Manners, at table and elsewhere, are made for the convenience and comfort of men, and all social observances have now, or have had at some time, a good reason and sound common sense behind them. It must be remembered. however, that the source of all good manners is a nice perception of, and kind consideration for, not only the rights, but the feelings and even the whims of others. The customs of society are adopted and observed to enable us to be more agreeable, or at least not disagreeable, to friends And nowhere is the distinction between the gentleman and the boor more marked than at the table. Some persons are morbidly sensitive, and even slight improprieties create disgust; and every true gentleman is bound to respect their sensitiveness and avoid giving pain, whether in sympathy with the feeling or not.
As this is not an etiquette book, we can only give a few hints. Once seated at table, gloves are drawn off and laid in the lap under the napkin, which is spread lightly, not tucked in. Raw oysters are eaten with a fork; soup from the side of a spoon without noise, or tipping the plate. The mouth should not go to the food, but food to the mouth. Eat without noise and with the lips closed. Friends will not care to see how you masticate your food, unless they are of a very investigating turn of mind. Bread should be broken, not cut, and should be eaten by morsels, and not broken into soup or gravy. It is in bad taste to mix food on the plate. Fish must be eaten with the fork. Macaroni is cut and cheese crumbled on the plate, and eaten with a fork. Pastry should be broken and eaten with a fork, never cut with a knife. Game and chicken are cut, but never eaten with the bones held in the fingers. Oranges are peeled without breaking the inner skin, being held meantime on a fork. Pears are pared while held by the stem. Cherry-stones, or other substances which are to be removed from the mouth, are passed to the napkin held to the lips, and then returned to the plate. Salt must be left on the side of the plate, and never on the table-cloth. Cut with the knife, but never put it in the mouth; the fork must convey the food, and may be held in either hand as convenient. (Of course, when the old-fashioned two-tined fork is used, it would be absurd to practice this rule.) Food that can not be held with a fork should be eaten with a spoom. Never help yourself to butter or any other food with your own knife or fork. Never pick your teeth at table, or make any sound with the mouth in eating. Bread eaten with meat should not be buttered. Bread and butter is a dish for dessert. Eat slowly for both health and manners. Do not lean your arms on the table, or sit too far back, or lounge. Pay as little attention as possible to accidents. When asked " what do you prefer ?"* name some part at once. When done, lay your knife and fork side by side on the plate, with handles to the right. When you rise from your chair leave it where it stands. Of course, loud talking or boisterous conduct is entirely out of place at table, where each should appear at his best, practicing all he can of the amenities of life, and observing all he knows of the forms of good society.