BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
BY LILLIAN EICHLER
The Servant in the Household A Word to the Mistress A Word to the Servant How to Address Servants The Child and the Servant The Invisible Barrier When the Servant Speaks The Servants of a Big House The Butler Correct Dress for the Butler The Second Man The Chauffeur Duties of the Chauffeur The Valet The Page The Maid-Servants Lady's Maid The Nurse-Maid Duties of House-Maid In Conclusion.
About the American Hostess Planning the Formal Dinner Arranging the Table Starting at the Center Some Important Details Table Etiquette Table Service Use of the Napkin The Spoon at the Dinner Table The Fork and Knife Finger Foods Table Accidents The Hostess When the Guests Arrive The Successful Hostess The Guest Comments on Food Second Helpings The Menu Special Entertainment When to Leave Taking Leave Inviting a Stop-Gap Simple Dinners Inviting Congenial Guests When There are no Servants Hotel Dinners Dress for Dinner
Purpose of the Luncheon Informal Luncheons About the Table The Formal Luncheon The Table for the Formal Luncheon Hostess and Guest Formal and Informal Breakfasts Dress for Luncheons and Breakfasts
IV. TEAS AND OTHER ENTERTAINMENTS
Evolution of the Afternoon Tea The Simpler Tea The Formal Tea The Tea Table Dress at Tea Time The Garden Party Receiving the Guests On the Lawn Dress for Garden Parties and Lawn Festivals Woman's Garden Costume The Man at the Garden Party House Parties Sending the Invitation When the Guests Arrive Entertaining at the House Party Hostess and Guests at the House Party "Tipping" the Servants
V. WHEN THE BACHELOR ENTERTAINS
When the Bachelor is Host Welcoming the Guests The Bachelor's Dinner Tea at a Bachelor Apartment The Bachelor Dance Theater Parties Yachting Parties
VI. MUSICALES AND PRIVATE THEATRICALS
Preparations for the Musicale The Afternoon Musicale The Evening Musicale Card Parties at the Musicale Duties of Guests at Musicales Dress at the Musicale Arranging Private Theatricals The Players The Guests Host and Hostess
Dancing as a Healthful Art Dance-Giving No Longer a Luxury The Debut Dance Costume Balls Subscription Dances The Ballroom Music at the Dance Dance Programs Dinner Dances Dressing Rooms The Dance When the Lady is Asked to Dance "Cutting In" Dancing Positions When the Guest Does Not Dance Public Dances A Plea for Dancing The Charm of Dress in Dancing At the Afternoon Dance Gentlemen at the Dance Dress for the Ball Dress of the Debutante Wraps at the Ball Ball Dress for Men For the Simple Country Dance
VIII. GAMES AND SPORTS
Why the World Plays Fair Play Indoor Games Chess Bridge Billiards and Croquet Outdoor Games Lawn Tennis Golf Some Important Rules about Golf Football Automobile Etiquette Automobile Parties Riding Bathing Sports Clothes in General
Conversation The Charm of Correct Speech Courtesy in Conversation The Voice Ease in Speech Local Phrases and Mannerisms Importance of Vocabulary Interrupting the Speech of Others Tact in Conversation Some Important Information What to Talk About
The First Impression Men's Dress Women's Dress The Story of Dress The Dawn of Fashion The Fashions of To-day Harmony in Dress Importance of Color The Charm of Personality Gaudiness versus Good Taste "Extravagance the Greatest Vulgarity" Inappropriateness in Clothes The Eccentric Dresser Comfort in Clothes If One is Not Average Tall and Short People The Well-Dressed Woman Not a Slave to Fashion The Well-Dressed Man The Charm of Old Age The Elderly Woman Imitation and Over-Dressing The Older Gentleman A Trip to the South For the Gentleman
III. THE BUSINESS WOMAN
Woman in the Business World Self-Confidence The Slattern Following the Fashions Gaudy Attraction The Business Suit The Business Dress and Coat An Appeal to Business Women
IV. ON THE STREET
The True Etiquette Poise in Public The Charm of Courtesy Ladies and Gentlemen When to Bow in Public Walking in Public Stopping for a Chat When Accidents Happen Accepting Courtesies from Strangers Raising the Hat How to Raise the Hat In the Street Car Entering the Car In the Taxicab Some Social Errors
V. AT THE THEATER AND THE OPERA
Dress at the Theater and Opera Entering the Theater Arriving Late About Wraps Order of Precedence Before the Play When the Curtain is Drawn During the Performance The Offending Hat Applause During Intermission Leaving the Theater
VI. HOTEL ETIQUETTE
At the Hotel The Woman Guest Receiving Masculine Guests Making Friends at the Hotel How to Register In the Public Dining-Room Hotel Stationery Regarding the Servants Leaving the Hotel
VII. TRAVEL ETIQUETTE
The Restless Urge of Travel The Customs of Countries The Traveler's Wardrobe In the Train In the Sleeping Car Train Courtesy The Woman Traveler The Woman who Travels with an Escort In the Dining-Car Children on the Train In the Taxicab Bon Voyage Gifts On Board the Ship Courtesy of the Ship The Woman Crossing the Ocean A Concert at Sea At the Journey's End At Hotel and Restaurant At Tea-Room and Roof-Garden To Those Who Love to Travel
An Un-American Custom Lavish Tipping In Dining-Room or Dining-Car At the Hotel The Taxi-Driver On the Train Crossing the Ocean Tips in Foreign Countries
IX. ETIQUETTE ABROAD
The American in Foreign Countries On English Soil Addressing Royalty Other English Titles -And Still Other Titles Addressing Clergy Abroad Lawyers, Statesmen and Officials-How to Address Them At the Court of England What to Wear to Court The King's Levees In France Addressing Titled People in France Certain French Conventions Dinner Etiquette French Wedding Etiquette Balls About Calls and Cards Correspondence The American in Germany The Perfect American Tourist
APPENDIX Foreign Words in Frequent Social Usage
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
READY FOR TEA Frontspiece Page TABLE SET FOR DINER THE PUNCH TABLE THE BUFFET LUNCH
Repose and cheerfulness are the badge of the gentleman—repose in energy. The Greek battle pieces are calm; the heroes, in whatever violent actions engaged, retain a serene aspect; as we say of Niagara, that it falls without speed. A cheerful, intelligent face is the end of culture, and success enough. For it indicates the purpose of nature and wisdom attained. —Emerson
THE SERVANT IN THE HOUSEHOLD
"A mouse can look at a king, but a king won't often look at a mouse" says the old proverb. Which is, sadly enough, the state of affairs between servants and mistresses in many households.
A great many people feel somehow that those who labor in the capacity of servants are inferior. But in most cases, it is those who place servants on a lower plane who are themselves inferior. We owe those who take a part in the household affairs of our homes, more than the wages we pay them. We owe them gratitude, courtesy, kindness. Many elaborate dinners would be failures if it were not for the silent members of our households. Many formal entertainments would be impossible without their help. They hold a certain place of importance in the home and it should be recognized in the social world as a place worthy of every courtesy and respect.
For those who are fortunate enough to have servants to help with domestic tasks, it is extremely important that the correct etiquette of servants be thoroughly known and understood. And those who serve as butlers and maids and valets must also know the little rules of good conduct that govern their duties and responsibilities. The information contained in the following paragraphs is meant for both the servant and the mistress, and we hope that both will find it valuable.
A WORD TO THE MISTRESS
In the home where guests are frequently entertained and where the hostess holds many formal social functions, servants are essential.
Every family that can afford to do so, should have one, or two, or more servants according to social requirements and the appointments of the house. They should be well instructed in their duties and they should be expected to carry them out faultlessly. Untidy, noisy, ill-trained servants reflect upon the manners and conduct of the mistress herself.
The most common method of engaging a servant is through an agency. Here different types of men and women can be found, and the mistress of the household may be fortunate enough to find one suited to her requirements. Sometimes she secures a maid or butler by the recommendation of some other housekeeper. This method is usually more satisfactory than any other because it puts things on a rather friendly basis from the start.
But whether the maid or butler be engaged by recommendation or through an agency, it is important that it be clearly understood from the beginning just what his or her duties will be. And the mistress should not engage a servant unless she feels sure that he will be able to fill the position satisfactorily, for it is both an expensive and provoking process to change servants frequently.
