A slight bow is all that is required by courtesy, after an introduction. Shaking hands is optional, and it should rest with the older, or the superior in social standing to make the advances. It is often an act of kindness on their part, and as such to be commended. It is a common practice among gentlemen, when introduced to one another, to shake hands, and as it evinces more cordiality than a mere bow, is generally to be preferred. An unmarried lady should not shake hands with gentlemen indiscriminately.
THE FIRST TO RECOGNIZE.
It is the privilege of the lady to determine whether she will recognize a gentleman after an introduction, and he is bound to return the bow. In bowing to a lady on the street, it is not enough that a gentleman should touch his hat, he should lift it from his head.
THE “CUT DIRECT.”
The “cut direct,” which is given by a prolonged stare at a person, if justified at all, can only be in case of extraordinary and notoriously bad conduct on the part of the individual “cut,” and is very seldom called for. If any one wishes to avoid a bowing acquaintance with another, it can be done by looking aside or dropping the eyes. It is an invariable rule of good society, that a gentleman cannot “cut” a lady under any circumstances, but circumstances may arise when he may be excused for persisting in not meeting her eyes, for if their eyes meet, he must bow.
MEETING IN THE STREET.
If, while walking with one friend, in the street, you meet another and stop a moment to speak with the latter, it is not necessary to introduce the two who are strangers to one another; but, when you separate, the friend who accompanies you gives a parting salutation, the same as yourself. The same rule applies if the friend you meet chances to be a lady.
If, on entering a drawing-room to pay a visit, you are not recognized, mention your name immediately. If you know but one member of the family and you find others only in the room, introduce yourself to them. Unless this is done, much awkwardness may be occasioned.
ABOUT SHAKING HANDS.
When a lady is introduced to a gentleman, she should merely bow but not give her hand, unless the gentleman is a well known friend of some member of the family. In that case she may do so if she pleases, as a mark of esteem or respect. A gentleman must not offer to shake hands with a lady until she has made the first movement.
A married lady should extend her hand upon being introduced to a stranger brought to her house by her husband, or by a common friend, as an evidence of her cordial welcome.