"A good manner is the best letter of recommendation among strangers. Civility, refinement, and gentleness are passports to hearts and homes, while awkwardness, coarseness and gruffness are met with locked doors and closed hearts." --Our Deportment, 1881"Visits of ceremony should be short. If even the conversation should have become animated, beware of letting your call exceed half-an-hour's length."--The Ladies' and Gentlemen's Etiquette: A Complete Manual of the Manners and Dress of American Society, by Mrs. E.B. Duffey, 1877
The tacit assumption for the vast majority of visits is that a lady would be making the call on another lady. Visits of ceremony must be necessarily short and not made before the hour of lunch time. Half an hour is sufficient time. These visits may not always be made necessary by businessmen, as they may not have time. These visits are such as to talk someone for dinner the night before. Young married ladies may visit their acquaintances alone, but they may not appear in public places unattended, either by their husbands or elder ladies. In any event, a married lady never calls on a gentleman unless professionally or officially, and then it would be with the knowledge of her husband.
Even the most mundane, most pragmatic matters of life were dealt with in the etiquette manuals of the day. Readers were cautioned against such behaviors as leaning oneís head against the wall. Why? One who committed that particular breach of etiquette was not only guilty of bad posture, but risked ruining the wallpaper and possibly getting lime in their hair.
A lady should neither remove her shawl nor bonnet, even if politely asked, unless they are in the presence of a particularly special friend, and then only with the help of the lady of the house. When a lady enters a room where there may be a gentleman, she is requested to sit on the sofa by a gentleman. In the event that several ladies arrive, due respect is paid to age and rank and they must be seated in the most honorable places, one of which is close to or beside the fire, should there be one; or close to an open window in the heat of summer when a breeze may be hoped for.
It should be observed that the rules regarding visiting are primarily aimed at the ladies since married men are supposed to have too much business to attend to make ceremonial calls. For that reason, it is customary for wives to take their husband's cards, and to leave one of their own and one of their husbandís. If your acquaintance or friend is not at home, leave a card. In visiting your intimate friends, some ceremony may be dispensed with and visits with these people will make mere ceremony unnecessary. Ladies are urged to bear in mind that when they do make a call, the call is to the wife and not to the husband, except on matters of business.
"Society exacts of woman minute attention to little formalities which would be excused in a man in this land, where the sterner sex are almost to a unit immersed in business or politics. Formal calls in the city are intended to serve in lieu of the more genial and lengthy visits which are a part of country life; and are designed to cement the acquaintance with all whom you admit to your circle." --Youth's Educator for Home and Society, 1896
"These do not mean, as the title would imply, calls made in the forenoon, but embrace the hours from one to five p.m. They are generally of fifteen or twenty minutes' duration. Should another lady call, make your own stay even more brief than this. Conversation should be on agreeable topics. Inquire first after all the inmates of the home, then pass on to the subjects of the day, the last new book, or latest fashion in dress. Never canvass an absent acquaintance, or repeat anything which has happened in another house where you have been received as a guest." --Polite Society, At Home and Abroad, 1901
"Calls in the evening are made from eight to nine, and should be of an hours' duration. The hostess rises on the entrance of her visitors, and offers them her hand, leading them to a seat. She must have tact and geniality, so as to draw out the best ideas from her visitors. Most women possess this quality, and therein lies their charm." --Polite Society, At Home and Abroad, 1901
"When it is time to leave, announce this and immediately rise, bid your hostess farewell, and take your leave. Your hostess may accompany you to the door, or if there is a servant, will ring for her to show you out, while continuing in conversation until the moment of your leave."
MODERN ETIQUETTE requires that a guest should always pay the first compliments to the lady of the house. Formerly it was the custom for the mistress of the mansion to occupy some place at the furthest point from the entrance of the apartment, and this obliged the visitor either to violate the law of politeness by speaking to many mutual friends on the way towards her, or else to pass them with apparent coldness; and to reconcile these differences it is now the fashion for the lady to occupy some place near the door, when the visitor may be at once received, and relieved from the difficulty which has given rise to the arrangement. --Godey's Lady's Book, Vol LXII Page 267, March 1861
"Should there be daughters or sisters residing with thr lady whom you call, you may turn down a corner of your card to signify that the visit is paid to all. It is better taste, however, to leave cards for each." --The Ladies' and Gentlemen's Etiquette: A Complete Manual of the Manners and Dress of American Society, by Mrs. E.B. Duffey, 1877