A lady in company should never exhibit any anxiety to sing or play: but being requested to do so, if she intends to comply, she should do so at once, without waiting to be urged. If she refuses, she should do so in a manner that shall make her decision final. Having complied, she should not monopolize the evening with her performances, but make room for others.
RECEIVING AND MAKING PRESENTS.
Emerson says: “Our tokens of love are for the most part barbarous, cold and lifeless, because they do not represent our life. The only gift is a portion of thyself. Therefore let the farmer give his corn; the miner his gem; the sailor coral or shells; the painter his picture, and the poet his poem.” To persons of refined nature, whatever the friend creates takes added value as part of themselves—part of their lives, as it were, having gone into it. People of the highest rank, abroad, will often accept, with gratitude, a bit of embroidery done by a friend, a poem inscribed to them by an author; a painting executed by some artist; who would not care for the most expensive bauble that was offered them. Mere costliness does not constitute the soul of a present; it is the kind feeling that it manifests which gives it its value. People who possess noble natures do not make gifts where they feel neither affection nor respect, but their gifts are bestowed out of the fullness of kind hearts.
A present should be acknowledged without delay, but you must not follow it quickly by a return. It is to be taken for granted that a gift is intended to afford pleasure to the recipient, not to be regarded as a question of investment or exchange. Never allude to a present you have given, unless you have reason to believe that it has not been received by the person to whom it was sent.
Unmarried ladies should not accept presents from gentlemen who are neither related nor engaged to them, nor indebted to them for some marked favors. A married lady may accept presents from a gentleman who is indebted to her for hospitality.
In presenting a book to a friend, do not write in it the name of the person to whom it is given. But this is a rule better honored in its breach than in its observance, when the giver of the book is its author.
Presents made by a married lady to a gentleman, should be in the name of both herself and her husband.
Never refuse a present if offered in kindness, unless the circumstances are such that you cannot, with propriety, receive it. Nor, in receiving a present, make such comments as would seem to indicate that your friend cannot afford to make the present. On the other hand, never make a present which you cannot afford to make. In that case the recipient, if he or she knows anything of your circumstances, will think that you had better kept it yourself.