Book of Etiquette
Lillian Eichler

Part 3 out of 3

the car or where pedestrians are in danger of being thrown down.

A very uncourteous and unkind habit is to sound one's horn wildly, for no
other reason than to frighten less fortunate people who have to walk.
The horn on the car should be used only to warn people out of the road,
or when turning a dangerous corner. It should never be used to signal to
a person that the car is waiting outside for her.

Care should be exercised in the seating arrangement. The courteous host
and hostess take the seats in the center, leaving those on the outside
for their guests. If the host is driving, the front seat at his side is
a place of honor and should be given to a favored guest.

The people inside the car also have some rules of good conduct to
observe. It is bad form to stand up in the car, to sing or shout, or to
be in any way boisterous. Automobile parties often speed along country
roads shouting at the top of their voices for no other reason than to
attract attention--to be noticed. The very first rule of good conduct
tells us that this is utterly ill-bred.

It hardly seems necessary to warn the people who are out motoring, not to
throw refuse from the car on to the road. Yet we often see paper bags
and cigarette boxes hurtling through the air in the wake of some speeding
car. This is as bad form as dropping a match-stick on the polished
drawing-room floor of one's hostess or home.


Some hostesses plan motor trips for their guests. If it is to be a long
trip, requiring an over-night stop at a hotel, the invitations must state
clearly, but tactfully, whether they are to be guests throughout the
trip, or only while in the motor. Ordinarily, the host and hostess pay
all expenses incurred while on the trip.

Gentlemen do not enter the car until the ladies have been comfortably
seated. Neither do they smoke in the car without asking permission to do
so. A driver, whether he be the host himself or a hired chauffeur,
should be sure that all the guests are comfortably seated before
starting. And he should drive slowly to prevent the uncomfortable
jolting that usually results when a car is driven at a great speed.

Hostesses often provide linen dusters and goggles for those of their
guests who desire them. It is wise, also, to include a few motor
blankets, in case the weather changes and the guests become chilly. A
considerate host, or hostess, will see that the wind-shield, top and
side-curtains are adjusted to the entire comfort of all the occupants of
the car.

The dress for an automobile party is a sports suit of some serviceable
material that will not show dust readily. The hat should be a small one
that will not interfere with the wearer's comfort. In place of a suit
one may wear a one-piece dress and a coat but one must never wear light
or flimsy materials. If there is to be an overnight stop and one wishes
to wear a dinner gown she must have it made of a stuff that will not
wrinkle easily or she must be able to make arrangements to have it

When the car stops and the guests descend, the gentlemen should leave
first and help the ladies to descend. If the party stops for
refreshments, the chauffeur must not be forgotten. It is a slight that
is as unforgivable and discourteous as omitting to serve a guest in one's
dining-room. The chauffeur is as much entitled to courtesy as the other
members of the party. Of course he does not expect to join the party at
their table, nor does he care to eat with the servants of the hotel. The
wisest plan is for him to be served in the regular dining-room of the
hotel, but at another table except when the hotel has special
arrangements to meet this condition.

It is always necessary to take the guests on an automobile party back to
the place where they started from unless it is distinctly understood from
the beginning that some other plan is to be pursued. When planning a
motor party consisting of two or more cars, the hostess should be sure to
arrange her guests so that only congenial people will be in each car. It
is never good form to crowd a car with more people than it can hold
comfortably, except in an emergency.

"Careful driving" should be the watchword of everyone who owns a motor.
Remember that the streets were not created merely for the owner of the
automobile, but for the pedestrian as well.


Horse-back riding is one of the favorite outdoor sports of men and women.
Which is as it should be, for not only is it excellent for poise and
grace, but it is splendid for the health.

A gentleman, when riding with a woman, assists her to mount and dismount.
This is true even though a groom accompanies them. In assisting a lady
to mount her horse, the gentleman first takes the reins, places them in
her hand and then offers his right hand as a step on which to place her
foot, unless she prefers to slip her foot in the stirrup and spring up to
the saddle unassisted. In this case, it is necessary for him only to
hold the horse's head, and to give her the reins when she is comfortably
seated in the saddle. He does not mount his own horse until she is
mounted and on her way.

