This section is from the book "Cook Book", by The Ladies of the Church of the Good Shepherd.
There has been an effort on the part of some to do away with the custom of the ladies' withdrawal from the scene leaving the gentlemen to their coffee and cigars, but it has only been adopted spasmodically. The opportunity the old custom offers for less formality constitutes its popularity. After the coffee has been served to the ladies in the drawing-room some serve liquors as well, but it seems to me that apol-linaris or clysmic waters are more appropriate and are generally preferred.
In clearing a table, the plates are first taken away one by one, but not until all have finished, lest one, eating more slowly than the rest, or blessed with a better appetite, feel hurried or unpleasantly conspicuous. There is one impropriety often practiced, that cannot be too strongly apprehended. It is that of putting one plate on top of another in clearing a table. It is the commonest mistake, and I think it the very worst possible blunder. On the stage, when "Lord Broadacres" is entertaining bis friends, the old family butler, in dress and appearance the very flower of dignified propriety, in clearing the table piles up the plates with the same sublime disregard of "les convenances" as a waitress at an Adirondack boardiug house, and the case can not be more strongly put.
I think no expression of condemnation too strong to apply to the servant who piles one soiled plate upon another, in order to save his steps.
The feeling of fatigue or lassitude after a long dinner is generally due to the fact that the air has become impure, especially is this true when gas has been used. For this reason, if for no other, candles are preferable for lighting a table, and we are mrther reinforced in commending them by no less authority than Dame Fashion herself, whose right to dictate in such matters is not to be disputed.
Menus are no longer in vogue at a private dinner unless they may be made to contribute to the artistic or amusing features of the meal, when a hostess is always privileged to assert her Independence of conventional usage. Name-cards offer inexhaustible opportunity for the play of wit, fancy or taste, and if cleverly gotten up may add much to the enjoyment of the guests at the table. Care should be taken to have them as small and dainty as possible, and have them agree well in color with whatever other colors may be used for decoration. Sometimes guest cards and menu cards are combined, the face of the card bearing the name and some quotation applicable to the guest, and the reverse side bearing the menu. College colors are sometimes used for these cards, but oftener they are pure white with gilt lettering.