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Manners and Social Usages by Mrs. John M. E. W. Sherwood

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boxes for the opera and suppers at Delmonico's. A woman should
remember that it may sometimes be very inconvenient to young men
who are invited by her to go to concerts and theatres to pay for
these pleasures. Many a poor fellow who has become a defaulter has
to thank for it the lady who first asked him to take her to
Delmonico's to supper. He was ashamed to tell her that he was
poor, and he stole that he might not seem a churl.

Another phase of the subject is that a lady in permitting a
gentleman to expend money for her pleasures assumes an obligation
to him which time and chance may render oppressive.

With an old friend, however, one whose claim to friendship is well
established, the conditions are changed. In his case there can be
no question of obligation, and a woman may accept unhesitatingly
any of those small attentions and kindnesses which friendly
feeling may prompt him to offer to her.

Travelling alone with a gentleman escort was at one time allowed
in the West. A Kentucky woman of that historic period, "before the
war," would not have questioned the propriety of it, and a Western
man of to-day still has the desire to pay everything, everywhere,
"for a lady."

The increase in the population of the Western States and the
growth of a wealthy and fashionable society in the large towns
have greatly modified this spirit of unwise chivalry, and such
customs are passing away even on the frontier. Mr. Howells's
novel, "The Lady of the Aroostook," has acquainted American
readers with the unkind criticism to which a young lady who
travels in Europe without a chaperon is subjected, and we believe
that there are few mammas who would desire to see their daughters
in the position of Miss Lydia Blood.

"An old maid," as our correspondent playfully calls herself, may
do almost anything without violating etiquette, if she consents to
become a chaperon, and takes with her a younger person. Thus an
aunt and niece can travel far and wide; the position of an elder
sister is always dignified; the youthful head of a house has a
right to assert herself--she must do it--therefore etiquette bows
to her (as "nice customs courtesy to great kings").

There is very much in the appearance of a woman. It is a part of
the injustice of nature that some people look coquettish who are
not so. Bad taste in dress, a high color, a natural flow of
spirits, or a loud laugh have often caused a very good woman to be
misinterpreted. Such a woman should be able to sit in judgment
upon herself; and remembering that in a great city, at a crowded
theatre, or at a watering-place, judgments must be hasty and
superficial, she should tone down her natural exuberance, and take
with her a female companion who is of a different type from
herself. Calm and cold Puritanical people may not be more
respectable than the fresh-colored and laughing "old maids" of
thirty-five, but they look more so, and in this world women must
consult appearances. An elderly girl must ever think how she
looks. A woman who at a watering-place dresses conspicuously,
wears a _peignoir_ to breakfast, dyes her hair, or looks as if she
did, ties a white blond veil over her locks and sits on a hotel
piazza, showing her feet, may be the best, the most cultivated
woman in the house, but a superficial observer will not think so.
In the mind of every passer-by will lurk the feeling that she
lacks the first grace of womanhood, modesty--and in the criticism
of a crowd there is strength. A man passing such a person, and
contrasting her with modestly dressed and unobtrusive ladies,
would naturally form an unfavorable opinion of her; and were she
alone, and her name entered on the books of the house as "Miss"
Smith, he would not be too severe if he thought her decidedly
eccentric, and certainly "bad style." If, however, "Miss" Smith
were very plain and quiet, and dressed simply and in good taste,
or if she sat on the sands looking at the sea, or attended an
invalid or a younger friend, then Miss Smith might be as
independent as she pleased: she would suffer from no injurious
comments. Even the foreigner, who does not believe in the
eccentricities of the English _mees_, would have no word to say
against her. A good-looking elderly girl might say, "There is,
then, a premium on ugliness;" but that we do not mean. Handsome
women can conduct themselves so well that the breath of reproach
need not and does not touch them, and ugly women may and do
sometimes gain an undeserved reproach.

There are some people who are born with what we call, for want of
a better name, a pinchbeck air. Their jewellery never looks like
real gold; their manner is always bad; they have the _faux air_ of
fashion, not the real one. Such people, especially if single,
receive many a snub which they do not deserve, and to a woman of
this style a companion is almost necessary. Fortunately there are
almost always _two_ women who can join forces in travelling or in
living together, and the independence of such a couple is
delightful. We have repeated testimony in English literature of
the pleasant lives of the Ladies of Llangollen, of the lives of
Miss Jewsbury and Lady Morgan, and of the model sisters Berry. In
our own country we have almost abolished the idea that a companion
is necessary for women of talent who are physicians or artists or
musicians; but to those who are still in the trammels of private
life we can say that the presence of a companion need not destroy
their liberty, and it may add very much to their respectability
and happiness. There is, no doubt, a great pleasure in the added
freedom of life which comes to an elderly girl. "I can wear a
velvet dress now," said an exceedingly handsome woman on her
thirtieth birthday. In England an unmarried woman of fifty is
called "_Mrs._," if she prefers that title. So many delightful
women are late in loving, so many are true to some buried love, so
many are "elderly girls" from choice, and from no neglect of the
stronger sex, that to them should be accorded all the respect
which is supposed to accrue naturally to the married. "It takes a
very superior woman to be an old maid," said Miss Sedgwick.


"Le jour de l'an," as the French call the first day of January, is
indeed the principal day of the year to those who still keep up
the custom of calling and receiving calls. But in New York it is a
custom which is in danger of falling into desuetude, owing to the
size of the city and the growth of its population. There are,
however, other towns and "much country" (as the Indians say)
outside of New York, and there are still hospitable boards at
which the happy and the light-hearted, the gay and the thoughtful,
may meet and exchange wishes for a happy New-Year.

To those who receive calls we would say that it is well, if
possible, to have every arrangement made two or three days before
New-Year's, as the visiting begins early--sometimes at eleven
o'clock--if the caller means to make a goodly day. A lady should
have her hair dressed for the day when she rises, and if her dress
be not too elaborate she should put it on then, so that she may be
in the drawing-room when the first visitor arrives. In regard to
the question of dress, we should say that for elderly ladies black
satin or velvet, or any of the combination dresses so fashionable
now, with handsome lace, and Swedish gloves of pearl or tan color
(not white kids; these are decidedly rococo, and not in fashion),
would be appropriate. A black satin, well made, and trimmed with
beaded _passementerie_, is perhaps the handsomest dress that could
be worn by any one. Brocaded silk, plain gros grain, anything that
a lady would wear at the wedding reception of her daughter is
suitable, although a plain dress is in better taste.

For young ladies nothing is so pretty as a dress of light cashmere
and silk, cut high at the throat. These dresses, in the very
pretty tints worn now, are extremely becoming, warm-looking, and
appropriate for a reception, when the door is being often opened.
White dresses of thick silk or cashmere, trimmed around the neck
with lace, are also very elegant. In all countries young married
women are allowed to be as magnificent as a picture of Marie de
Medici, and can wear on New-Year's day rose-colored and white
brocaded silks, with pearl trimmings, or plain ciel blue, or
prawn-colored silk over white, or embossed velvet, or what they
please, so that the dress is cut high, and has sleeves to the
elbow. Each lady should have near her an ermine cloak, or a small
camel's-hair shawl in case of draughts. It is not good taste to
wear low-necked or sleeveless dresses during the day-time. They
are worn by brides on their wedding-day sometimes, but at
receptions or on New-Year's day scarcely ever.

While much magnificence is permissible, still a plain black or
dark silk dress, if well made, with fresh ruffles at neck and
wrists, is quite as proper as anything else, and men generally
admire it more. But where a lady has several daughters to receive
with her, she should study the effect of her rooms, and dress the
young ladies in prettily contrasting colors. This may be cheaply
done by using the soft, fine merinoes, which are to be had in all
the delicate and fashionable shades. Short dresses of this
material are much used; but now that imported dresses are so
easily obtained, a mother with many daughters to dress cannot do
better than buy costumes similar to those worn by economical
French ladies on their _jour de l'an_. One article of dress is _de
rigeur_. With whatever style of costume, gloves must be worn.

A lady who expects to have many calls, and who wishes to offer
refreshments, should have hot tea and coffee and a bowl of punch
on a convenient table; or, better still, a silver kettle filled
with bouillon standing in the hall, so that a gentleman coming in
or going out can take a cup of it unsolicited. If she lives in an
English basement house, this table can be in the lower
dining-room. In a house three rooms deep the table and all the
refreshments can be in the usual dining-room or in the upper
back-parlor. Of course, her "grand spread" can be as gorgeous as
she pleases. Hot oysters, salads, boned turkey, quail, and hot
terrapin, with wines _ad libitum_, are offered by the wealthy; but
this is a difficult table to keep in order when ten men call at
one o'clock, and forty at four, and none between. The best table
is one which is furnished with boned turkey, jellied tongues, and
_pft,s_, sandwiches, and similar dishes, with cake and fruit as
decorative additions. The modern and admirable adjunct of a
spirit-lamp under a teakettle keeps the bouillon, tea, and coffee
always hot, and these, with the teacups necessary to serve them,
should be on a small table at one side. A maid-servant, neatly
dressed, should be in constant attendance on this table, and a
man-servant or two will be needed to attend the door and to wait
at table.

The man at the door should have a silver tray or card-basket in
which to receive the cards of visitors. If a gentleman is not
known to the lady of the house, he sends in his card; otherwise he
leaves it with the waiter, who deposits it in some receptacle
where it should be kept until the lady has leisure to examine the
cards of all her guests. If a gentleman is calling on a young
lady, and is not known to the hostess, he sends in his card to the
former, who presents him to the hostess and to all the ladies
present. If the room is full, an introduction to the hostess only
is necessary. If the room is comparatively empty, it is much
kinder to present a gentleman to each lady, as it tends to make
conversation general. As a guest is about to depart, he should be
invited to take some refreshment, and be conducted towards the
dining-room for that purpose. This hospitality should never be
urged, as man is a creature who dines, and is seldom willing to
allow a luncheon to spoil a dinner. In a country neighborhood,
however, or after a long walk, a visitor is almost always glad to
break his fast and enjoy a pickled oyster, a sandwich, or a cup of

The etiquette of New-Year's day commands, peremptorily, that a
gentleman shall not be asked to take off his overcoat nor to be
relieved of his hat. He will probably prefer to wear his overcoat,
and to carry his hat in his hand during his brief visit. If he
wishes to dispose of either, he will do so in the hall; but on
that point he is a free moral agent, and it is not a part of the
duty of a hostess to suggest what he shall do with his clothes.

Many letters come to us asking "What subjects should be talked
about during a New-Year's call." Alas! we can only suggest the
weather and the good wishes appropriate to the season. The
conversation is apt to be fragmentary. One good _mot_ was evolved
a few years ago, when roads were snowy and ways were foul. A
gentleman complained of the mud and the dirty streets. "Yes," said
the lady, "but it is very bright overhead." "I am not going that
way," replied the gentleman.

A gentleman should not be urged to stay when he calls. He has
generally but five minutes in which to express a desire that old
and pleasant memories shall be continued, that new and cordial
friendships shall be formed, and after that compliment, which
every wall-bred man pays a lady, "How remarkably well you are
looking to-day!" he wishes to be off.

In France it is the custom for a gentleman to wear a dress-coat
when calling on a great public functionary on New-Year's day, but
it is not so in America. Here he should, wear the dress in which
he would make an ordinary morning visit. When he enters a room he
should not remove his gloves, nor should he say, as he greets his
hostess, "Excuse my glove." He should take her gloved hand in his
and give it a cordial pressure, according to our pleasant American
fashion. When leaving, the ceremony is very brief--simply,
"Good-morning," or "Good-evening," as the case may be.

