22 April 2009

Wednesday Etiquette

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone"

Ella Wilcox Wheeler

Today’s etiquette tips come from the two-volume collection on etiquette, Correct Social Usage. Compiled in 1907, The New York Society of Self Culture gathered together eighteen of the country’s leading arbiters of social correctness to assemble their expertise into this two-volume compendium of how to behave. The most famous of the writers is the above quoted, Ella Wilcox Wheeler and first in our gallery experts.

Correct Social Usage provides info from the street to the table. Here are some examples.

Manners In Public

Manners in public are the plainly seen stamp which marks men and women as coming from homes where social proprieties either are or are not observed. The proper stamp should be properly affixed to the little as well as the larger matters.

When walking in daytime on the street, a lady does not take a gentleman’s arm unless she is quite elderly or infirm. As night it is of course proper to do so. She should not thrust her arm through his, in the ungraceful manner often seen, but should lightly place her hand – the left one usually – just within the curve of his elbow. A gentleman, escorting two ladies at night, offers his arm to the elder of the two. The other lady walks beside her friend; it is not correct for the gentleman to sandwich himself between them. That side of the pavement where he can best guard his companion from obstacles or dangers is the side for the man to take; therefore either the right or the left arm may be offered with equal propriety. A well-bred man offers his arm to the lady; he should never attempt to take hers.

Now that you have mastered “walking” lets move on to meat carving. We all need to know just how to carve our forequarter of lamb or haunch of venison. Here are some tips.

Carving An Art

Meat carving is, in its way, quite as much of an art as wood-carving. To become skilled in either art technical knowledge and faithful practice are required. Most carvers make the mistake of setting to work too vigorously. Strength is less needed than skill. Many dainty little housewives carve gracefully and well, without rising from their seats. On the other hand, it is by no means unusual to see a big six-foot host sitting in utter despair before a roast or fowl which he is expected to dissect, and finally asking pardon for standing on his feet while, with frequent flourishes of the carving knife, he attacks it. One of the first rules for good carving is to learn how to do it without rising. If the seat of the carver is a little higher than the other chairs this rule may be observed without difficulty.

Here's to all you dainty little housewives out there can delicately take the arm of your innamorato and dissect a rump roast with grace and aplomb while never once rising to your feet. You go, girl! So sorry,what I meant to say was: Lovely actions, my dear.

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