Invitations to a ball should be issued by the lady of the house in her Own name only, about three weeks before the night fixed on for it.
The requisites for an agreeable ball are - a good room, good music, and a good supper. It is of all entertainments the most extravagant - a large ball in London generally costing about 300/. Great quantities of flowers are used to adorn the rooms ; they often cost 50l.; lights are placed before reflectors on the walls - as chandeliers are dangerous, and gas gives an unbecoming glare. The carpet should be taken up, the floor polished - but not so as to blacken the ladies' shoes. A good band should be hired for the occasion.
The lady who gives the ball must linger till supper-time near the door of the ball-room, to receive and welcome her guests. She should have a smile and a few gracious words for every one.
The sons and daughters of the family must take care to provide partners for their friends. A well-bred young lady does not dance till she has seen that her young lady-friends, generally, have partners.
The right of introducing partners rests chiefly with the ladies and gentlemen of the house; but a chaperon may introduce a gentleman to her charge, and an intimate gentleman-friend may introduce an acquaintance to a partner.
A young lady must be very careful how she refuses to dance with a gentleman; and she ought, indeed, to have a good reason for so doing. She can only say she does not wish to dance that dance (with which answer a gentleman will be satisfied), or that she is engaged.
But if she refuses one gentleman, she has no right to accept another for the same dance; and she must be extremely careful not to engage herself to two gentlemen for the same dance.
Flirtation is always vulgar, but it is perhaps less dangerous in a ballroom than out of one; still, very well-bred girls will not dance too often with the same partner, nor linger too long away from their chaperon. Three dances are quite as much as a young lady should give to the same partner.
Public balls are not much frequented by people in good society, except in watering-places and country-towns; even then a young lady should only be seen at two or three in the course of the year - as, for example, a county-ball, a race-ball, a hunt-ball. At public balls there are generally three or four stewards, who have to order the dances, change them if desirable, and introduce partners to the young ladies. But young ladies of good station generally dance with members of their own party. They must on no account dance with a gentleman at a public ball unless he be presented by the stewards, or by a friend.
It is not necessary to recognise a ball-room acquaintance the next day, unless you choose to do so. The introduction is for a dance, and not for future acquaintanceship. To act on it afterwards depends entirely on the will of the lady; and she is not ill-bred if she ignores her partner's existence the next day.
If you give a carpet dance to your young friends, take care to provide at least two musicians: a harpist and a pianoforte player are the best. You should on no account tax the good nature and fingers of your friends by asking them to play for you.
A ball supper is far beyond the means of any ordinary household to prepare. It would be cheapest and best to engage a first-rate pastrycook to supply it at so much a head. He will then undertake the whole responsibility, and the thing will be well done. During the last season a novel and delicious mode of decorating a ball-room was introduced. Pillars made of solid blocks of Norway ice, clear and sparkling like diamonds, were placed at intervals down the room on each side. They stood in great pans in which water-lilies had been placed, and as they slowly melted in the heat and dripped into these great tubs of stone, the lilies floated on the water. The coolness of the air produced by this device can scarcely be conceived if not felt.
Ball dress is the extreme of full dress, and should be that which is the fashion of the day.
Mock Turtle Soup. Cod.
Stewed Mushrooms and Rabbit Curry.
Plum Pudding. Mince Pies.
Grouse. Lamb's Wool.
Mock Turtle Soup. Swan Giblet Soup.
Brill. Cutlets of Cod.
Rabbit Curry. Kromeskies. Souffle of Chicken.
Swan. Boar's Head.
Plum Pudding. Mince Pies. Wassail Bowl. Furmity.
Apricot Jam Tart.
Lobster Salad. Ham.
Jelly. Chickens and Tongue. Flowers.
Cherries. Mayonnaise of Chicken.
Cutlets of Fowl and Tongue.
Fore-quarter of Lamb.
Jaunemange. Strawberries. Custards.