This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Home Book Of Etiquette" book.
In many communities, where it is customary to make formal evening calls after dinner, the usual hour is from nine to ten o'clock. In making an informal evening call, a lady may bring a gentleman with her, presenting him to her hostess, who will present him to her other guests.
The mistress of the house usually receives the visitors, being assisted by her husband or some other gentleman in the case of evening parties. The reception should be quiet, easy, and without over-ceremony. In some places it is customary to announce the names of guests as they enter the room. The host or hostess may then present them to other guests, if they are not already acquaintances.
When any one enters the room, whether announced or not, courtesy requires that the host or hostess shall rise at once, advance toward the visitor with words of welcoming, and request him or her to be seated. The seat offered should be one that seems most suitable to the age or sex of the visitor. If the master of the house receives the visitors, he will take a chair and place himself at a little distance from them; if, on the contrary, it is the mistress, and if she is intimate with the lady who visits her, she will place herself near her.
If several ladies come at once, we give the most honorable place to the one who, from age or other considerations, is most entitled to respect. If the visitor is a stranger, when the master or mistress of the house rises any person who may be already in the room should do the same, unless the company is a large one. When any of the company withdraw, the master or mistress of the house should conduct them as far as the door. But whoever the persons may be that depart, if we have other company we may dispense with conducting them farther than the door of the room.
If, upon entering a house where you wish to pay an evening call, you should find a small party assembled, it is best to present yourself precisely as though you had been invited. After a short while you may take your leave, explaining that you only intended to make a brief call.
Do not unduly prolong an evening visit. It is apt to become tiresome even to your most intimate friends, and, though they politely exert themselves to be agreeable, it does not argue that they are not wearied.
Should you find a lady on the point of going out when you make your call, make it as brief as possible, in order to leave her at liberty to carry out her plans.
When you have risen to go, do not delay your departure.
When you are prevented from attending a dinner party, or social gathering, call upon the person giving it without delay, and express your regret for your absence. In visiting a city where a friend resides, it is best to go to a hotel, although he may have invited you to make his house your home. You can afterwards call upon him, and should he then urge you to accept his hospitality, you can do so with propriety.
When asking guests to visit you in your home, whether in the country or city, it is proper to fix the date of their arrival and of their leaving, whether the length of their visit is to be two days or a fortnight. If the desired duration of a visit should not be specified in the invitation, a considerate person will take care not to extend it over a week, and a shorter time would be still better. It is courteous, in every case, to state to your host how long you expect to stay.
In case of a visit without invitation, you should always write to inform even a near relative or very intimate friend of your intended visit, and the time you expect to arrive. Among the leading duties of the host or hostess may be named the following: See that everything has been prepared for the comfort of the guests. Anticipate their bodily wants as much as possible. Direct that some servant shall go to their rooms twice a day and ascertain whether anything is desired, and whether any assistance can be rendered. Arrange so that they can be provided with cold or warm baths, as they may prefer, every morning. See that coarse towels or bath-sheets are within their reach. Have a can of hot water taken to each room at the hours of dressing. A pitcher of iced water and a glass on a tray should be placed in the bedrooms at night.