THE dinner-hour will completely test the refinement, the culture and good breeding which the individual may possess. To appear advantageously at the table, the person must not only understand the laws of etiquette, but he must have had the advantage of polite society. It is the province of this chapter to show what the laws of the table are. It will be the duty of the reader, in the varied relations of life, to make such use of them as circumstances shall permit.

Rules To Be Observed

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

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

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

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

Possibly grace will be said by some one present, and the most respectful attention and quietude should be observed until the exercise is passed.

It is the most appropriate time, while you wait to be served, for you to put into practice your knowledge of small talk and pleasant words with those whom you are sitting near. By interchange of thought, much valuable information may be acquired at the table.

Do not be impatient to be served. "With social chitchat and eating, the meal-time should always be prolonged from thirty minutes to an hour.

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.

If soup comes first, and you do not desire it, you will simply say, "No, I thank you," but make no comment; or you may take it and eat as little as you choose. The other course will be along soon. In receiving it you do not break the order of serving; it looks odd to see you waiting while all the rest are partaking of the first course. Eccentricity should be avoided as much as possible at the table.

The soup should be eaten with a medium-sized spoon, so slowly and carefully that you will drop none upon your person or the table-cloth. Making an effort to get the last drop, and all unusual noise when eating, should be avoided.

Fig. 9 The general arrangement of the table set for a party of twelve persons. The plates are often left off, and furnished by the waiter afterwards.

Fig. 9 The general arrangement of the table set for a party of twelve persons. The plates are often left off, and furnished by the waiter afterwards.

Fig. 10. Relative position of plate, napkin, goblet, salt cup, knife and fork, when the table is set.

Fig. 10. Relative position of plate, napkin, goblet, salt-cup, knife and fork, when the table is set.

If asked at the next course what you desire, you will quietly state, and upon its reception you will, without display, proceed to put your food in order for eating. If furnished with potatoes in small dishes, you will put the skins back into the dish again; and thus where there are side-dishes all refuse should be placed in them - otherwise potato-skins will be placed upon the table-cloth, and bones upon the side of the plate. If possible, avoid putting waste matter upon the cloth. Especial pains should always be taken to keep the table-cover as clean as may be.