OUR conduct on the street should always be modest and dignified. Loud and boisterous conversation or laughter and all undue liveliness are improper in public, especially in a lady.
When walking on the street do not permit yourself to be so absent-minded as to fail to recognize your friends. Walk erect and with dignity, and do not go along reading a book or a newspaper.
Should you stop to speak to a friend, withdraw to the side of the walk with him, that you may not interrupt the passing of others. Should your friend have a stranger with him, apologize to the stranger for the interruption. You must never leave your friend with whom you are walking to speak to another without first asking him to excuse you.
In walking with a lady on the street, give her the inner side of the walk, unless the outside is the safer part, in which case she is entitled to it. Your arm should not be given to any lady except your wife or a near relative, or a very old lady, during the day, unless her comfort or safety require it. At night the arm should always be offered; also in ascending the steps of a public building. A gentleman should accommodate his walk to that of a lady, or an elderly or delicate person.
When a lady with whom a gentleman is walking wishes to enter a store, he should open the door, permit her to pass in first, if practicable, follow her, and close the door. He should always ring door bells or rap at a door for her. A gentleman should never pass in front of a lady, unless absolutely necessary, and should then apologize for so doing.
Should a lady ask information of a gentleman on the street, he must raise his hat, bow, and give the desired information. If unable to do so, he must bow and courteously express his regrets.
In crossing the street, a lady should gracefully raise her dress a little above her ankle with one hand. To raise the dress with both hands is vulgar, except in places where the mud is very deep.
A gentleman meeting a lady acquaintance on the street should not presume to join her in her walk without first asking her permission. It may not be agreeable to her, or convenient that her most intimate friend should join her. She has the right, after granting such permission, to excuse herself and leave the gentleman whenever she may see fit; and a gentleman will never take offense at the exercise of such a right. If it is inconvenient for a lady to accept the gentleman's company, she should frankly say so, mentioning some reason, and excusing herself with friendly courtesy. Gentlemen give place to ladies, and to gentlemen accompanying ladies, in crossing the street.
If you have anything to say to a lady whom you may happen to meet in the street, however intimate you may be, do not stop her, but turn round and walk in company; you can take leave at the end of the street.
Etiquette of the Street
When you are passing in the street, and see coming toward you a person of your acquaintance, whether a lady or an elderly person, you should offer them the wall—that is to say, the side next the houses. If a carriage should happen to stop in such a manner as to leave only a narrow passage between it and the houses, beware of elbowing and rudely crowding the passengers, with a view to get by more expeditiously. Wait your turn, and, if any of the persons before mentioned come up, you should edge up to the wall, in order to give them the place. They also, as they pass, should bow politely to you.
When two gentlemen accompany a lady in a walk, she should place herself between them, and not unduly favor either. A gentleman meeting a lady friend accompanied by another gentleman should not join her unless satisfied that his presence is agreeable to both parties.
A lady should not venture out upon the street alone after dark. By so doing she compromises her dignity, and exposes herself to indignity at the hands of the rougher class. When a lady passes the evening with a friend, she should make arrangements beforehand for some one to come for her at a stated hour. If this cannot be done, or if the escort fails to come, she should courteously ask the host to permit a servant to accompany her home. A married lady may, if circumstances render it necessary, return home alone. An unmarried lady should never do so.
Should your host offer to accompany you himself, decline his offer, politely stating that you do not wish to give him so much trouble; but should he insist upon it, accept his escort. In the case of a married lady, the husband should always come for her. He is an ill-bred fellow who refuses to render his wife such attention. A lady, upon arriving at her home, should always dismiss her escort with thanks. A gentleman should not enter the house, although invited by the lady to do so, unless for some especial reason.— Maude C. Cooke, 1896
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia