Rita, " the Judgmental British Matron

Etiquette of French, British and Spanish Beverages

What is it about the French coffee?  The coffee sweetened with that sparkling beet-root sugar which ornaments a French table, is the celebrated café-au-lait, the name of which has gone round the world. 

We are not about to enter into the merits of the great tea-and-coffee controversy, further than in our general caution concerning them in the chapter on Healthful Drinks; but we now proceed to treat of them as actual existences, and speak only of the modes of making the best of them. The French coffee is reputed the best in the world; and a thousand voices have asked, What is it about the French coffee?

In the first place, then, the French coffee is coffee, and not chickory, or rye, or beans, or peas. In the second place, it is freshly roasted, whenever made—roasted with great care and even
ess in a little revolving cylinder which makes part of the furniture of every kitchen, and which keeps in the aroma of the berry. 

It is never overdone, so as to destroy the coffee-flavor, which is in nine cases out of ten the fault of the coffee we meet with. Then it is ground, and placed in a coffee-pot with a filter through which, when it has yielded up its life to the boiling water poured upon it, the delicious extract percolates in clear drops, the coffee-pot standing on a heated stove to maintain the temperature. The nose of the coffee-pot is stopped up to prevent the escape of the aroma during this process. The extract thus obtained is a perfectly clear, dark fluid, known as café noir, or black coffee. 

It is black only because of its strength, being in fact almost the very essential oil of coffee. A table-spoonful of this in boiled milk would make what is ordinarily called a strong cup of coffee. The boiled milk is prepared with no less care. It must be fresh and new, not merely warmed or even brought to the boiling-point, but slowly simmered till it attains a thick, creamy richness. The coffee mixed with this, and sweetened with that sparkling beet-root sugar which ornaments a French table, is the celebrated café-au-lait, the name of which has gone round the world. 
From 1869: "Chocolate is a French and Spanish article, and one seldom served on American tables." ··· In 1502, Christopher Columbus was the first European to taste cocoa on his fourth voyage to the New World, returned to Europe with the first cocoa beans. Records from the time suggest that recognizing its potential, he took a load of cocoa beans back to Spain.
As we look to France for the best coffee, so we must look to England for the perfection of tea. The tea-kettle is as much an English institution as aristocracy or the Prayer-Book; and when one wants to know exactly how tea should he made, one has only to ask how a fine old English house-keeper makes it. 

The first article of her faith is, that the water must not merely be hot, not merely have boiled a few moments since, but be actually boiling at the moment it touches the tea. Hence, though servants in England are vastly better trained than with us, this delicate mystery is seldom left to their hands. Tea-making belongs to the drawing-room, and high-born ladies preside at the bubbling and loud hissing urn, and see that all due rites and solemnities are properly performed—that the cups are hot, and that the infused tea waits the exact time before the libations commence.

Of late, the introduction of English breakfast-tea has raised a new sect among the tea-drinkers, reversing some of the old canons. Breakfast-tea must be boiled! Unlike the delicate article of olden time, which required only a momentary infusion to develop its richness, this requires a longer and severer treatment to bring out its strength—thus confusing all the established usages, and throwing the work into the hands of the cook in the kitchen. 

The faults of tea, as too commonly found at our hotels and boarding-houses, are, that it is made in every way the reverse of what it should be. The water is hot, perhaps, but not boiling; the tea has a general flat, stale, smoky taste, devoid of life or spirit; and it is served usually with thin milk, instead of cream. Cream is an essential to the richness of tea as of coffee. Lacking cream, boiled milk is better than cold.

