On to the actual figures of Howe's "Rats" Quadrille! Please see the first post in the "Rats" series for an introduction to the quadrille and links to sheet music.
No. 1. First 4 right and left; balance and turn; ladies chain; promenade 4. Sides same.
This figure is entirely straightforward, a very minor variation on Le Pantalon, the first figure of the first set of quadrilles. My reconstruction:
Figure 1 8b + 32bx2
8b Intro (not repeated)
8b Head couples right and left (chaine anglaise) across and back
8b Head couples balance to partners (4b) and turn clockwise by two hands (4b)
8b Head couples ladies' chain across and back
8b Head couples promenade (counter-clockwise) completely around inside the set
The figures are then repeated by the side couples.
The only difference from a standard Pantalon figure is the final promenade being all the way around, instead of half round followed by a half right and left back to original places.
Given Howe's generally old-fashioned quadrille aesthetic, I would perform the right and left giving hands on each change (right hands and left hands) rather than the pass-right-shoulders-give-left-hands of quadrilles in mid-nineteenth-century manuals by more up-to-date dancing masters.
There are at least two options for a four-bar balance (also known as setting) between partners in mid-19th century quadrilles. Again, following Howe's old-fashioned style (using balance and turn rather than the long promenade or galop balance of his contemporaries), my choice for the balance would be to have the couples face each other and chassé to the right four counts, then back to the left.
No. 2. First 2 forward and back, cross over; chassa, cross back; balance and turn. Others same.
Once again, this is a simple reconstruction of a figure identical to one of the standard versions of L'Eté, the second figure of the first set. The "first two" are the first lady and the gentleman opposite her (the second gentleman). My reconstruction:
Figure 2 8b + 24bx4
8b Intro (not repeated)
8b First two forward and back (4b) and change places, passing right shoulders (4b)
8b Same two chassé to the right and back to the left (4b) then return to original places, again passing right shoulders (4b)
8b Head couples balance to partners and turn two hands, as in the first figure
The figures are then repeated by the second woman and first man, the third woman and fourth man, and finally the fourth woman and third man. The third and fourth times through, it is the side couples who balance and turn at the end.
The only vagueness in the figure as given is Howe's use of "chassa". Given that this is a straightforward L'Eté figure, I am interpreting "chassa" in the style of the original first set, as a "chassez-dechassez" or "dance to the right and left" in which the two active dancers, facing each other, sliding sideways to the right (staying within the set) and then back on the same track to the left. Likewise, the balance and turn at the end is with partners, as in the original L'Eté.
No. 3. First 2 forward, give right hands and swing between sides; forward 6, same 2 cross over; swing 6 hands round, turn partners to place. Others same.
This one is a little bit trickier. My reconstruction:
Figure 3 8b + 32bx4
8b Intro (not repeated)
8b First two forward and back (4b) then forward again and turn by right hands three-quarters to end between side couples
(The first lady is now between the third couple and the second gentleman between the fourth)
8b Trios at sides forward and back (4b) then the active pair crosses the set to change places
(The first lady is now between the fourth couple and the second gentleman between the third)
8b All six in the trios take hands and circle clockwise all the way around to places
8b Trios forward and back (4b) then the active pair turn their own partners two hands, ending in original places
The figures are done three more times, in the same seqence of pairs as the second figure.
This figure is the first real challenge in this quadrille, starting with the actual length of the figure. Each eight bars of dance are bracketed by semi-colons, Howe's standard style in both his music manual and his 1862 dance manual, although he does sometime slip up on this. This suggests a twenty-four bar figure with three eight-bar calls.
The very first call, "First 2 forward, give right hands and swing between sides" looks like it might only be four bars, but Howe elides the "and back" which always accompanies "forward" unless otherwise specified. "Swing" does not mean a modern contra-style buzz swing, but in this context is a turn by one hand, generally defaulting to the right hand.
The second call, "forward 6, same 2 cross over" also skips over "and back" but is otherwise clear.
The third call, "swing 6 hands round, turn partners to place", is where things get interesting. In the sheet music, these two directives are separated by a comma, rather than a semicolon, which suggests that each one is only four bars and the entirety of figure three is eight bars shorter (24b) than my reconstruction (32b). But the figure as given does not really work. "Swing 6 hands round" means the six active dancers take hands and circle clockwise. With only four bars or music, eight steps, they will only get halfway round, leaving the third and fourth couples on opposite sides from where they started. "Turn partners to place" could be interpreted as including the third and fourth couples as well, but that doesn't help; they'd have to magically transport themselves across the set while turning.
