NEW AND ENLARGED EDITION, REVISED BY THE AUTHOR,  JUN 11 1887         Library Home       WedBlog        Forum       Blog


Chapters 1-7
CHAPTER I. Women as Leaders 
CHAPTER II. Optional Civilities 
CHAPTER III. Good and Bad Society 
CHAPTER IV. On Introducing People 
CHAPTER V. Visiting 
CHAPTER VI. Invitations, Acceptances, and Regrets 
CHAPTER VII. Cards of Compliment, Courtesy, Condolence, and Congratulation
Chapters 8 - 16
CHAPTER VIII. The Etiquette of Weddings 
CHAPTER IX. Who Pays for the Cards 
CHAPTER X. Weddings after Easter 
CHAPTER XI. Summer Weddings 
CHAPTER XII Autumn Weddings 
CHAPTER XIII. Before the Wedding and After 
CHAPTER XIV. Gold, Silver, and Tin Weddings 
CHAPTER XV. The Etiquette of Balls 
CHAPTER XVI. Fashionable Dancing 
Chapters 17 - 23
CHAPTER XVII. Letters and Letter Writing 
CHAPTER XVIII. Costly thy Habit 
CHAPTER XlX. Dressing for Driving .
CHAPTER XX. Incongruities of Dress 
CHAPTER XXI. Etiquette of Mourning 
CHAPTER XXII. Mourning and Funeral Usages 
CHAPTER XXIII. Letters of Condolence 
Chapters 24 - 35
CHAPTER XXIV. Chaperons and Their Duties 
CHAPTER XXV. Etiquette for Elderly Girls 
CHAPTER XXVI. New Year's Calls 
CHAPTER XXVII. Matinees And SoirĂ©es 
CHAPTER XXVIII. Afternoon Tea 
CHAPTER XXIX. Caudle And Christening Cups and Ceremonies 
CHAPTER XXX. Modern Dinner Table 
CHAPTER XXXI. Laying the Dinner-table
CHAPTER XXXII. Favors and Bonbonnieres 
CHAPTER XXXIII. Dinner Table Novelties 
CHAPTER XXXIV. Summer Dinners 
CHAPTER XXXV. Luncheons, Informal and Social 
Chapters 36 - 45
CHAPTER XXXVI. Supper Parties 
CHAPTER XXXVII. Simple Dinners 
CHAPTER XXXVIII. The Small Talk of Society 
CHAPTER XXXIX. Garden Parties 
CHAPTER XL. Silver Weddings and Other Wedding Anniversaries
CHAPTER XLI. Spring And Summer Entertainments 
CHAPTER XLII. Floral Tributes and Decorations 
CHAPTER XLIII. The Fork and the Spoon 
CHAPTER XLIV. Napkins and Table-cloths 
CHAPTER XLV. Servants, their Dress and Duties 
Chapters 46 - 55
CHAPTER XLVI. House with One Servant 
CHAPTER XLVII. House with Two Servants 
CHAPTER XLVIII. House with Many Servants 
CHAPTER XLIX. Manners: A Study For The Awkward and the Shy 
CHAPTER L. How To Treat A Guest 
CHAPTER LI. Lady And Gentleman 
CHAPTER LIL The Manners of the Past 
CHAPTER LIII. The Manners of the Optimist 
CHAPTER LIV. The Manners of the Sympathetic 
CHAPTER LV. Certain Questions Answered
Chapters 56 -59
CHAPTER LVI. English Table Manners and Social Usages
CHAPTER LVII. American And English Etiquette Contrasted 
CHAPTER LVIII. How To Treat English People
CHAPTER LIX. A Foreign Table D'Hote, and Casino Life Abroad 


There is no country where there are so many people asking what is "proper to do," or, indeed, where there are so many genuinely anxious to do the proper thing, as in the vast conglomerate which we call the United States of America. The newness of our country is perpetually renewed by the sudden making of fortunes, and by the absence of a hereditary, reigning set. There is no aristocracy here which has the right and title to set the fashions.

But a "reigning set," whether it depend upon hereditary right or adventitious wealth, if it be possessed of a desire to lead and a disposition to hospitality, becomes for a period the dictator of fashion to a large number of lookers-on. The traveling world, living far from great centres, goes to Newport, Saratoga, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, and gazes on what is called the latest American fashion. This, though exploited by what we may call for the sake of distinction the "newer set," is influenced and shaped in some degree by people of native refinement and taste, and that wide experience which is gained by travel and association with broad and cultivated minds. They counteract the tendency to vulgarity, which is the great danger of a newly launched society, so that our social condition improves, rather than retrogrades, with every decade.

