cover image: Manners and Tone of Good Society / by a Member of the Aristocracy

the regulation respecting the wearing of low bodices is also absolute, though under very exceptional circumstances permission can be obtained from the Lord Chamberlain for a modification of this decree, if the application be accompanied by a certificate from a physician as to the inability of the applicant to appear in a low bodice

I wish I could believe this book was written for humor, making another contri­bution to the “A Very Good Year” section of this site. But alas, the unnamed author seems to have been in dead earnest.

Who, exactly, formed the book’s target audience may be an unanswerable question. Anyone who was born into the aristocracy would already know how to behave; that’s what governesses are for. The chapter on Court presentation, levées and allied functions is especially puzzling. If you are the first person in your family ever to be presented at Court, you can be darn sure the person responsible for presenting you will do everything in their power to ensure you know what is expected.

That leaves the upstarts who didn’t want to brand themselves as New Money . . . and members of the middle classes who wanted to seem more genteel than they really were. Or, as the author more politely puts it, “Those individuals . . . who have hitherto moved in other spheres than those wherein well-bred people move”.

On the other hand, the author points out a number of times that “friendship over-rules etiquette, and in a manner usurps its place”. If nothing else, this should prevent the nouveaux riches from wielding etiquette as a club over the heads of their less fortunate friends.


First published in 1879, by 1911 Manners and Tone was in its thirty-third edition. The word “edition” is a bit misleading, though. The second through twenty-second editions were reprints in all but name—that is, each was newly typeset, but no text, including obvious errors, was changed. Not until the 1898 twenty-third edition were there substantive changes, complete with an updated title: Manners and Rules et cetera. (German publishers have the right idea, distin­guishing between an Ausgabe and an Auflage. The former means added or changed content; the latter simply means new typesetting.)

The Prince and Princess of Wales in 1879 were “Bertie”—the future Edward VII—and his wife Alexandra. Since the Prince and Princess are never named, there would be no need to revise the book in 1901 and 1910. But some references to the Queen would have had to be updated in 1901 when the queen regnant was replaced by a queen consort.


The entire book is couched in a sort of hypothetical past tense: a lady would do this, the servant would do that.

In addition to italics, the author is inordinately fond of “quotation marks” (double, not single). Most of the time they are used for “emphasis” or to draw attention to some term, where a modern book would have used boldface instead. Sometimes they suggest actual words to be spoken. I don’t think any were intended as “sarcastic quotation marks”, though there are times when this interpretation is tempting.

The author refers at several points to a “d’oyley” (and still more often to—shudder—a “serviette”). Doilies get their name from a London draper named Doily or Doiley. Isabella Beeton, two decades earlier, also uses the apostrophe; the OED haughtily calls the spelling “erron.”, though “hypercorrection” might be more accurate.

Finally, the author assumes his readers know French—or, more likely, flatters them by pretending to believe they do:

Many hostesses give their friends carte blanche invitations to luncheon; but ladies as a rule scarcely ever avail themselves of this façon de parler, as it is usually considered to be, but await a more direct form of invitation.

Understandably, much of the French vocabulary has to do with food:

cuisine, menu, dîner à la Russe; entremets, entrée, mayonaise, quenelles, rissoles.

(I omit pâté de foie gras, because the author doesn’t know how to spell it himself.) He also expects his readers to recognize the words

ci-devant, contretemps, débutante, d’accord, empressé, immortelles, parterre, rapprochement

and phrases

bal masqué; carte blanche; façon de parler; place aux dames; raison d’être; rêponse, s’il vous plaît; sans se déroger; savoir vivre; tête-à-tête; vis-à-vis.


This ebook is based on the 1879 first edition. A few illegible passages were checked against the second edition.

Typographical errors are marked with mouse-hover popups and are listed again at the end of each chapter. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space.





publisher’s device: FW





In the course of writing this little work, it was thought advisable to write a companion work on the subject of “conversing with ease,” that is to say, on the art of polite conversation, or the so-called “small talk” of Society, as in many of the chapters of the present work it was found necessary to frequently suggest appropriate remarks to be made under various circumstances; and such remarks have been occasionally made in the various chapters, but in a cursory manner only, as to have gone into the subject more fully would have rendered this work of too voluminous a character, besides trenching vi upon its original design, viz., that of being a book of “rules and reference;” while the art of polite conversation could but be considered as a book of useful hints, suggestions, and advice, on “what to say,” and “how to say it,” or “how to converse with ease.”




Notes and Corrections: Contents

“I.” missing

[It pleases me very much that the OCR rendered the last word as “DECEPTIONS”.]



The title of this work sufficiently indicates the nature of its contents. “The Usages of Good Society” relate not only to “good manners” and to “good breeding,” but also to the proper etiquette to be observed on every occasion or at every social event.

Not only are certain rules laid down, and minutely explained, but the most comprehensive instructions are given in each chapter respecting every form or phase of the subject under discussion that it may be clearly understood, what is done, and what is not done, in good society, and also how what is done in good society should be done. It is precisely this knowledge that gives to its possessor the consciousness of feeling thoroughly at ease in whatever sphere he may happen to move, and causes him to be considered “well bred” by all with whom he may come in contact.


A “solecism” may be perhaps in itself but a trifling matter, but in the eyes of society at large it assumes proportions of a magnified aspect, and reflects most disadvantageously upon the one by whom it is committed; the direct inference being, that to commit a “solecism” argues the offender to be unused to society, and consequently not on an equal footing with it. This society resents, and it is not slow in making its disapproval felt by its demeanour towards the intruder.

Tact and innate refinement, though of the greatest assistance to one unused to society, do not suffice of themselves; and although counting for much, cannot supply the want of the actual knowledge of what is customary in society. Where tact and innate refinement do not exist—and this is not seldom the case, as they are gifts bestowed upon the few rather than upon the many—then a thorough acquaintance with the social observances in force in good society becomes more than ever necessary, and especially to those who, socially speaking, are desirous of making their way in the world.

Those individuals who have led secluded or isolated lives, or who have hitherto moved in other spheres than those wherein well-bred people move, will gather xi all the information necessary from these pages to render them thoroughly conversant with the manners and amenities of good society.

This work will be found of equal service to both ladies and gentlemen, as in each chapter the points of social etiquette to be observed by both sexes have been fully considered.

Those having the charge of young ladies previous to their introduction into society, either mothers, chaperones, or governesses, will also derive much useful and practical information from the perusal of this work, while to those thoroughly versed in the usages of society it cannot fail to commend itself, containing as it does many useful and valuable hints on social questions.




Leaving cards, or card-leaving, is one of the most important of social observances, as it is the groundwork or nucleus in general society of all acquaintanceships. “Leaving cards,” in the first instance, according to etiquette, is the first step towards forming, or towards enlarging, a circle of acquaintances, and the neglect of this social duty, or the improper performance of it, or the non-fulfilment of its prescribed rules, would be a sure step in the opposite direction, viz., the probable loss of the desired acquaintanceship, or the running the risk of being characterised as ill-bred. The following is the received code of “card-leaving” in all its details according to the etiquette observed in good society by both ladies and gentlemen, and may he fearlessly followed.

The duty of “leaving cards” principally devolves upon the mistress of the house; the wife leaves cards 2 for her husband, as well as for herself; the daughter for her father; the niece for her uncle. In every case, the mistress of the house performs this duty for the master of the house in the circle in which they jointly move, she leaving cards on the acquaintances at whose houses they visit, and by whom they are visited in return. Thus, the “master of the house” has himself little or no card-leaving to do, beyond leaving cards on his bachelor friends, as it is not etiquette for ladies, either married or single, to leave cards on bachelors living alone, except after an entertainment given by a bachelor, and at which the lady has been present. Bachelors themselves have to observe and follow the rules of “card-leaving;” it is an irksome duty to many, and is therefore very often neglected—at least, in a measure and under various circumstances. If a bachelor has a number of intimate friends, the consequences of his neglect of this social observance trouble him but little. His friends probably know where to find him, and probably cannot get on without him; therefore with them he does not stand on ceremony, consequently no card-leaving is necessary in the case. But if a bachelor has his way to make in society, and if he wishes to keep up the acquaintances he has already made, he must be punctilious in the matter of card-leaving; although popular individuals, much occupied in various ways, may be, and very often are, excused by the mistress 3 of a house when they have failed in this duty towards her. The offenders are generally so repentant, and so ready to accuse themselves, and make such flattering and plausible excuses, when brought to book for any such neglect by the offended lady, that her ruffled dignity is easily restored and her anger modified, and she hardly ever visits her displeasure upon them with anything like the severity she would exhibit towards her own sex did they err towards her in a similar manner; for her own sex there would be little excuse made, or opportunity given to make it. Still, though indulgence is extended towards young men, those are the greatest favourites in society who do not constantly require it at the hands of ladies. Bachelors, as a rule, are expected to leave cards on the master and mistress of a house with whom they are acquainted as soon as they are aware that the family have arrived in town, or have arrived at a country town, or watering-place, or have returned to their country house; or if a bachelor himself has been away, he should leave cards on his acquaintances immediately after his return—he should leave one card for the mistress of the house and one for its master. A gentleman does not turn his card down at the corner, even though he may be acquainted with other ladies of the family besides the mistress of the house. A gentleman would not leave a card for the young daughters of the house, or for any young relative of its mistress who might be staying 4 with her; but if a married lady with whom he was acquainted happened to be staying with the friends on whom he was calling, he could of course leave a card for her and for her husband, if he also were on a visit at the same house, telling the servant for whom the two cards were intended.

A gentleman’s card should be thin—thick cards are not in good taste—and not glazed, and of the usual narrow width; his name should be printed in the centre, thus: “Mr. Smith,” or “Mr. Francis Smith,” should he require the addition of his Christian name to distinguish him from his father or elder brother. To have “Francis Smith” printed on the card without the prefix of “Mr.” would be a glaring solecism, and in the worst possible taste; also initials appertaining to honorary rank should never be printed or written on a card, such as D.L., Q.C., M.P., K.C.B., M.D., &c. Military or professional titles necessarily precede the surname of the person bearing them, and of course are always used, such as “Colonel Smith,” “Captain Smith,” “Rev. H. Smith,” “Dr. Smith,” &c.

As regards titles, “The Honourable” is the only title not used on a visiting card. Thus, “The Honourable Henry Smith’s” card would bear the words “Mr. Henry Smith” only, minus “The honourable” altogether. A baronet’s card would be printed thus, “Sir George Smith,” and a knight’s card thus, “Sir Charles Smith.” A gentleman’s address should 5 be printed in the right hand corner of the card, and if a member of a club, it is usual to print the name of the club in the left hand corner also. Officers usually have the name of the club printed at the right hand corner in the place of the address, and the regiment to which they belong in the left hand corner. Cards should be printed in small copper-plate type, without ornamentation of any kind. Old English letters look old-fashioned on a card, and are but little used; and ornamented capital letters are never used, and are out of date. The type should be as plain and as free from any sort of embellishment as it well can be.

Visiting cards can under no circumstances be sent by post; to do so would betray the greatest ignorance of what is done in society. Cards must be left in person. They might occasionally be left by a brother officer, or by an intimate friend, who might happen to be leaving cards on a mutual acquaintance; but it would be exceptional to do so, and would probably only occur when “time” was of the greatest importance, and the distance a formidable one. But the rule is for a gentleman to leave his card in person.

As regards leaving cards upon new acquaintances, a gentleman may not leave his card upon a married lady, or the mistress of a house, to whom he has been introduced, however gracious or agreeable she has been to him, unless she expressly asks him to call, or gives him to understand in an unmistakable manner 6 that his doing so would be agreeable to her. This rule holds good, whether the introduction has taken place at a dinner party, at a ball, at an “at home,” at a country house gathering, or elsewhere; he would not be authorised in leaving his card on her on such slight acquaintanceship; as, if she desired his further acquaintance, she would make some polite allusion to his calling at her house, such as “I hope we shall see you when we are in town this season;” or, “I am always at home at five o’clock, if you like to come and see us;” or, “I hope we shall see something of you when you come into our neighbourhood” (if residing in the country). If a woman of the world she would use some such polite formula as the above, but would not use a more direct one, in which case he would leave his card on her as soon afterwards as convenient, and he would also leave a card for the master of the house, the lady’s husband or father (as the case might be), even if he had not made his acquaintance when making that of the lady. A gentleman may not under any circumstances leave a card on a young lady to whom he has been introduced, unless her mother, chaperone, or the lady under whose care she is for the time, gives him the opportunity of furthering the acquaintance in the manner we have just indicated; the young lady must not take the initiative herself, but must leave it to her mother or chaperone to do so. It would be considered “ill-bred” were a gentleman 7 to ask if he might have the pleasure of calling, &c.

In the event of a gentleman receiving an invitation to an entertainment at the house of a new acquaintance, either from a lady to whom he has been recently introduced, or through some mutual friend, he should leave his cards at the house the day after the entertainment, one for the mistress, and one for the master of the house, whether he had accepted the invitation or not. It is imperative for a gentleman to leave his cards on the host, or on the hostess, after every entertainment to which he has been invited by them, whether it be a dinner-party or ball, or at home, &c. Whether he has been present or not, the fact of his having been invited by them obliges him to pay them this civility. If invited by a new acquaintance, the cards should be left the day after the entertainment, but if by a less recent acquaintance, they may be left within the week, or within ten days if in the country; but the earlier the cards are left the greater the politeness shown. If a bachelor acquaintance gives an entertainment, the same rule applies as to the necessity of cards being left on him by those gentlemen but slightly acquainted with him, who have been invited to the entertainment. The rules of etiquette, though stringent as regards acquaintances, have little or no application as regards intimate friends; friendship over-rules etiquette, and in a manner usurps its place. There is 8 very little “ceremonious” card-leaving observed between gentlemen; if any intimacy exists between them they will probably meet frequently enough in society without ceremoniously calling on each other. Of course, if a gentleman should not find his friend at home when calling upon him, he would naturally leave his card as a proof of his having wanted to see him, rather than as a mark of punctilious politeness.

When the acquaintance existing between gentlemen is but slight, they would leave a card on one another occasionally, especially when they do not move in the same circle, and are not otherwise likely to meet; it generally follows that the one who most desires the acquaintanceship is the one to leave his card first, always supposing that the strength of the acquaintance would warrant his so doing. The one of highest rank would be the one to intimate that he desires the acquaintance of the other; if the rank be equal, it is a matter of inclination which calls first.

If a gentleman has been invited to an entertainment given at the house of a new acquaintance, whether the acquaintance be a lady or a gentleman, it would be etiquette for him to leave his card upon them on their arrival in town or elsewhere, even though they may not have invited him to any subsequent entertainment given by them within the year. If during the following year they do not again invite him, he might consider the acquaintance at an end, 9 and cease to call. These complimentary calls made, or rather cards left, should not average more than four during the year.

Between “Ladies” the etiquette of card-leaving is very strictly followed and punctiliously observed in all its laws.

A lady, on arriving in town or at a watering-place, where she is a resident, or at her country-house, she having been absent some considerable time, should at once leave cards on her acquaintances and friends, to signify that she had arrived or returned home, as the case might be. But if her absence had only been a temporary one, and she had not therefore left P. P. C. cards previous to her departure, she would take up her card-leaving at the point where it stood when she went away, that is to say, she would leave cards upon those who had last left cards upon her.

Some ladies labour under the mistake of supposing that their acquaintances should first call on them on their arrival in town or elsewhere, but common sense would alone point to the contrary, even if there were no etiquette in the matter; as friends cannot be supposed to “guess” at this fact, they therefore require to be officially informed of it by means of visiting-cards being left upon them. Card-leaving by residents in the country on new arrivals is a totally different matter, and will be referred to in its turn.

All visiting cards must be left in person as a matter 10 of course; they should never be sent by post: it would be a great breach of etiquette to do so under any circumstances. Under certain circumstances a servant might be allowed to leave them for his mistress, but this is not often done; “distance,” “unfavourable weather,” “pressing engagements,” or “delicate health,” would be perhaps sufficient and good reasons for sending cards by a servant; but, as a rule, ladies invariably leave their cards themselves. It was formerly the custom, on arriving in town, for ladies with a large acquaintance to send their visiting cards to their various friends and acquaintances by a footman; but this practice is now more unusual than usual, it being found more satisfactory for the lady herself to perform this duty.

A lady, having a large acquaintance, would keep a visiting-book, in which to enter the names of her acquaintances, and the date when their cards were left upon her, with the dates of her return cards upon them, that she might know whether a card were due to her from them, or whether it were due to them from her.

A lady, having a small acquaintance, would find a memorandum-book sufficient for the purpose; a line should be drawn down the centre of every page, dividing it into two columns, the one column for the names, and the opposite column for the dates of the calls made and returned.

A lady’s visiting-card should be printed in small, 11 clear copper-plate type, and free from any kind of embellishment as regards ornamental or old English letters. It should be a thin card, and without glaze, and the size three and a half inches in width, by two and a half inches in depth. The name of the lady should be printed in the centre of the card, and her address in the right-hand corner. If she had a second address, it would be printed in the opposite corner of the card. If the second address was but a temporary one, it would be written and not printed.

A married lady would never use her Christian name on a card, but she would always use her husband’s Christian name before her surname if his father or elder brother were living.

In the higher circles of London society it is now considered “old-fashioned” for husbands and wives to have their names printed on the same card, but in the country, and at watering places, the practice of having the two names on the same card, “Mr. and Mrs.,” is still much followed; but even when these cards are used, a lady and gentleman would still require separate cards of their own.

It is not etiquette for young ladies to have visiting-cards of their own; it would be considered very bad style were they to use them. Their names are always printed beneath that of their mother on her card, either “Miss ——,” or “The Misses ——,” as the case might be. If a young lady’s Christian name were 12 used on a card, it would be a great solecism were the prefix of “Miss” to be omitted.

In the case of there being no mother living, the daughter’s name would be printed beneath that of her father on the usual lady’s visiting card, but never on the smaller cards used by gentlemen. The same rule would apply to a brother and sister residing alone.

If a young lady were taken out into society by a relative or friend her name would be written in pencil under that of the lady chaperoning her, on her visiting card.

Maiden ladies of a certain age would have visiting cards of their own.

The title of “honourable” is never used on a visiting card, but all other titles are used, but the “The” preceding the title, is not used on a visiting card.

If a lady is driving when she makes her call—gentlemen seldom accompany their wives on these occasions—her man servant would inquire if the mistress of the house were “at home.” If “not at home,” the lady calling would hand him “three” cards, one of her own, and two of her husband’s; but if her husband’s name were printed on her card, thus, “Mr. and Mrs. ——,” then one of his cards only would be required; her card would be left for the mistress of the house, as a lady leaves a card for a lady only; while a gentleman leaves a card for both husband and wife.


The man servant of the lady calling would hand these cards to the servant answering the door without remark, and the latter would hold them in his hand until the lady had driven off.

If a lady were merely leaving cards, and not intending to call, she would hand the three cards to her servant, saying “For Mrs. ——” and he would repeat “for Mrs. ——” to the servant answering the door, when giving in the cards. This ensures the cards being left at the right address, and is the correct formula for the occasion.

If a lady were walking when she left her cards, or paid her call, and found her friend was not at home, she would repeat the same formula in both cases, as above.

If a lady were sufficiently intimate to call, she would ask if “Mrs. —— were at home?” and if she were at home, she would, on leaving the house, leave two of her husband’s cards on the hall table in a conspicuous place. She should not put them in the card basket, or give them to the host if he were at home, and polite enough to escort her to her carriage, or leave them on the drawing-room table, or offer them to her hostess, all of which would be very incorrect; but she might in the hall hand them to the man servant silently, or she might send them in by her own servant when seated in her carriage, saying for “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” She would on no account 14 leave her own card on the hall table, having herself seen the lady of the house, as having done so, does away with the reason for leaving a card; on this occasion she must leave two separate cards of her husband’s; one for the master and one for the mistress of the house.

If the lady calling were accompanied by her husband and the lady were at home, the husband would leave one of his own cards for the master of the house, which would be the only card left on the occasion. If the master of the house were at home also, then no cards would be left.

If there were a daughter, or daughters, the lady calling would, when leaving cards, turn down one corner—the right hand corner generally—of her visiting card for her, or for them; or if she preferred it, she might leave a separate card for the daughters; it is immaterial which is done, only if the daughters were young ladies it is more usual to turn down the corner of the card only.

The practice of turning down the corner of a visiting card signifies that the ladies of the family, as well as the hostess, are included in the call. Foreigners often turn down the end of the card instead of one corner only, which signifies the same thing.

Again, if there were sons or a son, the lady calling would leave her husband’s cards or card for them; 15 but she could not leave her husband’s card for the daughters, neither could she leave her own card for the sons. It should be remembered that no cards are left on those members of a family who are at home when a call is made.

Cards should always be returned within a week if possible, or ten days at latest, after they have been left; but to do so within a week would be more courteous. And care must be taken to return the “calls” or “cards” according to the etiquette observed by the person making the call, or leaving the card; that is to say, that a “call” must not be returned by a card only, or a “card” by a “call.” This is a point ladies are very punctilious about.

If a lady of higher rank were to return a card by a “call” asking if the mistress of the house were “at home,” her doing so would be proper etiquette, and would be considered a compliment; but if she returned a “call” by a card only, it would be taken to mean that she wished the acquaintance to be of the slightest; but if a lady were to call upon an acquaintance of higher rank than herself, who had only left a card upon her, her doing so would be a breach of etiquette. Therefore, as either of these mistakes might be occasioned by the servant who receives the cards at the hall door, as to whether the ladies calling had or had not asked if his mistress were at home, and also as to which of the ladies had or had not done so, the servant should be required 16 to write on a slate kept for that purpose in the hall the names of those ladies who had asked if his mistress were at home. A little caution in this respect obviates placing too much reliance on the powers of a servant’s memory, and running the risk of committing a breach of etiquette. In large establishments the hall porter enters the names of all callers in a book expressly kept for the purpose, while some ladies merely desire their servant to sort the cards left for them. This last plan may answer well enough when the servant is a very efficient one, but in ordinary cases it is not safe to trust to this being done effectually.

The name of the lady or gentleman for whom the cards are intended must never be written on the cards left at the house: it would a great solecism to do this. The only case in which it should be done would be when cards are left on a lady or gentleman staying at a crowded hotel, when, to save confusion, and to ensure their receiving them, their names might be written on them thus, “For Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” But this would be quite an exceptional case, otherwise to do so would be extremely vulgar.

If a young lady were leaving cards on her acquaintances and she herself were on a visit unaccompanied by either father or mother, and her chaperone or the lady whose guest she was, were unacquainted with the lady on whom she wished to call, she would leave her mother’s card on which her own name was also printed, 17 and draw a pencil through her mother’s name, thus intimating that her mother was not with her on this occasion. If a lady were leaving cards on a friend who is the guest of some one with whom she was unacquainted, she would only leave cards for her friend, and not for her friend’s hostess.

If she were slightly acquainted with her friend’s hostess she would leave cards upon her, on the occasion of her first visit to her friend, but it would not be necessary to do so at every subsequent visit, especially if such visits were of frequent occurrence.

Visiting cards should be left after every entertainment by those who have been invited, whether they have accepted the invitations or not, and they should be left the day after the entertainment, if possible, and certainly within the week, according to the order of leaving cards already indicated. By entertainment is meant dinners, balls, “at homes,” private theatricals, amateur concerts, garden-parties, &c. On these occasions cards are merely left without inquiring if the hostess is “at home,” although after a dinner-party it is the rule to ask if she is “at home,” as to dine at a house denotes a greater intimacy than the being present at a large gathering. If the hostess were not “at home,” cards would then be left in the usual manner.

If a lady has been but once present at any entertainment, whether the invitation came through a 18 mutual friend or direct from the hostess herself, the hostess being but a slight acquaintance of her own, besides leaving cards for her the day following, she can, if she desires it, leave cards for her the following season, or, if residing in the same town, within a reasonable time of the entertainment; but if these cards are not acknowledged by cards being left in return she would of course understand that the acquaintance is to proceed no farther.

A lady cannot leave “cards” on another lady to whom she has but recently been introduced at a dinner party, or five o’clock tea, for instance; she must meet her several times in society, and feel sure that her acquaintance is desired, before venturing to leave cards. If two ladies are of equal rank, “tact” will be their best guide as to the advisability of leaving cards or not upon each other; the lady of superior rank may take the initiative if she pleases. If either of the ladies express a wish to further the acquaintance by asking the other to call upon her, the suggestion would come from the lady of highest rank; if of equal rank it is immaterial as to which first makes the suggestion. But in either case the call should be paid within the week.

In the country the residents are the first to leave cards on the new comers. This they do after having duly ascertained the position which the new comers occupy in society.


Persons moving in the same sphere either leave cards or call according as they intend to be ceremonious or friendly, and the return visits must be paid in like manner, a card for a card, a call for a call.

It is etiquette for residents to call on the new comers, without having any previous acquaintance with them, or without having introductions to them.

A new comer, even if of higher rank, cannot call on a resident in the first instance, but must wait until the resident has taken the initiative. If the resident does not care to pursue the acquaintance after the first meeting it will be discontinued by not leaving cards or by not calling again, and if the new comers felt disinclined to continue the acquaintance they would return the calls by leaving cards only.

Calling on new comers in the country is not done indiscriminately, but is very much confined to individual status in society and to class. In some counties “society” is far more exclusive than in others. In the “home counties” “society” is less exclusive than elsewhere, from the fact that so many of the country seats in these counties are rented, bought, and built by monied people, while in the more distant counties the estates are chiefly hereditary, and are not newly purchased properties. But even in the home counties society is sufficiently exclusive for all purposes.

The custom of residents calling on new comers is 20 entirely confined to county society, and does not apply to persons residing in large towns, and populous watering places, as town residents would have no more idea of calling on new comers with whom they were unacquainted than they would of calling on strangers in London.

In old cathedral cities and quiet country towns, far from the metropolis, on the contrary the rule holds good of residents calling on new comers.

The lady of highest social position in the circle to which the new comer belongs, generally takes the responsibility of calling first on the new comer.

By “new comer” is expressed persons who intend to reside in a county or town for a long, or even for a short period, and who are not casual visitors in the place.

“Cards,” both in “town” and country, should always be left between 2.30 and 6.30. They cannot be left in the morning or later in the afternoon than 6.30, but the most fashionable hours for leaving cards, however, would be between 3 and 5 o’clock, 2.30, and 6.30 being the earliest as well as the latest permissible hours.

A lady, making a strictly business “call” upon another lady, or upon a gentleman on a matter of business, either on a clergyman, doctor, solicitor, &c., would give her card to the servant, to be taken to his master or mistress. This on all such occasions would 21 be the correct thing to do; but under no other circumstances would a lady give her visiting card to the servant if the lady called upon were at home.

