Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Etiquette and Being a Lady

Be a lady... Not necessarily this one above. Television's Lady Mary is lovely and self-assured, but she can be truly thoughtless and self absorbed. Especially while playing cat and mouse games with men. Besides, she's wearing gloves while she's drinking champagne. Demonstrating poor etiquette and a true faux pas!


Be a Lady

Good breeding is good sense.

Bashfulness is constitutional.

Awkwardness maybe ineradicable.

No art can restore the grape its bloom.

Bad manners in a woman are immorality.

It is the first duty of a woman to be a lady.

Wildness is a thing which girls cannot afford.

Delicacy is a thing which cannot be lost or found.

Ignorance of etiquette is the result of circumstances.

Familiarity, without confidence, without regard, is destructive to all that makes woman exalting and ennobling.


Who was Gail Hamilton?

Gail Hamilton, 1833-1896, was an essayist, journalist, and fiction writer. She was born Mary Abby Dodge in Hamilton, Massachusetts, and lived as a school teacher and governess in New England and Washington, D.C. 
In the late 1850s, she began publishing for the anti-slavery paper, the National Era, under the pen name, Gail Hamilton. She went on publish books on women’s rights, politics, religion, and children’s subjects. 
In 1867, she sued her publisher, Ticknor and Fields, for deliberately underpaying her in relation to the industry norm. Although she was unsuccessful, she "made a significant contribution to the history of the professional (women) writers, and she exposed the Gentleman Publisher’s market for what it really was: a relationship based on power, even when conducted as a friendship" –(Coultrap-McQuin).
                                       
From The Los Angeles Herald, 1887

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Etiquette and Stage Actors

Richard Mansfield, (born May 24, 1854, Berlin, Prussia—died August 30, 1907 in New London, Connecticut, U.S., Mansfield was one of the last of the great romantic actors in the United States.
Stage Managers and Stage Hands Organize to Teach Manners to Richard Mansfield... "and he needs 'em"
The Stage Managers and Stage Hands of America have organized to suppress Richard Mansfield. Thomas Madigan, an opera house employee, is the founder of the organization.
"For sixteen years we have swallowed that fellow's insults," said Stage Manager Richardson today. "We do not propose to tolerate his abuse any longer. We must teach him the rudiments of decorum, politeness, etiquette, ordinary manners and common decency."Special to The Herald, Cleveland Ohio, 1907
Theatre Etiquette is not just for the audience!
A Bit of Theatre Etiquette for Actors 
"Never, ever, ever, ever ‘direct’ your fellow cast members. This offends them and is unprofessional. 
Notes are given by the Director and Stage manager only. If someone does offer you notes, say “Thank you but we should take that through the director.” Imagine how confusing it would be to get conflicting directions and suggestions from several different people. All changes to the production must go through the director. 
Never talk when the director is talking! Do respond and follow directions Quickly to help create a professional atmosphere." –From MasterTalentTeachers.com


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

19th C. Etiquette for Steelworkers

For a contractor to refuse to crown the spider-like steel structure of the framework of his building with Old Glory is, a serious breach of the etiquette of steelworkers, and is liable to cause a "walkout on his job."


Steelworkers Crown Skyscraper Frames with Old Glory to Prevent Death

There is a superstition among structural steel workers that when the highest pinnacle of a building is reached that unless the American flag is raised there that day, one or more men will be killed on the job before the building is complete. 

For a contractor to refuse to crown the spider-like steel structure of the framework of his building with Old Glory is, a serious breach of the etiquette of steelworkers, and is liable to cause a "walkout on his job."

Little Ruth Bergstrom scaled to the top of the dome of the Transportation Building of the Panama "World's Fair in San Francisco upon its completion and planted the American flag while the workmen cheered. In the background can be seen some of the other semi-completed buildings of the fair.
The Day Book from Chicago, Illinois, 1914


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Etiquette and Railroad Dining Cars

Before, and even after plane travel in the 1950s, traveling by train encouraged a new concept of being “on time,” and new rules and etiquette for one's behavior in shared public spaces.
The Dining Car steward on the FSP (Friendly Southern Pacific!) told me last weekend that contrary to accepted etiquette, it’s not only proper but good sense to leave your spoon in the coffee cup—if you are on a moving train.
Pullman created the first dining cars on 1870's –"Numberless cultivated Americans traveling in Europe never by any chance speak English or carry English books on railroad trains, as a protection against the other type of American who allows no one to travel in the same compartment and escape conversation. The only way to avoid unwelcome importunities is literally to take refuge in assuming another nationality." Emily Post
Even aboard today's diessel-powered streamliners, coffee is apt to slosh a bit. He says it won't, however, if the spoon is left in the cup and it works better if the spoon is turned backwards. But look out for those quick gestures, low over the table. And while on the subject of the FSP, I had the nicest smoothest, on-time ride last Friday. D J Russell, president of the FSP was aboard. –The Desert Sun, 1957




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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Etiquette, a Pope and Royalty

