Routledge's Manual of Etiquette
Part 2 out of 6
There is also another reason why you should not be yourself the bearer
of your introduction; i.e., you compel the other person to receive
you, whether he chooses or not. It may be that he is sufficiently
ill-bred to take no notice of the letter when sent, and in such case,
if you presented yourself with it, he would most probably receive you
with rudeness. It is, at all events, more polite on your part to give
him the option, and perhaps more pleasant. If the receiver of the
letter be a really well-bred person, he will call upon you or leave
his card the next day, and you should return his attentions within the
If, on the other hand, a stranger sends you a letter of introduction
and his card, you are bound by the laws of politeness and hospitality,
not only to call upon him the next day, but to follow up that
attention with others. If you are in a position to do so, the most
correct proceeding is to invite him to dine with you. Should this not
be within your power, you have probably the _entree_ to some private
collections, clubhouses, theatres, or reading-rooms, and could devote
a few hours to showing him these places. If you are but a clerk in
a bank, remember that only to go over the Bank of England would be
interesting to a foreigner or provincial visitor. In short, etiquette
demands that you shall exert yourself to show kindness to the
stranger, if only out of compliment to the friend who introduced him
If you invite him to dine with you, it is a better compliment to ask
some others to meet him, than to dine with him _tete-a-tete_. You are
thereby giving him an opportunity of making other acquaintances, and
are assisting your friend in still further promoting the purpose for
which he gave him the introduction to yourself.
Be careful at the same time only to ask such persons as he will feel
are at least his own social equals.
A letter of introduction should be given unsealed, not alone because
your friend may wish to know what you have said of him, but also as
a guarantee of your own good faith. As you should never give such
a letter unless you can speak highly of the bearer, this rule of
etiquette is easy to observe. By requesting your friend to fasten the
envelope before forwarding the letter to its destination, you tacitly
give him permission to inspect its contents.
Let your note paper be of the best quality and the proper size. Albert
or Queen's size is the best for these purposes.
It has been well said that "attention to the punctilios of politeness
is a proof at once of self-respect, and of respect for your friend."
Though irksome at first, these trifles soon cease to be matters for
memory, and become things of mere habit. To the thoroughly well-bred,
they are a second nature. Let no one neglect them who is desirous of
pleasing in society; and, above all, let no one deem them unworthy of
a wise man's attention. They are precisely the trifles which do
most to make social intercourse agreeable, and a knowledge of which
distinguishes the gentleman from the boor.
* * * * *
A morning visit should be paid between the hours of two and four p.m.,
in winter, and two and five in summer. By observing this rule
you avoid intruding before the luncheon is removed, and leave in
sufficient time to allow the lady of the house an hour or two of
leisure for her dinner toilette.
Be careful always to avoid luncheon hours when you pay morning
visits. Some ladies dine with their children at half-past one, and are
consequently unprepared for the early reception of visitors. When you
have once ascertained this to be the case, be careful never again to
intrude at the same hour.
A good memory for these trifles is one of the hall-marks of good
Visits of ceremony should be short. If even the conversation
should have become animated, beware of letting your call exceed
half-an-hour's length. It is always better to let your friends regret
than desire your withdrawal.
On returning visits of ceremony you may, without impoliteness, leave
your card at the door without going in. Do not fail, however, to
inquire if the family be well.
Should there be daughters or sisters residing with the lady upon whom
you call, you may turn down a corner of your card, to signify that the
visit is paid to all. It is in better taste, however, to leave cards
Unless when returning thanks for "kind inquiries," or announcing your
arrival in, or departure from, town, it is not considered respectful
to send round cards by a servant.
Leave-taking cards have P.P.C. _(pour prendre conge)_ written in the
corner. Some use P.D.A. _(pour dire adieu)_.
It is not the fashion on the Continent for gentlemen to affix
_Monsieur_ to their cards, _Jules Achard_, or _Paolo Beni_, looks more
simple and elegant than if preceded by _Monsieur_, or _Monsieur le
Comte_. Some English gentlemen have adopted this good custom, and it
would be well if it became general.
Autographic facsimiles for visiting cards are affectations in any
persons but those who are personally remarkable for talent and whose
autographs, or facsimiles of them, would be prized as curiosities. A
card bearing the autographic signature of Charles Dickens or George
Cruikshank, though only a lithographic facsimile, would have a certain
interest; whereas the signature of John Smith would be not only
valueless, but would make the owner ridiculous.
The visiting cards of gentlemen are half the size of those used by
Visits of condolence are paid within the week after the event which
occasions them. Personal visits of this kind are made by relations
and very intimate friends only. Acquaintances should leave cards with
narrow mourning borders.
On the first occasion when you are received by the family after the
death of one of its members, it is etiquette to wear slight mourning.
When a gentleman makes a morning call, he should never leave his hat
or riding-whip in the hall, but should take both into the room. To do
otherwise would be to make himself too much at home. The hat, however,
must never be laid on a table, piano, or any article of furniture; it
should be held gracefully in the hand. If you are compelled to lay it
aside, put it on the floor.
Umbrellas should invariably be left in the hall.
Never take favourite dogs into a drawing-room when you make a morning
call. Their feet may be dusty, or they may bark at the sight of
strangers, or, being of too friendly a disposition, may take the
liberty of lying on a lady's gown, or jumping on the sofas and easy
chairs. Where your friend has a favourite cat already established
before the fire, a battle may ensue, and one or other of the pets be
seriously hurt. Besides, many persons have a constitutional
antipathy to dogs, and others never allow their own to be seen in the
sitting-rooms. For all or any of these reasons, a visitor has no
right to inflict upon his friend the society of his dog as well as of
If, when you call upon a lady, you meet a lady visitor in her
drawing-room, you should rise when that lady takes her leave, and
escort her to her carriage, taking care, however, to return again to
the drawing-room, though it be only for a few minutes, before taking
your own leave. Not to do this would give you the appearance of
accompanying the lady visitor; or might, at all events, look as if the
society of your hostess were insufficient to entertain you when her
friend had departed.
If other visitors are announced, and you have already remained as long
as courtesy requires, wait till they are seated, and then rise from
your chair, take leave of your hostess, and bow politely to the newly
arrived guests. You will, perhaps, be urged to remain, but, having
once risen, it is always best to go. There is always a certain air
of _gaucherie_ in resuming your seat and repeating the ceremony of
If you have occasion to look at your watch during a call, ask
permission to do so, and apologise for it on the plea of other
* * * * *
Let your conversation be adapted as skilfully as may be to your
company. Some men make a point of talking commonplaces to all ladies
alike, as if a woman could only be a trifler. Others, on the contrary,
seem to forget in what respects the education of a lady differs from
that of a gentleman, and commit the opposite error of conversing on
topics with which ladies are seldom acquainted. A woman of sense
has as much right to be annoyed by the one, as a lady of ordinary
education by the other. You cannot pay a finer compliment to a woman
of refinement and _esprit_ than by leading the conversation into such
a channel as may mark your appreciation of her superior attainments.
In talking with ladies of ordinary education, avoid political,
scientific, or commercial topics, and choose only such subjects as are
likely to be of interest to them.
Remember that people take more interest in their own affairs than in
anything else which you can name. If you wish your conversation to be
thoroughly agreeable, lead a mother to talk of her children, a young
lady of her last ball, an author of his forthcoming book, or an artist
of his exhibition picture. Having furnished the topic, you need
only listen; and you are sure to be thought not only agreeable, but
thoroughly sensible and well-informed.
Be careful, however, on the other hand, not always to make a point of
talking to persons upon general matters relating to their professions.
To show an interest in their immediate concerns is flattering; but
to converse with them too much about their own arts looks as if you
thought them ignorant of other topics.
Do not use a classical quotation in the presence of ladies without
apologising for, or translating it. Even this should only be done when
no other phrase would so aptly express your meaning. Whether in the
presence of ladies or gentlemen, much display of learning is pedantic
and out of place.
There is a certain distinct but subdued tone of voice which is
peculiar to only well-bred persons. A loud voice is both disagreeable
and vulgar. It is better to err by the use of too low than too loud a
Remember that all "slang" is vulgar. It has become of late
unfortunately prevalent, and we have known even ladies pride
themselves on the saucy _chique_ with which they adopt certain
Americanisms, and other cant phrases of the day.
Such habits cannot be too severely reprehended. They lower the tone of
society and the standard of thought. It is a great mistake to suppose
that slang is in any way a substitute for wit.
The use of proverbs is equally vulgar in conversation; and puns,
unless they rise to the rank of witticisms, are to be scrupulously
avoided. There is no greater nuisance in society than a dull and
Long arguments in general company, however entertaining to the
disputants, are tiresome to the last degree to all others. You should
always endeavour to prevent the conversation from dwelling too long
upon one topic.
Religion is a topic which should never be introduced in society. It is
the one subject on which persons are most likely to differ, and least
able to preserve temper.
Never interrupt a person who is speaking. It has been aptly said that
"if you interrupt a speaker in the middle of his sentence, you act
almost as rudely as if, when walking with a companion, you were to
thrust yourself before him, and stop his progress."
To listen well, is almost as great an art as to talk well. It is not
enough _only_ to listen. You must endeavour to seem interested in the
conversation of others.
