Taken from Breakfast, Dinner and Tea 1860
"The Dinner Hour
Although among the business and laboring classes of community the hour for dining has always been at mid day among the circles of fashion there have been many changes respecting it .... Thirty years later it was three and so it has advanced until now the fashionable dinner is partaken of at any of the hours between five and nine. the moderns imitating in this respect the ancients who took their second meal at evening."
"The fashionable world in thus appointing so late an hour for their dinner have been obliged to recognize another meal to be eaten in the middle of the day and which though it is entitled luncheon is nothing less than an unceremonious dinner. Mrs Stowe speaks of it as such when alluding to a lunch at the Duchess of Sutherland's. She says "The dinner which comes after it at eight or nine in tho evening is m comparison only a ceremonial proceeding. At lunch every thing is placed upon the table at once and ladies sit down without removing their hats children are also admitted at the table even in the presence of company."
"Willis in speaking of lunch in England says At two o clock a dish or two of hot game and a profusion of cold meats were set on the small tables in the dining room and everybody came in for a lounging half meal which occupied perhaps an hour."
"We have at the present day the square the oblong the oval the round and the extension table all of which are approved though the three latter are esteemed the most elegant."
"To dine well in private at home there are a few requisites among which wo will name as foremost that the meats be well cooked and well served the accompanying dishes be appropriate to the meats that all be served with neatness and care and particularly that all bo served hot Also that the dinner be punctual to the hour and last not least that a spirit of love and harmony prevail among the members of the household."
"To give a dinner party however or to dine well in company requires many more essentials There must be added an agreeable and well adapted company of guests ease and confidence on the part of the host and hostess well trained and experienced servants a spacious dining room and ample means to purchase the rarities and delicacies of the season To combine all these essentials is a somewhat difficult undertaking and therefore to give what is called a stylish dinner in fashionable life is one of the greatest trials to an inexperienced housekeeper It is folly on her part and great want of consideration in her husband to undertake it for mortification and failure are sure to be the result An unpretending dinner however she may give in which consulting tho means at her command she should aim at nothing which she does not fully understand and which she cannot do with perfect confidence in its success particularly regarding the old rule among cooks never to try a new dish when company is expected Every arrangement which requires her personal attention should be made at an early hour that she be not anxious and care worn when the dinner hour arrives for the cheerful welcome she is to givo to her guests is no insignificant part of the entertainment."