Table Etiquette 1910

Good Manners For All Occasions 
by Margaret E. Sangster, 
was published in 1910.

Here is an excerpt from the book about Table Etiquette: 

Mrs. Sangster At Home

"Set yourself in an upright position — not too close to nor yet 
too far from the table. 

Take your napkin, partially unfold it, and lay it across your 
lap. It is not the correct thing to fasten it to your buttonhole 
or spread it over your breast. 

Do not trifle with your knife or fork, or drum on the table, 
or fidget in any way, while waiting to be served. 

Keep your hands quietly in your lap, your mind composed 
and pleasantly fixed upon the conversation. Let all your 
movements be easy and deliberate. Undue haste indicates a 
nervous lack of ease. 

Should grace be said, you will give the most reverent 
attention in respectful silence during the ceremony. 

Exhibit no impatience to be served. During the intervals 
between the courses is your opportunity for displaying your 
conversational abilities to those sitting near you. Pleasant 
chat and witty remarks compose the best possible sauce to a 
good dinner. 

Eat slowly ; it will contribute to your good health as well as 
your good manners. Thorough mastication of your food is 
necessary to digestion. An ordinary meal should occupy from 
thirty minutes to an hour. 
You may not desire the soup, which is usually the first 
course, but you should not refuse to take it. You can eat as 
much or as little as you please, but you would look awkward sitting 
with nothing before you while the others are eating. 

When eating soup take it from the side of the spoon, and 
avoid making any noise in so doing. 

Should you be asked by the host what part of the fowl 
you prefer, always have a choice, and mention promptly which 
you prefer. Nothing is more annoying than to have to serve 
two or three people who have no preferences and will take 

Never place waste matter on the tablecloth. The side of 
your plate, or perhaps your bread and butter plate, will answer 
as a receptacle for bones, potato skins, etc. 

You will use your fork to convey all your food to your 
mouth, except it may be certain sauces that would be more 
conveniently eaten with a spoon. For instance, you should 
not attempt to eat peas with anything except a silver fork.
If there is none, use a spoon. 

The knife is used only for cutting meat and other articles 
of food, for spreading butter on bread, etc. 
Here is a summary of blunders to avoid : 

Do not eat fast. 

Do not make noise with mouth or throat. 

Do not fill the mouth too full. 

Do not open the mouth in masticating. 

Do not leave the table with food in your mouth. 

Be careful to avoid soiling the cloth. 

Never carry any part of the food with you from the table. 

Never apologize to a waitress for making trouble; it is her 
business to serve you. It is proper, however, to treat her with 
courtesy, and say, "No, I thank you," or "If you please," in 
answer to her inquiries. 

Do not introduce disgusting or unpleasant topics of conversation. 

Do not pick your teeth or put your finger in your mouth at 
the table. 

Do not come to table in your shirt sleeves, or with soiled 
hands or tousled hair. 

Do not cut your bread ; break it. 

Do not refuse to take the last piece of bread or cake ; it 
looks as though you imagined there might be no more. 

Do not express a preference for any part of a dish unless 
asked to do so." 
Do we lack table manners nowadays?
Is any of this still taught?
Should it be?
What do you think?

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