Five O'clock Tea and afternoon at-Homes
Duties of men at five oclock tea.
Gentlemen are in great request at five oclock tea. Their duties are rather onerous if there are but one or two men and the usual crowd of ladies. They have to carry teacups about, hand sugar, cream, and cakes or muffins, and keep up all the time a stream of small talk, as amusing as they can make it. They must rise every time a lady enters or leaves the room, opening the door for her exit if no one else is nearer to it, and, if his hostess requests him, he must see the lady downstairs to her carriage or cab.
His own refreshment.
With regard to the viands, a man helps himself, but not till he has seen that all the ladies in his vicinity have everything they can possibly want. His hostess, or some lady deputed by her to preside at the tea- table, gives him tea or coffee, and he adds sugar and cream.
With regard to afternoon at-homes, the arrangements are quite different. Invitations are sent out a fortnight or three weeks before, generally the latter, and in the height of the season even longer.
Suppose the young mans name to be Edward Smith. His invitation would be as follows:
Mr. Edward Smith.
Tuesday, November 3rd.
4 To 7.
12, Evergreen Square.
R. S. V. P.
He replies, on a sheet of notepaper:Mr. Edward Smith has much pleasure in accepting Lady Darts kind invitation for Tuesday afternoon, November 3rd.
A great mistake.
Its a great mistake to write:Will have much pleasure in accepting. Accepting is the action of the present moment while he is writing the reply. Will have refers to the future, and is therefore unsuitable. The answering of invitations is a simple matter enough, but it is a test of good breeding.
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