Chocolate is a French and Spanish article, and one seldom served on American tables. We in America, however, make an article every way equal to any which can be imported from Paris, and he who buys the best vanilla-chocolate may rest assured that no foreign land can furnish anything better. A very rich and delicious beverage may be made by dissolving this in milk, slowly boiled down after the French fashion. –From Catharine Beecher's and Harriet Beecher Stowe's, 1869, “American Woman's Home"

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Etiquette "Musts and Mustn'ts"

The young girl just out of school is overwhelmed with mustn'ts and musts   Arbitrary rules of etiquette, such as concern the proper way to shake hands, the number of cards to be left at a reception, the way to turn out your toes and the special greeting that is the current fad, all these rules are liable to change from season to season, vary in different localities and mean very little anyhow
Prodigious as are the manuals of etiquette issued in these days, nobody with a kind heart, a desire to please and the merest rudiments of knowledge of the simpler social responsibilities need worry about their "manners." The self-respect that a good conscience and self-reliance give will keep you from pushing and intruding. As for "rules of conduct," pooh ! You need hardly bother about any that your own sense does not suggest." 

Arbitrary rules of etiquette, such as concern the proper way to shake hands, the number of cards to be left at a reception, the way to turn out your toes and the special greeting that is the current fad, all these rules are liable to change from season to season, vary in different localities and mean very little anyhow. A handshake that is the result of cordial intent can never be rude nor ill done. Bad temper is always ill-bred. Conduct of any kind that puts others to distress is always "bad manners," disrespect to age or to the dignity that office or high achievement confers is always hopeless rudeness, and your own good heart will tell you that.

The young girl just out of school is overwhelmed with mustn'ts and musts, but most of them are nonsense. If she is modest and self-respecting she will know that the inevitable "young man" must be treated with some reserve. But she need not be afraid to take his arm if she needs his assistance, nor has she committed a social crime if she doesn't take it, so long as neither course is followed to her own distress, or to his unnecessary embarrassment. She will know that this same young fellow should include her mother or guardian in social plans, at least till such time as the mother or guardian have judged him to be trusted with the escort of the girl alone. 

Her own instinct will tell her that she should not receive rich presents from a man unless she is engaged to him, because it is never comfortable to be under obligations to any one, whether a "young man" or not, that she is not in a position to repay. All the other mustn'ts easily range themselves under some equally simple and reasonable rales.

Many of the remaining causes of anxiety to the neophyte come under the head of prompt and exact replies to social notes involving the making of social engagements, of equally careful keeping of social engagements, big and little, of friendly thoughtfulness of the one who is ill, or who is having an anniversary of some kind that demands a call, or a line of remembrance or greeting. Then there are "table manners," and they are made such a bugbear that one's appetite is all lost. But even at the most formal dinner you need not be afraid. Watch the hostess. She is supposed to set the example for every one. 

Don't be frightened, and don't do anything in a hurry. Indeed, those two suggestions will brine, you through almost any formal occasion if you will keep sharp lookout and remember that good temper and a modest desire to please will make up for mere awkwardness and make up handsomely. – C. O. Burton, 1895


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Friday, November 20, 2015

Gilded Age Etiquette in Washington DC

Ida Saxton McKinley was the wife of the 25th President, William McKinley

"Notwithstanding the mid-Lenten season capital society is extremely busy exchanging courtesies with the newcomers in high places. The latter are beginning to realize the bitter-sweets of their position, for the polite tactics that govern the social side of all things official involve much downright hard work.

An immutable law of local etiquette requires the ladies of official families to see to it that their husband's or father's visiting cards, together with their own, are properly distributed within a given number of days, to everyone of the hundreds who have left addresses in the traditional peck measure of bits of Bristol board which every weekly reception brings. The value of a former residence in Washington, and the experience in its social requirements, which differ from those of any other city, is plainly to be seen in the present administration.

Mrs. McKinley is a charming example of this. She knows the natural interest in the nation's house and the president's wife, and she makes everybody welcome at all times and in the most informal fashion. It is already apparent that the White House will be much more accessible to the general public during this administration than the last. 


There will be a great many more receptions outside the official clique, and the whole mansion beyond the east room will not be so closed and guarded as formerly, as if each visiting stranger were a vandal bent on destruction or theft.

