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Written by JulieW
(3/1/2007 5:00 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Rules of conduct, penned by Elena
Anyhow....Beau Nash took his role as Master of Ceremonies were seriously,Elena. For it is reproted in that he visited every visitor ( and their familes) to Bath and would have told them how Bath worked, how they were supposed to behave etc.,on that initial meeting.(see The Imaginary Autocrat by John Elgin)
It worked all ways.
The visitors knew what the score was,and they also had a friend in Mr Nash who would be able to intorduce them to others if they did not already know anyone of the "Company". The Rules were also printed and put on display in the Pump Room and the assembly rooms in the city- Beau Nash's original rules are still on display in the Pump Room.. And they were also included in the "Bath Guides", which were small booklets containing the history of Bath and tourist infomration- such as the rates Chairmen ought to charge! Essential reading for any visitor to Bath.
Brilliant social control, frankly.
Of course, sucsessive Masters of Cermonies altered the rules so that by the end of JA's life things were slightly differntly organised: but if you compare these rules from 1813 to the originals you can see that the intention of creating harmony amongst a colletion of very different people is still evident:
That the balls at these rooms do commence at eight o’clock in the evening. A quarter of an hour before which time the rooms should be regularly and properly lighted up and the dancing shall cease at half past eleven precisely except on the night of the King’s Birthday and on the night of the two balls given for the benefit of the Master of the Ceremonies when the time of dancing shall be unlimited.
That the front three tiers of the benches at the upper end of the room be reserved for ladies of precedence of the rank of peeresses.
That no person whatever be admitted into the ballroom without a ticket nor any visitor or stranger ,subscribers excepted, unless he shall previously have inserted his name and place of abode in a book to be kept for that purpose under the control of the Master of the Ceremonies.
That no gentlemen in boots or half boots shall be admitted into the ballroom on ball nights, except officers of the Navy or of the Army on duty, in uniform; and then without their swords. Undress trousers or coloured pantaloons not to be permitted on any account.
That no clerks hired or otherwise in this city or neighbourhood- no person concerned in retail trade- no theatrical or other public performers by profession shall be admitted.
And as a further instruction to the Master of Ceremonies and with a due regard to the selection of the company, which must be scrupulously attended to, he is hereby directed to desire any person, whom from circumstances he may deem inadmissible to the balls, to withdraw immediately and in the case of non-compliance with his request it is ordered that he report the same to the committee.
That from the earliest institution of these Rooms the regulations relating to dancing and all points of etiquette, have been left to the Master of Ceremonies for the time being; and that the rules and orders suggested by the him as to these have been invariably acquiesced in and acted upon by the company frequenting the balls.
That the same authority exercised by all preceding Masters of the Ceremonies belongs of right to every successor to this Office; and that it is incumbent upon the subscribers( in as much as they must be desirous of promoting good order and decorum in their assemblies) to conform to the regulations of the Master of Ceremonies and to support him in their execution.
That the Master of Ceremonies is not accountable to any individual whatever who may dispute or object to the established regulations but in case of an misunderstanding arising from these or other matters connected with his office , reference must be made to the Committee of Management for its consideration and decision.
That the Master of the Ceremonies on observing or receiving information of any persons acting in opposition to these resolutions to signify to such person that as Master of the Ceremonies it is his duty to see that proper decorum be preserved and these orders obeyed in the proper and impartial execution of which duty he will be supported by the subscribers at large.
That if the Master of the Ceremonies do attend at a quarter of an hour before eight o’clock on ball nights to receive the company.
That ladies to be considered perfectly free in regard to accepting or declining partners.
That a reasonable time shall be allowed between the minuets and contra-dances for ladies of precedence to take their places in the dance; and that those ladies who shall stand up after the dance shall have commenced, must take their place successively at the bottom.
That no lady, after she shall have taken her place in the set do permit another to come above her in the dance.
That every person, on admission to these rooms on ball nights shall pay sixpence for tea.
That it is the positive order of the committee that no servant whatever shall be admitted into the vestibule or gallery on any occasion or on any pretence whatever, on ball nights.
That these rules and regulations be printed, framed and glazed and fixed in a conspicuous part of these rooms for public information ; not to be taken down on any pretence whatever, in order that they may remain as a public document.
I took these from one my copies of The Bath Guidefor 1813.
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