Our Deportment eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 348 pages of information about Our Deportment.

An authority upon this subject says:  “The etiquette of handshaking is simple.  A man has no right to take a lady’s hand until it is offered.  He has even less right to pinch or retain it.  Two young ladies shake hands gently and softly.  A young lady gives her hand, but does not shake a gentleman’s unless she is his friend.  A lady should always rise to give her hand; a gentleman, of course, never dares to do so seated.  On introduction in a room, a married lady generally offers her hand; a young lady, not.  In a ball-room, where the introduction is to dancing, not to friendship, you never shake hands; and as a general rule, an introduction is not followed by shaking hands, only by a bow.  It may perhaps be laid down that the more public the place of introduction, the less handshaking takes place.  But if the introduction be particular, if it be accompanied by personal recommendation, such as, ’I want you to know my friend Jones,’ or if Jones comes with a letter of presentation, then you give Jones your hand, and warmly, too.  Lastly, it is the privilege of a superior to offer or withhold his or her hand, so that an inferior should never put his forward first.”

When a lady so far puts aside her reserve as to shake hands at all, she should give her hand with frankness and cordiality.  There should be equal frankness and cordiality on the gentleman’s part, and even more warmth, though a careful avoidance of anything like offensive familiarity or that which might be mistaken as such.

In shaking hands, the right hand should always be offered, unless it be so engaged as to make it impossible, and then an excuse should be offered.  The French give the left hand, as nearest the heart.

The mistress of a household should offer her hand to every guest invited to her house.

A gentleman must not shake hands with a lady until she has made the first move in that direction.  It is a mark of rudeness not to give his hand instantly, should she extend her own.  A married lady should always extend her hand to a stranger brought to her house by a common friend, as an evidence of her cordial welcome.  Where an introduction is for dancing there is no shaking of hands.


This is the most affectionate form of salutation, and is only proper among near relations and dear friends.


The kiss of friendship and relationship is on the cheeks and forehead.  In this country this act of affection is generally excluded from public eyes, and in the case of parents and children and near relations, it is perhaps unnecessarily so.


The custom which has become quite prevalent of women kissing each other whenever they meet in public, is regarded as vulgar, and by ladies of delicacy and refinement is entirely avoided.

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Our Deportment from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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