Read CHAPTER V - INTRODUCTIONS, INVITATIONS, AND CALLS of The Complete Bachelor Manners for Men , free online book, by Walter Germain, on

Introductions are never made in the street or in public places of any kind, or in public conveyances, unless under exceptional circumstances. It is extremely bad form to introduce a guest on his entrance into a room to more than one other. Wholesale introductions are not the custom in New York. General introductions are not made at a dinner or at any function. People are sufficiently well bred to engage in general conversation when in the houses of their friends, even if they do not know each other, and not to take advantage of the circumstances afterward.

At any function at which the guests are told off, the host or hostess only presents the man to the woman whom he is to take down. A man never shakes hands upon being presented to a woman, but always on being introduced to a man. A man should never shake hands with a woman while wearing his gloves unless she also is gloved. Your hostess will give her hand to you when you make your obeisance. After being presented, an invitation is apt to follow. It may be, “Drop in to tea any afternoon,” or simply, “I would be glad to have you call.” This invitation should always come from a married woman. Unmarried women do not ask young men to call. A man may ask the privilege of calling, or the mother of the young woman may say, “We should be pleased to have you call, Mr. Smith.”

In New York and in many of the larger cities, as has already been stated, the proper time for a man to call on a woman is between the hours of four and six in the afternoon. Sometimes women have “days” in the season, and you should pay your call on one of them. Otherwise any afternoon may do, and you can use Sunday for this purpose after three o’clock.

Afternoon dress is, of course, requisite. In those places where evening calls are made a man must wear formal evening dress.

On the opening of the door by the servant, a man asks of him whether the hostess or “the ladies” are at home. This will depend on the number of the members of the family receiving. He gives to the domestic the proper number of cards. The servant precedes him, opens the drawing-room door for him, and in some ultra English houses he is announced. His card or cards have been deposited on the silver tray which the servant has presented to him in the hall and left there. A visiting card is never brought into the drawing room. A man on a first or a formal call carries his stick and hat into the drawing room with him. To “hang his hat” in the hall shows great intimacy even relationship in the house. He, however, should leave there his overcoat and his rubbers and umbrella. His hostess will advance to meet him, and will extend to him her right hand with a somewhat stiff angular motion, and he should shake it with a quick nervous movement of his right. He should neither grasp nor squeeze her hand, nor should he attempt that absurd so-called British shake in the air, which is never practiced except by player folk. A man removes his glove from his right hand on entering the drawing room, and holds this with his stick and hat in his left. The hat should be at an angle, the top about level with his nose. At weddings, the opera, and dances, where a woman is gloved, a man, if it is required to shake hands, does not remove his gloves. On ordinary occasions a woman is seldom gloved in her own drawing room, and if she is, handshaking is not usually expected. Should the hostess be gloved, as at a large affair, such as a formal or wedding reception, a man shakes hands with her with them on.

Tea is generally served in the afternoon on a tray with wafers, little cakes, and sometimes sandwiches. If you take a sandwich or a cup of tea, a doylie will be given you, which place upon your knee. When another caller enters the room stand up, whether it is a woman or a man. Ten minutes is all that is necessary for a formal call. It is less awkward to leave when a new caller is announced. Shake hands with your hostess and bow to the people present. Leave the room sideways, so as not to turn your back upon the company, and bow to them as you reach the door, thus bowing yourself out. Remember, do not be a lingerer or a sitter. No men are more dreaded in society than these wretched bores. The first arrivals leave first. Freezing out is not known in good society.

Calls should be made after every civility extended and every invitation accepted or regretted; after weddings, wedding receptions, deaths in families, etc., as fully explained in the chapter on card-leaving.

A letter of introduction is always sent, never left in person. Calls at the theater or in opera boxes are mere social amenities, and are not accepted as formal. A man enters an opera box, stands, and bows. His hostess will turn around and greet him. He will then, if there is a vacant chair, take one, and sit and talk a little while, leaving on the arrival of another caller. These rules for afternoon calls can be applied also to those made in the evening.

If no day is set for a first call, a man is expected to drop in any afternoon within ten days after the invitation. The sooner a call is made the greater the compliment. A second call may be made within two or three months; after that once or twice a year, as intimacy permits. A man is never asked to dinner or to any function at a house at which he has not first called. The usual form of a dinner invitation, the hostess being married, reads:

My dear Mr. Smith:

Will you dine with us, most informally, on Wednesday, December the ninth, at eight o’clock? Hoping that you have no engagement for that evening, believe me,

Yours very sincerely,
Alice de Tompkins.
November thirtieth.

An answer to an invitation like this, which should be sent within twenty-four hours, reads:

My dear Mrs. de Tompkins:

It will give me great pleasure to dine with you on Wednesday evening, December the ninth, at eight o’clock. With many thanks for your kind thought of me,

Yours very sincerely,
Algernon Smith.
December first.

Or, in the case of a formal dinner consisting of more than ten or twelve guests:

Mr. and Mrs. de Tompkins
request the pleasure of
Mr. Smith’s
company at dinner on
Wednesday evening, December
the ninth, at eight o’clock.

The answer reads:

Mr. Algernon Smith, Jr.,
accepts with pleasure
Mr. and Mrs. de Tompkins’s
kind invitation for
Wednesday evening, December the ninth,
at eight o’clock.
December first.

Answers to formal luncheon invitations are written in the same manner, only changing the hours, etc.

Informal invitations to breakfasts and luncheons will be treated in the chapter on that subject.

The form of an invitation to a private dance is:

Mr. and Mrs. de Tompkins request the pleasure of Mr. Algernon Smith’s company on Friday evening, January the ninth, at nine o’clock.

R. S. V. P. Dancing.

The answer to this would be similarly worded as in case of the formal dinner. As dance invitations are usually sent out three weeks in advance, three days’ grace is allowed for the answer.

When an invitation is received to a subscription ball, like the assemblies in various cities, you should acknowledge it, by your acceptance or regret, to the subscriber sending it; but when an invitation is received from a ball committee, you should accept as follows:

Mr. James de Courcy Peterson accepts with pleasure the committee’s kind invitation for Thursday evening, February the fifteenth.

January second.