It is proper for gentlemen to call late in the evening of
New-Year's day, and calls are made during the ensuing evenings by
people who are otherwise occupied in the daytime. If the family
are at dinner, or the lady is fatigued with the day's duties, the
servant must say at the door that Mrs._____ desires to be excused.
He must not present the card to her, and thus oblige her to send
to her visitor a message which might be taken as a personal
affront. But she must have the servant instructed to refuse all at
certain hours; then none can be offended.

Many ladies in New York are no longer "at home" on New-Year's day;
and when this is the case a basket is tied at the door to receive
cards. They do this because so many gentlemen have given up the
custom of calling that it seems to be dying out, and all their
preparations for a reception become a hollow mockery. How many
weary women have sat with novel in hand and luncheon-table spread,
waiting for the callers who did not come! The practice of sending
cards to gentlemen, stating that a lady would be at home on
New-Year's day, has also very much gone out of fashion, owing to
the fact that gentlemen frequently did not respond to them.

It is, however, proper that a married lady returning to her home
after a long absence in Europe, or one who has changed her
residence, or who is living at a hotel or boarding-house (or who
is visiting friends), should send her card to those gentlemen whom
she wishes to receive. It must be remembered that many gentlemen,
generally those no longer young, still like very much the fashion
of visiting on New-Year's day, and go to see as many people as
they can in a brief winter's sunshine. These gentlemen deplore the
basket at the door, and the decadence of the old custom in New
York. Family friends and old friends, those whom they never see at
any other time, are to be seen--or they should be seen, so these
old friends think--on New-Year's day.

A personal call is more agreeable than a card. Let a gentleman
call, and in person, or take no notice of the day. So say the most
trustworthy authorities, and their opinion has an excellent
foundation of common-sense.

Could we only go back to the old Dutch town where the custom
started, where all animosities were healed, all offences
forgotten, on New-Year's day, when the good Dutch housewives made
their own cakes and spiced the loving-cup, when all the women
stayed at home to receive and all the men called, what a different
New-Year's day we should enjoy in New York. Nowadays, two or three
visitors arrive before the hostess is ready to receive them; then
one comes after she has appeared, vanishes, and she remains alone
for two hours; then forty come. She remembers none of their names,
and has no rational or profitable conversation with any of them.

But for the abusers of New-Year's day, the pretenders who, with no
right to call, come in under cover of the general hospitality of
the season--the bores, who on this day, as on all days, are only
tiresome--we have no salve, no patent cure. A hostess must receive
them with the utmost suavity, and be as amiable and agreeable as

New-Year's day is a very brilliant one at Washington. All the
world calls on the President at twelve o'clock; the diplomats in
full dress, officers of the army and navy in full uniform, and the
other people grandly attired. Later, the heads of departments,
cabinet ministers, judges, etc., receive the lesser lights of

In Paris the same etiquette is observed, and every clerk calls on
his chief.

In a small city or village etiquette manages itself, and ladies
have only to let it be known that they will be at home, with hot
coffee and oysters, to receive the most agreeable kind of
callers--those who come because they really wish to pay a visit,
to express goodwill, and to ask for that expression of friendship
which our reserved Anglo-Saxon natures are so prone to withhold.

In New York a few years ago the temperance people made a great
onslaught on ladies who invited young men to drink on New-Year's
day. It was said to lead to much disorder and intemperance; and
so, from fear of causing one's brother to sin, many have banished
the familiar punch-bowl. In a number of well-known houses in New
York no luncheon is offered, and a cup of bouillon or coffee and a
sandwich is the usual refreshment in the richest and most stylish
houses. It will be seen, therefore, that it is a day of largest
liberty. There are no longer any sumptuary laws; but it is
impossible to say why ladies of the highest fashion in New York do
not still make it a gala-day. The multiplicity of other
entertainments, the unseen yet all-powerful influence of fashion,
these things mould the world insensibly. Yet in a thousand homes,
thousands of cordial hands will be extended on the great First of
January, and to all of them we wish a Happy New Year.


A matin,e in America means an afternoon performance at the theatre
of a play or opera. In Europe it has a wider significance, any
social gathering before dinner in France being called a _matin,e_,
as any party after dinner is called a _soir,e_.

The improper application of another foreign word was strikingly
manifested in the old fashion of calling the President's evening
receptions _levees_. The term "levee," as originally used, meant
literally a king's getting up. When he arose, and while he was
dressing, such of his courtiers as were privileged to approach him
at this hour gathered in an anteroom-waiting to assist at his
toilet, to wish him good morning, or perhaps prefer a request. In
time this morning gathering grew to be an important court
ceremonial, and some one ignorant of the meaning of the word named
President Jackson's evening receptions "the President's levees."
So with the word _matin,e_. First used to indicate a day reception
at court, it has now grown to mean a day performance at a theatre.
Sometimes a lady, bolder than her neighbors, issues an invitation
for "a _matin,e dansante_," or "a _matin,e musicale_," but this
descriptive style is not common.

There are many advantages in a morning party. It affords to ladies
who do not go to evening receptions the pleasure of meeting
informally, and is also a well-chosen occasion for introducing a
new pianist or singer.

For a busy woman of fashion nothing can be more conveniently timed
than a _matin,e_, which begins at two and ends at four or half
past. It does not interfere with a five-o'clock tea or a drive in
the park, nor unfit her for a dinner or an evening entertainment.
Two o'clock is also a very good hour for a large and informal
general lunch, if a lady wishes to avoid the expense, formality,
and trouble of a "sit-down" lunch.

While the busy ladies can go to a _matin,e_, the busy gentleman
cannot; and as men of leisure in America are few, a morning
entertainment at a theatre or in society is almost always an
assemblage of women. To avoid this inequality of sex, many ladies
have their _matin,e_s on some one of the national
holidays--Washington's Birthday, Thanksgiving, or Decoration-day.
On these occasions a _matin,e_, even in busy New York, is well
attended by gentlemen.

When, as sometimes happens, a prince, a duke, an archbishop, an
author of celebrity, a Tom Hughes, a Lord Houghton, a Dean
Stanley, or some descendant of our French allies at Yorktown,
comes on a visit to our country, one of the most satisfactory
forms of entertainment that we can offer to him is a morning
reception. At an informal _matin,e_ we may bring to meet him such
authors, artists, clergymen, lawyers, editors, statesmen, rich and
public-spirited citizens, and beautiful and cultivated women of
society, as we may be fortunate enough to know.

The primary business of society is to bring together the various
elements of which it is made up--its strongest motive should be to
lighten up the momentous business of life by an easy and friendly
intercourse and interchange of ideas.

But if we hope to bring about us men of mind and distinction, our
object must be not only to be amused but to amuse.

To persuade those elderly men who are maintaining the great
American name at its present high place in the Pantheon of nations
to spend a couple of hours at a _matin,e_, we must offer some
tempting bait as an equivalent. A lady who entertained Dean
Stanley said that she particularly enjoyed her own _matin,e_ given
for him, because through his name she for the first time induced
the distinguished clergy of New York to come to her house.

Such men are not tempted by the frivolities of a fashionable
social life that lives by its vanity, its excitement, its rivalry
and flirtation. Not that all fashionable society is open to such
reproach, but its tendency is to lightness and emptiness; and we
rarely find really valuable men who seek it. Therefore a lady who
would make her house attractive to the best society must offer it
something higher than that to which we may give the generic title
fashion. Dress, music, dancing, supper, are delightful
accessories-they are ornaments and stimulants, not requisites. For
a good society we need men and women who are "good company," as
they say in England--men and women who can talk. Nor is the
advantage all on one side. The free play of brain, taste, and
feeling is a most important refreshment to a man who works hard,
whether in the pulpit or in Wall Street, in the editorial chair or
at the dull grind of authorship. The painter should wash his
brushes and strive for some intercourse of abiding value with
those whose lives differ from his own. The woman who works should
also look upon the _divertissements_ of society as needed
recreation, fruitful, may be, of the best culture.

On the other hand, no society is perfect without the elements of
beauty, grace, taste, refinement, and luxury. We must bring all
these varied potentialities together if we would have a real and
living social life. For that brilliant thing that we call society
is a finely-woven fabric of threads of different sizes and colors
of contrasting shades. It is not intrigue, or the display of
wealth, or morbid excitement that must bind together this social
fabric, but sympathy, that pleasant thing which refines and
refreshes, and "knits up the ravelled sleeve of care," and leaves
us strong for the battle of life.

And in no modern form of entertainment can we better produce this
finer atmosphere, this desirable sympathy between the world of
fashion and that of thought, than by _matin,es_, when given under
favorable circumstances. To be sure, if we gave one every day it
would be necessary, as we have said, to dispense with a large
number of gentlemen; but the occasional _matinee_ is apt to catch
some very good specimens of the _genus homo_, and sometimes the
best specimens. It is proper to offer a very substantial _buffet,
as people rarely lunch before two o'clock, and will be glad of a
bit of bird, a cup of bouillon, or a leaf of salad. It is much
better to offer such an entertainment earlier than the
five-o'clock tea; at which hour people are saving their appetites
for dinner.

A _soir,e_ is a far more difficult affair, and calls for more
subtle treatment. It should be, not a ball, but what was formerly
called an "evening party." It need not exclude dancing, but
dancing is not its excuse for being. It means a very bright
_conversazione_, or a reading, or a _musicale_, with pretty
evening dress (not necessarily ball dress), a supper, and early
hours. Such, at least, was its early significance abroad.

It has this advantage in New York, that it does attract gentlemen.
They like very much the easy-going, early-houred _soir,e_. We
mean, of course, those gentlemen who no longer care for balls, and
if aristocracy is to be desired, "the rule of the best," at
American entertainments, all aspirants for social distinction
should try to propitiate those men who are being driven from the
ballroom by the insolence and pretension of the lower elements of
fashionable society. In Europe, the very qualities which make a
man great in the senate, the field, or the chamber of commerce,
give him a corresponding eminence in the social world. Many a
gray-mustached veteran in Paris leads the german. A senator of
France aspires to appear well in the boudoir. With these men
social dexterity is a requisite to success, and is cultivated as a
duty. It is not so here, for the two great factors of success in
America, wealth and learning, do not always fit a man for society,
and still less does society adapt itself to them.

The _soir,e_, if properly conducted, is an entertainment to which
can be brought the best elements of our society: elderly,
thoughtful, and educated men. A lady should not, however, in the
matter of dress, confound a _soir,e_ with a concert or reception.
It is the height of impropriety to wear a bonnet to the former, as
has been done in New York, to the everlasting disgust of the

When a hostess takes the pains to issue an invitation to a
_soir,e_ a week or a fortnight before it is to occur, she should
be repaid by the careful dressing and early arrival of her guests.
It may be proper to go to an evening reception in a bonnet, but
never to a _soir,e_ or an evening party.

There is no doubt that wealth has become a power in American
society, and that we are in danger of feeling that, if we have not
wealth, we can give neither _matin,es_ nor _soir,es_; but this is
a mistake. Of course the possession of wealth is most desirable.
Money is power, and when it is well earned it is a noble power;
but it does not command all those advantages which are the very
essence of social intercourse. It may pamper the appetite, but it
does not always feed the mind. There is still a corner left for
those that have but little money. A lady can give a _matinee_ or a
_soiree_ in a small house with very little expenditure of money;
and if she has the inspiration of the model entertainer, every one
whom she honors with an invitation will flock to her small and
unpretending _menage_. There are numbers of people in our large
cities who can give great balls, dazzle the eye, confuse and
delight the senses, drown us in a sensuous luxury; but how few
there are who, in a back street and in a humble house, light that
lamp by which the Misses Berry summoned to their little parlor the
cleverest and best people!

