In France, Italy, Germany and Russia, gentlemen invariably take off their hits to every lady in whose society they had ever previously been, even though no introduction had taken place; but they do not consider themselves authorized to address a lady in conversation to whom they have hot been presented. This is surely the usage most consistent with true politeness towards women.
Do not wear black or colored gloves, lest your partner look sulky; even should you be in mourning, wear white gloves, not black. People in Deep mourning have no business in a ballroom at all.
Lead the lady through the quadrille; do not drag her, nor clasp her hand as if it were made of wood, lest she not unjustly think you a bore.
You will not, if you are wise, stand up in a quadrille without knowing something of the figure; and if you are master of a few of the steps, so much the better. But dance quietly; do not kick and caper about, nor sway your body to and fro; dance only from the hips downwards; and lead the lady as lightly as you would tread a measure with a spirit of gossamer.
Do not pride yourself on doing “steps neatly,” unless you are ambitious of being taken for a dancing-master; between whose motions and those of a gentleman there is a great difference.
If a lady should civilly decline to dance with you, making an excuse, and you chance to see her dancing afterwards, do not take any notice of it, nor be offended with her. It might not be that she despised you, but that she preferred another. We cannot always fathom the hidden springs which influence a woman’s actions, and there are many bursting hearts within white satin dresses; therefore do not insist upon the fulfilment of established regulations “de rigueur.”
Besides, it is a hard case that women should be compelled to dance with everybody offered them, at the alternative of not being allowed to enjoy themselves at all.
If a friend be engaged when you request her to dance, and she promises to be your partner for the next or any of the following dances, do not neglect her when the time comes, but be in readiness to fulfil your office as her cavalier, or she may think that you have studiously slighted her, besides preventing her obliging someone else. Even inattention and forgetfulness, by showing, how little you care for a lady, form in themselves a tacit insult.