Regarding an 1899 visit – When visiting the Pope it is customary to kiss his slipper. The King of Sweden, a staunch Protestant, had not done this when visiting His Holiness. He had shaken hands.
In 1889, Emperor William II visited the Pope. He wished to make the visit in such a manner that the Quirinal might not be offended. He therefore paid his visit from the German Embassy in his own carriage, which had been brought from Berlin. 
To show, however, that he did not mean to make obeisance to the Pope he appeared, in military uniform. When visiting the Pope it is customary to kiss his slipper. The King of Sweden, a staunch Protestant, had not done this when visiting His Holiness. He had shaken hands. 
The Emperor went further. He embraced the Pope. The Empress dressed in white. Papal court etiquette prescribes black dress. This matter of etiquette, however, would have created no offence.
The German Emperor likes to do things out of the common. But, again, Bismarck's intrigues very nearly spoilt the game. The Pope had retired with the Emperor into his private apartments. They were alone. This was an extraordinary privilege and recalled to all the interview between Napoleon and Pius VII in Paris. 
Hardly had Leo XIII retired with his guest when Count Herbert Bismarck, the son of the great statesman, caused the Emperor's brother, Prince Henry, to step into the Pope's room and interrupt the conversation. The visit was at once terminated, and in the excitement the Emperor forgot the agreed arrangements and ordered his coachman to drive to the Quirinal. Personal explanation and presents fortunately set matters right.

I mention this incident to show what extraordinary influence Bismarck had, and how basely he made use of it. He was a clever and a great man. We cannot help admiring him, but we cannot give him our esteem.

It is befitting to conclude this article by a word of praise for the heroic German bishops and priests, for Herr Windhorst, the undaunted leader of the Catholic party in the German Parliament, for the three German Emperors who showed good-will in spite of the opposition of their Governments, and above
 all, for our Holy Father, Pope Leo XIII, who labored so ardently for the spiritual and temporal well-being of his German children.  The Indian Advocate, 1901
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber is the Site Moderator and Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Etiquette of Gilded Age Breakfasts

                                               
Fruit at breakfast does not necessarily demand a waitress. In may be served at each cover before the guests and family seat themselves. It does call for a finger bowl, however. Only when berries or sliced fruits are served can the finger bowl be omitted.


Breakfast is the first meal of the American day. It should be daintily and deftly served. Fruit, cereal and some main dish (bacon, fish, eggs) together with toast, hot rolls or muffins, coffee, tea or cocoa, are its main essentials. The bare, doilied table is popular for breakfast use.


BREAKFAST FRUIT


Fresh pears, plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, mandarins and apples are all served in the same manner—on a plate about six inches across, with a silver fruit knife for quartering and peeling. If a waitress serves, fruit knife and plate are placed first, and then the dish containing the fruit is passed.

Berries—raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, as also baked apples, stewed fruits (peaches, prunes and apricots) and all cooked fruits, are offered in little fruit dishes on service plates, together with powdered (or fine granulated) sugar and cream. Strawberries are sometimes left unhulled, when of “exhibition” size. They then should be served in apple bowls or plates, with powdered sugar on the side.


In serving grapes, the waitress, after supplying fruit plates, passes a compote containing the grapes and offers fruit shears, so that each guest may cut what he or she desire. Cherries are served in the same manner, with the addition of a finger bowl.


When grapefruit is served, it is usually as a half, the core removed and sugar added, on a fruit plate or in a grapefruit bowl, together with an orange spoon.


Oranges may be served from a compote, whole, and may be eaten cut crosswise in halves, with the orange spoon; or peeled and eaten in sections. If oranges are served peeled and sliced on a fruit plate they may be eaten with a fork. Sugar should always be passed when they are eaten in this way. Orange juice is the extracted juice served in small glasses two-thirds full.

                                                        
Oranges may be served from a compote, whole, and may be eaten cut crosswise in halves, with the orange spoon; or peeled and eaten in sections.
Cantaloupe (filled with cracked ice) and honeydew melon (it is smart to accompany the latter with a slice of lemon) are served in halves or quarters, on fruit plates (or special melon dishes) and eaten with a fruit spoon. Sugar, salt and pepper should be offered with these by the waitress. Watermelon is usually cut in wedges or circles. It should always be served very cold, on a large fruit plate, and with fruit knife and fork. If half-melons are served, with the rind, the host cuts egg-shaped pieces from the fruit, and places it on individual plates for passing by the waitress.


Bananas may be served “in the skin” at breakfast, or peeled and sliced, with sugar and cream, or sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice.


Shredded pineapple, sprinkled with sugar, or sliced pineapple (slices an inch thick) may be served from a large dish by the waitress.


Fruit at breakfast does not necessarily demand a waitress. In may be served at each cover before the guests and family seat themselves. It does call for a finger bowl, however. Only when berries or sliced fruits are served can the finger bowl be omitted.

