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A Hand-book of Etiquette for Ladies

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Never introduce persons to each other without a knowledge that it will be agreeable to both parties; this may sometimes be ascertained without a formal question: very great intimacy with and knowledge of each party may be a sufficient assurance that the introduction will be agreeable.


The inferior should always be introduced to the superior—ladies take precedence of gentlemen; you will present the gentleman to the lady, not the lady to the gentleman.


An introduction at a ball for the purpose of dancing does not compel you to recognise the person in the street or in any public place; and except under very peculiar circumstances such intimacies had better cease with the ball.


When introducing one to another, mention the name of each distinctly. A failure to do this is often the cause of much embarrassment. If you have been introduced, and have not caught the name, it is better to say at once, “I beg pardon; I did not hear the name;” it will save much unpleasant feeling.


As a general rule, avoid all proffers of introduction, unless from those in whom, from relationship or other causes, you can place implicit confidence. A lady cannot shake off an improper acquaintance with the same facility as a gentleman can do, and her character is more easily affected by contact with the worthless and dissipated.


Upon a first introduction to a lady or gentleman, make a slight but gracious inclination of the head and body. The old style of curtsying has given place to the more easy and graceful custom of bowing. It is ill-bred to shake hands.


If you meet a lady for the second or subsequent times, the hand may be extended in addition to the inclination of the head; but never extend the hand to a gentleman, unless you are very intimate.


Bow with slow and measured dignity; never hastily.


If you wish to avoid the company of a gentleman who has been properly introduced, treat him with respect, at the same time shunning his company. But few will mistake you.


If, in travelling, any one introduces himself to you in a proper and respectful manner, conduct yourself toward him with reserve and dignity, yet with ease and politeness; and thank him for any attentions he may render you. If he is a gentleman he will appreciate your behavior; if he is not, he will be deterred from annoying you. All such acquaintances cease with the occasion. Converse only upon topics of general interest; it is necessary only to be civil. If he should betray the least want of respect, turn from him in dignified silence; a lady by her behavior always has it in her power to silence the boldest.


If on paying a morning visit you meet strangers at the house of your friend and are introduced, it is a mere matter of form, and does not entitle you to future recognition by such persons.


Be very cautious of giving a gentleman a letter of introduction to a lady,—it may be the means of settling the weal or woe of the persons for life.


If you have an introductory letter, do not deliver it yourself, unless upon cases of urgent business, but send it with your card and the number of your lodging, enclosed in an envelope, as soon as you have made yourself comfortable after arriving at your destination.


On receiving a letter introducing any person, so soon as convenient wait upon her, and show such attention as the nature of the introduction may require: upon meeting the party introduced, you will easily perceive whether any further INTIMACY will be desirable....