The first few days in a new home are always difficult for the servant. The mistress should be patient and considerate and do all she can to make the newcomer feel at ease in her new surroundings. Her directions should be requests, not commands, and she should overlook blunders for they may be the result of the servant's unfamiliarity with the household and its customs.
After the servant has been in the household three weeks or a month, the mistress has every right to expect him to carry out his duties correctly. But we are all human, and we all make mistakes. When a servant blunders through carelessness a reprimand may be necessary, but to scold in loud, angry tones is most ill-mannered. The well-bred woman will never forget that there is as much demand for courtesy and kindliness in her relations with her servants as in any other relation in which she is placed. There is absolutely no reason why "please" and "thank you" should be omitted when we speak to the people who live in our homes and labor for our comfort and happiness.
A WORD TO THE SERVANT
Among real Americans, with their democratic views, there can be no objection to the word "servant." It is a noun, a name, to denote people in a certain occupation; just as "brokers" and "salesmen" and "housewives" denote certain people in other occupations. Therefore the servants who read these sentences, and the women who have servants in their households, should interpret the word in the spirit it is written, that of true American courtesy and respect.
Domestic service requires a certain character lacking in most other professions. As a servant, you care for the things of others and it should be done with as much attention and regard as if they were your own. You attend to your duties day after day, persisting in work which may sometimes become monotonous and which would be easy enough to shirk, but which you do for the comfort and pleasure of your mistress. You find yourself in the position of keeping other people's property attractive, putting other people's visitors at ease and being economical with other people's money. And we repeat again that it requires a certain high stamp of character that is not found in most professions.
Tidiness is very important in both men and women servants. The maid who serves at the dinner table must wear a fresh new blouse and a crisp apron. Soiled finger-nails or unclean hands are inexcusable. The well-trained servant presents always an immaculate, well-groomed appearance.
It hardly seems necessary to mention that the servant must be scrupulously honest. Perhaps, in their capacity in the home, they are exposed to unusual temptations, but that is just the reason why they should refrain from dishonesty of any kind, even the slightest lie. Gossip about the family life of the people they are serving should also be avoided by servants.
The servant should remember that whether she be maid or mistress, she can be cultured. The well-bred, well-trained maid is never sullen or perverse. Nor is her manner servile or haughty. She is respectful to her employers, but she does not cringe. She does her duties carefully, conscientiously and thoroughly, and she carries out the commands of her mistress without question. If, however, a maid thinks that a certain task could be done much more quickly and satisfactorily in another way, she may suggest it to her mistress and request her permission to do it in that way. If she is reprimanded for a mistake, she should not become rude or angry, but remain calm and answer quietly. It will not be long before her mistress, if she is the right sort of mistress, recognizes her superior qualities, her good manners and conscientious work, and will respond by treating her in like manner.
Undue familiarity from the maid is not to be countenanced. But many times a certain understanding friendliness develops between a "faithful maid and a kind and courteous mistress." a friendship in which rigid class distinctions are not sufficient to form a barrier.
Let those of us who are servants remember that it is only in helping others that true happiness is found, and that the world is quick to recognize and reward true, loyal, sincere service.
HOW TO ADDRESS SERVANTS
Household servants are usually addressed by their first names. It is indeed bad form to address a servant by some abbreviated nickname, such as Lizzy for Elizabeth or Maggie for Margaret. The full first name should be used. A pleasant "Good morning, Margaret," starts the day right, both for the mistress and the maid. In England the surname is preferred but they do not have to contend with all the foreign importations in the way of names that we have here in America. It is certainly better to call John Soennichsen John, than to use his surname.
A butler or chauffeur is usually addressed by his surname unless he is a man who has served the family for many years.
The golden rule of "Thank you" is just as golden when it applies to our servants. It is only the extremely discourteous man or woman who will address servants in a peremptory, rude tone. And it is especially ill-bred and unkind to be overbearing to servants in the presence of guests, or to scold one servant in the presence of another.
THE CHILD AND THE SERVANT
Insolence to servants on the part of children is as much a reflection on the manners of the parents, as it is upon the breeding of the children. The child that hears the servants addressed in rude, haughty manner will quite naturally adopt the same manner towards them. And no one, child or adult, can be considered well-bred unless he or she is courteous and kind to everyone, especially to those whose social position is inferior.
In the park, recently, a little tot of six years or thereabouts had a bag of peanuts which she offered to two little playmates and also to their mother who was sitting near by. Seeing that she did not offer her governess some peanuts, the woman inquired, "Why don't you offer Miss Taylor some?" To which the youngster immediately replied, "Oh, she's only my governess."
This is the result of wrong principle in the home. No child is born a snob. No child is born haughty and arrogant. It is the home environment and the precedent of the parents that makes such vain, unkind little children as the one mentioned above. It is actually unfair to the young children in the home to set the wrong example by being discourteous to the servants. They will only have to fight, later, to conquer the petty snobbishness that stands between them and their entrance into good society.
THE INVISIBLE BARRIER
In the sixteenth century French women servants were arrested and placed in prison for wearing clothes similar to those worn by their "superiors". It developed that they had made the garments themselves, copying them from the original models, sometimes sitting up all night to finish the garment. But the court ruled that it made no difference whether they had made them themselves or not; they had worn clothes like their mistresses', and they must be punished! We very much wiser people of the twentieth century smile when we read of these ridiculous edicts of a long-ago court, but we placidly continue to condemn the shop-girl and the working-girl if she dares to imitate Parisienne importations.
It is very often the same in the household. We ridicule the "class systems" of other countries, yet we deliberately build up a barrier between ourselves and those who work for us. Perhaps there must be some such barrier to keep the social equilibrium; but is there any reason why it should be unkind and discourteous?
The mistress should not, of course, confide in her servants, gossip with them, discuss her affairs with them, enter their quarrels and take sides with them. But she can be cheerful, polite, considerate; and invariably she will find that this kind of treatment will bring an immediate response even from the most sullen servant.
WHEN THE SERVANT SPEAKS
In answering the mistress or master of the household, it is customary for the servant to say, "Yes, madam," or, "Yes, Sir." Old servants, who have been for many years in the employ of the same people, may omit the "madam" and use the name, in this manner—"Yes, Mrs. Brown." Such slovenly expressions as "No'm" or "Yessir" show lack of good training on the part of the servant, and poor judgment on the part of the mistress.
Brevity and civility are the two most important virtues of the speech of the man or maid servant who answers inquiries at the door, admits guests and takes messages. In the latter case, when a servant takes a message for one of the members of the household, a polite "Thank you, madam" is essential. If there is a doubt as to whether or not the hostess is at home, the well-trained servant admits the visitor, asks her to have a seat, and says, "I will inquire." He returns to say either that Madam is not at home, or that she will be down directly. When announcing guests, the butler should ask, "What name, please?" not in the indifferent, sing-song manner so characteristic of butlers, but in a cordial, polite tone of voice, and with a genial smile. Having been given the names of the visitors, he announces them in clear, distinct tones. These announcements are made while the guests are entering the drawing room. A mother and two daughters are announced as: "Mrs. Smith, the Misses Smith." If the given names of the young ladies are called, the form of announcement is: "Mrs. Smith, Miss Smith, Miss Alice Smith," the eldest daughter of a family being given the privilege to use the title "Miss Smith." In announcing a gentleman and his son, the butler says: "Mr. Blank, Mr. Francis Blank."
THE SERVANTS OF A BIG HOUSE
The small household must choose servants according to convenience and requirements. Where there are three or four grown-up daughters and the home is a small one, one maid and one butler are sufficient. But in a very large house with numerous rooms, where many social functions are held and many house parties are given by the hostess a full corps of servants is required. Each one should have certain, definite tasks to perform every day. In the luxurious American home, seven servants are usually employed. They are a butler, a chauffeur, a parlor maid, a cook, a laundress, a nurse-maid and a chambermaid. A lady's maid and a valet are sometimes added. A footman, laundry-maid and scullery-maid are also added, sometimes, to the corps of servants. But this list may be increased or diminished according to the requirements of the individual family. For instance, a second-man may be placed underthe direction of the butler; a gardener and his assistants may be charged with the care of the environs; while grooms may be employed to care for the horses in the stables. But usually these additional servants are the luxuries of the extremely wealthy and should hot be indulged in by those who cannot afford them. In the home where there are several men servants and several women servants, it is the best plan for the wife to supervise the duties and responsibilities of the women, leaving the men to be directed by her husband. It is important, though, for the mistress of the house not to give counter commands to servants who are under her husband's supervision, for this may cause a friction that is not conducive to the best service on the part of the help.
