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visits or calls

visits of condolence

Visits of condolence should be paid within a week after the event which occasions them; but if the acquaintance be slight, immediately after the family appear at public worship. A card should be sent up; and if your friends are able to receive you, let your manners and conversation be in harmony with the character of your visit. It is courteous to send up a mourning card; and for ladies to make their calls in black silk or plain-colored apparel. It denotes that they sympathize with the afflictions of the family; and such attentions are always pleasing.

Decorum, published 1883, p. 74

visits— discontinuing work

If a lady is engaged with her needle when a visitor arrives, she ought to discontinue her work, unless requested to do otherwise; and not even then must it be resumed, unless on very intimate terms with her acquaintance. When this, however, is the case, the hostess may herself request permission to do so. To continue working during a visit of ceremony would be extremely discourteous; and we cannot avoid hinting to our lady readers, that even when a particular friend is present for only a short time, it is somewhat inconsistent with etiquette to keep their eyes fixed on a crochet or knitting-book, apparently engaged in counting stitches, or unfolding the intricacies of a pattern. We have seen this done, and are, therefore, easeful to warn them on the subject. There are many kinds of light and elegant, and even useful work, which do not require close attention, and may be profitably pursued; and such we recommend to be always on the work-table at those hours which, according to established practice, are given to social intercourse.

Decorum, published 1883, p. 82-83

visits— engaged or not at home

If a lady is so employed that she cannot receive callers she should charge the servant who goes to answer the bell to say that she is “engaged” or “not at home.” This will prove sufficient with all well-bred people.

The servant should have her orders to say “engaged” or “not at home” before any one has called, so that the lady shall avoid all risk of being obliged to inconvenience herself in receiving company when she has intended to deny herself. If there are to be exceptions made in favor of any individual or individuals, mention their name specially to the servant, adding that you will see them if they call, but to all others you are“engaged.”

A lady should always be dressed sufficiently well to receive company, and not keep them waiting while she is making her toilet.

A well-bred person always endeavors to receive visitors at whatever time they call, or whoever they may be, but there are times when it is impalsible to do so, and then, of course, a servant is instructed beforehand to say“not at home” to the visitor. If, however, the servant admits the visitor and he is seated in the drawing-room or parlor it is the duty of the hostess to receive him or her at whatever inconvenience it may be to herself.

our deportment, published 1882, p. 61-63

visits— laying aside the bonnet.

The short time devoted to a ceremonious visit, the necessity of consulting a glass in replacing the headdress, and of being assisted in putting on the shawl, prevent ladies from accepting the invitation to lay them aside. If they are slightly familiar with the person they are visiting and wish to be more at ease, they should ask permission, which should be granted them, at the same time rising, to assist them in taking off their hat and shawl. An arm-chair, or a piece of furniture at a distant part of the room, should receive these articles; they should not be placed upon the couch, without the mistress of the house puts them there.

Decorum, published 1883, p. 84-85

visits— evening visits.

Evening visits are paid only to those with whom we are well acquainted. They should not be very/frequent even where one is intimate, nor should they be much protracted. Frequent visits will gain for a man, in any house, the reputation of tiresome, and long visits will invariably bring down the appellation of bore. Morning visits are always extremely brief, being matters of mere ceremony.

Decorum, published 1883, p. 77

visits— gentlemen’s morning call

Gentlemen will do well to bear in mind that, when they pay morning calls, they must carry their hats with them into the drawing-room; but on no account put them on the chairs or table. There is a graceful manner of holding a hat, which every well-bred man understands.

Decorum, published 1883, p. 75

visits— preference of seats.

When morning visitors are announced, rise and advance toward them. If a lady enters request her to be seated on a sofa; but if advanced in life, or the visitor be an elderly gentleman, insist on their accepting an easy chair, and place yourself, by them. If several ladies arrive at the same time, pay due respect to age and rank, and seat them in the most honorable places; these, in winter, are beside the fire.

Decorum, published 1883, p. 83


In conversation, one must scrupulously guard against vulgarisms. Simplicity and terseness of language are the characteristics of a well educated and highly cultivated person. It is the uneducated or those who are but half educated, who use long words and high-sounding phrases. A hyperbolical way of speaking is mere flippancy, and should be avoided. Such phrases as “awfully pretty,” “immensely jolly,” “abominably stupid,” “disgustingly mean,” are of this nature, and should be avoided. Awkwardness of attitude is equally as bad as awkwardness of speech. Lolling, gesticulating, fidgeting, handling an eye-glass or watch chain and the like, give an air of gaucherie, and take off a certain percentage from the respect of others.

our deportment, published 1882, p. 87

vulgar exclamations.

No lady should make use of any feminine substitute for profanity. The woman who exclaims “The Dickens!” or “Mercy” or “Goodness” when she is annoyed or astonished, is as vulgar in spirit, though perhaps not quite so regarded by society, as though she had used expressions which it would require but little stretch of the imagination to be regarded as profane.

our deportment, published 1882, p. 98


walking on a crowded street

When a gentleman and lady are walking in the street, if at any place, by reason of the crowd, or from other cause, they are compelled to proceed singly, the gentleman should always precede his companion.

our deportment, published 1882, p. 147