|Diane's Antique Book Collection|
Part 1 - THE LADY ABROAD
Gait and carriage.- A lady ought to adopt a modest and measured gait; too great a hurry injures the grace which ought to characterize her. She should not turn her head on one side and on the other, especially in large towns or cities, where this bad habit seems to be an invitation to the impertinent. A lady should not present herself alone in a library, or a museum, unless she goes there to study, or work as an artist.
Gentlemen’s attendance.- After twilight, a young lady would not be conducting herself in a becoming manner, by walking alone; and if she passes the evening with any one, she ought, beforehand, to provide some one to come for her at a stated hour; but if this is not practicable, she should politely ask of the person whom she is visiting, to permit a servant to accompany her. But, however much this may be considered proper, and consequently an obligation, a married lady, well educated, will disregard it if circumstances prevent her being able, without trouble, to find a conductor.
If the host wishes to accompany you himself, you must excuse yourself politely for giving him so much trouble, but finish, however, by accepting. On arriving at your house, you should offer him your thanks. In order to avoid these two inconveniences, it will be well to request your husband, or some one of your relatives, to come and wait upon you; you will, in this way, avoid all inconveniences, and be entirely free from that harsh criticism which is sometimes indulged in, especially in small towns, concerning even the most innocent acts.
Attentions to others.- When you are passing in the street, and see coming towards you a person of your acquaintance, whether a lady or an elderly person, you should offer them the wall, that is to say, the side next to the houses. If a carriage should happen to stop, in such a manner as to leave only a narrow passage between it and the houses, beware of elbowing and rudely crowding the passengers, with a view to get by more expeditiously; wait your turn, and if any one of the persons before mentioned comes up, you should edge up to the wall, in order to give them the place. They also, as they pass, should bow politely to you.
If stormy weather has made it necessary to lay a plank across the gutters, which have become suddenly filled with water, it is not proper to crowd before another, in order to pass over the frail bridge
Further – a young man of good breeding should promptly offer his hand to ladies even if they are not acquaintances, when they pass such a place.
If, while walking up and down a public promenade, you should meet friends or acquaintances whom you do not intend to join, it is only necessary to salute them the first time of passing; to bow, or to nod to them every round would be tiresome, and, therefore, improper; do not think they will consider you odd or unfriendly, as, if they have any sense at all, they will appreciate your reasons. If you have anything to say to them, join them at once.
Taking leave.- When walking together, it is proper that the more elderly or more important of the two, should take leave first. A gentleman should never leave a lady till she takes leave of him; nor should a young lady leave a married lady, without making some excuse.
It is quite improper to enter into a long conversation, especially with your superiors, in the street. Take your leave at an early period, or, if you have anything urgent to say, ask permission to accompany them.
Thornwell, Emily, THE LADY’S GUIDE TO COMPLETE ETIQUETTE, New York, Belford, Clarke & Company, 1884