The duties of the butler confine him to the drawing-room and dining-room. The dining-room, however, is his particular domain; he sees that everything is in order, that the table is laid correctly, the lighting effect satisfactory, the flowers arranged, and in short that the room and appointments are in perfect readiness for a punctual meal. In this work a parlor maid assists him by sweeping and dusting, and a pantry-maid helps him by keeping everything immaculate and in readiness in the pantry. The butler serves at breakfast, luncheon and dinner.
Where there is a second-man, he may assist the butler with the serving at dinner; and at large entertainments the maid who assists in the pantry may also be requested to serve. The butler also is in charge of the afternoon-tea duties, in homes where this custom prevails. He brings in the tray, arranges it for the hostess and sees that everyone is served. Where there are only a few servants, the butler may be expected to help with the dishes, polish the silver and assist in the pantry. But if there are maid servants, and a second-man to do the heavier work, then he is expected to serve in a small measure as the valet for the master of the house. He lays out his evening clothes, brushes and presses the garments worn in the morning, and draws his bath. Sometimes, when his domestic duties are very light, the butler is requested to serve as footman to the mistress when she goes riding in the afternoon. An important duty of the butler is to answer the door bell whenever it rings. He must see that the front door and the hall is in order and well-swept, and that the drawing-room door is locked every night after the family has retired. A great deal of the comfort and pleasure of the family depends upon the manner in which the butler attends to his duties.
CORRECT DRESS FOR THE BUTLER
Neatness of attire is extremely important. The butler should be clean-shaven, and he should not fail to be fresh-shaven every day. His hair should not be closely cropped, but cut loosely, and it should be well-brushed at all times. Well-kept nails are, of course, very important not only for the butler but for anyone who serves at the table or has anything to do with the food. As nearly as possible, the butler's costume should parallel the following description, but each passing season finds some minor detail slightly changed, and each new season finds a slight variation from the costume of the season before. So the best thing to do is to find out definitely from a reliable clothier or from the men's furnishing department of a large department store, just what the butler's costume of the present time consists of. Ordinarily, the butler wears white linen in the morning, with black or dark gray trousers, a black waistcoast that buttons high, and a swallow-tail coat. It is also permissible for him to wear a short roundtail coat in the morning hours; it is similar to the gentleman's tailless evening coat, but it is not faced with silk. A black or dark tie and black shoes complete the outfit, which is worn until after the midday meal. If guests are to be entertained at luncheon, the butler wears his afternoon and evening livery. Otherwise he dons it only after luncheon or about three o'clock in the afternoon. It consists of complete black evening dress similar in cut and style to that worn by gentlemen. There are no braidings or facings, though the material of the suit may be every whit as excellent in quality as that worn by the master of the house. The butler does not wear a white waistcoat, a watch chain, or jeweled studs with his after noon or evening livery. Nor may he wear a boutonniere or an assertive tie or patent leather shoes. And it is extremely bad taste for him to use perfume of any kind. He wears white linen with plain white studs in the shirt front, a standing collar, white lawn tie and plain black shoes. His watch is slipped into his waistcoast pocket without chain or fob. White gloves are no longer the custom for men servants in the private home. When acting as footman to his mistress in the afternoon, the butler wears the livery described for the second man. In cold weather he is supplied with a long footman's coat; and he is also supplied with a top hat and gloves, all matching in color and style those worn by the chauffeur.
THE SECOND MAN
The second man may be employed exclusively for the house, or he may be employed solely to serve as footman, sitting next to the chauffeur when the mistress is motoring. In the latter case he wears the regular livery matching that worn by the chauffeur. But usually a second man is expected to help in the house besides serving as footman. He assists the butler by answering the door bell whenever the other is busy or occupied elsewhere. He washes dishes and windows and polishes the silver. He tends to the open fireplace in winter, and to the arranging of the flowers in the summer. The veranda, front steps and courtyard are also in his care. And when there are guests for dinner, or at a large entertainment, he helps serve at the table. The livery of the second man is the same indoors all day; he does not change for the evening. It consists of coat and trousers of one solid color determined by the heads of the house. It is usually a very dark green, brown, gray or blue, and the outside edge of the trouser leg is piped in some contrasting color. The coat is usually swallowtail in cut, and is ornamented with brass or silver buttons on the tails, on the cuffs and down the front. Lately this vogue of the brass and silver button is disappearing. The color worn by the second man should be the predominating color worn by all the other liveried servants in the household. It is certainly not good form to have the chauffeur wear one color of livery, and the footman next to him wear livery of an entirely different color and cut. With his livery described above, the second man wears a waistcoat of Valencia, striped in the two colors that appear on the coat and trousers. It is usually cut V shape, disclosing white linen in which are fastened two plain white studs, a standing collar, and a white lawn tie. When he serves as footman, the second man may either be requested to don complete car livery, or he may wear a long footman's overcoat; top hat and gloves over his house livery. A clean shaven face and well-brushed, close-clipped hair are pleasing characteristics of the second man. Untidiness, ill- kept hands and nails, and the use of jewelry or perfume should not be tolerated in the second man, whether be serves only as footman, or in the house. When he helps the butler at the dinner table, he should be especially immaculate in appearance.
The gallant coachman of a decade ago has given way to the chauffeur of to-day. But we find that his livery is no less important. It is governed by a very definite convention. In winter, for instance, the chauffeur wears long trousers of melton or kersey or similar material and a double-breasted greatcoat of the same material. The collar and cuffs may be of a contrasting color or of the same color as the rest of the material. He wears a flat cap with a stiff visor and a band of the same contrasting color that appears on the collar and cuffs of the coat. Dark gloves and shoes are worn. Sometimes, instead of long trousers, the chauffeur wears knee-trousers with leather leggings. If desired, a double row of brass, silver or polished horn buttons may decorate the front of the greatcoat, but this must be determined by the prevailing custom. If the weather is extremely cold, the chauffeur should be provided with a long coat of goat or wolf-skin, or some other suitable protection against the cold and wind. During the summer months, the chauffeur usually wears gray or brown cords, developed in the conventional style. His cap and gloves match.
DUTIES OF THE CHAUFFEUR
The complete care of the car or cars devolves upon the chauffeur. He must see that it is always spotless and shining, that it is in good condition and will not break down during a trip, and that it is in readiness whenever the owners want to use it. When the mistress goes motoring, the chauffeur stands at the door of the car until she enters, arranges the robes and sees that she is comfortable before taking his own place. Upon receiving her orders, he touches the rim of his cap. It is not necessary, however, upon reaching the destination for the chauffeur to descend and open the door for his mistress. His place is at the wheel and that is where he remains. But if there is a second man to assist the chauffeur, who accompanies him on every trip as a motor footman, he should descend and stand at attention while the mistress emerges from the car. The footman dresses like the chauffeur. He leaves cards when the mistress makes her social calls, and he rings house bells for her. He is also expected to be useful in performing personal service for the masculine members of the household. Very often it happens that a tourist, instead of hiring a car and chauffeur when he reaches a strange country, desires to take his own car and chauffeur with him. He must be sure to arrange beforehand to have the man admitted to the foreign country, for negligence may cause him much delay and trouble when he reaches the borderline. He must also arrange for the sleeping and eating facilities of his chauffeur when they stop for a day or two in a town or village. It is not right to expect him to eat with the servants, nor will he wish to eat at the same table with his employer. It is wisest to give him an allowance and permit him to eat and sleep where he pleases.
The business of the valet is to attend to all the comforts and desires of the master of the house. He takes no part in the general housework, except in an emergency. The valet does not wear livery. Indoors, in the evening and during the day, he wears dark gray or black trousers, white linen, a high-buttoned black waistcoat and a plain black swallow-tailed coat or one cut with short rounded tails. He wears a dark tie and dull leather shoes. He may also wear an inconspicuous pin in his tie and simple cuff-links; but a display of jewelry is not permissible. It may happen that a butler is ill or called away, or that there is a shortage of servants during a large entertainment. In this case the valet may be called upon to serve as a butler, and he then wears complete butler's dress, with the long-tailed coat. When traveling with his employer, the valet wears an inconspicuous morning suit of dark gray, brown or blue tweed in the conventional style. He completes this outfit with a black or brown derby hat and black leather shoes. The duties of the valet are as follows: he brushes, presses, cleans, packs or lays out the clothes of his employer, draws the water for his bath, and assists him to dress. He keeps his wardrobe in order and packs and un-packs his trunks whenever he is traveling. He does all his errands, buys his railway and steamship tickets, pays his bills, and carries his hand-luggage when they are traveling together. Sometimes he shaves him, orders his clothes, and writes his business letters. But these duties are expected only of accomplished valets. He does not, however, make the bed or sweep or dust his employer's room.