Cards, to inquire after friends during their illness, must be left in person and not sent by post. On a lady’s visiting card must be written above the printed name “To inquire,” and nothing else should be added to these words.

For the purpose of returning thanks for these inquiries cards are sold already printed, and the names of the persons returning thanks have to be written above the printed words. These printed cards are generally sent by post, as they are dispatched while the person inquired after is still an invalid. These cards are to convey the intelligence of the sender’s recovery, therefore they would not be sent while the person inquired after was in danger, or seriously ill. But if the person inquired after were sufficiently recovered to return thanks in person, the usual visiting card, with “return thanks for kind inquiries,” written above the printed name, would be and is the usual mode of returning thanks, and is all-sufficient for the purpose.

The sending of “funeral cards” after a death in a family is quite inadmissible in society. To do so would be considered a violation of good taste. The sending of christening cards also is equally inadmissible and in equally bad taste.


The practice of sending “wedding cards” is also out of date, and out of fashion, and the doing so therefore would be an anomaly in the eyes of the fashionable world.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter I

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Leaving cards, or card-leaving, is one of the most important of social observances
[So important, in fact, that unlike all other chapter titles, it must be named without quotation marks.]

Military or professional titles . . . such as “Colonel Smith,” “Captain Smith,” “Rev. H. Smith,” “Dr. Smith,” &c.
[Why does the author think “Rev.” is a title? It’s an adjective, as in “The Reverend Mr. [or Dr.] Smith”.]

But if her absence had only been a temporary one, and she had not therefore left P. P. C. cards previous to her departure
[“Pour Prendre Congé”. Thank you, Miss Manners.]

she would always use her husband’s Christian name before her surname if his father or elder brother were living
[This appears to be the origin of the “Mrs. John Smith” locution: it’s to distinguish the subsidiary Mrs. Smiths from the ranking Mrs. Smith.]

Maiden ladies of a certain age would have visiting cards of their own.
text has thir own
[Like the ladies themselves, the author prefers not to specify how certain.]



Morning calls,” so designated on account of their being made before dinner, are, more strictly speaking, “afternoon calls,” as they can only be made between the hours of three and six o’clock.

Calls made in the morning—that is, before one o’clock—would not come under the denomination of “morning calls,” as they can only be made by intimate friends and not by acquaintances, and are not, therefore, amenable to the rules of etiquette which govern the afternoon calls, which calls are regulated in a great measure—as to the hour of calling—by the exact degree of intimacy existing between the person who calls and the person called upon. From “three” to “four” o’clock is the ceremonious hour for calling; from “four” to “five” o’clock is the semi-ceremonious hour; and from “five” to “six” o’clock is the wholly friendly and without ceremony hour.

A considerable difference exists with regard to “Sunday calls,” or calling on Sundays. Ladies never 24 pay ceremonious calls on Sundays; it would not be etiquette for an acquaintance to call on a Sunday, it would rather be considered in the light of a liberty, unless she were expressly asked to do so. Intimate friends, on the contrary, often make Sunday an especial day for calling, and therefore ladies and gentlemen—more especially gentlemen—extend their calling hours from “three” until “six” o’clock on Sundays.

Husbands and wives occasionally pay calls together, but oftener they do not. The lady, as a rule, pays a call by herself, unless she has a grown-up daughter, when she would accompany her mother. Occasionally two ladies, both intimate with the lady of the house, would pay their calls together. A family party, of father, mother, and daughter, or daughters, rarely call in town in a body, except under very exceptional circumstances; but in the country a family party of three or four would, as a matter of course, call together; it is country etiquette to do so.

When a lady calls at the house of an acquaintance—if driving—her servant would ask, “Is Mrs. A—— at home?” If walking, she would ask the question herself. If the answer were in the affirmative, the servant in reply would answer, “Yes, ma’am;” if in the negative, the answer would be, “Not at home, ma’am.” Nothing further would be said by a well-mannered servant as to the whereabouts of the mistress of the house; and the lady calling must ask no 25 questions as to when the lady, on whom she is calling, will be at home, as it is not considered good taste to cross-question servants as to their master’s or mistress’s movements. If “not at home,” the lady would leave cards in the order as described in the chapter on “card-leaving.”

If the lady of the house were “at home,” the visitor would enter the house without further remark; the servant would close the door, and would then lead the way upstairs, the lady following the servant, not walking before him; he would walk slowly upstairs a few steps in advance of her, or of him—if the visitor were a gentleman.

If the drawing-room were on the ground-floor, and the visitor were unacquainted with the house, the servant would say, “This way, if you please, ma’am,” still leading the way. The servant goes before the visitor that he may show the way to the drawing-room; and, however accustomed a visitor may be to a house, it is still the proper etiquette for the servant to lead the way, and announce him or her to his mistress; and this rule can on no account be dispensed with, except in the case of very near relations—mothers or sisters, for instance—or very intimate friends. At the drawing-room door the servant waits for a moment until the visitor has reached the landing, when she or he would say to the servant, “Mrs. A——,” or “Mr. A——.” It would 26 be very vulgar were either to say, “My name is ‘Smith,’” and to omit the prefix of “Mr.” or “Mrs.”

If the visitor calling hears the title of “Honourable,” it is not mentioned by her or him to the servant when giving the name; neither is it mentioned by the servant when announcing the visitor. To be announced as “the Honourable Mrs. Smith” would be a solecism. All other titles are in force when announcing persons of rank; for instance, “Sir George Smith,” “Lady Smith,” “Lady Mary East;” but a Countess, or a Viscountess, in giving her name to a servant, would say, “Lady West,” instead of “the Countess of West,” and “Lady South,” instead of the “Viscountess South.” An Earl or a Viscount would style themselves “Lord West,” or “Lord South.” The full title is printed on a visiting card, as has been already mentioned in the chapter on card-leaving.

A lady or gentleman must on no account give her or his visiting card to the servant when the mistress of the house is at home, it would be a vulgarism to do so.

If the visitor does not give his or her name to the servant, taking it for granted that he already knows it, the servant, if he does not know it, would say to the visitor, “What name, if you please, ma’am?” and upon being told, he would open the drawing-room door without knocking. To knock at the door of a drawing-room 27 or dining-room would be considered very vulgar, and should never be permitted. The only doors in a house at which it is proper for servants to knock before entering, are those of a bed-room or dressing-room.

The servant, on opening the drawing-room door, would stand inside the doorway, but on one side. Having thrown the door wide open, he would not stand behind the door, but well into the room; facing the mistress of the house if possible, he would say, “Mrs. A——,” or “Mr. A——.”

If the mistress of the house should not be in the drawing-room, the servant would say, instead of announcing the name of the visitor, “My mistress will be here directly, ma’am.” He would then close the door, and the visitor would await her coming in the drawing-room. It would be ill-bred of a visitor to make any inquiries of the servant as to “how long his mistress will be,” or “where she is,” or “what she is doing,” &c. Visitors are not expected to converse with the servants of their acquaintances on any topic whatever, and should never attempt to enter into conversation with them.

A gentleman, when calling, as a matter of course, takes his hat in his hand with him into the drawing-room, and holds it until he has seen the mistress of the house, and shaken hands with her. He would either then place his hat on a chair or table near at hand or hold it in his hand until he took his leave, 28 according as to whether he felt at ease or the reverse. He would not put his hat on until in the hall; as, in the house, a gentleman never puts on his hat in the presence of its mistress. To leave his hat in the hall would be considered a liberty, and in very bad taste; only the members of a family residing in the same house would leave their hats in the hall, or enter the drawing-room without their hats in their hands. The fact of hanging up the hat in the hall proves that the owner of the hat is at home there.

At “at homes,” small five o’clock teas, luncheons, dinners, &c., the rule is reversed, and hats are left in the hall by invited guests; the invitation constituting the difference. A gentleman would take his stick with him into the drawing-room, or a small umbrella, if it answered the purpose of a stick.

When gentlemen wear gloves, which in the country they seldom or never do, except when driving, and in town almost as seldom, they would draw off the right hand glove at least before entering the drawing-room; but if they preferred to remain gloved—although it is not so courteous to do so—they need offer no apology when shaking hands with the lady, or allude to their gloves in any way.

The mistress of a house should be especially careful to let her servant know, after luncheon, or before the hours for calling, whether she intends to be “at home” to visitors or not during the afternoon.


“Not at home” is the understood formula expressive of not wishing to see visitors. “Not at home” is not intended to imply an untruth, but rather to signify that for some reason, or reasons, it is not desirable to see visitors; and as it would be impossible to explain to acquaintances the why and the wherefore of its being inconvenient to receive visitors, the formula of “Not at home” is all-sufficient explanation, provided always that the servant is able to give a direct answer at once of “Not at home” when the query is put to him. If, on the contrary, the servant is not sure as to whether his mistress wishes to see visitors or not, it is almost a direct offence to the lady calling if the servant hesitates as to his answer, and leaves her either sitting in her carriage or standing in the hall, while “He will see if his mistress is ‘at home,’” perhaps returning with the unsatisfactory answer that she is “not at home;” in which case the intimation is partly received as a personal exclusion rather than as a general exclusion of visitors.

If a lady is dressing to go out when a visitor calls, the servant can mention that fact to a visitor calling, and offer to ascertain if his mistress will see the caller; and the caller would use her own discretion as to whether she will allow him to do so or not; but unless the visit is one of importance, it would be best in such a case only to leave cards.

A servant must never be permitted to say that his 30 mistress is “engaged with, a lady,” or with a gentleman, when a second visitor calls; but usher the second caller into the drawing-room, as he had previously done the first caller. He must on no account inquire as to whether his mistress will see the second caller or not. Neither must he inform the second caller as to whether any one is or is not with his mistress, as ignorant servants are too apt to do.

These rules apply equally to a very small establishment, where perhaps only a parlour-maid is kept, as to an establishment where two or more men servants are kept. The etiquette as to what a servant should or should not do, is precisely the same whether the servant be a parlour-maid, a page, a footman, or a butler.

If the mistress of the house is in the drawing-room when the visitor is announced, and she should so arrange her occupations as always to be found there on the afternoons when she intends being “at home” should visitors call—she would rise, come forward, and shake hands with her visitor. She would not ask her visitor to be seated, or to “take a seat,” or “where she would like to sit?” or “which seat she would prefer?” &c.; but would at once sit down and expect her visitor to do the same, which, if she were well bred, she would at once do, as near to the hostess as possible.

One point to guard against in “morning calls” is a 31 “fussy” demeanour on the part of either hostess or visitor; as a “morning call” is oftener than not a tête-à-tête, and a tête-à-tête between two persons but slightly acquainted with each other requires a considerable amount of tact and savoir vivre to be gracefully sustained; each lady being more or less on the alert to discover the merits, or demerits, of the other. A fussy woman is of necessity an ill-bred woman, as she is without repose, without dignity, and without savoir vivre.

It would betray that the hostess was not much accustomed to society if she should attempt to amuse her visitor by the production of albums, photographs, books, illustrated newspapers, portfolios of drawings, the artistic efforts of the members of the family, and the like; conversation being all that is necessary, without having recourse to pictorial displays of such a common-place order.

If not intimate enough to refer to family matters, the conversation should turn on light topics of the hour*.

* See work entitled “Society Small Talk.”

Persons unused to society, and not possessing the art of conversing with ease, are apt to fall back upon these adventitious aids. It would not be considered good style to do so, although it would not be precisely vulgar. The hostess should rely solely upon her own powers of conversation to make the short quarter-of-an-hour—which 32 is the limit of a ceremonious call—pass pleasantly to her visitor. The hostess would on no account ask her visitor if she “will take any refreshment”—“a glass of wine and a biscuit,” for instance, or “wine and cake;”—to do so would be considered a breach of good manners. No refreshments whatever, save tea, are offered to morning visitors; they are not supposed to require them; and the custom of offering wedding-cake by a bride to her visitors on their first calling upon her is quite an exploded custom, and is a thing never done in good society.

In the country it is customary to offer a glass of sherry to gentlemen callers, and to order tea for the lady visitors, even though the call were made rather early in the afternoon, and a little before the usual hour for having tea.

Ceremonious” visits are usually paid before the hour of half-past four; but if tea is brought in while the visitor is in the drawing-room, or if the visitor calls while the hostess is partaking of it, she would naturally offer her visitor some tea, in a polite and easy manner, neither persuasively nor coldly. The most appropriate and conventional manner of speech for this and similar occasions is fully explained in the work entitled “Society Small Talk,” &c.

When the mistress of the house only expects a few callers, “tea” is generally placed on a small table in 33 front of her chair—a silver tray being the most fashionable one for the purpose. The hostess would pour out the tea herself; if a gentleman were present he would hand the cups to the visitors or visitor; if no gentleman were present, the hostess would herself do so, and then hand the sugar and cream, without asking whether they “will take” either; unless she were preparing the cups of tea herself.

Plates and d’oyleys are not used in good society at “afternoon tea;” to use them would be considered “bad style.” Equally so would it be to envelop the teapot in a wrap or cap known as a “tea cozy;” a thing which should never be seen in a lady’s drawing-room. To use such an article at all when receiving visitors would be an unconscious confession of impecuniosity or penuriousness. If the “tea cozy” is intended to prevent the tea getting cold, it would be more polite—and the correct thing to do—if the tea were cold, to ring and order a fresh supply for the new arrivals.

The only eatables offered to a caller at afternoon tea are thin biscuits, slices of cake, or thin bread-and-butter; pastry, fruit preserves, &c., are never offered, though at large afternoon teas these dainties are provided. (See chapter on afternoon teas.) If a lady visitor intends eating bread and butter, &c., with her tea, she would, of course, take off her gloves, and put them on again before leaving. She would place 34 her empty teacup, if there were no gentleman present to take it from her, on the nearest table to her, rather than on the tea-tray itself. It is not usual to ask visitors to take a second cup of tea, or to inquire if “their tea is to their taste?” these questions are well enough in the “housekeeper’s room,” where “tea” is a meal; but they would be out of place in the “drawing-room.”

Some ladies prefer to have the tea handed round by a servant, but in that case it must be handed by a man servant and not by a parlour maid; and the tea is then brought in already poured out in tea cups, according to the number of guests present. The man servant, when announcing the last comer, will have noticed the number of guests in the drawing-room, and would bring cups of tea accordingly. The cream and sugar would be placed on the same tray, which should be a silver salver, and should be brought to each lady according to her rank, and last of all to the mistress of the house. Each lady would help herself to sugar and cream whilst the servant was holding the tray. A plate containing bread-and-butter or biscuits would also be placed on the tray. A teapot would not be brought in.

Both these ways of serving tea are in equally good style, and it is quite immaterial which of the two is followed; the latter mode, however, is considered more ceremonious than the former.


It is not usual to offer coffee at small afternoon teas; it is a foreign fashion and not an English one. “Morning” callers are never conducted to the dining-room to partake of tea; and tea is only served in the dining-room on the occasion of a large five o’clock tea, or afternoon “at home,” &c. (See chapter on five o’clock teas.)

If a second visitor arrives, ten or fifteen minutes after the first visitor, the first visitor would take her leave as soon as she gracefully could, the hostess would rise, meet, and shake hands with the second visitor, if a lady, and then reseat herself. If a gentleman, she would not rise; the second visitor would at once seat him or herself near to the hostess. She would on no account formally introduce the visitors to each other unless she had some especial reason for so doing. She would, however, in the course of conversation casually mention the name of each visitor, so that each might become aware of the name of the other. Formal introductions on these occasions are seldom made. But if the hostess possesses tact, and a facility and readiness of speech, she would skilfully draw both visitors into the conversation (a subject which is fully enlarged upon in the work already mentioned in this chapter.) But the hostess would not take this latter course unless aware that the two visitors would be likely to appreciate each other.


If one visitor were to arrive immediately after the other, the hostess would converse equally with both visitors, and the lady who was the first to arrive would be the first to leave, after a call of from ten to fifteen minutes; if there were only one visitor present the hostess would accompany her to the door of the drawing-room, where she would sometimes linger a few moments, whilst the visitor was descending the stairs. To do so would not be imperative, but it would be courteous. If the host were present he would accompany the lady down stairs into the hall; this also is an optional civility, and greatly depends upon the estimation in which the lady is held by host and hostess.

If two visitors were present the hostess would rise and shake hands with the departing visitor, but unless a person of greater consideration than the visitor who still remained seated—for one visitor does not rise from her seat when another is about to take her leave—she would not accompany her to the drawing-room door.

If two visitors, either two ladies or two gentlemen, had slightly conversed with each other during a morning call, they would on no account shake hands with each other on leaving, but would merely bow; and if they had not spoken to each other they would not bow; if they had been formally introduced they would still only bow unless the acquaintance had 37 progressed into sudden intimacy through previous knowledge of each other.

If one of the visitors present were a gentleman, he would as a matter of course open the drawing-room door for the departing visitor, but he would not accompany her down stairs unless requested by the hostess to do so; the visitor would bow to him and thank him but not shake hands with him.

When the hostess has shaken hands with the guest and before crossing the room with her, she would ring the drawing-room bell that the servant might be in readiness in the hall to open the door for her, and to call up the carriage if driving. She would ring the bell even if the host were accompanying the lady down stairs. It would be very inconsiderate for the hostess to forget to ring the bell to give notice to the servant that a visitor was leaving.

In the country, where sometimes the horses are taken out of the carriage, the visitor before rising to depart would ask if she might ring and order her carriage. If the hostess were within reach of the bell she would ring it for her, if a gentleman were present he would of course do so, if not the hostess would reply in the affirmative, using some polite phrase or other (see the work already referred to), and the visitor would herself ring; and on the servant’s entrance the visitor would ask for her carriage.

If a lady were driving with a friend, a stranger to 38 the acquaintance on whom she was calling, she would on no account take her into the house with her, but leave her in the carriage while she paid her call, unless there were some especial reason for introducing the two ladies to each other, or unless both ladies had expressed a wish to become acquainted with each other.

If a lady were calling on a friend, the guest of some one with whom she herself was unacquainted, or even but slightly acquainted, she would in both cases ask if her friend were “at home,” and not if the mistress of the house were “at home,” and having paid her visit, on leaving the house she would leave cards for its mistress if she were slightly acquainted with her, but would not do so if she were unacquainted with her.

If a lady had a guest staying on a visit to her, she would if possible place a sitting-room at her disposal during the hours for calling, where she could receive her acquaintances and friends; but if this were inconvenient, she would when her guest expected visitors absent herself from the drawing-room at that particular time, unless the expected visitor were the mutual friend of herself and guest.

If she should happen to be sitting in the drawing-room with the guest when the visitor was announced, so as to render an introduction inevitable, a formal introduction would then be made, but the mistress of 39 the house after a very few minutes would make some polite excuse (see “Society Small Talk”), quietly leave the room, and not return until after the departure of the visitor. It would be both inconsiderate and ill-bred were the mistress of the house to remain in the drawing-room while calls were paid to her guest by strangers to herself unless at her guest’s particular request. If the visitor were a gentleman and the guest a young unmarried lady, the mistress of the house would of course remain in the drawing-room to chaperone her.

If the mistress of the house were desirous of making the acquaintance of any particular friend of her guest, and from whom she expected a visit, when the visit occurred and before the visitor took her leave, the guest would ask if she would allow her to introduce her to the lady with whom she was staying. If her visitor desired the introduction she would then ring and desire the servant to tell his mistress that Mrs. A—— was in the drawing-room, which message the hostess would understand to mean that her presence was desired, and the introduction would then be made on her appearing. An introduction if made in this manner could become the basis of a future acquaintance, both ladies having had the option of refusing the acquaintance of the other if so disposed; whereas a forced introduction where there was no option given would hardly count as the basis of a 40 future acquaintance unless the ladies thus introduced mutually appreciated each other.

In the country it is not necessary to place a sitting-room at a guest’s disposal for the purpose of receiving visitors, for the obvious reason that a guest would hardly have friends and acquaintances of her own in the neighbourhood to call upon her; and if she were acquainted with any one in the neighbourhood, he or she would in all probability be acquainted with the host and hostess also; if otherwise the hostess would give her guest the opportunity of seeing her visitor by quitting the drawing-room as has already been explained.

If a guest is present when the mistress of a house is receiving callers, she would as a matter of course introduce them to her guest or her guest to them according to the rank of either (see chapter on introductions.)

There is no distinct etiquette as regards bridal calls; a bride receives her visitors as any other married lady would do, and bridal calls differ in no way from the usual ceremonious calls. A bride would not send any intimation that she had arrived at her new home, but her friends and acquaintances would call on her at the expiration of the honeymoon, about a week after the home coming.

A bride would not call upon her friends and acquaintances until they had called upon her.


At bridal calls wedding cake is never offered to the visitors, as it is not the custom to do so in good society.

Acquaintances of the bridegroom, whether ladies or gentlemen, would leave cards on the bride, whether they were acquainted with the bride or not (see chapter on card-leaving), and friends of the bridegroom, whether ladies or gentlemen, would call on the bride though unacquainted with her, and ask if she were “at home.”

By “ladies” in this case, married ladies are exclusively referred to, whose husbands are the friends of the bridegroom; and as gentlemen seldom accompany their wives when making “morning calls,” the married lady would, on her name being announced, shake hands with the bride and express her pleasure at making the bride’s acquaintance (see “Society Small Talk”).

If a lady is acquainted with the daughters of a family only, and not with their father or mother, she would call on the daughters, who would at once introduce her to their mother, so that on the next occasion of calling, if the mother were not present, the lady calling would leave cards for her and the master of the house; and at all morning calls, when the daughters of the house receive a ceremonious visit from an acquaintance, in the absence of their mother, whether from indisposition or any other cause, cards 42 should be left for her in the hall before leaving by the lady calling (see chapter on card-leaving).

In all cases when “morning calls” are made, and the lady called on is not “at home,” cards must be left according to the etiquette described in the chapter on “Leaving Cards,” an etiquette which should be strictly observed; and when the lady called on is “at home,” cards must be left for the gentlemen of the family according to the same rules of card-leaving, which cannot be too punctually followed.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter II

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A gentleman would take his stick with him into the drawing-room, or a small umbrella, if it answered the purpose of a stick.
[Also useful if the host’s roof leaks.]

a very small establishment, where perhaps only a parlour-maid is kept
[I think this means a household with no more than three or four servants in total. The cook, chambermaid and—if there are children—the nurse don’t count, since they would never be opening the door anyway.]

they would still only bow unless the acquaintance had progressed into sudden intimacy
[Invisible word “had” at page-end supplied from 2nd edition.]



Introductions,” or the introducing of persons not previously acquainted with one another, requires a considerable amount of tact and discretion on the part of those persons making introductions.

There are ceremonious introductions and unceremonious introductions, premeditated introductions and unpremeditated introductions; but, in all cases, introductions should never be indiscriminately made—that is to say, without a previous knowledge on the part of those making introductions as to whether the persons thus introduced will be likely to appreciate each other, or the reverse, or unless they had expressed a desire to become acquainted; as, for instance, a lady would not introduce two of her acquaintances residing in the same town, although moving in different circles to each other, unless they had each expressed such a desire; as an undesired introduction, if made, would oblige the one person, to whom the introduction was 44 the most unwelcome, to treat the other with contemptuous disregard or to continue an acquaintance which was distasteful.

Therefore, should the slightest doubt exist as to how an introduction would be received—whether the meditated introduction was a spontaneous desire on the part of a lady or gentleman that two of her or his friends should become known to each other through their good offices, or whether one person has expressed a wish to make the acquaintance of another person, and has expressed that wish to a mutual friend—the received rule is to consult the wishes of both persons on the subject before making the introduction. But if a difference of rank exists between the two persons, it would be sufficient to ascertain the wishes of the person of highest rank alone. The person about to make the introduction would say to Mrs. A.—but not in the hearing of Mrs. B.—“May I introduce Mrs. B. to you?” or some such formula, according to the degree of intimacy existing between herself and Mrs. A. (see “Society Small Talk”). If of equal rank, the wishes of the person should be consulted with whom the person making the introduction was least intimate. In the case of one person having expressed a desire to make the acquaintance of another, there then remains but the wishes of one person to ascertain.

Acquiescence having been given, the introduction 45 would then be made. In making an introduction, the lady of lowest rank is introduced to the lady of highest rank; in no case would the lady of highest rank be introduced to the lady of lowest rank. This point of etiquette must always be strictly observed.

A gentleman is always introduced to a lady, whatever his rank may be, without reference to her rank, whatever it may be. This rule is invariable, and is based upon the privilege of the sex—“Place aux dames.”

It is not usual to ascertain a gentleman’s wishes as to whether he will be introduced to a lady or not, although at a ball it is usual to do so when the introduction is made for a special object, viz., that of obtaining a partner for a lady; and as a gentleman may be either unable or unwilling to ask the lady to dance, it is incumbent to ascertain beforehand whether the introduction is desired or not, otherwise the introduction would be of no avail for the purpose, and prove rather a disappointment to the lady, if not a mortification to her self-esteem. In the case of a lady who does not desire to dance it would be otherwise, and the usual introduction should be made to her.

“Would you like to be introduced to Miss A.?” or some such polite phrase (see “Society Small Talk”), would be the sort of formula by which to ascertain a gentleman’s wishes as to an introduction in the ball-room; as ball-room introductions are understood to 46 mean an intention on the part of a gentleman to ask a lady to dance or to take her in to supper.

In general society, gentlemen are supposed to be gallant enough to seek, rather than to avoid a lady’s acquaintance, irrespective of whatever set in society she may belong to. It is immaterial to a gentleman as to which set in society his acquaintances move, and he can be polite to all without offending any in their several circles.

With a lady it is otherwise. She, like a stately flower, does not care to descend from her parterre, to mingle with the flowers of either field or forest; but a gentleman possesses the freedom of a butterfly, and can wander from garden to field and from field to forest sans se déroger.

With regard to his own sex, a gentleman, on the contrary, is generally as exclusive as to the acquaintanceships which he forms, as is a lady with regard to the acquaintanceships which she forms. “Reciprocity of taste” is the basis on which acquaintanceships between men are established, subject, in a certain measure, to social position; though this rule is itself subject to wide exceptions.

It is etiquette for a gentleman to ask a mutual friend, or an acquaintance, for an introduction to a lady, and it is the received rule to do so when a gentleman desires to be introduced to any lady in particular; but gentlemen do not ask to be introduced 47 to each other, unless some special reason exists for so doing—some reason that would commend itself to the person whose acquaintance was desired, as well as to the person making the introduction; otherwise, such a wish would appear to be either puerile or sycophantic. Thus the request might meet with a refusal, and the proffered acquaintanceship be declined.

