Monday, June 15, 2015

Gilded Age Table Etiquette

This post is in honor, and memory, of one of our closest friends and finest contributors, Demita Usher. Her death was sudden and unexpected. Demita had always dreamt of a more polite world, but sadly passed away yesterday. The last post on her blog was the following quote ~ “Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

General Table Etiquette from 1893
  • Gloves are not to be worn at the table under any circumstances. 
  • No argumentative, or in any way unpleasant topic, should be broached at the table. 
  • There should be no difference between " company manners " and those in daily use. 
  • The napkin is not folded, but is simply crushed and laid beside the plate on rising. 
  • Coffee may be served at any time during breakfast, but should come at the end of dinner. 
  • Do not overload the plate of a guest, or press upon any one that which he has once declined. 
  • Remember the maxim of Confucius: "Eat at your own table as you would at the table of the King." 
  • Never say or do, or countenance in others the saying or doing, of anything rude or impolite at the table. 
  • Never notice or comment upon any accident, but render unobtrusively any assistance which may be necessary and possible. 
  • The side of the spoon is to be placed in the mouth, except in the case of a man wearing a moustache, when the point of the spoon leads the way. 
  • Where wine is served at dinner it may be declined without breach of courtesy, and should no more than any other article be pressed upon the guest. 
  • Teach the children to eat at table with their elders, and do it in a dignified manner. 
  • It is impossible to foretell what moment may require them to exemplify their home training. 
  • Letters, newspapers or books should never be brought to the table, though a very important message may be received and attended to, permission being asked of the hostess.
—From Good Housekeeping Magazine, 1893

  Rest in peace, Demita. Your smile, enthusiasm and grace will be missed by all who knew you!  

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