Mrs. Sherman, too. besides her many years as a senator's wife, has filled a position similar to that she now occupies when her husband was secretary of the treasury. The Longs, also the Algers, the Grays, and others in the present topmost circle have spent precious seasons in Washington, and are familiar with its peculiar social usag
es." —Special Correspondence to The Herald. WASHINGTON, D. C, March 30, 1897


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Etiquette History and Monarchs

Nine European Monarchs Gathered in 1910 — Standing, L-R: King Haakon VII of Norway, King Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, King Manuel II of Portugal,Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany (King of Prussia),King George I of Greece, King Albert I of Belgium.
Seated, L-R: King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King George V of the United Kingdom, King Frederik VIII of Denmark.


How to Address a Monarch

The simple title "Madame," reduced in practice to "Ma'am," is, as most people know, all that serves between Queen Victoria and her court to mark the former's dignity as the ruler of a world-wide empire. Had Britain a King he would be no more than "Sire," the old French- form of "Sir," sacred to royalty. 


With us the term "Majesty" is only for servants and ceremonial occasions. There are few other courts where this wholesome simplicity prevails. The Emperor of Germany is "Majestat"— there is no pronoun in the title— to all and sundry, even to his family, except when in absolute privacy. 

The Emperor of Austria is "Eurer Majestat" at all times and under all circumstances, the King of Greece is "Votre Majeste" —French being the court language— and our recent visitor, the King of Sweden, is "Ers Majestat." Their royal consorts are addressed with the same formality. 

Only, at the courts of Belgium and Italy may the sovereign be greeted as "Sire" or "Madame," though the etiquette of the Russian court permits it when the French language is being used. When Russian is being spoken, Nicholas II is to his courtiers and officials "Czar," employed like the Prussian "Majestat," without a pronoun. — The London Mail, 1900


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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Etiquette and Literary Women

A fan of the literary woman? ~ Say nothing concerning her writings, unless you chance to be alone with her. Take care not to speak of her first work as being her best; for if it is really so, she must have been retrograding from that time; a falling off that she will not like to hear of. 


Conduct Toward Literary Women

On being introduced to a female writer, it is rude to say that "you have long had a great curiosity to see her." Curiosity is not the right word. It is polite to imply that, "knowing her well by reputation, you are glad to have an opportunity of making her personal acquaintance." 


Say nothing concerning her writings, unless you chance to be alone with her. Take care not to speak of her first work as being her best; for if it is really so, she must have been retrograding from that time; a falling off that she will not like to hear of. Perhaps the truth may be, that you yourself have read only her first work; and if you tell her this, she will not be much flattered in supposing that you, in reality, cared so little for her first book, as to feel no desire to try a second. But she will be really gratified to learn that you are acquainted with most of her writings; and, in the course of conversation, it will be very pleasant for her to hear you quote something from them.

If she is a writer of fiction, and you presume to take the liberty of criticising her works, (as you may at her own request, or if you are her intimate friend,) refrain from urging that certain incidents are improbable, and certain characters unnatural. Of this it is impossible for you to judge, unless you could have lived the very same life that she has; known exactly the same people; and inhabited with her the same places. Remember always that "Truth is stranger than fiction." 

Be not too curious in questioning her as to the identity of her personages and the reality of her incidents. You have no right to expect that she will expose to you, or to any one else, her process of arranging the story, bringing out the characters, or concocting the dialogue. 
The French say—"Le vrai n'est pas toujours le plus vraisemblable,"—which, literally translated, means that "Truth is not always the most truth-like." Also, be it understood that a woman of quick perception and good memory can see and recollect a thousand things which would never be noticed or remembered by an obtuse or shallow, common-place capacity. And the intellect of a good writer of fiction is always brightened by the practice of taking in and laying up ideas with a view toward turning them to professional use.

Trust in her, and believe that she has painted from life. A sensible fictionist always does. At the same time, be not too curious in questioning her as to the identity of her personages and the reality of her incidents. You have no right to expect that she will expose to you, or to any one else, her process of arranging the story, bringing out the characters, or concocting the dialogue. The machinery of her work, and the hidden springs which set it in motion, she naturally wishes to keep to herself; and she cannot be expected to lay them bare for the gratification of impertinent curiosity, letting them become subjects of idle gossip. 


