Friendly letters of introduction should only be given to personal friends, introducing them, and only addressed to those with whom the writer has a strong personal friendship. It is not only foolish, but positively dangerous to give such a letter to a person with whom the writer is but slightly acquainted, as you may thus give your countenance and endorsement to a person who will take advantage of your carelessness to bring you into embarrassing and mortifying positions. Again, you should never address a letter of introduction to any but an intimate friend of long standing, and even then it should not be done, unless you are perfectly satisfied that the person you are to introduce will be an agreeable and congenial person for your friend to meet, as it would be very annoying to send to your friend a visitor who would prove to him disagreeable. Even amongst friends of long standing such letters should be given very cautiously and sparingly.
The form of letters of introduction is given in the chapter on “Letter-writing.”
DELIVERING A LETTER OF INTRODUCTION.
It is not necessary to deliver a friendly letter of introduction to a person who resides in another town. It is better to send it to the person to whom it is directed, on your arrival, accompanied by your card of address. If he wishes to comply with the request of his friend he will call upon you, and give you an invitation to visit him; circumstances, however, might render it exceedingly inconvenient, or impossible for the person to whom the letter is addressed, to call upon you; consequently a neglect to call need not be considered a mark of ill-breeding, though by some people it is so considered. The person addressed must consult his own feelings in the matter, and while aiming to do what is right, he is not bound to sacrifice business or other important matters to attend to the entertainment of a friend’s friend. In such a case he may send his own card to the address of the person bearing the letter of introduction, and the latter is at liberty to call upon him at his leisure.
THE DUTY OF THE PERSON ADDRESSED.
In Europe it is the custom for a person with a letter of introduction to make the first call, but in this country we think that a stranger should never be made to feel that he is begging our attention, and that it is indelicate for him to intrude until he is positive that his company would be agreeable. Consequently, if it is your wish and in your power to welcome any one recommended to you by letter from a friend, or to show your regard for your friend’s friend, you must call upon him with all possible dispatch, after you receive his letter of introduction, and give him as hospitable a reception and entertainment as it is possible to give, and such as you would be pleased to receive were you in his place.