This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
IN the social gathering here brought to view we have a strong con-trast to that on the opposite page. The positions are graceful and easy, with quietude and gentleness of manner, and the self-possession which true politeness always produces. An air of refinement in dress and gesture indicates a degree of mental culture secured by early training and the careful observance of the rules of social etiquette. In such a circle we should naturally expect the utterance of only the finest sentiments, the earnestness of sincerity, the purest of wit. Nothing is strained, far-fetched or improper, and the conversation is of that character that all may take a part in it and impart or receive lessons of truth and beauty, the remembrance of which will last as long as life itself. It is not necessary, in order to reap these advantages, to amass immense wealth. Even in the humblest households politeness, good nature and an easy demeanor may be cultivated with the happiest effects.
lands. All this is no evidence of any real genuine worth on your part.
Do not use the surname alone when speaking of your husband or wife to others. To say to another, that "I told Jones," referring to your husband, sounds badly. Whereas, to say, " I told Mr. Jones," shows respect and good-breeding.
Do not feel it incumbent upon yourself to carry your point in conversation. Should the person with whom you are conversing feel the same, your talk will lead into violent argument.
Do not yield to bashfulness. Do not isolate yourself, sitting back in a corner, waiting for some one to come and talk with you. Step out; have something to say. Though you may not say it very well, keep on. You will gain courage and will improve. It is as much your duty to entertain others as theirs to amuse you.
Do not attempt to pry into the private affairs of others by asking what their profits are, what things cost, whether Melissa ever had a beau, and why Amarette never got married. All such questions are extremely impertinent, and are likely to meet with rebuke.
Do not whisper in company; do not engage in private conversation; do not speak a foreign language which the general company present may not comprehend, unless it is understood that the foreigner is unable to speak your own language.
Do not take it upon yourself to admonish comparative strangers on religious topics; the persons to whom you speak may have decided convictions of their own in opposition to yours, and your over-zeal may seem to them an impertinence.
Do not aspire to be a great story-teller; an inveterate teller of long stories becomes very tiresome. To tell one or two witty, short, new stories, appropriate to the occasion, is about all that one person should inflict on the company.
Do not indulge in satire; no doubt you are witty, and you could say a most cutting thing that would bring the laugh of the company upon your opponent, but you must not allow it, unless to rebuke an impertinent fellow who can be suppressed in no other way.
Do not spend your time in talking scandal; you sink your own moral nature by so doing, and you are, perhaps, doing great injustice to those about whom you talk. You probably do not understand all the circumstances. Were they understood, you would, doubtless, be much more lenient.
Do not flatter; in doing so you embarrass those upon whom you bestow praise, as they may not wish to offend yon by repelling it, and yet they realize that if they accept it they merit your contempt. You may, however, commend their work whenever it can truthfully be done; but do not bestow praise where it is not deserved.