This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Home Book Of Etiquette" book.
In a private ball or party, guests, on entering, should at once proceed to pay their respects to the lady of the house, who will remain near the door to greet them as they appear. Some of the gentlemen of the house should be near, to introduce to the lady any of their friends on their arrival. The daughters of the household are not required to assist in the ceremony of reception.
The fashion of carrying numerous bouquets to a ball is rapidly going out of existence, and many ladies refuse to take any flowers into a ball-room, the old custom having given rise to much vulgar rivalry and ostentatious display.
At public balls cards giving the order of dances are provided, on which gentlemen can write their names opposite the numbers of the dances for which they have been accepted by the lady holding the card. In England such cards are in general use, but they are rarely provided at private balls in this country.
From eighteen to twenty dances is a convenient number to arrange for, with supper as a suitable break at about the middle of the entertainment. A ball should begin with a march, followed in succession by a quadrille and a waltz. Then waltzes and quadrilles follow as may be arranged.
The cotillon or German, now so widely known, fills up the larger part of the evening, and begins, as a rule, immediately after supper. In a private house, the gentleman who has been invited to lead the German must ask the unmarried daughter of the family to dance with him, or the married daughter if so indicated as the family's choice. At the more general dances or large balls a young married lady is usually the one selected to dance with the leader.
It is quite the custom for a gentleman to engage a partner for the cotillon before the evening of the dance, and in this case, provided he can afford it, he usually sends her a bouquet of flowers. But should the lady request him not to remember her in this way her wishes should be respected.
Any gentleman, provided his acquaintance with the lady be sufficiently intimate to warrant him in doing so, has the privilege of sending her offerings of flowers whenever he cares to do so. In such a case he should go to a florist, leave an order for the kind of bouquet he wishes sent, and also his card in an envelope addressed to the lady, which envelope should accompany the flowers.
Formerly, at public balls a master of ceremonies was considered always necessary, but this official is no longer provided, the management being now entrusted to a committee of arrangements, who are distinguished by wearing ribbons in the buttonhole, or rosettes. The members of the committee superintend the dances, provide partners for those who need them, and introduce gentlemen to ladies with whom they desire to dance.
In private balls, the lady of the house or some member of the family attends to introductions, and when she has grown daughters they may employ themselves in arranging sets, introducing partners, and the like, desisting from dancing themselves while any of the lady guests remain unprovided with partners.