The elegant, the unpretentious, the quiet _soir,e_ to which the
woman of fashion shall welcome the _litt,rateur_ and the artist,
the aristocrat who is at the top of the social tree and the
millionaire who reached his culmination yesterday, would seem to
be that _Ultima Thule_ for which all people have been sighing ever
since society was first thought of. There are some Americans who
are so foolish as to affect the pride of the hereditary
aristocracies, and who have some fancied traditional standard by
which they think to keep their blue blood pure. A good old
grandfather who had talent, or patriotism, or broad views of
statesmanship, "who did the state some service," is a relation to
be proud of, but his descendants should take care to show, by some
more personal excellence than that of a social exclusiveness,
their appreciation of his honesty and ability. What our
grandfathers were, a thousand new-comers now are. They made their
way--the early American men--untrammelled by class restraints;
they arrived at wealth and distinction and social eminence by
their own merits; they toiled for the money which buys for their
grandsons purple and fine linen. And could they see the pure and
perfect snob who now sometimes bears the name which they left so
unsullied, they would be exasperated and ashamed, Of course, a
certain exclusiveness must mark all our _matin,es_ and _soir,es_;
they would fail of the chief element of diversion if we invited
everybody. Let us, therefore, make sure of the aesthetic and
intellectual, the sympathetic and the genial, and sift out the
pretentious and the impure. The rogues, the pretenders, the
adventurers who push into the penetralia of our social circles are
many, and it is to the exclusion of such that a hostess should
devote herself.

It is said that all women are born aristocrats, and it is
sometimes said in the same tone with which the speaker afterwards
adds that all women are born fools. A woman, from her finer sense,
enjoys luxury, fine clothing, gorgeous houses, and all the
refinements that money can buy; but even the most idle and
luxurious and foolish woman desires that higher luxury which art
and intelligence and delicate appreciation can alone bring; the
two are necessary to each other. To a hostess the difficulty of
entertaining in such a manner as to unite in a perfect whole the
financiers, the philosophers, the cultivated foreigners, the
people of fashion, the sympathetic and the artistic is very great;
but a hostess may bring about the most genial democracy at the
modern _matin,e_ or _soir,e_ if she manages properly.


The five-o'clock tea began in England, and is continued there, as
a needed refreshment after a day's hunting, driving, or
out-of-door exercise, before dressing for dinner--that very late
dinner of English fashion. It is believed that the Princess of
Wales set the fashion by receiving in her boudoir at some
countryhouse in a very becoming "tea gown," which every lady knows
to be the most luxurious change from the tight riding-habit or
carriage-dress. Her friends came in, by her gracious invitation,
to her sanctum, between five and seven, to take a cup of tea with
her. The London belles were glad to have an excuse for a new
entertainment, and gradually it grew to be a fashion, at which
people talked so fast and so loud as to suggest the noise of a
drum--a kettledrum, the most rattling of all drums. Then it was
remembered that an old-fashioned entertainment was called a drum,
and the tea suggested kettle, and the name fitted the
circumstances. In England, where economy is so much the fashion,
it was finally pronounced an excellent excuse for the suppression
of expense, and it came over to New York during a calamitous
period, just after "Black Friday." Ladies were glad to assemble
their friends at an hour convenient for their servants, and with
an entertainment inexpensive to their husbands. So a kettledrum
became the most fashionable of entertainments. People after a
while forgot its origin, and gave a splendid ball by daylight,
with every luxury of the season, and called it tea at five
o'clock, or else paid off all their social obligations by one
sweeping "tea," which cost them nothing but the lighting of the
gas and the hiring of an additional waiter. They became so popular
that they defeated themselves, and ladies had to encompass five,
six, sometimes nine teas of an afternoon, and the whole of a cold
Saturday--the favorite day for teas--was spent in a carriage
trying to accomplish the impossible.

The only "afternoon tea" that should prevail in a large city like
New York is that given by one or two ladies who are usually "at
home" at five o'clock every afternoon. If there is a well-known
house where the hostess has the firmness and the hospitality to be
always seated in front of her blazing urn at that hour, she is
sure of a crowd of gentlemen visitors, who come from down-town
glad of a cup of tea and a chat and rest between work and dinner.
The sight of a pretty girl making tea is always dear to the
masculine heart. Many of our young lawyers, brokers, and gay men
of the hunt like a cup of hot tea at five o'clock. The mistake was
in the perversion of the idea, the making it the occasion for the
official presentation of a daughter, or the excuse for other and
more elaborate entertainments. So, although many a house is opened
this winter at the same convenient hour, and with perhaps only the
bouillon and tea-kettle and bit of cake or sandwich (for really no
one wants more refreshment than this before dinner and after
luncheon), the name of these afternoon entertainments has been by
mutual consent dropped, and we no longer see the word "kettledrum"
or "afternoon tea" on a card, but simply the date and the hour.

There is a great deal to be said in this matter on both sides. The
primal idea was a good one. To have a gathering of people without
the universal oyster was at first a great relief. The people who
had not money for grand "spreads" were enabled to show to their
more opulent neighbors that they too had the spirit of
hospitality. All who have spent a winter in Rome remember the
frugal entertainment offered, so that an artist with no plentiful
purse could still ask a prince to visit him. It became the
reproach of Americans that they alone were ashamed to be poor, and
that, unless they could offer an expensive supper, dinner, or
luncheon, they could not ask their friends to come to see them.
Then, again, the doctors, it was urged, had discovered that tea
was the best stimulant for the athlete and for the brain-worker.
English "breakfast tea" kept nobody awake, and was the most
delightful of appetizers. The cup of tea and a sandwich taken at
five o'clock spoiled no one's dinner. The ladies of the house
began these entertainments, modestly receiving in plain but pretty
dresses; their guests were asked to come in walking-dress. But
soon the other side of the story began to tell. A lady going in
velvet and furs into a heated room, where gas added its discomfort
to the subterranean fires of a furnace, drank her hot cup of tea,
and came out to take a dreadful cold. Her walking dress was
manifestly a dress inappropriate to a kettledrum. Then the hostess
and the guests both became more dressy, the afternoon tea lost its
primitive character and became a gay reception. Then, again, the
nerves! The doctors condemn even the afternoon cup of tea, and
declare that it is the foundation of much of the nervous
prostration, the sleeplessness, and the nameless misery of our
overexcited and careworn oxygen driven people. We are overworked,
no doubt. We are an overcivilized set, particularly in the large
cities, and every one must decide for himself or herself if "tea"
is not an insidious enemy. That the introduction of an informal
and healthful and inexpensive way of entertaining is a grand
desideratum no one can fail to observe and allow. But with the
growth of an idea the tea blossomed into a supper, and the little
knot into a crowd, and of course the name became a misnomer.

The ideal entertainment would seem to be a gathering between four
and seven, which is thoroughly understood to be a large
gas-lighted party, which a lady enters properly dressed for a hot
room, having a cloak which she can throw off in the hall, and
where she can make her call long or short, as she pleases, and can
find a cup of hot bouillon if she is cold, or tea if she prefers
it, or a more elaborate lunch if her hostess pleases; and this
ideal entertainment is _not_ afternoon tea; it is a _reception_.
It is well enough indicated by the date on the card, and does not
need a name.

The abuse of the "afternoon tea" was that it took the place of
other entertainments. It has almost ruined the early evening
party, which was so pleasant a feature of the past. People who
could well afford to give breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and balls,
where men and women could meet each other, and talk, and know each
other well, did not give them; they gave an afternoon tea.

It may be because we have no "leisure class" that we do not give
breakfasts. In all our Anglomania it is strange that we have not
copied that plain, informal thing, an English breakfast, such as
Sydney Smith was wont to give. Mr. Webster writes home in 1839:
"In England the rule of politeness is to be quiet, act naturally,
take no airs, and make no bustle. This perfect politeness has cost
a great deal of drill." He delighted in the English breakfasts,
where he met "Boz," Tom Moore, Wordsworth, Rogers (who never gave
any entertainment but breakfasts). We are all workers in America,
yet we might have an occasional breakfast-party. Dinners and
ladies' lunches we know very well how to give, and there are
plenty of them. Perhaps the only objection to them is their
oversumptuousness. The ideal dinners of the past at Washington,
with the old Virginia hospitality, the oysters, terrapin, wild
turkeys, venison, served by negro cooks and waiters, the hostess
keeping the idea of agreeability before her, instead of caring
principally for her china, her glass, and her table-cloth. These
gave way long ago in New York to the greater luxury of the
prosperous city, and if there was any loss, it was in the
conversation. New York women have been forced into a life of
overdressing, dancing, visiting, shopping, gaining the
accomplishments, and showing them off, and leading the life of
society at its height; the men have been overwhelmingly engaged in
commerce, and later in Wall Street. No wonder that four o'clock
was an hour at which both paused, and called for a "cup of tea."

Nor because the name has passed away-temporarily, perhaps--will
the fashion pass. People will still gather around the steaming
urn. Young ladies find it a very pretty recreation to make the
tea-table attractive with the floral arrangements, the basket of
cake, the sandwiches, the silver tea-caddy, the alcohol lamp
burning under the silver or copper kettle, the padded "cozy" to
keep the tea warm, the long table around which young gentlemen and
young ladies can sit, while mamma, patient American
mamma--receives the elder people in the parlor.

It is no longer the elderly lady who presides at the tea-kettle;
the tabbies do not make or drink the teas; the younger pussies are
the queens of four-o'clock tea. It is whispered that it is a
convenient _alias_ for flirtation, or something even sweeter--that
many engagements have been made at "four-o'clock teas."

Certainly it is a very good opportunity for showing one's
tea-cups. The handsome china can be displayed at a four-o'clock
tea, if it is not too large, to the best advantage. The very early
assumption of a grand social entertainment under the name of
"four-o'clock tea" rather blotted out one of the prettiest
features of the English tea, that of the graceful garment the _tea

Tea gowns in France, under the _r,gime_ of Worth, have become most
luxurious garments. They are made of silk, satin, velvet, and
lined with delicate surah. They are trimmed with real and
imitation lace, and are of the most delicate shades of pink, blue,
lavender, and pearl-color; cascades of lace extend down the front.
In these, made loose to the figure, but still very elegant and
most becoming, do the English princess, the duchess, and the
Continental coroneted or royal dame, or the queen of fashion,
receive their guests at afternoon tea. No wonder that in each
bridal trousseau do we read of the wonderful "tea gowns." In
America ladies have been in the habit of always receiving in the
tight-fitting and elegant combinations of silk, surah, brocade,
velvet, and cashmere which fill the wardrobe of modern fashion.
The dresses of delicate cashmere, so becoming to young girls, are
always very much patronized for afternoon tea. Indeed, the young
lady dressed for afternoon tea was dressed for dinner. In this, as
our American afternoon teas have been managed, the American young
lady was right, for it is not _convenable_, according to European
ideas, to wear a loose flowing robe of the tea-gown pattern out of
one's bedroom or boudoir. It has been done by ignorant people at a
watering-place, but it never looks well. It is really an undress,
although lace and satin may be used in its composition. A plain,
high, and tight-fitting g,arment is much the more elegant dress
for the afternoon teas as we give them.

