Whether it be a family dinner without guests, or a formal occasion, a man shows courtesy and breeding by waiting until the ladies have been seated. At a luncheon or dinner, a woman waits politely until her hostess is seated and a young girl does not take her place until each older woman has taken hers.
One should sit erect and neither lounge nor bend forward while eating. A seat drawn too closely throws out the elbows, one too far away and crooks the back. The proper compromise is a position in which the waist or chest is about eight inches from the table.
While at the table, it is not considered good manners to put one's elbows on the table, to trifle with the knives and forks or to clink the glasses. When not occupied, the hands should be quietly in the lap, for nothing so marks the well-bred gentleman or lady as repose at the table. — The Bride's Book, 1907
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