Don’t – At the Table

Vignettes from Don’t: Manual of Mistakes and Improprieties More or Less Prevalent in Conduct and Speech.

At the Table –

  • Don’t come to breakfast in deshabille. A lady’s morning toilet should be simple, but fresh and tasteful, and her hair not in curl-papers. A gentleman should wear his morning suit, and never his dressing-gown. There are men who sit at table in their shirt-sleeves. This is very vulgar.
  • Don’t tuck your napkin under your chin, or spread it upon your breast. Bibs and tuckers are for the nursery. Don’t spread your napkin over your lap; let it fall over your knee.
  • Don’t devour the last mouthful of soup, the last fragment of bread, the last morsel of food. It is not expected that your plate should be sent away cleansed by your gastronomic exertions.
  • Don’t eat onions or garlic,unless you are dining alone, and intend to remain alone some hours thereafter. One should not wish to carry with him unpleasant evidences of what he has been eating or drinking.
  • Don’t throw yourself loungingly back in your chair. The Romans lounged at table, but modern civilization does not permit it.
  • Don’t drink from your saucer. While you must avoid this vulgarity, don’t take notice of it, or of any mistake of the kind, when committed by others. It is related that at the table of an English prince a rustic guest poured his tea into his saucer, much to the visible amusement of the court ladies and gentlemen present. Whereupon the prince quietly poured his own tea into his saucer, thereby rebuking his ill-mannered court, and putting his guest in countenance.
  • Don’t decorate your shirt-front with egg or coffee drippings, and don’t ornament your coat-lapels with grease-spots. A little care will prevent these accidents. Few things are more distasteful that to see a gentleman bearing upon his apparel ocular evidence of having breakfasted or dined.
  • Don’t be embarrassed. Endeavor to be self-possessed and at ease; to accomplish which, try and not be self-conscious. Remember that self-respect is as much a virtue as respect for others.

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