It is the privilege of the woman rider to set the pace. The gentleman
follows at her side or slightly behind. He goes ahead, however, to open
gates or lower fences that are too dangerous for her to jump. In
dismounting, he again offers his aid, holding her horse and offering his
hand if it is necessary to assist her. The lady dismounts on the left

At a hunt, a gentleman must sacrifice a great deal of the sport of the
chase if there is a woman in the party under his care. He must ride very
close to her, taking the easiest way and watching out for her comfort.
It is poor form, however, for any woman to follow the hounds in a chase
unless she is an accomplished rider. Otherwise she is merely a hindrance
to the rest of the party, and especially to the man who is accompanying

Be kind to your horse. Do not exhaust it. Do not force it to climb
steep hills. Be careful of how you use your spurs. And try to remember
that good old proverb, "The best feed of a horse is his master's eye."

Even in the most conservative communities to-day women wear breeches
instead of the heavy skirts of a short time back. The cut depends upon
the prevailing fashion but the habit should never be of flashing


The etiquette of the beach has not yet been settled and the chief point
of dispute is the way a woman should dress. It is absurd for her to wear
a suit that will hamper her movements in the water but it is even worse
for her to wear a skimpy garment that makes her the observed of all
observers as she parades up and down the beach. There is no set rule as
to what kind of suit one should wear for one person can wear a thing that
makes another ridiculous if not actually vulgar. A well-bred woman is
her own best guide and she will no more offend against modesty at the
beach than she will in the drawing-room.


Comfort and style should be attractively combined in sports clothes with
the emphasis on comfort. Practicability should never be sacrificed to
fashion, and however beautiful they may be to look at, an automobile coat
that cannot stand dust, a bathing suit that cannot stand water and a
hiking outfit that cannot stand wear are merely ridiculous. There are
three questions that the man or woman should first ask themselves before
buying a sports outfit. First, Is it comfortable? Next, Is it practical?
And last, Is it pleasing?


I would rather have a young fellow too much than too little dressed; the
excess on that side will wear off, with a little age and reflection; but
if he is negligent at twenty, he will be a sloven at forty and
intolerable at sixty. Dress yourself fine where others are fine, and
plain where others are plain; but take care always that your clothes are
well made and fit you, for otherwise they will give you a very awkward
air. --Chesterfield.



One is judged first by his dress but this judgment is not final. A
better index is his speech. It is said that one can tell during a
conversation that lasts not longer than a summer shower whether or not a
man is cultivated. Often it does not take even so long, for a raucous
tone of voice and grossly ungrammatical or vulgar expressions brand a man
at once as beyond the pale of polite society.

No point of social etiquette is quite so valuable as this one of speech.
As one goes forth he is weighed in the balance and if he is found wanting
here he is quietly dropped by refined and cultured people, and nearly
always he is left wondering why with his diamonds and his motors and his
money he yet cannot find entree into the inner circles where he would
most like to be. Money does not buy everything. If it were possible for
it to do so there would be no proverb to the effect that it takes three
generations to make a gentleman. And the proverb itself is not more than
half true. If the attitude of mind is that of one who honestly wants to
develop himself to the highest possible point, mentally, morally, and
spiritually, it can be done in much less than a single generation. Of
course, much depends upon one's definition of what constitutes a
gentleman but for the purpose of this book we mean a man of education,
high principles, honor, courtesy, and kindness.


There is an old Italian proverb that says, "He who has a tongue in his
head can go all the world over." But it is not enough merely to have a
tongue in one's head. That tongue must have a certain distinct appeal
before it becomes the weapon before which all the barriers of social
success vanish.

We have all heard the expression, "The magic power of words." Is it a
magic power? Or to be more explicit, is conversation an art or a gift?
The answer must certainly be an art, for nature never gives that which
study accomplishes. And by study you can become a master of speech-you
can make words a veritable torch, illuminating you and your surroundings.
But words alone mean very little. It is the grouping of words,
expressions, phrases; the combination of thoughts that make real

"In the beginning of the world," said Xanthes, "primitive man was
contented to imitate the language of the animals." But as we study the
evolution of human nature, we find that man was not long content to
imitate the sounds of the animals in the forests. He found the need to
express himself, his sensations, his thoughts, in more definite and
satisfactory manner. He wanted to share his joys with his neighbors, and
he wanted to tell others about his sorrows. And so, nature in her wise
judgment, decreed that he should speak, and in his speech should convey
his thoughts and ideas to those who listened.