Bananas may be served “in the skin” at breakfast, or peeled and sliced, with sugar and cream, or sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice.
CEREALS

Cereals are a matter of personal taste. Cooked cereals, such as oatmeal, rolled oats, hominy, corn-meal mush and cracked wheat should come on the table hot, and be served in bowls with sugar (brown sugar, if preferred) and cream. Again, the host may serve the cereal from a large porringer, the waitress bringing him the individual bowls, and taking them to the guests when filled. Dry cereals are served in the same way. Puffed grains or flakes gain crispness and flavor when reheated, not browned, before serving.

TOAST

The best breakfast toast is that made at the table over an electric toaster. Be sure, if you have French toast, hot cakes or waffles served, that they come from the kitchen hot. A perforated silver cover should cover the plate containing them to prevent their cooling. Never use a soup plate or bowl for the purpose! The steam cannot escape and the toast grows soggy. Do not forget syrup when waffles, hot cakes or French toast are served. Some prefer cinnamon and sugar to syrup with hot cakes, and they should also be on hand.

BACON

Bacon is the ideal breakfast meat. The rasher of bacon should be served piping hot on a hot silver platter, in crisp, curling slices. Incidentally, it should be just as crisp when it appears with a favorite companion, as “bacon and eggs.”

EGGS

Cooked in the shell (medium or soft-boiled) eggs should be served in an egg cup or egg glass, on a plate, and under cup or glass. Each egg thus served should be accompanied by a silver egg cutter and (unless there is plenty of silver at the cover) a silver spoon.

A vegetable dish or a small plate will do for the hard-boiled egg.

Poached eggs appear in individual shirred egg dishes, to the left of each cover, on small plates with service spoon.

Scrambled eggs are served in individual portions, as above; or distributed by the host from a large platter, and passed by the waitress.

Omelet should be served on a large platter with hot individual service plates before the host. The waitress may pass the individual portions or—it is customary with scrambled eggs—they may be passed from host to guest around the table.

                                                    
Coffee is the favorite and logical breakfast drink, though some prefer tea, cocoa and milk. When tea is the breakfast beverage the samovar takes the place of the percolator.

COFFEE

Coffee is the favorite and logical breakfast drink, though some prefer tea, cocoa and milk. The breakfast coffee service should be placed before the hostess. In its most attractive form it comprises a large silver tray, which holds coffee (or percolator), the hot-water pot, creamer, sugar bowl with tongs, and cups and saucers. (There may also be a bowl for the water used to heat the cups.) When tea is the breakfast beverage the samovar takes the place of the percolator.


The large silver service platter may be dispensed with, if desired, in favor of a tile to hold the coffee urn, the other components of the service being grouped about it. There is a charming touch of intimacy about coffee made at the table with an electric percolator, poured by the hostess and passed at the table (or by a waitress). When the hostess pours she should at the same time ask the guest’s preferences (those of members of the family are supposed to be known) as regards cream and sugar. Cream and sugar always enter the cup first! The true coffee-drinker at once notices a difference in flavor if the coffee first be poured, and the cream and sugar added.

FOR THE CHILDREN
 
If the children eat breakfast with the family, a regular child’s service, with attractive little knives and spoons should be provided, and his whole service, preferably, should be arranged on a tray near the table’s edge. Every child likes to have his own porridge bowl, his mug and little milk pitcher, and having his own table tools teaches him to be neat and self-reliant.
–From Lillian B. Lansdown




Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Renaissance Etiquette and Manners

Etiquette and manners were a response to the violence and crude behaviors run rampant in burgeoning European cities. They were  the means of reinforcing social order and distinguishing the privileged class from everyone else. It was at the dinner table, that these newly defined codes of conduct were especially important.


Italy was one of the leaders of the 16th century and 17th century cultural revolution, and that included table manners. Italian poet Giovanni della Casa advised in "Galateo," his 1558 book on manners: "One should not comb his hair nor wash his hands in public... The exception to this is the washing of the hands when done before sitting down to dinner, for then it should be done in full sight of others, even if you do not need to wash them at all, so that whoever dips into the same bowl as you will be certain of your cleanliness." 



Taking into account that one's hands were also one's "utensils" for hundreds of years, this advice was truly of utmost importance. In his study on the social customs of this period, sociologist Norbert Elias noted that "In good society one does not put both hands into the dish. It is most refined to use only three fingers of the hand. ... Forks scarcely exist, or at most for taking meat from the dish." 



Some of the earliest known uses of forks with food occurred in Ancient Egypt, where large forks were used as cooking utensils. The personal table fork was most likely invented in the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, where they were in common use by the 4th century, though the origins may even go back to Ancient Greece, before the Roman period. By the 9th century, according to records, a similar utensil known as a barjyn was in limited use in Persia within some elite circles. By the 10th century, the table fork was in common use throughout the Middle East. Forks were originally viewed by most in Western Europe, as excessively refined. Forks were also viewed, in the case of men, as a sign of effeminacy.


