All in a Greeting

I found this interesting article on how men were expected to act in the 18th and 19th centuries. This is a list of salutations that were guidelines to gentlemen in how to act towards different acquaintances. I found it rather entertaining and sweet, especially the last one. 🙂

  • The salutation, says a French writer, is the touchstone of good breeding. According to circumstances, it should be respectful, cordial, civil, affectionate or familiar:–an inclination of the head, a gesture with the hand, the touching or doffing of the hat.
  • If you remove your hat you need not at the same time bend the dorsal vertebræ of your body, unless you wish to be very reverential, as in saluting a bishop.
  • It is a mark of high breeding not to speak to a lady in the street, until you perceive that she has noticed you by an inclination of the head.
  • Some ladies courtesy in the street, a movement not gracefully consistent with locomotion. They should always bow.
  • If an individual of the lowest rank, or without any rank at all, takes off his hat to you, you should do the same in return. A bow, says La Fontaine, is a note drawn at sight. If you acknowledge it, you must pay the full amount. The two best-bred men in England, Charles the Second and George the Fourth, never failed to take off their hats to the meanest of their subjects.
  • Avoid condescending bows to your friends and equals. If you meet a rich parvenu, whose consequence you wish to reprove, you may salute him in a very patronizing manner: or else, in acknowledging his bow, look somewhat surprised and say, “Mister–eh–eh?”
  • If you have remarkably fine teeth, you may smile affectionately upon the bowee, without speaking. In passing ladies of rank, whom you meet in society, bow, but do not speak.
  • If you have anything to say to any one in the street, especially a lady, however intimate you may be, do not stop the person, but turn round and walk in company; you can take leave at the end of the street.
  • If there is any one of your acquaintance, with whom you have a difference, do not avoid looking at him, unless from the nature of things the quarrel is necessarily for life. It is almost always better to bow with cold civility, though without speaking.
  • As a general rule never cut any one in the street. Even political and steamboat acquaintances should be noticed by the slightest movement in the world. If they presume to converse with you, or stop you to introduce their companion, it is then time to use your eye-glass, and say, “I never knew you.”
  • If you address a lady in the open air, you remain uncovered until she has desired you twice to put on your hat. In general, if you are in any place where etiquette requires you to remain uncovered or standing, and a lady, or one much your superior, requests you to be covered or to sit, you may how off the command. If it is repeated, you should comply. You thereby pay the person a marked, but delicate, compliment, by allowing their will to be superior to the general obligations of etiquette.

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About Shemer

Author who loves reading, writing, horse riding, archery, books, dancing and many other things. Fulltime Soldier and part-time wildlife management student who loves to do adventurous things and explore the real world or books in her spare time.
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