Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Etiquette for American Ladies 1840 - Musical Chairs


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

When any one enters, whether announced or not, rise immediately, advance towards them, request them to sit down...If it is a young man, offer him an arm-chair, or a stuffed one; if an elderly man, insist upon his accepting the armchair; if a lady, beg her to be seated upon the sofa. If the master of the house receives the visitors, he will take a chair and place himself at a little distance from them; if, on the contrary, it is the mistress of the house, and if she is intimate with the lady who visits her, she will place herself near her.

If several ladies come at once, we give the most honourable place to the one who, from age, or other considerations, is most entitled to respect. In winter, the most honourable places are those at the corners of the fire-place: in proportion as they place you in front of the fire, your seat is considered inferior in rank. Moreover, when it happens to be a married lady, and one to whom we wish to do honour, take her by the hand, and conduct her to the corner of the fire-place. If this place is occupied by a young lady, she ought to rise, and offer her seat to the other, taking for herself a chair in the middle of the circle...

If a lady who receives a half ceremonious visit, is sewing, she ought to leave off immediately, and not resume it, except at the request of the visitor. If they are on quite intimate terms, she ought herself to request permission to continue. If a person visits in an entirely ceremonious way, it would be very impolite to work even an instant. Moreover, with friends a lady should hardly be ocupied with her work, but seem to forget it on their account.

In proportion as the visitor is a stranger, the master or mistress of the house rises, and any persons who may be already there, are obliged to do the same. If some of them then withdraw, the master or mistress of the house should conduct them as far as the door...It is no longer the custom to give the hand to ladies, but to offer them the arm...If she is to return in a carriage, we should politely hand her into it.
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