The custom of Western Europeans using table forks as dining implements began in Italy. They were at first a hit, but forks were slow to catch on in Northern Europe. The use of forks in to get food from plate to mouth didn't didn't gain wide acceptance in Northern Europe until the 17th century—and even then, only the well-to-do could afford them. 
Spoons were communally used—making the etiquette of eating soups a delicate matter. "If what is given is rather fluid," Dutch theologian Erasmus of Rotterdam writes, "take it on a spoon for tasting and return the spoon after wiping it on a napkin.

Some human behaviors were deemed permissible at the dinner table. On passing gas, Erasmus wrote, "If it is possible to withdraw, it should be done alone. But if not, in accordance with the ancient proverb, let a cough hide the sound." Most modern etiquette books advise that "civilized folk will protect others from any sounds or smells that may be displeasing."


This isn't to say that all Renaissance manners are indeed outdated. On respecting fellow diners' personal space, Giovanni Della Casa wrote, "It is also an unsuitable habit to put one's nose over someone else's glass of wine or food to smell it." And Erasmus advised, "It is rude to offer someone what you have half eaten yourself; it is boorish to redip half-eaten bread into the soup." 


Even modern science shows that a great means of spreading bacteria, is re-dipping partially-eaten foods. It certainly gives you an idea of what Renaissance society was trying to improve upon—and how far we've come since that time period. –Some of our sources; Smithsonian.com, 2011 and leitesculinaria.com




Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Etiquette and Gilded Age Servants

The "hired girl" is a phrase which has been banished from good society, and we say instead "the maids." – Servants are very imitative, and if those who employ them are gentle, soft voiced and uniformly polite they become so too. 

It is of great importance that girls who wish to show perfect breeding at every turn should know how to properly treat servants. These dependents, either in one's own household or in the homes of one's friends, are entitled to courtesy and consideration, and there is a well defined etiquette in regard to them.


Some girls act as if their inferiors were not to be recognized except when service is required of them and then adopt a manner of haughty disdain, demanding everything and taking the attitude that the servant is a mere machine. There is, of course, the other extreme that of intimacy with a servant, and the latter attitude is as much to be as the former.


Every girl of wealth in these luxurious days has her own maid and this domestic naturally comes into close contact with her. It is the maid's business to be at the beck and call of her young mistress at all hours, but the mistress should remember that the maid is human and not make unreasonable demands on her. 



It is unreasonable to expect perfection, for none of us possess it in any capacity, and it is unreasonable to expect an intelligence equal to your own, for if the maid had it she would be something of a higher order than a menial. Politeness is an important part of good manners with servants, and you are not only served better when you are courteous but you present to them a model of manners.


Servants are very imitative, and if those who employ them are gentle, soft voiced and uniformly polite they become so too. One should always preface or end an order with "Please," and one should say "Thank you" in acknowledgment of service. Do not say "Thanks," even to a servant as the word is no longer considered good form. Always say "Good morning" to the servants of your household and, also to other people's servants when they are known to you, as in the homes of your intimate friends.


As a rule, young girls rarely give orders to servants with the exception of their own maids, but often give orders for their mothers. There is only one correct form in which to do this. You must not say, "Mary, mother wishes you to go up to her room." But supposing your mother's name to be Mrs. Brown, you should say, "Mary, Mrs. Brown wishes you." etc... The formal prefix applies not only to your mother, but to all the other members of your family. Never say "father," "sister" or "brother" to a maid, but always "Mr. Brown," "Mr. Harold," if that is your brother's name, and "Miss Beatrice," supposing that to be your sister's. 



Do not call or refer to the domestics in your mother's establishment as "girls." The "hired girl" is a phrase which has been banished from good society, and we say instead "the maids" or "the women" when speaking of the servants if they are all of one sex. "When you are staying in other people's houses never give orders of any sort to the maids unless it be that one has been assigned to you for your own personal use, in which case, of course, you treat her as you would your own. Otherwise, when you wish things done, ask permission of the hostess to use a servant for this or that. And when at the table you must not request things directly of the maid, as etiquette requires, that you make your request to the hostess. –1909


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber is the Site Moderator and Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Etiquette and Hospitality from Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, Author and Wife of US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt

"Gracious human contacts are based not upon a material show that accompanies them, but on an intangible meeting of personalities. True hospitality consists of giving the best of yourself to your guests.  The material aspects of your entertainment should consist of the best within the proper limits of your financial position and general circumstances. Anything beyond this is likely to become ostentation and actually an embarrassment and discourtesy.

If you have a neighbor who can afford to drive a very expensive car and change it for a new model every year, and does so, his custom has no bearing whatever on what you do about your car. If he occasionally gives you a ride to the station in his car, accept it graciously and gratefully. If now and then you give him a similar lift in your eight-year-old, much less expensive car, do not apologize. Your courtesy is as great as his. You would lessen it either by making excuses for your car or by going into debt beyond the dictates of wisdom in order to provide yourself with a car as grand and expensive as his.

