A guide to eating in the time of King George III has been uncovered in Derbyshire...

Guide to eating in the 18th century

The Telegraph

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“Eating quick or slow is characteristic of the vulgar. The first infers poverty, while the last infers that you dislike your entertainment.”

This advice — and much besides — might usefully be presented to members of the PlayStation generaion, as they wolf down microwaved meals in front of EastEnders.

But it was actually offered to 18th century youths, in a rare book uncovered by an auctioneer in Derby.

The Honours of the Table, written in 1791 by the Rev John Trusler, lays down a daunting list of customs and conventions.

He warns that “to eat soup with your nose in the plate is vulgar”, since it has “the appearance of being used to hard work”.

And Trusler’s recommended punishment for those who failed to meet his exacting standards could be severe.

He tells of a child (“ill-bred”, he suggests) who committed the sin of sniffing a piece of meat on their fork.

This made Trusler “so angry that I could have kicked him from the table”.

Trusler, a prolific author of the time whose other works included gardening tips and commentaries on Hogarth engravings, goes on to chide young women who might be eyeing a second helping.

Eating too much, he warns, is “indelicate in a lady, for her character should be divine”.

The 80-page volume is expected to fetch £600 at auction next month.

The auctioneer Charles Hanson called it a fascinating snapshot of social conventions in the time of George III.

He said: “Manners, decorum, respect and etiquette were obviously all the rage and were clearly drilled into the children from as early an age as possible.”