It is considered extremely ill-bred when two persons whisper in
society, or converse in a language with which all present are not
familiar. If you have private matters to discuss, you should appoint
a proper time and place to do so, without paying others the ill
compliment of excluding them from your conversation.
If a foreigner be one of the guests at a small party, and does not
understand English sufficiently to follow what is said, good-breeding
demands that conversation shall be carried on in his own language. If
at a dinner-party, the same rule applies to those at his end of the
If upon the entrance of a visitor you carry on the thread of a
previous conversation, you should briefly recapitulate to him what has
been said before he arrived.
Do not be _always_ witty, even though you should be so happily gifted
as to need the caution. To outshine others on every occasion is the
surest road to unpopularity.
Always look, but never stare, at those with whom you converse.
In order to meet the general needs of conversation in society, it is
necessary that a man should be well acquainted with the current news
and historical events of at least the last few years.
Never talk upon subjects of which you know nothing, unless it be for
the purpose of acquiring information. Many young men imagine that
because they frequent exhibitions and operas they are qualified judges
of art. No mistake is more egregious or universal.
Those who introduce anecdotes into their conversation are warned
that these should invariably be "short, witty, eloquent, new, and not
Scandal is the least excusable of all conversational vulgarities.
In conversing with a man of rank, do not too frequently give him his
title. Only a servant interlards every sentence with "my Lord," or "my
Lady." It is, however, well to show that you remember his station by
now and then introducing some such phrase as--"I think I have already
mentioned to your Lordship"--or, "I believe your Grace was observing"... In
general, however, you should address a nobleman as you would any other
gentleman. The Prince of Wales himself is only addressed as "Sir," in
conversation, and the Queen as "Madam."
* * * * *
V.--NOTES OF INVITATION, &c.
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 honour of Sir George and Lady Thurlow's
company at an evening party, on Monday, 14th of June."
Others prefer the subjoined form, which is purchaseable ready printed
upon either cards or note-paper, with blanks for names or dates:--
"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
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
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 colour but red, nor
paper of any hue but white. Fancy papers, fantastic borders, dainty
coloured 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 honour 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
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
In writing to a tradesman, begin your letter by addressing him by
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.
* * * * *
A well-bred man must entertain no respect for the brim of his hat. "A
bow," says La Fontaine, "is a note drawn at sight." You are bound
to acknowledge it immediately, and to the full amount. The two most
elegant men of their day, Charles the Second and George the Fourth,
never failed to take off their hats to the meanest of their subjects.
Always bear this example in mind; and remember that to nod, or merely
to touch the brim of the hat, is far from courteous. True politeness
demands that the hat should be quite lifted from the head.
On meeting friends with whom you are likely to shake hands, remove
your hat with the left hand in order to leave the right hand free.
If you meet a lady in the street whom you are sufficiently intimate
to address, do not stop her, but turn round and walk beside her in
whichever direction she is going. When you have said all that you wish
to say, you can take your leave.
If you meet a lady with whom you are not particularly well acquainted,
wait for her recognition before you venture to bow to her.
In bowing to a lady whom you are not going to address, lift your hat
with that hand which is farthest from her. For instance, if you pass
her on the right side, use your left hand; if on the left, use your
If you are on horseback and wish to converse with a lady who is on
foot, you must dismount and lead your horse, so as not to give her the
fatigue of looking up to your level. Neither should you subject her
to the impropriety of carrying on a conversation in a tone necessarily
louder than is sanctioned in public by the laws of good breeding.
When you meet friends or acquaintances in the streets, the
exhibitions, or any public places, take care not to pronounce their
names so loudly as to attract the attention of the passers-by. Never
call across the street: and never carry on a dialogue in a public
vehicle, unless your interlocutor occupies the seat beside your own.
In walking with a lady, take charge of any small parcel, parasol, or
book with which she may be encumbered.
If you so far forget what is elegant as to smoke in the street, at
least never omit to fling away your cigar if you speak to a lady.
* * * * *
A great French writer has said, with as much grace as philosophy, that
the artist and man of letters needs only a black coat and the absence
of all pretension to place him on the level of the best society.
It must be observed, however, that this remark applies only to the
intellectual workers, who, if they do occasionally commit a minor
solecism in dress or manners, are forgiven on account of their fame
and talents. Other individuals are compelled to study what we have
elsewhere called the "by-laws of society;" and it would be well if
artists and men of letters would more frequently do the same. It is
not enough that a man should be clever, or well educated, or well
born; to take his place in society he must be acquainted with all that
this little book proposes to teach. He must, above all else, know
how to enter the room, how to bow, and how to dress. Of these three
indispensable qualifications, the most important, because the most
observed, is the latter.
A gentleman should always be so well dressed that his dress shall
never be observed at all. Does this sound like an enigma? It is not
meant for one. It only implies that perfect simplicity is perfect
elegance, and that the true test of taste in the toilette of a
gentleman is its entire harmony, unobtrusiveness and becomingness. If
any friend should say to you, "What a handsome waistcoat you have
on!" you may depend that a less handsome waistcoat would be in better
taste. If you hear it said that Mr. So-and-So wears superb jewellery,
you may conclude beforehand that he wears too much. Display, in short,
is ever to be avoided, especially in matters of dress. The toilette
is the domain of the fair sex. Let a wise man leave its graces and
luxuries to his wife, daughters or sisters, and seek to be himself
appreciated for something of higher worth than the embroidery upon his
shirt front, or the trinkets on his chain.
To be too much in the fashion is as vulgar as to be too far behind
it. No really well-bred man follows every new cut that he sees in his
tailor's fashion-book. Only very young men, and those not of the most
aristocratic circles, are guilty of this folly.
The author of "Pelham" has aptly said that a gentleman's coat
should not fit too well. There is great truth and subtlety in this
observation. To be fitted _too_ well is to look like a tailor's
assistant. This is the great fault which we have to find in the style
of even the best bred Frenchmen. They look as if they had just stepped
out of a fashion-book, and lack the careless ease which makes an
English gentleman look as if his clothes belonged to him, and not he
to his clothes.
In the morning wear frock coats, double-breasted waistcoats, and
trousers of light or dark colours, according to the season.
In the evening, though only in the bosom of your own family, wear only
black, and be as scrupulous to put on a dress coat as if you expected
visitors. If you have sons, bring them up to do the same. It is the
observance of these minor trifles in domestic etiquette which marks
the true gentleman.
For evening parties, dinner parties, and balls, wear a black dress
coat, black trousers, black silk or cloth waistcoat, white cravat,
white or grey kid gloves, and thin patent leather boots. A black
cravat may be worn in full dress, but is not so elegant as a white
one. A black velvet waistcoat should only be worn at a dinner party.
Let your jewellery be of the best, but the least gaudy description,
and wear it very sparingly. A set of good studs, a gold watch and
guard, and one handsome ring, are as many ornaments as a gentleman can
wear with propriety. In the morning let your ring be a seal ring,
with your crest or arms engraved upon it. In the evening it may be a
diamond. Your studs, however valuable, should be small.
It is well to remember in the choice of jewellery that mere costliness
is not always the test of value; and that an exquisite work of art,
such as a fine cameo, or a natural rarity, such as a black pearl, is a
more _distingue_ possession than a large brilliant which any rich and
tasteless vulgarian can buy as easily as yourself. For a ring, the
gentleman of fine taste would prefer a precious antique _intaglio_
to the handsomest diamond or ruby that could be brought at Hunt and
Roskell's. The most elegant gentleman with whom the author was ever
acquainted--a man familiar with all the Courts of Europe--never wore
any other shirt-studs in full dress than three valuable black pearls,
each about the size of a pea, and by no means beautiful to look at.
Of all precious stones, the opal is one of the most lovely and the
least common-place. No vulgar man purchases an opal. He invariably
prefers the more showy diamond, ruby, sapphire, or emerald.
Unless you are a snuff-taker, never carry any but a white
If in the morning you wear a long cravat fastened by a pin, be careful
to avoid what may be called _alliteration_ of colour. We have seen
a torquoise pin worn in a violet-coloured cravat, and the effect
was frightful. Choose, if possible, complementary colours, and their
secondaries. For instance, if the stone in your pin be a torquoise,
wear it with brown, or crimson mixed with black, or black and orange.
If a ruby, contrast it with shades of green. The same rule holds good
with regard to the mixture and contrast of colours in your waistcoat
or cravat. Thus, a buff waistcoat and a blue tie, or brown and blue,
or brown and green, or brown and magenta, green and magenta, green and
mauve, are all good arrangements of colour.
Very light coloured cloths for morning wear are to be avoided, even
in the height of summer; and fancy cloths of strange patterns and
mixtures are exceedingly objectionable.
Coloured shirts may be worn in the morning; but they should be small
in pattern, and quiet in colour.
With a coloured shirt, always wear a white collar.
Never wear a cap, unless in the fields or garden; and let your hat be
For a gentleman's wedding dress see the "ETIQUETTE OF COURTSHIP AND
If your sight compels you to wear spectacles, let them be of the best
and lightest make, and mounted in gold or blue steel.
If you suffer from weak sight, and are obliged to wear coloured
glasses, let them be of blue or smoke colour. Green are detestable.
