From -The Gentlemen's Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness by Cecil B. Hartley
ETIQUETTE IN THE STREET.
A gentleman will be always polite, in the parlor, dining-room, and in the street. This last clause will especially include courtesy towards ladies, no matter what may be their age or position. A man who will annoy or insult a woman in the street, lowers himself to a brute, no matter whether he offends by look, word, or gesture. There are several little forms of etiquette, given below, the observance of which will mark the gentleman in the street.
When walking with a lady, or with a gentleman who is older than yourself, give them the upper side of the pavement, that is, the side nearest the house.
When walking alone, and you see any one coming towards you on the same side of the street, give the upper part of the pavement, as you turn aside, to a man who may carry a heavy bundle, to a priest or clergyman, to a woman, or to any elderly person.
In a crowd never rudely push aside those who impede your progress, but wait patiently until the way is clear. If you are hurried by business of importance or an engagement, you will find that a few courteous words will open the way before you more quickly than the most violent pushing and loud talking.
If obliged to cross a plank, or narrow path, let any lady or old person who may also be passing, precede you. In case the way is slippery or in any way unsafe, you may, with perfect propriety, offer to assist either a lady or elderly person in crossing it.
Do not smoke in the street until after dark, and then remove your cigar from your mouth, if you meet a lady.
Be careful about your dress. You can never know whom you may meet, so it is best to never leave the house otherwise than well-dressed. Bright colors, and much jewelry are both unbecoming to a gentleman in the street.
Avoid touching any one with your elbows in passing, and do not swing your arms as you walk.
Be careful when walking with or near a lady, not to put your foot upon her dress.
In carrying an umbrella, hold it so that you can see the way clear before you; avoid striking your umbrella against those which pass you; if you are walking with a lady, let the umbrella cover her perfectly, but hold it so that you will not touch her bonnet. If you have the care of two ladies, let them carry the umbrella between them, and walk outside yourself. Nothing can be more absurd than for a gentleman to walk between two ladies, holding the umbrella himself; while, in this way, he is perfectly protected, the ladies receive upon their dresses and cloaks the little streams of water which run from the points of the umbrella.
In case of a sudden fall of rain, you may, with perfect propriety, offer your umbrella to a lady who is unprovided with one. If she accepts it, and asks your address to return it, leave it with her; if she hesitates, and does not wish to deprive you of the use of it, you may offer to accompany her to her destination, and then, do not open a conversation; let your manner be respectful, and when you leave her, let her thank you, assure her of the pleasure it has given you to be of service, bow, and leave her.
In meeting a lady friend, wait for her to bow to you, and in returning her salutation, remove your hat. To a gentleman you may bow, merely touching your hat, if he is alone or with another gentleman; but if he has a lady with him, raise your hat in bowing to him. If you stop to speak to a lady, hold your hat in your hand, until she leaves you, unless she requests you to replace it. With a gentleman you may replace it immediately.
Never join a lady whom you may meet, without first asking her permission to do so.
If you stop to converse with any one in the street, stand near the houses, that you may not interfere with others who are passing.
You may bow to a lady who is seated at a window, if you are in the street; but you must not bow from a window to a lady in the street.
Do not stop to join a crowd who are collected round a street show, or street merchant, unless you wish to pass for a countryman taking a holiday in the city.
If you stop any one to enquire your own way, or if you are called upon to direct another, remove your hat while asking or answering the question.
If you see a lady leaving a carriage unattended, or hesitating at a bad crossing, you may, with propriety, offer your hand or arm to assist her, and having seen her safely upon the pavement, bow, and pass on.
In a car or omnibus, when a lady wishes to get out, stop the car for her, pass up her fare, and in an omnibus alight and assist her in getting out, bowing as you leave her.
Be gentle, courteous, and kind to children. There is no surer token of a low, vulgar mind, than unkindness to little ones whom you may meet in the streets.
A true gentleman never stops to consider what may be the position of any woman whom it is in his power to aid in the street. He will assist an Irish washerwoman with her large basket or bundle over a crossing, or carry over the little charges of a distressed negro nurse, with the same gentle courtesy which he would extend toward the lady who was stepping from her private carriage. The true spirit of chivalry makes the courtesy due to the sex, not to the position of the individual.
When you are escorting a lady in the street, politeness does not absolutely require you to carry her bundle or parasol, but if you are gallant you will do so. You must regulate your walk by hers, and not force her to keep up with your ordinary pace.
Watch that you do not lead her into any bad places, and assist her carefully over each crossing, or wet place on the pavement.
If you are walking in the country, and pass any streamlet, offer your hand to assist your companion in crossing.
If you pass over a fence, and she refuses your assistance in crossing it, walk forward, and do not look back, until she joins you again. The best way to assist a lady over a fence, is to stand yourself upon the upper rail, and while using one hand to keep a steady position, stoop, offer her the other, and with a firm, steady grasp, hold her hand until she stands beside you; then let her go down on the other side first, and follow her when she is safe upon the ground.
In starting for a walk with a lady, unless she is a stranger in the place towards whom you act as guide, let her select your destination.
Where there are several ladies, and you are required to escort one of them, select the elderly, or those whose personal appearance will probably make them least likely to be sought by others. You will probably be repaid by finding them very intelligent, and with a fund of conversation. If there are more ladies than gentlemen, you may offer an arm to two, with some jest about the difficulty of choosing, or the double honor you enjoy.
