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Author Topic:   1870 -- TABLE MANNERS
Scott Martin
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iconnumber posted 09-27-2011 01:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Daily Southern Cross
Auckland, New Zealand
Volume XXVI, Issue 4084
23 September 1870, Page 3

Perhaps there is no place where the innate refinement of an individual is more apparent than at the table. Certain it is that when persons from remote country places visit out cities they suffer more from embarrassment, and the not knowing exactly how to do at private or public tables, than at any other time. And it is not surprising that this should be the case when we consider the style in which, many country families indulge at their meals. Farmers and mechanics are, as a general rule, so anxious to get back from the house to the field and the workshop, so grudging of every minute of time that is not improved in fertilizing the land, or making the crop, or finishing the job, that they think they cannot afford time for the amenities of refined and cultivated life. And our farmers' wives are so full of cares and labors of various sorts that meals are gotten, eaten, and removed with all possible expedition. Dishes are hustled on to the table, and hustled off as though she who can crowd the whole affair of nutrition into the smallest possible space of time deserves most praise. Now the truth of the matter is that the three reunions of the family at the table may be made the most pleasant and profitable portion of the day. "Is not the life more than meat We eat to live, and should we not, while eating, make the most of living A great, deal depends on the mistress of the house" as to whether refinement and propriety shall give the law to the table, or grossness and vulgarity prevail at mealtime. If the tablecloth is clean, the dishes arranged iv order, and served punctually to the hour, a certain law of politeness and style will be imposed on those who partake of the viands before them. But let everything be disorderly, and nothing particularly clean and tasteful, and the native savageness of human nature will assert itself. Not long ago we sat down to a farmer's table where there were great abundance and variety of food, and of excellent quality, but gotten up in such a style as greatly to damage a very good appetite we brought to the repast. On the table -cloth were stains of coffee, gravy, and apple-sauce; the knives were innocent of brickdust; the butter, salt, and pepper had no particular place, but wandered at their own sweet will around the table. Steak, potatoes, pudding, bread, corn, and tomatoes, instead of being arranged in due order, were scattered promiscuously around without any local habitation. Everybody ate with such a clattering of knives and forks about the plates and their teeth, with such eagerness and haste, that we really did not know whether wonder or admiration at their dexterity predominated over surprise at the great lack of refinement. How easily might all that have been changed. A snowy tablecloth, if only coarse cotton, smoothly ironed, white stone china, and the dishes in order, would have made the repast almost elegant. The difficulty lay in the fact that the "glide house-wife" cared for none of these things. Instead of sitting opposite each other, where they could with most ease wait on the table, the father and mother occupied adjacent corners, and the rest of the family sat where they happened to take a notion. Now, for the benefit of some of our readers who cannot get the table fashions of polite life, but would like as a matter of curiosity to have them, we throw out the following hints. Let the table linen be clean and well ironed, the table ware white, the master and mistress sit opposite each other; before him place the meats, and on each side of them let the vegetables be ranged; in the middle of the table place the castor, or the salt, pepper, and butter before the mistress range neatly the tea things, set up the chairs, and then ring the bell It is not the fashion to eat with knives; they are used merely for dividing the food, but it is not easy to see how one can very well manage their victuals with the little old-fashioned two or three-tined forks. Let no one who reads this article take anything in it to herself unless it applies. The suggestions are thrown out to arrest the attention of some who bestow very little thought on the style in which the table is gotten up, regarding it as of trifling consequence. If the manner's of our remote rural readers can be toned up they will certainly be the better for it. One of our best living poets declares
    Manner’s are not idle, but the fruit Of loyal nature and of noble mind

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