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.
THERE are many other kinds of gatherings, aside from the formal dinner-party and the ball, where less formality is required, but where the rules of etiquette, nevertheless, must be continually brought into service. These comprise conversations, or sociables, private concerts, readings, tea-parties, private theatricals, card-playing, etc. At these entertainments some prefer dancing, some music, some conversation, and some the playing of games.
Miss F--------'s compliments to Miss H--------, requesting the pleasure of her company for Friday evening, March 10, at eight o'clock.
For the small party meeting for a specific purpose, the invitation will read thus:
Miss B-------- requests the pleasure of Miss K--------'s company on
Friday evening next at 8 o'clock, to meet the members of the Salem Literary Club, to which Miss B--------belongs.
Miss B--------would be happy to have Miss K-------- take part in an entertainment consisting of readings and recitations, at her residence, on Wednesday evening, March 15th, at eight o'clock.
Like the dinner-party and ball, an answer should be promptly returned. The reply may read:
Miss K--------accepts with pleasure Miss B--------'s kind invitation for next Wednesday evening.
Unable to accept the invitation, the reply may read as follows:
Miss K--------regrets that a previous engagement (or other reason) will prevent her accepting Miss B--------'s kind invitation for Wednesday evening next.
Should there be any probability of mistake as to time, and identity of the person sending the invitation, the date should be explicitly given in the body of the note, and the full name and address may be placed in the lower left-hand corner.
As upon other occasions, it is the duty of the host and hostess to welcome arrivals and make all the guests feel at ease. To do this, much depends upon the hostess, who, by self-possession, geniality and continual movement among the guests, will make all feel at home. More especially if the entertainment partakes of the character of a sociable, much tact is necessary upon the part of the family to have the gathering entertained.
If among the company there are those particularly eminent, there should be also other notables, that attention may not be entirely concentrated upon the few.
Special pains should be taken that the party does not divide itself up into cliques, twos, threes or more, leaving a number out who seem to possess no power to get into conversation.
While it is not always advisable to break up a pleasant conversation going forward between two, three or four, care must be exercised that those inclined to drop aside and spend the time in conversing with each other are prevented by the hostess as much as possible from so doing, as the best conversationalists, thus going by themselves, would cause the remainder of the company to be wanting in spirit and animation. The introduction of others into the group, the calling for a story, the reading of a poem, the singing of a song, with instrumental music, will thus effectually break up the monotony.