Call it what you will--reception, kettledrum, afternoon tea, or
something without a name--we have unconsciously, imitating a very
different sort of informal gathering, gained an easy and a
sensible entertainment in society, from four to seven; which seems
to address itself to all kinds of needs. We are prone in America
(so foreigners say) to overdo a thing--perhaps, also, to underdo
it. Be that as it may, all agree with Lord Houghton, who laughed
at the phrase, that we know how "to have a good time."


We are asked by many young mammas as to the meaning of the phrase
"caudle parties."

Formerly the persons who called to congratulate the happy
possessor of a new boy or girl were offered mulled wine and
plum-cake. Some early chronicler thinks that the two got mixed,
and that caudle was the result.

Certain it is that a most delicious beverage, a kind of oatmeal
gruel, boiled "two days," with raisins and spices, and fine old
Madeira (some say rum) added, makes a dish fit to set before a
king, and is offered now to the callers on a young mamma. The old
English custom was to have this beverage served three days after
the arrival of the little stranger. The caudle-cups, preserved in
many an old family, are now eagerly sought after as curiosities;
they have two handles, so they could be passed from one to
another. They were handed down as heirlooms when these candle
parties were more fashionable than they have been, until a recent
date. Now there is a decided idea of reintroducing them. In those
days the newly-made papa also entertained his friends with a stag
party, when bachelors and also Benedicks were invited to eat
buttered toast, which was sugared and spread in a mighty
punch-bowl, over which boiling-hot beer was poured. After the
punch-bowl was emptied, each guest placed a piece of money in the
bowl for the nurse. Strong ale was brewed, and a pipe of wine laid
by to be drunk on the majority of the child.

This greasy mess is fortunately now extinct, but the caudle, a
really delicious dish or drink, is the fashion again. It is
generally offered when master or miss is about six weeks old, and
mamma receives her friends in a tea gown or some pretty
convalescent wrap, very often made of velvet or plush cut in the
form of a belted-in jacket and skirt, or in one long princesse
robe, elaborately trimmed with cascades of lace down the front.
The baby is, of course, shown, but not much handled. Some parents
have the christening and the caudle party together, but of this,
it is said, the Church does not approve.

The selection of god-parents is always a delicate task. It is a
very great compliment, of course, to ask any one to stand in this
relation, highly regarded in England, but not so much thought of
here. Formerly there were always two godfathers and two
godmothers, generally chosen from friends and relations, who were
expected to watch over the religious education of the young child,
and to see that he was, in due time, confirmed. In all old
countries this relationship lasts through life; kindly help and
counsel being given to the child by the godfather--even to
adoption in many instances--should the parents die. But in our new
country, with the absence of an established Church, and with our
belief in the power of every man to take care of himself, this
beautiful relationship has been neglected. We are glad to see by
our letters that it is being renewed, and that people are thinking
more of these time-honored connections.

After a birth, friends and acquaintances should call and send in
their cards, or send them by their servants, with kind inquiries.
When the mother is ready to see her friends, she should, if she
wishes, signify that time by sending out cards for a "caudle
party." But let her be rather deliberate about this unless she has
a mother, or aunt, or sister to take all the trouble for her.

The godfather and godmother generally give some little present; a
silver cup or porringer, knife, fork, and spoon, silver basin,
coral tooth-cutter, or coral and bells, were the former gifts;
but, nowadays, we hear of one wealthy godfather who left a check
for $100,000 in the baby's cradle; and it is not unusual for those
who can do so to make some very valuable investment for the child,
particularly if he bears the name of the godfather.

Some people--indeed, most people--take their children to church to
be baptized, and then give a luncheon at home afterwards to which
all are invited, especially the officiating clergyman and his
wife, as well as the sponsors. The presents should be given at
this time. Old-fashioned people give the baby some salt and an egg
for good luck, and are particular that he should be carried
up-stairs before he is carried down, and that when he goes out
first he shall be carried to the house of some near and dear

Confirmation is in the Episcopal Church the sequel to baptism; and
in France this is a beautiful and very important ceremony. In the
month of May the streets are filled with white doves--young girls,
all in muslin and lace veils, going with their mothers or
chaperons to be confirmed. Here the duty of the godfather or the
godmother comes in; and if a child is an orphan, or has careless
or irreligious parents, the Church holds the godparent responsible
that these children be brought to the bishop to be confirmed.

Notices of confirmation to be held are always given out in the
various churches some weeks prior to the event; and persons
desirous of being admitted to the rite are requested to make known
their wish and to give their names to their clergyman. Classes are
formed, and instruction and preparation given during the weeks
preceding the day which the bishop has appointed. In England a
noble English lady is as much concerned for her goddaughter
through all this important period as she is for her daughter. In
France the obligation is also considered sacred. We have known of
a lady who made the journey from Montpellier to Paris--although
she could scarcely afford the expense--to attend the confirmation
of her goddaughter, although the young girl had a father and

It is a ceremony well worth seeing, either in England or France.
The girls walk in long processions through the streets; the dress
uniformly of white with long veils. Youths follow in black suits,
black ties, and gloves; they enter one aisle of the church, the
girls the other. When the time arrives for the laying on of hands,
the girls go first, two and two; they give their card or
certificate into the hands of the bishop's chaplain, who stands
near to receive them. The candidates kneel before the bishop, who
lays his hands severally on their heads.

Of course persons not belonging to the Episcopal Church do not
observe this rite. But as a belief in baptism is almost universal,
there is no reason why the godfather and godmother should not be
chosen and adhered to. We always name our children, or we are apt
to, for some dear friend; and we would all gladly believe that
such a friendship, begun at the altar when he is being consecrated
to a Christian life, may go with him and be a help to the dear
little man. In our belligerent independence and our freedom from
creeds and cant we have thrown away too much, and can afford to
reassert our belief in and respect for a few old customs.

Royalty has always been a respecter of these powers. King Edward
VI. and his sisters were each baptized when only three days old,
and the ceremony, which lasted between two and three days, took
place at night, by torch-light. The child was carried under a
canopy, preceded by gentlemen bearing in state the sponsors'
gifts, and attended by a flourish of trumpets.

At a modern caudle party the invitations are sent out a week in
advance, and read thus:

_"Mr. and Mrs. Brown request the pleasure of your company on
Tuesday afternoon, at three o'clock. 18 West Kent Street. Caudle.
'No presents are expected.'_"

For the honor of being a godfather one receives a note in the
first person, asking the friend to assume that kindly office, and
also mentioning the fact that the name will be so and so. If the
baby is named for the godfather, a very handsome present is
usually made; if not, the godfather or godmother still sends some
little token of regard. This, however, is entirely a matter of
fancy. No one is obliged to give a present, of course.

The baby at his christening is shown off in a splendid robe, very
much belaced and embroidered, and it is to be feared that it is a
day of disturbance for him. Babies should not be too much excited;
a quiet and humdrum existence, a not too showy nurse, and regular
hours are conducive to a good constitution for these delicate
visitors. The gay dresses and jingling ornaments of the Roman
nurses are now denounced by the foreign doctors as being too
exciting to the little eyes that are looking out on a new world.
They are very pretty and picturesque, and many a travelling mamma
goes into a large outlay for these bright colors and for the
peasant jewelry. The practice of making a child ride backward in a
push-wagon is also sternly denounced by modern physicians.

Fashionable mammas who give caudle parties should remember that in
our harsh climate maternity is beset by much feebleness as to
nerves in both mother and child; therefore a long seclusion in the
nursery is advised before the dangerous period of entertaining
one's friends begins. Let the caudle party wait, and the
christening be done quietly in one's own bedroom, if the infant is
feeble. Show off the young stranger at a later date: an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure.


The appointments of the modern dinner-table strikingly indicate
that growth of luxury of which the immediate past has been so
fruitful. Up to twenty years ago a dinner, even in the house of a
merchant prince, was a plain affair. There was a white tablecloth
of double damask; there were large, handsome napkins; there was a
rich service of solid silver, and perhaps some good china.
Flowers, if used at all, were not in profusion; and as for
glasses, only a few of plain white, or perhaps a green or a red
one for claret or hock, were placed at the side of the plate.

Of course there were variations and exceptions to this rule, but
they were few and far between. One man, or often one maid-servant,
waited at the table; and, as a protection for the table-cloth,
mats were used, implying the fear that the dish brought from the
top of the kitchen-range, if set down, would leave a spot or
stain. All was on a simple or economical plan. The grand dinners
were served by caterers, who sent their men to wait at them, which
led to the remark, often laughed at as showing English stupidity,
made by the Marquis of Hartington when he visited New York at the
time of our war. As he looked at old Peter Van Dyck and his
colored assistants, whom he had seen at every house at which he
had dined, he remarked, "How much all your servants resemble each
other in America!" It was really an unintentional sarcasm, but it
might well have suggested to our _nouveaux riches_ the propriety
of having their own trained servants to do the work of their
houses instead of these outside men. A degree of elegance which we
have not as a nation even yet attained is that of having a
well-trained corps of domestic servants.

A mistress of a house should be capable of teaching her servants
the method of laying a table and attending it, if she has to take,
as we commonly must, the uneducated Irishman from his native bogs
as a house-servant. If she employs the accomplished and
well-recommended foreign servant, he is too apt to disarrange her
establishment by disparaging the scale on which it is conducted,
and to engender a spirit of discontent in her household. Servants
of a very high class, who can assume the entire management of
affairs, are only possible to people of great wealth, and they
become tyrants, and wholly detestable to the master and mistress
after a short slavery. One New York butler lately refused to wash
dishes, telling his mistress that it would ruin his finger-nails.
But this man was a consummate servant, who laid the table and
attended it, with an ease and grace that gave his mistress that
pleasant feeling of certainty that all would go well, which is the
most comfortable of all feelings to a hostess, and without which
dinner-giving is annoyance beyond all words.

The arrangement of a dinner-table and the waiting upon it are the
most important of all the duties of a servant or servants, and any
betrayal of ignorance, any nervousness or noise, any accident, are
to be deplored, showing as they do want of experience and lack of

No one wishes to invite his friends to be uncomfortable. Those
dreadful dinners which Thackeray describes, at which people with
small incomes tried to rival those of large means, will forever
remain in the minds of his readers as among the most painful of
all revelations of sham. We should be real first, and ornamental

In a wealthy family a butler and two footmen are employed, and it
is their duty to work together in harmony, the butler having
control. The two footmen lay the table, the butler looking on to
see that it is properly done. The butler takes care of the wine,
and stands behind his mistress's chair. Where only one man is
employed, the whole duty devolves upon him, and he has generally
the assistance of the parlor-maid. Where there is only a
maid-servant, the mistress of the house must see that all
necessary arrangements are made.

The introduction of the extension-table into our long, narrow
dining-rooms has led to the expulsion of the pretty round-table,
which is of all others the most cheerful. The extension-table,
however, is almost inevitable, and one of the ordinary size, with
two leaves added, will seat twelve people. The public caterers say
that every additional leaf gives room for four more people, but
the hostess, in order to avoid crowding, would be wise if she
tested this with her dining-room chairs. New York dinner-parties
are often crowded, sixteen being sometimes asked when the table
will only accommodate fourteen. This is a mistake, as heat and
crowding should be avoided. In country houses, or in Philadelphia,
Boston, Washington, and other cities where the dining-rooms are
ordinarily larger than those in a New York house, the danger of
crowding, of heat, and want of ventilation, is more easily
avoided; but in a gas-lighted, furnace-heated room in New York the
sufferings of the diners-out are sometimes terrible.

