It is usual, 'when inviting officers of a * regiment or a ship to a dance, to send the invitation to the colonel or admiral; if there be no admiral, to the commodore or captain. In the space left free for names would be written:
"Colonel Blank and the officers of the 90th Regiment," or "Admiral Dash and the officers of the------" (here insert the name of the ship). Moreover, it is imperative that a personal invitation be sent to the colonel in command or to the admiral or commodore or captain. Should the wife of any of these be with them, the invitation includes her. A reply-will be sent to this personal invitation, and the other officers will answer for themselves.
Should officers of both services attend a dance, the question of precedence comes in. Admirals of the Fleet rank with field-marshals, admirals with generals, vice-admirals with lieutenant-generals, rear-admirals with major-generals, commodores with brigadier-generals, captains of three years' seniority and staff-captains of four years' seniority with colonels, captains under three years' seniority and staff-captains under four years' seniority with lieutenant-colonels, commanders and staff-commanders with lieutenant-colonels but junior of that rank, lieutenants of eight years' seniority with majors, lieutenants under eight years' seniority with captains, and so on according to rank.
These rules apply to Great Britain, not to the Colonies, where the precedency of officers is determined by colonial enactments or Royal charters, or by authoritative usage. On the other hand, certain persons entitled to precedence in the United Kingdom are not entitled as a right to the same precedence in British colonies. The governor decides all such matters.
There is a little point about supper at subscription dances which is often productive of awkwardness. The tickets are priced so much, "inclusive of supper." Seeing this, the inexperienced man concludes that there will be no expense attached to the meal beyond a tip to the waiter. He is unaware that the price covers eatables only, and that beverages are extra. The girl whom he has invited to sup with him has to be asked what she would like to drink, and sometimes, unaware of the circumstances, chooses champagne or some other equally expensive wine.
If her partner should be well off, this is all right. If he has only a small sum in his pocket he receives a rude shock. Many girls are considerate in these cases, and choose lemonade or something else that is low in price. But there are also girls, in a minority, one feels sure, who think only of what they prefer, and their thoughtlessness often produces awkward results.
The Man Who "Cuts" Dances
To "cut" a dance is a piece of very bad manners. After engaging oneself to a partner, nothing short of illness should induce a girl to break the engagement. But it is often done. She rinds herself sitting out in agreeable company, and the disconsolate partner is meanwhile going through the rooms asking everyone whom he meets in his peregrinations, "Have you seen Miss So-and-so?"
For a man to cut a dance is even worse, according to the social code, because he is supposed to owe deference to members of our sex.
Some young men, however, are very casual in such matters. They may possibly go to supper, and remain at table during two or three dances. Returning to the ball-room, such a man thinks it sufficient excuse to say, "Sorry to have missed our dance. I've been to supper." Recreant partners need not be waited for after the dance has been in progress a few moments.
A Practical and Novel Idea
When a girl at a private dance is obliged to leave before the dances for which she has engaged herself, she asks her hostess to explain to any partners who may inquire about her. Nothing of the kind is possible at a public or subscription dance, but it would be a good plan to have a large white slate hung near the door, on which those leaving early could write their names under "Gone Away." Partners, seeing the name, could then feel honourably free to engage someone else.
It would not be a bad idea for those who go to supper intending to remain for some time to write their names on such a slate. It would be only civil to apprise one's partners in this way that supper is preferred to dancing with them.
The inference is not nattering to the girl, but at least she is left free to find solace in the company of another and possibly more congenial partner.