Wednesday, August 8, 2018

23 Victorian Dining Rules

Though catalogs and shops in the 1870’s, 1880’s and 1890’s featured the newest and latest designs in tableware, knowledge of the “correct fork” to use is nowhere on this list of good table manners for guests, and hosts, alike. Knowing all of the correct utensils is wonderful, but the premise of good manners being based on kindness towards our fellow man, remains the same. 


Dining at the 19th C. Table

True politeness has its origin in Christian charity and kindness. All standard rules of etiquette were founded for the greater convenience and happiness of all the members of society. Although the reasons may not be obvious at first sight, they exist, and will be apparent on a careful consideration. 
  1. Do not keep others waiting for you, either at the beginning or at the close of the meal. 
  2. Do not sip soup from the tip, but from the side of the spoon. 
  3. Be careful not to drop nor spill anything on the table cloth. 
  4. Keep your plate neat; do not heap all sorts of food on it at once. 
  5. In passing your plate to be refilled, retain the knife and fork. 
  6. When asked for a dish, do not shove, but hand it. 
  7. While drinking, do not look around. 
  8. Instruct the servant to hand the cup at the left side, so that it may be received by the right hand. 
  9. Do not drink your tea or coffee without first removing the teaspoon from the cup to the saucer. 
  10. Use the knife for cutting only; never put it to the lips nor in the mouth. 
  11. Break your bread into small pieces and rest them on your plate while spreading. 
  12. Do not eat too fast. Besides giving one the appearance of greed, it is not healthy. 
  13. If you find anything disagreeable in your food, put it aside as quietly as possible, without drawing the attention of anyone to it. 
  14. Do not open the lips nor make any unnecessary noise in chewing. 
  15. Do not touch the head. 
  16. Do not rest the elbows on the table. 
  17. Do not speak with the mouth full. 
  18. Brush the table neatly before bringing on the dessert. 
  19. Be thoughtful and attentive to the wants of those about you. 
  20. Converse on pleasant subjects with those sitting near you. 
  21. Do not say anything not intended for all present to hear. 
  22. Leave your plate with the knife and fork lying parallel, the handles pointing to the right. 
  23. Never leave the table before others, without asking the lady or gentleman who presides to excuse you. — Russian River Flag, 1871

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