Be satisfied to take her works as you find them. If you like them, read and commend them; but do not ask her to conduct you behind the scenes, and show you the mysteries of her art—for writing is really an art, and one that cannot be acquired, to any advantage, without a certain amount of talent, taste, and cultivation, to say nothing of genius. What right have you to expect that your literary friend will trust you with "the secrets of her prison-house," and put it into your power to betray her confidence by acquainting the world that a certain popular novelist has informed you with her own lips ("but it must on no account be mentioned, as the disclosure would give mortal offence, and create for her hosts of enemies,") that by her character of Fanny Gadfly she really means Lucy Giddings; that Mr. Hardcastle signifies Mr. Stone; that Old Wigmore was modelled on no less a person than Isaac Baldwin; that Mrs. Bastings was taken from Mrs. Sunning; and Mrs. Babes from Mrs. Childers—etc, etc... Also, do not expect her to tell you on what facts her incidents were founded, and whether there was any truth in them, or if they were mere invention.    
There are persons so rude as to question a literary woman (even on a slight acquaintance) as to the remuneration she receives for her writings—in plain terms, "How much did you get for that?



Be not inquisitive as to the length of time consumed in writing this book or that—or how soon the work now on hand will be finished. It can scarcely be any concern of yours, and the writer may have reasons for keeping back the information. Rest assured that whenever a public announcement of a new book is expedient, it will certainly be made in print.

There are persons so rude as to question a literary woman (even on a slight acquaintance) as to the remuneration she receives for her writings—in plain terms, "How much did you get for that? and how much are you to have for this? And how much do you make in the course of a year? And how much a page do you get? And how many pages can you write in a day?"

To any impertinent questions from a stranger-lady concerning the profits of your pen, reply concisely, that these things are secrets between yourself and your publishers. If you kindly condescend to answer without evasion, these polite enquiries, you will probably hear such exclamations as, "Why, really—you must be coining money. I think I'll write books myself! There can't be a better trade," etc...

Ignorant people always suppose that popular writers are wonderfully well-paid—and must be making rapid fortunes—because they neither starve in garrets, nor wear rags—at least in America.             

Never tell an authoress that "you are afraid of her"—or entreat her "not to put you into a book." Be assured there is no danger.
Never ask one writer what is her real opinion of a cotemporary author. She may be unwilling to entrust it to you, as she can have no guarantee that you will not whisper it round till it gets into print. If she voluntarily expresses her own opinion of another writer, and it is unfavourable, be honourable enough not to repeat it; but guard it sedulously from betrayal, and avoid mentioning it to any oneWhen in company with literary women, make no allusions to "learned ladies," or "blue stockings," or express surprise that they should have any knowledge of housewifery, or needle-work, or dress; or that they are able to talk on "common things." It is rude and foolish, and shows that you really know nothing about them, either as a class or as individuals.

Never tell an authoress that "you are afraid of her"—or entreat her "not to put you into a book." Be assured there is no danger.

An authoress has seldom leisure to entertain morning visiters; so much of her time being professionally occupied either in writing, or in reading what will prepare her for writing. She should apprize all her friends of the hours in which she is usually engaged; and then none who are really her friends and well-wishers, will encroach upon her convenience for any purpose of their own; unless under extraordinary circumstances. 


To tell her that you were "just passing by," or "just in the neighbourhood," and "just thought you would stop in," is a very selfish, or at least a very inconsiderate excuse. Is she to suppose that you do not consider her conversation worthy of a visit made on purpose?

Recollect that to a woman who gets her living by her pen, "time is money," as it is to an artist. Therefore, encroaching on her time is lessening her income. And yet how often is this done (either heedlessly or selfishly) by persons professing to be her friends, and who are habitually in the practice of interrupting her in her writing hours, which should always be in the morning, if possible. They think it sufficient to say, like Paul Pry, "I hope I don't intrude"—knowing all the time that they do, and pretending to believe her when civility obliges her to tell them they do not. 


