|Diane's Antique Book Collection|
Length of calls.- If the person you call upon is preparing to go out, or to sit down at table, you ought, although she asks you to remain, to retire as soon as possible. The person visited so unseasonably, should, on her part, be careful to conceal her knowledge that the other wishes the visit ended quickly. We should always appear pleased to see a visitor and should she make a short visit, we must express to her our regret. Ceremonious visits should never be protracted.
When you make a half ceremonious call, and the person you are visiting insists upon your stopping, it is proper to do so; but after a few minutes you should rise to go; if you are urged still further, and are taken by the hands and made to sit down as it were by force, to leave immediately would be impolite, but nevertheless you must, after a short interval, get up a third time, and then certainly retire.
If, during your call, a member of the family enters the room, you need not on this account take leave, but should cordially salute them. If the person entering be a lady or elderly person you may rise, but if a gentleman, it is more proper to keep seated.
Coming in contact with other visitors.- If other visitors are announced, you should adroitly leave them without saying anything. In case the gentleman of the house urges you to remain longer, you should briefly reply to him that an indispensable engagement calls you, and you must entreat him with earnestness not to detain you. You should terminate your visit by briskly shutting the door.
If, on entering the room, you find strangers engaged in conversation, content yourself with the few words which the master or mistress of the house shall address to you; stop only a few moments, make a general salutation, and conduct yourself as in the proceeding case.
The staircase, taking the arm, etc.-In going up the staircase, it is rigorously the custom to give precedence to those to whom you owe respect, and to yield to such persons the most convenient part of the stairs, which is that next the wall. Above all do not forget this last caution if you accompany a lady; and a well-bred gentleman, at such a time, should offer his arm. When there are many ladies, he should bestow this mark of respect on the oldest. If you meet any one on the staircase, place yourself on the side opposite to the one he occupies.
Thornwell, Emily, THE LADY’S GUIDE TO COMPLETE ETIQUETTE, New York, Belford, Clarke & Company, 1884