We do not think of these things to-day when we "chatter" aimlessly among
ourselves, caring little whether or not we make the most of that
wonderful power bestowed upon us. Yes, speech is a power. It is a most
effective weapon, not only to social success, but to the very success of
life, if one does not ignore the power of its influence. And that is the
purpose of the following paragraphs-to help you realize and profit by the
powers of speech and conversation.


It is strange, but true, that the spirit of conversation is often more
important than the ideas expressed. This is especially true in social
circles. Since speech is never used in solitude, we may take it for
granted that the spoken word is an expression of the longing for human
sympathy. Thus, it is a great accomplishment to be able to enter gently
and agreeably into the moods and feelings of others, and to cultivate the
feelings of sympathy and kindness.

Early in the seventeenth century the /causerie/ (chat) was highly
esteemed in France. This was a meeting, at the Hotel Rambouillet, of the
great nobles, literary people, and intelligent and brilliant women of
France, gathered together for the definite purpose of conversation--of
"chatting." Among these people, representing the highest intellectual
class in France at the time, there developed the taste for daily
talks-the tendency of which was toward profound, refined and elegant
intercourse according to the standards of that day, and the criticisms
offered by the members had a certain influence on the manners and
literature of the epoch.

Many years have passed since those days of harmonious gatherings, but we
mention them here to draw the comparison between those delightful
gatherings of long ago, and our own drawing-rooms and social circles
where brilliant men and women gather and converse on topics of immediate
interest. If one has imagination, a striking similarity can be noticed
between the two.

There is a certain charm in correct speech, a certain beauty in correct
conversation. And it is well worth striving for.


A Crow Indian once said to Dr. Lowie, "You Whites show no respect to your
sisters. You talk to them." Other instances of how respect and courtesy
can be shown in conversation, is found in the traditions and present-day
practices of other countries.

In China, for instance, a young man will not introduce into conversation,
a topic which has not already been touched upon by his elders. On the
Fiji Islands, a woman does not talk to her mother-in-law, and among the
Sioux, a young man does not talk at all unless someone else addresses
him. These signs of courtesy in conversation have a certain distinct
significance in the countries where they are practiced.

Courtesy is the very foundation of all good conversation. Good speech
consists as much in listening politely as in talking agreeably. Someone
has said, very wisely, "A talker who monopolizes the conversation is by
common consent insufferable, and a man who regulates his choice of topics
by reference to what interests not his hearers but himself has yet to
learn the alphabet of the art." To be agreeable in conversation, one must
first learn the law of talking just enough, of listening politely while
others speak, and of speaking of that in which one's companions are most

There was a time when bluntness of manner was excused on the ground that
the speaker was candid, frank, outspoken. People used to pride
themselves upon the fact that in their conversation they had spoken the
truth-and hurt some one. To-day there are certain recognized courtesies
of speech, and kindliness has taken the place of candidness. There is no
longer any excuse for you to say things in your conversation that will
cause discomfort or pain to any one of your hearers.

One should never interrupt unless there is a good reason for it and then
it should be done with apologies. It is not courteous to ask a great
many questions and personal ones are always taboo. One should be careful
not to use over and over and over again the same words and phrases and
one should not fall in the habit of asking people to repeat their
remarks. Argument should be avoided and contradicting is always
discourteous. When it seems that a heated disagreement is about to ensue
it is wise tactfully to direct the conversation into other channels as
soon as it can be done without too abrupt a turn, for to jerk the talk
from one topic to another for the obvious purpose of "switching someone
off the track" is in itself very rude.

Let your proverb be, "Talk well, but not too much."


Ruskin said, "Vulgarity is indicated by coarseness of language." By
language he meant not only words and phrases, but coarseness of voice.
There can be nothing more characteristic of good breeding than a soft,
well modulated, pleasing voice. This quotation from Demosthenes is only
another way of saying it: "As a vessel is known by the sound whether it
is cracked or not, so men are proved by their speeches whether they be
wise or foolish."