I know one gracious home to which friends flock gladly, knowing that when they come they will enjoy the pleasantest of hospitality and friendly companionship.  By chance the woman who has made the home what it is, mentioned that in thirty years of marriage she and her husband had bought only four pieces of new furniture. This woman had undoubtedly the good luck to inherit much of the furniture she really needed and the good sense to realize that good pieces, while they may not be in fashion today, will always come back and be fashionable again. Certainly the atmosphere of a home is more interesting when several generations have lived with certain pieces of furniture than any decorator's buying can create."

True hospitality comes from the heart, and is not the product of ostentatious and expensive material surroundings. You will pay true courtesy to others by giving the best of yourself and by not trying to imitate others who put on a showier front then you are able to do, or than it is in your nature to do."
From Eleanor Roosevelt's, 1962 "Book Of Common Sense Etiquette"


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Etiquette of Faire la Bise

Social kissing in France is a cultural labyrinth, but former French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, seems to have mastered the art of the kiss. Keep in mind, "faire la bise" bears no relation to "French kissing" or "le baiser" as immortalized by Rodin. 

The Art and Etiquette of the French, "Faire la bise"or French Cheek Kissing


In most all of France, public displays of affection are ubiquitous; kissing, vigorous handshaking, and hugging included. But the air kisses known as "faire la bise," can be seen as an expression of mutual respect, or as affection. Faire la bise can be witnessed in doctor's waiting rooms, in the streets, outdoor cafés and even in the market place. 


A popular French joke is that you may recognize the city you are in by counting the number of cheek kisses, as it is so varied across the country. 
An online map of France even shows the number of kisses currently claimed to be used in each region. It shows it's more common in the southern parts of France, even between males, whether they be relatives or friends. In the north however, it is less usual for two unrelated males to share 'la bise'.


In the Netherlands and Belgium cheek kissing is commonly used as a greeting between relatives and friends. But women will kiss both women and men, while men will kiss women and refrain from kissing other men.  They prefer to shake hands, especially with strangers. Usually three kisses are exchanged 
in the Netherlands and the Dutch part of Belgium. The same is found to be true in Switzerland. In Francophone Belgium, the custom is usually one or three kisses.


On occasion, you may exchange bises with the same person three times: when you arrive, 
congratulating an achievement or thanking him or her for a gift, and then again when one is leaving.
      
"le baiser" as immortalized by Rodin

Faire la Bise: The Parisian Double Air Kiss 

With regard to etiquette, in la bise, the kisses (there should be at a minimum two) are aimed at alternate cheeks. No one can seem to agree on which cheek gets the first bise, but everyone agrees that the lips remain closed.

An online map of France, shows the number of kisses currently used in each region:
                                                       
This map, created by Radical Cartography, shows how many times French people in different regions typically kiss one another when they greet. Source– The Economist
  • One kiss is the preferred option in only two départements: Finistère at the western tip of Brittany and Deux-Sèvres in the Poitou-Charentes region.
  • Elsewhere in Poitou-Charentes, three kisses are preferred: in the departments of Vienne and Charente. The largest block of three-kiss-départements is located in the southeast. Trois bises are the thing to do in Ardèche, Aveyron, Cantal, Drôme, Haute Loire, Hautes Alpes, Hérault, Gard, Lozère and Vaucluse.
  • Four kisses are de rigueur in a large region in northeastern France. Apart from the isolated coastal département of Pas de Calais, this is a contiguous area, consisting of 22 départements from Normandy to the Belgian border: Ardennes, Aube, Calvados, Eure, Eure et Loire, Haute Marne, Indre, Indre et Loire, Loire et Cher, Loire Atlantique, Loiret, Maine et Loire, Manche, Marne, Mayenne, Orne, Sarthe, Seine et Marne, Seine-St-Denis, Val d’Oise, Vendée and Yonne.
  • The rest of the country is two-kisses territory, apart from the same département in northeast Paris that stood out by turning Royal red amidst a sea of Sarkozy blue in the first round of the French presidential elections that year. 


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Etiquette of Dinner Conversation

One tip – Make sure you take the cue at the serving of each course, to “turn” from the hostess; to either the guest sitting to your left or the guest sitting to your right. That way, everyone seated at the table can take equal part and enjoyment in conversing.


Gilded Age Advice for Dinner-Table Talk


The conversation at the dinner-table should be general, unless the company is large, and the table too long to admit of it. But in any case, each one is responsible first of all for keeping up a pleasant chat with his or her partner, and not allowing that one to be neglected while attention is riveted on some aggressively brilliant talker at the other end of the table. No matter how uninteresting one's partner may be, one must be thoughtful and entertaining; and such kind attention may win the life-long gratitude of a timid debutante, or the equally unsophisticated country cousin.