Offer your seat in any public conveyance, to a lady who is standing. It is often quite as great a kindness and mark of courtesy to take a child in your lap.
When with a lady you must pay her expenses as well as your own; if she offers to share the expense, decline unless she insists upon it, in the latter case yield gracefully. Many ladies, who have no brother or father, and are dependent upon their gentlemen friends for escort, make it a rule to be under no pecuniary obligations to them, and you will, in such a case, offend more by insisting upon your right to take that expense, than by quietly pocketing your dignity and their cash together.
I know many gentlemen will cry out at my assertion; but I have observed this matter, and know many ladies who will sincerely agree with me in my opinion.
In a carriage always give the back seat to the lady or ladies accompanying you. If you have but one lady with you, take the seat opposite to her, unless she invites you to sit beside her, in which case accept her offer.
Never put your arm across the seat, or around her, as many do in riding. It is an impertinence, and if she is a lady of refinement, she will resent it as such.
If you offer a seat in your carriage to a lady, or another gentleman whom you may meet at a party or picnic, take them home, before you drive to your own destination, no matter how much you may have to drive out of your own way.
Be the last to enter the carriage, the first to leave it. If you have ladies with you, offer them your hand to assist them in entering and alighting, and you should take the arm of an old gentleman to assist him.
If offered a seat in the carriage of a gentleman friend, stand aside for him to get in first, but if he waits for you, bow and take your seat before he does.
When driving a lady in a two-seated vehicle, you should assist her to enter the carriage, see that her dress is not in danger of touching the wheels, and that her shawl, parasol, and fan, are where she can reach them, before you take your own seat. If she wishes to stop, and you remain with the horses, you should alight before she does, assist her in alighting, and again alight to help her to her seat when she returns, even if you keep your place on the seat whilst she is gone.
When attending a lady in a horse-back ride, never mount your horse until she is ready to start. Give her your hand to assist her in mounting, arrange the folds of her habit, hand her her reins and her whip, and then take your own seat on your saddle.
Let her pace be yours. Start when she does, and let her decide how fast or slowly she will ride. Never let the head of your horse pass the shoulders of hers, and be watchful and ready to render her any assistance she may require.
Never, by rapid riding, force her to ride faster than she may desire.
Never touch her bridle, reins, or whip, except she particularly requests your assistance, or an accident, or threatened danger, makes it necessary.
If there is dust or wind, ride so as to protect her from it as far as possible.
If the road is muddy be careful that you do not ride so as to bespatter her habit. It is best to ride on the side away from that upon which her habit falls. Some ladies change their side in riding, from time to time, and you must watch and see upon which side the skirt falls, that, on a muddy day, you may avoid favoring the habit with the mud your horse’s hoofs throw up.
If you ride with a gentleman older than yourself, or one who claims your respect, let him mount before you do. Extend the same courtesy towards any gentleman whom you have invited to accompany you, as he is, for the ride, your guest.
The honorable place is on the right. Give this to a lady, an elderly man, or your guest.
A modern writer says:—“If walking with a female relative or friend, a well-bred man will take the outer side of the pavement, not only because the wall-side is the most honorable side of a public walk, but also because it is generally the farthest point from danger in the street. If walking alone, he will be ready to offer assistance to any female whom he may see exposed to real peril from any source. Courtesy and manly courage will both incite him to this line of conduct. In general, this is a point of honor which almost all men are proud to achieve. It has frequently happened that even where the savage passions of men have been excited, and when mobs have been in actual conflict, women have been gallantly escorted through the sanguinary crowd unharmed, and their presence has even been a protection to their protectors. This is as it should be; and such incidents have shown in a striking manner, not only the excellency of good breeding, but have also brought it out when and where it was least to be expected.
“In streets and all public walks, a well-bred person will be easily distinguished from another who sets at defiance the rules of good breeding. He will not, whatever be his station, hinder and annoy his fellow pedestrians, by loitering or standing still in the middle of the footway. He will, if walking in company, abstain from making impertinent remarks on those he meets; he will even be careful not to appear indelicately to notice them. He will not take ‘the crown of the causeway’ to himself, but readily fall in with the convenient custom which necessity has provided, and walk on the right side of the path, leaving the left side free for those who are walking in the opposite direction. Any departure from these plain rules of good breeding is downright rudeness and insult; or, at all events, it betrays great ignorance or disregard for propriety. And yet, how often are they departed from! It is, by no means, uncommon, especially in country places, for groups of working men to obstruct the pathway upon which they take a fancy to lounge, without any definite object, as far as appears, but that of making rude remarks upon passers-by. But it is not only the laboring classes of society who offend against good breeding in this way; too many others offend in the same, and by stopping to talk in the middle of the pavement put all who pass to great inconvenience.”
In meeting a lady do not offer to shake hands with her, but accept her hand when she offers it for you to take.
“In France, where politeness is found in every class, the people do not run against each other in the streets, nor brush rudely by each other, as they sometimes do in our cities. It adds much to the pleasure of walking, to be free from such annoyance; and this can only be brought about by the well-taught few setting a good example to the many. By having your wits about you, you can win your way through a thronged street without touching even the extreme circumference of a balloon sleeve; and, if each one strove to avoid all contact, it would be easily accomplished.”