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.
The Inquisitive, Disagreeable Caller.
AMONG the disagreeable callers are the husband and wife who come with a child and a small dog; the husband making himself familiar with the hostess, the dog barking at the cat, the child taking the free run of the house, while the wife, in the meantime, passes around the room, handling and examining the ornaments.
Other unpleasant callers are the man with the muddy boots, and the individual just in out of the rain, from whose overcoat and umbrella the water drips on the carpet.
Ready to Go, Yet Waiting.
S0ME evening callers make themselves odious by continuing their visit too long, and even when they have risen to depart they lack decision of purpose to go, but will frequently stand several minutes before taking final leave, and then when wraps are on and they are nearly gone, they will stand in the doorway to tell one more story while the hostess protects herself as best she can from the incoming gusts of wind and storm, sometimes thus taking a cold that ends in death. When the guest is ready to go - go.
OF LATE years it has become fashionable for ladies in many cities and villages to announce in the newspapers the fact of their intention to receive calls upon New Year's day, which practice is very excellent, as it enables gentlemen to know positively who will be prepared to receive them on that occasion; besides, changes of residence are so frequent in large cities as to make the publication of names and places of calling a great convenience.
The practice of issuing personal notes of invitation, which is sometimes done, to a list of gentlemen acquaintances, stating that certain ladies will receive on New Year's day, is not to be commended. It looks very much like begging the gentlemen to come and see them; moreover, should the practice generally prevail, it would, in a brief time, abolish New Year's calls altogether, as gentlemen would not feel at liberty to make calls unless personally invited; and thus the custom would soon go into disuse.
Upon calling, the gentlemen are invited to remove overcoat and hat, which invitation is accepted unless it is the design to make the call very brief. If refreshments are provided, the ladies will desire to have the gentlemen partake of them, which cannot conveniently be done in overcoat, with hat in hand. Gloves are sometimes retained upon the hand during the call, but this is optional. Cards are sent up, and the gentlemen are ushered into the reception-room. The call should not exceed ten or fifteen minutes, unless the callers are few and it should be mutually agreeable to prolong the stay.
Best taste will suggest that a lady having the conveniences shall receive her guests at her own home, but it is admissible and common for several ladies to meet at the residence of one and receive calls together. Whether ladies make announcement or not, however, it will be usually safe for gentlemen to call on their lady friends on New Year's, as the visit will generally be received with pleasure.
It is customary for the ladies who announce that they will receive to make their parlors attractive on that day, and present themselves in full dress. They should have a bright, cheerful fire, if the weather be cold, and a table, conveniently located in the room, with refreshments, consisting of fruits, cakes, bread and other food, such as may be deemed desirable, with tea and coffee. No intoxicating drinks should be allowed. Refreshments are in no case absolutely essential. They can be dispensed with if not convenient.
Gentlemen Making New Year's Calls.
Ladies expecting calls on New Year's should be in readiness to receive from 10 a. m. to 9 p. m. It is pleasant for two or more ladies to receive calls together on that occasion, as several ladies can the more easily entertain a party of several gentlemen who may be present at one time. While gentlemen may go alone, they also frequently go in pairs, threes, fours or more. They call upon all the ladies of the party, and where they are not acquainted introductions take place, care being taken that persons do not intrude themselves where they would not be welcome. Each gentleman should be provided with a large number of cards, with his own name upon each, one of which he will present to every lady of the company where he calls.
The ladies keep these cards for future reference, it being often pleasant to revive the incidents of the day by subsequent examination of the cards received upon that occasion.
An usher should be present wherever many calls are expected, to receive guests and care for hats and coats. The calls are necessarily very brief, and are made delightfully pleasant by continual change of face and conversation. But, however genial and free may be the interchange of compliments upon this occasion, no young man who is a stranger to the family should feel at liberty to call again without a subsequent invitation
The two or three days succeeding New Year's are the ladies' days for calling, upon which occasion they pass the compliments of the season, comment upon the incidents connected with the festivities of the holiday, the number of calls made, and the new faces that made their appearance among the visitors. It is customary upon this occasion of ladies' meeting to offer refreshments and to enjoy the intimacy of a friendly visit.