The page is a very convenient servant to have when there is no second-man or when there are no men-servants at all. His duties are many and varied. He runs errands for everyone in the house, assists the parlor-maid, looks after the open fire places and opens the door to callers. Sometimes he even serves as a sort of miniature footman, sitting next to the chauffeur in complete footman livery. The livery for the page boy is the same during the day and evening. It is a simple, neat coat and trousers of dark cloth piped with the contrasting livery color of the family in which he serves. The coat fits the body snugly, and ends at the waistline except for a slight point at back and front. Metal buttons set as closely together as possible fasten the coat from top to bottom. The trousers are piped or braided in the contrasting color down the outside of the leg. White linen should show at the wrists and above the high collar of the coat, but there should be no tie. Black calf skin shoes complete the outfit, and when the page is out of doors, he wears a round cap to match his suit. The bullet-shaped metal buttons down the front of the coat, and three of the same buttons sewed on the outside seam of the cuffs, have earned for the page the rather appropriate name of "Buttons."
Whether there is only one maid-servant in the house, or many, their duties should be clearly defined and understood. It is the only way to avoid quarreling and misunderstanding among the servants themselves. Let each one understand from the very first day he begins work just what his duties are. In this case as in many another an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If there are quarrels among the servants the mistress should not interfere nor take sides. If possible she should remove the cause of the friction, and for a serious fault she should discharge the one that is causing the disturbance.
The services of the waitress are confined to the drawing-room floor. She serves breakfast, luncheon and dinner, and afternoon tea where it is the custom. This is assuming, however, that there is no butler in the home. In this case she attends to all the other duties that would ordinarily fall upon him. She answers the doorbell, polishes the silver, helps with the washing of the dishes and sees that the table is correctly laid for each meal.
The parlor maid is a luxury enjoyed only by families of great wealth. She is expected to devote her time and attention wholly to the drawing-room and dining-room, assisting the waitress in the pantry and keeping the library and drawing-room in order. But in the average comfortable home of America there are usually only two maids, a housemaid and a waitress (with perhaps the additional services of a cook) and these two maids have the care of the dining, living and bedrooms divided between them.
The dress of the house-maids is very much alike. The waitress, or parlor maid, wears a plain, light-colored dress in the morning with a rather large apron, and a small white cap. The chambermaid's costume is very much the same. In the afternoon the parlor maid or waitress changes to a black serge dress in winter, or a black poplin in summer, with white linen cuffs and collars and a small white apron. [The costumes for maid-servants change frequently, only in slight details, but enough to warrant specific research at the time the servant is outfitted. A large department store, or a. store devoted exclusively to the liveries of servants, will be able to tell you exactly the correct costumes for maid-servants at the present time. Or you may find the desired information in a current housekeeping magazine.]
The maid-servants never wear jewelry or other finery while they are on duty. One very simple brooch, or perhaps a pair of cuff links, is permissible; but bracelets, rings and neck ornaments are in bad taste. Elaborate dressing of the hair should also be avoided, and careless, untidy dressing should never be countenanced.
The lady's maid does not take part in the general housework. Her duties are solely to care for the wardrobe of her mistress, to assist her at her toilette, to draw her bath, to lay out her clothes and keep her room tidy. But she does not sweep or dust the room or make the bed—these are the duties of the chamber-maid. If she is an accomplished maid she will probably do a great deal of sewing, and perhaps she will massage her mistress' hair and manicure her nails. But these duties are not to he expected; the mistress who finds her maid is willing to do these things for her, is indeed fortunate.
A black dress in winter, and a black skirt and waist in summer, worn with a small, dainty white apron comprises the costume of the lady's maid. Stiff white cuffs and collar add a touch of prim neatness which is most desirable. At the present tune, the tiny white cap formerly worn by lady's maids has been almost entirely dispensed with.
When traveling with her mistress, the lady's maid should wear only very simple and inconspicuous clothes. A tweed suit worn with a neat blouse, or a tweed coat worn over a simple dress, is the best form. Anything gaudy or elaborate worn by a lady's maid is frowned upon by polite society.
The nurse-maid should be very particular about her dress. She should always be faultlessly attired, her hair neat and well-brushed, her entire appearance displaying a tidy cleanliness.
In the house the nurse-maid wears a simple dress of wool or heavy material with a white apron and white collar and cuffs. In warmer weather she wears linen or poplin with the apron and collar and cuffs. Outdoors, she wears a long full cloak over her house dress.
DUTIES OF HOUSEMAID
The cook, who is always dressed spotlessly in white, does nothing outside the kitchen unless special arrangements have been made to the contrary. She keeps the kitchen tidy and clean, cooks the meals, helps with the dishes and perhaps attends to the furnace.
The waitress opens and airs the living-rooms, dusts the rooms and gets everything in readiness for breakfast. It is customary to excuse her as soon as the principal part of the breakfast has been served, so that she may attend to her chamber-work and be ready to come down to her breakfast by the time the family has finished. However, before she goes to her own breakfast, she is expected to clear the dining-room table and take the dishes into the kitchen.
If the waitress does not help with the chamber-work, this duty falls entirely upon the chamber-maid. She must make the beds, sweep and dust the bedrooms, and keep them immaculate. The mistress should inspect the chamber-work occasionally for servants must not be permitted to feel that carelessness in details will be overlooked And the mistress should also take care of her own linen closet, unless she has a very trustworthy and competent servant; for linens should be worn alike, and not some worn constantly and others allowed to lie forgotten in corner of the closet.
A good servant—and by "good" we mean a man or woman who goes about duties cheerfully, is respectful and willing, who is neat, well-mannered and well-trained must be treated in the right manner if he or she is to remain such. There are so many blunders the mistress can make, so many mistakes that bring the wrong response from those who are temporarily a part of her household.
For instance, a haughty, arrogant manner towards a servant who is sensitive will by no means encourage that servant to do his or her best work. And on the other hand, a servile manner towards a good servant one is afraid of losing, encourages that servant to take liberties and become unduly familiar.
It is as difficult to be a good mistress as it is to be a good servant. Both duties require a keen understanding and appreciation of human nature, a kindliness of spirit and a desire to be helpful. Both the servant and the mistress have their trials and troubles, but they should remember that it is only through mutual helpfulness and consideration, an exacting attention to duties and responsibilities, a wise supervision and a faithful service, that harmony and happiness can be reached in the home. And both should bear in mind that this harmony and happiness is something worth-while striving for, something worth-while being patient and persistent for.
There is an old proverb which literally translated means, "By the servant the master is known." It is a good proverb for both the servant and the mistress to remember.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN HOSTESS
The greatest pride of the American hostess is her formal dinner. And it is to her credit that we mention that she can hold her own against the most aristocratic families of Europe.
There is a story told of a well-known New York society matron who gave a formal dinner party on every occasion that warranted it, no matter how trivial, for the reason that it gave her keen pleasure and enjoyment to do so. At one of her dinners recently a famous world-touring lecturer was the guest of honor—and the hostess was as happy and proud as it is possible for a hostess to be. Especially was she proud of the delectable menu she had ordered prepared for the occasion.
But much to her chagrin, she noticed that her distinguished guest was not eating the tempting hot dishes—only the vegetables, and relishes and fruits. She did not wish to appear rude, but she could not wait until dinner was over before asking him why he was not eating. "I am a vegetarian," he answered, "and I never indulge in meats."
The hostess-of-many-dinners had an inspiration. Here was an opportunity to give a unique dinner-and nothing could be more delightful for her. A week later, she sent out invitations to all her friends requesting their presence at another formal dinner to be held in honor of the visiting lecturer. This time it was a vegetarian dinner. Suffice to say that it was a huge success.
Such is the hospitality of our American hostesses that they will concede to every whim and desire of their guests. They must be pleased at all costs. The dinner is not a success unless each guest leaves a little happier than when he came and incidentally a little better pleased with the person who happens to be giving the dinner.
