A knife should never, on any account, be put into the mouth. Many people, even well-bred in other respects, seem to regard this as an unnecessary regulation; but when we consider that it is a rule of etiquette, and that its violation causes surprise and disgust to many people, it is wisest to observe it.
Be careful to remove the bones from fish before eating. If a bone inadvertently should get into the mouth, the lips must be covered with the napkin in removing it. Cherry stones and grape skins should be removed from the mouth as unobtrusively as possible, and deposited on the side of the plate.
Never use a napkin in place of a handkerchief for wiping the forehead, face or nose.
Pastry should be eaten with a fork. Every thing that can be cut without a knife should be eaten with the fork alone. Pudding may be eaten with a fork or spoon.
Never lay your hand, or play with your fingers, upon the table. Do not toy with your knife, fork or spoon, make crumbs of your bread, or draw imaginary lines upon the table cloth.
Never bite fruit. An apple, peach or pear should be peeled with a knife, and all fruit should be broken or cut.
WAITING ON OTHERS.
If a gentleman is seated by the side of a lady or elderly person, politeness requires him to save them all trouble of procuring for themselves anything to eat or drink, and of obtaining whatever they are in want of at the table, and he should be eager to offer them what he thinks may be most to their taste.
A hostess should not express pride regarding what is on her table, nor make apologies if everything she offers you is not to her satisfaction. It is much better that she should observe silence in this respect, and allow her guests to eulogize her dinner or not, as they deem proper. Neither is it in good taste to urge guests to eat, nor to load their plates against their inclination.
For one or two persons to monopolize a conversation which ought to be general, is exceedingly rude. If the dinner party is a large one, you may converse with those near you, raising the voice only loud enough to be distinctly heard by the persons you are talking with.
PICKING TEETH AT THE TABLE.
It is a mark of rudeness to pick your teeth at the table, and it should always be avoided. To hold your hand or napkin over your mouth does not avoid the rudeness of the act, but if it becomes a matter of necessity to remove some obstacle from between the teeth, then your open mouth should be concealed by your hand or napkin.
SELECTING A PARTICULAR DISH.
Never express a preference for any dish or any particular portion of a fowl or of meat, unless requested to do so, and then answer promptly, that no time may be wasted in serving you and others after you.