The formal dinner is one of the most important occasions in social life, the test to which the degree of acquaintance of any one with the customs of good society is often put, the trial scene of good breeding and familiarity with polite observance. The rules to be observed at table are so many and minute that they require careful study, and many who pass muster on less formal occasions, may sadly err in some of the indispensible details of the etiquette of the table.

In ordinary, informal dinners, indeed, this strictness of observance is not demanded, and much more freedom is permissible, the home feeling here taking the place of ceremonious rules. Yet even here it is important to avoid falling into too great a latitude of action, since habits formed at home are very apt to accompany one abroad.