Continued front page 1118, Part 9
By "Madge" (Mrs. Humphry)
Breakfast at a big country house is a variable meal. Some of the guests have it in their bedrooms, and those who come downstairs for it do so at any hour they prefer. One hostess made herself very popular by putting on the little list hung in her guestrooms, among hours of letter delivery and collection:
" Breakfast before Luncheon."
This list, by the way, is extremely useful. It gives the hours of meals, postal and telegraphic information, date of any entertainment about to take place in the neighbourhood, such as balls or theatricals, and any other items that the hostess may think likely to be useful.
Plans for the day are usually discussed at breakfast, and here again there is strong contrast between Victorian days and the present. The host or hostess used to suggest some plan that they had devised for giving pleasure to their visitors; but now, as often as not, the guests have mapped out their own day, and tell their entertainers what they think of doing. Sometimes it is more or less subtly suggested that the use of the motorcar for a few hours would be appreciated. There are women who know how to " manage " their hostess so cleverly as to make it appear that any such suggestion has come from her, not from themselves, even combating the offer when made with some appearance of vigour, though it is precisely what they had been leading up to all the time. But this " management " does not always make for future invitations.
Arranging the Dinner-table
The rigid rules of etiquette that once governed the allotment of places at the dinner-table are now replaced by many informal methods, except in the case of dinners to which guests are bidden in any numbers additional to the house-party. At these, and also on the first evening of a large party assembling, the rules of precedence are carefully followed. But afterwards there are many ways of varying the dinner partners. Not infrequently some of the guests themselves come to an understanding during the day as to whom they shall sit next. Sometimes lots are drawn. Sometimes the names of the men are written on slips of paper and put in a bag, and the women draw from it while it is half-closed, so that they cannot read the names; or, vice versa, the men draw the names of possible partners.
An Age of Easy Manners
The shopping plan is sometimes followed - firms with two names are chosen. The names are written separately and put in a bag. Who ever draws the name of one partner in the firm pairs off with the person who draws the other. In sporting houses the names of horses and owners are utilised after the same fashion.
A free and easy manner has become a characteristic of our highest class. The upper middle-class young man still jumps up to open the door for his hostess or any other lady, asks permission to smoke a cigarette in her presence, and conforms in other ways to the rules of ten years since.
The question of tipping servants arises at the end of a visit. Like all things, tips have increased in amount during the last fifteen years. Men-servants expect far more than in former years. There is now the host's chauffeur, too, to reckon with, and his demands are not small. An extraordinary custom is permitted at a few country houses. On the day when a guest terminates a visit the men-servants are allowed to throw themselves in his or her way, and they have to be tipped.
On the other hand, it is the rule in some country houses to forbid tips. In such cases the hostess makes some special arrangement with her servants. Otherwise they would consider themselves ill-used, for tips amount to large sums in houses where constant relays of guests are entertained. The Tip Problem
The amount given as a tip depends on circumstances, and particularly on the position and social standing of the visitor. The following remarks apply to guests in the same set as their host, who is supposed to be a man of the wealthy upper classes. The butler will expect a sovereign for a few days' visit. If there have been many motor-car rides, the chauffeur will expect from half a sovereign upwards. If he only meets the guest at the station and drives him back to it, five shillings or three half-crowns will do. This, too, will meet the case of a woman visitor. For a week-end visit she will give five shillings to the maid who looks after her room, half a crown to the footman or parlourmaid who carries down her luggage when she is leaving, and a similar amount to the coachman who drives her to the station. A chauffeur will expect more. If her luggage is sent on some other vehicle, she will find the driver of it waiting to be remembered.
For longer visits the tips would be in proportion to the length. A girl is not expected to give such liberal tips as her married friends. Married couples pay their tips separately, the man giving something to the butler, his wife to the parlourmaid and housemaid, sometimes to the housekeeper if she has to avail herself of her services in any way. Should a man-servant have valeted the husband, the latter should give him a tip.
At the conclusion of a ten-days' visit to a house where there is no shooting, the money spent on tips sometimes amounts to five pounds.