The girl abroad on her travels exhibits this complacency in a variety of ways, and usually is entirely unconscious of doing so. Brought up at home in England she is imbued with the idea, imbibed from early childhood, that her country is the best in the world, and that all others are inferior in every way.
Britons have great reason to be proud of their native land. Of that there can be no possible doubt. But just as it would be ill-mannered in an individual to be inordinately vain of personal advantages or accomplishments, so it is grievously impolite to exhibit to other nations a proud consciousness of our vast superiority.
Yet this is the very thing the English girl often does. Not so often now as some quarter-century since, but still far, far too much. And the younger and more ignorant the girl, the more insular she is. There is a saying that the highest breeding belongs to the cosmopolitans, the man or woman who has travelled far and has enjoyed opportunities of studying the manners and customs of cultivated society in many lands.
What would such an one think of the crudity of the English girl who, at table d'hote, says in her own tongue to a companion : "What vile table manners these people have ! Helping themselves to salt with their knives, leaning their knife-points on .their plate-edge, and openly picking their teeth with those dreadful wooden things ! " There are differences in table manners in every country, and we have no warrant for regarding our own as the ultimate criterion. It is true that foreigners themselves acknowledge that in some ways English customs are more fastidious and cleanly than their own; that regard for the immaculate purity of the tablecloth is developed more highly among us. But it is equally true that refined French men and women consider us utter barbarians in many points connected with the table, and especially in gastronomic sequence and detail.
It is foolish, then, for us to be critical. We live in glass houses, and should refrain from throwing stones.
In some countries it is etiquette for no one to begin eating until all are helped. This was the rule in England one hundred years ago, but many English fail to fall in with the custom, and thus prove themselves very ill-mannered.
In Canada this rule still prevails. It was founded on consideration for the carver, who, in the days when the carving was done at table, would have felt an awkwardness in beginning his own dinner when his guests were beginning to think of second helpings. Even then he was allowed a quarter of an hour's grace after all had finished. Only the very considerate went on eating, or pretending to eat, to keep him company, just as host or hostess does to-day when slow eaters have to be considered and kept in countenance.
In parts of the United States none of the guests at a dinner-party seat themselves at table until the hostess, always last to arrive in the dining-room, as with ourselves, has seated herself. An English girl, unaware of this custom, sat down, and, witl strange oblivion of decorum, remained seatec while all the others stood, impressing then all unfavourably.
It is in these small ways, seeming to insist on the superiority of our Englisl manners and customs, that our country women have acquired such a character fo impertinence when on their travels.
In France, as in England, it is usual fo the male escort of a lady to pay all smal expenses incidental to the outing, refresh ments, cab or railway fares, etc. But in Germany the reverse is the case. The lad] pays for herself, and in some cases for he escort as well. It is always well to maki inquiries about such matters as these before entering upon an expedition. A party o English ladies, escorted by a bevy of Germai students at Coblenz a year or two ago were surprised at being permitted to pay their own train fares and for their owi share in the luncheon in one of the village; on the heights near Ehrenbreitstein. I turned out afterwards that the student: could not understand why their Britisl companions had not paid for them as well.
Almost every girl will be of the opinioi that it is much more comfortable to by allowed to pay for oneself on all such occasions, though there are some who d( not mind running male escorts into any expense, and getting as much out of then as possible. These are the vampires.
The common courtesies of travel are sometimes neglected by the English gir abroad. At home she may be polite enough for she never knows where or when she may meet her fellow - travellers again Unrestrained by this consideration wher abroad, she shows her natural rudeness (i: she is that kind of girl) by pushing in from of people at the ticket offices, keeping others waiting while she discusses the coinage of the country more or less disdainfully with a worried clerk, and insisting or having her own way with the window of the railway carriage regardless of the wishes of those occupying the same compartment Closed windows are the rule on the Continent and the results are sometimes unpleasant but good manners oblige us to put up with many inconveniences. This is one of them.
By "Madge" (Mrs. Humphry)
It has been said that the age of letter-writing is past, and no doubt there are many amongst us who would be anything but thankful to receive such volumes of epistolary outpourings as those of Madame de Sevigny and Madame de Stael. Certain it is that letters tend to become shorter and shorter.
There is, therefore, less excuse for those who fail to reply in good time to any received. Some girls are very negligent about their correspondence. They should remember that it is as rude to leave a letter unanswered as it is to fail to reply to a question addressed to them. Invitations should be answered within twenty-four hours, more particularly those for a dinner-party.