Do not underestimate the ability that can achieve it: a scintillating wit, an arresting originality, a talent for entertaining that amounts to genius, and gold poured literally like rain, are the least requirements. Puritan America on the other hand demanding, as a ticket of admission to her Best Society, the qualifications of birth, manners and cultivation, clasps her hands tight across her slim trim waist and announces severely that New York's "Best" is, in her opinion, very "bad" indeed.
But this is because Puritan America, as well as the general public, mistakes the jester for the queen. As a matter of fact, Best Society is not at all like a court with an especial queen or king, nor is it confined to any one place or group, but might better be described as an unlimited brotherhood which spreads over the entire surface of the globe, the members of which are invariably people of cultivation and worldly knowledge, who have not only perfect manners but a perfect manner.
Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one's innate character and attitude toward life. A gentleman, for instance, will never be ostentatious or overbearing any more than he will ever be servile, because these attributes never animate the impulses of a well-bred person. A man whose manners suggest the grotesque is invariably a person of imitation rather than of real position. Etiquette must, if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners.
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Certainly what one is, is of far greater importance than what one appears to be. A knowledge of etiquette is of course essential to one's decent behavior, just as clothing is essential to one's decent appearance; and precisely as one wears the latter without being self-conscious of having on shoes and perhaps gloves, one who has good manners is equally unself-conscious in the observance of etiquette, the precepts of which must be so thoroughly absorbed as to make their observance a matter of instinct rather than of conscious obedience.
Thus Best Society is not a fellowship of the wealthy, nor does it seek to exclude those who are not of exalted birth; but it is an association of gentle-folk, of which good form in speech, charm of manner, knowledge of the social amenities, and instinctive consideration for the feelings of others, are the credentials by which society the world over recognizes its chosen members.
The word "present" is preferable on formal occasions to the word "introduce. The correct formal introduction is:. The younger person is always presented to the older or more distinguished, but a gentleman is always presented to a lady, even though he is an old gentleman of great distinction and the lady a mere slip of a girl.
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No lady is ever, except to the President of the United States, a cardinal, or a reigning sovereign, presented to a man. The correct introduction of either a man or woman:. Much formality of presenting names on lists is gone through beforehand; at the actual presentation an "accepted" name is repeated from functionary to equerry and nothing is said to the King or Queen except: "Mrs.
But a Foreign Ambassador is presented, "Mr. Ambassador, may I present you to Mrs. Very few people in polite society are introduced by their formal titles.
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A hostess says, "Mrs. Jones, may I present the Duke of Overthere? Lordson, or Mr. A doctor, a judge, a bishop, are addressed and introduced by their titles.
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The clergy are usually Mister unless they formally hold the title of Doctor, or Dean, or Canon. A Catholic priest is "Father Kelly. But the President of the United States, once he is out of office, is merely "Mr. The more important name is said with a slightly rising inflection, the secondary as a mere statement of fact. For instance, suppose you say, "Are you there? Are you there? The unmarried lady is presented to the married one, unless the latter is very much the younger. As a matter of fact, in introducing two ladies to each other or one gentleman to another, no distinction is made.
Smith; Mrs. Brown; Mr. A man is also often introduced, "Mrs. To a young man, however, she should say, "Mr. Struthers, have you met my daughter? Jones, you know Mrs. Robinson, don't you? These are all good form, whether gentlemen are introduced to ladies, ladies to ladies, or gentlemen to gentlemen. In introducing a gentleman to a lady, you may ask Mr. Smith if he has met Mrs.
Jones, but you must not ask Mrs. Jones if she has met Mr. Do not say: "Mr. Jones, shake hands with Mr. Smith," or "Mrs. Jones, I want to make you acquainted with Mrs.
Smith is "my friend" and you are a stranger. You may very properly say to Mr. Smith "I want you to meet Mrs.
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Jones," but this is not a form of introduction, nor is it to be said in Mrs. Jones' hearing. Upon leading Mr.
Smith up to Mrs. Jones, you say "Mrs. Jones may I present Mr. Smith" or "Mrs. Jones; Mr. Smith meet Mrs. Jones," or "Mrs. Jones meet Mr. Do not repeat "Mrs. Most people of good taste very much dislike being asked their names. To say "What is your name? If you want to know with whom you have been talking, you can generally find a third person later and ask "Who was the lady with the grey feather in her hat?
When a gentleman is introduced to a lady, she sometimes puts out her hand—especially if he is some one she has long heard about from friends in common, but to an entire stranger she generally merely bows her head slightly and says: "How do you do!
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Nothing could be more ill-bred than to treat curtly any overture made in spontaneous friendliness. No thoroughbred lady would ever refuse to shake any hand that is honorable, not even the hand of a coal heaver at the risk of her fresh white glove.
Those who have been drawn into a conversation do not usually shake hands on parting. But there is no fixed rule. A lady sometimes shakes hands after talking with a casual stranger; at other times she does not offer her hand on parting from one who has been punctiliously presented to her.