The arrangements for the dinner, whether the party be ten or
twenty, should be the same. Much has been said about the number to
be invited, and there is an old saw that one should not invite
"fewer than the Graces nor more than the Muses." This partiality
to uneven numbers refers to the difficulty of seating a party of
eight, in which case, if the host and hostess take the head and
foot of the table, two gentlemen and two ladies will come
together. But the number of the Graces being three, no worse
number than that could be selected for a dinner-party; and nine
would be equally uncomfortable at an extension-table, as it would
be necessary to seat three on one side and four on the other. Ten
is a good number for a small dinner, and easy to manage. One
servant can wait on ten people, and do it well, if well-trained.
Twenty-four people often sit down at a modern dinner-table, and
are well served by a butler and two men, though some luxurious
dinner-givers have a man behind each chair. This, however, is

A lady, if she issue invitations for a dinner of ten or twenty,
should do so a fortnight in advance, and should have her cards
engraved thus:

_Mr. and Mrs. James Norman
request the pleasure of
Mr. and Mrs. John Brown's company at dinner
on Thursday, February eighth,
at seven o'clock._

These engraved forms, on note-paper, filled up with the necessary
time and date, are very convenient and elegant, and should be
answered by the fortunate recipient immediately, in the most
formal manner, and the engagement should be scrupulously kept if
accepted. If the subsequent illness or death of relatives, or any
other cause, renders this impossible, the hostess should be
immediately notified.

A gentleman is never invited without his wife, nor a lady without
her husband, unless great intimacy exists between the parties, and
the sudden need of another guest makes the request imperative.

The usual hour for dinner-parties in America is seven o'clock; but
whatever the hour, the guests should take care to be punctual to
the minute. In the hall the gentleman should find a card with his
name, and that of the lady whom he is to take in, written on it,
and also a small _boutonniere_, which he places in his
button-hole. On entering the drawing-room the lady goes first, not
taking her husband's arm. If the gentleman is not acquainted with
the lady whom he is to take in to dinner, he asks his hostess to
present him to her, and he endeavors to place himself on an
agreeeble footing with her before they enter the dining-room.

When the last guest has arrived, dinner is ready, and the butler
makes his announcement. The host leads the way, with the lady to
whom the dinner is given, and the hostess follows last, with the
gentleman whom she wishes to honor.

The people who enter a modern dining-room find a picture before
them, which is the result of painstaking thought, taste, and
experience, and, like all works of art, worthy of study.

The first thought of the observer is, "What a splendid bit of
color!" The open-work, white tablecloth lies on a red ground, and
above it rests a mat of red velvet, embroidered with peacock's
feathers and gold lace. Above this stands a large silver salver or
oblong tray, lined with reflecting glass, on which Dresden swan
and silver lilies seem floating in a veritable lake. In the middle
of this long tray stands a lofty vase of silver or crystal, with
flowers and fruit cunningly disposed in it, and around it are
placed tropical vines. At each of the four corners of the table
stand four ruby glass flagons set in gold, standards of beautiful
and rare designs. Cups or silver-gilt vases, with centres of cut
glass, hold the bonbons and smaller fruits. Four candelabra hold
up red wax-candles with red shades, and flat, glass troughs,
filled with flowers, stand opposite each place, grouped in a
floral pattern.

At each place, as the servant draws back the chair, the guest sees
a bewildering number of glass goblets, wine and champagne glasses,
several forks, knives, and spoons, and a majolica plate holding
oysters on the half shell, with a bit of lemon in the centre of
the plate. The napkin, deftly folded, holds a dinner-roll, which
the guest immediately removes. The servants then, seeing all the
guests seated, pass red and black pepper, in silver pepper-pots,
on a silver tray. A small, peculiarly-shaped fork is laid by each
plate, at the right hand, for the oysters. Although some ladies
now have all their forks laid on the left hand of the plate, this,
however, is not usual. After the oysters are eaten, the plates are
removed, and two kinds of soup are passed--a white and a brown

During this part of the dinner the guest has time to look at the
beautiful Queen Anne silver, the handsome lamps, if lamps are used
(we may mention the fact that about twenty-six candles will well
light a dinner of sixteen persons), and the various colors of lamp
and candle shades. Then the beauty of the flowers, and, as the
dinner goes on, the variety of the modern Dresden china, the
Sevres, the Royal Worcester, and the old blue can be discussed and

The service is _... la Russe_; that is, everything is handed by the
servants. Nothing is seen on the table except the wines (and only
a few of these), the bonbons, and the fruit. No greasy dishes are
allowed. Each lady has a bouquet, possibly a painted reticule of
silk filled with sugar-plums, and sometimes a pretty fan or ribbon
with her name or monogram painted on it.

At his right hand each guest finds a goblet of elegantly-engraved
glass for water, two of the broad, flat, flaring shape of the
modern champagne glass (although some people are using the long
vase-like glass of the past for champagne), a beautiful Bohemian
green glass, apparently set with gems, for the hock, a ruby-red
glass for the claret, two other large white claret or Burgundy
glasses, and three wine-glasses of cut or engraved glass.
Harlequin glasses, which give to the table the effect of a bed of
tulips, are in fashion for those who delight in color and variety.

The hostess may prefer the modern napery, so exquisitely
embroidered in gold thread, which affords an opportunity to show
the family coat of arms, or the heraldic animals--the lion and the
two-headed eagle and the griffin--intertwined in graceful shapes
around the whole edge of the table and on the napkins.

As the dinner goes on the guest revels in unexpected surprises in
the beauty of the plates, some of which look as if made of solid
gold; and when the Roman punch is served it comes in the heart of
a red, red rose, or in the bosom of a swan, or the cup of a lily,
or the "right little, tight little" life-saying boat. Faience,
china, glass, and ice are all pressed into the service of the
Roman punch, and sometimes the prettiest dish of all is hewn out
of ice.

We will try to see how all this picture is made, beginning at the
laying of the table, the process of which we will explain in
detail in the next chapter.


The table, after being drawn out to its proper length, should be
covered with a cotton-flannel tablecloth--white, if the table-cover
is the ordinary damask; red, if the open work table-cover is to be
used. This broad cotton flannel can be bought for eighty cents a
yard. The table-cloth, if of white damask, should be perfectly
ironed, with one long fold down the middle, which must serve the
butler for his mathematical centre. No one can be astray in using
fine white damask. If a lady wishes to have the more rare Russian
embroidery, the gold embroidered on the open-work table-cloth, she
can do so, but let her not put any cloth on her table _that will not
wash_. The mixed-up things trimmed with velvet or satin or ribbon,
which are occasionally seen on vulgar tables, are detestable.

The butler then lays the red velvet carpet, or mat, or ornamental
cover--whatever it may be called--down the centre of the table, to
afford a relief of color to the _,pergne_.

This is a mere fanciful adjunct, and may be used or not; but it has
a very pretty effect over an openwork, white table-cloth, with the
silver tray of the _,pergne_ resting upon it. In many families there
are silver _,pergnes_ which are heirlooms. These are now valued for
old association's sake; as are the silver candlesticks and silver
_compotiers_. But where a family does not possess these table
ornaments, a centre piece of glass is used. The flat basket of
flowers, over which the guests could talk, has been discarded, and
the ornaments of a dinner-table are apt to be high, including the
lamps and candelabra which at present replace gas.

The table-cloth being laid, the centre and side ornaments placed,
the butler sees that each footman has a clean towel on his arm, and
then proceeds to unlock the plate chest and the glass closet.
Measuring with his hand, from the edge of the table to the end of
his middle finger, he places the first glass. This measurement is
continued around the table, and secures a uniform line for the water
goblet, and the claret, wine, hock, and champagne glasses, which are
grouped about it. He then causes a plate to be put at each place,
large enough to hold the majolica plate with the oysters, which will
come later. One footman is detailed to fold the napkins, which
should be large, thick, fine, and serviceable for this stage of the
dinner. The napkins are not folded in any hotel device, but simply
in a three-cornered pyramid that will stand holding the roll or
bread. The knives, forks, and spoons, each of which is wiped by the
footman with his clean towel, so that no dampness of his own hand
shall mar their sparkling cleanliness, are then distributed. These
should be all of silver; two knives, three forks, and a soup-spoon
being the usual number laid at each plate.

Before each plate is placed a little salt-cellar, either of silver
or china, in some fanciful shape. Tiny wheelbarrows are much used. A
_carafe_ holding water should be put on very late, and be fresh from
the ice-chest.

Very thin glasses are now used for choice sherry and Madeira, and
are not put on until the latter part of the dinner, as they may be

Menu-holders or card-holders of china or silver are often placed
before each plate, to hold the card on which the name of the guest
is printed and the bill of fare from which he is to choose. These
may be dispensed with, however, and the menu and name laid on each

The butler now turns his attention to his sideboards and tables,
from whence he is to draw his supplies. Many people make a most
ostentatious display of plate and china on their sideboards, and if
one has pretty things why not show them? The poorer and more modest
have, on their sideboards, simply the things which will be needed.
But there should be a row of large forks, a row of large knives, a
row of small ones, a row of table-spoons, sauce-ladles, dessert-
spoons, fish-slice and fork, a few tumblers, rows of claret, sherry,
and Madeira glasses, and the reserve of dinner-plates.

On another table or sideboard should be placed the finger-bowls and
glass dessert-plates, the smaller spoons and coffee cups and
saucers. On the table nearest the door should be the carving-knives
and the first dinner-plates to be used. Here the head footman or the
butler divides the fish and carves the _piece de resistance_, the
fillet of beef, the haunch of venison, the turkey, or the saddle of
mutton. It is from this side-table that all the dinner should be
served; if the dining-room is small, the table can be placed in the
hall or adjacent pantry. As the fish is being served, the first
footman should offer Chablis, or some kind of white wine; with the
soup, sherry; with the roast, claret and champagne, each guest being
asked if he will have dry or sweet champagne.

As the plates are removed they should not be kept in the dining-
room, but sent to the kitchen immediately, a maid standing outside
to receive them, so that no disorder of the dinner may reach the
senses of the guests, nor even an unpleasant odor. As each plate is
removed a fresh plate must be put in its place--generally a very
beautiful piece of Sevres, decorated with a landscape, flowers, or

Sparkling wines, hock and champagne, are not decanted, but are kept
in ice-pails, and opened as required. On the sideboard is placed the
wine decanted for Use, and poured out as needed; after the game has
been handed, decanters of choice Madeira and port are placed before
the host, who sends them round to his guests.

In England a very useful little piece of furniture, called a dinner-
wagon, is in order. This is a series of open shelves, on which are
placed the extra napkins or _serviettes_ to be used; for in England
the first heavy napkin is taken away, and a more delicate one
brought with the Roman punch, with the game another, and with the
ices still another. On this dinner-wagon are placed all the dessert-
plates and the finger-glasses. On the plate which is to serve for
the ice is a gold ice-spoon, and a silver dessert-knife and fork
accompany the finger-bowl and glass plate. This dinner-wagon also
holds the salad-bowl and spoon, of silver, the salad-plates, and the
silver bread-basket, in which should be thin slices of brown bread-
and-butter. A china dish in three compartments, with cheese and
butter and biscuits to be passed with the salad, the extra sauces,
the jellies for the meats, the relishes, the radishes and celery,
the olives and the sifted sugar-all things needed as accessaries of
the dinner-table-can be put on this dinner-wagon, or _,tagere_, as
it is called in France.