Looking at Howe's sheet music, there are three strains, with a fine at the beginning of the first (A) strain and a D.C. (da capo) at the end of the second and third (B and C) strains. My reading of this would be to play the tune A BACA BACA BACA BACA, returning to the beginning (da capo) after each B and C strain. This is a typical rondo pattern for quadrille music, with the A music serving as introduction and the dancing beginning on the second strain and ending on the first. This leaves us with thirty-two bars of music for the figures, rather than the twenty-four suggested by the punctuation of the calls.
Now take a closer look at this section of the third figure in Howe's dance manual in the copy held by the Library of Congress, rather than his music book. The entire quadrille may be seen here, for context, but I've enlarged just one section of it here:
Someone, presumably a nineteenth-century someone, has done a little personal editing on the manual, turning the comma between "swing 6 hands round" and "turn partners" into a semicolon. That would create a thirty-two bar figure, which matches my reading of the music.
Trying the figure as thirty-two bars creates a new problem while solving the old one, however. The six dancers circling around now have a full eight bars, which takes them back to places, solving the problem with the third and fourth couples being left on the wrong sides. But the "turn partners" figure now has a somewhat ridiculous eight bars of music -- sixteen steps! -- devoted to it. Even given that the active pair of dancers must move from between the side couples to their partners to turn, that is far too much music, particularly for the gentleman, who really only needs three-quarters of a turn. (The second and fourth times through, it will be a lady in that position with the same problem.)
Clearly, there's a mistake somewhere.
One virtue of Howe's tendency to recycle figures over and over in the calls for various sets of tunes is that any given figure will probably appear in other quadrilles, with which it can be cross-checked. While "swing 6 hands round, turn partners" does appear exactly that way in some quadrilles, looking in Howe's slightly earlier (1858) manual, the Complete ball-room hand book, turns up some examples of doing it a little differently.
In the Leonora Set of quadrilles, where the comparable figure is the third, Howe sets up the same way with trios, though the first couple stays on the side they originally moved to, and then gives the following sequence:
--swing six hands round--forward and back six, first two turn to place--
The double-dash separates each eight bar segment in this manual, so one can see that he gives a full eight bars to the swing six hands round, and then fills the final eight bars with the trios moving forward and back again before the original active pair turns each other to place. This solves the problem of the extra music, and is an easier and more graceful turn to places. It also makes sense in general quadrille context for the final turn to place to be done by the two dancers who are the most active in the figure.
Similar, in the Princess Royal Set, fourth figure, a similar pairing appears after a trio setup:
--forward six, same two turn to place--
and in Lady Mary's Set, fourth figure, the same sequence occurs after the trios, with a partner turn instead of a turn by the actives:
--forward and back six, swing partner to place--
It's clear that Howe thinks the final turn to places can be accomplished in four bars, and that when this is the case, the preceding figure is invariably the trios going forward and back. This also matches the pattern of the old fourth figure, La Pastourelle, in which two different sets of trios go forward and back.
Since doing it either of the other two possible ways (six dancers swinging half round in four bars and partner turns in four bars, or six dancers swinging all the way round in eight bars and then turning partners for eight bars) is problematic either in leaving some dancers out of position or in having an excessive amount of music, I think that leaving out the trios going forward and back a second time is an error on Howe's part, and in my reconstruction I've put the move back in.
Aesthetically, I'd like it better if the final turn were the two active dancers rather than each of them with their own partner, but since Howe does seem to use both options, I've left it as he wrote it.
Music notes for figures one, two, and three
The Spare Parts recording matches my reconstruction of figures two and three exactly. Figure one is played four times rather than two, however. One can either just dance the figure four times (twice for the head couples and twice for the side couples) or edit the recording to eliminate two of the repeats. Using live musicians with the sheet music linked in the previous post will avoid the problem entirely, of course.
A final thought
The third figure, with its trios, is more characteristic of a fourth figure (such as La Trenise or La Pastourelle) than a third one, and if calling this socially, I would strongly consider swapping the third and fourth figures. I'll have more on this in the final post in the "Rats" series, in which I will discuss the fourth and fifth figures.