Conversation should be lively without noise. It is not well-bred to be
demonstrative in action while speaking, to talk loudly, or to laugh
boisterously. Conversation should have less emphasis, and more
quietness, more dignified calmness. Some of us are so eager, in our
determination to be agreeable in conversation, to dominate the entire
room with our voice, that we forget the laws of good conduct. And we
wonder why people consider us bores.

Don't be afraid to open your mouth when you talk. First know what you
want to say, be sure that it is worth saying, and then say it calmly,
confidently, /through your mouth/ and not through your nose. Too many
people talk through tightly closed teeth and then wonder why people don't
understand them. Enunciate clearly and give to your vowels and
consonants the proper resonance.

Another mistake to avoid is rapid speaking. To talk slowly and
deliberately, is to enhance the pleasure and beauty of the conversation.
Rapidity in speech results in indistinctness, and indistinctness leads
invariably to monotony.


There are two languages of speech-voice and gesture. Voice appeals to
the ear, gesture to the eye. It is an agreeable combination of the two
that makes conversation pleasant.

"A really well-bred man," a writer once said, "would speak to all kings
in the world with as little concern and as much ease as he would speak to
you." Confusion is the enemy of eloquence. Self-restraint must be
developed before one can hope to be either a good conversationalist or a
social success. To create a pleasant, harmonious atmosphere, and at the
same time to make one's ideas carry conviction, one must talk with ease
and calm assurance.

Try to be naturally courteous and cordial in your speech. It is a
mistake to "wear your feelings on your sleeve" and resent everything that
everyone else says that does not please you. To become quickly excited,
to speak harshly and sarcastically is to sacrifice one's dignity and ease
of manner. Know what you want to say, be sure you understand it, and
when you say it, be open for criticisms or suggestions from those around
you. Do not become flustered and excited merely because someone else
does not agree with you. Remember that Homer said, "The tongue speaks
wisely when the soul is wise," and surely the soul can be wise only when
one is entirely calm, self-confident and at peace with all the world!


It is not always easy to drop the local phrases, colloquial expressions
and mannerisms to which one has been accustomed for a long time. Yet
good society does not tolerate these errors in speech. For they are
errors, according to the standards of educated men and women.

To use such phrases as "How was that" when you mean "What was that" or
"How's things" when you mean "How are you" are provincialisms which have
no place in the cultured drawing-room. One must drop all bad habits of
speech before claiming the "good English which is a passport into good

Mannerisms in speech are evident in nasal expression and muffled words,
spoken through half-closed teeth. We were not meant to speak in that
unbeautiful manner, nor were we meant to gesticulate wildly as some of
our drawing-room orators persist in doing-to the amusement of everyone
else concerned. When you enter the world of good society, drop all your
colloquial phrases and mannerisms behind.


Simple expression has the same advantage over flowery language as a
simple and artistic room has over a room filled with gaudy, inharmonious
embellishments. One is effective, the other defective. And yet to
express ideas simply and correctly, with a regard for polish and poise,
one must have a good command of the language.

Make a resolve, right now, that you will never use a foreign word when
you can give its meaning in English. And also determine now, definitely,
that no matter how popular slang becomes in the less refined circles of
society, you will never use it because you know that it is the badge of
vulgarity. There is nothing quite as beautiful as good, simple English,
when it is spoken correctly.

To know the right word in the right place, to know its correct
pronunciation and spelling, there is nothing more valuable than a good
standard dictionary. If you haven't one-a new revised edition-get one
right away. You can not hope to become a pleasing conversationalist
until you own and use a good dictionary.

An excellent way to increase your vocabulary and perfect your speech is
to talk less, and listen politely while others lead the conversation.
There's a lot of truth in that old maxim, "Speech is silver, but silence
is gold!"


It was mentioned previously that the Sioux youth does not speak until he
is first spoken to. This is also true of the young Armenian woman. She
would be horrified at the idea of addressing a woman older than herself,
unless first spoken to. Many other countries observe these courtesies of
speech, with a wholesome effect upon the general culture of the people.