Dinner-table talk should be affable. The host and hostess must be alert to turn the conversation from channels that threaten to lead to antagonisms of opinion; and each guest should feel that it is more important just now to make other people happy than to gratify his impulse to " floor" them on the tariff question. In short, at dinner, as under most social conditions, the watchword ever in mind should be, "Not to myself alone." – 
From "Etiquette: An Answer to the Riddle When? Where? How??" By Agnes H. Morton



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Courting Etiquette in 19th C. Mexico

No gentleman is allowed to call upon a lady until after he has been regularly introduced by some intimate friend or relative of the family...
There is probably no country in the world where etiquette is more strictly observed than in Mexico, and the following are some of its peculiarities : The windows of all the residences in Northern, and I might say in all, Mexico are barred with an iron or wooden grating, projecting a few inches toward the sidewalk and forming a sort of balcony. The object of this is to separate all gentlemen not properly introduced and vouched for from meeting the ladies of the house. No gentleman is allowed to call upon a lady until after he has been regularly introduced by some intimate friend or relative of the family, who becomes responsible for the visitor's conduct. This is never done until his character, personal habits, and the standing of his family are known. If the introduction and standing of the party are satisfactory, he is then permitted to call upon the lady of the house, and she can receive him only in the presence of some member of the family or trusted friend, who is expected not to leave the room while the caller is present. 

If the caller is a young man and he calls upon a young lady, then her mother or some lady friend of the family is always present, and she does most of the entertaining. When the young man calls three or four times, it is presumed that he knows what he wants, and it is therefore expected that he will at once seek the hand of the lady in marriage, but if he fails to declare his intentions, then the father or the oldest son, if living — if not, then the uncle or some other member of the family— invites the young gentleman to come forward and state the objects of his visits, or discontinue them. The young lady is never allowed to ride or drive alone with the gentlemen ; neither is she allowed to walk upon the street, visit any friend, nor attend a public ball, unless she is accompanied by some member of the family or a trusted lady friend. Neither gentleman or lady is expected to either converse or promenade the street or plaza, or to exchange any but the commonest courtesies. 
It is a common sight to see young Mexicans standing before the windows of the houses, with one hand on the window bars, and the other holding the inevitable cigarette, laughing and chatting, as if he were the most privileged of wooers.

After being introduced, the gentleman is always expected to recognize the lady first, and if he fails to do that soon after his introduction, it is understood that he desires to cut her acquaintance. At a public ball, or at a dinner at the house of a friend, then both ladies and gentlemen may dance and converse at pleasure, for then they are in the presence ot mutual friends. If the gentleman desires to form the acquaintance of a lady, or has not been properly introduced and vouched for, then he can only admire her at a distance, send billets doux (love letters), or at least talk to her through the bars of her window, which is only large enough to admit the hand and arm. It is a common sight to see young Mexicans standing before the windows of the houses, with one hand on the window bars, and the other holding the inevitable cigarette, laughing and chatting, as if he were the most privileged of wooers. – From Correspondence Inter-Ocean, 1883



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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Etiquette, Respect and Wise Mothers

She does not begin with exhaustive attention to the minutia of etiquette, knowing that way lies the danger of making her boys prigs and her girls self-conscious society misses before they are in their teens. 

The Wise Mother

Your wise mother is not given to worrying over trifles, says Harper's Bazar. She does not expect perfection in a day. And she has put from her, as far as the East is from the West, the ghastly possibility of setting vanity up in the room of love. So she does not begin with exhaustive attention to the minutia of etiquette, knowing that way lies the danger of making her boys prigs and her girls self-conscious society misses before they are in their teens. 

She lays down as the law of her household the broad principles of respect for elders, reverence for women, kindliness for all; and she permeates the home atmosphere with her finest conception of the deference and the sympathy due from soul to soul. Her children very early delight to place a chair for grandmother and to save father steps. They learn to be proud of that restraint, which enables them to keep self in the background, and to defer to brother and sister. It never enters their heads that servants are less worthy of respect than other people. 

They are unabashed in the presence of wealth and power as they are tender toward suffering and poverty. When she teaches them from time to time her code of manners — and she is careful to perfect it according to her best judgment—she teaches it for home use, and it becomes fixed by becoming natural. –The Daily Alta, 1891

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Gilded Age Dinner Etiquette "Extras"

Fruit-knives are required, and ice-spoons, orange spoons, and other unique conceits in silver utensils may be provided with the dessert, if one happens to own them...

Miscellaneous Points of the Gilded Age Dinner

Extra knives and forks are brought in with any course that requires them. The preliminary lay-out is usually meant to provide all that the scheme of the dinner will call for; but one must have a goodly supply of silver and cutlery to avoid altogether the necessity for having some of it washed and returned to the table during the progress of the dinner. It is very desirable to be amply equipped, as it facilitates the prompt and orderly serving of the courses.

Fruit-knives are required, and ice-spoons, orange spoons, and other unique conceits in silver utensils may be provided with the dessert, if one happens to own them; otherwise, plain forks and spoons do duty as required. The fork bears the chief burden of responsibility, being used for everything solid or semi-solid, leaving the spoon to the limited realm of soft custards and fruits that are so juicy as to elude the tines of the fork.

The knife is held in hand as little as possible, being used only when cutting is actually necessary, the fork easily separating most vegetables, etc. In the fish course, however, the knife is used to assist in removing the troublesome small bones.

