|Lord Arthur Hill, 4th Marquis of Downshire (1812-1868) in the uniform of Lt. Colonel of the Royal South Down Militia. Reproduced courtesy of Hillsborough Castle.|
"Rank, beauty and fashion" — "delicacies of the season" — "brisk champagne" — and such like phraseology, generally fill up the account of every Ball, but we are not inclined to treat the festivities of the occasion in question with such common-place observations. The company included the names of most of our resident Nobility and Gentry. There were present at the ball the Marquis and Marchioness of Donegall, Lord and Lady Dufferin and the Misses Blackwood, Miss Goold, Sir Robert and Lady Bateson, Mr and Mrs Wolstenholme, Mr and Mrs James Blackwood, of Saintfield, Mr and Mrs Gordon of Florida, and family, the Honourable Dean and Mrs Knox, and the Misses Knox, Mr and Mrs Arthur Montgomery, Colonel Warde's (of Bangor) family, Mr Charles and the Misses Douglass, Captain and Lady Maria Morgell (8th Royal Hussars), Major and Miss Waddell, Mrs Innes, Major and Mrs Trevor, Reverend James and Mrs Stannus, Mr and Mrs William Reilly and family, Mr and Mrs James Reilly, Captain and Mrs Moore, of Eglantine, Colonel and Mrs Hawkshaw, Major and Mrs Clarke, Captain and Mrs English (R.E.), Mrs and Miss May, Mr B Warde and Miss Warde, of Viper's Tow, Mrs Auchinleck, Mr and Mrs Curteis, the Misses Saurin, Batt, Greg, Moore, D'Arcy, Curteis, Trevor, Innes &c, the Lords Chichester, Mr Francis Forde (Royal Scots Greys), Major Brett (8th Royal Hussars), Mr Cholmley, Mr Ponsonby, and Mr Shedden (8th Royal Hussars), Capt. Thompson, R.N., Lieutenant Dawson, R.N., Lieut. Crozier R.N., Major D'Arcy, Lieut. Bordes, R.E., Mr Molesworth, R.E., Mr Coddington, R.E., Messrs Watson, Shaw, Durham, Rev. A. Hudson, Mr Wm. Mussenden, Larchfield, Mr Johnson, of Nappa, Mr Johnston, of Craignagill, Mr Isaac Corry, Reverend L. Saurin, &c &c &c.
The company began to assemble about 9 o'clock, and, as the Castle Warders, dressed in their full uniforms, were in attendance, lining the entrance, and assisted by the Police under the orders of Mr Sutherland, the setting down was arranged in the most complete regularity and order. The sound of a Bugle, announcing the departure of each carriage from the Portico, where the company alighted, gave notice to the entire line to move forward in steady order. All the apartments on the ground floor of this large and ancient Family Mansion were thrown open on the occasion. Immediately after crossing the entrance Hall and Vestibule, a reception Room was pointed out with attendants in waiting, and appropriated for the Ladies' cloaks, &c; from thence they proceeded to the Library, about 90 feet in length, and one of the handsomest rooms with which we are acquainted, at the entrance to which they were courteously received by the Noble Host and Hostess — across the farther end of the room, stood a table for tea and all its concomitant refreshments, flanked by two immense plum cakes, which were decorated with all the mystic symbols of 12th Night.
After the juvenile part of the company had gone through the ceremonies peculiar to the evening, the Drawing Room was opened for the Ball. This splendid apartment, newly fitted up by the Messrs Boylan of Dublin, in the Eastern style, with beautiful real Chinese paper, the hangings of "Couleur de Rose", illuminated by a large and highly ornamental or moulu lamps of an antique shape, suspended from the centre, reflected a most becoming glow upon the countenances of the Ladies, whose smart dresses attracted much admiration.
The Ball was opened by Lord Hillsborough and the younger branches of the family, and quadrilles, waltzes and country dances succeeded each other in turn. Between the sets the company sought refreshment and repose in the library or wandered through the various apartments, where they felt not even the "penalty of Adam — the season's difference", as a well regulated temperature pervaded the rooms. At two o'clock the great doors, communicating with the Drawing Room, were thrown open and presented to the view that large and finely proportioned apartment, furnished with three long tables: covers were laid for 160 people — the effect was striking. The tables were handsomely ornamented with the family plate, and everything calculated to please the eyes and tempt the appetite was here displayed in rich profusion. A most excellent supper, consisting of hot soups, game and poultry of different sorts, wild fowl, and every other luxury which could be procured, were provided in abundance. From the centre of the middle table rose a lofty pagoda, connected by bridges, with two smaller ones, and from the stream which ran beneath the arches rose "Jete d'Eau"; but, much as these were admired, greater attention was paid to the champaigne [sic], which proved some of Mr Gordon's best. We could dwell with pleasure on the excellence of the winds [sic] and viands, of all kinds, at supper (prepared at the direction of the Marquis's Steward, Mr Henry, and with the assistance of the most eminent Artiste in the North) — but we must conclude with a word not always applicable to such entertainments — "comfort".
The dancing was resumed, with increased spirit, after supper; and about 4 o'clock the company began to depart in the same well-arranged order in which they arrived. We regret to add that Lord Arthur Hill was prevented from attending the ball by an unlucky accident in dismounting from his horse, which detained him in the South; while his presence, on this occasion particularly, would have given so much pleasure to his friends in the North: but we must remark that the attentions of the Noble Host and Hostess were most ably assisted by his brother, Lord George Hill. who, with several of the Officers of the 8th Royal Irish Hussars, in their rich uniforms, added much to the brilliance of the scene.