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    How to bow when you meet on the street

    The social rules for bowing, when ladies and gentlemen meet on the street, are explained in the Kingston British Whig, reprinted in the Toronto Leader, July 17, 1855.

    1.Before you bow to a lady in the street, permit her to decide whether you may do so or not by at least a look of recognition.

    2. When your companion bows to a lady, you should do the same. When a gentleman bows to a lady in your company, always bow to him in return.

    Nothing is so ill understood in America, as these conventional laws of society, so well understood and practiced in Europe.

    Ladies complain that gentlemen pass them by in the streets unnoticed, when in fact the fault arises from their own breach of politeness. It is their duty to do the amiable first, for it is a privilege which ladies enjoy of choosing their own associates or acquaintances. No gentleman likes to risk being cut in the street by a lady through a premature salute.

    Too many ladies, it would seem “don’t know their trade” of politeness. Meeting ladies in the streets whom one has casually met in company, they never bow unless he bows first, and when a gentleman never departs from the rule of good breeding, except occasionally by way of experiment, his acquaintances do not multiply, but stands probably charged with rudeness.

    This rule is plain. A lady must be civil to a gentlemen in whose company she is casually brought; but a gentleman is not upon this to presume upon acquaintanceship the first time he afterwards meets her in the street. If it is her will, she gives him some token of recognition, when the gentleman may bow; otherwise he must pass on and consider himself a stranger.

    No lady need hesitate to bow to a gentleman, for he will promptly and politely answer, even if he has forgotten his fair saluter. None but a brute can do otherwise—should he pass on rudely, his character is declared, and there is a cheap riddance.

    Politeness, or good breeding, is like law, “the reason of things.”

    TAGS Bowing,Manners,Etiquette,Social rules.

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