In continuing with manners below is a chapter on Introductions from Manners, Culture and Dress of the Best American Society ©1894
IN the introduction of one gentleman to another, great prudence and caution must be used by the really polite man; but in the introduction of ladies to each other, and to gentlemen, infinitely more care is necessary, as a lady cannot shake off an improper acquaintance with the same facility as a gentleman can do, and her character is much easier affected by apparent contact with the worthless and the dissipated.
It is incumbent, therefore, on ladies to avoid all proffers of introductions, unless from those on whom from relationship or other causes, they can place the most implicit confidence.
Introductions By Relatives.
As a general rule, ladies may always at once accord to any offers of introduction that may proceed from a father, mother, husband, sister or brother; those from intimate cousins and tried friends are aiso to be considered favorably, although not to be entitled to the same implicit reliance as the former. Formerly it was the habit for the ladies to curtsey on being introduced, but this has latterly been changed into the more easy and graceful custom of bowing.
Saluting And Shaking Hands.
The habit of saluting and shaking hands is now quite obsolete, except in some country towns where ladies at first introductions salute other ladies by kissing them on the cheek, and fervently shake the hands of the gentlemen.
At present, in the best society, all that a lady is called upon to do, upon a first introduction either to a lady or a gentleman, is to make a slight, but gracious inclination of the head.
Second Or Subsequent Meeting.
Upon one lady meeting another for the second or subsequent times, the hand may be extended in supplement to the inclination of the head; but no lady should ever extend her hand to a gentleman, unless she is very intimate,—a bow at meeting and one at parting, is all that is necessary.
The Obligations Of Introduction.
Two persons who have been properly introduced have in future certain claims upon one another's ao quaintance which should be recognized unless there are sufficient reasons for overlooking them. Even in that case good manners require the formal bow of recognition upon meeting, which of itself encourages no familiarity. Only a very ill-bred person will meet another with a vacant stare.
After An Introduction.
If you wish to avoid the company of any one that has been properly introduced, satisfy your own mind that your reasons are correct; and then let no inducement cause you to shrink from treating him with respect, at the same time shunning his company. No gentleman will thus be able either to blame or mistake you.
Introductions While Traveling.
If, in traveling, any one introduces himself to you and does it in a proper and respectful manner, conduct yourself towards him with politeness, ease, and dignity; if he is a gentleman, he will appreciate your behavior—and if not a gentleman will be deterred from annoying you; but acquaintanceships thus formed must cease where they began. Your entering into conversation with a lady or gentleman while traveling does not give any of you a right to after recognition. If any one introduces himself to you in a manner betraying the least want of respect, either towards you or himself, you can only turn from him in dignified silence,—and if he presumes to address you further, then there is no punishment too severe.
Introductory Letter To Ladies.
Be very cautious of giving a gentleman a letter of introduction to a lady; for remember, in proportion as you are esteemed by the lady to whom it is addressed, so do you claim for your friend her good wishes,—and such letters are often the means of settling the weal or the woe of the parties for life. Ladies should never themselves, unless upon cases of the most urgent business, deliver introductory letters, but should send them in an envelope inclosing their card.
Receipt Of Introductory Letters.
On receipt of an introductory letter, take it into instant consideration; if you are determined not to receive the party, write at once some polite, plausible, but dignified cause of excuse. If the party is one you think fit to receive, then let your answer be accordingly, and without delay; never leave unanswered till the next day a letter of introduction.
If any one whom you have never seen before call with a letter of introduction, and you know from its appearance who sent it, desire the person to sit down, and at once treat them politely; but if you do not recognize the hand-writing it is quite proper, after requesting them to be seated, to beg their pardon, and peruse the letter in order that you may know how to act.
Requesting A Letter Of Introduction.
If any one requests a letter of introduction, and you do not consider that it would be prudent, eithei in respect to your situation with the person so requesting it, or with the one to whom it would be addressed, refuse it with firmness, and allow no inducement whatever to alter your purpose.
Introduction To Society.
On your introduction to society, be modest, retiring, unassuming, and dignified; pay respect to all, but most to those who pay you the most, provided it is respectful and timely.
Bestowing Of Titles.
