Saturday 20 March 2010

Calling and calling cards

Once again I am indebted to Lady Troubridge 
for her advice on this matter.
 The correct manner in which to visit blogs and leave comments is a social minefield and she dedicates twenty pages
to the rules which if neglected
either through ignorance or carelessness will result
in lessening the number of one's friends.

Making the First Advance
The matter of paying the first call is often a delicate one.
Frequently, sensitive people are offended by some unconscious slight on the part of a friend or acquaintance.
The newcomer to a country neighbourhood must wait 
for older residents to call upon her.
If she has friends who can vouch for her and who will 
write to one of her neighbours saying,
"Mrs Smith has come to live near you. She is an old friend of mine and such a charming woman," or something to that effect, 
it is all to the good of the newcomer.

Length of Calls
The length of this first call should not be
more than a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes.
Never prolong a call...
until your departure becomes a relief to your hostess.

When two ladies meet at the house of a friend it is for the lady of highest rank or superior social position to make the first advance.
She should say, "I should so much like to come and see you,"
and should call shortly after...
or this advance may be met with, "That would be delightful -
 but won't you come to tea?
I should be so sorry to be out when you came";
or the more important or older lady might say,
"Do come and see me. I am always in to tea" or "after five",
 or "on Thursdays," as the case may be.
When ladies are of much the same age and standing
it does not matter which of them makes the first advance.

Returning Calls
It is of the utmost importance that calls should be returned promptly, and more especially the first call, for neglect to return it within two weeks or three at the most, or to explain by letter why it cannot be returned, is to indicate tacitly that the caller's friendship is not desired. This, of course is an extremely rude and inconsiderate method to chooses, and if one really does not desire to cultivate a certain friendship there are many less unkind means of indicating that desire, as, for example, the leaving of cards without inquiring if the owner of the house is at home.

Receiving Calls
If a woman has a day "at Home" she should be in her drawing room punctually at the hour at which she has announced
that she will receive her guests.

Calls can be made any time between half-past three and 
half-past five in the afternoon.
Morning calls are only made between the most intimate friends,
 and are not always acceptable even then.

Making a Chance Call
A woman calling on a friend or acquaintance who has no fixed day for reception makes some such inquiry as this 
from the servant at the door,
"Is Mrs Henderson at home?". If she receives a reply in the negative the caller leaves her card... and departs. When the servant announces that her mistress is 'not at home' it may mean either that she is out of the house or that she does not wish to see people. In either case the report of the servant must be taken as final and should never be questioned. There are many people who become very angry if they learn that the person upon whom they have called and who they have been told is 'not at home', was in her house all the time. But their anger is not justifiable. The expression has come to be regarded as a civil expression of not being able to receive callers as well as an expression of fact.

Calling by Men
A man is expected to make calls of condolence, inquiry,
and congratulation upon all his intimate friends,
both men and women.
A bachelor taking up residence in a new neighbourhood
is expected to return all the first calls made upon him,
but if he has a sister or another woman relative living with him,
she can make the call in his name.
It is quite permissible for a girl who has made the acquaintance of a
 young man at the house of friends
to ask him to call upon her mother.
The young man may also ask for permission to call.

I hope that helps.

Picture credits from top to bottom
The Rain it Raineth Every Day - George Frederick Watts
Portrait of Madame de Sevigne Writing - French School
Woman in Grey - Jean Baptiste Camille Corot
Caller Waiting - Kenneth Hayes Miller
The Morning Call - Sir William Quiller Orchardson
Cloudy - Walter John Knewstub
Front cover John Bull


  1. Life in blogland is much easier - turn up. Type. Try not to be dull.

    If at all possible on a first visit, explain from whence you came. Alice sent me - I liked visiting you. I should like to call again, if I may.

  2. So very complicated!

  3. Why was I not informed of these niceties earlier?
    No wonder my house staff lack a spring to their steps; my social life is in tatters; and my name missing from all but the least popular dance-cards.

    Was three and a half hours of Sousa marches perhaps inappropriate for Miss Manners' first call?

  4. Well thank you for this. Life might have taken some very different turns had I been more aware of the rules! Love George Watts. Re last post - hope to be strewing with abandon shortly...

  5. Wonderful paintings to go with this delightful post, Lucille!

    I wish someone would say to me "Do come and see me. I am always in to tea" but they don't; I get calls along the lines of "Get the kettle on; I'm on my way over". Clearly, I and my friends are social inadequates.....

  6. Hello! I have just discovered your blog via "...the sight of morning..." and spent most of yesterday reading it from the beginning. So this post is particularly appropriate. I have just created the required account in order to comment / leave my calling card. I have really enjoyed your written quotes, art "quotes" in the form of pictures, and your own words and pictures. Is it alright if I visit - I am new to your "neighbourhood"? Might not be between 3 30 and 5 30 though!

  7. Good afternoon Liz Moynihan,
    You are most welcome. Do drop by anytime you are in the neighbourhood, it is an open house here.