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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/42

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being perfectly true. You may imagine that the lady of the house is really at home, and that she would make an exception in your favour, or you may think that your call is not desired; but, in either case, not the slightest word is to escape you which would suggest, on your part, such an impression.

Visits of Condolence should be paid within a week after the event which occasions them. If the acquaintance, however, is but slight, they should not be made until immediately after the family has appeared in public. A lady should send in her card, and, if her friends be able to receive her, the visitor's manner and conversation should be subdued, and in harmony with the character of her visit. Visitors paying visits of condolence should be dressed in black, or at any rate very quietly. Sympathy with the affliction of the family is thus expressed.

Receiving Morning Calls.—The foregoing description of the etiquette to be observed in paying them will apply to the receiving of calls. It is to be added, however, that, generally speaking, all occupations should be suspended on the entrance of morning visitors. If a lady, however, be engaged with light needlework, she may continue it quietly during conversation, particularly if the visit be protracted.

Formerly the custom was to accompany all departing visitors to the door of the house, and there take leave of them; but modern society, which dispenses with a great deal of this kind of ceremony, now merely requires that the lady of the house should rise from her seat, shake hands, or bow, and ring the bell to summon the servant to attend them and open the door. In making a first call, either upon a newly-married couple or on persons newly arrived in the neighbourhood, a lady should leave her husband's card, together with her own, at the same time stating that the profession or business in which he is engaged has prevented him from having the pleasure of paying the visit with her. It is a custom with many ladies, when on the eve of an absence from their neighbourhood to leave or send their own and husband's cards, with the letters P. P. C. in the right-hand corner. These letters are the initials of the French words Pour prendre congé, meaning "To take leave."

Visiting Cards and Invitations.—The fashion of visiting cards used to vary much, some being made extremely thin, but those of medium thickness are now usually preferred. When calling at a house, it used to be customary to turn up the lower right-hand corner of the card, to denote that a personal call had been made, but this is not general any longer. Tennis and croquet invitations are issued with the word at the bottom right-hand corner. For Soirées, "At Homes," Conversaziones, Dinners and Balls, invitation cards are used; but for Weddings the invitations are issued upon notepaper. Gilt edges and gilt decorations are not often used nowadays, nor is the monogram, or crest, or both frequently embossed at the head of the paper.