Notes of Invitation, etc.

{From Routledge's Manual of Etiquette.]

Notes of invitation and acceptance are written in the third person and the simplest style. The old-fashioned preliminary of “presenting compliments” is discontinued by the most elegant letter-writers.

All notes of invitation are now issued in the name of the mistress of the house only, as follows;--

“Mrs. Norman requests the honor of Sir George and Lady Thurlow’s company at an evening party, on Monday, 14th of June.”

Others prefer the subjoined form, which is purchasable ready printed upon either cards or note-paper, with blanks for names or dates:--

“Mrs. Norman,

“At home,

“Monday evening, June 14th inst.”

An “At home” is, however, considered somewhat less stately than an evening party, and partakes more of the character of a conversazione.

The reply to a note of invitation should be couched as follows:--

“Mr. Berkeley has much pleasure in accepting Mrs. Norman’s polite invitation for Monday evening, June the 14th inst.”

Never “avail” yourself of an invitation. Above all, never speak or write of an invitation as “an invite.” It is neither good breeding nor good English.

Notes of invitation and reply should be written on small paper of the best quality, and enclosed in envelopes to correspond.

A gentleman should never use sealing-wax of any color but red, nor paper of any hue but white. Fancy papers, fantastic borders, dainty colored wax, and the like elegant follies, are only admissible in the desk of a lady.

Never omit the address and date from any letter, whether of business, friendship, or ceremony.

Letters in the first person, addressed to strangers, should begin with “Sir,” or “Madam,” and end with “I have the honor to be your very obedient servant.” Some object to this form of words from a mistaken sense of pride; but it is merely a form, and, rightly apprehended, evinces a “proud humility,” which implies more condescension than a less formal phrase.

At the end of your letter, at some little distance below your signature, and in the left corner of your paper, write the name of the person to whom your letter is addressed; as “Sir James Dalhousie,” or “Edward Munroe, Esquire.”

It is more polite to write Esquire at full length than to curtail it to Esq.

In writing to persons much your superior or inferior, use as few words as possible. In the former case, to take up much of a great man’s time is to take a liberty; in the latter to be diffuse is to be too familiar. It is only in familiar correspondence that long letters are permissible.

In writing to a tradesman, begin your letter by addressing him by name, as—

“Mr. Jones,--Sir.”

A letter thus begun may, with propriety, be ended with—

“Sir, yours truly.”

Letters to persons whom you meet frequently in society, without having arrived at intimacy, may commence with “Dear Sir,” and end with “I am, dear Sir, yours very truly.”

Letters commencing “My dear Sir,” addressed to persons whom you appreciate, and with whom you are on friendly terms, may end with “I am, my dear Sir, yours very faithfully,” or “yours very sincerely.”

To be prompt in replying to a letter is to be polite.


Copyright © D. J.McAdam· All Rights Reserved