I am continuing on the celebratory theme of North & South, you can catch my previous post on life in Industrial Manchester here.
You are cordially invited to Mrs Thorntons annual dinner party!
Upon agreeing on the size of the party, and establishing the list of distinguished guests, invitations are sent out.
None of the guests should be superior, and all should be from the same social circle.
The invitations, dispatched by a special messanger, will arrive roughly 10 to 12 days prior to the event.
Should the invitation be declined, a messanger is to be sent immediatly, stating the reason for the non-acceptance. This will allow the hostess to invite other guests to make up the party.
The number of men and women should be equal, as every gentleman is given charge of a lady of similar rank to accompany her into the dining room.
His role is also to ensure pleasant conversation during the meal.
Punctuality is key.
The guests are expected to arrive 10 minutes prior to the time stated on the invitation. Keeping the dinner, and other guests, waiting will be regarded as a serious offence.
First, the guests assemble in the parlour.
Then, in order of rank, each man escorts the lady into the dining room, which Mrs. Thornton will have decorated with oppulence.
Ladies wear gloves at dinner parties, which they remove in the dining-room.
The aim of the dinner party is to impress the guests, and to flaunt the status of the hosts.
This means bringing out the finest silver, china dishes, stemware, and table-cloth.
The hostess will place an emphasis on the setting, menu, food selection, social pairing of her guests.
The furniture should be arranged so it does not interfear with the guests view of one another.
A card are to be placed with the name of each guest, next to the plate, if their is large number of guests.
The host should sit at the foot of the table, the hostess at the head.
The food is served in two possible ways: a la Francaise (meaning that the course is placed in front of the hostess, carved, and passed around) and a la
Russe (meaning that the already cut courses are brought to the table).
The topics of conversation at the table should be agreeing and pleasing.
Two topics are best avoided— religion and politics.
The hostess who possesses tact will not discuss music or painting with persons who have no taste for either.
Finger bowls with a sliver of lemon in the water signal the end of the meal.
When all the guests have finished eating, the hostess will rise and move to the drawing-room, followed by her female guests.
The ladies retired to the drawing-room while the men linger in the dining room or retired to the library for cigars and port.
Be sure to thank your hostess by visiting her within the week.
As men are far to busy, other female family members should perform this duty.