In holding the knife the fingers should not touch the blade, except that the forefinger rests upon the upper edge not far below the shank when the cutting requires some firmness of pressure. The dinner knife should be sharp enough to perform its office without too much muscular effort, or the possible accident of a duck's wing flying unexpectedly " from cover" under the ill-directed stress of a despairing carver's hand. I have seen the component parts of a fricasseed chicken leave the table, not untouched— oh! no; every one had been sawing at it for a half an hour—but uneaten it certainly was, for obvious reasons. The cutlery was pretty, but practically unequal to even spring chicken.                               
The fork bears the chief burden of responsibility, being used for everything solid or semi-solid, leaving the spoon to the limited realm of soft custards and fruits that are so juicy as to elude the tines of the fork.
The fork is held with the tines curving downward, that position giving greater security to the morsel, and is raised laterally, the points being turned, as it reaches the mouth, just enough to deposit the morsel between the slightly-parted lips. During this easy movement the elbow scarcely moves from its position at the side, a fact gratefully appreciated by one's next neighbor. What is more awkward than the arm projected, holding the fork pointing backward at a right angle to the lips, the mouth opening wide like an automatic railway gate to an approaching locomotive—the labored and ostentatious way in which food is sometimes transported to its destination? Nor, once in the mouth, is it lost to sight forever. Other people, seated opposite, are compelled to witness it in successive stages of the grinding process, as exhibited by the constant opening and shutting of the mouth during mastication, or laughing and talking with the mouth full—faults of heedless people of energetic but not refined manners.

Liquids are sipped from the side of the spoon, without noise or suction. In serving vegetables the tablespoon is inserted laterally, not " point first."

Celery is held in the fingers, asparagus also, unless the stalks are too tender. Green corn may be eaten from the cob, a good set of natural teeth being the prime requisite. It may be a perfectly graceful performance if daintily managed.

The management of fruits in the dessert is another test of dainty skill. Oranges may be eaten in different ways; they may be cut in half across the sections, and the cells scooped out with a spoon; or they may be peeled and separated. The pegs of a large Florida orange can be skinned with the point of a sharp fruit-knife, and the seeds removed, leaving only the juicy pulp to be conveyed to the mouth. Practice enables one easily to "make way with" an orange. Bananas are peeled and held in the fingers, or, if very mealy, they may be cut into "bites" and eaten with a fork. Juicy pears and peaches may be managed in the same way, at discretion, the rule being that the fingers should touch as little as possible fruits that are decidedly mushy.

The finger-bowl stands ready to repair all damages of the nature suggested. The fingers are dipped in the water and gently rinsed, and then passed lightly over the lips, and both mouth and fingers are wiped upon the napkin.

At a signal from the hostess, the ladies rise and return to the drawing-room. The gentlemen follow immediately, or remain a short time for another glass of wine, when such is the provision of the host.
 – From "Etiquette: An Answer to the Riddle When? Where? How??" By Agnes H. Morton



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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Gilded Age Etiquette of Informal Dinners

"No matter how uninteresting one's partner may be, one must be thoughtful and entertaining..."


The informal dinner, daily served in thousands of refined American homes, is a much less pretentious affair than the name "dinner" technically implies. In most cases the service is but partially à la Russe, most courses, and all the entires, being set on the table, the serving and " helping " being done by some member of the family; the presence of a waitress being sometimes dispensed with except at transition points ; as, when the table is cleared before the dessert. This formality is the most decided dinner feature of the meal,which throughout its progress has been conducted more like a luncheon. Yet, in all essential points of mannerliness, the family dinner is governed by the same rules that control the formal banquet.


It is perhaps needless to remark that the dinner à la Russe  in its perfection cannot be carried out without a number of competent servants. These may be hired when some special occasion warrants extra preparations for due formality. But for customary ''entertaining," those who "live quietly," with possibly but one domestic to assist with the dinner, will show good sense in not attempting anything more imposing than they are able to compass successfully. The "family dinner" has a dignity of its own when in keeping with all the conditions; and though its menu may be simple, its service unpretentious, it may be the gracious exponent of a hospitality "fit for a king."


At the informal dinner it is customary to seat the guests in the order in which they enter the dining-room, without assigning any place of distinction; all the places at table being held of equal honor —comfort and convenience being the things chiefly considered.
From "Etiquette: An Answer to the Riddle When? Where? How??" By Agnes H. Morton


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Saturday, September 12, 2015

A 19th C. Etiquette Lament

Politeness Has Vanished
A few of the people in this room have no idea of the kindly spirit that seeks to make things pleasant for the humblest stranger, as well as for the guest.


I am not an old woman, and yet I have lived long enough to see the almost utter decadence of old-fashioned virtues. Take politeness, for instance—simple, old-fashioned politeness, that sprung from the heart, like a rose from the root. How little we see of it nowadays. 