Even if the visit is not a long one, it is still an interruption. In one minute it may break a chain of ideas which cannot be reunited, dispel thoughts that can never be recalled, disturb the construction of a sentence, and obliterate a recollection that will not return. And to all this the literary lady must submit, because her so-called friend "chanced to be out that morning shopping"—or "happened to be visiting in that part of the town"—and therefore has called on her by way of "killing two birds with one stone." Very likely, the visiter will say to the unfortunate visited, "I know it is inconvenient to you to see your friends in the morning, but I never feel like going out in the afternoon. As soon as dinner is over I must have my nap; and by the time that is finished, it is too late for any thing else."

In consequence of these ill-timed visits, the printer may have to send in vain for "copy" that is not yet ready; and an article written expressly for a magazine may arrive too late for the next month, and be therefore deferred a month later, which may subject her not only to inconvenience, but to actual pecuniary loss—loss of money. Or, at least, the interruption may compel her to the painful effort of trying to finish it even by sitting up late at night, and straining her weary eyes by lamp-light. 


Yet this she must endure because it suits an idle and thoughtless friend to make her a long and inopportune visit. The children of the pen and the pencil might say to these intruders, like the frogs in the pond when the boys were pelting them with stones—"This may be sport to you, but it is death to us." –From The Ladies Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners, by Miss Leslie, 1864



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Etiquette and Social Invitations

Long before 1600 the Algonquins were sending out "dinner invitations" in the form of specially cut blocks of wood about the size of the little finger. All those who received the bit of wood with its curious picture message, knew that they were invited to attend the feast and celebration being given by the Algonquin

Writing very early became a device for making social affairs run more smoothly. Writing in the sense of books, newspapers, records, stories is one thing; writing in the sense of social correspondence, invitations, cards of greetings, congratulation, and condolence is quite another.

The North American Indians were among the first to use actual invitations. They burned their message on buckskin and sent it by runner to the person for whom it was intended. Tribes also had a smoke message which they used to call their people together for purposes of feasting, celebrating, etc... The smoke message was used sometimes in warfare.

It appears that among the Indians, ever a hospitable people, the development of the invitation was rapid and marked. Long before 1600 the Algonquins were sending out "dinner invitations" in the form of specially cut blocks of wood about the size of the little finger. All those who received the bit of wood with its curious picture message, knew that they were invited to attend the feast and celebration being given by the Algonquin. They came from far and wide to join in the merrymaking.

Among early European peoples the invitation developed slowly. The peasantry, of course, had no need for any such thing as an invitation; if one of their number wished to celebrate at the public bar or in his home, he merely called all his friends together with as much proud noise as he could command. Among the upper classes, a private messenger was sent to give the information orally.

By the time of Shakespeare the invitation had reached a fairly high point of development. The mode of the written invitation first found favour at court and then spread to the people in the cities. These invitations were written on huge sheets of white paper, by hand, the initial letters usually made by stamp and decorated with color.
   
"So many guests invite as here are writ," says Shakespeare. The invitations were carried by pages or messengers to the homes of the people for who they were intended, and usually an answer was required, in the manner of our acknowledgement. –Lillian Eichler


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Etiquette and Wedding Invitations

In large towns and cities it became necessary to invite by written word those who were to attend the wedding ceremonies.
"The development of the wedding invitation was particularly marked. In small villages the wedding bells ringing sweetly from the church belfry were the only invitation. All the friends and neighbors gathered together to greet the bridal party. But in large towns and cities it became necessary to invite by written word those who were to attend the wedding ceremonies.

The following rare old invitation, written in 1786, was clipped by William Hone from a Cumberland (England) newspaper and incorporated by him in his famous, "Table Book." Here is an exact reproduction of the invitation:
Notice is hereby given that the marriage of Isaac Pearson with Frances Atkinson will be solemnized in due form in the parish church of Lamplugh, in Cumberland, on Tuesday next, the 30th of May inst. (1786); immediately after which the bride and bridegroom with their attendants will proceed to Lonefoot, in the said parish, where the nuptials will be celebrated by a variety of rural entertainments.

