Are table manners less important now than a hundred years ago? Sometimes I think so; other times I’m not sure.
Here’s what a hundred-year-old book had to say about table manners in a chapter titled Dining Room Courtesy:
The Value of Good Table Manners
No matter how cultivated in mind and spirit one may be, if there is an absence of refinement of manners, the higher qualities are likely to be overlooked. The basis of all good manner is tact, i.e., a kindly consideration of others.
Graceful and easy table manners and a knowledge of how to serve and be served add to the comfort as well as to the pleasure of one’s associates in the dining room.
Most of the rules of table conduct have been adopted because they lend ease and grace or because they are sensible; others have been established by custom and long usage.
Source: A Text-Book of Cooking by Carlotta A Greer (1915)