There may be many social purists who will disagree with us in this statement. Men and women educated in the creeds of the Old World, with the good blood of a long ancestry of quiet ladies and gentlemen, find modern American society, particularly in New York and at Newport, fast, furious, and vulgar. There are, of course, excesses committed everywhere in the name of fashion; but we cannot see that they are peculiar to America. We can only answer that the creed of fashion is one of perpetual change. There is a Council of Trent, we may say, every five years, perhaps even every two years, in our new and changeful country, and we learn that, follow as we may either the grand old etiquette of England or the more gay and shifting social code of France, we still must make an original etiquette of our own. Our political system alone, where the lowest may rise to the highest preferment, upsets in a measure all that the Old World insists upon in matters of precedence and formality. Certain immutable principles remain common to all elegant people who assume to gather society about them, and who wish to enter its portals; the absent-minded scholar from his library should not ignore them, the fresh young farmer from the countryside feels and recognizes their importance. If we are to live together in unity we must make society a pleasant thing, we must obey certain formal rules, and these rules must conform to the fashion of the period.

And it is in no way derogatory to a new country like our own if on some minor points of etiquette we presume to differ from the older world. We must fit our garments to the climate, our manners to our fortunes and to our daily lives. There are, however, faults and inelegancies of which foreigners accuse us which we may do well to consider. One of these is the greater freedom allowed in the manners of our young women a freedom which, as our New World fills up with people of foreign birth, cannot but lead to social disturbances. Other national faults, which English writers and critics kindly point out, are our bumptiousness, our spread- eagleism, and our too great familiarity and lack of dignity, etc.

Instead of growing angry over these criticisms, perhaps we might as well look into the matter dispassionately, and see if we cannot turn the advice in some degree to our advantage. We can, however, decide for ourselves on certain points of etiquette which we borrow from nobody; they are a part of our great nation, of our republican institutions, and of that continental hospitality which gives a home to the Russian, the German, the Frenchman, the Irishman, man, and the "heathen Chinese." A somewhat wide and elastic code, as boundless as the prairies, can alone meet the needs of these different citizens. The old traditions of stately manners, so common to the Washington and Jefferson days, have almost died out here, as similar manners have died out all over the world. The war of 1861 swept away what little was left of that once important American fact--a grandfather. We began all over again; and now there comes up from this newer world a flood of questions: How shall we manage all this? How shall we use a fork? When wear a dress-coat? How and when and on whom shall we leave our cards? How long and for whom shall we wear mourning? What is the etiquette of a wedding? How shall we give a dinner-party? The young housekeeper of Kansas writes as to the manners she shall teach to her children; the miner's wife, having become rich, asks how she shall arrange her house, call on her neighbors, write her letters? Many an anxious girl writes as to the propriety of "driving out with a gentleman," etc. In fact, there is one great universal question, What is the etiquette of good society?

Not a few people have tried to answer these questions, and have broken down in the attempt. Many have made valuable manuals, as far as they went; but writers on etiquette commonly fail, for one or two different reasons. Many attempt to write who know nothing of good society by experience, and their books are full of ludicrous errors. Others have had the disadvantage of knowing too much, of ignoring the beginning of things, of supposing that the person who reads will take much for granted. For a person who has an intuitive knowledge of etiquette, who has been brought up from his mother's knee in the best society, has always known what to do, how to dress, to whom to bow, to write in the simplest way about etiquette would be impossible; he would never know how little the reader, to whose edification he was addressing himself, knew of the matter.

If, however, an anxious inquirer should write and ask if "mashed potato must be eaten with a knife or a fork," or if "napkins and finger bowls can be used at breakfast," those questions he can answer.

It is with an effort to answer thousands of these questions, written in good faith to Harper's Bazaar, that this book is undertaken. The simplicity, the directness, and the evident desire "to improve," which characterize these anonymous letters, are all much to be commended. Many people have found themselves suddenly conquerors of material wealth, the most successful colonists in the world, the heirs of a great inheritance, the builders of a new empire. There is a true refinement manifested in their questions. Not only do men and women like to behave properly themselves, but all desire to know what is the best school of manners, that they may educate their children therein. Such minds are the best conservators of law and order. It is not a communistic spirit that asks, "How can I do this thing in a better way?" It is that wise and liberal conservatism which includes reverence for law, respect for age, belief in religion, and a desire for a refined society. A book on etiquette, however patiently considered and honestly written, must have many shortcomings, and contain disputed testimony. All we can do is endeavor to mention those fashions and customs which we believe to be the best, remembering always, as we have said, that the great law of change goes on forever, that our stately grandfathers had fashions which we should now consider gross and unbecoming, while we have customs, particularly of speech, which would have shocked them. This law of change is not only one which time modifies, but with us the South, the North, the East, and the West differ as to certain points of etiquette. All, however, agree in saying that there is a good society in America whose mandates are supreme. All feel that the well-bred man or woman is a "recognized institution." Everybody laughed at the mistakes of Daisy Miller, and saw wherein she and her mother were wrong. Independent American girls may still choose to travel without a chaperon, but they must be prepared to fight a well-founded prejudice if they do. There is a recognition of the necessity of good manners, and a profound conviction, let us hope, that a graceful manner is the outcropping of a well-regulated mind and of a good heart.