This was original posted on May 24, 2010.
With today’s boundless and constant “visiting” through email, texting, and even Twitter, it is refreshing to step-back-in-time when precise and extensive etiquette conventions ruled all social interactions. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, it was established that it was always better to overdo the polite than to underdo it.
After introductions, visits or “calls” came next in the first round of the proper social sequence that Jane Austen's characters adhered. The custom of restricting hours to certain parts of days, and then to certain days of the week, was started in self-preservation to prevent callers from spreading themselves into whole days — some calling in the mornings, others in the afternoons, still others evenings, and all on any day in the week. Read the rules of “calling” here. Or order a set of your very own calling cards here.