When introductions are made between ladies, an unmarried lady would be introduced to a married lady, unless the unmarried lady were of higher rank than the married lady, when the rule would be reversed.

The correct formula in use when making introductions would be to say, “Mrs. X.—Lady Z.,” thus mentioning the name of the lady of lowest rank first, as she is the person introduced to the lady of highest rank. It would be unnecessary and vulgar to repeat the names of the two ladies in a reversed manner—thus, “Mrs. X.—Lady Z. Lady Z.—Mrs. X.;” “Mrs. X.—Lady Z.” is all that need be said on the occasion by the person making the introduction. If the ladies are of equal rank, it is immaterial which name is mentioned first; but there generally exists sufficient difference in the social position of the two ladies to give a slight distinction in favour of the one or of the other, which the person making the introduction would take into consideration.

When the introduction has been made—thus: 48 “Mrs. X.—Lady Z.”—the ladies would bow to each other, and either lady would make some polite remark applicable to the occasion. (See “Society Small Talk.”) It is not usual for ladies on being first introduced to each other to shake hands, but only to bow; but there are very many exceptions to this rule. If a lady of higher rank than the other were to offer to shake hands, it would be a compliment and a mark of friendliness on her part; or a person introducing two intimate friends of his or hers, would expect them to shake hands with each other, rather than to coldly bow, and it would be etiquette to do so. And, again, the relations of an engaged couple would, on being introduced, shake hands with both bride and bridegroom elect, as would the intimate friends of an engaged couple; as also would the relations of the two families on being introduced to each other. It is the privilege of the lady to be the first to offer to shake hands, in every case, on being introduced.

The mistress of a house would shake hands with everyone introduced to her in her own home—that is to say, whether the person were brought by a mutual friend, or came by invitation, although a stranger to the hostess. In all cases the hostess would shake hands with the visitor, if the visit were made to herself; but she would not do so if the visit were not to herself, but made to some guest of her own.


At dinner-parties, both small and large, the hostess would use her own discretion as to the introductions she thought proper to make. It is not customary to make general introductions at a dinner-party; but in sending guests down to dinner, who are strangers to each other, the host or hostess would introduce the gentleman to the lady whom he is to take down to dinner. It would be quite unnecessary to ask the lady’s permission before doing so. It would be sufficient to make the introduction a few moments before dinner was announced.

If the majority of the guests were strangers to each other, it would be etiquette to introduce one or two of the principal of the guests to one another, as the host or hostess might judge expedient, if there were sufficient time before dinner to do so; but these introductions are far oftener made at country dinner-parties than at town dinner-parties. The hostess would in some cases introduce ladies to each other in the drawing-room after dinner if the opportunity offered, and she considered it advisable to do so. The host, on the contrary, would not consider it necessary to introduce gentlemen to each other over their wine after dinner, as the gentlemen would converse with each other, as a matter of course, at a dinner table.

At “five o’clock teas,” garden-parties, small “at homes,” &c., the hostess would introduce her principal 50 guests to each other—that is to say, gentlemen to ladies—for the purpose of their taking the ladies to either the tea-room or the supper-room, in the event of no gentleman being present with whom they were acquainted to offer them that civility. In this case, also, the introduction would be made without previously consulting the lady; and a gentleman, knowing for what purpose he had thus been introduced, would at once proffer the expected civility.

At these gatherings, a hostess would use her own discretion as to any general introductions she thought proper to make, and would introduce any gentleman to any lady without previously consulting the lady, if she thought the introduction would prove agreeable to her. But, in the matter of introducing ladies to each other, she would give married ladies and ladies of rank the option of the introduction; but would introduce young unmarried ladies to each other if she thought proper.

At morning calls, if the callers arrived simultaneously, the hostess would, if there were no social reason to the contrary, introduce them directly or indirectly to each other; but if the hostess were aware that they did not desire each other’s acquaintanceship, or, also, if she were not sure that the introduction would be altogether a suitable one, agreeable to both persons, she would not make the introduction, but be polite to each visitor in turn, at the same 51 time not allowing the conversation to become too general.

At “large gatherings,” persons, desirous of avoiding each other’s acquaintanceship, could be present at the house of a mutual acquaintance without coming into direct contact with one another, providing the host or hostess possessed sufficient tact and discretion not to attempt to effect a rapprochement between them.

At “country house” parties, the hostess would introduce the principal ladies to one another on the first day of their arrival: but if it were a large party, introductions would not be generally made, but would be made according to the judgment of the hostess. The fact of persons being guests in the same house constitutes in itself an introduction, and it rests with the guests thus brought together whether the acquaintanceship ripens into subsequent intimacy or not.

The same remark applies in a degree to “afternoon teas” and “at homes.” The guests would converse with each other if inclined to do so, and it would be quite within the rules of etiquette for them to do so. Ladies would converse with ladies, gentlemen with gentlemen, or gentlemen with ladies; but the act of so conversing would not constitute an acquaintanceship, although it might, under some circumstances, establish a bowing acquaintanceship, especially between gentlemen, or even between a lady and gentleman, 52 as a lady would bow to a gentleman with whom she had conversed for any length of time at the house of a mutual friend, or if he had shown her any special civility; but ladies would not bow to each other after only exchanging a few polite remarks at a five o’clock tea or at a garden-party, unless there were some particular social link between them to warrant their so doing, in which case the lady of highest rank would take the initiative.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter III

“Mrs. X.—Lady Z.,” thus mentioning the name of the lady of lowest rank first
[I believe Miss Manners has a discussion of how, in this minimalist form of introduction, the tone of voice can be used to express either “Mrs. A, let me present Mrs. B.” or “let me present Mrs. A. to you, Mrs. B.”.]



The colloquial application of titles differs materially from the application of titles when not used colloquially, and those unaccustomed to converse with persons bearing titles are often at a loss as to whether they should or should not make use of their titles in full. When addressing them colloquially, a person would naturally wish to avoid appearing to be either too familiar or too obsequious, as to be either the one or the other would be a mark of ill-breeding; and to misuse a title would be a palpable solecism.

To commence with the highest lady in the realm, viz., Her Majesty the Queen. She is addressed as “Ma’am” by the members of the aristocracy, and by all classes of gentry. She is not addressed as “Madam,” nor as “Your Majesty,” by them, but as “Ma’am” only. The ladies and gentlemen of her household also address her as “Ma’am.” All classes not coming within the category of “gentry,” such as the “professional classes,” the “middle classes,” the 54 “lower middle classes,” and the “lower classes,” would all address her as “Your Majesty,” and not as “Ma’am.” The Prince of Wales is addressed as “Sir” by the aristocracy and gentry, and never as “Your Royal Highness” by either of these classes; but he is addressed as “Your Royal Highness” by all classes but the two classes just referred to. The Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Connaught, Prince Leopold, and all princes of the blood royal, are also addressed as “Sir” by the upper classes, and as “Your Royal Highness” by the middle and lower classes, and by all persons not coming within the category of “gentry.”*

* By the word Gentry is included the landed gentry, all persons belonging to the Army, Navy, the Clergy, the Bar, and the aristocracy of wealth, such as “Merchant Princes” or the leading City Merchants and Bankers (see chapter on attending Drawing-rooms and Levees).

The Princess of Wales and all the princesses of the blood royal, are addressed as “Ma’am” by the aristocracy and gentry, and as “Your Royal Highness” by all other classes.

A foreign prince is addressed as “Prince,” and not as “Sir,” by the aristocracy and gentry, and as “Your Serene Highness” by all other classes; and a foreign princess would be likewise styled “Princess” when addressed colloquially by the upper classes, but not as “Ma’am,” as in the case of the Royal Family of England, and as “Your Serene Highness” by all other classes.


An English duke is addressed as “Duke” by the aristocracy and gentry, and never as “Your Grace” by members of either of these classes—all other classes would address him colloquially as “Your Grace;” and an English duchess is likewise addressed as “Duchess” by all persons conversing with her belonging to the upper classes; and as “Your Grace” by all other classes. A marquis, conversationally, would be addressed as “Lord A.,” and a marchioness as “Lady A.,” by the upper classes; it would be a mistake to address an English marquis as “Marquis,” or a marchioness as “Marchioness,” colloquially speaking; all other classes would address them either as “My Lord,” or “Your Lordship,” “My Lady,” or “Your Ladyship.”

The same remark applies to “earls” and “countesses,” “viscounts” and “viscountesses,” “barons” and “baronesses.” They also are addressed in conversation as “Lord B.” or “Lady B.” by the aristocracy and gentry; and as “My Lord” or “Your Lordship,” “My Lady” or “Your Ladyship” by all other classes.

For a member of either class, aristocracy or gentry, to address any person bearing a title as “My Lord,” or “My Lady,” “Your Lordship,” or “Your Ladyship,” except by way of an entirely familiar pleasantry, would be to evince a want of knowledge of the usages of society.


Many gentlemen familiarly speak of their wives to their intimate friends as “My Lady,” and wives and children occasionally speak of their husbands and fathers as “My Lord.” But this is a question of home circle familiarity, and is beside the question of etiquette altogether.

The daughters of dukes, marquises, and earls are addressed by their christian names, with the prefix of “Lady,” by the upper classes, in addition to their family name. Thus, the daughter of the Duke of C. would be “Lady Mary Blank;” her acquaintances would style her “Lady Mary Blank,” and those more intimate with her would style her “Lady Mary,” and not make use of the family name when conversing with her. It is a common error with fashionable novelists of a certain class, when dealing with earls’ daughters, to speak of them by their family names only, and entirely to ignore their christian names. This is of little consequence in a novel, but would be thought very vulgar out of it.

The younger sons of dukes and marquises are also addressed by their christian and surname, with the prefix of “Lord,” by the upper classes. Persons well acquainted with them would not make use of their surname but would address them by their title and christian name only, as “Lord John,” “Lord Charles,” instead of “Lord John B.,” “Lord Charles B.”

The wife of the younger son of a duke or marquis 57 would be addressed by the christian and surname of her husband by persons slightly acquainted with her, and by her husband’s christian name only, by persons well acquainted with her; to the one she would be “Lady John B.,” to the other “Lady John.”

The younger sons of earls, viscounts, and barons only bear the courtesy title of “Honourable,” and the daughters of viscounts and barons only bear the courtesy title of “Honourable.” But this title of “Honourable” is never used colloquially under any circumstances; the Honourable Mr. or Mrs. B. or the Honourable Miss B. would be styled Mr., Mrs., or Miss B. only.

Baronets are addressed by their full title and surname, as Sir John Blank, by persons of the upper classes, and by their titles and christian names only by all other classes. Baronets’ wives are addressed as “Lady B.” or “Lady C.,” according to the surname of their husbands. Sir John Blank’s wife would be addressed as “Lady Blank,” but it would be a great mistake were she to be addressed by the christian name of her husband; thus, as “Lady John Blank.” To do so would be to give her the rank of the wife of the younger son of a duke or marquis instead of that of a baronet’s wife only.

In addressing foreigners of rank colloquially the received rule is to address them by their individual 58 titles without the addition of the surname to their titles.

A prince or princess would be styled “Prince” or “Princess” in conversation, without the addition of surname or principality. Thus, Prince H. would be addressed as “Prince” by the upper classes, and as “Your Serene Highness” by all other classes.

In the case of a prince being a younger son, and not the reigning head of the house, his christian name is generally used after his title when addressing him; thus, “Prince Louis” in lieu of “Prince” only. The same remark applies to the unmarried daughters of princes. They also would be addressed by their Christian name, in addition to their title of “Princess,” by the aristocracy and gentry, and as “Your Serene,” or “Your Imperial Highness,” according to their birth and title, by all other classes.

As regards foreign dukes and duchesses, the “Duc de B.” would be styled in conversation with him, “Monsieur le Duc,” and the Duchess de B. would likewise be styled “Madame la Duchesse,” the prefix of “Monsieur” and “Madame” being placed before the title when conversing ceremoniously; also, a marquis would be addressed as “Monsieur le Marquis,” a “Comte” as “Monsieur le Comte,” a “vicomte” as “Monsieur le Vicomte,” a “baron” as “Monsieur le Baron,” &c.

Where there is no prefix of “de” before the surname, 59 the surname is often used with the title of Count, Vicomte, Baron, &c., instead of “Monsieur le.” Thus, “Count Munich” would be addressed as “Count Munich” rather than as “Monsieur le Comte.”

The “de” especially applies to the French nobility. Thus, the “Monsieur le” is more euphonious for colloquial use than would be the full title with the addition of “de” before the surname.

In German titles the distinction of “Von” before the surname is seldom used colloquially, the title and surname being used without the prefix of “Von.” Thus, Count Von Ausburg would be addressed as “Count Ausburg” in conversation, and not as “Monsieur le Comte.”

Foreign ladies of rank would, if Germans or Russians, &c., be addressed by their title and surname, and not by their title only, and the prefix of “Von” would be omitted; but in the case of a French or Italian title, the “de” or “de la” before the surname can on no account be omitted; therefore, as in some cases, when the surname consists of two or three syllables, the “de” or “de la” would become ponderous when used colloquially. Thus the title with the prefix of “Madame la” is substituted in lieu of the full surname. The Comtesse de Montpellier would be styled “Madame la Comtesse.”

It would be correct to address an unmarried young 60 foreign lady as “Mademoiselle” without the addition of her surname, even if she were the daughter of a vicomte or baron; but it would be extremely vulgar to address an English girl as “Miss” without adding the surname. A foreigner addressing an English girl as “Miss,” would be excusable, as it is the rule on the continent to address young ladies as “Mademoiselle,” without adding the surname.

When Englishmen are extremely intimate with foreigners of rank they would in conversation probably address them as “Prince,” “Marquis,” “Comte,” “Vicomte,” &c., without using the prefix of “Monsieur,” with the euphonious “le”; but only thorough intimacy and friendship would warrant this familiarity.

The wives of archbishops, bishops, and deans, are respectively addressed as Mrs. A., Mrs. B., or Mrs. C.; they take no title as they take no precedency from the spiritual rank of their husbands. An archbishop or bishop would be addressed in conversation, the former as “Your Grace” by persons on ceremony with him, and as “Archbishop” by persons very intimate with him; and the latter as “My Lord” by persons very slightly acquainted with him, and as Bishop of B—— by his brother bishops, and persons well acquainted with him. In the same way a “dean” would be styled “Mr. Dean” by persons slightly 61 acquainted with him, and “Dean” by brother deans and intimate friends.

“Generals,” “colonels,” “majors,” and “captains,” are addressed as General A., Colonel B., &c., and not as “General,” “Colonel,” or “Major,” except by their very intimate friends.

The wives of officers are simply Mrs. A., Mrs. B., or C. It would be a great solecism to style them either in conversation or otherwise, “Mrs. General A.,” “Mrs. Colonel B.,” “Mrs. Major C.,” or “Mrs. Captain D.”

It would be very ill-bred were a lady to address her husband colloquially by his surname only, as “Banks,” or “Brown,” or whatever his surname might be, or to speak of him without the prefix of “Mr.” The usual rule is for wives to speak of their husbands as “Mr. Brown” or “Mr. Jones,” and to address them by their Christian name only. It would be in very bad taste were wives to address their husbands by the initial letter of their surnames, as “Mr. B.” or “Mr. P.,” as it would be were husbands to address their wives or to speak of them as “Mrs. B.” or “Mrs. P.”

When intimate friends address each other by the initial letter of their names, it is by way of pleasantry only, a sort of pretence at trying to be “vulgar,” and such cases of course do not come within the rules of etiquette.


Peeresses invariably address their husbands and speak of them by the name attached to their title in place of using their Christian or family name. Thus, the “Earl of Flintshire” would be styled “Flintshire” by his wife, without the prefix of “Lord,” and his usual signature would be “Flintshire,” without the addition of any Christian name.

Baronets’ wives would not address their husbands by their surnames, but by their Christian names, and would speak of them as “Sir George” or “Sir John.” The wives of knights would do the same. They themselves would be addressed as “Lady A——,” and their husbands as “Sir John A——.”

The Lord Mayor is always addressed as “Lord Mayor” colloquially, and the Lady Mayoress as “Lady Mayoress,” unless the Lord Mayor during office is created a baronet or receives the honour of knighthood, when he would be addressed as “Sir John” or “Sir Henry,” and his wife as “Lady A——.”

The order of precedency due to each individual according to his degree of rank is a matter of great importance at official banquets and at ceremonious dinner-parties, when its correct observance should be strictly adhered to.

It would be superfluous to mention in this little work that archbishops would precede dukes, dukes earls, earls viscounts, and so on, through the various 63 degrees of nobility, as this subject is fully set forth in all “Peerages,” whether by “Burke” or “Debrett.” Suffice it to mention the precedency due to less exalted personages, which is of equal importance to them individually, for as a rule the slighter the claim to precedence, the greater the desire that it should be acknowledged, and a hostess unmindful or careless of the exact precedence due to her various guests, would probably give great offence, most unintentionally and irreparably.

In any case, “age” gives no precedency; respecting the precedence accorded to the nobility, as well as to baronets and to knights, “equals” in rank take precedence according to the creation of their title, and not with regard to the age of the persons bearing the titles. As, for instance, a duke nineteen years of age would take precedence of a duke of ninety years of age, if the title of the youthful duke bore an earlier date than that of the aged duke. If two barons were present at a dinner-party, the date of their respective patents of nobility would decide the order of precedency due to them. A host or hostess would always consult a “Peerage” or a “Baronetage” if in doubt as to the precedence due to their expected guests; wealth or social position are not taken into account in this matter, it being strictly a question of “date.”

The precedence due to ladies of equal rank takes effect in the same manner. Thus, a young wife of a 64 baronet would take precedence over the elderly wife of a baronet if the creation of her husband’s title bore an earlier date.

When the claims to precedence of persons of equal rank clash, the claims of a gentleman would be waived in favour of those of a lady, should the persons be of opposite sexes. Thus: if two couples of superior rank to the other guests were present at a dinner-party, the host would take down the lady of highest rank, and the hostess would be taken down by the gentleman of highest rank, in which case the lady second in rank would go in to dinner before her husband, although the gentleman taking her down to dinner were of lower rank than her husband. It would not be etiquette for the gentleman of higher rank to take down a lady of lesser rank than his wife, so giving a lady of inferior rank precedence over a lady of superior rank.

Esquires and the wives of esquires take precedence according to their social position. Members of Parliament claim no precedence, though it is often accorded to them as a matter of courtesy, especially in the county which they represent; the wives of members of Parliament are likewise entitled to no precedence, on the ground of their husbands being members of Parliament.

The high sheriff of a county takes precedence over all other gentlemen in the county, of whatever rank, 65 the lord-lieutenant not excepted. An assize judge would take precedence over the high sheriff, as the assize judge represents The Queen, or “The Sovereign of the Realm.” The high sheriff, out of his particular county, has no precedence, neither has a lord-lieutenant; and the wives of either lord-lieutenants or high sheriffs take no precedence on account of their husbands’ official dignity.

Men of professional rank, such as naval and military officers, clergymen, Queen’s counsel, &c., take no precedence over esquires on account of such rank; though in each profession precedence would be accorded them according to their individual rank, a general taking precedence over a colonel, a colonel over a captain, and so on.

No precedence would be accorded to a rector, even in his own parish, on account of his clerical rank, and therefore the wife of a rector would take no precedence on that ground.

In the case of either a husband’s sister or a wife’s sister being required to act as hostess, precedence would be given to the wife’s sister.

The eldest son’s wife would take precedence over the sisters of her husband in his father’s house.

As stated in the chapter on “Dinner Parties,” at all banquets, dinner parties, and ball suppers, the host would take down the lady of highest rank, and lead the way with her to the dining-room. The guests would follow the host in couples according to 66 the degree of precedence due to them, and the hostess would follow the last couple with the gentleman of highest rank present.

If there are more gentlemen than ladies present at a dinner party, as is usually the case, these gentlemen would follow the hostess to the dining-room, and not precede her.

If a widow or maiden lady were hostess, and there were no gentleman of the family present to act as host, the gentleman second in rank would take down the lady of highest rank, leading the way with her to the dining-room, the hostess following last, as in the case of a wife, with the gentleman of highest rank.

No precedence is accorded to brides in society, though occasionally in the country old-fashioned people consider it due to a bride to send her down to dinner with the host, on the occasion of her first dining at a house within three months of her marriage.

As regards the precedence due to the relatives of a host or hostess, the precedence due to them would give way in favour of that due to the guests not related to the host or hostess, although their relatives might be, perhaps, of higher rank than the guests themselves.

Occasionally the eldest son of the house would act as second host, taking down a lady second or third in rank; but the daughters of the house would always be taken down to dinner after the other ladies present, and in no case before them.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter IV

skip to next chapter

The Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Connaught, Prince Leopold
[Respectively Victoria’s second son, Alfred; her third son, Arthur; and her youngest son, who would be created Duke of Albany in 1882. Do not confuse him with King Leopold, who can appropriately be addressed as “you genocidal monster”.]

[Footnote] By the word Gentry is included . . . all persons belonging to the Army, Navy
[I strongly suspect “persons belonging to” means “officers in”. The following chapter makes it a little less ambiguous.]

A marquis, conversationally, would be addressed
text has would be / be addressed at line break

“My Lord,” or “Your Lordship,” “My Lady,” or “Your Ladyship.”
[I wish he would go into detail. Are the forms truly synonymous? In 18th-century novels you can see “Your Lordship” and “Your Ladyship” uttered by members of all classes. But I thought that by 1879 the “-ship” forms would only be used by servants.]

The daughters of dukes, marquises, and earls are addressed by their christian names
[Do not ask why the author suddenly decided “christian” need not be capitalized. (The OCR clearly didn’t approve, as it reads “Christian” throughout.)]

Count Von Ausburg would be addressed as “Count Ausburg” in conversation, and not as “Monsieur le Comte.”
[Throughout this chapter, the author seems to have trouble distinguishing between “foreign” and “French”. It’s especially disorienting when you remember that France abolished its nobility—as a legal position, as opposed to purely courtesy titles—in the Revolution, while most other countries retained theirs until well into the 20th century.]

unless the Lord Mayor during office is created a baronet or receives the honour of knighthood
[I looked this up a few years ago in connection with another book. Starting around the year 1400, it was standard practice for the Lord Mayor of London to be knighted at the end of his term. But by the time of the present book, the Lord Mayor was either granted a baronetcy or received no honours at all, with the odds running around 2:1 in favor of baronetcy. (If he was extremely lucky—or the nation extremely unlucky—he might, as a third option, go on to become Prime Minister.) To date, there have been only two female Lords Mayor, the first in 1983.]

A host or hostess would always consult a “Peerage” or a “Baronetage”
[Not much use in the latter case, since most baronetcies were created in one fell swoop in the year 1611.]



Drawing-rooms,” and “levees,” are yearly attended by those ladies and gentlemen who have been presented to Her Majesty; and at “drawing-rooms,” and “levees,” presentations are made by various of the ladies and gentlemen attending. The number of ladies and gentlemen who attend Her Majesty’s “drawing-rooms” and “levees” is yearly on the increase; formerly only persons of the highest consideration considered themselves justified in presenting themselves before Her Majesty, but of late years every one with the slightest pretensions to fashion or wealth, more or less, endeavours to obtain a presentation to Her Majesty at either drawing-room or levee, deeming, and very justly so, that to have the privilege of attending either drawing-room or levee, places them at once within the charmed circle of fashionable society, thus giving them a position in the social scale otherwise unattainable.

The persons entitled to attend drawing-rooms and levees are the families of the aristocracy, families of 68 the county gentry, persons belonging to either the military, naval, or clerical professions, the bar, and the families of merchants, bankers, or members of the Stock Exchange, and persons engaged in commerce on a large scale; but at trade known as retail trade, however extensive its operations, the line is drawn, and very strictly so, as were a person actually engaged in trade to obtain a presentation, his presentation would be cancelled as soon as the Lord Chamberlain were made aware of the nature of his occupation; but the sons and daughters of the wealthy manufacturers are not themselves debarred from attending drawing-rooms and levees if their wealth, education, and associations warrant them in so doing.

Although the word gentry is thus elastic, and although persons coming within the category of gentry might be fairly entitled to the privilege of attending either drawing-rooms or levees, yet it is well understood that birth, wealth, associations, and position give the raison d’être for the use of such privilege; as, for instance, the wife or daughters of an officer in the navy or of a line regiment, whose means were slender and whose position was obscure, would not be justified for these reasons in attending a drawing-room, although the officer himself might attend a levee if desirous of doing so, and this remark equally applies to the wives and daughters of clergymen and barristers similarly situated.


Presentations to Her Majesty are made either by a relative or a friend of the lady presented, who has been previously presented herself, and who herself attends the drawing-room on the occasion of making the presentation. Presentations are also made officially by the various foreign ambassadresses, by the wives of the members of the cabinet, and by the wives of other official personages in various departments of the state, either civil, military, naval, or clerical.

In any case when a presentation is not made by a near relative or made officially, it would be considered in the light of a great favour, on the part of the person making the presentation, towards the person presented, as the responsibility of the presentation rests upon the person who makes it, both as to the moral and social fitness of the person presented; therefore, to solicit the favour of a presentation from a mere acquaintance would be to incur a great obligation if the favour were granted, though from a mere acquaintance the chances of obtaining such a favour would be slight in the extreme. When presentations are made through official channels, the responsibility rests upon the “office” rather than upon the person making the presentation; hence presentations so made have little personal significance to the person making them.

A lady having been presented has the privilege of 70 attending any subsequent “drawing-room” during the remainder of her life, unless any change occurs in her social position; that is to say, a young lady presented before her marriage would again have to be presented after her marriage; she could not attend a “drawing-room” without being again presented. A lady on her second marriage would have to be again presented, or on the accession of her husband to any title.

An unmarried lady does not possess the privilege of making presentations: it is the privilege of the married lady to do so; but if not occupying a prominent and thoroughly recognized position in society, she would be expected to exercise the greatest discretion in the use of such privilege. Persons of distinction and consideration are, from their associations, less likely to make a mistake in this direction.

Four drawing-rooms are usually held during the year, and are now held at Buckingham Palace, instead of at St. James’s, as heretofore, on account of more space being required.

The first drawing-room is held in February, the second in March, and the third and fourth early in May; but due intimation is given previous to each drawing-room being held, by the Lord Chamberlain through the medium of the official Gazette, whence it is copied into the newspapers.

A lady is not expected to attend more than one 71 drawing-room out of the four held each year; it would be very unusual were she to do so. It is now compulsory for a lady making a presentation to be herself present at the drawing-room at which the presentation is to be made, though it is not necessary for her to accompany the person whom she presents, but simply to attend the same drawing-room.

