Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Etiquette for American Ladies 1840 - The Letter of Introduction


Etiquette for Ladies: With Hints on the Preservation, Improvement, and Display of Female Beauty. Published by Lea and Blanchard, Philadelphia. 1838-1840

Be very cautious of giving a gentleman a letter of introduction to a lady; for remember, in proportion as you are esteemed by the lady to whom it is addressed, so do you claim for your friend her good wishes,—and such letters are often the means of settling the weal or the woe of the parties for life. Ladies should never themselves, unless upon cases of the most urgent business, deliver introductory letters, but should send them in an envelope inclosing their card.

On receipt of an introductory letter, take it into instant consideration; if you are determined not to receive the party, write at once some polite, plausible, but dignified cause of excuse. If the party is one you think fit to receive, then let your answer be accordingly, and without delay; never leave unanswered till the next day a letter of introduction.

If any one whom you have never seen before call with a letter of introduction, and you know from its appearance who sent it, desire the person to sit down, and at once treat them politely; but if you do not recognise the hand-writing, it is quite proper, after requesting them to be seated, to beg their pardon, and peruse the letter in order that you may know how to act .

It is now, however, a very rare thing for any one to call upon a lady with an introductory letter; no one the least conversant with the rules of good society will do it; such letters ought to be sent in an envelope.

If any one requests a letter of introduction, and you do not consider that it would be prudent, either in respect to your situation with the person so requesting' it, or with the one to whom it would be addressed, refuse it with firmness, and allow no inducement whatever to alter your purpose.
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