When any member of a family is dead, it is customary to send intelligence of the misfortune to all who have been connected with the deceased in relations of business or friendship. The letters which are sent contain a special invitation to assist at the funeral.
An invitation of this sort should never be refused, though, of course, you do not send a reply, for no other reason that I know of, excepting the impossibility of framing any formula of acceptance.
You render yourself at the house an hour or two after the time specified. If you were to sit long in the mournful circle you might be rendered unfit for doing any thing for a week.
Your dress is black, and during the time of waiting you compose your visage into a “tristful ‘haviour,” and lean in silent solemnity upon the top of your cane, thinking about— last night’s party. This is a necessary hypocrisy, and assists marvelously the sadness of the ceremony. You walk in a procession with the others, your carriage following in the street. The first places are yielded to the relations of the deceased.
The coffins of persons of distinction are carried in the hands of bearers, who walk with their hats off.
You walk with another, in seemly order, and converse in a low tone; first upon the property of the defunct, and next upon the politics of the day. You walk with the others into the church, where service is said over the body. It is optional to go to the grave or not. When you go away, you enter your carriage and return to your business or your pleasures.
A funeral in the morning, a ball in the evening,”—so runs the world away.”
This is taken from The Laws of Etiquette.
Copyright © D. J. McAdam· All Rights Reserved