Without a perfect knowledge of the art of Carving, it is impossible to perform the honors of the table with propriety; and nothing can be more disagreeable to one of a sensitive disposition, than to behold a person, at the head of a well-furnished board, hacking the finest joints, and giving them the appearance of having been gnawed by dogs.
It also merits attention in an economical point of view - a bad carver will mangle joints so as not to be able to fill half a dozen plates from a sirloin of beef, or a large tongue; which, besides creating a great difference in the daily consumption in families, often occasions disgust in delicate persons, causing them to loathe the provisions, however good, which are set before them, if helped in a clumsy manner.
I cannot, therefore, too strongly urge the study of this useful branch of domestic economy; and I doubt not that whoever pays due attention to the following instructions, will, after a little practice, without which all precept is unavailing, speedily acquire the reputation of being a good carver.
I have prefixed a few Hints on the Etiquette of the Dinner Table, which I trust will be found useful. In that, however, much must be left to a quick and observant eye, and a determination to render yourself as agreeable as possible.
The important day on which you feast your friends being arrived, you will be duly prepared to receive the first detachment. It were almost needless to observe that the brief interval before dinner is announced may be easily filled up by the commonplace inquiries after health, and observations on the weather; as the company increases, provided they were previously acquainted, you will find your labors in keeping up the conversation very agreeably diminished.
While your guests are awaiting the announcement of dinner, it will be expedient that you should intimate to the gentlemen of the party, as unobtrusively as possible, which lady you wish each to take in charge, that, when the moment arrives for your adjournment to the. dining-room, there may not be half a dozen claimants for the honor of escorting la plus belle of the party, while some plain demoiselle is under the painful necessity of escorting herself. Such a scene as this should be carefully provided against by the mode above suggested.
When dinner is announced, you will rise and request your friends to proceed to the dining-room, yourself leading the way, in company with your most distinguished female visitor, followed immediately by the hostess, accompanied by the gentleman who has the best claim to such an honor. The remainder of the guests then follow, each gentleman accompanied by the lady previously pointed out to him.