|Diane's Antique Book Collection|
Part I - Fashionable Balls, Visiting, Card Etiquette, etc.
Kind of cards, and manner of carrying them.- After making the toilet with care, persons intending to make ceremonious calls, should provide themselves with cards, upon which their name is printed or well written. Gentlemen ought simply to put their cards into their pocket, but ladies may carry them in a small elegant portfolio, called a card-case. This they can hold in their hand, and it will contribute essentially (with an elegant handkerchief of embroidered cambric), to give them an air of good taste.
A lady’s visiting card should be of small size, glazed, but not gilt. It should be engraved in script characters, small and neat, not in German text or old English. Never have your cards printed; a written card, though passable, is not perfectly au fait. If you write them, never first draw a line across the card to guide you; it betokens ill-breeding.
Under what circumstances cards are to be left, and how many.- If the call is made in a carriage, the servant will ask if the lady you wish to see is at home. If persons call in a hired carriage, or on foot, they go themselves to ask the servants. Servants are considered as soldiers on duty; if they reply that the person has gone out, we should, by no means, urge the point, even if we were certain it was not the case; and if by chance we should see the person, we should appear not to have done so, but leave our card and retire. When the servant informs us that the lady or gentleman is unwell, engaged in business, or dining, we must act in a similar manner.
We should leave as many cards as there are persons we wish to see in the house; for example-one for the husband, one for his wife, another for the aunt, etc. When admitted, we should lay aside our overshoes, umbrella, etc., in the entry, so as not to encumber the parlor with them.
Preliminary attentions to visitors.- Instructions should be carefully given to servants respecting their conduct towards persons who call to inquire for you. See that they always do it in a civil and polite manner; let them lose no time, if there is occasion, in relieving your visitors of their overshoes, umbrellas, cloaks, etc.; let them go before, to save your visitors the trouble of opening and shutting the door.
When persons call, let the servant respectfully inform himself of their names, so that he may announce them to you at the time when he opens the door of the reception-room or parlor. If you are not there, the servant should offer them seats, requesting the guests to wait a moment, while he goes to call you.
When visitors take leave, domestics should manifest promptness in opening the door for them; they should hold the door by the handle, while you converse with your guests, and also assist them in readjusting their clothing.
Thornwell, Emily, THE LADY’S GUIDE TO COMPLETE ETIQUETTE, New York, Belford, Clarke & Company, 1884