On paying visits


If one has been lucky enough to have been invited to a dinner party or a ball, one should visit one's hostess to 'pay a call' within two days of a ball or one week of a small party. While a lady may pay a personal visit, a gentleman need only leave his card.

"In town, leaving a card with the corner bent signifies that it was left by its owner in person, not sent by a servant. Bending the edges of a card, means that the visit was designed for the ladies of the house, as well as the mistress of it. If there is a visitor with the family whom you wished to see, a separate card should be left for that person, naming him or her to the servant. A card should also be left for the host, if the call was designed as a family matter, but more than three are not left at one house.

"From three to six are proper calling hours, and a visit may be from five minutes to half an hour, never longer, unless with a very intimate friend. A gentleman leaves his umbrella in the hall, but carries hat and cane with him, keeping the former in his left hand, never venturing to lay it on the table, or rack, unless invited to do so by the lady of the house. Her not doing so is a sign that it is not convenient for her to prolong his call."

"A soft hat is tolerated, but the dress hat is usually carried."

~ 'The Home Cook Book', 1877 (Hunter, Rose and Co, Toronto.)

I once wore a dress hat while paying calls, and boy, did I never live that mistake down.