No table-spoons should be laid on the table, except those to be used
for soup, as the style of serving _... la Russe_ precludes their being
needed; and the extra spoons, cruets, and casters are put on the

To wait on a large dinner-party the attendants average one to every
three people, and when only a butler and one footman are kept, it is
necessary to hire additional servants.

Previous to the announcement of the dinner, the footman places the
soup-tureens and the soup-plates on the side-table. As soon as the
oysters are eaten, and the plates removed, the butler begins with
the soup, and sends it round by two footmen, one on each side, each
carrying two plates. Each footman should approach the guests on the
left, so that the right hand may be used for taking the plate. Half
a ladleful of soup is quite enough to serve.

Some ladies never allow their butler to do anything but hand the
wine, which he does at the _right_ hand (not the left), asking each
person if he will have Sauterne, dry or sweet champagne, claret,
Burgundy, and so on. But really clever butlers serve the soup,
carve, and pour out the wine as well. An inexperienced servant
should never serve the wine; it must be done briskly and neatly, not
explosively or carelessly. The overfilling of the glass should be
avoided, and servants should be watched, to see that they give
champagne only to those who wish it, and that they do not overfill
glasses for ladies, who rarely drink anything.

A large plate-basket or two, for removing dishes and silver that
have been used, are necessary, and should not be forgotten. The
butler rings a bell which communicates with the kitchen when he
requires anything, and after each _entr,e_ or course he thus gives
the signal to the cook to send up another.

Hot dinner-plates are prepared when the fish is removed, and on
these hot plates the butler serves all the meats; the guests are
also served with hot plates before the _entr,es_, except _p t, de
foie gras_, for which a cold plate is necessary.

Some discretion should be shown by the servant who passes the
_entr,es_. A large table-spoon and fork should be placed on the
dish, and the dish then held low, so that the guest may help himself
easily, the servant standing at his left hand. He should always have
a small napkin over his hand as he passes a dish. A napkin should
also be wrapped around the champagne bottle, as it is often dripping
with moisture from the ice-chest. It is the butler's duty to make
the salad, which he should do about half an hour before dinner.
There are now so many provocatives of appetite that it would seem as
if we were all, after the manner of Heliogabalus, determined to eat
and die. The best of these is the Roman punch, which, coming after
the heavy roasts, prepares the palate and stomach for the canvas-
back ducks or other game. Then comes the salad and cheese, then the
ices and sweets, and then _cheese savourie_ or _cheese fondu_. This
is only toasted cheese, in a very elegant form, and is served in
little silver shells, sometimes as early in the dinner as just after
the oysters, but the favorite time is after the sweets.

The dessert is followed by the _liqueurs_, which should be poured
into very small glasses, and handed by the butler on a small silver
waiter. When the ices are removed, a dessert-plate of glass, with a
finger-bowl, is placed before each person, with two glasses, one for
sherry, the other for claret or Burgundy, and the grapes, peaches,
pears, and other fruits are then passed. After the fruits go round,
the sugar-plums and a little dried ginger--a very pleasant conserve
--are passed before the coffee.

The hostess makes the sign for retiring, and the dinner breaks up.
The gentlemen are left to wine and cigars, _liqueurs_ and cognac,
and the ladies retire to the drawing-room to chat and take their

In the selection of the floral decoration for the table the lady of
the house has the final voice. Flowers which have a very heavy
fragrance should not be used. That roses and pinks, violets and
lilacs, are suitable, goes without saying, for they are always
delightful; but the heavy tropical odors of jasmine, orange-blossom,
hyacinth, and tuberose should be avoided. A very pretty decoration
is obtained by using flowers of one color, such as Jacqueminot
roses, or scarlet carnations, which, if placed in the gleaming
crystal glass, produce a very brilliant and beautiful effect.

Flowers should not be put on the table until just before dinner is
served, as they are apt to be wilted by the heat and the lights.

We have used the English term footman to indicate what is usually
called a waiter in this country. A waiter in England is a hired
hotel-hand, not a private servant.

Much taste and ingenuity are expended on the selection of favors for
ladies, and these pretty fancies--_bonbonnieres_, painted ribbons
and reticules, and fans covered with flowers--add greatly to the
elegance and luxury of our modern dinner-table.

A less reasonable conceit is that of having toys--such as imitation
musical instruments, crackers which make an unpleasant detonation,
imitations of negro minstrels, balloons, flags, and pasteboard
lobsters, toads, and insects--presented to each lady. These articles
are neither tasteful nor amusing, and have "no excuse for being"
except that they afford an opportunity for the expenditure of more


Truly "the world is very young for its age." We are never too old to
admire a pretty favor or a tasteful _bonbonniere_; and, looking back
over the season, we remember, as among the most charming of the
favors, those with flowers painted upon silken banners, with the
owner's name intertwined. The technical difficulties of painting
upon silk are somewhat conquered, one would think, in looking at the
endless devices composed of satin and painted flowers on the lunch-
tables. Little boxes covered with silk, in eight and six sided
forms, with panels let in, on which are painted acorns and oak
leaves, rosebuds or lilies, and always the name or the cipher of the
recipient, are very pretty. The Easter-egg has long been a favorite
offering in silk, satin, plush, and velvet, in covered, egg-shaped
boxes containing bonbons; these, laid in a nest of gold and silver
threads in a _cloisonn,_ basket, afford a very pretty souvenir to
carry home from a luncheon.

Menu-holders of delicate gilt-work are also added to the other
favors. These pretty little things sometimes uphold a photograph, or
a porcelain plate on which is painted the lady's name, and also a
few flowers. The little porcelain cards are not larger than a
visiting-card, and are often very artistic. The famous and familiar
horseshoe, in silver or silver-gilt, holding up the menu-card, is
another pretty favor, and a very nice one to carry home, as it
becomes a penholder when it is put on the writing-table. Wire rests,
shaped like those used for muskets in barracks yards, are also used
for the name and menu-cards. Plateaus, shells, baskets, figurettes,
vases holding flowers, dolphins, Tritons, swan, sea animals (in
crockery), roses which open and disclose the sugarplums, sprays of
coral, and gilt conch-shells, are all pretty, especially when filled
with flowers.

Baskets in various styles are often seen. One tied with a broad
ribbon at the side is very useful as a work-basket afterwards.
Open-work baskets, lined with crimson or scarlet or pink or blue
plush, with another lining of silver paper to protect the plums, are
very tasteful. A very pretty basket is one hung between three gilt
handles or poles, and filled with flowers or candies. Silvered and
gilded beetles, or butterflies, fastened on the outside, have a
fanciful effect.

Moss-covered trays holding dried grasses and straw, and piles of
chocolates that suggest ammunition, are decorative and effective.

Wheelbarrows of tiny size for flowers are a favorite conceit. They
are made of straw-work, entirely gilded, or painted black or brown,
and picked out with gold; or perhaps pale green, with a bordering of
brown. A very pretty one may be made of old cigarbox wood; on one
side a monogram painted in red and gold, on the other a spray of
autumn leaves. Carved-wood barrows fitted with tin inside may hold a
growing plant--stephanotis, hyacinths, ferns, ivy, or any other
hardy plant--and are very pleasing souvenirs.

The designs for reticules and _chftelaines_ are endless. At a very
expensive luncheon, to which twenty-four ladies sat down, a silk
reticule a foot square, filled with Maillard's confections and
decorated with an exquisitely painted landscape effect, was
presented to each guest. These lovely reticules may be any shape,
and composed of almost any material. A very handsome style is an
eight-sided, melon-shaped bag of black satin, with a decoration of
bunches of scarlet flowers painted or embroidered. Silk braided with
gold, brocade, and plush combined, and Turkish towelling with an
_applique,_ of brilliant color, are all suitable and effective.

In the winter a shaded satin muff, in which was hidden a
_bonbonniere_, was the present that made glad the hearts of twenty-
eight ladies. These are easily made in the house, and a plush muff
with a bird's head is a favorite "favor."

A pair of bellows is a pretty and inexpensive _bonbonniere_. They
can be bought at the confectioner's, and are more satisfactory than
when made at home; but if one is ingenious, it is possible, with a
little pasteboard, gilt paper, silk, and glue, to turn out a very
pretty little knickknack of this kind. However, the French do these
things so much better than we do that a lady giving a lunch-party
had better buy all her favors at some wholesale place. There is a
real economy in buying such articles at the wholesale stores, for
the retail dealers double the price.

Bronze, iron, and glass are all pressed into the service, and
occasionally we have at a lunch a whole military armament of cannon,
muskets, swords, bronze helmets, whole suits of armor, tazza for
jewellery, miniature cases, inkstands, and powder-boxes, all to hold
a few sugar-plums.

At a christening party all the favors savor of the nursery--splendid
cradles of flowers, a bassinet of brilliante trimmed with ribbons
for a _bonbonniere_, powder-boxes, puffs, little socks filled with
sugar instead of little feet, an infant's cloak standing on end
(really over pasteboard), an infant's hood, and even the flannel
shirt has been copied. Of course the baptismal dish and silver cup
are easily imitated.

Perfumery is introduced in little cut-glass bottles, in leaden tubes
like paint tubes, in perfumed artificial flowers, in _sachets_ of
powder, and in the handles of fans.

Boxes of satinwood, small wood covers for music and blotting cases,
painted by hand, are rather pretty favors. The plain boxes and book
covers can be bought and ornamented by the young artists of the
family. Nothing is prettier than an owl sitting on an ivy vine for
one of these. The owl, indeed, plays a very conspicuous part at the
modern dinner-table and luncheon. His power of looking wise and
being foolish at the same time fits him for modern society. He
enters it as a pepper-caster, a feathered _bonbonniere_, a pickle-
holder (in china), and is drawn, painted, and photographed in every
style. A pun is made on his name: "Should owled acquaintance be
forgot?" etc. He is a favorite in jewellery, and is often carved in
jade. Indeed, the owl is having his day, having had the night always
to himself.

The squirrel, the dog, "the frog that would a-wooing go," the white
duck, the pig, and the mouse, are all represented in china, and in
the various silks and gauzes of French taste, or in their native
skins, or in any of the disguises that people may fancy. Bears with
ragged staffs stand guard over a plate of modern faience, as they do
over the gates of Warwick Castle. Cats mewing, catching mice,
playing on the Jews-harp, elephants full of choicest confectionery,
lions and tigers with chocolate insides, and even the marked face
and long hair of Oscar Wilde, the last holding within its ample
cranium caraway-seeds instead of brains, played their part as

The green enamelled dragon-fly, grasshoppers and beetles, flies and
wasps, moths and butterflies, bright-tinted mandarin ducks,
peacocks, and ostriches, tortoises cut in pebbles or made of
pasteboard, shrimps and crabs, do all coldly furnish forth the
lunch-table as favors and _bonbonnieres_. Then come plaster or
pasteboard gondolas, skiffs, wherries, steamships, and ferry-boats,
all made with wondrous skill and freighted with caramels. Imitation
rackets, battledoor and shuttlecock, hoops and sticks, castanets,
cup and ball, tambourines, guitars, violins, hand-organs, banjos,
and drums, all have their little day as fashionable favors.

Little statuettes of Kate Greenaway's quaint children now appear as
favors, and are very charming. Nor is that "flexible curtain," the
fan, left out. Those of paper, pretty but not expensive, are very
common favors. But the opulent offer pretty satin fans painted with
the recipient's monogram, or else a fan which will match flowers and
dress. Fans of lace, and of tortoise-shell and carved ivory and
sandal-wood, are sometimes presented, but they are too ostentatious.
Let us say to the givers of feasts, be not too magnificent, but if
you give a fan, give one that is good for something, not a thing
which breaks with the "first fall."