In introducing a person be sure to give him his appropriate title, as some persons are jealous of their dignity. If he is a clergyman, say "The Rev. Mr. Forsyth." If a doctor of divinity, say "The Rev. Dr. Forsyth." If he is a member of Congress, call him "Honorable," and specify to which branch of Congress he belongs. If he be governor of a State, mention what State. If he is a man of any celebrity in the world of art or letters, it is well to mention the fact something after this manner: "Mr. Ellis, the artist, whose pictures you have frequently seen," or "Mr. Smith, author of 'The World after the Deluge,' which you so greatly admired."
Proper Forms Of Introduction.
The proper form of introduction is to present the gentleman to the lady, the younger to the older, the inferior to the superior; Thus you will say: "Mrs. Cary, allow me to present to you Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Rhodes, Mrs. Cary;" "Mrs. Wood, let me present to you my friend Miss. Ewing;" "General Graves, permit me to introduce to you Mr. Hughes." The exact words used in introductions are immaterial, so that the proper order is preserved.
It is better, among perfect equals, to employ the phrase, "Permit me to present you to than "Permit me to present to you * *;" there are men in this world, and men, too, who are gentlemen, who are so sensitive that they would be offended if the latter of these forms was employed in presenting them to another.
These ceremonious phrases, "Permit me to present, &c.," are not to be employed unless the acquaintance has been solicited by one party, under circumstances of mere ceremony; and when you employ them, do not omit to repeat to each distinctly the name of the other.
When two men unacquainted meet one another where it is obviously necessary that they should be made known to each other, perform the operation with mathematical simplicity and precision, -"Mr. A., Mr. A.\ Mr. A.\ Mr. A."
Speak The Name Distinctly.
When, upon being presented to another, you do not feel certain of having caught his name, it may be worse than awkward to remain, as it were, shooting the dark; say, therefore, at once, without hesitation or embarrassment, before making your bow, "I beg your pardon, I did not hear the name."
Introduction Of A Lady To 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." I am aware that high authority might be found in this country to sanction the custom of giving the hand upon a first meeting, but it is undoubtedly a solecism in manners. The habit has been adopted by us, with some improvement for the worse, from France.
Introductions In Other Countries.
When two Frenchmen are presented to one anoth. er, each presses the other's hand with delicate affection. The English, however, never do so; and the practice is altogether inconsistent with the caution of manner which is characteristic of their nation and our own. If we are to follow the French in shaking hands with one whom we have never before seen, we should certainly imitate them also in kissing our intimate male acquaintances. There are some Americans, indeed, who will not leave this matter optional, but will seize your hand in spite of you, and visit it pretty roughly before you recover it. Next to being presented to the Grand Jury, is the nuisance of being presented to such persons. Such handling is most unhandsome.
Introductions With Permission.
A gentleman should not be presented to a lady without her permission being previously asked and granted. This formality is not necessary between men alone; but, still, you should not present any one, even at his own request, to another, unless you are quite well assured that the acquaintance will be agreeable to the latter. You may decline upon the ground of not being sufficiently intimate yourself. A man does himself no service with another when he obliges him to know people whom he would rather avoid.
Introductions Without Permission.
There are some exceptions to the necessity of applying to a lady for her permission. At a party or a dance, the mistress of the house may present any man to any woman without application to the latter. A sister may present her brother, and a mother may present her son, upon their own authority; but they should be careful not to do this unless where they are very intimate, and unless there is no inferiority on their part. A woman may be very willing to know another woman, without caring to be saddled with her whole family. As a general rule, it is better to be presented by the mistress of the house, than by any other person.
Meeting On The Street.
If you 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.
Morning Visitors. If you are paying a morning visit, and some one comes in, whose name you know, and no more, and he or she is not recognized by, or acquainted with, the person visited, present such a person, yourself.
If on entering a drawing-room to pay a visit, you are not recognized, mention your name immediately; if you know but one member of a family, and you find others only in the parlor, present yourself to them. Much awkwardness may be occasioned by want of attention to this.
Assisting A Lady In Difficulty.
If you see a lady whom you do not know, unattended, and wanting the assistance of a man, offer your services to her immediately. Do it with great courtesy, taking off your hat and begging the honor of assisting her. This precept, although universally observed in France, is constantly violated in England and America by the demi-bred, perhaps by all but the thorough-bred. The ' mob of gentlemen" in this country seem to act in these cases as if a gentleman ipso facto ceased to be a Man, and as if the form of presentation was established to prevent intercourse and not. to increase it .