“Mrs. X. requests the pleasure of Mr. L.’s company at dinner on Thursday, the 16th of February, at eight o’clock.”


“Mr. L. accepts with pleasure Mrs. X.’s kind invitation to dinner on Thursday, the 16th of February.”

Address of the hostess.

The usual interval.

Unfairly long invitations.

These are the preliminaries; the lady’s address being on the sheet of paper or card on which her invitation has been written. Three weeks’ notice is usual, but sometimes, in the season, when many parties are going on, invitations are sent out four, five, or six weeks beforehand, in order to secure the guests. In the case of “lions” even longer invitations have been given; but as one of the first principles of good breeding is never to “corner” anybody, it is scarcely fair to invite those who are in much request without giving them the option of refusal. An invitation of seven or eight weeks’ length scarcely allows one to plead a pre-engagement, and often defeats the eager hostess’s own end by inducing the “lion” to accept without any intention of being present, writing later on to “renage,” to use a good old whist term.

Breaking the engagement.

Peculiar obligation of the diner-out.

On declining at the last moment.

A “fill-up” invitation.

But as our young man is scarcely yet a “lion,” and probably not over-burdened with engagements for dinner or any other social function, we may imagine him accepting with a free mind. Should anything intervene to prevent him carrying out his engagement, he is in duty bound to let his hostess know as early as possible that he cannot be present at her dinner-party. This is more especially and particularly necessary with dinners, though it holds good with regard to all invitations. But with dinner there is a peculiar obligation laid upon the guests. The choice and arrangement of them involves care on the part of the dinner-giver, more so than in the case of any other meal. In fact, dinner stands alone as an institution sacred to the highest rites of hospitality. To be invited is an honour to the young man who is just beginning his social life. To absent himself would be a gross rudeness, unless he could plead circumstances of a pressing nature. It is considered a great infraction of good manners to wire on the very day of the party that one cannot dine as arranged, unless something has occurred to justify such conduct. The hostess can with difficulty find a substitute at short notice, and the whole plan of her table is destroyed by the absence of one person. There are few people who would not feel offended at being invited to fill a gap of the kind, and this is what makes it so extremely discourteous to disappoint at the last moment, as it were. The unfortunate hostess thinks, “Is there any one good-natured enough to come and fill the vacant place?” Sometimes this is the raison d’être of a young man’s first invitation. Let him accept it by all means, even though he is perfectly aware that he was not his entertainer’s first choice.

One’s first dinner-party.

Gloves not worn by men.

Punctuality imperative.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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