THE above shows the in-Tterior of the grocery store where cheese, butter, flour, sugar and other articles, containing moisture, are saturated with tobacco smoke. It may be the privilege of the proprietor to make his store the general resort of amusement seekers, loungers and smokers, but such a course is never to be commended as profitable to business.
THE charming window dis-T play of goods in this store attract to the interior, where the order and general neatness are evidences that the groceries for sale here are of pure quality, the butter not filled with the flavor of tobacco, nor the sugar with kerosene. These pleasant surroundings further indicate that prompt and genteel attention will be given the customer.
Suggestions About Shopping. Conduct in the Store.
PURCHASERS should, as far as possible, patronize the merchants of their own town. It is poor policy to send money abroad for articles which can be bought as cheaply at home.
Do not take hold of a piece of goods which another is examining. Wait until it is replaced upon the counter before you take it up.
Injuring goods when handling, pushing aside other persons, lounging upon the counter, whispering, loud talk and laughter, when in a store, are all evidences of ill-breeding.
Never attempt to "beat down" prices when shopping. If the price does not suit, go elsewhere. The just and upright merchant will have but one price for his goods, and he will strictly adhere to it.
It is an insult to a clerk or merchant to suggest to a customer about to purchase that he may buy cheaper or better elsewhere. It is also rude to give your opinion, unasked, about the goods that another is purchasing.
Never expect a clerk to leave another customer to wait on you; and, when attending upon you, do not cause him to wait while you visit with another. When the purchases are made let them be sent to your home, and thus avoid loading yourself with bundles.
Treat clerks, when shopping, respectfully, and give them no more trouble than is necessary. Ask for what is wanted, explicitly, and if you wish to make examination with a view to future purchase, say so. Be perfectly frank. There is no necessity for practicing deceit.
The rule should be to pay for goods when you buy them. If, however, you are trusted by the merchant, you should be very particular to pay your indebtedness when you agree to. By doing as you promise, you acquire habits of promptitude, and at the same time establish credit and make reputation among those with whom you deal.
It is rude in the extreme to find fault and to make sneering remarks about goods. To draw unfavorable comparisons between the goods and those found at other stores does no good, and shows want of deference and respect to those who are waiting on yon. Politely state that the goods are not what you want, and, while you may buy, you prefer to look further.
If a mistake has been made whereby you have been given more goods than you paid for, or have received more change than was your due, go immediately and have the error rectified. You cannot afford to sink your moral character by taking advantage of such mistakes. If yon had made an error to your disadvantage, as a merchant, you would wish the customer to return and make it right. You should do as you would be done by. Permanent success depends upon your being strictly honest.
A COMMON saying is, "A man's manners make his fortune." This is a well-known fact, and we see it illustrated every day. The parents who considerately train a child amid kindness and love, rear a support for their declining years. The teacher that rules well and is yet kind, is beloved by his pupils. The hotel proprietor, by affability and an accommodating spirit, may fill his hotel with guests. The railway conductor who has a pleasant word for the lonely traveler, is always remembered with favor. The postofflce clerk who very carefully looks through a pile of letters and says, "not any" very gently, pleasantly adding a word of hope by saying, "it may come on the afternoon train," we always gratefully recollect. When the time comes that we can return the kindness, we take great pleasure in doing so.
The man who shows himself to be a gentleman, even though he may not buy what we have to sell when we solicit him, we always know will get his reward. His affability, when he declined, demonstrated that he could say "no" with a pleasant word. The very fact of his impressing us so favorably, even when he did not purchase, clearly indicated that he was thoroughly schooled in the ways of politeness, and that he lived up to the golden rule of doing to others as he desired others to do to him.