Never be seen in the street without gloves; and never let your gloves
be of any material that is not kid or calf. Worsted or cotton gloves
are unutterably vulgar. Your gloves should fit to the last degree of
In these days of public baths and universal progress, we trust that
it is unnecessary to do more than hint at the necessity of the most
fastidious personal cleanliness. The hair, the teeth, the
nails, should be faultlessly kept; and a soiled shirt, a dingy
pocket-handkerchief, or a light waistcoat that has been worn once
too often, are things to be scrupulously avoided by any man who is
ambitious of preserving the exterior of a gentleman.
* * * * *
VIII.--RIDING AND DRIVING.
In riding, as in walking, give the lady the wall.
If you assist a lady to mount, hold your hand at a convenient distance
from the ground, that she may place her foot in it. As she springs,
you aid her by the impetus of your hand.
In doing this, it is always better to agree upon a signal, that her
spring and your assistance may come at the same moment.
For this purpose there is no better form than the old duelling one of
"one, two, _three_."
When the lady is in the saddle, it is your place to find the stirrup
for her, and guide her left foot to it. When this is done, she rises
in her seat and you assist her to draw her habit straight.
Even when a groom is present, it is more polite for the gentleman
himself to perform this office for his fair companion; as it would be
more polite for him to hand her a chair than to have it handed by a
If the lady be light, you must take care not to give her too much
impetus in mounting. We have known a lady nearly thrown over her horse
by a misplaced zeal of this kind.
In riding with a lady, never permit her to pay the tolls.
If a gate has to be opened, we need hardly observe that it is your
place to hold it open till the lady has passed through.
In driving, a gentleman places himself with his back to the horses,
and leaves the best seat for the ladies.
If you are alone in a carriage with a lady, never sit beside her,
unless you are her husband, father, son, or brother. Even though
you be her affianced lover, you should still observe this rule of
etiquette. To do otherwise, would be to assume the unceremonious air
of a husband.
When the carriage stops, the gentleman should alight first, in order
to assist the lady.
To get in and out of a carriage gracefully is a simple but important
accomplishment. If there is but one step, and you are going to take
your seat facing the horses, put your left foot on the step and enter
the carriage with your right in such a manner as to drop at once
into your seat. If you are about to sit with your back to the horses,
reverse the process. As you step into the carriage, be careful to keep
your back towards the seat you are about to occupy, so as to avoid the
awkwardness of turning when you are once in.
A gentleman cannot be too careful to avoid stepping on ladies'
dresses when he gets in or out of a carriage. He should also beware of
shutting them in with the door.
* * * * *
IX.--MORNING AND EVENING PARTIES.
The morning party is a modern invention; it was unknown to our fathers
and mothers, and even to ourselves, till quite lately. A morning party
is seldom given out of the season--that is to say, during any months
except those of May, June, and July. It begins about two o'clock and
ends about five, and the entertainment consists for the most part
of conversation, music, and (if there be a garden) croquet, lawn
billiards, archery, &c. "Aunt Sally" is now out of fashion. The
refreshments are given in the form of a _dejeuner a la fourchette_.
Elegant morning dress, general good manners, and some acquaintance
with the topics of the day and the games above named, are all the
qualifications especially necessary to a gentleman at a morning party.
An evening party begins about nine o'clock, p.m., and ends about
midnight, or somewhat later. Good breeding neither demands that you
should present yourself at the commencement, nor remain till the close
of the evening. You come and go as may be most convenient to you, and
by these means are at liberty, during the height of the season when
evening parties are numerous, to present yourself at two or three
houses during a single evening.
Always put your gloves on before entering the drawing-room, and be
careful that there is no speck of mud upon your boots or trousers.
When your name is announced, look for the lady of the house and pay
your respects to her before you even seem to see any other of
your friends who may be in the room. At very large and fashionable
receptions, the hostess is generally to be found near the door. Should
you, however, find yourself separated by a dense crowd of guests, you
are at liberty to recognize those who are near you, and those whom you
encounter as you make your way slowly through the throng.
General salutations of the company are now wholly disused. In society,
a man only recognizes his own friends and acquaintances.
If you are at the house of a new acquaintance and find yourself among
entire strangers, remember that by so meeting under one roof you are
all in a certain sense made known to one another, and should therefore
converse freely, as equals. To shrink away to a side-table and affect
to be absorbed in some album or illustrated work; or, if you find one
unlucky acquaintance in the room, to fasten upon him like a drowning
man clinging to a spar, are _gaucheries_ which no shyness can excuse.
An easy and unembarrassed manner, and the self-possession requisite
to open a conversation with those who happen to be near you, are the
indispensable credentials of a well-bred man.
At an evening party, do not remain too long in one spot. To be
afraid to move from one drawing-room to another is the sure sign of a
neophyte in society.
If you have occasion to use your handkerchief, do so as noiselessly as
possible. To blow your nose as if it were a trombone, or to turn your
head aside when using your handkerchief, are vulgarities scrupulously
to be avoided.
Never stand upon the hearth-rug with your back to the fire, either
in a friend's house or your own. We have seen even well-bred men at
evening parties commit this selfish and vulgar solecism.
Never offer any one the chair from which you have just risen, unless
there be no other disengaged.
If when supper is announced no lady has been especially placed under
your care by the hostess, offer your arm to whichever lady you may
have last conversed with.
If you possess any musical accomplishments, do not wait to be pressed
and entreated by your hostess, but comply immediately when she pays
you the compliment of inviting you to play or sing. Remember, however,
that only the lady of the house has the right to ask you. If others do
so, you can put them off in some polite way; but must not comply till
the hostess herself invites you.
If you sing comic songs, be careful that they are of the most
unexceptionable kind, and likely to offend neither the tastes nor
prejudices of the society in which you find yourself. At an evening
party given expressly in honour of a distinguished lady of colour,
we once heard a thoughtless amateur dash into the broadly comic, but
terribly appropriate nigger song of "Sally come up." Before he had
got through the first verse, he had perceived his mistake, and was
so overwhelmed with shame that he could scarcely preserve sufficient
presence of mind to carry him through to the end.
If the party be of a small and social kind, and those games called by
the French _les jeux innocents_ are proposed, do not object to join in
them when invited. It may be that they demand some slight exercise
of wit and readiness, and that you do not feel yourself calculated to
shine in them; but it is better to seem dull than disagreeable, and
those who are obliging can always find some clever neighbour to assist
them in the moment of need. The game of "consequences" is one which
unfortunately gives too much scope to liberty of expression. If you
join in this game, we cannot too earnestly enjoin you never to write
down one word which the most pure-minded woman present might not read
aloud without a blush. Jests of an equivocal character are not only
vulgar, but contemptible.
Impromptu charades are frequently organized at friendly parties.
Unless you have really some talent for acting and some readiness of
speech, you should remember that you only put others out and expose
your own inability by taking part in these entertainments. Of course,
if your help is really needed and you would disoblige by refusing, you
must do your best, and by doing it as quietly and coolly as possible,
avoid being awkward or ridiculous.
Should an impromptu polka or quadrille be got up after supper at a
party where no dancing was intended, be sure not to omit putting on
gloves before you stand up. It is well always to have a pair of white
gloves in your pocket in case of need; but even black are better under
these circumstances than none.
Even though you may take no pleasure in cards, some knowledge of the
etiquette and rules belonging to the games most in vogue is necessary
to you in society. If a fourth hand is wanted at a rubber, or if the
rest of the company sit down to a round game, you would be deemed
guilty of an impoliteness if you refused to join.
The games most commonly played in society are whist, loo,
_vingt-et-un_, and speculation.
Whist requires four players.[A] A pack of cards being spread upon the
table with their faces downwards, the four players draw for partners.
Those who draw the two highest cards and those who draw the two lowest
become partners. The lowest of all claims the deal.
Married people should not play at the same table, unless where the
party is so small that it cannot be avoided. This rule supposes
nothing so disgraceful to any married couple as dishonest collusion;
but persons who play regularly together cannot fail to know so much
of each other's mode of acting, under given circumstances, that
the chances no longer remain perfectly even in favour of their
Never play for higher stakes than you can afford to lose without
regret. Cards should be resorted to for amusement only; for
No well-bred person ever loses temper at the card-table. You have no
right to sit down to the game unless you can bear a long run of ill
luck with perfect composure, and are prepared cheerfully to pass over
any blunders that your partner may chance to make.
If you are an indifferent player, make a point of saying so before
you join a party at whist. If the others are fine players they will
be infinitely more obliged to you for declining than accepting their
invitation. In any case you have no right to spoil their pleasure by
your bad play.
Never let even politeness induce you to play for very high stakes.
Etiquette is the minor morality of life; but it never should be
allowed to outweigh the higher code of right and wrong.
Be scrupulous to observe silence when any of the company are playing
or singing. Remember that they are doing this for the amusement of the
rest; and that to talk at such a time is as ill-bred as if you were
to turn your back upon a person who was talking to you, and begin a
conversation with some one else.
If you are yourself the performer, bear in mind that in music, as in
speech, "brevity is the soul of wit." Two verses of a song, or four
pages of a piece, are at all times enough to give pleasure. If your
audience desire more they will ask for more; and it is infinitely more
flattering to be encored than to receive the thanks of your hearers,
not so much in gratitude for what you have given them, but in relief
that you have left off. You should try to suit your music, like your
conversation, to your company. A solo of Beethoven's would be as much
out of place in some circles as a comic song at a Quakers' meeting.