PLANNING THE FORMAL DINNER
First in importance, of course, is when shall the formal dinner be held? Any evening of the week may be selected—although Sunday is rarely chosen. The hour is usually between seven and eight o'clock. Invitations should be mailed a week or ten days before the date set for the dinner. The hostess may use her own judgment in deciding whether the invitations should be engraved on cards, or hand-written on note paper. The former is preferred for an elaborate dinner, the latter for a small one.
It must be remembered in inviting guests to dinner, that it is a breach of etiquette to invite a wife without her husband, or the opposite. A married couple must always be invited together. If there are other members of the family who are desired as guests at the dinner, separate invitations must be sent to them. A dinner card is always addressed to a husband and wife, and individually to single persons.
For the convenience of the host, it is a point of courtesy for every recipient of an invitation to dinner, to answer promptly. A good rule is to decide immediately upon receiving it whether or not you will be able to attend, and follow it with a cordial answer within the next twenty-four hours. If you find that you must refuse, there must be a very good reason for doing so.
In planning the dinner party, the hostess must go over her list of friends and carefully select six or eight who would naturally be most congenial together. The number may even be as low as four, and while there can be no absolute limit to the number one may invite, there must never be more than the hostess can handle easily. If the guests are chosen carefully, with a regard for their likes and dislikes, the dinner is bound to be a happy one.
ARRANGING THE TABLE
To set the formal dinner table correctly is an art in itself.
The appointments of the modern dinner table are a delight. Services are of silver and china is of the finest. Both the square or round table are appropriate, the latter being the most popular since it is easier to make attractive. A mat of asbestos or a thickness of canton flannel is first spread on the table. Over this comes the snowy, linen table-cover, falling gracefully over the sides with the four points almost touching the floor. A place is laid for each guest. The most fashionable method is to have a large lace or embroidered doily in the center of the table, and smaller ones indicating the position of the guests. A centerpiece of glass, china, silver, is usually used, over the doily or without it, and on top of this, flowers. Delicate ferns are sometimes used instead of flowers, although roses (hot-house roses when no others are obtainable) are always the favorite at an elaborate dinner.
STARTING AT THE CENTER
When the center ornament has been adjusted, it may be used as a mathematical base for all the rest of the table appointments. Candlesticks, either of silver or bronze, are artistic when placed at equal distance around the flowers. They diffuse a soft light upon the table, and by being an incentive to the recalling of old memories, they invoke conversation when there is danger of its lagging. It is one of the charms of candlelight—thus power to bring up pleasant reminiscences. Between these stately guardians of the floral centerpiece may be placed small dishes containing preserved ginger, macaroons or bon-bons.
Salt-cellars and pepper-boxes are next located on the table, and the places are laid for the guests. The proper number of forks is placed to the left. The knives and spoons are placed at the right. They are placed in the order in which they are to be used. Not more than three forks should ever appear on the table at one time. If others are needed they should be placed with their respective courses. A small square of bread, or a roll, is in the center, covered with the folded napkin, and a little to the left are the several glasses.
Care must be taken in arranging the dinner table to have both sides balanced. There is an old maxim that says, "There must be a use for everything" and this holds especially true of the table of good taste. It must not be littered with useless articles, no matter how artistic or odd, for they hamper the movements of the guests and make things unnecessarily crowded. Butter rarely appears on the table at the formal dinner; and condiments are brought in by the servant only as they are needed.
SOME IMPORTANT DETAILS
Menu-cards are no longer used at the formal dinner, unless it is in celebration of some auspicious occasion and honored guests are present. In this case, the hostess has the menus printed or engraved in a delicate script and has one placed beside the plate of each guest. A favorite fashion is to have them printed in French. Sometimes one of these cards serves for two guests, although the hostess who takes a pride in her dinners will provide each guest with one, as it serves as an appropriate souvenir of the occasion.
The lighting effect of the dining-room is important. Instead of the candles on the table there may be an electric cluster high above the table, or small candle-power electric lights on the walls. These latter produce a soft effect which is most pleasing. Glaring lights of any kind should be avoided. Candles and electric lights should never be used in conjunction.
There is nothing more conducive to thorough enjoyment of an evening, to the thorough enjoyment of a menu, than when table and appointments are perfect and artistically simple. The hostess should give as much time and thought to the preparation and arrangement of the table, as she does to the planning of the menu. She will find that her guests will appreciate novel lighting effects, surprising color tones, unusual serving innovations. And she will find that a correctly laid table will add surprisingly to the entire success of her dinner party.
The importance of correct table etiquette cannot be over-emphasized. Nothing is more vulgar, than clumsy, awkward movements at the table, and it is certainly a sign of ill-breeding deliberately to fail to act in accordance with the rules of table etiquette. The rules of dinner etiquette should be studied carefully and just as carefully followed, if one wishes to be—and everyone does—a lady or a gentleman.
Perhaps the most important thing is one's bearing at table. Very often you see a seemingly cultured gentleman in a hotel dining-room or restaurant playing with the table silver or absent-mindedly clinking glasses together. This may be overlooked in the restaurant, but at a formal dinner it is essentially bad form. When the hands are not being used, they should rest quietly in the lap—never should the elbows be rested on the table. The chair should be neither too near nor too far from the table; both are ungraceful and awkward.
The dinner napkin is from twenty to twenty-four inches across. It is folded square unless the table is somewhat crowded, when it may be folded diagonally (after having been folded square) so as to give more space around the board. If the napkins are monogrammed the monogram should be placed so as to be in plain view.
At a formal dinner the first course is on the table when the guests enter the dining-room. It consists of oysters, a canape, a fruit cocktail, grapefruit or something else of the same kind. Oysters on the half-shell are served bedded in crushed ice in a soup plate. This is placed on the service plate. A cocktail is served in a cocktail glass which is placed on a doily-covered plate which in turn is placed on the service plate. The silver for the first course may be on the table beside the soup spoon or it may be served with the course.
The waiter removes the first course entirely before the soup is placed. He stands at the left of each guest and removes the plates with his left hand. The soup in soup plates (not in a tureen) is placed on the service plates and when this course is over service plates as well as soup plates are removed and the entree is served. If the plates for it are empty they are placed with the right hand but if the entree is already on them they are placed with the left. If empty plates are supplied the waiter passes the entree on a platter held on a folded napkin on his left hand, using his right hand to help balance it. Each guest serves himself.
At the conclusion of this course the plates are removed and empty warm plates placed for the meat course. The meat should be carved before it is brought to the table and after the waiter has served each person he serves the vegetables. If there is only one waiter it is more convenient to have the vegetables placed on the table in large vegetable dishes from which each guest serves himself. After the vegetables have gone around once they are removed but they may be passed once or twice again before the conclusion of the meal.
The salad follows. It may be served on each plate (and this is surely the more artistic way) or it may be served from a platter. After the salad the table is cleared of all plates that have been in use, of salt and pepper shakers or cellars and is crumbed before the dessert is brought in.
Usually the dessert which is nearly always ice-cream or something else frozen is served in individual dishes. Small cakes are passed with it. Other desserts besides ice-cream are served in much the same way.
When the dessert has been removed, finger-bowls half filled with water and placed on a small doily-covered plate are set before each person.
Coffee may be served at the table but it is more often served in the drawing-room.
USE OF THE NAPKIN
What can be more unsightly than a napkin tucked carefully in the top of one's waistcoat? And still, how often one sees it done among men who believe that they are impressively well-bred! The proper way to use a napkin, whether it is at a formal dinner, or in a restaurant, is to unfold it only half, leaving the center fold as it is, and lay it across the knees. It may be used constantly during the meal, whenever the guest finds need for it, but it must never be completely unfolded.
When rising from the table, the napkin is placed as it is on the table. It is never folded again into its original form, as that would be an assumption on the part of the guest that the hostess would use it again before laundering. A reprehensible habit is to drop the napkin carelessly into the finger-bowl, or over the coffee cup. It should be laid on the table, at the right of the finger-bowl.
THE SPOON AT THE DINNER TABLE
Spoons are used when eating grapefruit and other fruits served with cream. Jellies, puddings, custards, porridges, preserves and boiled eggs are always eaten with spoons. Also, of course, soup, bouillon, coffee and tea. In the case of the three latter beverages, however; the spoon is used only to stir them once or twice and to taste them to see that they are of the desired temperature. It is never allowed to stand in the cup while the beverage is being drunk. Nor is it permissible to draw up a spoonful of soup or coffee and blow upon it; one must wait until it is sufficiently cooled of itself. In taking soup, the correct way to use the spoon is to dip it with an outward motion instead of drawing it towards one. The soup is then imbibed from the side, not the end.