When a lady intends making a presentation, she would write a note to the Lord Chamberlain informing him of her intention, and mentioning the name of the lady to be presented by her. When a lady is about to be presented she would apply to the Lord Chamberlain’s office for two cards, which would require to be filled in the vacant spaces with the desired information—name, address, whom the wife of, whom the daughter of, and by whom to be presented. One of these cards must be signed by the lady making the presentation. These cards should be left at the Lord Chamberlain’s office within three or four days at the least of that on which the drawing-room is appointed to be held, in order that the list of the names of the ladies to be presented may be duly submitted for Her Majesty’s approval.

Two other cards must be obtained from the Lord Chamberlain’s office the day previous to the drawing-room, which must be filled in according to the form of the statements required—the name of the lady presented, and the name of the lady by whom the 72 presentation is to be made; and these cards are taken to the Palace on the day of the drawing-room by the lady who is presented, and are given by her, the one to the page in the ante-room, and the other to the usher at the entrance of the Throne-room, by whom it is handed to the Lord Chamberlain, who then announces the names to Her Majesty.

Drawing-rooms are held either at two o’clock or at three o’clock, according to the notice given. Her Majesty usually remains in the Throne-room from an hour to an hour and a half, when the Princess of Wales takes her place. Her Majesty stands the whole of the time when holding a drawing-room, which is naturally very fatiguing when the drawing-room is a full one; and the Princess of Wales stands also, as do the other members of the Royal Family present.

On passing through the ante-room or corridor the train of a lady’s dress—which she has carried over her arm—is let down, with the assistance of an usher or official in attendance, and she walks through the salon or ante-room, with her train down, to the adjoining apartment, where Her Majesty holds her drawing-room.

A lady on being presented kisses the Queen’s hand, and would take off her right-hand glove in the ante-room, so as to place her hand beneath that of Her Majesty’s, who extends her hand to the lady presented 73 for her to kiss, which she kisses while curtseying. It is only peeresses and daughters of peeresses who do not kiss the Queen’s hand, as Her Majesty kisses them on the cheek instead.

When the Princess of Wales takes Her Majesty’s place at a drawing-room, a lady on presentation would not kiss her hand, but would curtsey only.

A lady on being presented would curtsey to any leading member of the Royal Family when she had passed Her Majesty, and would leave the presence, stepping backwards, from curtsey to curtsey, thus facing the Royal party, until making her exit from the apartment, when an usher or official would place her train on her arm at the threshold of the doorway.

When a lady “attends” a drawing-room, after having been duly presented, it is necessary to inform the Lord Chamberlain of her intention of so doing. She would take two large cards with her, having her name clearly written upon them, one of which she would give to the official in the ante-room, and the other to the official in the apartment where Her Majesty holds her “drawing-room.” These cards may be obtained at the Palace, but it saves time if a lady provides her own cards.

A lady “attending” a drawing-room does not kiss the Queen’s hand, as on her presentation, but curtseys to her only as she passes; she also curtseys to the 74 leading members of the Royal Family on passing them, in the order in which they stand.

There is no precedency as to the order in which ladies attending a drawing-room enter the presence chamber. The earliest arrivals are the first to appear before Her Majesty, without reference to rank or position; and the same rule applies to ladies who are presented, or to ladies who make presentations.

A married lady presented at a drawing-room can, at the same drawing-room, make a presentation; but in this case the person presented by her would enter the presence chamber after her, and not before her.

It is imperative for ladies to wear “evening dress” when attending “drawing-rooms;” that is to say, low bodices and short sleeves, and trains to their dresses, which trains must not be less than three yards in length, though, whether cut round or square, or whether they are fastened from the shoulders or from beneath the bodice, is a matter of inclination or fashion.

It is also imperative that a presentation dress should be “white,” if the person presented be an unmarried lady; and it is also the fashion for married ladies to wear “white” on their presentation, unless their age renders their doing so unsuitable. The white dresses, worn by either débutantes or married ladies, may be trimmed with either coloured or white flowers, according to individual taste.


It is compulsory for both married and unmarried ladies to wear plumes. The married lady’s Court plume consists of three white feathers, and the unmarried lady’s of two white feathers. And a lady must either wear lace lappets or a tulle veil. As a rule the former are worn by married ladies, and the latter by unmarried ladies; but this also is a matter of individual taste. Until recently, coloured feathers had been adopted by many ladies attending “drawing-rooms,” but the original regulations respecting the wearing of white plumes are now strictly enforced by Royal Command; and the regulation respecting the wearing of low bodices is also absolute, though under very exceptional circumstances permission can be obtained from the Lord Chamberlain for a modification of this decree, if the application be accompanied by a certificate from a physician as to the inability of the applicant to appear in a low bodice.

The drawing-rooms held at Dublin Castle take place at nine o’clock in the evening instead of at three in the afternoon; otherwise the same regulations are observed as at Buckingham Palace; but a presentation at the Vice-Regal Court would not entitle a lady to attend Her Majesty’s drawing-room. Neither would a presentation to Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace entitle a lady to attend a “drawing-room” held at Dublin Castle.

A gentleman might accompany his wife or daughter 76 to a drawing-room if he had been previously presented at a levee, and pass Her Majesty in his turn; but it is unusual for a gentleman to do so. Her Majesty’s express wish that gentlemen should not attend drawing-rooms which are held for ladies only, being thoroughly understood and generally respected.

The Prince of Wales now usually holds the levees on behalf of Her Majesty, and a presentation to the Prince of Wales is equivalent to a presentation to Her Majesty, as a presentation to the Princess of Wales at a drawing-room is equivalent to a presentation to Her Majesty, as on these occasions she deputes the Prince or Princess of Wales to represent her.

Four levees are usually held every year by the Prince of Wales, on behalf of Her Majesty, at St. James’s Palace. Gentlemen are presented by their relatives and friends, or by the heads of any profession or department to which they may individually belong, whether military, naval, clerical, or civil; and it is more usual for a gentleman to be presented by the head of his department, or by the colonel of his regiment, than by his nearest relative.

A gentleman must be again presented at every step of his career, whether military, naval, civil, or clerical. Thus, a lieutenant would be again presented by the colonel of his regiment on obtaining his captaincy; and a lieutenant in the navy, on obtaining promotion, by one of the lords of the admiralty; and civil appointments 77 necessitate the same form of a presentation on each new appointment; and the same rule applies in any accession to a title.

The regulations as regards a presentation at a levee are similar to those observed by ladies attending drawing-rooms. The notice of when a levee is to be held duly appears in the Gazette, and in the daily newspapers.

A gentleman would obtain two cards at the Lord Chamberlain’s office when about to be presented, to be filled in and left at the office three or four days previous to the day of the levee; and two large cards, which have also to be filled in with his name and the name of the person presenting him, which he would take to the Palace with him on the day of the levee, to be given to the official in the ante-room, and to the usher in the Throne-room.

Young single men do not usually make presentations, unless they are of high rank and social standing; and gentlemen of inferior position and social standing are not expected to make presentations.

When a gentleman makes a presentation, it is compulsory for him to attend the same levee, as does the person whom he presents; and he must give notice at the Lord Chamberlain’s office that he intends to make the presentation, besides signing the card sent in to the office three or four days previously. But if purposing to attend a levee only, and 78 not intending to make a presentation, it would not be necessary to give notice; but lie should take two large cards with him with his name written upon them.

A gentleman, on being presented, bows to the Prince of Wales, but would not kiss his hand; but he would kiss Her Majesty’s hand, were she to hold a levee in person. Gentlemen attending the levee also bow to the Prince of Wales, and to any leading members of the Royal Family present.

The Prince of Wales usually shakes hands with any gentleman with whom he is personally acquainted, and always with peers and sons of peers.

A gentleman is not expected to attend at more than one levee each year, and it would be very unusual were a gentleman to attend a drawing-room with his wife or daughter, and also to attend a levee in one and the same season.

Should any person be presented whose antecedents or present position would render either him or her morally or socially unqualified to be presented, the Lord Chamberlain, on becoming aware of the existing impediments, would at once cancel the presentation and officially announce the fact in the Gazette, and the person making such presentation would be expected to tender an apology for so doing.

It by no means follows that a presentation to Her Majesty entitles a person to an invitation to either of the State-balls or Concerts, of which two State-balls 79 and two State-concerts are given during the season at Buckingham Palace—as some persons erroneously imagine to be the case; but, on the other hand, the Lord Chamberlain strictly enforces the rule of not issuing invitations for either of these entertainments save to those persons who have attended a drawing-room or levee in the same year in which the ball or concert is given. It usually follows that those persons who have attended the early drawing-rooms and levees in February and March are invited to the May entertainments, and those persons who have attended the May drawing-rooms and levees, to the entertainments given in June and July.

Persons who have been presented at drawing-rooms and levees are not entitled to attend a “Court.” A Court is a reception held by Her Majesty, and persons attend it by command of Her Majesty only; and no presentations are made except by command also. One or two Courts at most are held each year, and are usually held before Easter, at which the leading members of the aristocracy, the diplomatic body, the premier and members of the cabinet, &c., are received.

Ladies and gentlemen who have been presented at a drawing-room or levee, have the privilege of writing their names in Her Majesty’s visiting-book at Buckingham Palace once during the season, but only when Her Majesty is residing at the Palace. The hours of 80 calling for this purpose are generally from three to five o’clock in the afternoon.

When the Prince of Wales holds a levee, and when the Princess of Wales assists Her Majesty in holding a drawing-room, persons who attend either drawing-room or levee have also the privilege of writing their names in the visiting-book of the Prince and Princess of Wales at Marlborough House; but the privilege does not extend any further, and they would not be entitled to write their names in the visiting-books of other members of the Royal Family unless personally acquainted, or otherwise brought into contact, with them.

When a levee is held by the Commander-in-Chief, it is intended for military men only, and not for civilians, and is simply a military reception, at which presentations are also made.

As regards the dress to be worn at levees, “full-dress” uniform is invariably worn by all gentlemen entitled to wear it—officers of both services, officers of the militia, volunteer officers, deputy lieutenants, &c. Officers on half-pay wear a regulation uniform, and not the full-dress uniform of their regiment. Clerical and legal dignitaries wear their full-dress robes of office.

Gentlemen belonging to neither of the professions, and, strictly speaking, civilians, would wear Court dress, which is either of cloth or velvet—the former 81 being more worn than the latter. When the suit is of cloth, it consists of trousers of claret colour, with a narrow gold stripe down the side; a dress coat, single breasted, with broad collar, cuffs, and pocket flaps; white waistcoat and white tie, cocked hat and sword. When the dress is of velvet, the dress coat is usually ornamented with steel buttons; knee breeches, with silk stockings, shoes, and buckles, are worn, and not trousers. The cocked hat and sword would be worn in either case.

Elderly gentlemen sometimes wear old Court-dress, with silk waistcoat, lace ruffles, and bag wig. Dark claret, and dark brown, are the colours usually worn by civilians, when the suit is of cloth, and black when it is of velvet.

Gentlemen wear gloves when attending levees, but they usually remove the right hand glove before entering the Throne-room, in case the Prince of Wales might be disposed to shake hands with them, which he would do were he personally acquainted with them.

When the Court is in mourning, all gentlemen attending a levee are expected to wear a band of black crape on the left arm above the elbow.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter V

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ON ATTENDING “DRAWING-ROOMS,” AND “LEVEES.” / “Drawing-rooms,” and “levees,”
[The font used in the Table of Contents deployed an é, but the ones in this chapter—both small capitals and lower case—don’t seem to have one. I’ve left everything as printed, allowing the chapter to look as if it is primarily concerned with embankments built to prevent the overflow of a river.]

It is only peeresses and daughters of peeresses who do not kiss the Queen’s hand
[In the 23d edition—the first to be substantively revised—this is changed to “peeresses and the daughters of peers”. The difference is minor but noteworthy, hinging on whether the word “peeress” means the wife of a peer—it is used once in this sense earlier in the present edition—or only a peeress in her own right. And, conversely, whether the word “peer” means specifically a male peer, or is intended to include peeresses as well.]

A lady . . . would leave the presence, stepping backwards, from curtsey to curtsey . . . until making her exit from the apartment, when an usher or official would place her train on her arm
[The train, we learn later, is to be “not less than three yards in length”, leading to vague mental association with “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only backward and in high heels”.]

The white dresses, worn by either débutantes or married ladies
[Huh. So his italic font does have an é, while the Roman one doesn’t.]



Dinner-parties rank first amongst all entertainments, being of more frequent occurrence, and having more social significance, and being more appreciated by society, than any other form of entertainment. “An invitation to dinner” conveys a greater mark of esteem, or friendship and cordiality, towards the guest invited, than is conveyed by an invitation to any other social gathering, it being the highest compliment, socially speaking, that is offered by one person to another. It is also a civility that can be readily interchanged, which in itself gives it an advantage over all other invitations.

In dinner giving the host and hostess are thoroughly d’accord, which cannot be said with regard to any other form of entertainment. “The Ball,” the “At Home,” “The Five o’Clock Tea,” &c., essentially come within the province of the mistress of the house, rather than within that of the master—so much so, that dinner 83 invitations are issued in the united names of the host and hostess, while all other invitations are issued in the name of the hostess only.

The master of the house occupies a prominent position amongst his guests when dispensing hospitality as a “dinner-giver”—a position which the mistress of the house occupies on all other occasions: the duties of hospitality then devolving upon her; the host’s share in these being neither compulsory nor obligatory, but simply optional, as to the amount of attention he may choose to bestow upon his guests.

“Dinner-giving” is in itself not only a test of the position occupied in society by the “dinner-giver,” but it is also a direct road to the obtaining a footing in society—a means of enlarging a limited acquaintance—and there is no better or surer passport to good society than the having a reputation for giving “good dinners.”

“Dinner-giving,” in the fullest sense of the word, is a science not easily acquired, so much depending on the talent which the host or hostess may possess for the organizing of dinner-parties.

By “good dinners” is understood not only the cuisine, but also the proper adjustment of the guests at the dinner-table, as well as the etiquette to be observed towards them, and the minutiæ of the general arrangements; and, as solecisms committed on either 84 side will materially mar the harmony of the whole, the minutest details of the etiquette to be observed by “dinner-givers” and “diners-out,” by hosts and guests, are here given.

For a large dinner-party the invitations should be issued within twenty-one days of the day fixed for the dinner-party—certainly within fourteen days. Printed cards are used for these invitations, and are bought already printed for the purpose, and the cards have only to be filled in with the names, date, form, and address. The united names of the host and hostess must invariably be written in the space left for that purpose. Thus “Mr. and Mrs. A.,” and the name or names of the guests in the next vacant space. For small or unceremonious dinner-parties ten days’ notice would be sufficient, or even less; and written notes, which take the place of printed cards, written according to the degree of intimacy existing between hostess and guest. Invitations to large and ceremonious dinner-parties during the London season are often sent out five or six weeks previously; by this means the presence of much desired guests is more certain of being secured.

Either acceptances or refusals to dinner invitations should be sent with as little delay as possible after the invitations have been received. It would show a want of courtesy and good breeding on the part of the person invited not to do so, as the hostess would otherwise 85 be left in doubt as to whether the person invited intended dining with her or not, and she would consequently be unable to fill up the vacant place with an eligible substitute, thus rendering her dinner-party an ill-assorted one.

An answer to an invitation cannot be solicited in a subsequent note. It is therefore incumbent upon the invited person to dispatch an answer within a day or two at least. “Dinner invitations” can either be left in person or by a servant, or be sent through the post, and the answers can also be conveyed in either of these ways.

The duty of sending out the invitations devolves upon the hostess.

It is not usual in town to invite more than two members of one family, as young ladies are not often asked with their parents to dinner-parties.

The guests should arrive within five minutes of the hour named on the invitation card, the most fashionable hour being “a quarter to eight,” so that the dinner may be punctually served at eight. It would be ill bred to arrive after eight o’clock if a quarter to eight were the hour specified; and on no occasion is punctuality more compulsory than in the case of “dining out.” The host or hostess would out of courtesy wait a certain time for a lady—not longer than a quarter of an hour; but they would not wait the arrival of a gentleman, but would go down to dinner as soon as 86 the quarter of an hour’s grace had expired. If a quarter to eight is the hour named on the card, the dinner hour would be eight, or five minutes past eight.

Punctuality on the part of the guests enables the hostess to make any introductions she may consider advisable before dinner is served, and the host and hostess, should be in readiness to receive their guests in the drawing-room at the hour specified on the card. A guest—a lady—on her arrival, would desire her servant to return with her carriage at half-past ten—from half-past ten to a quarter to eleven being the usual time for dinner guests to take their leave. A lady would take off her cloak in the cloak-room before going upstairs, or would leave it in the hall with the servant in attendance. A lady would not enter the drawing-room wearing her cloak. A gentleman would leave his overcoat and hat in the hall, or in the gentlemen’s cloak-room, if there were one. Gentlemen do not wear gloves at dinner-parties. Ladies always wear gloves, and do not remove them until seated at dinner.

At large dinner-parties the butler remains on the staircase, and announces the guests as they arrive. At small dinner-parties, or where only one man-servant is kept, or perhaps a parlour-maid, the servant would precede the guest or guests on their arrival upstairs; that is to say, walking before them, and, on being 87 informed as to their names by the guests themselves, would forthwith announce them. (See Chapter on “Morning Calls” relative to this subject.)

A lady and gentleman, on being announced, would not enter the drawing-room arm-in-arm, or side by side; it would be very vulgar to do either, especially the former. The lady, or ladies, if more than one, would enter the room in advance of the gentleman, though the servant would announce “Mr. and Mrs. A. and Miss B.,” not in the order in which they should enter the room, viz., “Mrs. A., Miss B., and Mr. A.”

The host and hostess would advance and shake hands with each guest on their arrival. The ladies would at once seat themselves; the gentlemen would stand about the room in groups, or seat themselves if they had arrived early.

If a lady were acquainted with any of the guests present, she would not make her way around the circle immediately after her entrance to shake hands with them, but would, if possible, make an opportunity to do so in an unobtrusive manner; it would be sufficient to recognize them by a nod or a smile in the meantime. A lady would bow to a gentleman whom she knew, and he would cross the room to shake hands with her at once if disengaged.

At a small dinner-party, if the guests were unacquainted with each other, the hostess would introduce 88 the persons of highest rank to each other, but at large dinner-parties she would not do so, unless she had some especial reason for making the introduction. In the country introductions at dinner-parties are far oftener made than in town.

Precedence is a most important point in the etiquette observed at dinner-parties.

The host invariably takes the lady of highest rank down to dinner, and the gentleman of highest rank would as invariably take the hostess. This rule is absolute, unless the lady or gentleman of highest rank is related to the host or hostess, in which case their rank would be considered as in abeyance out of courtesy to the other guests. (See Chapter on “Precedency.”)

Husbands and wives, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, or relations in general, would in no case be sent down to dinner in couples, neither would one gentleman take two ladies in to dinner.

A host and hostess would be most careful to invite an equal number of ladies and gentlemen. Certainly as many gentlemen as ladies, and it is usual to invite two or more gentlemen than there are ladies, in order that the married ladies should not be obliged to go down with each other’s husbands only. Thus, Mrs. A. and Mr. B., Mr. B. and Mrs. A.; Mrs. A. should be taken in to dinner by Mr. C., and Mr. A. should take Mrs. G., and so on.


If the dinner-party were short of gentlemen to the extent of two or three, the ladies of highest rank would be taken down by the gentlemen present, and the remaining ladies would follow by themselves; but such an arrangement is unusual and undesirable, though sometimes unavoidable, when the dinner-party is an impromptu one, for instance, and the notice given has been but a short one. If there should be one gentleman short of the number required, the hostess would go down to dinner by herself, following in the wake of the last couple.

The usual mode of sending guests in to dinner is for the host to inform each gentleman, shortly after his arrival, as to which of the ladies present he is to take down to dinner. No “choice” is given to any gentleman as to which lady he would prefer taking in to dinner, it being simply a question of precedency.

Should any difficulty arise as to the order in which the guests should follow the host to the dining-room, the hostess, knowing the precedency due to each of her guests, would indicate to each gentleman when it was his turn to descend to the dining-room. He would then offer his arm to the lady whom the host had previously desired him to take in to dinner.

Dinner is announced by the butler or man-servant throwing open the drawing-room door and saying in a loud and distinct voice, “dinner is served.”

The butler or man-servant being aware of the 90 number of guests expected, would not announce dinner as being served until all the guests had arrived. In the event of a guest’s non-arrival, the host, if not desirous of postponing the dinner, or of waiting for the expected guest—which he would hardly do, unless the tardy guest were a lady, or a gentleman of very high rank—would ring and desire “dinner to be served,” which announcement would be a few minutes afterwards made by the servant, in the manner already stated.

The host, on dinner being announced, would give his arm to the lady of highest rank present, and with her lead the way to the dining-room, followed by the lady second in rank, with a gentleman second in rank, the host having a few minutes previously intimated to him that he should take her down to dinner.

When the second couple are about to leave the drawing-room the hostess would, if necessary, request each gentleman, in the order due to the precedence of the lady, to take her down to dinner, also having regard to the precedence due to the various gentlemen present. Thus, “Mr. A., will you take Mrs. Z?” This also answers the purpose of an introduction, supposing the lady were unacquainted with the gentleman, and the hostess did not consider it necessary to introduce them to each other, on their arrival. When a case of precedency occurs, in which either the lady or gentleman must waive their right 91 of precedence, that of the gentleman gives way to that of the lady (see chapter on Precedency). The gentleman of highest rank present would follow last with the hostess.

A gentleman invariably offers his right arm to a lady on leaving the drawing-room. It is usual for the gentleman to make some polite conversational remark to the lady when descending to the dining-room (see “Society Small Talk”).

On reaching the dining-room the lady whom the host has taken down seats herself at his right hand. The seat at the right hand of the gentleman by whom the lady is taken down to dinner is the proper place for her to occupy, and she would on no account place herself at his left hand. On the continent this custom is reversed, and it is the etiquette for the lady to sit at the left hand of the gentleman by whom she is taken in to dinner.

The host would remain standing in his place at the bottom of the table until the guests had taken their seats, and would motion the various couples as they enter the dining-room to the places he wishes them to occupy at the table.

This is the most usual method of placing the guests at the dinner-table, and the host and hostess should be careful to arrange before-hand the precedence to be accorded to each guest, and the places which it is desirable they should occupy at the dinner-table.


The custom of putting a slip of paper with the name of the guest on the table in the place allotted to each individual guest is now an old-fashioned one, and is never followed in good society.

If the host were not careful to indicate to the guests the various places he wished them to occupy, the result would probably be that husbands and wives would be seated side by side, or uncongenial people would sit together; and though precedence must be strictly followed in sending guests in to dinner, it may be departed from in placing the guests at the dinner-table if by adhering strictly to the order of precedence husbands and wives or other relatives would become placed in too close a proximity to one another, as it is not etiquette to place husbands and wives side by side, neither is it desirable that a brilliant conversationalist should be seated next to or between two dull and unappreciative persons. But if the order of precedency can be followed without causing any such contretemps to arise, it should be adhered to in the seating of the guests, and the lady second in rank would sit on the host’s left hand, and the other ladies would occupy seats in the vicinity of the host in the order in which they went down to dinner.

If the table were a long one, the host and the lady taken down to dinner by him, would occupy seats at the bottom of the table, if the party were a large one, and the number of guests rendered such an arrangement 93 of seats necessary, otherwise the host would sit in the centre at the end of the table, and place the lady whom he had taken down next to him at the right-hand side of the table; and the same rule precisely applies to the seat occupied by the hostess at the top of the table. She would sit in the centre, at the top of the table, the gentleman by whom she had been taken down being at the left-hand side of the table, otherwise he would sit at her left hand at the top of the table.*

* “Long tables” are the most fashionable dinner-tables.

When a lady has taken her seat at the dinner-table, she should remove her gloves in an expeditious manner, and should then unfold her serviette, which she should place on her lap. She should place the bread at her left hand, and not at her right hand. A gentleman would do the same with his serviette and bread, placing the one across his knees, and the other at his left hand. If a lady were to be too long occupied in removing her gloves, the servant would be at her elbow offering her soup before she had made room for the soup-plate by removing the serviette; and she should be careful to be certain as to which of the two soups handed to her she will take, so as not to keep the servant waiting. The servant would say, when offering the soup, “‘White’ or ‘clear,’ ma’am?” or mention the name of the two soups. And the same remark applies if “lamb” and “beef” were offered 94 to a guest at the same time, as, if there is no menu or bill of fare on the table, a guest should decide quickly when a choice of two dishes is offered. When a menu is provided, the guest should consult it on first sitting down to table. These menus, or dinner-cards, are placed the length of the table, that is to say, one being placed for the use of two persons, the couple who have gone down to dinner together; and the menus may be elaborate or simple, according to individual taste, and can be purchased printed for the purpose, leaving a space for the names of the dishes to be filled in, which is usually done by the mistress of the house, unless the establishment is on a large scale, as it is usual to write them out in French.

Fanciful menu-holders are much in use, and small china slates also. If a menu-holder is not used, the menu is placed upright against a vase of flowers, or in some conspicuous spot facing the couple for whose use it is intended.

For a small dinner-party, where there is but little choice of viands, the use of menu-cards would be pretentious; but where there is a choice of dishes, or an abundant choice, a menu would be indispensable, so that a guest could reserve himself for those viands he most fancied, as he could hardly be supposed to partake of all; and his disappointment would therefore be proportionately great if he were compelled to pass a 95 favourite dish through sheer inability to partake of it.

It is solely a matter of inclination whether a lady and gentleman, who have gone in to dinner together, converse with each other only, or with their right and left-hand neighbours. If they were acquainted with their neighbours, it would be correct to converse with them; and if not acquainted with them, but well acquainted with the usages of good society, they would doubtless find some topic of conversation in common, otherwise a dinner-party would prove a succession of tête-à-têtes.

The usual and fashionable manner of serving dinner is called Dîner à la Russe, although at small or friendly dinners the host sometimes prefers to carve the joint himself in the first course, and the birds in the second course. But dinner-tables, whether for dining à la Russe, or for dining en famille, are invariably arranged in the same style; the difference being merely the extent of the display made as regards flowers, plate, and glass, which are the accessories of the dining-table.

