Editor’s Note: This section concerns the appropriate behavior of men when attending formal balls. Basically, what this tells us is that Mr. Darcy was being a real JERK to Elizabeth Bennet the first time they met.
MEN AT. Courtesy toward his hostess and consideration for his friends demands that a man who can dance should do so. To accept an invitation to a ball and then refuse to dance shows that a man is lacking in good breeding. A man finding few friends at a ball should ask some friend, or the hostess, to introduce him to some women whom he can invite to dance. It is an act of discourtesy for a man not to request a dance of a woman to whom he has been introduced. A man escorting a woman to a ball should agree where to meet her after they have each left their wraps at the dressing-rooms. It may be at the foot of the stairway or near the ball-room door. It is now no longer customary for the man and woman to enter arm in arm, but for the woman to precede the man, and together they greet the hostess. It is for the hostess to merely bow or to shake hands, and the guests follow her lead. A man should see that his companion’s chaperone is comfortably seated, and then ask his companion for a couple of dances, and, with her permission, introduce other young men, who should ask her to dance. Such permission is not usually asked if the man is her fiance, a near relative, or an old friend. It is strictly the woman’s prerogative to decide to retire, and no man should urge or hint to a woman to retire earlier than she wishes.