Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shaking Hands

Many Happy Returns of the Day


The etiquette with regard to shaking hands is not an open question, it is distinct enough and simple enough for all exigencies, but yet there is individual temperament to be taken into account which in many drives etiquette out of the field, if by etiquette is understood not merely stiff propriety of action, but politeness in the truest sense of the word, and doing that which is exactly the right thing to do. Etiquette rules when to shake hands and when not to do so, when to bow and when not to bow; but in spite of this knowledge, which is within every one's reach, there are many mistakes made on this head.

For instance, one does not offer to shake hands when expected to do so; another offers to shake hands three times; one displays unwarrantable warmth in shaking hands; another extends two fingers only; one shakes hands in a limp and uncomfortable manner, and takes the extended hand merely to drop it; another literally pumps the extended hand, or crushes the rings into a lady's fingers when shaking hands with her.

A lady who does not shake hands when expected to do so is actuated by one or other of the following reasons—she did not wish to shake hands with a certain acquaintance, and preferred to bow only, or she was not aware whether she should have shaken hands or not.

The gentlemen who shake hands with great warmth and empressement are two distinct individuals; the one is [p.226]cordial and large-hearted, and has a friendly grasp for every one—a grasp indicative of kindliness, geniality, and good fellowship—the other wishes to ingratiate himself in certain quarters, and loses no opportunity of demonstratively shaking hands, but no one is deceived by this spurious imitation of the real thing.

When a lady gives but two fingers to people whom she does not care about, she is always a person who fancies herself, and who feels very fine; she doubtless is, but her good breeding and her good feeling are both in question when she takes this method of showing the superiority of herself and her position over that of other people.

There are other eccentricities indulged in by different people who shake hands when they should not, and people who do not shake hands when they should.

It depends upon whom a lady is introduced to, or upon who is introduced to her, whether she should or should not shake hands. She should not shake hands on being casually introduced to a person altogether a stranger to her; but yet there are so many occasions when it is both proper and correct to shake hands on being introduced, that the rule on this head is a very elastic one.

For instance, a host and hostess should shake hands with every stranger introduced to them at their house.

A lady should shake hands on being introduced to the relations of her intended husband.

A lady should shake hands on being introduced to the friend of an intimate friend.

When a lady has entered into conversation to any extent with some one to whom she has been introduced, and finds she has much in common with her, she should shake hands on taking leave; but if she has only exchanged a few commonplace sentences, a bow would be all that is necessary.

A lady usually takes the initiative with regard to shaking hands as with bowing; but in reality it is a spontaneous [p.227]movement, made by both lady and gentleman at the same moment, as the hand ought not to be extended or the bow given unless expected and instantaneously reciprocated.

A young lady should not offer to shake hands with one not expectant of the honour.

Shaking hands on taking leave is, with some few people, a graceful and pleasant fashion of saying good-bye; intimate friends hold the hand while the last words are being said. Women hold each other's hands thus on parting, and some few men take each other's hands; but with them it is rather a foreign fashion, and is principally followed by those who have lived much on the Continent; for, as a rule, an Englishman prefers the hearty English shake of the hand.

A lady having once shaken hands with another, should continue to do so at subsequent meetings, unless a coolness of manner warns her that a bow would be more acceptable.

With regard to shaking hands at a dinner-party with acquaintances: if the dinner-party is a small one, and there is time to shake hands, it is correct to do so; but when there is little time before dinner, and no good opportunity for shaking hands, bows to acquaintances at distant parts of the room, or when seated at the dinner-table, are sufficient recognition for the time being.

At an evening-party it depends upon opportunity whether acquaintances shake hands or not.

The fashion of raising the arm when shaking hands is followed by very few in the exaggerated style in which it was first introduced, but a modification of it has distinctly become the fashion in general society.

The hand, instead of being extended straight out, is now offered on a line or parallel with the chest, a trifle higher than the old-fashioned style, and the fingers of the hand are held and gently shaken, but the palm is not grasped or even touched.











1 comment:

  1. Truly enjoy all your posts about Etiquette. Thank you!


Oh Thanks for your comment! Swell!

Old Time Beauty

This is a Flickr badge showing public items from the Jazzy Era, Fabulous Flapper FUN group pool. Make your own badge here.


Vintage Blogs


My Daily Vintage Magazine About Everything | Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial License | Dandy Dandilion Designed by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates