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.
You are expected to pleasantly accept such hospitality as your friends can afford.
If no previous understanding has been had, the visit should be limited to three days, or a week at most.
You should make your visit interfere as little as possible with the routine work of the household in which you are a guest.
You should '"'ate upon your arrival how long you intend to stay, that your friends may arrange their plans to entertain accordingly.
Furnish your own materials in doing work for yourself when you are visiting, as much as possible, and never depend upon your entertainers.
A kind courtesy, while you remain, will be to execute some work representing your own skill, to be given the hostess as a memento of the occasion.
The guest should beware of making unfavorable comment about the friends of the host and hostess, or of offering unfavorable criticism upon what they are known to favor or admire.
Should you happen to injure any article or other property while visiting, you should have the same immediately repaired, and, if possible, the article put in better condition than it was before.
You should not treat your friend's house as if it was a hotel, making your calls, visiting, transacting business about the town, and coming and going at all hours to suit your own convenience.
The guest should aim to render efficient assistance in case of sickness or sudden trouble at the house where the visit may be made. Oftentimes the best service will be rendered by considerately taking your leave.
Invitations accepted by the lady-guest should include the hostess, and those received by the hostess should include the guest. Thus, as much as possible, at all places of entertainment hostess and guest should go together.
While husbands and wives are always expected to accompany each other, where either may be invited, it is a trespass upon the generosity of the friend to take children and servants unless they are included in the invitation.
Never invite a friend who calls upon you into any other room than the parlor, unless it is suggested by the hostess that you do so. While you may have the right to enter various rooms, you have no authority for extending the privilege to others.
Immediately upon the return to your home, after paying a visit, you should write to your hostess, thanking her for hospitality and the enjoy ment you received. You should also ask to be remembered to all of the family, mentioning each one by name.
Expenses which the friends may incur in removal and care of baggage, in repairs of wardrobe, or any other personal service requiring cash outlay, the guest should be careful to have paid. Washing and ironing should be sent elsewhere from the place where the guest is visiting.
The lady-guest should beware of receiving too many visits from gentlemen, and if invited to accompany them to places of amusement or on rides, she should consult with the hostess and learn what appointments she may have, and whether the going with others will be satisfactory to her.
Should a secret of the family come into your possession while on a visit, you should remember that the hospitality and privileges extended should bind you to absolute secrecy. It is contemptibly mean to become the possessor of a secret thus, and afterwards betray the confidence reposed in you.
Be careful that you treat with kindness and care servants, horses, carriages and other things at your friend's house which are placed at your disposal. To pluck choice flowers, to handle books roughly, to drive horses too fast, to speak harshly to servants - all this indicates selfishness and bad manners.
The visitor should beware of criticism or fault-finding with the family of the hostess. It is also in extremely bad taste for the guest to speak disparagingly of things about the home or the town where the visit is being made, being at the same time enthusiastic in praise of people and places elsewhere.
When a child is taken along, the mother should be very watchful that it does no injury about the house, and makes no trouble. It is excessively annoying to a neat housekeeper to have a child wandering about the rooms, handling furniture with greasy fingers, scattering crumbs over the carpets, and otherwise making disturbance.
The gentleman visitor should be certain that smoking is not offensive to the various members of the family, before he indulges too freely in the pipe and cigar about the house. For the guest, without permission, to seat himself in the parlor (Fig. 16), and scent the room with the fumes of tobacco, is a serious impoliteness.
When you can at times render assistance to those you are visiting, in any light work, you will often make your visit more agreeable. A lady will not hesitate to make her own bed if there be few or no servants, and will do anything else to assist the hostess. If your friend, however, declines allowing you to assist her, you should not insist upon the matter further.
Guests should enter with spirit and cheerfulness into the various plans that are made for their enjoyment. Possibly some rides will be had, and some visits made, that will be tiresome, but the courteous guest should find something to admire everywhere, and thus make the entertainers feel that their efforts to please are appreciated.
Of various persons in the family where the guest may be visiting, gifts may most appropriately be given to the hostess, and the baby or the youngest child. If the youngest has reached its teens, then it may be best to give it to the mother. The visitor will, however, use discretion in the matter. Flowers and fancy needle-work will always be appropriate for the lady. Confectionery and jewelry will be appreciated by the children. Small articles of wearing apparel or money will be suitable for servants who have been particularly attentive to the guest.
Special pains should be taken by guests to adapt themselves to the religious habits of those with whom they are visiting. If daily prayers are had, or grace is said at meals, the most reverent attention should be given; though when invited to participate in any of these exercises, if unaccustomed to the same, you can quietly ask to be excused. As a rule, it is courtesy to attend church with the host and hostess. Should you have decided preferences, and go elsewhere, do so quietly and without comment, and under no circumstances should there be allowed religious discussion afterwards. You visit the home of your friends to entertain and be entertained. Be careful that you so treat their opinions that they will wish you to come again.
Take the baggage-checks, and give personal attention to having the trunks conveyed to your residence, relieving the guest of all care in the matter.
Having received intelligence of the expected arrival of a guest, if possible have a carriage at the depot to meet the friend. Various members of the family being with the carriage will make the welcome more pleasant
Have a warm, pleasant room especially prepared for the guest, the dressing-table being supplied with water, soap, towel, comb, hair-brush, brush-broom, hat-brush, pomade, cologne, matches, needles and pins. The wardrobe should be conveniently arranged for the reception of wearing apparel. The bed should be supplied with plenty of clothing, a side-table should contain writing materials, and the center-table should be furnished with a variety of entertaining reading matter.
Arrange to give as much time as possible to the comfort of the guest, visiting places of amusement and interest in the vicinity. This should all be done without apparent effort on your part. Let your friends feel that the visit is a source of real enjoyment to you; that through their presence and company you have the pleasure of amusements and recreation that would, perhaps, not have been enjoyed had they not come. Treat them with such kindness as you would like to have bestowed upon yourself under similar circumstances.
At the close of their stay, if you would be happy to have the visitors remain longer, you will frankly tell them so. If they insist upon going, you will aid them in every way possible in their departure. See that their baggage is promptly conveyed to the train. Examine the rooms to find whether they have forgotten any article that they would wish to take. Prepare a lunch for them to partake of on their journey. Go with them to the depot. Treat them with such kindness and cordiality to the close that the recollection of their visit will ever be a bright spot in their memory. Remain with them until the train arrives. They would be very lonely waiting without you. You will ever remember with pleasure the fact that you made the last hours of their visit pleasant. And thus, with the last hand-shaking, and the last waving of adieu, as the train speeds away, keep up the warmth of hospitality with your guests to the very end. It is, perhaps, the last time you will ever see them.