Read CHAPTER I - THE BACHELOR IN PUBLIC of The Complete Bachelor Manners for Men , free online book, by Walter Germain, on

The average man is judged by his appearance and his deportment in public. His dress, his bearing, his conduct toward women and his fellow-men, are telling characteristics.

In the street, when walking with a woman the term “lady” being objectionable, except in case of distinction every man should be on his mettle. Common sense, which is the basis of all etiquette, teaches him that he should be her protector. Therefore, under general circumstances, his place is on the street or outer side. Should there be a crowd on the inner side, should the walking be muddy or rough, or should there be a building in process of repair, or one or the other of the inconveniences of city life, then the man should take the side which will enable him to shield his fair companion from all annoyance. At night a man offers his arm to a woman. In the daytime etiquette allows this only when the sidewalk is very rough, when there are steps to climb, a crowd to be piloted through, or a street crossing to effect. In any one of these emergencies suggest, “I think you will find it better to take my arm.” A man never walks bodkin that is, sandwiched between two women.

It is the privilege of a woman to bow first. She may have reasons why she should not wish to continue an acquaintance, and a man should never take the initiative. Abroad, in many countries, the man bows first. When old friends meet, however, the bowing is simultaneous.

A man lifts his hat in acknowledgment of any salutation made to the woman with whom he is walking. It is his place, on such an occasion, to bow to a man friend, whether the latter enjoys or does not have the pleasure of the acquaintance of the woman. A man’s failure to do this signifies that the woman does not wish to know him, or that her companion does not wish her to know the other man.

Hotel corridors and halls may be classed as semi-public places. A man meeting a woman in one of these, where by custom he is permitted to keep on his hat, must step aside and let her pass, raising his hat as he does so. This does not apply to theater corridors, theater or hotel lobbies, or offices. In such houses as the Waldorf in New York, where the hall is utilized as a general sitting room by both sexes, it is not good form for a man to keep on his hat. In London, however, the rule is not as strict.

Men in this country do not lift their hats to one another, except when they are introduced in the open or a public place. Civility is never wasted, and it is proper, as well as an act of reverence, to thus salute a clergyman or a venerable and distinguished gentleman.

A man always lifts his hat when offering a woman a service, such as picking up or restoring to her a dropped pocket handkerchief or other article, or when passing a fare in a public conveyance, or when rendering any trifling assistance. Should she be with a male escort, the latter should raise his hat and thank the person who has rendered the service. This bit of politeness is under no circumstances the prelude to an acquaintance with an unescorted woman, and no gentleman would take advantage of it. A man always raises his hat and remains uncovered when talking to a woman.

It is not good form to stop a woman on the street, even if the exchange of a few commonplace remarks be the excuse. A man never joins a woman on a thoroughfare unless she be one from whose friendship he is sure that he can claim this privilege.

A gentleman always assists a woman in and out of a carriage or a public conveyance. He opens the door of the vehicle for her, helps her in by a deft motion of the right arm, and with his left protects her skirts from any possible mud or dust on the wheel. As he leaves her he closes the door, and, if it be a private conveyance, gives directions to the driver. He lifts his hat in bidding her good-by. Even when there is a footman, a second man, or an attendant, it should be esteemed a favor to give this assistance.

In entering shops, theaters, or other buildings, where there are swinging doors, the escort goes ahead and holds one of them ajar, passing in last. A woman always precedes a man, except in one or two special cases. A man precedes a woman walking down the aisle of a theater, and it is better form that he should take the inside seat, especially if there is a man occupying the place next to the vacant one. A man precedes a woman up a narrow staircase in a public building, but in a private house, in ascending or descending a stairway, he should always allow the woman to precede him. In entering a theater box a man follows the usher, preceding the woman down the theater corridor to the door of the box. He then holds this open, and the women precede him, he following them. In a church, in going down a narrow aisle, the woman precedes the man.