We see a great deal of what you call company manners, learned from a book of etiquette, perhaps; but the kindly spirit that seeks to make things pleasant for the humblest stranger, as well as for the guest who comes in the van of a trumpeting herald, is growing rarer each year.


What if it does cost a little trouble to answer a question, or drop your task to direct a stranger; what is the use of being in the world at all if not to lend a helping hand where we can and make folks happy? 

The courtesy that is only shown to people we know, and to people who can respond perhaps in kind, is a spurious courtesy, as different from old-time politeness as a pink made of muslin to a sweet, carnation that grows in the garden and woos the bees. — Philadelphia Times, 1895




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Friday, September 11, 2015

Etiquette and Conversation

Harper's Bazaar's 1893 Hints on Conversation
"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." ~Dorothy Nevill

It has been recently stated that conversation is a lost art. Certainly the listener appears to be out of date. Persons who have regard for the usages of polite society should remember that listening is one of the canons of good manners. 


Absent mindedness is impolite. Every one is entitled to have a fair share of attention paid him when conversing. If one is bored, courtesy demands he should listen and appear to appreciate the story that is related on the subject under discussion. A writer on social etiquette once remarked that "nine times out of ten the attentive listener is more admired than the most brilliant talker." 

Avoid in conversation all mention of your own affairs. The clever woman guards her hearthstone, its sorrows, troubles and annoyances, as carefully as she does the sacredness of her religion. The world admires your cheerfulness, your attractiveness, your brightness. Your griefs belong to yourself. They are your inner life, which should be closed with iron portals. Even if your heart breaks, recollect the critical public at all times, likes a smiling face and cheerful manner. —Harper's Bazar, 1893



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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Etiquette and the Unfamiliar

It's sad, but true; People will judge you by how you stand, walk, talk and evidently, how you eat your celery or oysters. So it is good to learn all the etiquette and manners one can, in preparation of social success.

"The prettiest face in Christendom will not counteract glaring signs of ill-breeding. I can call to mind a perfect specimen of young womanhood who came from the heather fields of Scotland to a city famed for its culture; She was a joy to the eye, healthy, sweet, young and gifted with that greatest of all blessings — style. As you might imagine, masculine attention awaited her at every turn, and among her admirers was a wealthy bachelor, who gave a dinner in her honor. 
The girl had one other gift that I forgot to mention — she talked very little, and was thus able to hide many deficiencies in education. Her great beauty would cover up minor faults, naturally. To the dinner, over which I would not dare say how much time and thought had been poured by the host, went this girl and her married sister. It was perfect in every detail and the guest of honor did it credit by her irreproachable toilet. Amongst other good things out of season was celery, which, when passed to the young woman, was accepted as a matter of course, although she had never seen a piece until that evening. She calmly ate the leaves and discarded the succulent stalks, while her host was simply helpless from amazement. He ate little or nothing, was uncommonly silent all through the meal, and ended his attentions when he deposited the girl and her chaperon at the outer door of their home. She wondered at the falling off, but never knew the reason— that she had cured him of his infatuation by a bad break which, everybody noticed. 
Look for etiquette clues and cues from others who are socially welcome everywhere. You'll find that grooming before dinner, away from the table, makes a much better impression on others. As does watching how hosts and hostesses use their dinglehoppers.
Two years later I met her again, still healthy and pretty, still stylish, but with a tinge of coarseness in her manner which savored of companionship somewhat lower in the social scale. She had drifted downward simply because she did not possess tact enough to make the most of her advantages, and had grown bitter with the change. You see, she was not the least bit clever, despite her ambition. She could not adapt herself to circumstances — those in which a kind fate had placed her. She ought to have avoided strange food, like celery, until she had learned something of it: she should have been able to assume good manners by imitating those near her. Lack of this kind of cleverness deprived her of worldly advantages to which her stock of good looks entitled her, yet she did not seem to be able to avoid the vulgarity which is now her portion. 
In contrast to this, I can cite the case of another girl to whom nature had been unkind. She had not a single personal charm outside of small and delicately formed hands and feet, both of which were made much of, by the way. As compensation for her ugliness she was given a brain which landed her at the top of the line of fortune's favorites, and she is now enjoying the fruits of it. I do not think more than one story will be necessary to give an idea of her nature.
She was dining with a number of state dignitaries who were being entertained on shipboard. It was a brilliant occasion, and the opening course of the elaborate dinner was the usual plate of oysters. She took one and suddenly realized that it was not all it should be. Just then a prominent man at her right turned toward her with a remark which called for an answer, and all hope of getting rid of the oyster except by way of the throat was gone. It required some will power to avoid a breach in good manners, but it saved her from something far more unpleasant than the flavor of a bad oyster— the sacrifice of a position she was striving to hold against heavy odds. It was by just such means that she realized her ambitions and became an honored member of society, not the little circle of 400 or so fashionable and wealthy folk, but the big, big world of refined men and women. By tact she won, by tact she will retain her hold upon the world. –By Mrs. Martha Taft Wentworth, in San Francisco Call, 1901



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