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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