Decorum: A Practical Treatise on Etiquette and Dress of the Best American Society.Chicago: J. A. Ruth & Co., 1877.

Introduction of a Lady to a Gentlemen

When you are presented to a gentleman, do not give your hand, but merely bow, with politeness: and, if you have requested the presentment, or know the person by reputation, you may make a speech, - indeed, in all cases it is courteous to add, "I am happy to make your acquaintance," or "I am happy to have the honor of your acquaintance."

Meeting on the Street

Ifyou are walking down the street in company with another person, and stop to say something to one of your friends, or are joined by a friend who walks with you for a long time, do not commit the too common, but most flagrant error, of presenting such persons to one another.

Women Kissing in Public

Custom seems to give a kind of sanction to women kissing each other in public: but there is, nevertheless, a touch of vulgarity about it, and a lady of really delicate perceptions will avoid it.

Subjects to be Avoided

Intalking with ladies of ordinary education, avoid political, scientific, or commercial topics, and choose only such subjects as are likely to be of interest to them.

A Low Voice

I think one can always tell a lady by her voice and laugh - neither of which will ever be loud or coarse, but soft, low, and nicely modulate.

Paring Fruit for a Lady

Never pare an apple or pear for a lady unless she desire you, and then be careful to use your fork to hold it; you may sometimes offer to divide a very large pear with or for a person.

Variety of Toilet

Vary your toilet as much as possible, for fear that idlers and malignant wits, who are always a majority in the world,

should amuse themselves by making your dress the description of your person.

Talking Too Much

Ladies should avoid talking too much; it will occasion remarks. It has also a bad appearance to whisper continually in the ear of your partner.

Duties of Ladies

Ladies who dance too much, should be very careful not to boast before those who dance but little or not at all, of the great number of dances for which they are engaged in advance. They should also, without being perceived, recommend to these less fortunate ladies, gentlemen of their acquaintance.

Shaking Hands with a Lady

Never offer to shake hands with a lady in the street if you have on dark gloves, as you may soil her white ones.

Young Ladies Conduct on the Street

After twilight, a young lady would not be conducting herself in a becoming manner, by walking alone.

Forming Acquaintances in Public

A lady, be she young or old, never forms an acquaintance upon the streets or seeks to attract the attention or admiration of persons of the other sex. To do so would render false her claims to her ladyhood, if it did not make her liable to far graver charges.

Demanding Attentions

A lady never demands attentions and favors from a gentleman, but always accepts them gratefully and graciously and with expressed thanks.

Passing Before a Lady

When a lady whom you accompany wishes to enter a store, you should hold the door open and allow her to enter first, if practicable; for you must never pass before a lady anywhere, if you can avoid it,or without an apology.

Gentlemen Walking with a Lady

Ifyou are walking with a woman who has your arm, and you cross the street, it is better not to disengage your arm, and go round upon the outside. Such effort evinces a palpable attention to form, and that is always to be avoided.

Ascending a Mountain

Ifyou are walking with a woman in the country, - ascending a mountain or strolling by the bank of a river, - and your companion being fatigued, should choose to sit upon the ground, on no account allow yourself to do the same, but remain rigorously standing. To do otherwise would be flagrantly indecorous and she would probably resent it as the greatest insult.

A Lady Traveling Alone

A lady accustomed to traveling,if she pays proper attention to the rules of etiquette, may travel alone anywhere in the United States with perfect safety and propriety. But there are many ladies to whom all the ways of travel are uknown , and to such, an escort is very acceptable.

The Matters of Love

A lady's choice is only negative --that is to say, she may love, but she cannot declare her love; she must wait. It is hers, when the time comes, to consent or to decline, but till the time comes she must be passive. And whatever may be said in jest or sarcasm about it, this trial of a woman's patience is often very hard to bear.

Love at First Sight

Nodoubt there is such a thing as love at first sight, but love alone is a very uncertain foundation upon which to base marriage. There should be thorough acquaintanceship and a certain knowledge of harmony of tastes and temperaments before matrimony is ventured upon.

A Domineering Lover

Nolover will assume a domineering attitude over his future wife. If he does so, she will do well to escape from his thrall before she becomes his wife in reality. A domineering lover will be certain to be still more domineering as a husband; and from all such the prayer of wise women is, "Good Lord, deliver us!"

Breaking an Engagement by Letter

Itis generally best to break an engagement by letter. By this means one can express himself or herself more clearly, and give the true reasons for his or her course much better than in a personal interview. The letter breaking the engagement should be accompanied by everything in the way of portraits, letters or gifts which have been received during the engagement.

Presents to Married Ladies

Unmarried ladies should not accept presents from gentlemen to whom they are neither related nor engaged. A married lady may occasionally accept a present from a gentleman who is indebted to her for hospitality.

Last Updated: 6/27/22