THE FORK AND KNIFE
In using the fork and knife, one can display a pleasing grace, or just the opposite—awkward clumsiness. It depends entirely upon how well one knows and follows the correct rules. The first rule to be remembered is that a knife is never used for any other purpose than cutting food. It is unforgiveable to use a knife to convey food to the mouth— unforgiveable and vulgar. The knife is held in the right hand and the fork in the left. When the desired morsel of food is cut, the knife is laid aside temporarily and the fork is shifted to the right hand.
The knife and fork should never be held in the same hand together, and when not being used, one or both of the utensils should rest on the plate. They should never be allowed to rest against the edge of the plate with the handles on the table; when one is through with both the knife and fork, they should be placed entirely on the plate, their tips touching at the center, their handles resting against the edge. They are never placed back again on the table.
The foods eaten with the fork are meats, vegetables, fish, salads, oysters and clams, lobster, ices, frozen puddings and melons. Hearts of lettuce and lettuce leaves are folded up with the fork and conveyed uncut to the mouth. If the leaves are too large to be folded conveniently, they may be cut with the blunt edge of the fork—never with a knife.
Various foods are eaten with the fingers instead of fork or spoon. Bread, for instance, is never cut but always broken into small pieces and lifted to the mouth with the fingers. Butter is seldom provided at the formal dinner, but if it is, each little piece of bread is buttered individually just before it is eaten. Crackers and cake are eaten in the same way; although some cakes and pastries are eaten with the fork. Those that can be eaten daintily with the fingers such as macaroons, lady-fingers, cookies, etc., should be eaten so while layer cake and elaborate pastries should be eaten with the fork.
Corn on the cob is without a doubt one of the most difficult foods to eat gracefully. And yet it is too delicious to forego the pleasure of eating it at all. It is entirely permissible to use the fingers in eating corn, holding it lightly at each end; sometimes a napkin is used in holding it. Many a foresighted hostess, when serving corn on the cob, provides each guest with a short, keen, steel-bladed knife with which the kernels may be cut from the cob easily. This is by far the most satisfactory method.
French artichokes are also difficult to eat. The proper way is to break them apart, leaf by leaf, dip the tips in the sauce and lift them to the mouth with the fingers. The heart is cut and eaten with a fork.
Lobster claws may be pulled apart with the fingers. Shrimps also, when served whole in their shells, may be separated, peeled and eaten with the fingers. Fruits such as oranges, apples, grapes, peaches and plums are all eaten with the fingers. Celery, radishes and olives are similarly eaten. Sometimes there are other relishes on the dinner table, and the guest must use his common sense to determine whether they are eaten with the fork or fingers. Bonbons, of course, are always eaten with the fingers.
Whenever fruits are served the finger-bowl should follow. It is always used at the completion of the dinner. The bowl is half filled with tepid water and set upon a plate. A fragrant leaf may be added to the water. The fingers are dipped lightly into the bowl, one hand at a time, and then dried on the napkin. It is a mark of ill breeding to splash the water about, to put both hands into the bowl at once, or to wet the entire palm of the hand. Only the finger tips should touch the water.
"Accidents will happen"—at the dinner table as well as anywhere else. The duty of the guest and the hostess both is to see that no confusion and embarrassment follows.
If a spoon or fork or napkin is dropped, the proper thing to do is to allow the servant to pick it up; the well-trained servant will not return it, but place it aside and give the guest another one. If a glass or cup is dropped and broken, embarrassed apologies will not put it together again, but a word of sincere regret to the hostess will relieve the awkwardness of the moment, and will be as gratifying to her as profuse apologies. If the article broken is a valuable one, the guest may replace it by sending, a day or two later, another one as nearly like it as possible. A cordial note of regret may accompany it.
Sometimes a cup of coffee or a glass of water is overturned at the table. This is, of course, a very serious and unpleasant accident, but there is no necessity in making matters worse by fussing about it and offering several exaggerated apologies. A simple word or two to the hostess will suffice; but it is really quite important that one should be careful not to let an accident of this kind happen too often, otherwise one will soon acquire the reputation of being a clumsy boor.
There is certainly no reason to feel embarrassed when an accident occurs at the dinner table that is, of course, if it was not due to carelessness. It is not the accident itself that will cause the guests and the hostess to consider one ill-bred, but continued mention of it and many flustered apologies. "I am sorry" or "How careless of me!" are sufficient offers of regret—the matter should then be forgotten.
Important indeed are the duties of the hostess, for it is upon her that the ultimate success of the dinner depends. It is not enough to send out the invitations, plan a delectable menu and supervise the laying of the table. She must afford pleasant diversion and entertainment for her guests from the minute they enter her home until they are ready to leave. The ideal hostess is the one who can make her guests, one and all, feel better satisfied with themselves and the world in general when they leave her home than they did when they arrived.
WHEN THE GUESTS ARRIVE
The duty of receiving and welcoming the guests rests with the host and hostess. They receive in the drawing-room until fifteen or twenty minutes after the time mentioned in the invitations. Then, even if there is still a guest or two missing, it is customary for dinner to be served. Only on one occasion does this rule vary; if the dinner is being held in honor of some celebrated guest, it may not be served until he has arrived.
The hostess, in inviting her guests, should be sure that there is an equal number of men and women. Husbands and wives should never be sent into the dining-room together. The usual order of precedence is as follows: The host leads with the lady who is to sit at his right; if the dinner is in honor of a married couple, the host goes in to dinner with the wife of the honored guest; the hostess ending the "procession" with that lady's husband. When there are no guests of honor the host takes the eldest lady present. Usually a lady visiting the house for the first time is the first to enter the dining-room. If there is one more woman than men in the party, the customary thing is for the hostess to enter the dining-room alone after all her guests have entered it. She must never take the other arm of the last gentleman.
The seating should be arranged by placing cards bearing the names of each guest next to each plate if the party is a large one. This method may be pursued if the party is small, though, in this case it is quite possible for the hostess to indicate gracefully the place where she wishes each guest to sit. The guests who enter the dining-room together sit side by side; the hostess always waits until everyone is seated, before she takes her place and motions that the dinner is to proceed.
When a guest arrives late, the hostess must endeavor to make him feel at ease and unembarrassed. If the guest is a woman, she rises, greets her cordially and conducts her to her place without mentioning her lateness. If it is a man, she merely bows and smiles without rising and immediately starts a lively discussion or interesting conversation to draw attention away from the late arrival. In this manner he is put at ease, and the incident is promptly forgotten.
THE SUCCESSFUL HOSTESS
The hostess must see that all her guests are comfortable and well taken care of. She must stimulate conversation and help things along by herself relating amusing little anecdotes or experiences. She must not introduce any topic, however, that would in the least detail suggest scandal or gossip.
Nothing is more delightful, at the dinner table, whether formal or informal, than the interesting little chats between old friends and new acquaintances. Special musical programs always please dinner guests, and when held after dinner are usually appreciated. In selecting musical numbers the hostess should bear in mind the personal likes and dislikes of her guests. Music during the meal if it is soft enough not to interfere with conversation is pleasing, though it is not essential. The musicians should be hidden behind palms.
Happy is she, who, at the conclusion of the formal dinner, can say to herself that everything was as it should be; that each of the guests had an enjoyable time; that the entire dinner had been a success. And she may claim the success of the evening as her own, for it is upon the hostess that each phase of successful dinner-giving devolves, even when most of the actual entertaining is done by one or more of the guests.
When Gung-Yee-Far-Choy (the Chinese two-week New Year) comes, our yellow cousins make their formal visits. It is a time of extreme convention, and despite the seeming revelry and celebration, the strictest rules are observed. The calls are made according to the caller's rank. One pays visits to those superior, receiving in turn those inferior. It is perplexing to know just how they decide which is superior and which inferior in each case. Perhaps it is their Oriental instinct.
But the American guest does not have to determine whether he is superior to his host and hostess—or the opposite. It is already decided for him, by the laws of etiquette. For the guest at the formal dinner must accord every respect and honor to his host and hostess not in the servile manner of the coolie towards the mandarin, of course—but in the captivating and charming manner that bespeaks the fine lady and gentleman.
