Thursday, March 22, 2018

19th C. Etiquette In Introduction

Another bit of etiquette equally well defined is that a lady, after a gentleman has been introduced to her, should, on another meeting, recognize him first, it being her prerogative to drop the acquaintance if she sees fit. This bit of etiquette, however, is apt to be ignored, women instinctively falling into the habit of waiting for men to take the initiative in recognition, as everything else. Women frequently complain of the discourtesy of men in this matter, while the latter are merely observing the form of courtesy which etiquette has ordained.

Although it is an established rule of etiquette that persons meeting in society are at liberty to speak without an introduction when they know each other by sight, Americans are not very likely to do so; however familiar they may be with the rule. While it devolves on the host and hostess to introduce their guests, they cannot, of necessity, introduce more than a part of them; hence part of the duty falls upon the guest themselves. The awkwardness, even the anoyance of repeatedly meeting men and women with whose names and faces you are entirely familiar, but to whom you have not been introduced, is constantly observable in social circles. The presumption that members of the same calling, or of the same set, always know each other is entirely unwarranted. 

Even should they know each other, it can do no harm, if there be any doubt in the introducer’s mind, to represent them. It is easy to say: “ I suppose, Mrs. or Miss—, you are acquainted with Mr.—” or “No doubt, Mr.—, you have met Mr.—.” If the parties have been introduced, the offered courtesy will not be superfluous or embarrassing. If they have not been, the politeness is well-timed. The absence or neglect of this attention has a tendency to create a sort of antagonism between persons visually acquainted who have met again and again without recognition. Each is inclined to think: “He knows me very well, but he will not speak. If he feels so, I am sure I will not be the one to speak first.” 

We have known persons of prominence, men particularly; to encounter one another at parties and receptions through a whole season without an introduction. Having many friends in general, and being constantly thrown together, the mistake is naturally made that they are acquainted. Another bit of etiquette equally well defined is that a lady, after a gentleman has been introduced to her, should, on another meeting, recognize him first, it being her prerogative to drop the acquaintance if she sees fit. This bit of etiquette, however, is apt to be ignored, women instinctively falling into the habit of waiting for men to take the initiative in recognition, as everything else. Women frequently complain of the discourtesy of men in this matter, while the latter are merely observing the form of courtesy which etiquette has ordained. -Scribner's Monthly, 1875

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