Then come one and all, at Hymen's soft call. From Whitehaven, Workington, Harington, Dean, Hail, Ponsonby, Blaming, and all places between;

From Egremont, Cockermouth, Barton, St. Bee's,
Cint, Kinnyside, Calder and parts such as these; And the country at large may flock in if they please.


Such sports there will be as have seldom been seen,
Such wrestling and fencing, and dancing between,
And races for prizes, for frolic and fun
By horses and asses and dogs will be run,
That you'll go home happy – as sure as a gun.
In a word, such a wedding can never fail to please;
For the sports of Olympus were trifles to these.

*Nota Bene- You'll please observe that the day Of this grand bridal pomp is the 30th of May,
  When 'tis hoped that the sun, to enliven the sight,Like the flambeau of Hymen, will deign to burn bright.

This specimen of an 18th century wedding invitation is doubly valuable. Not only does it reveal to us the kind of wedding invitations that were being written and publicly printed in those days, but it gives us an excellent picture of the kind of weddings that were then in vogue. Can you imagine races by dogs and horses at the modern marriage? Can you imagine fencing and wrestling and the "country at large" flocking in? 

The custom of posting invitations did not come until comparatively late. Not because posting was unknown– a royal post system existed even in ancient Persia. But for a long time a popular superstition made it an insult to send an invitation any other way than by personal messenger. Gradually this superstition passed out of favour, and soon everyone who entertained was posting invitations– recognizing this as a simple expedient toward getting guests together." – Lillian Eichler

*Nota bene is Latin. It means "note well" (effectively meaning 'please pay attention to this').

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Etiquette and Tea Visiters

The domestic that attends the door should be instructed to show the guest up-stairs, as soon as she arrives; conducting her to an unoccupied apartment, where she may take off her bonnet, and arrange her hair, or any part of her dress that may require change or improvement. 
TEA VISITERS (sic)

When you have invited a friend to take tea with you, endeavour to render her visit as agreeable as you can; and try by all means to make her comfortable. See that your lamps are lighted at an early hour, particularly those of the entry and stair-case, those parts of the house always becoming dark as soon as the sun is down; and to persons coming in directly from the light of the open air, they always seem darker than they really are. 


Have the parlours lighted rather earlier than usual, that your guest, on her entrance, may be in no danger of running against the tables, or stumbling over chairs. In rooms heated by a furnace, or by any other invisible fire, it is still more necessary to have the lamps lighted early.

If there is a coal-grate, see that the fire is burning clear and brightly, that the bottom has been well-raked of cinders and ashes, and the hearth swept clean. A dull fire, half-choked with dead cinders, and an ashy hearth, give a slovenly and dreary aspect to the most elegantly furnished parlour. A sufficiently large grate (if the fire is well made up, and plenty of fresh coal put on about six o'clock) will generally require no further replenishing during the evening, unless the weather is unusually cold; and then more fuel should be added at eight or nine o'clock, so as to make the room comfortable.

In summer evenings, let the window-sashes be kept up, or the slats of the venetian blinds turned open, so that your guest may find the atmosphere of the rooms cool and pleasant. There should always be fans (feather or palm-leaf) on the centre-tables.

The domestic that attends the door should be instructed to show the guest up-stairs, as soon as she arrives; conducting her to an unoccupied apartment, where she may take off her bonnet, and arrange her hair, or any part of her dress that may require change or improvement. The lady should then be left to herself. Nothing is polite that can possibly incommode or embarrass —therefore, it is a mistaken civility for the hostess, or some female member of the family to follow the visiter up-stairs, and remain with her all the time she is preparing for her appearance in the parlour. 

                                         
Let both mothers and children understand that, on all occasions, over-officiousness is not politeness, and that nothing troublesome and inconvenient is ever agreeable.