When the host carves the joint, birds, &c., the plates containing the viand carved by the host should not be handed to the guests in the order in which they are seated, if the party is a small dinner-party, say of five or six, when the ladies would naturally be helped first, before the gentlemen. But the rule at 96 all dinner-parties, if more than five or six, is for the servant to commence serving, by handing the dishes to the lady seated at the host’s right-hand, then to the lady seated at the host’s left-hand, and from thence the length of the table, to each guest in the order in which they are seated, irrespective of sex. But at large dinner-parties, the servants would commence handing the dishes at both sides of the table simultaneously; and double entries would be provided.

If the host should help the soup, half a ladleful to each person would be the proper quantity; to fill, or even to half fill, a soup-plate with soup would be in very bad style. It would be also bad style if a host were to press a guest to partake of any particular dish, that is to say, at large dinner-parties; at small and friendly dinners the host would use his own discretion in the matter, friendship not being governed by the rules of ceremonious etiquette, strictly speaking.

Dîner à la Russe is the Russian fashion introduced into society some years ago, of having the whole of the dinner served from a side table, and admitting of no dishes whatever being placed on the table save dishes of fruit.

As regards the most correct style of dinner-table decorations they should be of very moderate height. It is now an old-fashioned style that of having gaunt-looking or tall flowering plants placed on the table 97 as they obstruct the view of the vis-à-vis, and preclude the possibility of general conversation. Specimen glasses placed in front of each guest, the length of the table, is a pretty fashion, as are leaves and trails of creepers, &c., laid on the table-cloth; but table decorations are essentially a matter of taste rather than of etiquette, and the extent of these decorations depends very much upon the size of the plate-chest, and the length of the purse of the dinner giver.

The fruit for dessert, is usually arranged down the centre of the table, amidst the flowers and plate. Some dinner tables are also adorned with a variety of French conceits, besides fruit and flowers; other dinner tables are decorated with flowers and plate only, the dessert not being placed on the table at all; but this latter mode can only be adopted by those who can make a lavish display of flowers and plate in the place of fruit.

For the purposes of lighting, lamps or silver candelabras with wax candles are used, according to the wealth of the dinner giver. Both lamps and candles are usually shaded with coloured shades, as they produce a pretty effect, and prevent the guests being incommoded by too close a proximity to the glare occasioned by some dozens of candles or by brilliant lamps; therefore shades are considered indispensable. Wax candles should be lighted ten or fifteen minutes 98 before the dinner is announced, that the lights may be steady and equal before the guests appear in the dining-room.

However handsome a cruet-stand may be, it should never be placed on the dinner-table, either at small or large dinner-parties; its proper place is the sideboard. Neither should single cruets be placed at different corners of the table, but should be handed round on a salver by a servant, to the different guests in the order in which any particular dish requiring them has been served.

Salt-cellars should be placed the length of the table, one salt-cellar for two persons. Neither at small friendly dinners, or at any dinners whatever, should table-mats be placed on the table; it would be extremely vulgar to use them; the thick table-cover placed beneath the table-cloth would be sufficient for the purpose of protecting the polish of the table from the heat of the dishes, if the hostess should be anxious to preserve it from any possible injury.

The term “cover” signifies the place laid at table for each person, and consists, both at large and small dinners, of the following:—

Two large knives, and a silver knife for fish, a table-spoon for soup, three large forks, a glass for sherry, a glass for hock, and a glass for champagne. Tumblers are not used at dinner-parties, but are kept on the sideboard should they be required. The serviette 99 is placed in the centre, between the knives and forks, and the bread is enfolded in the serviette. Dessert-spoons and small forks do not form part of the cover, but are placed before the guest on an empty plate before the sweets are handed round, and an extra knife and fork is provided for the guests as they are required, should they partake of more dishes, which they are certain to do; but it is not usual to place more than three knives, including the fish-knives and forks, when setting the dinner table. The knives and forks are never placed lengthways on the table, but on each side of the space to be occupied by the plate.

Table-spoons are always used when partaking of soup; it would be considered ridiculous to use a dessert-spoon for that purpose. Dessert-spoons, as their name implies, are intended for lighter purposes, such as for eating fruit tarts, custard-puddings, &c., or any sweet that is not sufficiently substantial to be eaten with a fork; but whenever a fork can be used, it is better taste to use it rather than a spoon.

Fish should be eaten with a silver fish knife and fork. Two forks are not used for eating fish, and one fork and a crust of bread is now an unheard-of way of eating fish in polite society.

All made dishes, such as quenelles, rissoles, patties, &c., should be eaten with a fork only, and the knife should not be used in eating them, as a knife would 100 be unnecessary and out of place; it would therefore be a vulgarism to use one.

For sweetbreads and cutlets, &c., the knife is requisite; and, as a matter of course, it would be so for poultry, game, &c.

In eating asparagus, a knife and fork should be used, as the proper way of eating asparagus is to cut off the points with the knife and eat them as seakale or any other vegetable is eaten; it would not be correct to eat asparagus holding the stalks in the fingers. A knife and fork are used in eating salad, which is always served in salad plates; which are placed beside the dinner plates, the guest using the two plates at the same time. Cucumber is eaten on the dinner plate and not on a separate plate.

When peas are partaken of at dinner, they should be conveyed to the mouth with the fork; it would be extremely vulgar to use the knife for that purpose. It is needless to say that to put the knife into the mouth at any time during dinner would be an unpardonable offence against good breeding, and would be a mark of vulgarity. It would be also very vulgar to “overload” the fork with meat and vegetables, &c., which should be conveyed to the mouth separately in their turn, and not be prepared and arranged beforehand on the fork in a compact form. Gentlemen sometimes eat in this unpleasant manner; but ladies hardly ever do so. The hand and the mouth should also act 101 in unison—that is to say, the mouth should not be kept open in expectation of the well-laden fork’s arrival, but the mouth should only be opened to receive the contents of the fork, at the moment when it has reached the lips, and small morsels rather than large mouthfuls should be conveyed, as a matter of course, to the mouth, more especially by ladies, and young ladies in particular. To place the fork directly opposite the mouth is a most ungraceful way of eating, and bending the wrist round to accomplish this feat; the fork should be simply raised to the mouth, and the hand should not be turned round to face it.

In eating game or poultry, the bone of either wing or leg should never be touched with the fingers, but the meat cut close off the bone; and if a wing it is best to sever the wing at the joint, by which means the meat is cut off far more easily. To take a bone in the fingers for the purpose of picking it would be extremely vulgar.

Pastry is always eaten with a fork, but in the case of a fruit tart a dessert-spoon is used as well as a fork, but only for the purpose of conveying the fruit and juice to the mouth; and in the case of stone fruit—cherries, damsons, plums, &c.—either the dessert-spoon or fork should be raised to the lips to receive the stones, which should be placed at the side of the plate; but when the fruit stones are of larger size, they should be separated from the fruit with the fork 102 and spoon and left on the plate, and not put into the mouth; and whenever it is possible to separate the stones from the fruit it is best to do so.

Jellies, creams, blanc-manges, iced puddings, &c., are eaten with a fork, and not with a spoon; as are all sweets sufficiently substantial to admit of it.

In eating cheese, small morsels of the cheese should be placed with the knife on small morsels of bread, and the two morsels should be conveyed to the mouth with the thumb and finger, the piece of bread being the morsel to hold, as cheese should not be taken up in the fingers; neither should it be conveyed on the point of the knife to the mouth; either of these ways of eating cheese would be in very bad taste.

The tablecloth is never removed for dessert, but the table is properly cleared of all that appertains to the dinner. A dessert plate is then placed before each guest, with or without an ice-plate, as the case may be. The ice-plate would be placed on the dessert-plate, and the finger-glass on the ice-plate, with a d’oyley beneath.

A gold or silver ice spoon, and a silver dessert knife and fork are also placed on the dessert plate, a glass for sherry and a glass for claret taking the place of the dinner glasses; the guests would place the finger glass on the left-hand side of the plate, with the d’oyley beneath it, the dessert plate remaining beneath the ice-plate until the ice had been eaten, when a servant would remove it. When eating 103 grapes, the half-closed hand should be placed to the lips and the stones and skins adroitly allowed to fall into the fingers and quickly placed on the side of the plate, the back of the hand concealing the manœuvre from view. Some persons bend the head so as to allow of the stones and skins of the grapes falling on the side of the plate; but this latter way is most inelegant, and therefore seldom done. Cherries and other small stone fruit would be eaten in the way grapes are eaten; as are gooseberries; strawberries and raspberries, &c., are, of course placed in the mouth by the stalk, which is then placed on the plate from the fingers. In eating pears or apples, they would be peeled and cut into halves and quarters with a fruit knife and fork.

Peaches, melons, &c., require the aid of a spoon as well as a fork on account of their juiciness; when cream is eaten with strawberries a spoon is then necessary in separating the fruit from the stalk, and in preparing it with the cream.

Pines are eaten with both knife and fork.

The guests do not help themselves to the dessert, although it is placed on the table, as it is there for effect only. Each dish is taken off in its turn by the servants in attendance (see the “Servants’ Practical Guide”*) and handed to the guests in the order in 104 which the dinner has been served to them, when the dishes would be replaced on the table if their contents were not exhausted.

* The “Servants’ Practical Guide” referred to in these pages, is a little work which the author of the present work is now engaged upon.

If liqueurs are given, small glasses of liqueur are handed to the guests on a small silver salver immediately after the ices have gone round. The butler would then fill the guests’ glasses with either claret or sherry. Claret and sherry are the usual wines drank at dessert, port and Madeira very rarely so, and champagne never, as champagne is essentially a dinner wine, and is only drank at dinner. Sherry is always drank after soup, and is not handed more than once by the butler; and hock is also only given once either with oysters before the soup or with the fish after the soup, and Chablis sometimes takes the place of hock. Champagne is drank immediately after the first entrée has been served, and so during the remainder of dinner until dessert; it being offered three or four times.

Before leaving the dining-room, after the wine has been duly handed round to all the guests, the butler would place a claret-jug and two decanters of sherry in front of the host, which would be passed round by the host, commencing with the gentleman nearest to him. The host does not ask his guests to take wine, but merely passes the decanters round.

It is not the fashion for gentlemen to drink wine with each other either at dinner or dessert, and the 105 guest fills his glass or not according to inclination. Ladies are not supposed to require a second glass of wine at dessert, and the passing of the decanters is principally for the benefit of the gentlemen; and it is not etiquette for ladies to take wine every time it is proffered them by the butler. If a lady should require a second glass of wine at dessert, the gentleman seated next to her would fill her glass; she would not help herself to wine. After the wine has been passed once around the table, or about ten minutes after the servants have left the dining-room, the hostess would give the signal for the ladies to leave the dining-room by bowing to the lady of highest rank present, seated at the host’s right hand. She would then rise from her seat, as would all the ladies on seeing her do so, they having, after finishing their dessert, commenced putting on their gloves. The ladies would carelessly throw their serviettes on the chairs they had vacated without attempting to fold them. The gentlemen would rise also, and remain standing by their chairs until the ladies had quitted the room, which they would do in the order in which they had entered it, the lady of highest rank leading the way, the hostess following last.

The gentleman seated nearest the door or quickest of movement would open the door for the ladies to pass out and close it after them.

When the ladies had left the dining-room the gentlemen 106 would close up as near to the host as possible, so as to render conversation general.

The wine usually drank by gentlemen after dinner is claret of a superior quality, but never dinner claret.

The ladies on leaving the dining-room would repair direct to the drawing-room, and coffee would be almost immediately brought in. The coffee-cups containing coffee would be brought on a silver salver, with the cream jug and the basin of crystallized sugar.

In large country houses coffee is sometimes brought in a silver coffeepot, and the lady would then pour out her own coffee, the servant holding the salver the meanwhile.

Coffee is then taken in to the dining-room, and handed to the gentlemen in the same manner as it had been served in the drawing-room (see the work previously alluded to).

After the gentlemen have taken coffee, they would join the ladies in the drawing-room. The gentleman of the highest rank would leave the room first, and he would also be the first to make the move by saying, “Shall we join the ladies?” or some such formula (see “Society Small Talk”). The host himself could not propose an adjournment to the drawing-room, as it would indicate a want of hospitality on his part. It is not now the fashion for gentlemen to sit over their wine beyond fifteen or twenty minutes at the utmost, instead of, as formerly, 107 from three-quarters of an hour to an hour, a change much appreciated by the hostess.

On the Continent the gentlemen conduct the ladies to the drawing-room, and do not remain in the dining-room, as in England.

If the company were uncongenial to him, or the wine as little to his taste, the gentleman of highest rank would propose an adjournment to the drawing-room within a quarter of an hour or so; and if the other guests were engaged in a discussion in which he did not wish to take part, and by which he was rather bored than not, having proposed the adjournment, he could at once leave the dining-room, leaving it to the others to follow at their pleasure or their leisure. But unless there were a want of harmony between the gentlemen, they would all leave the dining-room together, more or less, the host following last.

The host would ring the dining-room bell before leaving the room as an intimation that “tea” should be brought to the drawing-room, which would be done as soon as the gentlemen had joined the ladies.

The various guests would converse with each other, or there would perhaps be someone present who would play or sing; or, at a country house dinner-party, round games of cards would be played. But at a ceremonious dinner-party neither music nor cards would be introduced during the half-hour passed in the drawing-room before the hour for departure; the 108 usual period being from a half to three-quarters of an hour for remaining after dinner.

There is no rule as to the order in which the guests would take their leave. Half-past ten is the usual hour for general departure; and the butler would announce the several carriages, as they arrived, to the guests in the drawing-room. But if any lady wished to inquire if her carriage had arrived, she would ask the hostess’s permission to do so; and the bell would be rang for the purpose of making the inquiry. The same remark applies to the ordering of a cab, the lady would ask the hostess if one might be ordered for her.

The hostess would shake hands with all her guests on their departure, rising from her seat to do so. It would be very ill-bred on the part of a dinner-guest not to wish the hostess “good night,” but it would not be etiquette for the guests, if acquainted, to make formal adieus to each other. Friends, if seated near to each other, would shake hands. Friendship is not measured by the rules of etiquette. And if on leaving the room acquaintances should pass each other, they would wish each other good night; but it would be in bad taste to make the tour of the rooms for the purpose of doing so.

The host would conduct the principal of his lady guests down-stairs to their carriages in the order in which they left. The ladies would put on their cloaks 109 in the cloak-room, the host waiting in the hall meanwhile.

A gentleman related to the host or hostess, or a friend of the family, would offer to conduct a lady to her carriage if the host were already occupied with another lady.

Gratuities are never offered by the guests at a dinner-party to the servants in attendance; it would be considered extremely vulgar and ill-judged were any one to do so. Gentlemen do not offer fees to the men-servants, neither do ladies to the lady’s-maid in attendance.

After a dinner-party, it is etiquette for the invited guests to call on the host and hostess within the week (see chapter on “Morning Calls”).

In the country, new acquaintances, if neighbours, should be asked to dinner within a month of the first call, if possible; and the return invitation should be given within the following month.

When guests are assembled at a country house, they are sent in to dinner, on the first evening, according to their individual precedence, but on subsequent evenings the gentlemen usually draw lots to decide which lady they shall have the pleasure of taking in to dinner, otherwise a lady and gentleman would go in to dinner together five or six consecutive times—according to the length of the visit.

If the party were varied by additional dinner guests 110 each evening, the drawing of lots would give way to precedency, it being too familiar a practice to be adopted at a large dinner-party.

The saying of grace, both before and after dinner, is a matter of feeling rather than of etiquette. It used to be very much the custom to say “grace,” but of late years it is oftener omitted than not, especially at large dinner-parties; and in town “grace” is seldom said before dinner. In the country, when a clergyman is present, he is asked to say grace; and often when in town, when grace is said by the host, it is said in a low voice, and in a very few words; the guests inclining their heads the while.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter VI

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Page 100 in this chapter was damaged during the archiving process. (It’s unhappily obvious, because page 99 overleaf is intact.) I checked a few words against the 2nd edition.

An obvious association of thoughts led me to Google’s ngram viewer. The phrase “fashionably late” was in sporadic use throughout the 19th century, dropped a bit in the 20th—and spiked after 1980. I doubt very much that being late to a social engagement was ever fashionable. (Institutions like “island time” are an unrelated matter.)

the obtaining a footing in society . . . the having a reputation
[Goodness. What an old-fashioned usage for 1879.]

Printed cards are used for these invitations
[Say what? If you move in the order of society where Court presentation is a matter of concern—as discussed at length in the preceding chapter—you will naturally use engraved cards. And, of course, the engraving will include your name.]

it is usual to invite two or more gentlemen than there are ladies
[He should have said “two or more more gentlemen”, but it’s understandable that he didn’t.]

[Footnote] “Long tables” are the most fashionable dinner-tables
[I think “long table” must be a technical term, because how often—outside of Camelot or an international conference—do you see a round table that seats more than six or eight people? And this isn’t your ordinary 30-inch-wide dinner table; it needs to be wide enough for two people to sit comfortably at the ends, and then long in proportion. Incidentally, a seating plan with the host at one end and the hostess at the other will only work if either the total number of diners is not a multiple of four, or you’ve taken care to include two extra men.]

and should then unfold her serviette
[Author, are you sure you’re a member of the aristocracy?]

It is solely a matter of inclination whether a lady and gentleman, who have gone in to dinner together, converse with each other only, or with their right and left-hand neighbours.
[The concept of “turning the table” doesn’t seem to exist in our author’s world.]

the extent of these decorations depends very much upon the size of the plate-chest, and the length of the purse of the dinner giver . . . . this latter mode can only be adopted by those who can make a lavish display of flowers and plate
[Any kind of “lavish display” strikes me as vulgar in the extreme.]

lamps or silver candelabras
[The OED admits singular candelabra, plural candelabras, as an alternative to singular candelabrum, plural candelabra . . . but only as a “modern” usage.]

When peas are partaken of at dinner, they should be conveyed to the mouth with the fork; it would be extremely vulgar to use the knife for that purpose
[I eat my peas with honey / I’ve done it all my life / It makes the peas taste funny / But it keeps them on the knife.]

The guests do not help themselves to the dessert, although it is placed on the table, as it is there for effect only.
text has as it is there, with superfluous comma
[The vulgarisms do pile up, don’t they: “for effect only”? Seriously?]



The “five o’clock tea” is a very popular form of entertainment amongst ladies, an entertainment, however, that is but little appreciated by gentlemen in general, who do not, as a rule, lend themselves to this mild form of dissipation, and who, when they do put in an appearance at an afternoon tea, usually do so out of compliment to the hostess, rather than from personal inclination. Therefore, at a “five o’clock tea” ladies are of necessity present in an overpowering majority, there being usually from about five gentlemen to thirty ladies on an average present at these gatherings. Still, though gentlemen do not care to attend “five o’clock teas,” ladies have a decided partiality for them, as they can there meet their various friends or acquaintances, or form new acquaintances, and arrange plans with each other with regard to future intercourse and exchange of civilities; and even in the height of the London season 112 ladies are not disinclined to look in at a “five o’clock tea” for a quarter of an hour or so, if not able to remain longer.

There are three classes of “five o’clock teas.” The large and ceremonious tea of from fifty to a hundred guests, when usually professional vocal and instrumental talent is engaged, and fairly good music given, although the entertainment is not of sufficient importance to be termed a “concert;” the semi-ceremonious tea of from twenty to forty guests, when “amateur” talent is in requisition for the amusement of the guests; and the small and friendly “tea” of from five to fifteen people, when conversation usually takes the place of music, the gathering being composed of friends rather than of acquaintances.

Invitations to each and all of these gatherings are issued on the ordinary visiting card, and not on the regular “At Home Card.” The name of the person invited is written at the top of the card, at the right-hand corner, the words “At home” being written beneath the printed name of the lady issuing the invitation, and the hour “Four to seven” in the left-hand corner, at the bottom of the card. The word “Music” would be added at the bottom of the card, if especially good music were to be given.

“Five o’clock teas” are always styled “at homes” on the visiting card, and are never styled “five o’clock teas;” but in a verbal invitation, or in referring to 113 them in conversation, they would then be spoken of and alluded to as “five o’clock teas,” and not as “at homes,” in the same way that an after-dinner “at home” or reception is never termed an “evening party” on a card of invitation, as no entertainment in society parlance is known by the name of “evening party,” though it would be correct to say, “I am going to a party at Mrs. A.’s to-night,” as it would be pedantic to say, “I am going to an ‘at home,’” &c. (See “Society Small Talk.”) Neither are the words “afternoon tea” used when issuing invitations, though verbally the guest could be invited to “afternoon tea.” “Kettledrum” is a very old-fashioned term for a “five o’clock tea,” and is now chiefly to be met with in the pages of a would-be fashionable novel.

It is not usual to write “R. S. V. P.” in the corner of these invitation-cards, as it is immaterial how many guests are present at this class of entertainment; but if an answer is so requested, an answer should be sent.

“R. S. V. P.” signifies “rêponse, s’il vous plaît,” or “an answer is requested.”

If a lady is aware that she will be unable to be present, it would be etiquette to send her excuses; both the invitation and the answer can in all cases be sent by post, whether the person invited were present or not.


Cards should be left within the week. (See Chapter on “Card-leaving.”)

Invitations to “at homes” are issued in the name of the hostess only, and not in the united names of the master and mistress of the house; although it is customary to include the head of the family, either husband or father, in the invitation. Thus, at the top of the visiting-card, at the right-hand corner, would be written “Mr. and Mrs. A.” or “Mr. and Miss A.” The sons of the house would be invited separately, but the daughters of the house would be included in the invitation sent to their mother. Thus, “Mr. and Mrs. A.,” “The Misses A.”

If the family consisted of a mother and daughters, it would be “Mrs. and the Misses A.” The title of “Honourable” should not be put on an invitation card, but only on the envelope containing the card. All other titles are recognized on invitation cards; but the complimentary distinctions of K.C.B., M.P., &c., are not written on the cards, but always on the envelope in which they are enclosed.

Invitations to large ceremonious teas should be issued a fortnight previous to the day, and to small teas within a week or so of the day.

When invited guests arrive they do not inquire if the hostess is at home, but at once enter the house. The gentlemen leave their hats and overcoats in the hall. At large “at homes” a cloak-room would be 115 provided, so that a lady could remove a thick jacket or wrap, which is usually worn in cold weather; but at small “at homes” a cloak-room is not necessary, as the reception rooms are neither so crowded nor so warm, neither are the ladies’ toilettes so elaborate. At large ceremonious teas, refreshments are always served in the dining-room, on a long buffet at one end of the room, and the lady’s-maid and other maidservants stand at the back of the buffet to pour out and hand the cups of tea or coffee across the table as asked for. It is usual to have women-servants on these occasions to pour out the tea, as well as a man-servant or men-servants, in case anything is required of them, although gentlemen usually help themselves to wine, claret-cup, &c. The usual refreshments at these “at homes” are tea and coffee, served from large silver urns. (See “The Servant’s Practical Guide.”) Sherry, champagne-cup, claret-cup, ices, fruit, fancy biscuits and cakes, thin bread-and-butter, potted game sandwiches, &c. No plates are used except for ices and for fruit.

At small “teas” similar refreshments, but on a much smaller scale, are served, and tea-pots are used in place of urns. No fruit is placed on the table, nor are ices given, and the tea is served in the smaller of the two drawing-rooms, or in an adjoining boudoir or ante-room. The tea is then dispensed by the ladies of the house, or by the hostess herself, but never by maid-servants when served in the drawing-room. 116 But the most convenient manner of serving tea is to serve it in the dining-room, unless the number of company is limited, when it would appear unsociable if the guests were to congregate in the dining-room, leaving the hostess alone in the drawing-room.

The servants, before ushering the guests into the drawing-room, would inquire if they would take tea or coffee, and in that case would usher them into the dining-room, and the guests would there partake of refreshments according to inclination, although it would be more courteous to the hostess to repair at once to the drawing-room. The servant would precede the guests to the drawing-room, as in “morning calls.” At large teas the hostess would receive her guests at the drawing-room door, where she would shake hands with each on their arrival. The drawing-room door would remain open, and she would stand within the doorway. But at small teas the drawing-room door does not remain open, and the hostess receives her guests within the room, as at morning calls.

The guests would arrive from a quarter past four until half-past five or six o’clock, punctuality not being of any great importance at these gatherings, as the guests are hardly expected to remain the whole three hours specified, and are at liberty to remain as long or as short a time as they please. The earliest arrivals are generally the first to leave.

If the hostess judged it expedient to do so, she would 117 introduce one or two of the ladies to each other, either in a formal manner (see Chapter on Introductions), or in a semi-formal manner. She would perhaps say, “Mrs. A., I don’t think you know Mrs. B.” She would not say this unless quite certain that Mrs. B. desired the acquaintance of Mrs. A., or that she would have no objection to knowing her; or she would say, “Mrs. A. and I were talking about the new church bazaar, are you going to it, Mrs. B.?” or some such remark as this (see “Society Small Talk”), the object being to draw both ladies into conversation. But it is not the rule to make general introductions, only occasional introductions, when the hostess is aware that the persons introduced would be likely to appreciate each other, or for any special reason of equal weight.

The hostess would be careful to see that the ladies of highest consideration present were duly taken down to tea in the pauses between the music, singing, recitations, or whatever amusement might be going on, and would introduce gentlemen to them for that purpose, if she noticed that no one whom they knew was present to offer them that civility.

The hostess would say, “May I introduce Mr. B. to you, Mrs. A.?” at the instant of bringing him up to Mrs. A. Mrs. A. would smile and bow, and Mr. B. would then offer to take Mrs. A. to have some tea, and if she consented he would offer his 118 right arm. He would not say, “Will you take some refreshments?” but “Will you let me give you some tea?” &c. (See “Society Small Talk.”) If the host were present he would take the principal ladies down to the dining-room to have tea, and it is expected of gentlemen to be unremitting in this duty of taking the ladies down to tea; they are therefore not supposed to remain in the dining-room but a very few minutes. The guests are not expected to sit down in the dining-room, and therefore seats are not provided for them. When a gentleman takes a lady down to tea, he would conduct her back again to the drawing-room. It would be a breach of good manners to leave her in the dining-room, or to allow her to return to the drawing-room unaccompanied.

If there were very few gentlemen present, the hostess would suggest to some of the ladies that they should go down to tea together, and at the same time make some polite excuse as to the want of gentlemen. (See “Society Small Talk.”)

If a lady intended to eat ices or fruit, she would remove her gloves, but not if she only intended taking tea or coffee.

At small teas, the cups of tea would be handed to the ladies by the gentlemen present, or by the young lady officiating at the tea-table. When tea is served in the drawing-room, it is not usual to have coffee and claret-cup, &c.