To those who only care for the light popularities, of the season, give
Balfe and Verdi, Glover and Jullien. To connoisseurs, if you perform
well enough to venture, give such music as will be likely to meet the
exigences of a fine taste. Above all, attempt nothing that you cannot
execute with ease and precision.
In retiring from a crowded party it is unnecessary that you should
seek out the hostess for the purpose of bidding her a formal good
night. By doing this you would, perhaps, remind others that it was
getting late, and cause the party to break up.
If you meet the lady of the house on your way to the drawing-room
door, take your leave of her as unobtrusively as possible, and slip
away without attracting the attention of her other guests.
[Footnote A: For a succinct guide to whist, loo, _vingt-et-un_,
speculation, &c., &c., &c., see Routledge's "Card-player," by G.F.
Pardon, price _sixpence_.]
* * * * *
X.--THE DINNER TABLE.
To be acquainted with every detail of the etiquette pertaining to this
subject is of the highest importance to every gentleman. Ease, _savoir
faire_, and good breeding are nowhere more indispensable than at the
dinner-table, and the absence of them are nowhere more apparent.
How to eat soup and what to do with a cherry-stone are weighty
considerations when taken as the index of social status; and it is not
too much to say, that a man who elected to take claret with his fish,
or ate peas with his knife, would justly risk the punishment of
being banished from good society. As this subject is one of the
most important of which we have to treat, we may be pardoned for
introducing an appropriate anecdote related by the French poet
Delille and Marmontel were dining together in the month of April,
1786, and the conversation happened to turn upon dinner-table customs.
Marmontel observed how many little things a well-bred man was obliged
to know, if he would avoid being ridiculous at the tables of his
"They are, indeed, innumerable," said Delille; "and the most annoying
fact of all is, that not all the wit and good sense in the world can
help one to divine them untaught. A little while ago, for instance,
the Abbe Cosson, who is Professor of Literature at the College
Mazarin, was describing to me a grand dinner to which he had been
invited at Versailles, and to which he had sat down in the company of
peers, princes, and marshals of France.
"'I'll wager, now,' said I, 'that you committed a hundred blunders in
the etiquette of the table!'
"'How so?' replied the Abbe, somewhat nettled. 'What blunders could I
make? It seems to me that I did precisely as others did.'
"'And I, on the contrary, would stake my life that you did nothing as
others did. But let us begin at the beginning, and see which is right.
In the first place there was your table-napkin--what did you do with
that when you sat down at table?'
"'What did I do with my table-napkin? Why, I did like the rest of the
guests: I shook it out of the folds, spread it before me, and fastened
one corner to my button-hole.'
"'Very well, _mon cher_; you were the only person who did so. No one
shakes, spreads, and fastens a table-napkin in that manner. You should
have only laid it across your knees. What soup had you?'
"'And how did you eat it?'
"'Like every one else, I suppose. I took my spoon in one hand, and my
fork in the other--'
"'Your fork! Good heavens! None but a savage eats soup with a fork.
But go on. What did you take next?'
"'A boiled egg.'
"'Good and what did you do with the shell?'
"'Not eat it certainly. I left it, of course, in the egg-cup.'
"'Without breaking it through with your spoon?'
"'Without breaking it.'
"'Then, my dear fellow, permit me to tell you that no one eats an egg
without breaking the shell and leaving the spoon standing in it. And
after your egg?'
"'I asked for some _bouilli_.'
"'For _boulli_! It is a term that no one uses. You should have asked
for beef--never for _boulli_. Well, and after the _bouilli_?'
"'I asked the Abbe de Radonvillais for some fowl.'
"'Wretched man! Fowl, indeed! You should have asked for chicken or
capon. The word "fowl" is never heard out of the kitchen. But all this
applies only to what you ate; tell me something of what you drank, and
how you asked for it.'
"'I asked for champagne and bordeaux from those who had the bottles
"'Know then, my good friend, that only a waiter, who has no time or
breath to spare, asks for champagne or bordeaux. A gentleman asks for
_vin de Champagne_ and _vin de Bordeaux_. And now inform me how you
ate your bread?'
"'Undoubtedly like all the rest of the world. I cut it up into small
square pieces with my knife.'
"'Then let me tell you that no one cuts bread. You should always break
it. Let us go on to the coffee. How did you drink yours?'
"'Pshaw! At least I could make no mistake in that. It was boiling hot,
so I poured it, a little at a time, in the saucer, and drank it as it
"'_Eh bien_! then you assuredly acted as no other gentleman in the
room. Nothing can be more vulgar than to pour tea or coffee into a
saucer. You should have waited till it cooled, and then have drank it
from the cup. And now you see, my dear cousin, that, so far from doing
precisely as others did, you acted in no one respect according to the
laws prescribed by etiquette.'"
An invitation to dine should be replied to immediately, and
unequivocally accepted or declined. Once accepted, nothing but
an event of the last importance should cause you to fail in your
To be exactly punctual is the strictest politeness on these occasions.
If you are too early, you are in the way; if too late, you spoil the
dinner, annoy the hostess, and are hated by the rest of the guests.
Some authorities are even of opinion that in the question of a
dinner-party "never" is better than "late;" and one author has gone
so far as to say, if you do not reach the house till dinner is served,
you had better retire to a restaurateur's, and thence send an apology,
and not interrupt the harmony of the courses by awkward excuses and
When the party is assembled, the mistress or master of the house will
point out to each gentleman the lady whom he is to conduct to table.
If she be a stranger, you had better seek an introduction; if a
previous acquaintance, take care to be near her when the dinner is
announced, offer your arm, and go down according to precedence
of rank. This order of precedence must be arranged by the host or
hostess, as the guests are probably unacquainted, and cannot know each
other's social rank.
When the society is of a distinguished kind, the host will do well to
consult Debrett or Burke, before arranging his visitors.
When rank is not in question, other claims to precedence must be
considered. The lady who is the greatest stranger should be taken
down by the master of the house, and the gentleman who is the greatest
stranger should conduct the hostess. Married ladies take precedence of
single ladies, elder ladies of younger ones, and so forth.
When dinner is announced, the host offers his arm to the lady of most
distinction, invites the rest to follow by a few words or a bow,
and leads the way. The lady of the house should then follow with the
gentleman who is most entitled to that honour, and the visitors follow
in the order that the master of the house has previously arranged. The
lady of the house frequently remains, however, till the last, that she
may see her guests go down in their prescribed order; but the plan is
not a convenient one. It is much better that the hostess should be in
her place as the guests enter the dining-room, in order that she may
indicate their seats to them as they come in, and not find them all
crowded together in uncertainty when she arrives.
The number of guests at a dinner-party should always be determined
by the size of the table. When the party is too small, conversation
flags, and a general air of desolation pervades the table. When they
are too many, every one is inconvenienced. A space of two feet should
be allowed to each person. It is well to arrange a party in such wise
that the number of ladies and gentlemen be equal.
It requires some tact to distribute your guests so that each shall
find himself with a neighbour to his taste; but as much of the success
of a dinner will always depend on this matter, it is worth some
consideration. If you have a wit, or a particularly good talker, among
your visitors, it is well to place him near the centre of the table,
where he can be heard and talked to by all. It is obviously a bad plan
to place two such persons in close proximity. They extinguish each
other. Neither is it advisable to assign two neighbouring seats to
two gentlemen of the same profession, as they are likely to fall
into exclusive conversation and amuse no one but themselves. A little
consideration of the politics, religious opinions, and tastes of his
friends, will enable a judicious host to avoid many quicksands, and
establish much pleasant intercourse on the occasion of a dinner party.
The lady of the house takes the head of the table. The gentleman who
led her down to dinner occupies the seat on her right hand, and the
gentleman next in order of precedence, that on her left. The master of
the house takes the foot of the table. The lady whom he escorted sits
on his right hand, and the lady next in order of precedence on his
The gentlemen who support the lady of the house should offer to
relieve her of the duties of hostess. Many ladies are well pleased
thus to delegate the difficulties of carving, and all gentlemen
who accept invitations to dinner should be prepared to render such
assistance when called upon. To offer to carve a dish, and then
perform the office unskilfully, is an unpardonable _gaucherie_. Every
gentleman should carve, and carve well.
As soon as you are seated at table, remove your gloves, place your
table napkin across your knees, and remove the roll which you find
probably within it to the left side of your plate.
The soup should be placed on the table first. Some old-fashioned
persons still place soup and fish together; but "it is a custom more
honoured in the breach than the observance." Still more old-fashioned,
and in still worse taste is it to ask your guests if they will take
"soup or fish." They are as much separate courses as the fish and
the meat; and all experienced diners take both. In any case, it is
inhospitable to appear to force a choice upon a visitor, when that
visitor, in all probability, will prefer to take his soup first and
his fish afterwards. All well-ordered dinners begin with soup, whether
in summer or winter. The lady of the house should help it and send
it round, without asking each individual in turn. It is as much an
understood thing as the bread beside each plate, and those who do not
choose it, are always at liberty to leave it untasted.
In eating soup, remember always to take it from the side of the spoon,
and to make no sound in doing so.
If the servants do not go round with wine the gentlemen should help
the ladies and themselves to sherry or sauterne immediately after the
You should never ask for a second supply of either soup or fish; it
delays the next course, and keeps the table waiting.
Never offer to "assist" your neighbours to this or that dish. The word
is inexpressibly vulgar--all the more vulgar for its affectation
of elegance. "Shall I send you some mutton?" or "may I help you to
grouse?" is better chosen and better bred.
As a general rule, it is better not to ask your guests if they will
partake of the dishes; but to send the plates round, and let them
accept or decline them as they please. At very large dinners it is
sometimes customary to distribute little lists of the order of the
dishes at intervals along the table. It must be confessed that
this gives somewhat the air of a dinner at an hotel; but it has the
advantage of enabling the visitors to select their fare, and, as
"forewarned is forearmed," to keep a corner, as the children say, for
their favourite dishes.
If you are asked to take wine, it is polite to select the same as
that which your interlocutor is drinking. If you invite a lady to take
wine, you should ask her which she will prefer, and then take the
same yourself. Should you, however, for any reason prefer some other
vintage, you can take it by courteously requesting her permission.
As soon as you are helped, begin to eat; or, if the viands are too hot
for your palate, take up your knife and fork and appear to begin. To
wait for others is now not only old-fashioned, but ill-bred.
Never offer to pass on the plate to which you have been helped. This
is a still more vulgar piece of politeness, and belongs to the manners
of a hundred years ago. The lady of the house who sends your plate to
you is the best judge of precedence at her own table.
In helping soup, fish, or any other dish, remember that to overfill a
plate is as bad as to supply it too scantily.
Silver fish-knives will now always be met with at the best tables;
but where there are none, a piece of crust should be taken in the left
hand, and the fork in the right. There is no exception to this rule in
We presume it is scarcely necessary to remind the reader that he is
never, under any circumstances, to convey his knife to his mouth. Peas
are eaten with the fork; tarts, curry, and puddings of all kinds with
Always help fish with a fish-slice, and tart and puddings with a
spoon, or, if necessary, a spoon and fork.
Asparagus must be helped with the asparagus-tongs.
In eating asparagus, it is well to observe what others do, and act
accordingly. Some very well-bred people eat it with the fingers;
others cut off the heads, and convey them to the mouth upon the fork.
It would be difficult to say which is the more correct.
In eating stone fruit, such as cherries, damsons, &c., the same rule
had better be observed. Some put the stones out from the mouth into a
spoon, and so convey them to the plate. Others cover the lips with the
hand, drop them unseen into the palm, and so deposit them on the side
of the plate. In our own opinion, the last is the better way, as it
effectually conceals the return of the stones, which is certainly the
point of highest importance. Of one thing we may be sure, and that is,
that they must never be dropped from the mouth to the plate.
In helping sauce, always pour it on the side of the plate.
If the servants do not go round with the wine (which is by far
the best custom), the gentlemen at a dinner-table should take upon
themselves the office of helping those ladies who sit near them.
Ladies take more wine in the present day than they did fifty years
ago, and gentlemen should remember this, and offer it frequently.
Ladies cannot very well ask for wine, but they can always decline it.
At all events, they do not like to be neglected, or to see gentlemen
liberally helping themselves, without observing whether their fair
neighbours' glasses are full or empty. Young ladies seldom drink more
than three glasses of wine at dinner; but married ladies, professional
ladies, and those accustomed to society, and habits of affluence, will
habitually take five or even six, whether in their own homes or at the
tables of their friends.
The habit of taking wine with each other has almost wholly gone out
of fashion. A gentleman may ask the lady whom he conducted down to
dinner; or he may ask the lady of the house to take wine with him.
But even these last remnants of the old custom are fast falling into
Unless you are a total abstainer, it is extremely uncivil to decline
taking wine if you are invited to do so. In accepting, you have only
to pour a little fresh wine into your glass, look at the person who
invited you, bow slightly, and take a sip from the glass.
It is particularly ill-bred to empty your glass on these occasions.
Certain wines are taken with certain dishes, by old-established
custom--as sherry, or sauterne, with soup and fish; hock and claret
with roast meat; punch with turtle; champagne with whitebait; port
with venison; port, or burgundy, with game; sparkling wines between
the roast and the confectionery; madeira with sweets; port with
cheese; and for dessert, port, tokay, madeira, sherry, and claret. Red
wines should never be iced, even in summer. Claret and burgundy should
always be slightly warmed; claret-cup and champagne-cup should, of
course, be iced.
Instead of cooling their wines in the ice-pail, some hosts have of
late years introduced clear ice upon the table, broken up in small
lumps, to be put inside the glasses. This is an innovation that cannot
be too strictly reprehended or too soon abolished. Melting ice can but
weaken the quality and flavour of the wine. Those who desire to drink
_wine and_ _water_ can asked for iced water if they choose, but it
savours too much of economy on the part of a host to insinuate the
ice inside the glasses of his guests, when the wine could be more
effectually iced outside the bottle.
A silver knife and fork should be placed to each guest at dessert.
If you are asked to prepare fruit for a lady, be careful to do so, by
means of the silver knife and fork only, and never to touch it with
It is wise never to partake of any dish without knowing of what
ingredients it is composed. You can always ask the servant who hands
it to you, and you thereby avoid all danger of having to commit the
impoliteness of leaving it, and showing that you do not approve of it.
Never speak while you have anything in your mouth.
Be careful never to taste soups or puddings till you are sure they
are sufficiently cool; as, by disregarding this caution, you may be
compelled to swallow what is dangerously hot, or be driven to the
unpardonable alternative of returning it to your plate.
When eating or drinking, avoid every kind of audible testimony to the
Finger-glasses, containing water slightly warmed and perfumed, are
placed to each person at dessert. In these you may dip the tips of
your fingers, wiping them afterwards on your table-napkin. If the
finger-glass and d'Oyley are placed on your dessert-plate, you should
immediately remove the d'Oyley to the left of your plate, and place
the finger-glass upon it. By these means you leave the right for the
Be careful to know the shapes of the various kinds of wine-glasses
commonly in use, in order that you may never put forward one for
another. High and narrow, and very broad and shallow glasses, are used
for champagne; large, goblet-shaped glasses for burgundy and claret;
ordinary wine-glasses for sherry and madeira; green glasses for hock;
and somewhat large, bell-shaped glasses, for port.
Port, sherry, and madeira, are decanted. Hocks and champagnes appear
in their native bottles. Claret and burgundy are handed round in a
Coffee and liqueurs should be handed round when the dessert has
been about a quarter of an hour on the table. After this, the ladies
Should no servant be present to do so, the gentleman who is nearest
the door should hold it for the ladies to pass through.
When the ladies leave the dining-room, the gentlemen all rise in their
places, and do not resume their seats till the last lady is gone.
The servants leave the room when the dessert is on the table.
If you should unfortunately overturn or break anything, do not
apologize for it. You can show your regret in your face, but it is not
well-bred to put it into words.
Should you injure a lady's dress, apologise amply, and assist her, if
possible, to remove all traces of the damage.
To abstain from taking the last piece on the dish, or the last glass
of wine in the decanter, only because it is the last, is highly
ill-bred. It implies a fear that the vacancy cannot be supplied, and
almost conveys an affront to your host.
In summing up the little duties and laws of the table, a popular
author has said that--"The chief matter of consideration at
the dinner-table--as, indeed, everywhere else in the life of a
gentleman--is to be perfectly composed and at his ease. He speaks
deliberately; he performs the most important act of the day as if
he were performing the most ordinary. Yet there is no appearance of
trifling or want of gravity in his manner; he maintains the dignity
which is so becoming on so vital an occasion. He performs all the
ceremonies, yet in the style of one who performs no ceremonies at all.
He goes through all the complicated duties of the scene as if he were
'to the manner born.'"
To the giver of a dinner we have but one or two remarks to offer. If
he be a bachelor, he had better give his dinner at a good hotel, or
have it sent in from Birch's or Kuehn's. If a married man, he will, we
presume, enter into council with his wife and his cook. In any
case, however, he should always bear in mind that it is his duty to
entertain his friends in the best manner that his means permit;
and that this is the least he can do to recompense them for the
expenditure of time and money which they incur in accepting his
"To invite a friend to dinner," says Brillat Savarin, "is to become
responsible for his happiness so long as he is under your roof."
Again:--"He who receives friends at his table, without having bestowed his
personal supervision upon the repast placed before them, is unworthy
to have friends."
A dinner, to be excellent, need not consist of a great variety of
dishes; but everything should be of the best, and the cookery should
be perfect. That which should be cool should be cool as ice; that
which should be hot should be smoking; the attendance should be
rapid and noiseless; the guests well assorted; the wines of the best
quality; the host attentive and courteous; the room well lighted; and
the time punctual.
Every dinner should begin with soup, be followed by fish, and include
some kind of game. "The soup is to the dinner," we are told by Grisnod
de la Regniere, "what the portico is to a building, or the overture to
To this aphorism we may be permitted to add that a _chasse_ of cognac
or curacoa at the close of the dinner is like the epilogue at the end
of a comedy.
One more quotation and we have done:--"To perform faultlessly the
honours of the table is one of the most difficult things in society.
It might indeed he asserted without much fear of contradiction, that
no man has as yet ever reached exact propriety in his office as host,
or has hit the mean between exerting himself too much and too little.
His great business is to put every one entirely at his ease, to
gratify all his desires, and make him, in a word, absolutely contented
with men and things. To accomplish this, he must have the genius
of tact to perceive, and the genius of finesse to execute; ease
and frankness of manner; a knowledge of the world that nothing
can surprise; a calmness of temper that nothing can disturb; and a
kindness of disposition that can never be exhausted. When he receives
others he must be content to forget himself; he must relinquish
all desire to shine, and even all attempts to please his guests by
conversation, and rather do all in his power to let them please one
another. He behaves to them without agitation, without affectation; he
pays attention without an air of protection; he encourages the timid,
draws out the silent, and directs conversation without sustaining
it himself. He who does not do all this is wanting in his duty as
host--_he who does, is more than mortal_."
In conclusion, we may observe that to sit long in the dining-room
after the ladies have retired is to pay a bad compliment to the
hostess and her fair visitors; and that it is a still worse tribute
to rejoin them with a flushed face and impaired powers of thought. A
refined gentleman is always temperate.
* * * * *
Invitations to a ball are issued at least ten days in advance; and
this term is sometimes, in the height of the season, extended to three
weeks, or even a month.
An invitation should be accepted or declined within a day or two of
Gentlemen who do not dance should not accept invitations of this kind.
They are but incumbrances in the ball-room, besides which, it looks
like a breach of etiquette and courtesy to stand or sit idly by when
there are, most probably, ladies in the room who are waiting for an
invitation to dance.
A ball generally begins about half-past nine or ten o'clock.
A man who stands up to dance without being acquainted with the
figures, makes himself ridiculous, and places his partner in an
embarrassing and unenviable position. There is no need for him to know
the steps. It is enough if he knows how to walk gracefully through the
dance, and to conduct his partner through it like a gentleman. No man
can waltz too well; but to perform steps in a quadrille is not only
unnecessary but _outre_.
A gentleman cannot ask a lady to dance without being first introduced
to her by some member of the hostess's family.
Never enter a ball-room in other than full evening dress, and white or
light kid gloves.
A gentleman cannot be too careful not to injure a lady's dress. The
young men of the present day are inconceivably thoughtless in this
respect, and often seem to think the mischief which they do scarcely
worth an apology. Cavalry officers should never wear spurs in a
Bear in mind that all _Casino_ habits are to be scrupulously avoided
in a private ball-room. It is an affront to a highly-bred lady to hold
her hand behind you, or on your hip, when dancing a round dance. We
have seen even aristocratic young men of the "fast" genus commit these
unpardonable offences against taste and decorum.
Never forget a ball-room engagement. It is the greatest neglect and
slight that a gentleman can offer to a lady.
At the beginning and end of a quadrille the gentleman bows to his
partner, and bows again on handing her to a seat.
After dancing, the gentleman may offer to conduct the lady to the
Should a lady decline your hand for a dance, and afterwards stand
up with another partner, you will do well to attribute her error to
either forgetfulness or ignorance of the laws of etiquette. Politeness
towards your host and hostess demands that you should never make any
little personal grievance the ground of discomfort or disagreement.
A gentleman conducts his last partner to supper; waits upon her till
she has had as much refreshment as she desires, and then re-conducts
her to the ball-room.
However much pleasure you may take in the society of any particular
lady, etiquette forbids that you should dance with her too frequently.
Engaged persons would do well to bear this maxim in mind.
It is customary to call upon your entertainers within a few days after
[Footnote A: For a more detailed account of the laws and business of
the ball, see the chapters entitled "The Ball-room Guide."]
* * * * *
XII.--STAYING AT A FRIEND'S HOUSE:--BREAKFAST, LUNCHEON, &c.
A visitor is bound by the laws of social intercourse to conform in all
respects to the habits of the house. In order to do this effectually,
he should inquire, or cause his personal servant to inquire, what
those habits are. To keep your friend's breakfast on the table till a
late hour; to delay the dinner by want of punctuality; to accept other
invitations, and treat his house as if it were merely an hotel to
be slept in; or to keep the family up till unwonted hours, are alike
evidences of a want of good feeling and good breeding.
At breakfast and lunch absolute punctuality is not imperative; but a
visitor should avoid being always the last to appear at table.
No order of precedence is observed at either breakfast or luncheon.
Persons take their seats as they come in, and, having exchanged their
morning salutations, begin to eat without waiting for the rest of the
If letters are delivered to you at breakfast or luncheon, you may read
them by asking permission from the lady who presides at the urn.
Always hold yourself at the disposal of those in whose house you are
visiting. If they propose to ride, drive, walk, or otherwise occupy
the day, you may take it for granted that these plans are made with
reference to your enjoyment. You should, therefore, receive them with
cheerfulness, enter into them with alacrity, and do your best to seem
pleased, and be pleased, by the efforts which your friends make to
You should never take a book from the library to your own room without
requesting permission to borrow it. When it is lent, you should take
every care that it sustains no injury while in your possession, and
should cover it, if necessary.
A guest should endeavour to amuse himself as much as possible, and
not be continually dependent on his hosts for entertainment. He should
remember that, however welcome he may be, he is not always wanted.
During the morning hours a gentleman visitor who neither shoots,
reads, writes letters, nor does anything but idle about the house and
chat with the ladies, is an intolerable nuisance. Sooner than become
the latter, he had better retire to the billiard-room and practise
cannons by himself, or pretend an engagement and walk about the
Those who receive "staying visitors," as they are called, should
remember that the truest hospitality is that which places the visitor
most at his ease, and affords him the greatest opportunity for
enjoyment. They should also remember that different persons have
different ideas on the subject of enjoyment, and that the surest way
of making a guest happy is to find out what gives him pleasure; not to
impose that upon him which is pleasure to themselves.
A visitor should avoid giving unnecessary trouble to the servants of
the house, and should be liberal to them when he leaves.
The signal for retiring to rest is generally given by the appearance
of the servant with wine, water, and biscuits, where a late
dinner-hour is observed and suppers are not the custom. This is the
last refreshment of the evening, and the visitor will do well to
rise and wish good-night shortly after it has been partaken of by the
* * * * *
In entering a morning exhibition, or public room, where ladies are
present, the gentleman should lift his hat.
In going upstairs the gentleman should precede the lady; in going
down, he should follow her.
If you accompany ladies to a theatre or concert-room, precede them to
clear the way and secure their seats.
Do not frequently repeat the name of the person with whom you are
conversing. It implies either the extreme of _hauteur_ or familiarity.
We have already cautioned you against the repetition of titles.
Deference can always be better expressed in the voice, manner, and
countenance than in any forms of words.
If when you are walking with a lady in any crowded thoroughfare you
are obliged to proceed singly, always precede her.
Always give the lady the wall; by doing so you interpose your own
person between her and the passers by, and assign her the cleanest
part of the pavement.
At public balls, theatres, &c., a gentleman should never permit the
lady to pay for refreshments, vehicles, and so forth. If she insists
on repaying him afterwards, he must of course defer to her wishes.
Never speak of absent persons by only their Christian or surnames; but
always as Mr. ---- or Mrs. ----. Above all, never name anybody by the
first letter of his name. Married people are sometimes guilty of this
flagrant offence against taste.
If you are smoking and meet a lady to whom you wish to speak,
immediately throw away your cigar.
Do not smoke shortly before entering the presence of ladies.
A young man who visits frequently at the house of a married friend may
be permitted to show his sense of the kindness which he receives by
the gift of a Christmas or New Year's volume to the wife or daughter
of his entertainer. The presentation of _Etrennes_ is now carried to
a ruinous and ludicrous height among our French neighbours; but it
should be remembered that, without either ostentation or folly, a
gift ought to be worth offering. It is better to give nothing than
too little. On the other hand, mere costliness does not constitute
the soul of a present; on the contrary, it has the commercial and
unflattering effect of repayment for value received.
A gift should be precious for something better than its price. It may
have been brought by the giver from some far or famous place; it may
be unique in its workmanship; it may be valuable only from association
with some great man or strange event. Autographic papers, foreign
curiosities, and the like, are elegant gifts. An author may offer his
book, or a painter a sketch, with grace and propriety. Offerings of
flowers and game are unexceptionable, and may be made even to those
whose position is superior to that of the giver.
If you present a book to a friend, do not write his or her name in
it, unless requested. You have no right to presume that it will be
rendered any the more valuable for that addition; and you ought not to
conclude beforehand that your gift will be accepted.
Never refuse a present unless under very exceptional circumstances.
However humble the giver, and however poor the gift, you should
appreciate the goodwill and intention, and accept it with kindness and
thanks. Never say "I fear I rob you," or "I am really ashamed to
take it," &c., &c. Such deprecatory phrases imply that you think the
bestower of the gift cannot spare or afford it.
Never undervalue the gift which you are yourself offering; you have no
business to offer it if it is valueless. Neither say that you do not
want it yourself, or that you should throw it away if it were not
accepted. Such apologies would be insults if true, and mean nothing if
No compliment that bears insincerity on the face of it is a compliment
To yawn in the presence of others, to lounge, to put your feet on
a chair, to stand with your back to the fire, to take the most
comfortable seat in the room, to do anything which shows indifference,
selfishness, or disrespect, is unequivocally vulgar and inadmissible.
If a person of greater age or higher rank than yourself desires you
to step first into a carriage, or through a door, it is more polite to
bow and obey than to decline.
Compliance with, and deference to, the wishes of others is the finest
When you cannot agree with the propositions advanced in general
conversation, be silent. If pressed for your opinion, give it with
modesty. Never defend your own views too warmly. When you find others
remain unconvinced, drop the subject, or lead to some other topic.
Look at those who address you.
Never boast of your birth, your money, your grand friends, or
anything that is yours. If you have travelled, do not introduce that
information into your conversation at every opportunity. Any one can
travel with money and leisure. The real distinction is to come home
with enlarged views, improved tastes, and a mind free from prejudice.
Give a foreigner his name in full, as Monsieur de Vigny--never as
_Monsieur_ only. In speaking of him, give him his title, if he has
one. Foreign noblemen are addressed _viva voce_ as Monsieur. In
speaking of a foreign nobleman before his face, say Monsieur le Comte,
or Monsieur le Marquis. In his absence, say Monsieur le Comte de
Converse with a foreigner in his own language. If not competent to do
so, apologize, and beg permission to speak English.
* * * * *
I.--HOW TO ORGANISE A BALL.
As the number of guests at a dinner-party is regulated by the size of
the table, so should the number of invitations to a ball be limited by
the proportions of the ball-room. A prudent hostess will always
invite a few more guests than she really desires to entertain, in the
certainty that there will be some deserters when the appointed evening
comes round; but she will at the same time remember that to overcrowd
her room is to spoil the pleasure of those who love dancing, and
that a party of this kind when, too numerously attended is as great a
failure as one at which too few are present.
A room which is nearly square, yet a little longer than it is broad,
will be found the most favourable for a ball. It admits of two
quadrille parties, or two round dances, at the same time. In a
perfectly square room this arrangement is not so practicable or
pleasant. A very long and narrow room is obviously of the worst shape
for the purpose of dancing, and is fit only for quadrilles and country
The top of the ball-room is the part nearest the orchestra. In
a private room, the top is where it would be if the room were a
dining-room. It is generally at the farthest point from the door.
Dancers should be careful to ascertain the top of the room before
taking their places, as the top couples always lead the dances.
A good floor is of the last importance in a ball-room. In a private
house, nothing can be better than a smooth, well-stretched holland,
with the carpet beneath.
Abundance of light and free ventilation are indispensable to the
spirits and comfort of the dancers.
Good music is as necessary to the prosperity of a ball as good wine to
the excellence of a dinner. No hostess should tax her friends for
this part of the entertainment. It is the most injudicious economy
imaginable. Ladies who would prefer to dance are tied to the
pianoforte; and as few amateurs have been trained in the art of
playing dance music with that strict attention to time and accent
which is absolutely necessary to the comfort of the dancers, a total
and general discontent is sure to be the result. To play dance music
thoroughly well is a branch of the art which requires considerable
practice. It is as different from every other kind of playing as whale
fishing is from fly fishing. Those who give private balls will do well
ever to bear this in mind, and to provide skilled musicians for the
evening. For a small party, a piano and cornopean make a very pleasant
combination. Unless where several instruments are engaged we do not
recommend the introduction of the violin: although in some respects
the finest of all solo instruments, it is apt to sound thin and shrill
when employed on mere inexpressive dance tunes, and played by a mere
Invitations to a ball should be issued in the name of the lady of the
house, and written on small note paper of the best quality. Elegant
printed forms, some of them printed in gold or silver, are to be
had at every stationer's by those who prefer them. The paper may be
gilt-edged, but not coloured. The sealing-wax used should be of some
An invitation to a ball should be sent out at least ten days before
the evening appointed. A fortnight, three weeks, and even a month may
be allowed in the way of notice.
Not more than two or three days should be permitted to elapse before
you reply to an invitation of this kind. The reply should always be
addressed to the lady of the house, and should be couched in the same
person as the invitation. The following are the forms generally in
Mrs. Molyneux requests the honour of Captain Hamilton's
company at an evening party, on Monday, March the 11th
_Dancing will begin at Nine o'clock_.
Thursday, March 1st.
* * * * *
Captain Hamilton has much pleasure in accepting Mrs.
Molyneux's polite invitation for Monday evening, March the
Friday, March 2nd.
The old form of "presenting compliments" is now out of fashion.
If Mrs. Molyneux writes to Captain Hamilton in the first person, as
"My dear Sir," he is bound in etiquette to reply "My dear Madam."
The lady who gives a ball[A] should endeavour to secure an equal
number of dancers of both sexes. Many private parties are spoiled by
the preponderance of young ladies, some of whom never get partners at
all, unless they dance with each other.
A room should in all cases be provided for the accommodation of
the ladies. In this room there ought to be several looking-glasses;
attendants to assist the fair visitors in the arrangement of their
hair and dress; and some place in which the cloaks and shawls can be
laid in order, and found at a moment's notice. It is well to affix
tickets to the cloaks, giving a duplicate at the same time to each
lady, as at the public theatres and concert-rooms. Needles and thread
should also be at hand, to repair any little accident incurred in
Another room should be devoted to refreshments, and kept amply
supplied with coffee, lemonade, ices, wine and biscuits during the
evening. Where this cannot be arranged, the refreshments should be
handed round between the dances.
The question of supper is one which so entirely depends on the means
of those who give a ball or evening party, that very little can be
said upon it in a treatise of this description. Where money is no
object, it is of course always preferable to have the whole supper,
"with all appliances and means to boot," sent in from some first-rate
house. It spares all trouble whether to the entertainers or
their servants, and relieves the hostess of every anxiety. Where
circumstances render such a course imprudent, we would only observe
that a home-provided supper, however simple, should be good of its
kind, and abundant in quantity. Dancers are generally hungry people,
and feel themselves much aggrieved if the supply of sandwiches proves
unequal to the demand. Great inconvenience is often experienced by
the difficulty of procuring cabs at the close of an evening party.
Gentlemen who have been dancing, and are unprepared for walking,
object to go home on foot, or seek vehicles for their wives and
daughters. Female servants who have been in attendance upon the
visitors during a whole evening ought not to be sent out. If even
men-servants are kept, they may find it difficult to procure as many
cabs as are necessary. The best thing that the giver of a private
ball can do under these circumstances, is to engage a policeman with
a lantern to attend on the pavement during the evening, and to give
notice during the morning at a neighbouring cab-stand, so as to ensure
a sufficient number of vehicles at the time when they are likely to be
[Footnote A: It will be understood that we use the word "ball" to
signify a private party, where there is dancing, as well as a public
* * * * *
The style of a lady's dress is a matter so entirely dependent on
age, means and fashion, that we can offer but little advice upon it.
Fashion is so variable, that statements which are true of it to-day
may be false a month hence. Respecting no institution of modern
society is it so difficult to pronounce half a dozen permanent rules.
We may perhaps be permitted to suggest the following leading
principles; but we do so with diffidence. Rich colours harmonize with
rich brunette complexions and dark hair. Delicate colours are the most
suitable for delicate and fragile styles of beauty. Very young ladies
are never so suitably attired as in white. Ladies who dance should
wear dresses of light and diaphanous materials, such as _tulle_,
gauze, crape, net, &c., over coloured silk slips. Silk dresses are not
suitable for dancing. A married lady who dances only a few quadrilles
may wear _a decolletee_ silk dress with propriety.
Very stout persons should never wear white. It has the effect of
adding to the bulk of the figure.
Black and scarlet, or black and violet, are worn in mourning.
A lady in deep mourning should not dance at all.
However fashionable it may be to wear very long dresses, those ladies
who go to a ball with the intention of dancing and enjoying the
dance, should cause their dresses to be made short enough to clear
the ground. We would ask them whether it is not better to accept this
slight deviation from an absurd fashion, than to appear for three
parts of the evening in a torn and pinned-up skirt?
Well-made shoes, whatever their colour or material, and faultless
gloves, are indispensable to the effect of a ball-room toilette.
Much jewellery is out of place in a ball-room. Beautiful flowers,
whether natural or artificial, are the loveliest ornaments that a lady
can wear on these occasions.
A black suit, thin enamelled boots, a white neckcloth, and white or
delicate grey gloves, are the chief points of a gentleman's ball-room
toilette. He may wear an embroidered shirt; and his waistcoat may be
of silk. White waistcoats are no longer fashionable. Much display of
jewellery is no proof of good taste. A handsome watch-chain, with,
perhaps, the addition of a few costly trifles suspended to it, and
a set of shirt-studs, are the only adornments of this kind that a
gentleman should wear. The studs should be small, but good.[A]
A gentleman's dress is necessarily so simple that it admits of no
compromise in point of quality and style. The material should be the
best that money can procure, and the fashion unexceptionable. So
much of the outward man depends on his tailor, that we would urge no
gentleman to economise in this matter.
[Footnote A: See "Etiquette for Gentlemen," Sec. VII.]
* * * * *
III.--ETIQUETTE OF THE BALL-ROOM.[A]
On entering the ball-room, the visitor should at once seek the lady
of the house, and pay his respects to her. Having done this, he may
exchange salutations with such friends and acquaintances as may be in
If the ball be a public one, and a gentleman desires to dance with
any lady to whom he is a stranger, he must apply to the master of the
ceremonies for an introduction.
Even in private balls, no gentleman can invite a lady to dance without
a previous introduction. This introduction should be effected through
the lady of the house, or a member of her family.
No lady should accept an invitation to dance from a gentleman to whom
she has not been introduced. In case any gentleman should commit the
error of so inviting her, she should not excuse herself on the plea of
a previous engagement, or of fatigue, as to do so would imply that
she did not herself attach due importance to the necessary ceremony
of introduction. Her best reply would be to the effect that she would
have much pleasure in accepting his invitation, if he would procure an
introduction to her. This observation may be taken as applying only to
public balls. At a private party the host and hostess are sufficient
guarantees for the respectability of their guests; and, although
a gentleman would show a singular want of knowledge of the laws of
society in acting as we have supposed, the lady who should reply
to him as if he were merely an impertinent stranger in a public
assembly-room, would be implying an affront to her entertainers.
The mere fact of being assembled together under the roof of a mutual
friend, is in itself a kind of general introduction of the guests to
An introduction given for the mere purpose of enabling a lady and
gentleman to go through a dance together, does not constitute an
acquaintanceship. The lady is at liberty to pass the gentleman in the
park the next day without recognition.
No gentleman should venture to bow to a lady upon the strength of a
ball-room introduction, unless she does him the honour to recognize
him first. If he commits this solecism he must not be surprised to
find that she does not return his salutation.
No gentleman should accept an invitation to a ball if he does not
dance. When ladies are present who would be pleased to receive an
invitation, those gentleman who hold themselves aloof are guilty, not
only of a negative, but a positive act of neglect.
To attempt to dance without a knowledge of dancing is not only to make
one's self ridiculous, but one's partner also. No lady or gentleman
has the right to place a partner in this absurd position.
Never forget a ball-room engagement. To do so is to commit an
unpardonable offence against good breeding.
It is not necessary that a lady or gentleman should be acquainted
with the _steps_, in order to walk gracefully and easily through a
quadrille. An easy carriage and a knowledge of the figure is all
that is requisite. A round dance, however, should on no account be
attempted without a thorough knowledge of the steps, and some previous
No person who has not a good ear for time and tune need hope to dance
At the conclusion of a dance, the gentleman bows to his partner, and
either promenades with her round the room, or takes her to a seat.
Where a room is set apart for refreshments, he offers to conduct her
thither. At a public hall no gentleman would, of course, permit a lady
to pay for refreshments.
No lady should accept refreshments from a stranger at a public ball;
for she would thereby lay herself under a pecuniary obligation. For
these she must rely on her father, brothers, or old friends.
Good taste forbids that a lady and gentleman should dance too
frequently together at either a public or private ball. Engaged
persons should be careful not to commit this conspicuous solecism.
Engagements for one dance should not be made while the present dance
is yet in progress.
If a lady happens to forget a previous engagement, and stand up with
another partner, the gentleman whom she has thus slighted is bound to
believe that she has acted from mere inadvertence, and should by
no means suffer his pride to master his good temper. To cause a
disagreeable scene in a private ball-room is to affront your host and
hostess, and to make yourself absurd. In a public room it is no less
reprehensible. Always remember that good breeding and good temper (or
the appearance of good temper) are inseparably connected.
Young gentlemen are earnestly advised not to limit their conversation
to remarks on the weather and the heat of the room. It is, to a
certain extent, incumbent on them to do something more than dance when
they invite a lady to join a quadrille. If it be only upon the news
of the day, a gentleman should be able to offer at least three or four
observations to his partner in the course of a long half-hour.
Gentlemen who dance cannot be too careful not to injure the dresses of
the ladies who do them the honour to stand up with them. The young men
of the present day are singularly careless in this respect; and when
they have torn a lady's delicate skirt, appear to think the mischief
they have done scarcely worth the trouble of an apology.
A gentleman conducts his last partner to the supper-room, and, having
waited upon her while there, re-conducts her to the ball-room. Never
attempt to take a place in a dance which has been previously engaged.
Withdraw from a private ball-room as quietly as possible, so that your
departure may not be observed by others, and cause the party to break
up. If you meet the lady of the house on her way out, take your leave
of her in such a manner that her other guests may not suppose you are
doing so; but do not seek her out for that purpose.
Never be seen without gloves in a ball-room, though it were only for
a few moments. Those who dance much and are particularly _soigne_
in matters relating to the toilette, take a second pair of gloves to
replace the first when soiled.
A thoughtful hostess will never introduce a bad dancer to a good
one, because she has no right to punish one friend in order to oblige
It is not customary for married persons to dance together in society.
[Footnote A: See "Etiquette for Ladies," and "Etiquette for
Gentlemen," Sec. IX.]
* * * * *
The Quadrille is the most universal, as it is certainly the
most sociable, of all fashionable dances. It admits of pleasant
conversation, frequent interchange of partners, and is adapted to
every age. The young or old, the ponderous _paterfamilias_ or his
sylph-like daughter, may with equal propriety take part in its easy
and elegant figures. Even an occasional blunder is of less consequence
in this dance than in many others; for each personage is in some
degree free as to his own movements, not being compelled by the
continual embrace of his partner to dance either better or worse than
he may find convenient.
People now generally walk through a quadrille. Nothing more than a
perfect knowledge of the figure, a graceful demeanour, and a correct
ear for the time of the music are requisite to enable any one to take
a creditable part in this dance. Steps are quite gone out of fashion:
even the _chasse_ has been given up for some time past.
A quadrille must always consist of five parts. If a variation be
made in the fourth figure, by the substitution of _Pastorale_ for
_Trenise_, the latter must then be omitted; or _vice-versa_. As soon
as a gentleman has engaged his partner for the quadrille, he should
endeavour to secure as his _vis-a-vis_ some friend or acquaintance;
and should then lead his partner to the top of the quadrille, provided
that post of honour be still vacant. He will place the lady always at
his right hand.
Quadrille music is divided into eight bars for each part of the
figure; two steps should be taken in every bar; every movement thus
invariably consists of eight or of four steps.
It is well not to learn too many new figures; the memory is liable to
become confused amongst them; besides which, it is doubtful whether
your partner, or your _vis-a-vis_, is as learned in the matter as
yourself. Masters are extremely fond of inventing and teaching new
figures; but you will do well to confine your attention to a few
simple and universally received sets, which you will find quite
sufficient for your purpose. We begin with the oldest and most common,
FIRST SET OF QUADRILLES.
First Figure.--Le Pantalon.
The couples at the top and bottom of the quadrille cross to each
other's places in eight steps, occupying four bars of the time; then
re-cross immediately to their own places, which completes the movement
of eight bars. This is called the _Chaine Anglaise_. The gentleman
always keeps to the right of _vis-a-vis_ lady in crossing, thus
placing her _inside_.
Set to partners, or _balances_; turn your partners. (This occupies the
second eight bars.) Ladies, chain, or _chaine des dames_. (Eight
bars more.) Each couple crosses to opposite couple's place, gentleman
giving his hand to his partner: this is called half-promenade. Couples
recross right and left to their places, without giving hands, which
completes another eight bars, and ends the figure.
The side couples repeat what the top and bottom couples have done.
The ladies in all the top couples, and their _vis-a-vis_ gentlemen,
advance four steps, and retire the same, repeating this movement once
again, which makes the first eight bars.
Top ladies and _vis-a-vis_ gentlemen cross to each other's places;
advance four steps; retreat ditto; cross back towards partners, who
set to them as they advance; turn partners; which ends first half of
Second ladies and top _vis-a-vis_ gentlemen execute the same
movements. Then side couples begin, the privilege of commencement
being conferred on those ladies who stand at the _right_ of the top
This figure is sometimes performed in a different manner, known as
double _L'Ete_. Instead of the top lady and _vis-a-vis_ gentleman
advancing alone, they advance with partners joining hands; cross and
return, as in the single figure. This variation is, however, somewhat
out of vogue, except (as will presently be seen) in the last figure of
the quadrille, where it is still frequently introduced.
Third Figure--La Poule.
Top lady and _vis-a-vis_ gentleman cross to each other's places,
giving right hand in passing; cross back again with left hand. (Eight
bars.) The two couples form in a line, and join hands, the left hand
of one holding the right hand of his or her neighbour, so that each
faces different ways; in this position all four _balancez_, then half
promenade with partner to opposite place; top lady and _vis-a-vis_
gentleman advance four steps and retire ditto. (2nd eight bars.) Both
top and bottom couples advance together, and retire the same; then
re-cross right and left to places. (3rd eight bars.) Second lady and
first opposite gentleman repeat figure. Side couples repeat, observing
same rule for commencement as in _L'Ete_.
Fourth Figure.--La Trenise.
Top couples join hands, advance four steps and retreat ditto: advance
again, gentleman leaving lady at left hand of _vis-a-vis_ gentleman,
and retiring alone, (1st eight bars.) Two ladies advance, crossing
to opposite side; gentleman advances to meet his partner, _vis-a-vis_
lady returns to hers. (2nd eight bars.) _Balancez_; turn partners to
places. (3rd eight bars.) Second couple performs same figure; side
couples repeat as before.
If _La Pastorale_ be preferred, it will be performed thus:--Top couple
advance and retreat; advance, gentleman leading lady to left hand
of _vis-a-vis_ gentleman; he advances with both ladies four steps,
retreating ditto; again advancing, he leaves both ladies with first
gentleman, retreating alone; top gentleman and both ladies advance and
retreat; again advance, joining hands in circle, go half round, half
promenade to opposite places, then return right and left to their own.
Second couples and side couples repeat as before.
Fifth Figure.--La Finale.
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