The Jest Book Part 95
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Art. 1.--Fulfilling to the utmost the laws of hospitality, he watches with paternal solicitude over the welfare of the stomachs committed to his care; rea.s.sures the timid, encourages the modest, and incites the vigorous appet.i.te.
Art. 2.--He must abstain from praising either his dishes or his wines.
Art. 3.--He is not to take advantage of his situation to utter stale jests or vulgar puns. A careful perusal of "The Jest Book" will be his best security against a violation of this _article_.
Art. 4.--The police of the table belongs of right to him; he should never permit a plate or a gla.s.s to be either full or empty.
Art. 5.--On rising from table, he should cast a scrutinizing glance over the gla.s.ses. If he sees them not quite emptied, let him take warning by it to choose either his guests or his wine better for the future.
_Of the Guests._
Art. 1.--The first duty of a guest is to arrive at the time named, at whatever inconvenience to himself.
Art. 2.--When the Amphitryon offers any dish to a guest, his only civil way of declining it is by requesting to be helped a second time to that of which he has just partaken.
Art. 3.--A guest who is a man of the world will never begin a conversation until the first course is over; up to that point, dinner is a serious affair, from which the attention of the party ought not to be inconsiderately distracted.
Art. 4.--Whatever conversation is going on ought to be suspended, even in the middle of a sentence, upon the entrance of a _dinde aux truffes_.
Art. 5.--An applauding laugh is indispensable to every joke of the Amphitryon.
Art. 6.--A guest is culpable who speaks ill of his entertainer during the first three hours after dinner. Grat.i.tude should last at least as long as digestion.
Art. 7.--To leave anything on your plate is to insult your host in the person of his cook.
Art. 8.--A guest who leaves the table deserves the fate of a soldier who deserts.
_On Vicinity to Ladies._
Art. 1.--He who sits next to a lady becomes at once her _cavaliere servente_. He is bound to watch over her gla.s.s with as much interest as over his own.
Art. 2.--The gentleman owes aid and protection to his fair neighbor in the selection of food; the lady on her part is bound to respect and obey the recommendations of her knight on this subject.
Art. 3.--It is bad taste for the gentleman to advance beyond politeness during the first course; in the second, however, he is bound to be complimentary; and he is at liberty to glide into tenderness with the dessert.
_On Vicinity to Men._
Art. 1.--When two gentlemen sit together, they owe no duties to each other beyond politeness and reciprocal offers of wine and water,--the _last_ offer becomes an error after one refusal.
Art. 2.--On being helped to a dish, you should at once accept any precedence offered you by your neighbor; ceremony serves only to cool the plate in question for both parties.
Art. 3.--If you sit near the Amphitryon, your criticisms on the repast must be conveyed in a whisper; aloud you can do nothing but approve.
Art. 4.--Under no pretext can two neighbors at table be permitted to converse together on their private affairs, unless, indeed, one of them is inviting the other to dinner.
Art. 5.--Two neighbors who understand each other may always get more wine than the rest of the guests; they have only to say by turns to each other, with an air of courtesy, "Shall we take some wine?"
_On Vicinity to Children._
Single Article.--The only course to be pursued, if you have the misfortune to be placed next a child at table, is to make him tipsy as quick as you can, that he may be sent out of the room by Mamma.
_On the Means of reconciling Politeness with Egotism._
Art. 1.--The epicure's serious attention should be fixed upon the articles on the table; he may lavish his politeness, his wit, and his gayety upon the people who sit round it.
Art. 2.--By helping the dish next yourself (should you not dine _a la Russe_) you acquire a right to be helped to any other dish on the table.
Art. 3.--A carver must be very unskilful who cannot, by a little sleight-of-hand, smuggle aside the best morsel of a dish, and thus, when serving himself _last_, serve himself also the _best_.
Art. 4.--Your host's offers are sometimes insincere when they refer to some magnificent dish yet uncut. In such cases you should refuse feebly for yourself, but accept on behalf of the lady next you,--merely out of politeness to her.
Art. 5.--The thigh of all birds, boiled, is preferable to the wing: never lose sight of this in helping ignoramuses or ladies.
The Jest Book Part 95
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