Thin bread-and-butter would also be handed to the ladies; gentlemen generally stand about the room, or near the tea-table, when taking tea. A lady would place her empty cup on any table near at hand, unless a gentleman offered to put it down for her. A lady would remove her gloves if she intended eating bread-and-butter or cake. It is not usual for a lady to take more than one cup of tea, and the hostess would not inquire if her guest would take cream or sugar, but they would be both handed to her as a matter of course.

If a lady does not take tea, it would be considered fussy, or ill-bred, if she were to ask for some beverage not usually drank at afternoon teas, such as cocoa, chocolate, milk, soda-water, &c. She would refuse the offered tea without giving her reason for so doing.

Neither at large or small teas would the hostess remain seated on one particular seat the whole of the afternoon, unless she were very old and infirm, but would move about amongst her guests, conversing with them all more or less. If there were daughters they would assist their mother in this duty.

If any of the ladies should be acquainted with each other, they would take an opportunity of speaking to each other. It is etiquette for ladies to move about the rooms at “afternoon teas” to speak to their various friends and acquaintances; and they are by 120 no means obliged to remain seated in one spot, unless desirous of doing so.

When music is given at “afternoon teas” it is usual to listen to the performance, or at least to appear to do so; and if conversation is carried on, it should be in a low tone, so as not to disturb or annoy the performers.

It is not necessary to take leave of the hostess at “afternoon teas,” unless the hostess is a new acquaintance, and the visit a first one at her house, when it would be polite to do so, or, unless the hostess happened to be near the drawing-room door, when the guest was passing out. But if it were late, and there were but a few guests still remaining, these few would make their adieus to the hostess, otherwise it is not usual to do so.

At these “afternoon teas,” or “at homes,” the hostess does not ring to order the door to be opened for the departing guest, or for her carriage to be called, as she would do at morning calls, but the guests make their way to the hall, and the servants in attendance call up the carriages as they are asked for, and show the visitors out.

Carriages are always kept in waiting at “afternoon teas;” for, as has already been said, ladies are sometimes not able to remain longer than a quarter of an hour. The guests either remain in the hall or in the dining-room until they hear their carriage announced.

Gratuities are never offered to servants at these 121 entertainments, or in fact at any entertainment whatever.

When afternoon concerts are given, invitations are issued on the usual “at home” cards, which can be purchased, with the words “at home,” &c., already printed, or they are printed to order, with the name and address of the hostess. The name of the person invited is written above the name of the hostess at the right-hand corner of the card.

The date is written on the line under the words “at home,” which are in the centre of the card directly underneath the name of the hostess; the hour is written at the left-hand corner, and the letters R. S. V. P. The address is at the right-hand corner, which is usually printed. The word “music” would be added at the bottom of the card at the right-hand corner, if a concert were intended. “Dancing” would be either written or printed if an afternoon dance were intended.

The hour usually fixed for a concert is from 3 to 5 o’clock, which would be written upon the card, thus—“3 to 5.”

The hostess would receive her guests at the drawing-room door, when they would at once seat themselves. The seats would be arranged in rows down the centre of the room, and sofas and settees would be placed around the room.

The programme of a concert is divided into two 122 parts, and at the conclusion of the first part the guests would repair to the dining-room to partake of refreshments, where refreshments are served as at large “at homes.”

Invitations for “afternoon dances” are issued on the “at home” card, just described, merely substituting the word “dancing” for that of “music,” and the hour of “4 to 7” o’clock for that of 3 to 5 o’clock.

The words “afternoon dance” are never written on an invitation card, and there is no other form of invitation for afternoon dances, according to etiquette, than the one already given.

Afternoon dances are very popular at watering-places, military stations, small towns in the vicinity of London, &c., but are seldom given in London itself. Refreshments are served during the whole of the afternoon, from 4 to 7, as at large “at homes.” The ladies remove their jackets or wraps in the cloak-room, but retain their hats or bonnets; and the hostess would receive her guests at the head of the staircase, as at an evening reception.

Invitations to “garden-parties” are also issued on “at home” cards, the words “garden-party” being substituted for “dancing” or “music.” In some cases dancing takes place at garden-parties, when the word “dancing” would be added on the card, thus—

“Garden-party, 4 to 7.



The hour for giving garden-parties is always 4 to 7 o’clock.

Occasionally the hostess gives a dinner and dance to follow the garden-party, in which case there would be no dancing in the afternoon; and on the “at home” card would be written, in addition to the words “garden-party,” “dinner, 7.30; dancing, 9 o’clock.” “Weather permitting” is frequently written on these cards, to denote that the garden-party will not take place if the weather is unfavourable.

At garden-parties the host and hostess usually receive their guests on the lawn of the mansion, or in the mansion itself, according to inclination.

In sending invitations to the gentry of the neighbourhood, it is usual to add the words “and party” after the name of the persons invited—thus, “Mr. and Mrs. A., and party”—meaning the friends who may be on a visit to Mrs. A., but not the friends of Mrs. A. residing in the neighbourhood.

On all “at home” cards the letters R. S. V. P. are printed, and the answers should be sent as soon as convenient. When a lady intends taking a party of friends to a garden-party, she should mention of how many her party will consist, and their several names; and she would introduce them to the hostess on her arrival, when the hostess would shake hands with them on their being introduced to her.


Refreshments, as at afternoon “teas,” with perhaps a greater abundance of fruit, would be served during the afternoon, in either a large marquee, erected in the grounds, or in the house. Lawn tennis, archery, &c., are popular amusements at garden-parties. Croquet is now considered to be a trifle out of date. But garden-parties are perhaps the least ceremonious of all entertainments, and the guests are usually left to amuse themselves as they please. The drawing-rooms are generally thrown open to the guests on these occasions, as is the library or picture gallery, supposing the host possesses a fine collection of pictures. The billiard-room is also thrown open where there is a billiard-room.

Dancing sometimes takes place in the drawing-room and sometimes in a large marquee.

The dinner, which is served either in the dining-room or in a large marquee, usually consists of cold viands, on the plan of ball suppers, soup, and cutlets being handed to the guests. It would be a “sit down” repast. The host would take in to dinner the lady of highest rank, and the hostess would be taken in to dinner by the gentleman of highest rank present.

Precedency, as regards the order in which the other guests would go in to dinner, would be followed as far as the principal guests were concerned, but hardly beyond these, as the number of guests present would not admit of its being strictly carried out.


Invitations to “evening receptions” are also issued on “at home” cards, and these receptions are styled “at homes.” If “music,” or private theatricals, &c., are intended, either would be mentioned on the card, thus: “music,” “private theatricals;” and one particular hour is stated, thus: “10 o’clock,” or “9.30 o’clock.”

If the reception or “at home” follows a dinner-party given by the hostess, no amusement is provided for the guests, and they are expected to find sufficient amusement in conversing with their friends and acquaintances. This is the general rule, though exceptions are sometimes made. But if the “at home” does not follow a dinner-party, it is usual to provide some sort of amusement for the guests, such as professional vocal and instrumental music.

If any Royal personage were expected or had been present at the dinner-party which preceded the reception, or if any foreigner of distinction, or any personage possessing public interest were present, at the top of the invitation cards would be the words, “To meet Her Serene Highness Princess D.,” or “To meet Count de C.”

The guests are expected to arrive from a quarter to half an hour of the hour mentioned on the card; but it is optional at what hour the guests arrive after the one mentioned on the card. The hostess would receive her guests at the head of the 126 staircase, where she would remain stationed for upwards of an hour; while the host would be found in the drawing-room, and there welcome the guests as they arrived.

“At homes,” or “receptions”—whichever the hostess may please to style them in her own mind—are expected to terminate at midnight on Saturday evenings, and shortly before one o’clock on any other evening.

An “at home” is never styled an “evening party” on an invitation card, although in speaking of an “at home,” a lady or gentleman would say, “I am going to an evening party at Mrs. A.’s to-morrow evening.” It would be rather pedantic to say, “I am going to an ‘at home,’” &c. (See “Society Small Talk.”)

The hostess would introduce those of her guests to each other whom she thought would appreciate the introduction; and she would introduce gentlemen to ladies in the manner before alluded to, that the ladies might be conducted by them to the tea-room.

Tea and light refreshments are served during the evening in the library or in an adjacent apartment.

Supper is always served at twelve o’clock in the dining-room, and is similar in character to a ball-supper.

If a Royal personage were present, the most distinguished of the guests would be introduced by the 127 host or hostess; if a celebrity were present, many of the guests would be introduced to him. The host would take a Royal personage down to supper, if any such were present, or the lady of highest rank. The hostess would not go down to supper at the same time as did the host unless a Royal Prince or Duke were present, when he would take her in to supper, following next the host and the Royal lady, and a table would be set apart for the host, hostess, and their distinguished guests.

As all the guests present could hardly be accommodated in the supper-room at the same time, they would go down as there was room made for them, the guests of the greatest consideration going in before the others.

When the butler has informed the host and hostess that supper is served, which he does in a discreet whisper (see “The Servants’ Practical Guide”), the host would at once take down the lady of highest rank, and having previously requested various gentlemen to take down the ladies of highest rank, would mention the lady he wished the principal gentleman to take. The hostess would also make this request in a confidential manner, and the general company, observing the move towards the supper-room, would make a move in the same direction. If the move was not observed by the general company, the hostess would say to different gentlemen, “Do take some one 128 in to supper,” or some such remark (see “Society Small Talk”), and she would probably lead the way herself with one of the gentlemen present.

If the general company found the supper-room already crowded, they would return to the drawing-room for a quarter of an hour or so; but the hostess generally arranges for some instrumental or vocal performance to commence when supper is first served, so as to occupy the attention of the guests who remain in the drawing-rooms.

Occasionally and frequently guests do not return to the drawing-room after supper, but go to the cloak-room for their cloaks and wraps, and thence to their carriages.

It is not usual to take leave of the hostess at receptions, or of the host, unless the host were seeing a lady to her carriage, which he would do in the case of a Royal personage as a matter of course, and to any guest of consideration as a matter of duty or inclination.

It is not usual for ladies to go down to supper by themselves, and the hostess would request one of the gentlemen present to take a lady down to supper, if she observed that the lady was in want of an acquaintance to offer her such a civility.

“Cards” should always be left within a week by those persons who have been either present at, or invited to, “five o’clock teas” and “at homes.”


At large “five o’clock teas” and “at homes” a lady would not leave her husband’s cards in the hall on her departure for the host and hostess, if not accompanied by him, though she might do so on leaving a small “five o’clock tea.” (See Chapter on “Card-leaving.”)

It would be in bad taste for a gentleman to give his card to the servant on leaving, with a request that he would put it amongst the cards of callers on the following afternoon, to avoid the trouble of leaving it in person during the ensuing week.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter VII

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there being usually from about five gentlemen to thirty ladies on an average present at these gatherings
[That would really work better without the “from”, wouldn’t it. It sounds as if the author is saying the total attendance ranges from as few as five to as many as thirty, with each gentleman morphing into six ladies as the crowd increases.]

in a verbal invitation . . . . though verbally the guest could be invited
[Was there a time in the history of the English language when people did not treat “verbal” and “oral” as synonyms? If “oral” sounds too medicinal, you could instead say “spoken”.]

An “at home” is never styled an “evening party” on an invitation card
[If this paragraph sounds familiar, it is because the author used almost identical wording when speaking of the “five o’clock tea” on pages 112-13.]

It would be in bad taste for a gentleman to give his card to the servant on leaving, with a request that he would put it amongst the cards of callers on the following afternoon, to avoid the trouble of leaving it in person during the ensuing week.
[An idea that would never have entered the average gentleman’s mind, if our author had not taken care to put it there.]



Invitation Balls” are those balls which are given by society at large, in town and country, as well as Military and Naval balls, Hunt balls, and Bachelors’ balls, &c.; while “Public balls” are balls for which a ticket of admission can be purchased, and include the “County balls,” those held in aid of local charities, “Subscription balls,” held at watering places, cathedral cities, &c.

In London, public balls are but little patronized by society, save with a few exceptions in favour of such balls as the “Caledonian ball,” the “Yorkshire,” “Wiltshire,” and Somersetshire Societies balls, which are attended principally by those ladies and gentlemen who are interested more or less locally in the various charities they support, and for which purpose these balls are annually held.

The “County ball” season generally commences in “November” and lasts until the commencement of Lent, and every town, in almost every county, can 131 boast of its annual ball, which is attended more or less by the aristocracy and gentry of the neighbourhood, and by the professional classes of the town itself. The stewards of these balls are, as a rule, the representatives of the various classes by whom they are attended; the members of the aristocracy residing in the county heading the list of stewards, and the members of the professional classes usually closing it. Thus, the stewards are able to make a ball pleasant to all their individual friends.

The office of “Master of the Ceremonies” has long since become obsolete, and has not been revived under any other title, and introductions at balls are made only by persons themselves acquainted with those whom they introduce to each other. Stewards of a ball do not make introductions, even if solicited to do so, by strangers attending it.

When a friend or an acquaintance desires to make an introduction it is usual to ascertain the wishes of the lady, or the inclinations of the gentleman before doing so, unless aware that a lady was in want of a partner, or that a gentleman was anxious to dance with some one, and was indifferent as to whom she might be.

Indiscriminately made introductions show great want of tact on the part of the person so making them. (See Chapter on “Introductions.”)

Nowhere is “class” more brought into prominence 132 than at a “County ball,” where there is a recognized though unwritten law, which every one obeys, to infringe which would be a breach of etiquette, and argue a want of knowledge of the social code observed at County balls, where each class has its own set, and a member of the one set would be foolish were he or she to attempt to invade another or a higher set. Thus, a couple belonging to say the professional set, or strangers in the town attending the ball, would not take their places in a quadrille at the top of the ball-room—which is always appropriated by the aristocratic element, head stewards, and titled patronesses—under the risk of being mortified by some act of avoidance on the part of those whose set they had so indiscreetly invaded. The vis-à-vis under such circumstances would either silently walk away, or a gentleman would remark superciliously to the offending couple—we have a vis-à-vis, thank you—or make some such cutting speech.

At some public balls a cord is drawn across the ball-room to render the upper end unassailable, but this extreme exclusiveness is not often resorted to, “clique” and “class” being thoroughly maintained without its aid.

It is usual for young ladies to return to their chaperones after each dance, or after they have partaken of refreshment or supper, but it is not considered good style for young ladies to remain away from their 133 chaperones for any length of time. Neither is it considered good style for a lady to promenade up and down and around the ball-room leaning on the arm of her partner; to take one turn through the rooms with her partner being in better taste. It would be also bad style for a couple to stand arm-in-arm during the pauses in the figures of a quadrille or while resting during a valse, or for a gentleman to turn his partner round at the conclusion of each figure of the quadrille, as the quadrille should be danced in the quietest possible manner, without any display of “steps” acquired from the dancing mistress.

In round dances it is customary to take frequent pauses, and not to race round and round until the music ceases; to do so would be considered vulgar.

A lady should be careful that her partner does not hold her right hand upright in the air when dancing, or hold it against his left side, or move it up and down in an ungainly fashion; neither should a lady permit her partner to assist her in holding up her dress when dancing.

It is quite out of date for ladies to take bouquets with them to balls, and it is seldom or ever done, although ultra-fashionable ladies occasionally carry a large bouquet of violets in their hand at a time of year when they would be hardly procurable, or a bouquet to correspond with the flowers on their dress, or they would carry a bouquet of white or red 134 roses, if very choice, to harmonize with the trimmings worn by them. But this is quite the exception to the general rule, and is only done by a few persons who consider themselves leaders of fashion in their particular sets.

At Country balls, programmes are invariably used; at London balls they are never used, save at the few public balls before mentioned. But London men and town-bred ladies affect to ignore programmes altogether, as being a rather tiresome and fussy institution, and hardly ever make use of the programmes offered to them at Country balls.

It is usual to leave a Country ball not later than half-past two; the most fashionable people invariably do so about that hour, it not being considered good style to remain late at a Public ball. As a matter of course, persons attending Public balls take their ball-tickets with them; and when attending a Military ball, or a Hunt ball, it is usually the rule to take the “invitation” card and hand it to the sergeant or official in attendance. It is sometimes stated on the invitation card that this is to be done, although it is often taken for granted that persons will do so of their own accord.

At balls given by private individuals, the invited guests would not bring their invitation cards with them, unless in the case of a bal masqué, where they are sometimes requested to do so.


Invitations to balls are generally issued three weeks previous to the entertainment being given. The invitation card is the usual “At Home” card, the word “Dancing” being printed in the corner of the card.

The word “ball” is never used on an invitation card, however grand the entertainment; and the same form of invitation is employed either in the case of a small dance or of a large ball, though in the event of a small dance only being given, the words “Small” or “Early” are written or printed on the invitation card.

The invitations to a ball are issued in the name of the hostess only, and never in the name of the host, unless he were a widower or bachelor; and if the host were a widower, with a grown-up daughter, the invitations would be issued in their joint names.

Invitations issued by officers, members of hunt committees, bachelors, &c., to their balls, either request the pleasure or the honour of Mrs. ——’s company; but this formula is never used by a lady when issuing invitations; the “At Home” card simply bears the word “Dancing” on the bottom of the card, the hour and date being filled in in the allotted space, the name of the guest being written at the top of the card.

In the case of a written invitation, it would be correct to use the words “ball” or “dance” when 136 alluding to the entertainment about to be given, in a friendly note.

In the case of a lady about to give a ball, and whose circle of acquaintance is limited as regards numbers, or not sufficiently fashionable in her own estimation, she usually arranges with some friend of higher standing in society than herself, and whose visiting list is of a more extended character than her own, to invite the majority of the guests; in which case the lady giving the ball would issue invitations according to the list submitted to her, merely adding the compliments and the name of the lady who was thus assisting her with her ball; and this plan is often adopted by persons new to society and desirous of enlarging their circle of acquaintances.

A lady or gentleman could ask for an invitation for his or her friend to a ball given by an acquaintance of their own, although the acquaintanceship were of a slight character; but a lady or gentleman could on no account ask for an invitation to a ball if they were unacquainted with the giver of it. The fact of their friends having received invitations to it would give them no claim upon the hospitality of a stranger, and it would be a great solecism to make such a request.

The proper course for a person to pursue in the event of desiring an invitation to a ball given by some one with whom he or she is unacquainted, would 137 be to request some mutual friend to obtain one for them; and this course is always followed.

The guests would arrive within half an hour of the time mentioned on the invitation card; half-past nine or ten o’clock being the usual hour for a ball to commence in the country, and from ten to eleven o’clock in town.

The hostess would receive her guests at the head of the staircase at a ball given in town, and at the door of the ball-room at a country house ball. She would shake hands with each guest in the order of their arrival. The ladies of a party would advance towards the hostess, followed by the gentlemen of their party. A lady and gentleman would not ascend the staircase arm in arm, or make their entrance into the ball-room arm in arm; either would be in bad taste. The gentlemen invariably enter the ball- or reception-room after the ladies of their party, and never before them, or arm in arm with them.

A ball is usually opened either by the hostess herself or by one of her daughters. Opening a ball simply signifies dancing in the first quadrille at the top of the room with a gentleman of highest rank present.

If a member of the Royal Family, or a foreign Prince, were expected, dancing would not commence until the arrival of the Royal guest; and if the guest were a lady, the host would open the ball with her, 138 having his wife or daughter as vis-à-vis. If the royal guest were a Prince, the reverse would be the case.

When a Prince wishes to dance with any lady present, with whom he were unacquainted, his equerry informs her of the Prince’s intention, and conducts her to the Prince, saying, as he does so, “Mrs. A——, Sir,” or “Miss B——, Sir.” The Prince would bow and offer her his arm; the lady would curtsey, and take it. She would not address him until addressed by him, it not being considered etiquette to do so. The same course is followed by a Princess; strangers would not on any account indiscriminately ask a Princess to dance, but the host would have the privilege of doing so.

Royal guests are always received by the host and hostess at the entrance of the mansion, and by them are conducted to the ball-room. A Princess would lead the way on the arm of the host; a Prince would follow with the hostess. The Royal guests, on entering, would shake hands with the host and hostess, who would respectively bow and curtsey.

General introductions are not made to Royal guests, and introductions would be made by request only. The same etiquette would be observed on the departure of Royal guests as on their arrival.

Gentlemen present at a ball, that is to say, “dancing-men,” are expected to ask the daughters of the house to dance, as a matter of course.


A hostess would use her own discretion as to any introduction she thought proper to make. If the ball were given in the country the hostess would endeavour to provide partners for those young ladies who were strangers to the general company. But if the ball were given in town this would not be expected of her, as in town the guests are supposed to be acquainted with each other more or less, and to be independent of the kind offices of the hostess. Therefore she would not concern herself about finding partners for the young lady guests.

A great deal of tact is required, on the part of a hostess, as to which of the gentlemen would be likely to appreciate her offer of finding him a partner, as so many men, who attend balls, rather prefer to look on than to dance; and for a hostess to persuade a man to dance against his inclination would be a mistake on her part, as a gentleman usually requests an introduction if he desires it.

The only dances danced “by society” are “quadrilles,” “lancers,” “valses,” and the lately-revived “polka,” which is fast taking the place so long occupied by the galop. Country dances, such as the “Tempête,” “Sir Roger de Coverley,” &c., are usually danced at private balls when given in the country; and often a London ball concludes with a “cotillion,” in which expensive presents are sometimes given. Such dances as the “Caledonians,” the “Mazurka,” 140 “Prince Imperial quadrilles,” &c., are unknown in good society.*

* It is not the fashion to have programmes at London balls, as they are not required, although they are in use at Country balls.

The etiquette and precedence observed when sending guests in to supper is far more punctiliously followed in the country than in town. When the butler has duly informed his master or mistress that supper is served, the host would take in the lady of highest rank present, and the hostess would endeavour to send in the principal guests according to their individual rank; but in town she would leave the guests to follow the host and lady of highest rank, more or less according to their inclinations. It would be in very bad taste were a guest to find his way to the supper-room before the host, or hostess, had made the move in that direction general.

The usual menu of a ball supper is too well known to need reproducing here, as regards all viands, entremets, &c., the extent of the supper depending upon the liberality of the giver of the entertainment. It would be old-fashioned, however, not to provide hot soup wherewith to commence supper, whether it were a sitting-down or standing-up supper.

A lady would remove her gloves when partaking of supper, but it would not be necessary to do so when partaking of tea, ices, &c., in the tea-room previous to the supper.


A gentleman taking a lady into supper would re-conduct her to the ball-room as a matter of course; the fact of friends joining her in the supper-room would not relieve him from this obligation. And the same etiquette applies equally to a lady. She would return to the ball-room only with the gentleman who had taken her down to supper, unless she were engaged for the ensuing dance, when her partner might come in quest of her; she would then return to the ball-room with him.

Guests do not take leave of the hostess at a London ball, or indeed at balls in general. This remark applies to acquaintance of the hostess, and not to intimate friends, as in the country; the guests are on a more friendly footing than is generally the case in town; but if the guest were making an early departure, he or she, even in the country, would not make any adieus either to host or hostess.

The host would use his own discretion as to whether he conducted a guest to her carriage or not. In the country far more would be expected of him than in town in this respect, as at a London ball such a civility would involve a vast amount of exertion which few hosts would be willing to undergo, as ladies generally make their way to their carriages with the assistance of their footman.

An acquaintance could, of course, see a lady to her carriage if he desired to do so.


The custom of covering in small balconies and the windows of the drawing-rooms where the ball takes place is very prevalent amongst the givers of balls in London, rendering the atmosphere of the rooms almost insupportable from the total exclusion of air. The space gained by this means for the accommodation of the guests being totally disproportionate to the discomfort thereby entailed upon them. So great is the feeling of suffocation experienced from this cause, that the hostess is frequently requested to allow of apertures being cut in the bunting when the rooms are more than usually crowded, and the most experienced ball-givers of the fashionable world follow, strange to say, this foolish fashion of excluding air from their ball-rooms.

Several fashionable ball-givers are beginning to perceive the folly of crowding of from between two hundred to three hundred people together into rooms not properly ventilated, and have discovered that the only way in which to render the temperature of a London ball comparatively cool, is to remove the windows, and to substitute lace draperies in lieu of bunting, with the addition of large blocks of ice placed in every convenient spot.

Ball-goers appreciate these alterations as only those who have experienced night after night the close, stifling, vitiated atmosphere of an over-crowded ball-room can do, and as half the London ball-rooms 143 are only average-sized drawing-rooms, and by no means spacious reception-rooms, the absurdity of excluding air from the ball-room with yards and yards of thick canvas, cannot be too severely criticised.

It is a common practice amongst ball-givers to issue far more invitations than the size of their rooms authorise, under the mistaken idea that to have a “great crowd” in their rooms is to give a “good ball.” But ultra-fashionable ball-givers, desirous of giving a good ball, limit the number of their invitations to under two hundred, instead of expanding it to over three hundred, which makes all the difference in the world to the success of the ball. Any person invited to or present at a ball should leave his or her cards on the host or hostess the day following, if possible, certainly within the current week. (See Chapter on “Card-leaving.”)

No gratuities should be offered by the guests to the servants of the house where a ball is given, whether to the ladies’-maids presiding in the cloak-room, the women-servants presiding in the tea-room, or to the butler or footman, or a step lower, not even to the waiters.

When ladies attend a State Ball at Buckingham Palace, they would wear the usual full evening dress; but they would not wear Court trains, or plumes, or lappets. Gentlemen attending State balls would either wear uniform or full Court dress—dress coat, 144 breeches and silk stockings, shoes and buckles; trousers can only be worn as part of a uniform, and not with a Court dress as generally worn at a levée.

A gentleman intending to dance would remove his sword, otherwise he would wear it the whole of the evening at a State ball. When the Court is in mourning, the ladies attending a State ball would wear mourning according to the official notice which regularly appears in the Gazette; and the gentlemen would wear crape on the left arm, which is supplied in the cloak-room of the Palace to those gentlemen who have forgotten to provide themselves with it, as it is imperative, when the Court is in mourning, that a band of crape should be worn at either State ball, State concert, or Levée.

When ladies and gentlemen attend a State ball at Buckingham Palace they make their way to the ball-room unannounced; and there is no official reception accorded to them, either by “Royalty,” or by the Lord Chamberlain.

Dancing does not commence until the arrival of the Royal Party. The Prince and Princess of Wales do not act as host or hostess on these occasions, and confine their attentions to those with whom they are personally acquainted. The balls given at Marlborough House by the Prince and Princess of Wales are not State balls; therefore Court dress is not worn by the gentlemen present.


The Prince and Princess of Wales act as host and hostess at the balls given by them, and receive their guests, shaking hands with them as they are announced. Ladies and gentlemen do not take their cards of invitation with them either to Buckingham Palace or to Marlborough House.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter VIII

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The acute é, as in “levée”, that was so conspicuous by its absence in Chapter V reappears in this chapter. Perhaps the printer got a new shipment of types.

