|Diane's Antique Book Collection|
ETIQUETTE OF PUBLIC PLACES
Conduct in Opera, Theatre, or Public Hall.- On entering the hall, theatre or opera-house the gentleman should walk side by side with his companion unless the aisle is too narrow, in which case he should precede her. Reaching the seats, he should allow her to take the inner one, assuming the outer one himself.
A gentleman should on no account leave the lady’s side from the beginning to the close of the performance.
If it is a promenade concert or opera, the lady may be invited to promenade during the intermission. If she declines, the gentleman must retain his position by her side.
The custom of going out alone between the acts to visit the refreshment-room cannot be too strongly reprehended. It is little less than an insult to the lady.
There is no obligation whatever upon a gentleman to give up his seat to a lady. On the contrary, his duty is solely to the lady whom he accompanies. He must remain beside her during the evening to converse with her between the acts and to render her assistance in case of accident or disturbance.
It is proper and desirable that the actors be applauded when they deserve it. It is their only means of knowing whether they are giving satisfaction.
During the performance complete quiet should be preserved, that the audience may not be prevented seeing or hearing. Between the acts it is perfectly proper to converse, but it should be in a low tone, so as not to attract attention. Neither should one whisper. There should be no loud talking, boisterous laughter, violent gestures, lover-like demonstrations or anything in manners or speech to attract the attention of others.
The gentleman should see that the lady is provided with programme, and with libretto also if they are attending opera.
The gentleman should ask permission to call upon the lady on the following day, which permission she should grant; and if she be a person of delicacy and tact, she will make him feel that he has conferred a real pleasure upon her by his invitation. Even if she finds occasion for criticism in the performance, she should be lenient in this respect and seek for points to praise instead, that he may not feel regret at taking her to an entertainment which has proved unworthy.
If the means of the gentleman warrant him in so doing, he should call for his companion in a carriage. This is especially necessary if the evening is stormy. He should call sufficiently early to allow them to reach their destination before the performance commences. It is unjust to the whole audience to come in late and make a disturbance in obtaining seats.
In passing out at the close of the performance the gentleman should precede the lady, and there should be no crowding and pushing.
Wells, A. M., Richard A., MANNERS, CULTURE AND DRESS, Massachusetts, King, Richardson & Company Publishers, 1893