COMMENTS ON FOOD
Men and women of cultivation rarely make comments on food except to praise. It is better to accept a little of each course on one's place and eat a bit of it although one does not particularly care for it, than to refuse it entirely. A highly amusing story is related of a guest who was invited to a formal dinner given by a prominent New York woman who had gained a reputation for the savory qualities of the soups she served. On this occasion she was especially proud of her Grun Yung Waa (Bird's-Nest Soup)—and really, from all reports, it must have been remarkably delicious. But the guest we are writing about, sniffed at the soup disdainfully and asked, "Is this some of that new canned soup they are advertising?" The hostess blushed—as any conscientious hostess would—and the next time she issued invitations for dinner, she somehow forgot to include the guest who read the advertisements so diligently.
A guest at a formal dinner should never ask for a second helping of any dish. This holds equally true for an elaborate luncheon. However, the host or hostess may offer to provide a second helping to any one of the guests who has disposed of his first helping. In this case, the guest may acknowledge it with a smile, or if his appetite is entirely satisfied, he may refuse it with a polite word of thanks.
To insist, on the part of the host, after the guest has refused a second helping, is overdoing the bounds of hospitality, and perilously borders on the verge of incivility.
The hostess must be careful not to apologize profusely for things which are not as she would like to have them; it is better form completely to ignore the fact that the salad is not crisp enough or that the entree is too highly seasoned. The entire time spent at table should be no more than an hour and a half. An hour is usually sufficient if the courses are served with expedition. But there must be no semblance of haste.
Good cook books are full of suggestions for delectable menus and for the order of service. The butler or maid takes complete charge and it is better to have a less elaborate dinner than to have so many courses that he or she cannot manage without haste, noise, or confusion. The order of service depends upon the number of courses. The cook book will help here, also. Generally speaking, oysters on the half shell buried in ice, a cocktail, or a fruit cup constitutes the first course. This is followed by soup, game or fish, a salad, the roast and vegetables, dessert and coffee.
In presenting the first course the lady at the right of the host is served first. After that the order is varied so that the same person will not be served last every time. The butler serves dishes from the left and removes them from the right. No plates for any course are removed until everyone has finished. It is not necessary to wait until everyone is served to begin eating but it is most vulgar to show undue haste.
It is the duty of the butler to keep the glasses filled with water and to see that nuts, bonbons, etc., are passed frequently.
When fruit is served, the butler places a glass dessert plate on which is an embroidered doily and finger-bowl, before each guest, and next to it a small fruit knife. Then the fruits are offered to each guest; and when the hostess is quite sure that everyone has finished, she makes the sign for retiring. The usual manner of doing this, is to catch the eye of the lady who is the partner of her husband for the evening, nod and smile to her, and they both rise together, followed immediately by the other women guests. They adjourn to the drawing-room, where coffee is served and light conversation ensues until the men join them. The latter, in the meanwhile, remain in the dining-room to smoke their cigars and drink their coffee. Usually they will leave their original seats and move up to the end of the table, gathering around the host, whose duty it now is to entertain them and to keep pleasant conversation going. Fifteen minutes is an ample time for the gentlemen to smoke and chat by themselves. Then they are expected to join the ladies in the drawing-room.
Some hostesses like to provide special entertainment for their guests—professional dancers, elocutionists, or singers. But here "circumstances must alter cases." As a matter of fact, not very much entertainment is really required, for if the guests are congenial, they will no doubt enjoy conversation among themselves. It is, of course, not necessary to limit one's conversation to the lady or gentleman with whom one's lot has been cast for the evening. However, special attention should be paid to that person.
WHEN TO LEAVE
It is only an extremely rude and discourteous guest who will leave immediately upon the conclusion of the dinner. The correct thing to do, when invited to a dinner that begins at eight o'clock is to order one's car to appear at the door at ten-thirty. In most cases, however, when the guests are brilliant and pleasant, and when conversation holds one in spite of the desire to leave, it is customary to remain until eleven o'clock when the party will, no doubt, break up entirely.
In these days of gay festivities and continual hospitalities, it is not unusual for a popular guest to be invited to two receptions in one evening. Even this urgent responsibility, however, does not warrant the guest's hurrying away while the dinner is still serving—though it may be the last stages. The courteous way is to wait until all the guests have adjourned to the drawing-room, remain fifteen or twenty minutes conversing with one's partner or other guests, and then with a fitting apology and brief explanation, order one's car. If this is followed, the hostess cannot feel any dissatisfaction or resentment; but the guest who insists on rushing away, shows ill-breeding and inconsideration.
The lady, whether she be wife, sister or fiancee, is the first to express a desire to depart. When she does, she and the gentleman will seek out the host and hostess, thank them cordially for their hospitality, and take their leave. Here are some accepted forms that may be used with variations according to the guest's own personality:
"Good-night, Mrs. Carr. I must thank you for a perfectly delightful evening."
To which the hostess will no doubt answer something to this effect:
"We were glad to have you, I'm sure, Mrs. Roberts."
Here is another manner in which to extend one's thanks, and how to accept them:
"Sorry we must start so soon, Mrs. Carr. Thank you so much for your kindness."
"Good-night, Mrs. Roberts. I hope to see you soon again."
It is also very important to bid one's partner for the evening a cordial good-night. In fact, it is a flagrant breach to leave without having thanked one's partner—and a gentleman will never do it. A word or two is all that is necessary.
The hostess, in taking leave of her guests, will gratefully acknowledge their thanks and say a word or two expressing her pleasure at their presence. It is not civil or courteous on the part of either host or hostess to attempt to prolong the presence of any guest after he has made it known that he wishes to depart.
INVITING A STOP-GAP
If the hostess finds, almost at the last moment, that one of her guests is unavoidably detained and will not be able to attend the dinner, she may call upon a friend to take the vacant place. The friend thus invited should not feel that he or she is playing "second-fiddle" and the fact that she was not invited at first should not tempt her to refuse the invitation which would be a serious discourtesy, indeed. Quite on the contrary, she should accept cordially, and then do her utmost to make her (or his, as the case may be) presence at the dinner amiable and pleasant.
The invitation is usually in the form of a hand-written note, explaining the reason for its last-minute arrival, and frankly requesting the presence of the lady or gentleman in the place of the one who cannot appear. The answer should be brief but sincere; there must be no hint in it that the recipient is not altogether pleased with the invitation and with the idea of dining in someone's else place. To refuse an invitation to serve as a stop-gap, without an acceptable reason for doing so is an inexcusable violation of the rules of good breeding.
Of course, it is not always agreeable to the hostess to call on one of her friends to attend her dinner in the place of someone else; but it is certainly a better plan than to leave the guest out entirely, and have one more lady than gentleman, or vice versa. If the note is cordial and frankly sincere, a good friend will not feel any unreasonable resentment, but will, in fact, be pleased to serve.
The simple dinner, perfectly achieved, is as admirable a feat as the elaborate dinner, perfectly achieved. The hostess who has attained the art of giving perfect dinners, though they are small, may well be proud of her attainment.
If the cook knows how to cook; if the maid is well trained, and correctly attired in white cap and apron and black dress; if the table is laid according to the rules of dinner etiquette; if the welcome is cordial and the company congenial—the simple dinner may rank with the most extravagant and elaborate formal dinner. The cover may contain fewer pieces and the menu may contain fewer courses, the setting may be less fashionable, though not less harmonious, and still the dinner may be extremely tempting and enjoyable.
INVITING CONGENIAL GUESTS
Perhaps it is more important to select the guests wisely at a small informal dinner than it is at a formal one. As there are usually only four or six guests, they will undoubtedly become well acquainted by the time the dinner is over, and in order to have agreeable conversation it is necessary that they be congenial.
In a week or two, one generally forgets just what food was eaten at a certain dinner—but if the guests were all amiable and pleasing, the memory of conversation with them will linger and be constantly associated with the hostess and her home. Many a hostess would be happier (and her guests, too) if less time were paid to the planning of a menu, and more time spent in choosing guests who will be happy together.
WHEN THERE ARE NO SERVANTS
There is no reason why lack of servants should prevent one from entertaining friends and extending one's hospitality. The ideal hostess is not the one who tries to outdo her neighbor—who attempts, even though it is beyond her means, to give elaborate dinners that vie favorably with those given by her neighbors. The simplest dinner has possibilities of being a huge success, if it is given in the spirit of true cordiality.
For instance, a dinner which the writer attended recently was given by a young woman who did not have any servants. There were six guests who all had mutual interests and with very little help from the hostess they were not long in finding them.
