Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Etiquette and 19th C. Politeness

"Acquaintances made in travelling, or accidentally in public places, have no claim to more than a passing bow if you afterwards find that the acquaintanceship is not particularly desirable?"

Rules of Politeness and Introductions

As a general role, do not introduce a gentleman to a lady without first privately asking her permission. In going through the ceremony of introducing, pronounce the name of the lady first, adding; "Permit me to present to you Mr. —. " In introducing two gentlemen, present the younger one to the elder, or the one of lower rank to the one of the higher. If the gentlemen are about the same age, and equal in society, present the stranger to the one with whom you are the most intimate. The best form of expression that can be used in introducing two gentlemen, who are in the same circle, is to say; " Mr.— let me make you acquainted wilh Mr. —." But if you are addressing an elderly gentleman, always say, "Mr. — , permit me to present to you Mr. — ." 

A lady should always be perfectly at her ease while introducing her friends to one another, as she has, while performing this necessary little ceremony, great opportunity of proving whether or not her manners are truly graceful. It is not considered fashionable to introduce two persons who accidentally meet in your parlor, and who are paying you a morning visit. The object of this custom in France, (where it first arose) was to prevent formality, as visitors were expected to converse together without an introduction, and were afterwards at liberty to recognize each other or not just as they pleased. It is, therefore, in good taste if you find your guests do not converse together without an introduction to present them to one another. Never introduce in the street, unless the third person joins and walks with you. You may make an exception to this rule when the parties are mutually desirious of knowing one another. 

If you are walking with one lady, do not stop to converse with others who are unknown to her, as she must necessarily feel unpleasant. If you are walking with a gentleman you may follow the bent of your inclination, for if he is well bred he will attend your pleasure without evincing either impatience or awkwardness. A lady is at liberty to take either another lady or a gentleman to pay a morning visit to a friend, without asking permission: but she should never allow a gentleman the same liberty, if he desires to make any of his friends known to her, he must first ask if the acquaintance would be agreeable. 

A lady who is invited to an evening assembly may always request a gentleman who has not been invited by the lady of the house, to accompany her. Acquaintances made in travelling, or accidentally in public places, have no claim to more than a passing bow if you afterwards finds that the 
acquaintanceship is not particularly desirable. When a gentleman is presented to a lady, if she is in her own house, and desires to welcome him, she may shake hands with him, but on any other occasion, unless the gentleman is venerable, or the bosom frfend of the husband or father, this practice is reprehensible. The same rule should be observed when a lady is introduced to a lady: although in this country the habit of shaking hands is very general. 

In introducing a friend, be as cautious of saying too much in his favor, as too little, for if the introduced be really the possessor of very good qualities, they will soon be lound out, and more appreciated than if they had in the first instance been all told. At a large dinner or evening party, although some persons strictly adhere to the French custom of not introducing, the mistress of the house shows real politeness by presenting to one another those persons who she thinks will assimilate in their dispositions. If there are strangers present, a party in America is apt to become formal through the omission of introductions; not so in Paris, where everybody converses with his neighbor without going through the unnecessary ceremony of a presentation. — Scientific American Magazine, 1846


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