It is usual for young ladies to . . . but it is not considered good style for young ladies to . . .
[That seems more like an “and” than a “but”.]

ultra-fashionable ladies occasionally carry a large bouquet of violets in their hand at a time of year when they would be hardly procurable
[The chapter on Dinner Parties was similarly smitten with displays of conspicuous consumption.]

never in the name of the host, unless he were a widower or bachelor
[Since when are single men allowed to host events at which ladies are present?]

saying, as he does so, “Mrs. A——, Sir,” or “Miss B——, Sir.”
open quote before “Miss” missing

to provide hot soup wherewith to commence supper, whether it were a sitting-down or standing-up supper.
[I want to know how to eat soup, of any temperature, while standing up.]

Several fashionable ball-givers are beginning to perceive the folly of crowding of from between two hundred to three hundred people
text unchanged
[The equivalent passage in the 23rd edition (1898) begins: “Ball givers have at length realised the mistake of crowding of from between . . .” (Reflecting two decades of technological advances, a later paragraph also speaks approvingly of electric light, as giving less heat.) This is certainly reassuring as concerns ball-goers’ metabolism, but I had hoped to find something more grammatically defensible.]



The etiquette observed at “weddings” is invariably the same, whether the “wedding” be a “grand wedding” or a comparatively “quiet wedding”—whether the guests number “two hundred,” or whether they number “twenty.” But with regard to “bridal processions” being formed in a church, the less of procession there is about the proceedings, the better the style, the better the taste, and the more fashionable would the wedding be pronounced; and every detail is here given respecting the correct etiquette to be observed at “weddings” and “wedding-breakfasts.”

Many ci-devant customs are now considered to be obsolete, amongst others the custom of having groomsmen to support the bridegroom. To have “groomsmen” at a wedding would be considered a great solecism, the “best man” being all-sufficient for the purpose. The custom of sending “wedding-cake” to 147 friends is also an exploded custom, and it is never done in good society. Neither is it good style to send “wedding-cards” to friends; this, too, is quite out of date, and should never he done by any one with any pretensions to knowledge of the world. As to inserting the words “No cards” as part of the announcement of the marriage in the daily newspapers, to do so would be considered nothing short of vulgar, as it would be equally so to add that the bride and bridegroom will be “at home” on a certain day. This would be a crowning vulgarism, and should never be perpetrated.

The “best man” is the one sole supporter of the bridegroom; he accompanies him to the church, and stands at his right hand—a little in the rear—during the marriage service, and renders the bridegroom the trifling service of handing his hat to him on its conclusion. He signs the register afterwards in the vestry, he pays the fees to the clergyman, clerk, &c., on behalf of the bridegroom. The fees vary considerably, according to the position and means of the bridegroom—£5 being the lowest fee offered to the clergyman, which fee ranges from £10, £20, £25, as the inclination and purse of the bridegroom may dictate; and the fee to the clerk is subject to the same variations, commencing at £1.

The bridegroom’s further responsibilities consist in providing the wedding-ring, in providing a bouquet 148 for the bride, and the bouquets for the bridesmaids, which he causes to be sent to these ladies individually on the morning of the wedding; he also provides the bridesmaids with presents, which are either sent to them the day before or on the morning of the wedding.

It is strict etiquette that he should furnish a carriage to convey himself and his bride from the church to the house where the wedding-breakfast is to take place, and again from the house to the railway station, or, if the journey is made by road, to the place of honeymoon; but although it is strict etiquette, it is an etiquette not often followed, as the bride’s father usually places his own carriage at the disposal of the bride and bridegroom for this purpose, especially in the country, when the bride’s family invariably lend their own carriage to convey the newly-married pair to their destination. But the bridal carriage is the only carriage which the bridegroom could, according to etiquette, possibly be expected to provide. Naturally he does not provide the wedding-breakfast, or anything relating to the arrangements for the wedding, beyond those which have been already mentioned.

The bride is driven to the church in her father’s carriage. If she has a sister, or sisters, and they officiate as bridesmaids, they, with her mother, would precede her to the church. The carriage would then 149 return to fetch the bride and her father; but if there are no sisters, the bride’s father generally precedes the bride to the church, and receives her at the church door, her mother accompanying her in the carriage.

The bridesmaids always arrive some little time before the bride, and form a line on either side of the church porch, or within the church doorway. The mother of the bride and the mothers of the bridesmaids usually stand beside them.

When the bride arrives, she takes her father’s right arm, or the right arm of her eldest brother or nearest male relative, who is deputed to give her away, and who would meet her at the church door in the place of her father.

Then is formed the only procession—if it can be called a procession—at all admissible on the occasion, the bridesmaids quickly following the bride and her father up the aisle of the church, walking “two-and-two”—if the number of bridesmaids be even, four, six, eight, or twelve; but if the number be odd, as five, seven, or nine, and three of them happen to be children, which is generally the case, the elder bridesmaids would walk two-and-two, and the three children abreast.

The head bridesmaid is generally the bride’s eldest unmarried sister or the bridegroom’s sister, and she follows next to the bride with her companion bridesmaid.


The bride’s mother follows next to the bridesmaids, and sometimes takes her son’s arm, if she has a son, in following them up the aisle of the church, or the arm of some near relative. But the offering an arm to a lady in the church is very little done, old ladies being the usual recipient of this attention on the part of the gentlemen, unless a lady requires the assistance of a gentleman in making her way quickly through the throng to her carriage at the conclusion of the ceremony, in which case it is quite correct to take a gentleman’s arm.

The mothers of the bridesmaids—who may have awaited the coming of the bride—walk next to the bride’s mother up the church, and take their position as near to the bride and bridegroom as they conveniently can.

The bride’s immediate relatives and the near relatives of the bridegroom place themselves near the altar, or communion rails, or at the entrance of the chancel, according to the church in which the service is celebrated; as in high churches the service takes place outside the chancel, and the bridal party enter the chancel and stand at the altar to receive the address, and the concluding portion of the service only is here celebrated.

The relatives arrive shortly before the bride. The bridegroom’s relatives place themselves at the left of the altar or communion rails, thus being on the bridegroom’s 151 right hand; and those of the bride on the right hand side of the altar or communion rails, thus being on the bride’s left hand. The bridegroom and “best man” also arrive shortly before the bride, and await her coming, standing at the right hand side of the altar.

The bride stands at the bridegroom’s left hand; the bride’s father or nearest male relative at the bride’s left hand; her mother and married sisters, &c., group themselves in juxtaposition to him.

The bridesmaids stand immediately behind the bride, in the order in which they passed up the church.

The bride draws off her gloves at the commencement of the service and gives them with her bouquet to the head bridesmaid to hold. The bridesmaids do not usually follow the service from a prayer-book.

The invited guests either stand in the aisle of the church or sit in the pews or chairs—either is optional—during the service, taking care to arrive before the entrance of the bride. It is quite immaterial whether the guests use prayer-books or not during the service. Under no circumstances do they carry bouquets, this being the privilege of the bride and bridesmaids only. The gentlemen may, as a matter of course, wear button-hole bouquets, if they please; but oftener they do not wear them, as the wedding favours which are afterwards distributed by the bridesmaids take their 152 place. The bridegroom almost always wears a flower in his button-hole, as he does not wear a wedding favour.

As soon as the service is concluded, the bride takes the bridegroom’s left arm and, preceded by the officiating clergyman, and followed by her head bridesmaids, father, mother, and the most distinguished of the guests, repairs to the vestry, where the register is signed by the bride and bridegroom, two or three of the nearest relatives, and two or three of the most intimate of the friends and principal of the guests, including the best man and the head bridesmaid. The bride’s father signs, but it is not necessary for the bride’s mother to do so.

The wedding favours are in the meantime distributed by the bridesmaids to the guests, both in the vestry and in the church. There is a slight difference in the favours; those for the ladies having a sprig of orange blossom, with silver leaves and white satin ribbon; and for the gentlemen silver oak leaves and acorns. Each lady or gentleman would fix their favour on the left side of the bodice or coat.

If the bride be a widow, she cannot have wedding favours, she cannot have bridesmaids; she cannot wear orange blossoms, either as a wreath or on her dress, neither can she wear a bridal veil. She must wear either a bonnet or a hat, with veil of tulle or lace, as she pleases; and her dress must not be 153 “white,” but of some pale shade of colour. She would be accompanied to the church by her parents, relatives, or intimate friends.

It is optional whether a widow removes her first wedding-ring or not; but it is more usual not to do so, but to wear the second ring over the first wedding ring, the two rings on the third finger of the left hand. It would be in very bad taste to wear the first ring on any other finger than on the third finger.

After the register is signed, and those in the vestry have shaken hands with the bride and offered their congratulations—the old-fashioned custom of kissing the bride or the bridesmaids having long since disappeared—the bride takes the bridegroom’s left arm and passes down the centre aisle of the church followed by her bridesmaids, in the same order as they had previously passed up the aisle.

The most graceful way is for the bride and bridegroom to pause a moment as they pass, and shake hands with any of their most intimate friends or relations who happen to be near them, if they have not already seen them in the vestry; and the bridegroom smiles and nods to his friends as he meets their eye. Occasionally a bride and bridegroom make a very hasty exit from the church, noticing no one, and it is a matter of feeling whether they do so or not; but the more leisurely mode of proceeding is certainly the more courteous one.


After the bride and bridegroom have driven off from the church, the bride’s mother should be the next to follow, that she may be at home to receive the guests as they arrive. There is no precedence as to the order in which the remainder of the company leave the church; it entirely depends on the cleverness of their servants in getting up their carriages.

The guests who have not already had an opportunity of speaking to the bride and bridegroom, on being ushered into the drawing-room, where the company assembles before the breakfast, should at once offer their congratulations, and shake hands with them, having first gone through that ceremony with the host and hostess, if they have not already done so; after which the wedding presents would be duly admired.

Wedding presents are displayed on tables of various sizes according to their number, and if very numerous and valuable, it is not unusual to exhibit them at an afternoon tea, given for the purpose on the day previous to the wedding. Each present bears the name of the giver attached to it on a small paper label, and the plate is placed on a table covered with dark cloth or velvet. It is a pretty fashion to surround the presents with flowers, notably roses, and this is often done by persons of artistic tastes.

Everyone who is invited to a wedding invariably makes the bride a present; it is the received rule to 155 do so. Many send presents before the invitations are sent out; sometimes as soon as the engagement is made known, if it is not to be a long engagement. There is no rule as to the time before the wedding day when the present should be sent, and invitations are usually sent to those who have given presents, even though they live at a considerable distance, and may not be able to attend the wedding.

It is more usual, and less trouble, to send out printed invitations than written ones, except in the case of a very small number of guests being invited. The printed notes are bought already printed for the purpose, and the form is as follows:—

“Mr. and Mrs. —— request the honour of Mr. and Mrs. ——’s company at —— Church on ——, at ——, to be present at the marriage of their daughter and Mr. ——, and afterwards at breakfast at ——.”

These invitations should be issued within a fortnight of the wedding-day.

The invited guests always provide their own carriages, and neither the bridegroom nor the bride’s father are ever expected to do so. This is thoroughly understood by the guests in every case.

On arriving at the house where the breakfast is to be held, the gentlemen leave their hats in the hall. The ladies never remove their bonnets or hats, but retain them always at a wedding-breakfast, as do the 156 bridesmaids. The gentlemen take off their gloves with their hats, but the ladies do not remove theirs until seated at breakfast.

Before breakfast is announced the host or hostess, the bride’s mother, or the bride’s father, informs the principal of the gentlemen present, whom they are to take down to breakfast. If a gentleman is unacquainted with a lady whom he is to take down, the host or hostess would introduce him to her in this wise: “Mrs. ——, Mr. —— will have the pleasure of taking you down to breakfast.” This kind of introduction does not constitute a subsequent acquaintance, unless the lady desires it.

The bride’s mother, and the bridegroom’s mother, take precedence of all the other ladies present on the occasion of a wedding-breakfast. The procession to the breakfast—which is either laid out in the dining-room, library, or large marquée, as the case may be—is formed as follows:—

First, the bride and bridegroom, the bride taking the bridegroom’s left arm; next, the bride’s father with the bridegroom’s mother, taking the right arm, as do the other ladies; next in order follows the bridegroom’s father with the bride’s mother; then the best man with the head bridesmaid.

The other bridesmaids follow next, with the gentlemen who are appointed to take them down. The other guests follow according to their rank.


There are standing-up breakfasts, and sitting-down breakfasts; either is equally fashionable. If a standing-up breakfast, small tables are arranged for the convenience of the bridal-party on one side of the room, while a long table occupies the centre of the room. If a “sitting-down” breakfast, the bride and bridegroom sit either at the head of a long table or at the centre of it—the bride at the bridegroom’s left hand.

Next to the bride sits her father with the bridegroom’s mother, whom he has taken down, beside him, and next to the bridegroom sits the bride’s mother, with the bride’s father beside her, by whom she has been taken down.

If the bride and bridegroom occupy the head of the table, the bridesmaids place themselves next the parents on either side of the table, dividing their number into two groups, with the gentlemen who have taken them down; but if the bride and bridegroom sit at the centre of the table, then the bridesmaids sit opposite to them, with the gentlemen who have taken them down, each sitting at a gentleman’s right hand.

The breakfast might more properly be styled “luncheon,” seeing that it partakes of the character of that meal. Champagne and other wines take the place of tea and coffee, which beverages are never served at a wedding-breakfast.

The menu generally comprises soup, entrées, both 158 hot and cold; chickens, game, mayonaises, salads, pâte de fois gras, jellies, creams, &c., &c., and many other dishes of the like character.

The sweets are placed on the table, as is the fruit, the entrées, &c., being handed by the servants; the sweets are also taken off the table by the servants, and handed round in their turn.

At a standing-up breakfast the gentlemen would help the ladies, and themselves, to the various dishes, as nothing is handed round at a “standing-up” breakfast; and hot entrées are then not provided. Soup may or may not be served. If soup is served, it is done so in covered soup-cups, placed the length of the table. The table is always decorated with flowers in either case.

Decanters of sherry are placed on the table at a “standing-up” breakfast, but not at a sitting-down one. At a standing-up breakfast the gentleman would ask one of the servants in attendance for champagne for the lady he has taken down and for himself. But at a sitting-down breakfast, the servant offers champagne to the guests, in the same order that he hands the dishes, as he would the other wines.

Hot or cold joints, of beef or mutton, are never given at a wedding-breakfast; they would be considered too substantial.

Serviettes or dinner-napkins are imperative at a sitting-down breakfast, but are never used at a standing-up 159 breakfast; and finger-glasses and d’oyleys are likewise never seen at either.

After the soup, entrées, and entremets have been partaken of, the bride is supposed to cut the wedding-cake, which is always placed in front of her. This she does by merely making the first incision with a knife; it is then removed to a side table by a servant and cut in small slices, according to the number of the guests, and handed to them, who are, one and all, expected to eat a small portion of it.

The health of the bride and bridegroom is then proposed by the most distinguished guest present, for which the bridegroom returns thanks. He then proposes the health of the bridesmaids, for which the best man returns thanks.

The health of the bride’s father and mother is generally proposed by the bridegroom’s father. But it is the fashion to make their complimentary speeches as short as possible, and to have as few of them as possible, at “standing-up” breakfasts more especially, and in town more than in the country.

The bride leaves the dining-room immediately after the healths have been drank, to put on her travelling dress. The head bridesmaid usually accompanies her if related to her; and the guests almost immediately afterwards adjourn to the drawing-room to await the bride’s reappearance, which should not be long delayed, and the adieus are then made. These adieus 160 or leave-takings should not be prolonged more than is absolutely necessary, those to the father and mother of the bride being made last of all, as the parents generally follow the bride down stairs into the hall.

The satin slippers which it is still usual in the most fashionable circles to throw after the bride are thrown from the head of the staircase by the best man, or by one of the bridesmaids if she wishes to do so. The “rice” is scattered over the retreating bride by the married ladies of the family, never by the bridesmaids, or unmarried ladies; but it is a pity that such silly and superstitious customs should be countenanced by ladies and gentlemen, and the sooner that the throwing of shoes and rice follow in the wake of other obsolete practices the better.

The pretty custom of strewing the bride’s path with flowers from the church to the carriage by village children is still much in vogue in the best society, but of course it is only practised in the country.

The honeymoon now seldom lasts longer than a week or ten days at most. Many brides prefer spending their honeymoon in their future home if it happens to be in the country, instead of making a hurried trip to some watering-place or other; or to Paris or elsewhere, or to the country house of a friend, lent to them for the purpose. But this is 161 entirely a matter of individual feeling, and either course is equally correct and equally fashionable.

The bride’s trousseau should always be marked with the initials of the name she is to take, and not with her maiden name. The bridegroom always provides the house linen, as he does all other things appertaining to the bride’s new home.

The wedding presents are despatched to the bride’s residence immediately after the wedding, and they are at once brought into use and put into their several places, and not set apart for the purpose of being shown to visitors.

It would be a mark of vulgarity to place the wedding-cake ornaments under a glass shade to serve as a drawing-room ornament, and it would be equally silly to put the “bridal bouquet” under a similar shade, if not quite as vulgar as the treasuring a trophy of the confectioner’s skill.

There is no precedence accorded to brides during the first three months after their marriage in fashionable circles, although old-fashioned people at country dinner-parties sometimes allow it to them on the occasion of a first visit after their marriage.

Marriage by “banns” is now considered to be equally good style as is marriage by “licence,” as it mainly depends upon whether the contracting parties hold “high church” views or otherwise. The “high church” party are in favour of marriage by “banns,” 162 and consequently “marriage by banns” has become equally fashionable as marriage by licence.

Marriages by “special licence” are of rare occurrence, and only take place under exceptional circumstances.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter IX

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The “wedding breakfast” goes by that name because marriages in the Church of England had to take place between the hours of 8 AM and noon. No mid-afternoon weddings with receptions dragging on far into the night.

her eldest brother or nearest male relative, who is deputed to give her away
[The Book of Common Prayer doesn’t actually say the bride has to be “given away” by a man. It says “her father or friends”, where “friends” means the people who have an interest in her well-being.]

If the bride be a widow . . . her dress must not be “white”
[The quotation marks are appropriate here. Victoria’s dress, which started the fashion, was not snow white—an impossible color for most complexions—but something between ivory and ecru.]

Occasionally a bride and bridegroom make a very hasty exit from the church, noticing no one
[The word “notice” is used fairly often in this book, always with its modern sense. But this one really sounds like the earlier sense. It isn’t that the happy couple are genuinely unaware of the existence of anyone but themselves; it’s only that they don’t visibly acknowledge anyone.]

Wedding presents are displayed on tables of various sizes according to their number, and if very numerous and valuable, it is not unusual to exhibit them at an afternoon tea, given for the purpose on the day previous to the wedding.
[It is clear that the author’s concept of vulgarity differs significantly from mine.]

This is thoroughly understood by the guests in every case.
line-break hyphen in “under-/stood” invisible

chickens, game, mayonaises, salads, pâte de fois gras, jellies, creams, &c., &c.
spelling unchanged
[Not until the 23rd edition will the spelling of pâté de foie gras be corrected.]



Luncheon, although occupying a prominent place in the round of hospitalities, is nevertheless an unceremonious, an inconsequent meal, to which invitations are never formally issued by invitation cards, unless some especial reason existed for giving a large luncheon-party, in which case it would take rank as an entertainment, and would be given on the same scale of hospitality as would be a wedding breakfast, or a ball supper.

Large luncheon-parties are given on occasions such as these—a lawn-tennis party, an archery-party, &c., or on some semi-official occasion, such as the laying the foundation-stone of a church or public building, &c. But this class of entertainment is rather beside the question, as it partakes more of the character of a banquet than of the luncheon proper, and to which invitations would be officially issued.

The usual mode of inviting guests to luncheon would be either by a written note of invitation or by 164 verbal invitation, according to circumstances, or as opportunity offered, very little notice being considered requisite, and a week’s notice being the longest usually given.

Many hostesses give their friends carte blanche invitations to luncheon; but ladies as a rule scarcely ever avail themselves of this façon de parler, as it is usually considered to be, but await a more direct form of invitation. Gentlemen, on the contrary, are expected to avail themselves of this proffered hospitality without ceremony, as the presence of a casual visitor at luncheon is, if the visitor be a gentleman, considered an acquisition, the reason, perhaps, being, that ladies are usually in the majority at luncheon, and also that their unexpected arrival would call for a greater amount of ceremonious politeness on the part of a hostess than would the unexpected arrival of gentlemen; the one requiring especial attention to be shown to them in the matter of a place at table, &c., while the other would be ready to offer attention, and to take any place at table, whether convenient or otherwise; for, as a rule, there are always more ladies present at luncheon than there are gentlemen, unless the hostess were giving a formal luncheon-party, when she would endeavour to equalize her numbers, and to invite as many gentlemen as ladies; but it would not be incumbent upon her even to do this, as it would be immaterial whether there 165 were as many gentlemen as ladies present at luncheon or not.

To a mistress of a house luncheon is a very useful institution, as it enables her to show a considerable amount of civility to her friends and acquaintances at but little trouble or expense to herself. She can ask persons to luncheon whom it might not, for various reasons, be convenient to ask to dinner; as, for instance, young ladies, single ladies, elderly ladies, ladies coming to town, or into the neighbourhood for a few days only, and so on.

The usual rule in houses where there are children old enough to do so, is for the children to dine at luncheon with their governess, whether there are guests present or not.

In town the usual hour for luncheon is two o’clock; in the country it is generally half an hour earlier. The guests are expected to arrive within ten minutes of the hour named when the invitation was given, as, although punctuality is not imperative, it is yet advisable, and in better taste.

A guest, on his or her arrival at a house, would not, if previously invited, inquire if the mistress of the house were at home, but would say, on the servant opening the door, “Mrs. A. expects me,” the hostess having already informed her servant as to the number and names of the guests whom she expected.

If the guests were self-invited they would of course 166 inquire if the mistress of the house were at home, and before entering the house, the servant would ascertain whether his mistress were visible or not.

The servant would precede the visitor to the drawing-room as at “Morning-Calls;” guests being always conducted to the drawing-room before luncheon. But should a guest arrive after the hour named for luncheon, he or she would at once be ushered into the dining-room.

The visitor would be announced as at “Morning-Calls,” and would be received by the hostess in the manner already described in that Chapter. If the guests should happen to be unacquainted, the hostess would, as a rule, make a sort of general introduction or introductions; that is to say, she would introduce one gentleman to two or three ladies thus: “Mr. A., Mrs. B., Mrs. C., and Miss D.,” thus making but one introduction in place of three separate introductions: this being the less formal mode of making unimportant introductions.

It is entirely a matter of inclination whether the master of the house be present at luncheon or not; and when he intends being present, it is optional whether he joins the guests in the drawing-room or meets them in the dining-room, as the guests are not sent into luncheon as they are into dinner.

Ladies neither remove their bonnets nor jackets at luncheon, although they might, perhaps, remove a 167 warm winter-jacket or fur-wrap; but this would be done in the dining-room before sitting down to table, when they would also remove their gloves. Gentlemen would take their hats with them into the drawing-room, or leave them in the hall if the party were a large one.

Ten minutes is the usual time allowed between the arrival of the guests and the serving of luncheon, which is always served punctually to the hour named, the rule being not to wait for a tardy guest.

On luncheon being announced, which is done by the servant—if a man-servant, saying, “Luncheon is served;” if the servant were a maid-servant, she would say, “Luncheon is on the table, ma’am,” this being a less pretentious manner than the former.

On the announcement of luncheon being made, the hostess would say to the lady of highest rank present, “Shall we go in to luncheon?” or some such phrase. (See “Society Small Talk.”) The lady would then move towards the door, accompanied by the host, if he were present, followed by the other ladies, as far as possible, according to their respective precedency; the hostess would follow next, and the gentlemen after her in their turn.

Guests do not go into luncheon arm-in-arm, as at a dinner-party, but singly, each lady by herself, or if space permitted, side by side; gentlemen do likewise, but on arriving in the dining-room, each gentleman 168 would place himself by the side of a lady, or between two ladies, at table.

The hostess would sit at the top of the table, and the host at the bottom, as at dinner; but it is immaterial where the guests themselves sit, although as a rule the lady of the highest rank would sit by the host, and the gentleman of highest rank by the hostess.

A late arrival would, on being ushered into the dining-room, make his or her way to the top of the table to shake hands with the hostess, making some polite excuse for their late arrival. If the guest were a lady, the hostess would rise from her seat to welcome her; if a gentleman, she would not rise to do so, but remain seated.

Luncheon is either served à la Russe or not, according to inclination, both ways being in equally good taste, although, as a rule, the joint is served from the buffet or side-table, while the entrées, game, or poultry would be placed on the table before the host and hostess. The sweets and fruit, &c., would be placed on the table also, as would be wine in decanters, sherry and claret being the usual wines drank at luncheon. Serviettes are indispensable, although from reasons of economy many hostesses subject their guests to the inconvenience of doing without this most necessary adjunct to the luncheon-table; but finger-glasses are never used at luncheon. The usual cover, consisting 169 of two knives, two forks, one dessert-spoon, and three glasses, viz., a glass for sherry, one for claret, and a tumbler; the bread is folded in the serviette. (See Chapter entitled “Dinners.”)

The cover does not include either a table-spoon or a fish-knife and fork, as soup and fish are never given at luncheon, unless the latter is served in the form of a mayonaise, when it would be eaten with an ordinary dinner fork.

In some houses it is the practice for the servants to leave the dining-room as soon as they have helped the various guests to the joint or joints, and handed round the vegetables and the wine. This course is the one more usually adopted as being the most unceremonious manner of serving luncheon, in which case the host and hostess would help the guests to the entrees and sweets, or the gentlemen would offer the required assistance; but where the servants remain in the room during the whole of luncheon, everything would be handed by them to the guests as at a dinner-party. Both these plans are equally fashionable and popular, the latter, however, being principally followed where the household is on a large scale, and where a certain amount of state is consequently kept up.

Luncheon usually lasts from half to three quarters of an hour, during which time the hostess would endeavour to render conversation general.


As at dinner, it is the duty of the hostess to give the signal for leaving the room, which she does by attracting the attention of the lady of highest rank present by means of a smile and bow, rising at the same time from her seat.

The host or the gentleman nearest the door would open it for the ladies to pass out, who leave the dining-room as far as possible in the order in which they had entered it, the hostess following last.

If the host were not present, the gentlemen would then follow the ladies to the drawing-room, but if the contrary were the case, they would remain in the dining-room a few minutes, when they would rejoin the ladies in the drawing-room.

