Friday, May 6, 2011

1696 Table Manners for a Lady from London

Dutch Patrician Family c 1610

The Accomplished Ladies Rich Closet OF Rarities
John Shirley [J. S. (John Shirley), fl. 1680-1702.]
LONDON Printed by W Wilde for n. Bodington in Duck Lane; and J. Blare on London-Bridge. 1696.

Behavior at the Table

Instructions for a gentlewoman an in her Behaviour at the Table, Abroad, and at Home; with the Terms and Manner of Carving Fowl, Flesh, of Breasts and Fish, with Directions to know the choicest pieces in either, and such as are most acceptable.

Being at the Table in your due place, observe to keep your Body strait, and lean not by any means with your Elbows, nor by ravenous Gesture discover a voracious Appetite:

Knaw no Bones, but cut your Meat decently with the help of your Fork;

make no noise in calling for any thing you want but speak softly to those that are next, or wait to give it: nor be so disingenuous as to shew your dislike of any thing that is before you, if Strangers be at the Table; especially at another's Table,

eat not your Spoon meat so hot that it makes your Eyes water, nor be seen to blow it.

Complain not of a queazy stomach:

wipe your spoon every time you dip it in the dish:

if you eat Spoon-meat with others, eat not too fast, nor unseemly:

neither be nice or curious at the Table by minceing or mimping, as if you liked not the Meat or the Company:

where you see variety, yet reach not after then, but stay till you have an opportunity, and then shew an indifferency as to your choice;

and if it chance to happen you have a Plate with some Piece you fancy not presented,

wait your opportunity till it be taken away and changed:

nor be inquisitive (for 'tis uncomely) to know what such a Fowl or such a Joynt colt,

nor discourse of Bills of Fare: take not in your Wine or other Liquor too greedily,

nor drink till you are out of breath, but do things with decency and order.

If you are abroad at Dinner, let not your Hand be first in any Dish,

nor take your place unseemly:

neither be induced to Carve tho' the Mistress of the House out of Complement intreat it, unless you see a necessity for it;

and where-ever you Carve keep your Fingers from your Mouth:

throw not any thing over your Shoulder,

neither take or give any thing on that side where a Person of Quality, or one much above you is seated,

nor reach your Arms over other Dishes to reach at what you like better.