The lift or elevator, as well as the corridors and lobbies of a public building, the office of a hotel, and the vestibule of a theater, are public highways. In these places a man keeps on his hat, his deportment being the same as he would observe in the street. But when the lift or elevator is fitted up as a drawing room, such as is used in hotels and other semi-public buildings, a man removes his hat when the other sex is of the number of its passengers.

When escorting a woman to a house where she is to make a visit, always mount the stoop or steps with her, ring the bell, and remain there until the servant comes to the door. Then, if you are not going in, take off your hat and leave her. Restaurants, the dining rooms of hotels, roof gardens, and places of amusement in the open air, where refreshments are served, are semi-public.

A man always rises from the table at which he is sitting when a woman bows to him and immediately returns the salutation. Should the place be in the open, he doffs his hat, which under such circumstances he is obliged to wear. When he is in a party and a lady and her escort chance to stop at his table to exchange greetings with his friends, he should rise and remain standing during the conversation. If a man is introduced to him, unattended by a woman, and he is with a stag party, politeness bids him also rise.

A gentleman will never be seen in public with characters whom he could not introduce to his mother or his sister. A man when he is with a lady should be very careful, especially at roof gardens and such places in midsummer, about recognizing male acquaintances who seem to be in rather doubtful company.

In walking, a man should carry either a stick or a well-rolled umbrella. The stick should be grasped just below the crook or knob, but the ferrule must be kept downward. In business hours or on business thoroughfares to carry a stick is an affectation, but the man of leisure is regarded leniently in these abodes as a privileged character.

The umbrella is an instrument of peace rather than a weapon of war, and should not be carried as “trailed arms,” but like the stick it should be grasped a short distance below the handle, and the latter held almost upright on a very slight perpendicular.

In the presence of ladies, unless by special permission, a gentleman never smokes, and under no circumstances does he indulge in a weed while on the street or walking with them. If, while smoking, a man should meet a woman and there should be any stopping to talk, he must at once throw away his cigar or his cigarette. A pipe is never smoked on fashionable promenades, and a man in a top hat and a frock coat with a pipe in his mouth is an anomaly. The pipe accompanies tweeds and a “pot” hat in the country or on business thoroughfares. A meerschaum or a wooden pipe is then allowable, but never a clay or a dudeen. The cuspidor is a banished instrument. The filthy custom of tobacco chewing and consequent expectoration can not be tolerated in civilized society.

A gentleman is never hurried, nor does he loiter. The fashionable gait is comparatively slow, with long steps. The exaggerated stride of the Anglomaniac is as bad form as the swagger of the Bowery “tough.” The correct demeanor is without gesture or apparent effort.

Staring at or ogling women, standing at the entrances of theaters, churches, or other public buildings, stopping still and turning back to look at some one or something in the street, can be classified as offenses of which no gentleman can be guilty.

Free and easy attitudes are not tolerated in good society, and this same rule should apply to public conveyances. As the man who crosses his legs in the presence of ladies is absolutely impossible, so should be the individual who commits the same crime in a public conveyance. He not only proves a nuisance to those around him, but he is a source of damage as well as danger to the comfort and safety of his fellow-passengers.

In a crowded car, ferryboat, or stage, it is yet a mooted question as to whether or not a man should give up his seat to a woman. In theory he should, but there are circumstances under which he may be pardoned. To a refined or delicate lady, to an old or an enfeebled woman, or one burdened with bundles or with a baby in the arms, the answer to this should be a decided affirmative. In the South, this gallant action is universally practiced, except when the woman is a negress. In public conveyances a man should sit to the right of a woman.

An escort should pay all fares in public conveyances, and should look after the comfort and welfare of his companion, taking entire charge of tickets, luggage, and luggage checks. Should a woman insist upon paying her pro rata of the expenses the arrangement can be made before starting, many sensible women handing their escorts their purses for the purpose. Do not offer to pay the fare of any of your women friends who might possibly enter your train or stage. This is embarrassing and not necessary. A railway car or carriage being a public conveyance, a man always keeps on his hat, as he also does in a cab or any other vehicle in which he is driving, accompanied or not accompanied by one of the opposite sex.