A Matter of Etiquette

February 21, 2017
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A matter of etiquette

 

“Nothing indicates a well bred man more than a proper mode of eating. A man may pass muster by dressing well, and may sustain himself tolerably in conversation; but if he be not perfectly “au fait”, dinner will betray him.” Hints on Etiquette, 1836
Mr and Mrs Arthur Hardy were well known for holding lavish private dinner parties at their beautiful home, Mt Lofty House, during the late 1850’s through most of the 1860’s. Influenced by the home shores of England, the refined sensibilities of the Victorian era were prevalent in all of their stately affairs. Etiquette, the customary code of polite behaviour in society, was a custom well known to be in tune with elegance, and with it came a mighty set of rigid rules.

 

 

A few rules for the dinner table

 

  1. Sit upright, neither too close nor too far away from the table.

 

  1. Open and spread upon your lap or breast a napkin, if one is provided.

 

  1. Never wear gloves at the table, unless the hands for some unfortunate reason are unfit to be seen.

 

  1. Do not be in haste; compose yourself; put your mind into a pleasant condition, and resolve to eat slowly.

 

  1. Keep the hands from the table until your time comes to be served. It is rude to take a knife and fork in hand and commence drumming on the table while you are waiting.

 

  1. Do not put your elbows on the table, or sit too far back; never lounge.

 

  1. Taking ample time in eating will give you better health, greater wealth, longer life, and more happiness. These are what we may obtain by eating slowly in a pleasant frame of mind, thoroughly masticating the food.

 

  1. Never allow the conversation at the table to drift into anything but chit-chat; the consideration of deep and abstruse principles will impair digestion.

 

  1. Never permit yourself to engage in a heated argument at the table. Neither should you use gestures, nor illustrations made with a knife or fork on the table-cloth.

 

  1. Never praise extravagantly every dish set before you; neither should you appear indifferent. Any article may have light praise.

 

  1. Never make a display when removing hair, insects, or other disagreeable items from your food. Place them quietly under the edge of your plate.

 

  1. Never make an effort to clean your plate too thoroughly; it looks as though you left off hungry.

 

  1. Never allow butter, soup, or any other food to remain upon your whiskers. Use your napkin frequently.

 

  1. It is considered the height of rudeness to pick your teeth whilst at the table. If it becomes necessary to do so, hold your napkin over your mouth to save the eyes of the other guests.

 

  1. Never hesitate to take the last piece of bread or the last slice of cake; there are sure to be more in the kitchen.

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