Victorian Gentlemen and Ladies: Introductions

Lets look at some basics to start with introductions:

John Cooper, my great grandfather, Circa 1900

I guess we really don’t make a big deal of introductions today. Maybe we stand, a smile and a handshake; cards if used at all are business cards.

Introducing a spouse or partner is no big deal, if fact some people I know barely seem to be able to remember how to do that!

However introductions were and are important. From Routledge’s Manual of Etiquette 1899:

1. Introductions

To introduce persons who are mutually unknown is to undertake a serious responsibility, and to certify to each the respectability of the other. Never undertake this responsibility without in the first place asking yourself whether the persons are likely to be agreeable to each other; nor, in the second place, without ascertaining whether it will be acceptable to both parties to become acquainted.

A serious responsibility, indeed I hate having to introduce myself or being ignored!

But what about the fairer sex:

Always introduce the gentleman to the lady never the lady to the gentleman. The chivalry of etiquette assumes that the lady is invariably the superior in right of her sex, and that the gentleman is honoured in the introduction. This rule is to be observed even when the social rank of the gentleman is higher than that of the lady.

and the same sexes

Where the sexes are the same, always present the inferior to the superior. Never present a gentleman to a lady without first asking her permission to do so.

So once you have decided that very important task of who is superior to whom we move onto the next stage.

2. Tactile acknowledgements

For the men, an important point.

When you are introduced to a lady, never offer your hand.

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