INDELICATE WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS.
Not so when one hears an indelicate word or expression, which allows of no possible harmless interpretation. Then not the shadow of a smile should flit across the lips. Either complete silence should be preserved in return, or the words, “I do not understand you,” be spoken. A lady will always fail to hear that which she should not hear, or, having unmistakably heard, she will not understand.
No lady should make use of any feminine substitute for profanity. The woman who exclaims “The Dickens!” or “Mercy!” or “Goodness!” when she is annoyed or astonished, is as vulgar in spirit, though perhaps not quite so regarded by society, as though she had used expressions which it would require but little stretch of the imagination to be regarded as profane.
You may be witty and amusing if you like, or rather if you can; but never use your wit at the expense of others.
“Wit’s an unruly
engine, wildly striking
Sometimes a friend, sometimes the engineer;
Hast thou the knack? pamper it not with liking;
But if thou want it, buy it not too dear.
Many affecting wit beyond their power
Have got to be a dear fool for an hour.”—HERBERT.
DISPLAY OF EMOTIONS.
Avoid all exhibitions of temper before others, if you find it impossible to suppress them entirely. All emotions, whether of grief or joy, should be subdued in public, and only allowed full play in the privacy of your own apartments.
Never ask impertinent questions. Some authorities in etiquette even go so far as to say that all questions are strictly tabooed. Thus, if you wished to inquire after the health of the brother of your friend, you would say, “I hope your brother is well,” not, “How is your brother’s health?”
THE CONFIDENCE OF OTHERS.
Never try to force yourself into the confidence of others; but if they give you their confidence of their own free will, let nothing whatever induce you to betray it. Never seek to pry into a secret, and never divulge one.
USE OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE.
Do not form the habit of introducing words and phrases of French or other foreign languages into common conversation. This is only allowable in writing, and not then except when the foreign word or phrase expresses more clearly and directly than English can do the desired meaning. In familiar conversation this is an affectation, only pardonable when all persons present are particularly familiar with the language.