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by [?]

Now that the world is so full of free dinners for the well-fed, it behoves hostesses to reconsider their methods. With so many dinner-tables open to the lion, or even to the cub, they must do their spiriting dexterously if they would feed him. In these days when seven hostesses pluck hold of the swallow-tails of one man, and the form of grace before meals must be, “For those we are about to receive, Lord make us truly thankful,” something more than the average attraction is needed to induce the noble animal to dine at your expense. There is one improvement in the great dinner function for which I would respectfully solicit the attention of ladies who entertain but do not amuse. “It is a great point in a gallery how you hang your pictures,” says the sage of Concord, “and not less in society how you seat your party. When a man meets his accurate mate, Society begins and life is delicious.” Yes, but how rarely does a man meet his accurate mate in these minor marriages of the dinner-table! How often is he chained for hours to an unsympathetic soul he has not even made the mistake of selecting. The terrible length of the modern dinner makes the grievance very real, and in a society already vibrant with the demand for easier divorce it is curious that there has arisen no Sarah Grand of the dining-room to protest against this diurnal evil. Suppose that at a dance you were told off to one perpetual partner, who would ever don pumps? Is it not obvious that at a dinner you should have the same privilege as at a dance–the privilege of choosing your partner for each course? It could be done during the drawing-room wait. I give an example of an ordinary menu, marked after the fashion of a gentleman’s dance programme, from which it will the seen at a glance how much more delightful a dinner would become if you could change your partner as often as your plate.

MENU, JUNE 15th, 1894.

Plats. Engagements.
1. Hors d’oeuvres . . . . S. S.
2. Soup . . . . . . . . . A. P. S.
3. Poisson . . . . . . . Pinky.
4. Poisson . . . . . . . L. R.
5. Entree . . . . . . . . Blue Bow.
6. Entree . . . . . . . . Red Hair.
7. Joint . . . . . . . . W.
8. Sweet . . . . . . . . Minnie.
9. Sweet . . . . . . . . Minnie.
10. Cheese . . . . . . . Long Arms.
11. Dessert . . . . . . . I. V.

(Interval before ladies rise.)

Extra Entree . . . . . . Agnes.
Extra Joint . . . . . . . Eyeglasses.
Extra Sweet . . . . . . . Minnie.

You perceive at once that you would always put your idol pro tem, down for the sweets, which would become as fertile a source of flirtation as “love” in tennis. Of course the same tact and discretion would be needed in filling your menu as in filling your programme. Some ladies who are excellent at the entree may be inadvisable for the joint, which they may sit out, expecting to monopolise your attention to the detriment of your meal. Others who are dull at the soup may be agreeably vivacious towards the later items. A new series of formulae would be added to the language:

“May I have the pleasure of seeing your menu?”