A very pretty set of favors, called "fairies," are little groups of
children painted on muslin, with a background of ribbon. The muslin
is so thin that the children seem floating on air. The lady's name
is also painted on the ribbon.

We find that favors for gentlemen, such as sunflowers, pin-cushions,
small purses, scarf-pins, and sleeve-buttons, are more useful than
those bestowed upon ladies, but not so ornamental.

Very pretty baskets, called _huits_ (the baskets used by the vine-
growers to carry earth for the roots of the vines), are made of
straw ornamented with artificial flowers and grasses, and filled
with bonbons.

Little Leghorn hats trimmed with pompons of muslin, blue, pink, or
white, are filled with natural flowers and hung on the arm. These
are a lovely variation.

Fruits--the apple, pear, orange, and plum, delightfully realistic--
are made of composition, and open to disclose most unexpected seeds.

At trowel, a knife, fork, and spoon, of artistically painted wood,
and a pair of oars, all claim a passing notice as artistic

Bags of plush, and silk embroidered with daisies, are very handsome
and expensive favors; heavily trimmed with lace, they cost four
dollars apiece, but are sold a little cheaper by the dozen. Blue
sashes, with flowers painted on paper (and attached to the sash a
paper on which may be written the menu), cost eighteen dollars a
dozen. A dish of snails, fearfully realistic, can be bought for one
dollar a plate, fruits for eighteen dollars a dozen, and fans
anywhere from twelve up to a hundred dollars a dozen.

A thousand dollars is not an unusual price for a luncheon, including
flowers and favors, for eighteen to twenty-four guests. Indeed, a
luncheon was given last winter for which the hostess offered a prize
for copies in miniature of the musical instruments used in
"Patience." They were furnished to her for three hundred dollars.
The names of these now almost obsolete instruments were rappaka,
tibia, archlute, tambour, kiffar, quinteme, rebel, tuckin,
archviola, lyre, serpentine, chluy, viola da gamba, balalaika, gong,
ravanastron, monochord, shopkar. The "archlute" is the mandolin.
They represented all countries, and were delicate specimens of toy

We have not entered into the vast field of glass, china, porcelain,
_cloisonn,_, Dresden, faience jugs, boxes, plates, bottles, and
vases, which are all used as favors. Indeed, it would be impossible
to describe half of the fancies which minister to modern
extravagance. The _bonbonniere_ can cost anything, from five to five
hundred dollars; fifty dollars for a satin box filled with candy is
not an uncommon price. Sometimes, when the box is of oxidized
silver--a quaint copy of the antique from Benvenuto Cellini--this
price is not too much; but when it is a thing which tarnishes in a
month, it seems ridiculously extravagant.

We have seen very pretty and artistic cheap favors. Reticules made
of bright cotton, or silk handkerchiefs with borders; cards painted
by the artists of the family; palm-leaf fans covered with real
flowers, or painted with imitation ones; sunflowers made of
pasteboard, with portfolios behind them; pretty little parasols of
flowers; Little Red Riding-hood, officiating as a receptacle for
stray pennies; Japanese teapots, with the "cozy" made at home;
little doyleys wrought with delightful designs from "Pretty Peggy,"
and numberless other graceful and charming trifles.


One would think that modern luxury had reached its ultimatum in the
delicate refinements of dinner-giving, but each dinner-table reveals
the fact that this is an inexhaustible subject. The floral world is
capable of an infinity of surprises, and the last one is a cameo of
flowers on a door, shaped like a four-leaved clover. The guests are
thus assured of good-luck. The horseshoe having been so much used
that it is now almost obsolete, except in jewelry, the clover-leaf
has come in. A very beautiful dinner far up Fifth Avenue had this
winter an entirely new idea, inasmuch as the flowers were put
overhead. The delicate vine, resembling green asparagus in its
fragility, was suspended from the chandelier to the four corners of
the room, and on it were hung delicate roses, lilies-of-the-valley,
pinks, and fragrant jasmine, which sent down their odors, and
occasionally dropped themselves into a lady's lap. This is an
exquisite bit of luxury.

Then the arrival, two months before Easter, of the fragrant,
beautiful Easter lilies has added a magnificent and stately effect
to the central bouquets. It has been found that the island of
Bermuda is a great reservoir of these bulbs, which are sent up, like
their unfragrant rivals the onions, by the barrelful. Even a piece
of a bulb will produce from three to five lilies, so that these fine
flowers are more cheap and plenty in January than usually in April.
A dining-room, square in shape, hung with richly-embroidered, old-
gold tapestry, with a round table set for twenty, with silver and
glass and a great bunch of lilies and green ferns in the middle, and
a "crazy quilt" of flowers over one's head, may well reproduce the
sense of dreamland which modern luxury is trying to follow.

Truly we live in the days of Aladdin. Six weeks after the ground was
broken in Secretary Whitney's garden in Washington for his ballroom,
the company assembled in a magnificent apartment with fluted gold-
ceiling and crimson brocade hangings, bronzes, statues, and Dresden
candlesticks, and a large wood fire at one end, in which logs six
feet long were burning--all looking as if it were part of an old
baronial castle of the Middle Ages.

The florists will furnish you red clovers in January if you give
your order in October. Great bunches of flowers, of a pure scarlet
unmixed with any other color, are very fashionable, and the effect
in a softly-lighted room is most startling and beautiful.

The lighting of rooms by means of lamps and candles is giving
hostesses great annoyance. There is scarcely a dinner-party but the
candles set fire to their fringed shades, and a conflagration
ensues. Then the new lamps, which give such a resplendent light,
have been known to melt the metal about the wick, and the
consequences have been disastrous. The next move will probably be
the dipping of the paper in some asbestos or other anti-inflammable
substance, so that there will be no danger of fire at the dinner-
table. The screens put over the candles should not have this paper-
fringe; it is very dangerous. But if a candle screen takes fire,
have the coolness to let it burn itself up without touching it, as
thus it will be entirely innocuous, although rather appalling to
look at. Move a plate under it to catch the flying fragments, and no
harm will be done; but a well-intentioned effort to blow it out or
to remove it generally results in a very much more wide-spread

China and glass go on improving; and there are jewelled goblets and
centre-pieces of yellow glass covered with gold and what looks like
jewels. Knives and forks are now to be had with crystal handles set
in silver, very ornamental and clean-looking; these come from
Bohemia. The endless succession of beautiful plates are more and
more Japanese in tone.

Satsuma vases and jugs are often sent to a lady, full of beautiful
roses, thus making a lasting souvenir of what would be a perishable
gift. These Satsuma jugs are excellent things in which to plant
hyacinths, and they look well in the centre of the dinner-table with
these flowers growing in them.

Faded flowers can be entirely restored to freshness by clipping the
stems and putting them in very hot water; then set them away from
the gas and furnace heat, and they come on the dinner-table fresh
for several days after their disappearance in disgrace as faded or
jaded bouquets. Flowers thus restored have been put in a cold
library, where the water, once hot, has frozen stiff, and yet have
borne these two extremes of temperature without loss of beauty--in
fact, have lasted presentably from Monday morning to Saturday night.
What flowers cannot stand is the air we all live in--at what cost to
our freshness we find out in the spring--the overheated furnace and
gas-laden air of the modern dining-room. The secret of the hot-water
treatment is said to be this: the sap is sent up into the flower
instead of lingering in the stems. Roses respond to this treatment

The fashion of wearing low-necked dresses at dinner has become so
pronounced that the moralists begin to issue weekly essays against
this revival as if it had never been done before. Our virtuous
grandmothers would be astonished to hear that their ball-dresses
(never cut high) were so immoral and indecent. The fact remains that
a sleeveless gown, cut in a Pompadour form, is far more of a
revelation of figure than a low-necked dinner-dress properly made.
There is no line of the figure so dear to the artist as that one
revealed from the nape of the neck to the shoulder. A beautiful back
is the delight of the sculptor. No lady who understands the fine-art
of dress would ever have her gown cut too low: it is ugly, besides
being immodest. The persons who bring discredit on fashion are those
who misinterpret it. The truly artistic modiste cuts a low-necked
dress to reveal the fine lines of the back, but it is never in
France cut too low in front. The excessive heat of an American
dining-room makes this dress very much more comfortable than the
high dresses which were brought in several years ago, because a
princess had a goitre which she wished to disguise:

No fulminations against fashion have ever effected reforms. We must
take fashion as we find it, and strive to mould dress to our own
style, not slavishly adhering to, but respectfully following, the
reigning mode, remembering that all writings and edicts against this
sub-ruler of the world are like sunbeams falling on a stone wall.
The sunbeams vanish, but the stone wall remains.

The modern married belle at a dinner is apt to be dressed in white,
with much crystal trimming, with feathers in her hair, and with
diamonds on her neck and arms, and a pair of long, brown Swedish
gloves drawn up to her shoulders; a feather fan of ostrich feathers
hangs at her side by a ribbon or a chain of diamonds and pearls. The
long, brown Swedish gloves are an anomaly; they do not suit the rest
of this exquisite dress, but fashion decrees that they shall be
worn, and therefore they are worn.

The fine, stately fashion of wearing feathers in the hair has
returned, and it is becoming to middle-aged women. It gives them a
queenly air. Young girls look better for the simplest head-gear;
they wear their hair high or low as they consider becoming.

Monstrous and inconvenient bouquets are again the fashion, and a
very ugly fashion it is. A lady does not know what to do with her
two or three bouquets at a musicale or a dinner, so they are laid
away on a table. The only thing that can be done is to sit after
dinner with them in her lap, and the _prima donna_ at a musicale
lays hers on the grand piano.

More and more is it becoming the fashion to have music at the end of
a dinner in the drawing-room, instead of having it played during
dinner. Elocutionists are asked in to amuse the guests, who, having
been fed on terrapin and canvas-back ducks, are not supposed to be
in a talking mood. This may be overdone. Many people like to talk
after dinner with the people who are thus accidentally brought
together; for in our large cities the company assembled about a
dinner-table are very often fresh acquaintances who like to improve
that opportunity to know each other better.

We have spoken of the dress of ladies, which, if we were to pursue,
would lead us into all the details of velvet, satin, and brocade,
and would be a departure from our subject; let us therefore glance
at the gentlemen at a modern, most modern, dinner. The vests are cut
very low, and exhibit a piqu, embroidered shirt front held by one
stud, generally a cat's-eye; however, three studs are permissible.
White plain-pleated linen, with enamel studs resembling linen, is
also very fashionable. A few young men, sometimes called dudes--no
one knows why--wear pink coral studs or pearls, generally black
pearls. Elderly gentlemen content themselves with plain-pleated
shirt-fronts and white ties, indulging even in wearing their watches
in the old way, as fashion has reintroduced the short vest-chain so
long banished.

It is pleasant to see the old-fashioned gold chain for the neck
reappearing. It always had a pretty effect, and is now much worn to
support the locket, cross, or medallion portrait which ladies wear
after the Louis Quinze fashion. Gold is more becoming to dark
complexions than pearls, and many ladies hail this return to gold
necklaces with much delight.

Gentlemen now wear pearl-colored gloves embroidered in black to
dinners, and do not remove them until they sit down to table. Seal
rings for the third finger are replacing the sunken jewels in dead
gold which have been so fashionable for several years for gentlemen.

All the ornamentation of the dinner-table is high this winter--high
candlesticks, high vases, high glasses for the flowers, and tall
glass compotiers. Salt-cellars are looking up; and a favorite device
is a silver vase, about two inches high, with a shell for salt.