The table was laid for eight. A silver bowl containing delicate ferns graced the center. The lights were shaded to a soft radiance. The entire dining-room had an atmosphere of quiet and restfulness about it. Each guest found, upon taking his place for dinner, a tall fruit glass at his cover, containing crushed grapefruit and cherries. When this first course was finished, the hostess placed the glasses on a serving table and wheeled it into the kitchen. The kitchen adjoined the dining-room, which of course facilitated matters considerably. And yet it was sufficiently separated to exclude all unpleasant signs of cooking.
There was no confusion, no haste, no awkward pauses. Somehow, the guests seemed to forget that maids or butlers were necessary at all. The quiet, calm poise of the hostess dominated the entire party and everyone felt contented and at ease.
There was a complete absence of restraint of any kind; conversation flowed smoothly and naturally, and in the enjoyment of one another's company, the guests were as happy and satisfied as they would probably have been at an elaborate formal dinner.
A table service wagon is most useful for the woman who is her own maid. It stands at the right of the hostess and may be wheeled in and out as she finds it necessary, though for the informal dinner it should not be essential to move it once it is in place. In the drawer should be found one or two extra napkins and extra silver for each course in case of accident or emergency. The coffee service may be placed on top of the table with the dishes for the several courses arranged on the shelves of the table from top to bottom in the order in which they are to be used. The table should not be too heavily loaded. It is much more useful when things are "easy to get at."
If your home is small and inconvenient, if you become easily flustered, if you don't find intense pleasure in making others happy, then don't invite friends to dinner—and discomfort. But if you are the jolly, calm, happy sort of a hostess, who can attend to duties quickly and yet without confusion, if you have a cozy little home and taste enough to make it attractive—then give dinners by all means—and your guests will not object to their simplicity.
With the servant problem growing more complex every year, more and more hostesses are turning to hotels to provide their special dinners. These cannot rival a successful dinner at home but often they are much easier to arrange and even the most conservative of hostesses may entertain dinner guests at a hotel. Private dining-rooms are a luxury but much more charming than the public room. The latter is, of course, the one used by the large majority of people.
Most hotels provide comfortable lobbies or lounges in which guests may wait for each other. But if the hotel is a big one and crowded it is pleasanter to meet elsewhere and arrive together.
The etiquette of the hotel dining-room is that of the home dining-room. Nothing should ever be done to draw attention to the group of people who are dining there. Quiet behavior is more than ever valuable.
DRESS FOR DINNER
For an informal dinner a woman may wear a semi-evening dress of the sort suitable for afternoon while her partner wears the regular dinner jacket. For a formal affair formal decollete dress with the hair arranged somewhat more elaborately than usual is required. Jewels may be worn. Gloves are always removed, never at a dinner should they be tucked in at the wrists. Men, of course, wear full evening dress to a formal dinner.
In hotels and other public dining-rooms there is more freedom of choice as to what one shall wear but it is in bad taste to attire oneself conspicuously. A woman dining alone should always wear her hat into the dining-room even if she is a guest of the hotel.
It is amazing how much the little niceties of life have to do with making a dinner pleasant, and in every home the family should "dress for dinner" even though this may not mean donning regulation evening dress. Formal or informal, in the intimacy of the family circle or in a large group of friends the meal should be unhurried and calm.
PURPOSE OF THE LUNCHEON
In England, and especially in London, the luncheon is held in quite as high esteem as our most formal dinners. For it is at the luncheon, in England, that distinguished men and women meet to discuss the important topics of the moment and exchange opinions. It is indeed easy to understand why this would be a delightful meal, for there is none of the restraint and formality of the late dinner. But in America, perhaps because most all of our gentlemen are at business "down-town" during the day, perhaps because we disdain to ape England's customs, the luncheon has not yet reached the point where it rivals the formal dinner. And yet it holds rather an important place all its own.
The "place" is distinctly feminine. The ladies of America have taken the luncheon in hand and developed it into a splendid midday entertainment and means of hospitality. The gentlemen are of course welcome; but they are rarely present. It is usually among themselves that the ladies celebrate the ceremony of the luncheon—both formal and informal—and that it has survived, and is tending to become permanently popular, is sufficient proof of its success. It is often preceded or followed by cards or other simple entertainment.
Invitations may be sent only a few days before the day set for the luncheon, and are usually written in the first person instead of the third which is the convention for more elaborate functions. The hour of luncheon is stated, but need not be as rigidly followed as the dinner hour. If guests are reasonably late they may be excused, but the late dinner guest is correctly considered discourteous. Lord Houghton, famous in England's social history, used to word his invitations simply "Come and lunch with me to-morrow" or "Will you lunch with me Tuesday?" He rarely mentioned the hour. Incidentally, Lord Houghton's unceremonious luncheons earned for him widespread comment, and they had much to do with the ultimate popularity of the informal luncheon in England.
The informal luncheon lost none of its easy congeniality in traveling across the ocean. There is a certain friendliness that distinguishes this meal from all others. Sometimes, in fact, the hostess dispenses with the ceremony of service altogether, and her guests help themselves from the buffet or side-table. If such is the case, the luncheon consists of cold meats, ham, tongue, roast beef, etc.; salads, wine jellies, fruits, cakes, bonbons and coffee. The most usual way, however, is to serve a more substantial luncheon, retaining just that degree of dinner formality that is so gratifying to the social sense.
ABOUT THE TABLE
Often the informal luncheon is served on the bare table, making use of numerous lace or linen doilies instead of the usual table-cloth. (This does not hold true of the formal luncheon and may not be true even of the informal one.)
The menu must be appropriate to the season. Tea or coffee are never served in the drawing-room after the in formal luncheon. If at all, they are served right at the table at the conclusion of the meal.
The informal luncheon guest never remains long after the luncheon unless the hostess has provided special amusement. If the luncheon lasts an hour the guests may sit around and chat with the hostess for about a half hour; but they must remember that she may have afternoon engagements, and it would be exceedingly inconsiderate and rude on their part to delay her.
THE FORMAL LUNCHEON
The formal luncheon is very much like the formal dinner, except that it is not so substantial as to menu. The table is laid the same, except that linen doilies are used in preference to table-cloths. The latter are in good form, however, and it is merely a matter of taste in the final selection. Then too, there is never any artificial light at a luncheon, whether it be simple or elaborate.
The formal luncheon usually opens with a first course of fruit— grapefruit, ordinarily, but sometimes chilled pineapple or fruit cocktails. When the fruit glasses are removed, bouillon in two-handled cups is served. Some-times a course of fish follows, but it is really not essential to the luncheon and most hostesses prefer to omit it. An entree is next served—chicken, mushrooms, sweetbreads or beef according to the taste and judgment of the hostess; and usually a vegetable accompanies it.
A light salad, prepared with a regard for harmony with the rest of the menu, is always acceptable at the luncheon. Desserts may be the same as those served for dinner, jellies, frozen puddings, ice-cream, tarts, nuts, etc. It is not customary to retire to the drawing-room for coffee; it is good form to have it served at the table. If the weather is tempting, and if the hostess is so inclined, coffee may be served on the porch. However, these lesser details must be decided by personal taste and convenience.
It may be taken for granted that the hostess would not give a formal luncheon if she had afternoon engagements. For that reason, the guests may stay later than they would at an informal luncheon. Sometimes music is provided, and often there are recitations and dramatic readings. Usually the hour set for a ceremonious luncheon is one-thirty o'clock; it is safe to say, then, that three o'clock or half-past three is ample time to take one's departure.
THE TABLE FOR THE FORMAL LUNCHEON
The appointments of the formal luncheon table are, as was pointed out above, almost identical with those of the dinner table.
In the first place, butter may be served with the formal luncheon and rarely with dinner. Thus we find tiny but ter dishes added at the left of each luncheon cover. These plates are usually decorative, and sometimes are made large enough to contain both the bread and butter, instead of just the butter alone, Another difference, though slight.-cut-glass platters for nuts and bonbons take the place of the silver platters of dinner.
Candles are not used; nor is any other artificial light whenever it can be avoided.
The formal luncheon offers an ideal time for the hostess to display her finest china, her best silver. It is an occasion when dignity and beauty combine with easy friendliness to make the event memorable, and the wise hostess spares no effort in adding those little touches that go so far towards making any entertainment a success. Menu cards and favors, of course, are "touches" that belong to the dinner table alone; but flowers, service and general setting of the dining-room are details that deserve considerable attention and thought.