I do not think it necessary to say much on the subject of carving, as those who are accustomed to sit at a well ordered table, and who observe the manner of the host and hostess, can soon acquire the art, both of carving and helping with ease. And when placed at the head of their own table, the knowledge thus gained will be found a great assistance.
The proper time for children to acquire good habits at meals, is not when there is company; it should be an every day lesson. As when parents are engaged with their friends or guests, they have no time to devote to the manners of their children, and to reprove them at table is very unpleasant, as well as mortifying.
Young children will soon acquire the manner of sitting quietly till they are helped, if they are made to understand that they will not be permitted to eat with their parents and friends, unless they behave with propriety.
I have thought it a great assistance to the good order of a large family, for every member to be punctual in their attendance at meals, and all to sit down together, with a short pause before the carving and helping commences. In those moments of quiet, the heart is sometimes awakened to a feeling of gratitude to the Almighty dispenser of our blessings.
At the table, different members of the family meet; and where affection and kindness, those aids to true politeness, preside, it is truly a delightful treat to be the guest of such a family.
Every symptom of selfishness should be discouraged, for if suffered to take root in a child, it lays the foundation of much that is disagreeable to themselves and others.
Inculcate this excellent rule, "of doing unto others, what you wish others to do unto you," and always preferring others to yourself.
It is the custom in some well regulated families, to permit the younger members, (as they arrive at a suitable age,) to take turns in presiding, not only at breakfast and tea, but at the dinner table. I have known quite young girls that had been taught in this way, carve a fowl or joint of meat with ease and grace. In helping, they should be taught not to over-load the plate, as it takes away the appetite of some persons to be helped too largely.
The gravy should be stirred so that all may be helped alike, and a small quantity put on the meat or fowl, to which it belongs, and not on vegetables unless it is particularly desired.
If there should be a rare dish on the table, it is best to hand it round and let every one help himself, after it has been nicely cut up. Ham is much nicer to be cut in very thin slices. So is salt beef and tongue.
Young housekeepers in selecting their dishes for dinner, (if they have not an experienced cook,) should avoid those that are difficult to prepare. Never try a new dish when you expect company. Your guests will be more gratified with a neat and moderate table, with a few plain and well cooked dishes, accompanied with the smiling countenance of the hostess, than with a great variety of ill cooked and badly arranged viands.