It is altogether optional on the part of the host whether he returns or not with his guests to the drawing-room, although, if not particularly engaged, it is more courteous to do so.

Tea and coffee are never served after luncheon either in the drawing-room or dining-room. The guests are not expected to remain longer than twenty minutes after the adjournment to the drawing-room has been made, and a lady would put on her gloves or re-adjust her veil on her return to the drawing-room after luncheon in an unobtrusive manner.

Ladies having carriages would previously desire their coachman to return for them from three to a quarter past three o’clock, and the servant in attendance 171 would inform each guest of the arrival of her carriage.

If a lady required a cab she would ask the hostess’s permission to have one called for her. The guests would take their leave of the hostess, and the hostess would take her leave of them, in the manner described in the Chapter on “Morning Calls.”

Notes and Corrections: Chapter X

a lady would put on her gloves or re-adjust her veil . . . in an unobtrusive manner
text has unobstrusive



The mispronunciation of certain surnames falls unpleasantly upon the educated ear, and argues unfavourably as to the social position of the offender. There are perhaps two reasons why various surnames are so frequently mispronounced, the one being unfamiliarity with the freak of fashion which governs the pronunciation of certain well-known names, the other being no less a reason than ignorance or want of education, and the former naturally is far more excusable than is the latter. To sensitive persons the hearing a name pronounced very differently to the way in which they had themselves but just pronounced it, and in a tone and manner strongly suggestive of correction, would be painful in the extreme; while others, on the contrary, are so dense that they neither detect their own errors nor observe an implied reproof. Persons who are entirely educated through the eye without reference to the ear, and on whom 173 consequently sound has no effect, are content to pronounce names as they have been accustomed to hear them pronounced, without taking the trouble to observe or even to notice how they are pronounced by those moving in good society, that is to say, the highly educated classes. As a rule, were anyone in doubt as to the correct pronunciation of any particular name, it would be best to avoid mentioning it, if possible, until their doubts were set at rest by some one better informed than themselves.

Names that have a fashionable or peculiar pronunciation, or are pronounced otherwise than as they are spelt, are but few, and names which it is possible wrongly to accent are also not very numerous; but it is surprising how often these names occur in the course of conversation, as, for instance, such names as “Marjoribanks,” of which the correct pronunciation is “Marshbanks,” “Mainwaring” which should be pronounced “Mannering,” “McLeod” which should be pronounced “McCloud.” In “Molyneux” the x is sounded, and it is pronounced exactly as it is spelt, “Molyneux,” the very slight accent being on the last syllable “neux.” In “Vaux” the x is also sounded. In “Devereux,” on the contrary, the x is not sounded, and it is pronounced as “Devereu;” the same remark applies to “Des Vaux,” the x being mute there also. In “Meux” the x takes the sound of s, and it is therefore pronounced 174 “Mews.” “Ker” is pronounced as if it were spelt “Kar;” it would be in very bad style to pronounce it as “Cur.” “Cockburn” should be pronounced “Cōburn,” the ck not being sounded at all. “Cholmondeley,” again, is a stumbling-block to the uninitiated, and should be pronounced “Chumley;” and, again, “Cholmeley” should also be pronounced as “Chumley.” “Cowper” should be pronounced “Couper,” the w taking the sound of u. In “Waldegrave” the de should be dropped, and it should be pronounced “Walgrave,” a slight accent being on the first syllable. That “Berkeley” should be pronounced “Barkley” is too well known to require mentioning here, the London cabmen alone still clinging to “Berkeley,” in lieu of the more fashionable “Barkley.” The same may be said of “Derby,” the e being sounded as a, thus, it should be “Darby,” in speaking of either the peer, the plate, or the place. In “Dillwyn” the wy takes the sound of u, and should be pronounced “Dillun,” the accent being on the first syllable. In “Blyth” the th should be dropped, the first three letters only being sounded, thus, “Bly.” “Lyveden” should be pronounced “Liveden.” “Pepys” should be pronounced “Pepis,” the accent on the first syllable. In “Monson” the o takes the sound of u, and it should be pronounced “Munson;” and the same in “Ponsonby,” which should be pronounced “Punsonby.” “Blount” should be pronounced 175 as “Blunt,” the o being mute. “Brougham” should be pronounced “Broum,” and not as “Brawham,” both as concerns the illustrious statesman and the popular carriage that bears his name. “Buchan” should be pronounced “Buckan;” “Beauclerk” or “Beauclerc” should be pronounced as “Boclare,” the accent being on the first syllable. “Wemyss” should be pronounced “Wymps;” “Willoughby D’Eresby” should be pronounced “Willowby D’Ersby;” “St. John” should be pronounced “Sinjin,” as a surname or as a Christian name, but not when applied to a locality or a building, it is then pronounced as spelt, “St. John.” “Montgomerie” or “Montgomery” should be pronounced “Mungumery,” the accent being on the second syllable. In “Elgin” the g is hard, and should be pronounced as the g in “give,” as should be also the g in “Nigel.” The G in “Gifford” should be pronounced soft. In “Conyngham” the o takes the sound of u, and should be pronounced “Cunyingham.” In “Johnstone” the t should not be sounded. “Strachan” should be pronounced “Strawn;” “Heathcote” should be pronounced “Hethkut;” “Hertford” should be pronounced “Hartford,” the accent being on the first syllable. “Seymour” should be pronounced “Seymer,” the accent being on the first syllable. Such names as these are frequently mispronounced, and the so doing is often remembered for a length of time, perhaps disproportionate 176 to the offence; it is even yet remembered how an illustrious politician alluded in the House of Commons to the famous Pytchley Hounds as the Pitchley Hounds, and how this was received with much laughter, and how the joke is still remembered against him. There are also other celebrated hunts and hunting quarters of which the names are open to considerable mispronunciation, such as “Bicester,” which should be pronounced “Bister,” a slight accent being on the first syllable. “Cirencester” should be pronounced “Cisister,” a slight accent being also placed on the first syllable. Then, again, “Belvoir” should be pronounced “Bever;” and “Pontefract,” “Promfret.” As to placing the accent on the wrong syllable in the pronouncing of names it requires but little thought to avoid making this mistake, a popular error being that of placing the accent upon the last syllable of a name; where, as in a name of two syllables, the accent should invariably be placed upon the first, and the second syllable should be, as it were, slightly abbreviated or slightly altered—thus, in “Harcourt,” the accent is on the first syllable, and the name should be pronounced as if it were spelt “Harkut.” But there are some exceptions to this rule, as, for instance, in names such as “Burnett,” “Burdett,” “Kennaird,” and “Kennard,” “Parnell,” “Tremayne,” &c., in all of which the last syllable, and not the first, should be accented.


In names of three syllables the accent should be on the second syllable; here, again, the error usually consists in placing it upon the last syllable, whereas the accent should be placed upon the second syllable in names such as “Tredégar,” “Trafal´gar,” “Breadal´bane,” “Clanric´arde,” &c. There are occasional exceptions to this rule, but only occasional ones; and the few names given in this chapter, both as regards their pronunciation and accentuation, will serve as a useful guide in the pronunciation of uncommon names.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XI

skip to next chapter

In Wolf Hall, or possibly one of its sequels, there is a running gag involving a secondary character named Wriothesley, pronounced Risley. I can’t imagine why our aristocratic author omitted it here.

it is pronounced exactly as it is spelt, “Molyneux,”
[This strikes me as unhelpful bordering on unkind, since the digraph eu is all but nonexistent in English, except initially. It does, of course, occur in French—but then the final consonant would be silent. The discussion of “Meux” a bit further along suggests that medial eu is to be pronounced exactly like the initial eu of “euchre”, “eucharist”, “eugenics”, “eunuch” and so on. (Meux was a well-known brewery at the time, so I don’t suppose anyone much cared how you pronounced it, so long as you paid for your beer.)]

“Cowper” should be pronounced “Couper,” the w taking the sound of u.
[The same goes for “Lowth”, which rhymes with south.]

“Pepys” should be pronounced “Pepis,” the accent on the first syllable.
[Everyone else in the world pronounces it “Peeps”.]

“Willoughby D’Eresby” should be pronounced “Willowby D’Ersby;”
first open quote missing

how an illustrious politician alluded in the House of Commons to the famous Pytchley Hounds as the Pitchley Hounds, and how this was received with much laughter
[Like his occasional gratuitous French, the author flatters his audience by pretending to assume they know the correct pronunciation. (The first syllable sounds like “pie”. Yes, I had to look it up.) Meanwhile he has nothing to say about laughing at someone who commits an error, where pained silence would seem more suitable.]

“Cirencester” should be pronounced “Cisister,”
[Richard le Gallienne’s Travels in England, from 1900 or so, says it is “Cisseter”, though he also finds evidence of “Cicester”.]

and “Pontefract,” “Promfret.”
text unchanged: error for Pomfret
[The error was not corrected until the 23d edition, which replaces this chapter’s prose with a three-page table.]

where, as in a name of two syllables
text unchanged: expected whereas
[The 23rd edition has the identical wording.]



The question as to how soon persons in mourning should or should not re-enter society is in some measure an open one; although as regards very near relatives the regulation period of seclusion is rigidly adhered to, yet in the case of more distant relatives this rule is greatly modified and governed by individual feeling, although any marked breach of the etiquette usually observed by persons in mourning would naturally provoke unfavourable comment.

Complimentary mourning by no means necessitates seclusion; Court mourning when enjoined is imperative, the orders respecting which are minutely given from the Lord Chamberlain’s office and published in the official Gazette; but these orders only apply to persons connected with the Court, or to persons attending drawing-rooms, levees, courts, state balls, state concerts, &c. When the order for general mourning is given on the death of any member of the royal family the order applies to all, although it is 179 optional whether the general public comply with it or not.

When persons in mourning desire to enter again into society they would leave cards on their friends and acquaintances as an intimation that they are equal to the paying and receiving calls, in any case where cards of inquiry have been left, which means the words “to inquire” being written on the top or right-hand corner of the usual visiting card. These cards would be returned by cards with “Thanks for kind inquiries” written upon them; but if cards of inquiry had not been left, then the usual visiting card would be left only (see chapter on Leaving Cards). Until this intimation has been given, society would not venture to intrude upon the seclusion of those in mourning. The usual period of mourning would be, for a first cousin, six weeks (three in mourning and three in half-mourning); but mourning for a second cousin would be for three weeks; for a nephew or niece, it would be for three months. But the mourning for these relatives does not—after the funeral has taken place—necessitate persons secluding themselves from society, and they therefore go out as usual.

A period of mourning for an aunt or uncle would be of three months’ duration, but in this case a fortnight at least would elapse before “going out” would be resumed; for great aunts or uncles two months is the usual period of mourning; for second cousins and 180 distant connections three weeks’ mourning is usual; for brothers or sisters six months is the prescribed period for mourning, during the first two months of which the mourners are not expected to enter into society. The mourning for a grandfather or grandmother would be nine months, and the seclusion from society would average two months. The mourning of children for parents or of parents for their children varies considerably according to individual feeling, some extending the period to eighteen months, others limiting it to twelve, and others again shortening the period to only six months; but of the three periods twelve months is the period more usually followed. A parent or child in mourning would certainly not enter into society under three months at least, whilst others would not think of doing so under six months.

Wives would mourn for the relatives of their husbands precisely as they would for their own, as would husbands for the relatives of their wives. A widow would wear mourning for her husband two years, and would not enter into society under at least twelve months. Widowers would wear mourning for the same period, but would go into society at a much earlier date, the received rule being for gentlemen in all cases of mourning for relatives to go into society very much sooner than is customary with ladies.

In all periods of mourning here mentioned the 181 period of half-mourning is included, and this period usually occupies one-third of the whole.

Funeral cards are never sent on the death of a relative; it would be considered a solecism were it to be done. Wreaths of immortelles are very generally sent by relatives and friends to a house of mourning previous to the funeral, as are wreaths of white flowers; it is also the fashion for the ladies of the family to attend the funeral of a relative if disposed to do so, in which case they would wear their usual mourning attire, and that only; they would also follow in their own private carriages in place of the ordinary mourning coach. The long silk scarves and hat bands formerly worn by gentlemen are also no longer in vogue.

Servants are usually put in mourning for heads of families, only in which case they would wear mourning as long as do the members of the family; this rule applies to servants in as well as out of livery.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XII

A widow would wear mourning for her husband two years
[Unless her name is Victoria, in which case forty years is not considered excessive.]

Servants are usually put in mourning for heads of families
[In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, we meet a servant in mourning. He is a groom, and the deceased is the master’s wife. Jane probably assumed the reader would know what degree of mourning attire would be appropriate in the circumstances.]



A knowledge of sporting matters and sporting terms, and the etiquette observed by sportsmen, cannot be arrived at by intuition, neither can it be acquired from “books” only, but rather by association with those thoroughly conversant with the subject, and with whom “sport” has formed part of their education, so to speak; persons unversed in matters appertaining to “country life” and “country sports,” “town bred,” and who have had little or no opportunity of acquiring a knowledge of the subject from personal experience, can hardly fail to commit many and various mistakes when brought into contact with sportsmen and their sports; still, a few cursory hints may be acceptable to the uninitiated, as for instance, a sportsman would at once dub a man a “thorough cockney” were he to term the hounds when out hunting “the dogs,” and he would even smile contemptuously at a lady’s ignorance were she to call one of a pack of foxhounds “a dog.” It would also appear 183 laughable in the eyes of a sportsman were a gentleman or lady to speak of a fox’s “brush” as “a tail,” and in hunting circles it would be considered worse than a solecism; it would amount to a crime in the social code were a gentleman to shoot a fox in mistake for a hare, a mistake which inexperienced sportsmen have been known to perpetrate, to head a fox or to holloa at a fox would also be great offences in the eyes of the master of the hounds as in those of the field.

A man would not ask his friend if he had had “a good day’s hunting,” but whether he “had had a good run;” or he would ask him “where did you find?” meaning where did the fox break cover; and he would use other expressions of a like character, carefully avoiding the use of unsportsmanlike terms when conversing on this particular topic.

It would be a breach of etiquette were a lady to go to a hunt breakfast at the house of a country gentleman if she were not acquainted with the family, unless she were taken to the house by a mutual acquaintance. But all gentlemen riding to hounds, whether strangers to the host or not, have the privilege of entering any house where a hunt breakfast is given, and partaking of the hospitality offered; the breakfast, which partakes of the character of a cold collation, with the addition of liqueurs, ale, &c., is usually laid out in the dining room, and no ceremony 184 whatever is observed; the gentlemen come and go at their pleasure. The mistress of the house does not as a rule preside at a hunt breakfast, but receives her friends in the drawing-room; and the ladies of her acquaintance attending the meet, either riding or driving, would on their arrival make their way to the drawing-room without entering the dining-room, where refreshments would be offered them; and any gentleman acquainted with the mistress of the house where the breakfast was given, would be expected to pay his respects to her in the drawing-room for a few minutes before leaving the house.

A gentleman unacquainted with the hostess would on no account do so unless introduced to her by some mutual friend.

Strangers—men going down into a county for a few days’ hunting,—usually hunt in a black coat, as it is not incumbent upon them by any means to wear “pink.” The members of the hunt wear pink as a matter of course, but it is considered better taste for a stranger to wear a black coat than to appear in a new, very new, unspecked red one.

The etiquette observed by sportsmen with regard to shooting is very strict, and there are certain rules in respect to this sport which a man naturally makes himself acquainted with, before attempting to engage in it in company with other sportsmen. Many good stories are told of inexperienced sportsmen who, relying 185 on a superficial knowledge of the subject, manage to commit many ludicrous blunders. For instance, they oftener than not violate one of the first rules of shooting, that of “never pointing the gun at any one” when out shooting, neither at sportsmen, keepers, nor dogs, in illustration of which a story is current of a gentleman who, when his bird rose, slowly and deliberately pointed his gun at each man as he stood in line, rendering it a matter of uncertainty and suspense as to which of the party he intended to shoot, and who, when sharply interrogated as to what he meant to do, calmly replied “that he was following his bird.”

“The dog,” again, is a great stumbling block to the inexperienced “gun.” He usually insists on bewildering him with a multiplicity of words and directions, using a different expression each time he speaks to him, although conveying the same order, regardless of the fact that the fewer the words addressed to the dog the better. Thus, the inexperienced sportsman usually exclaims “Go and find,” “There’s a good dog,” “Find it, sir, find it,” “Hie, find,” “There’s a good fellow,” “Good dog,” “Where is it?” all this in a breath, and with growing excitement, confusing and bewildering the dog, and exasperating his fellow sportsmen, who, by one word addressed to the dog such as “Hie,” “Seek,” or “Steady,” cause him at once to understand his duty, as a sportsman uses but one expression to indicate each particular duty required 186 of the dog. Again, the inexperienced sportsman enrages his party by exclaiming when the dog is required to fall behind, “Come here, sir,” “Come here,” “Back,” “There’s a good dog,” “Go behind, sir,” “Come back, old fellow,” instead of using one short word of command such as “Heel.”

Dogs properly trained—and no sportsman would take out one that was not—thoroughly understand the short word of command given; a dog’s memory is so retentive that he never forgets a word he has been taught or the application of it, although he may not have heard it for half-a-dozen years.

Numberless good stories are told in print and out of it, of the ignorance displayed by embryo sportsmen apropos of dogs, such as the following. A sportsman of this calibre on being told by his host that if he followed the dog—a well-trained pointer—he would be safe to have a good day’s sport, did so literally, and hunted him from field to field, and when at last he came up with him when quartering in sight of game, dealt the pointer a smart blow to drive him onwards, exclaiming, “I have tired you out at last, have I!”

It is difficult to make a would-be sportsman comprehend the strict etiquette maintained between the owners of manors, that is to say, he would think nothing of crossing the boundary of his host’s manor if he felt inclined to follow a bird or hare he had wounded, “gun in hand,” oblivious of the fact that, in 187 the first place, the greatest punctiliousness is observed between gentlemen in the matter of trespassing on each other’s land when out shooting; and unless the greatest intimacy existed, a sportsman would hardly venture to pick up his dead bird if it had fallen on a neighbour’s manor, and he would on no account look for a wounded bird, but for a dead one only. In the second place he would carefully observe the rule of leaving his gun on his own side of the boundary, and would certainly not carry it with him on to his neighbour’s land. These are points that strangers invited for a few days’ shooting very often fall foul of, creating thereby much unpleasantness for their hosts through their ignorance and inexperience.

When a London man is invited to join a shooting party, it would not be necessary for him to take a loader with him, as his host would find a man to perform that office for him, unless he had a servant with him capable of performing that duty; but if he were residing in the country he would, as a matter of course, take his loader with him when asked to join a shooting party, and in both cases he would shoot with two guns, as to shoot with one gun only causes a vexatious delay, more especially if the one gun should happen to be a muzzle loader, for nothing is more irritating to a party of sportsmen than to be kept waiting while the one muzzle-loader is being loaded, they themselves using breech loaders.


Another cause of offence to sportsmen is for a man to be “noisy” when out shooting, that is to say, to be “loudly talkative,” or boisterously merry, or given to indulge in exclamations when a bird rises or when a bird is missed; your true sportsman maintains a strict silence.

Such expressions as “tracking a hare” or “trapping a hare,” &c., in use amongst gentlemen of a certain class, are very offensive to the ears of any one who knows better. A man “looks” for his hare or “picks up” his hare, he does not “track” it unless it were shot and lost in the snow, while to “trap” a hare would be an offence only committed by a poacher, and scarcely by a gentleman on his own land or on that of any one else.

There are numberless other points relating to field sports wherein the “inexperienced sportsman” is apt to give offence, but which would take up too much space to enter into in a work of this description. Therefore, but a few of the most prominent errors have been here alluded to.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XIII

it would amount to a crime in the social code were a gentleman to shoot a fox in mistake for a hare
[Britain has apparently given up on trying to outlaw fox-hunting. But, if I understand the new rules correctly, one is now required to shoot the fox, rather than let the dogs hounds tear it apart in traditionally approved fashion. I do not, however, profess to understand how anyone could mistake a fox for a hare.]

The members of the hunt wear pink
[The author takes it for granted that his new-money, city-bred readers know that “pink” means red—possibly scarlet, never crimson. The name honors a certain Mr. Pink, tailor of Jermyn Street.]



On the subject of walking and driving there is but little to be said, for the simple reason that the time thus passed in the open air is usually passed by persons in the company of members of their own families. The usual fashionable hour for walking, both in the metropolis and at watering-places or seaside towns, is from twelve to two o’clock, the afternoon being the fashionable time for going out driving; but persons not possessing carriages would, of course, walk in the afternoon also, the hours for afternoon walking ranging from three o’clock to half past four in the winter, and from three to six o’clock in the summer. In the height of the London season, ladies would, however, avoid, as far as was practicable, the crowded thoroughfares, and confine their walks to the parks only.

Married ladies can, if they please, walk out unaccompanied or unattended, but they would not do so in places of public resort, such as the park in town or the promenades of fashionable watering-places; but 190 married ladies, especially if they are young married ladies, usually prefer the society of another lady, or even that of a child, not so much perhaps for propriety as for companionship; as to walk alone, either in town or fashionable watering-places, always renders a lady more or less conspicuous, especially if she be attractive and well dressed.

A young lady would not walk by herself, but would be accompanied either by a relative or governess, or, failing these, she would be attended by a lady’s-maid. Some young ladies rather aspire to the unconventionalism of walking by themselves, although the doing so is by no means in good taste.

By these restrictions is meant the walking in places of general resort, public thoroughfares, and fashionable promenades; as in the secluded neighbourhoods of towns, suburban towns, and watering-places, young ladies could with propriety pass from house to house of their friends or relatives who might reside in the near vicinity of their homes, unaccompanied and unattended.

As regards the recognition of friends or acquaintances, it is the privilege of a lady to take the initiative, by being the first to bow; a gentleman would not, as a rule, raise his hat to a lady until she had accorded him this mark of recognition, although the act of bowing is a simultaneous action on the part of both lady and gentleman, as a lady would hardly bestow a bow 191 upon the gentleman not prepared to return it. It has of late become the fashion amongst some ladies to nod rather than bow to their male acquaintances, making a short decisive movement of the head only, instead of gracefully bending the neck; but the nod is not in such good taste as is the more feminine bow.

A gentleman returning the bow of a lady with whom he was but slightly acquainted would do so with a deferential air, but very slightly raising his hat from his head; but if he were an intimate acquaintance or friend, he would raise his hat with far more freedom of action, thus consequently raising his hat considerably higher; for a gentleman to bow otherwise would be to appear either too empressé or too distant.

In France and on the Continent generally, the rule of bowing is reversed, and the gentleman is the first to bow to the lady, instead of the lady to the gentleman.

Between ladies but slightly acquainted, the lady of the highest rank would be the first to bow to the other; between ladies of equal rank it would be immaterial which of the two bowed first. A lady would not bow to any one, either lady or gentleman—although she might happen to know them very well by sight through having frequently seen them in the company of her friends—unless she had been introduced to them. A lady would bow to a gentleman, 192 either a friend or acquaintance, were he walking with any one—either lady or gentleman, with whom she might be unacquainted.

Gentlemen do not raise their hats in recognition of each other, but simply nod; but were one gentleman to meet another—a friend of his—walking with a lady, or ladies, with whom he himself was unacquainted, he would then raise his hat to his friend in place of nodding to him, this would be done in compliment to the presence of the lady or ladies, but not in any way intended as a bow to her or them, as a gentleman cannot bow to a lady with whom he is unacquainted.

Introductions out of doors are rather a matter of inclination than not, save under certain circumstances; as, for instance, if a lady were walking with another lady to whom she was on a visit, she would introduce any friends of hers, whom she might happen to meet, to her hostess, and her hostess would do likewise to her guest, if time and opportunity offered for so doing; but if any reason existed for not making an introduction on the part of either lady, it would be explained when they were alone again. As for either of the ladies to exclude the other from the conversation would be considered discourteous; but were one lady to meet another lady, and those to be subsequently joined by other ladies, introductions would not be made by either, unless they had any particular wish 193 for so doing. A lady, as a rule, would not introduce gentlemen to each other unless one of them were her host, when she would probably do so.

At watering-places, and at all public promenades, it is usual for gentlemen to join ladies with whom they are acquainted, and to walk with them for a short time. Ladies and gentlemen, whether related or not, never walk arm-in-arm, unless the lady were an elderly one, or required support.

The usual hour for driving in the summer is from four o’clock to seven, and in the winter from three o’clock to five, or even a little earlier. Ladies driving themselves, in either a victoria or a pony carriage, would drive in the morning or afternoon, according to choice, although the morning hours from twelve o’clock to two are the most fashionable hours. In town or at watering-places ladies would not drive unattended by a groom, neither would they ride in town unattended by a groom, unless accompanied by a male relative, when a groom’s attendance might be dispensed with. A gentleman would always ride on the off or right-hand side of a lady. In the country ladies frequently ride out alone when they are particularly good horsewomen, but ladies would not ride to hounds unaccompanied or unattended.

In driving in an open or close carriage no particular place is reserved for the owner of the carriage when accompanied by her friends. A guest or guests would 194 always enter the carriage before the hostess; were there two guests present, and either of them were a young lady, she would naturally seat herself with her back to the horses, leaving the two married ladies to occupy the opposite seat; but this would be a matter of courtesy on her part, and not of etiquette. A gentleman would sit with his back to the horses if a second lady were present; a gentleman also would be the first to descend from the carriage, with a view to assisting the ladies to alight, whether he purposed re-entering it or not. As a rule, the hostess would descend after her guest, and not before her, unless it were more convenient to do otherwise, when she would make some polite remark before alighting; but if a lady were merely calling on an acquaintance to take her for a drive, she would not descend from her carriage for the purpose of allowing her to enter it before her.

The cockades are only worn by servants in livery, and then only by the servants of those persons who belong to the army or navy, or who occupy any official or Government appointment; the privilege is also extended to justices of the peace and to deputy-lieutenants, but of late years this privilege has been greatly abused, and persons frequently mount the cockade, although not fairly entitled to do so.


Notes and Corrections: Chapter XIV

he would then raise his hat to his friend in place of nodding to him, this would be done
punctuation unchanged
[Interestingly, the 23d edition, 20 years later, changes this rule to “he should not raise his hat, but nod to his friend”. Since the part after the comma splice—“in compliment to the presence of the lady” and so on—no longer applies, it is simply deleted.]

unless the lady were an elderly one
text has en elderly

A gentleman would always ride on the off or right-hand side of a lady.
[The reasons for the rule are lost in the mists of time, but this does prevent the gentleman from inadvertently catching sight of the lady’s legs.]

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.