Silver and silver-gilt dishes, having been banished for five years,
are now reasserting their pre-eminent fitness for the modern dinner-
table. People grew tired of silver, and banished it to the plate-
chest. Now all the old pieces are being burnished up and
reappearing; and happy the hostess who has some real old Queen Anne.
As the silver dollar loses caste, the silver soup tureen, or, as the
French say, the _soupiere_ (and it is a good word), rises in
fashion, and the teapot of our grandmothers resumes its honored


There is a season when the lingerers in town accept with pleasure an
invitation to the neighboring country house, where the lucky
suburban cit likes to entertain his friends. It is to be doubted,
however, whether hospitality is an unmixed pleasure to those who
extend it. With each blessing of prosperity comes an attendant evil,
and a lady who has a country house has always to face the fact that
her servants are apt to decamp in a body on Saturday night, and
leave her to take care of her guests as best she may. The nearer to
town the greater the necessity for running a servant's omnibus,
which shall take the departing offender to the train, and speed the
arrival of her successor.

No lady should attempt to entertain in the country who has not a
good cook and a very competent waiter or waitress. The latter, if
well trained, is in every respect as good as a man, and in some
respects more desirable; women-servants are usually quiet, neater
than men-servants, as a rule, and require less waiting upon. Both
men and women should be required to wear shoes that do not creak,
and to be immaculately neat in their attire. Maid-servants should
always wear caps and white aprons, and men dress-coats, white
cravats, and perfectly fresh linen.

As the dinners of the opulent, who have butler, waiters, French
cook, etc., are quite able to take care of themselves, we prefer to
answer the inquiries of those of our correspondents who live in a
simple manner, with two or three servants, and who wish to entertain
with hospitality and without great expense.

The dining-room of many country houses is small, and not cheerfully
furnished. The houses built recently are improved in this respect,
however, and now we will imagine a large room that has a pretty
outlook on the Hudson, carpeted with fragrant matting, or with a
hard-wood floor, on which lie India rugs. The table should be oval,
as that shape brings guests near to each other. The table-cloth
should be of white damask, and as fresh as sweet clover, for dinner:
colored cloths are permissible only for breakfast and tea. The
chairs should be easy, with high, slanting backs. For summer, cane
chairs are much the most comfortable, although those covered with
leather are very nice. Some people prefer arm-chairs at dinner, but
the arms are inconvenient to many, and, besides, take a great deal
of room. The armless dinner-chairs are the best.

Now, as a dinner in the country generally occurs after the gentlemen
come from town, the matter of light has to be considered. If our
late brilliant sunsets do not supply enough, how shall we light our
summer dinners? Few country houses have gas. Even if they have, it
would be very hot, and attract mosquitoes.

Candles are very pretty, but exceedingly troublesome. The wind blows
the flame to and fro; the insects flutter into the light; an unhappy
moth seats himself on the wick, and burning into an unsightly
cadaver makes a gutter down one side; the little red-paper shades
take fire, and there is a general conflagration. Yet light is
positively necessary to digestion, and no party can be cheerful
without it. Therefore, try carcel or moderator lamps with pretty
transparent shades, or a hanging lamp with ground-glass shade. These
lamps, filled with kerosene--and it must be done neatly, so that it
will not smell--are the best lamps for the country dinner. If
possible, however, have a country dinner by the light of day; it is
much more cheerful.

Now for the ornamentation of the dinner. Let it be of flowers--wild
ones, if possible, grasses, clovers, buttercups, and a few fragrant
roses or garden flowers. There is no end to the cheap decorative
china articles that are sold now for the use of flowers. A
contemporary mentions orchids placed in baskets on the shoulders of
Arcadian peasants; lilies-of-the-valley, with leaves as pale as
their flowers, wheeled in barrows by Cupids or set in china
slippers; crocuses grown in a china pot shaped like a thumbed copy
of Victor Hugo's "Notre Dame de Paris;" or white tulips in a cluster
of three gilt _sabots_, large enough to form a capital flower-stand,
mounted on gilt, rustic branches. Stout pitchers, glass bowls, china
bowls, and even old teapots, make pretty bouquet-holders. The Greek
vase, the classic-shaped, old-fashioned champagne glass, are,
however, unrivalled for the light grasses, field daisies, and fresh
garden flowers.

Pretty, modern English china, the cheap "old blue," the white and
gold, or the French, with a colored border, are all good enough for
a country dinner; for if people have two houses, they do not like to
take their fragile, expensive china to the country. Prettily-shaped
tureens and vegetable dishes add very much to the comfort and
happiness of the diners, and fortunately they are cheap and easily
obtained. Glass should always be thin and fine, and tea and coffee
cups delicate to the lip: avoid the thick crockery of a hotel.

For a country dinner the table should be set near a window, or
windows, if possible; in fine weather, in the hall or on the wide
veranda. If the veranda have long windows, the servant can pass in
and out easily. There should be a side-board and a side, table,
relays of knives, forks and spoons, dishes and glasses not in use,
and a table from which the servant can help the soup and carve the
joint, as on a hot day no one wishes to see these two dishes on the
table. A maid-servant should be taught by her mistress how to carve,
in order to save time and trouble. Soup for a country dinner should
be clear bouillon, with macaroni and cheese, _creme d'asperge_, or
Julienne, which has in it all the vegetables of the season. Heavy
mock-turtle, bean soup, or ox-tail are not in order for a country
dinner. If the lady of the house have a talent for cookery, she
should have her soups made the day before, all the grease removed
when the stock is cold, and season them herself.

It is better in a country house to have some cold dish that will
serve as a resource if the cook should leave. Melton veal, which can
be prepared on Monday and which will last until Saturday, is an
excellent stand-by; and a cold boiled or roast ham should always be
on the side-board. A hungry man can make a comfortable dinner of
cold ham and a baked potato.

Every country householder should try to have a vegetable garden, for
pease, beans, young turnips, and salads fresh gathered are very
superior to those which even the best grocer furnishes. And of all
the luxuries of a country dinner the fresh vegetables are the
greatest. Especially does the tired citizen, fed on the esculents of
the corner grocery, delight in the green pease, the crisp lettuce,
the undefiled strawberries. One old epicure of New York asks of his
country friends only a piece of boiled salt pork with vegetables, a
potato salad, some cheese, five large strawberries, and a cup of
coffee. The large family of salads help to make the country dinner
delightful. Given a clear beef soup, a slice of fresh-boiled salmon,
a bit of spring lamb with mint sauce, some green pease and fresh
potatoes, a salad of lettuce, or sliced tomatoes, or potatoes with a
bit of onion, and you have a dinner fit for a Brillat-Savarin; or
vary it with a pair of boiled chickens, and a _jardiniere_ made of
all the pease, beans, potatoes, cauliflower, fresh beets, of the day
before, simply treated to a bath of vinegar and oil and pepper and
salt. The lady who has conquered the salad question may laugh at the
caprices of cooks, and defy the hour at which the train leaves.

What so good as an egg salad for a hungry company? Boil the eggs
hard and slice them, cover with a _mayonnaise_ dressing, and put a
few lettuce leaves about the plate, and you have a sustaining meal.

Many families have cold meats and warm vegetables for their midday
dinner during the summer. This is not healthy. Let all the dinner be
cold if the meats are; and a dinner of cold roast beef, of salad,
and cold asparagus, dressed with pepper, oil, and vinegar, is not a
bad meal.

It is better for almost everybody, however, to eat a hot dinner,
even in hot weather, as the digestion is aided by the friendly power
of the caloric. Indeed dyspepsia, almost universal with Americans,
is attributed to the habit which prevails in this country above all
others of drinking ice-water.

_Carafes_ of ice-water, a silver dish for ice, and a pair of ice-
tongs, should be put on the table for a summer dinner. For desserts
there is an almost endless succession, and with cream in her dairy,
and a patent ice-cream freezer in her _cuisine_, the house-keeper
need not lack delicate and delicious dishes of berries and fruits.
No hot puddings should be served, or heavy pies; but the fruit tart
is an excellent sweet, and should be made _... ravir_; the pastry
should melt in the mouth, and the fruit be stewed with a great deal
of sugar. Cream should be put on the table in large glass pitchers,
for it is a great luxury of the country and of the summer season.

The cold custards, Charlotte-Russe, and creams stiffened with
gelatine and delicately flavored, are very nice for a summer dinner.
So is home-made cake, when well made: this, indeed, is always its
only "excuse for being."

Stewed fruit is a favorite dessert in England, and the gooseberry,
which here is but little used, is much liked there. Americans prefer
to eat fruit fresh, and therefore have not learned to stew it.
Stewing is, however, a branch of cookery well worth the attention of
a first-class house-keeper. It makes even the canned abominations
better, and the California canned apricot stewed with sugar is one
of the most delightful of sweets, and very wholesome; canned peaches
stewed with sugar lose the taste of tin, which sets the teeth on
edge, and stewed currants are delicious.

Every house-keeper should learn to cook macaroni well. It is worth
while to spend an hour at Martinelli's, for this Italian staple is
economical, and extremely palatable if properly prepared. Rice, too,
should have a place in a summer bill of fare, as an occasional
substitute for potatoes, which some people cannot eat.

For summer dinners there should never be anything on the table when
the guests sit down but the flowers and the dessert, the ice-
pitchers or _carafes_, and bowls of ice, the glass, china, and
silver: the last three should all be simple, and not profuse.

Many families now, fearing burglars, use only plated spoons, knives,
forks, and dishes at their country houses. Modern plate is so very
good that there is less objection to this than formerly; but the
genuine house-keeper loves the real silver spoons and forks, and
prefers to use them.

The ostentatious display of silver, however, is bad taste at a
country dinner. Glass dishes are much more elegant and appropriate,
and quite expensive enough to bear the title of luxuries.

Avoid all greasy and heavy dishes. Good roast beef, mutton, lamb,
veal, chickens, and fresh fish are always in order, for the system
craves the support of these solids in summer as well as in winter;
but do not offer pork, unless in the most delicate form, and then in
small quantities. Fried salt pork, if not too fat, is always a
pleasant addition to the broiled bird.

Broiled fish, broiled chicken, broiled ham, broiled steaks and
chops, are always satisfactory. The grid-iron made St. Lawrence fit
for Heaven, and its qualities have been elevating and refining ever
since. Nothing can be less healthy or less agreeable to the taste at
a summer dinner than fried food. The frying-pan should have been
thrown into the fire long ago, and burned up.

The house-keeper living near the sea has an ample store to choose
from in the toothsome crab, clam, lobster, and other crustacea. The
fresh fish, the roast clams, etc., take the place of the devilled
kidneys and broiled bones of the winter. But every housewife should
study the markets of her neighborhood. In many rural districts the
butchers give away, or throw to the dogs, sweetbreads and other
morsels which are the very essence of luxury. Calf's head is
rejected by the rural buyer, and a Frenchman who had the
_physiologie du go-t_ at his finger-ends, declared that in a country
place, not five miles from New York, he gave luxurious dinners on
what the butcher threw away.


The informal lunch is perhaps less understood in this country than
in any other, because it is rarely necessary. In the country it is
called early dinner, children's dinner, or ladies' dinner; in the
city, when the gentlemen are all down town, then blossoms out the
elaborate ladies' lunch.

But in England, at a country house, and indeed in London, luncheon
is a recognized and very delightful meal, at which the most
distinguished men and women meet over a joint and a cherry tart, and
talk and laugh for an hour without the restraint of the late and
formal dinner.

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