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Chaperonage in 1899
The foreign custom that makes a chaperone indispensable where young people are gathered together at places of public entertainment, has long obtained in the cities of the East, and in all conventional communities everywhere. No really fashionable party is made up without a chaperone.
A young woman condemns herself in the eyes of good society who is observed to enter alone with a young man a place of public refreshment, be the restaurant or tea room ever so select. Bred under other conditions of a society so necessarily varying as that in our broad America, a stranger visiting New York, for instance, might readily and innocently make a mistake of this nature, and blush at finding herself condemned for it. In the same category of offenses is ranked that of maidens visiting places of public amusement under the escort of young men alone. Many parts of the South and West allow this to be done with the smiling consent of good society; but in Eastern cities it is considered a violation of good form, and for the comfort, if not the convenience, of the girl considering it, had better be ranked among the lost privileges upon which social evolution may look back with fond regret.
It is always wisest, when a number of young people are to have a party, to ask two or three married women to be present, not only for propriety’s sake, but because there will then be no danger of anything unwished for happening, inasmuch as it is the duty of the chaperones to make all social entertainments smooth and pleasant.
When it is necessary for a girl to pay long visits to a dentist’s office, she should be accompanied either by her mother, or some woman relative, or maid.
The etiquette of chaperonage is much less strict for a young widow than for an unmarried girl of the same age; but it is important and in good taste for a woman who is a widow to be very quiet and inconspicuous in all she does, giving by her behavior no opportunity for criticism. — From Practical Etiquette
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