How often, here in our own country, even in the most highly cultivated
society, do we hear a man or woman carelessly interrupt the conversation
of another, perhaps an older person, without so much as an apology! It is
bad form, to say the least, but it is also distinctly rude. No person of
good breeding will interrupt the conversation of another no matter how
startling and remarkable an idea he may have. It will be just as
startling and remarkable a few minutes later, and the speaker will have
gained poise and confidence in the time that he waits for the chance to

Whispering in company is another bad habit that must be avoided. The
drawing-room or reception room is no place for personal secrets or hidden
bits of gossip. The man or woman commits a serious breach in good
conduct by drawing one or two persons aside and whispering something to


Be careful not to give too strong an expression of your likes and
dislikes. To master this important point of speech, it is wise to
examine carefully and frankly all your opinions before expressing them in
words. It is necessary that you understand yourself, before you are able
to make others understand you.

In carrying on a conversation in a public place be sure to keep the voice
modulated and do not mention the names of people about whom you are
talking in such a way that anyone overhearing the conversation by chance
could identify them. It is best to avoid all personal talk when one is
in public.

The person who is always trying to set other people right does not use
tact. If they wanted assistance, they would probably ask. People are
sensitive, and they do not like to have their shortcomings commented upon
by others.

Ask questions only if you are gifted with great tact. Otherwise you are
bound to create embarrassing situations. If you do ask questions, make
them of a general character, rather than personal. But never be curious,
because people resent inquisitiveness--and rightly so, for it is a very
undesirable trait to have, and each person has a right to privacy.

Never talk for mere talking's sake. Speak only when you have something
to say, and then talk quietly, deliberately and with sincerity. Never
criticize, antagonize or moralize and your company will be sought by


If you mumble over your words and have difficulty in pronouncing clearly,
you will find it a great help to talk very slowly and take deep breaths
between each two or three words. For stammering, deep breathing is also
suggested before uttering the words upon which one is most likely to come
to grief.

Self-consciousness is the result of exaggerated humility. If you
concentrate upon what you are saying, and forget all about how you are
saying it, you will forget your shyness. Respect yourself, have
confidence in yourself-and nervousness and shyness in conversation will

Lisping is a matter of defective speech, and although reading aloud and
dramatic recitations help, it is best to consult a specialist if ordinary
methods fail to prevent it. Such habits as hesitation, coughing, or
groping for a word, are often forms of nervousness and a little
will-power exerted in the right direction may easily control them.

Above all, be simple and be sincere. Let interest in your subject lend
animation to your face and manner. Do not attempt to make yourself
appear brilliant and inspired, for you will only succeed in making
yourself ridiculous. Be modest, pleasant, agreeable and sympathetic, and
you will find that you win the immediate response of your audience,
whether it consists of two people or two hundred people.


In this beautiful country, filled with charming woodland scenes,
landmarks of interest, museums, schools, monuments, libraries, there is
no excuse for the man or woman who finds that he or she has "nothing to
talk about." In the newspapers every day, in books, plays, operas, even
in the advertisements and posters, there is material for interesting

Try it the next time you meet some friends and you find that conversation
lags. Talk about something, anything, until you get started. Talk about
the sunset you saw last night, or the little crippled boy who was selling
newspapers. As long as it is something with a touch of human interest in
it, and if you tell it with the desire to please rather than impress,
your audience will be interested in your conversation. But to remain
quiet, answering only when you are spoken to, and allowing conversation
to die each time it reaches you, is a feature of conduct belonging only
to the ignorant and dull. There are many pleasant and agreeable things
to talk about-argument and discussion have no place in the social
drawing-room-and there is no reason why /you/ cannot find them and make
use of them.

If you are forgetful, and somewhat shy in the company of others, it might
be well to jot down and commit to memory any interesting bit of
information or news that you feel would be worthy of repetition. It may
be an interesting little story, or a clever repartee, or some amusing
incident-but whatever it is, {pls. check orig for next word}make the
appeal general. It is a mistake to talk only about those things that
interest you; when Matthew Arnold was once asked what his favorite topic
for conversation was, he answered, "That in which my companion is most

Make that your ideal, and you can hardly help becoming an agreeable and
pleasing conversationalist.


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