We have seen an inquisitive little girl permitted by her mother to accompany a guest to the dressing-table, and watch her all the while she was at the glass; even following her to the corner in which she changed her shoes; the child talking, and asking questions incessantly. This should not be. Let both mothers and children understand that, on all occasions, over-officiousness is not politeness, and that nothing troublesome and inconvenient is ever agreeable.

The toilet-table should be always furnished with a clean hair-brush, and a nice comb. We recommend those hair-brushes that have a mirror on the back, so as to afford the lady a glimpse of the back of her head and neck. Better still, as an appendage to a dressing-table, is a regular hand-mirror, of sufficient size to allow a really satisfactory view. These hand-mirrors are very convenient, to be used in conjunction with the large dressing-glass. Their cost is but trifling. 


The toilet-pincushion should always have pins in it. A small work-box properly furnished with needles, scissors, thimble, and cotton-spools, ought also to find a place on the dressing-table, in case the visiter may have occasion to repair any accident that may have happened to her dress.

For want of proper attention to such things, in an ill-ordered, though perhaps a very showy establishment, we have known an expected visiter ushered first into a dark entry, then shown into a dark parlour with an ashy hearth, and the fire nearly out: then, after groping her way to a seat, obliged to wait till a small hand-lamp could be procured to light her dimly up a steep, sharp-turning stair-case; and then, by the same lamp, finding on the neglected dressing-table a broken comb, an old brush, and an empty pincushion,—or (quite as probably) nothing at all—not to mention two or three children coming to watch and stare at her. On returning to the parlour, the visiter would probably find the fire just then making up, and the lamp still unlighted, because it had first to be trimmed. 


Meanwhile, the guest commences her visit with an uncomfortable feeling of self-reproach for coming too early; all things denoting that she was not expected so soon. In such houses everybody comes too early. However late, there will be nothing in readiness.

The hostess should be in the parlour, prepared to receive her visiter, and to give her at once a seat in the corner of a sofa, or in a fauteuil, or large comfortable chair; if a rocking-chair, a footstool is an indispensable appendage. 


By-the-bye, the dizzy and ungraceful practice of rocking in a rocking-chair is now discontinued by all genteel people, except when entirely alone. A lady should never be seen to rock in a chair, and the rocking of a gentleman looks silly. Rocking is only fit for a nurse putting a baby to sleep. When children get into a large rocking-chair, they usually rock it over backward, and fall out. These chairs are now seldom seen in a parlour. Handsome, stuffed easy chairs, that are moved on castors, are substituted—and of these, half a dozen of various forms are not considered too many.

Give your visiter a fan to cool herself, if the room is warm, or to shade her eyes from the glare of the fire or the light—for the latter purpose, a broad hand-screen is generally used, but a palm-leaf fan will do for both. In buying these fans, choose those whose handle is the firm natural stem, left remaining on the leaf. They are far better than those with handles of bamboo, which in a short time become loose and rickety.

There are many persons who, professing never to use a fan themselves, seem to think that nobody can by any chance require one; and therefore they selfishly keep nothing of the sort in their rooms.

If, in consequence of dining very late, you are in the custom of also taking tea at a late hour—or making but slight preparations for that repast—waive that custom when you expect a friend whom you know to be in the practice of dining early, and who, perhaps, has walked far enough to feel fatigued, and to acquire an appetite. For her accommodation, order the tea earlier than usual, and let it be what is called "a good tea." If there is ample room at table, do not have the tea carried round,—particularly if you have but one servant to hand the whole. 


It is tedious, inconvenient, and unsatisfactory. There is no comfortable way of eating bread and butter, toast, or buttered cakes, except when seated at table. When handed round, there is always a risk of their greasing the dresses of the ladies—the greasing of fingers is inevitable—though that is of less consequence, now that the absurd practice of eating in gloves is wisely abolished among genteel people.– From The Ladies Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners, by Miss Leslie, 1864


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia