This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
The Preparations. The Invitations and General Conduct of the Entertainment.
THE entertainment yon intend giving is larger than a dinner party - one to which you will invite a greater number of your friends and associates - so great a number, indeed, of young and middle-aged people, that the serious question is, how they shall be entertained; you conclude that you will allow them to dance, and you will name your entertainment a ball.
In this connection we will not express an opinion concerning the propriety or the impropriety of dancing. In the simple act of passing through the figures of the dance there need be no wrong committed; but, as the ball is often conducted, very serious and unfortunate results follow.
For the company to assemble at a late hour and engage in unusual, exciting and severe exercise throughout the entire night is often too great a tax upon the physical system. To dress too thinly, and in a state of perspiration to be exposed, as ladies at the ball frequently are, to drafts of cold, is oftentimes to plant the seeds of a disease from which they never recover. Again, to come in contact, as ladies are liable to do, more especially at the public ball, with disreputable men, is sometimes to form alliances that will cause a lifetime of sorrow.
Well may the watchful parent look with anxiety and suspicion upon the ball, because its associations are so frequently dangerous. If in this chapter we may give admonitions and suggestions that shall tend to correct some of the evils of the dance, our labors will not be in vain.
The dancing-master should be in the highest sense of the term a gentleman; he should be thoroughly schooled in the laws of etiquette; he should be a man of good moral character; he should be a physiologist ; he should be a reformer. Such a man at the head of a dancing-school would be of infinite assistance to the young men and women coming upon the stage of action. In his class he would teach his pupils the laws of good behavior; he would warn them concerning the evils of bad association; he would instruct them in the importance of regularity of habit and of keeping proper hours; with which instruction he would reform many abuses that now exist at public entertainments.
Fortunately we have some instructors who appreciate the importance of their work, and are thus instrumental in doing a great amount of good to those who are so favored as to attend their classes.
The management of the ball will largely depend upon whether it is a public or private entertainment. If public, it will be under the control of managers who will send out tickets to those likely to attend, often several weeks before the ball is given. These tickets are sent only to gentlemen who invite such ladies to attend the ball with them as they may choose.
Wednesday, Oct. 10. Miss Hammond:
May I have the pleasure of your company to the ball at the Grand Central Hotel, in New York, on the evening of October 23th, at eight o'clock? Very respectfully,
W. H. SIMPSON.
The following may be the reply :
Thursday, Oct. 11. Mr. W. H. Simpson:
I shall be happy to accompany you to the ball at the Grand Central on the evening of October 23th.
CARRIE D. HAMMOND.
Or, if the invitation is declined, the note may have this form :
Thursday, Oct. 11. Mr. W. H. Simpson:
I regret that absence from the city (or assign such other cause as may occasion the refusal) will deprive me of the pleasure of accompanying you to the ball at the Grand Central on the evening of October 25th.
If the ball is to be given at a private residence, the notes of invitation should be sent by messenger or post to each guest, two or three weeks before the dance, and will read as follows:
Mrs. Conklin's compliments to Miss Henry, requesting the pleasure of her company at a ball on Thursday evening, April 12th, at eight o'clock.
This should invariably be answered within a day or two, and, if accepted, the reply may read in the following form:
Miss Henry's compliments to Mrs. Conklin, accepting with pleasure her kind invitation for Thursday evening, April 12th.
If declined, the answer may be -
Miss Henry's compliments to Mrs. Conklin, regretting that the recent death of a relative (or assign such other cause as may occasion the refusal) will prevent her acceptance of the kind invitation for the evening of April 12th.