When the dish is on the table, such as the soup... directions for setting the table indicate soup plates are also set. So the hostess dishes out a portion of soup and hands the dish to the servant to place before the guest on top of the main course plate.
When the soup course is done, the tureen and service utensils are removed. As each guest finishes the soup, the soup plate is removed ( leaving the main course plate).
The covers on the platter of fish and dishes of potatoes are taken away. The host carves and dishes out a portion of the fish and hands it to the servant to place before the guest. Sauces and potatoes are passed by the guest with the item closest to their place. (I don't know quite why, but instruction manuals say specifically that potatoes must accompany fish.)
When the fish is served, the platter of fish and the fish carving utensils are removed. As each guest finishes the fish, the fish plate is removed, again leaving the main course plate.
Then the Removes (fowl in classic French dining), service utensils, and appropriate plates are brought out and set before the host and hostess in the places vacated by the Soup and Fish. The covers on the accompanying sides are removed and taken away. The host or hostess dishes out a portion of the remove and hands it to the servant to place before the guest. The guests with accompanying sides and sauces pass them around. Once the remove is completely served, the platter is removed. Once the guest is done with the removes course, the plate is removed leaving the main course plate.
Then the main roast is uncovered and set before the host. The host carves the roast and portions it to his own plate which is taken to the guest. The guest's plate is removed and the filled former host's plate left in it's place. (Complicated procedure, but can be accomplished gracefully with practice.) The host helps a portion of roast onto the plate the servant has brought back and again the guest's plate is removed and the filled one left in it's place.
The guests closest to the sides and sauces pass them around.
Then comes the Great Removal of All Things. All the dishes, platters, utensils, and even the tablecloth are removed. A new place setting is set for each guest. A new round of dishes are brought to the table.
The sweets course is set before the host and hostess with the cake plates and custard plates. Again, the host and hostess will put a portion on their own plate which is handed to the servant. The servant removes the empty guest's plate and replaces it with the filled plate. The empty plate is returned to the host and hostess for filling.
Once the cake and custard are served, those platters and the utensils are removed. If sauces, sugar, or cream were needed, those are passed by the closest guest and then removed when done.
Next the covers for the salad and cheese are removed. The plates and serving utensils are nearby. The male guest closest to the cheese will carve the cheese onto his own plate and then passes that plate to the next guest who passes it on. The guest closest to the salad will serve onto their plate and hand it to the servant... and the Plate Ballet begins anew. Filled plate replaces the empty, which is brought back to be filled.
These plates stay on the table until after the guests have gone to the parlor for tea/coffee/port. This gives the poor, unappreciated servants a chance to rush to the parlors to set out the tea/coffee/port/sherry/glasses/nosh and to light the fires and lamps in preparation for the after-dinner activities.
The preceding was from careful notations of the serving procedures outlined in the following sources (and from a few others that I just read through that verified what the other sources had specified):
"Household Work or Duties of the Female Servant" by J. Masters, 1850
?Miss Beecher?s Domestic Receipt Book? by Catherine Ester Beecher, 1850
?The Servant Behavior Book? by Emily Augusta Patmore, 1859
?The Cook?s Own Book and Housekeeper?s Register? by N.K.M. Lee, 1842
?The House Servant?s Directory? by Robert Roberts, 1829
?The Hotel Keepers, Head Waiters, and HouseKeepers? Guide? by Tunis G. Campbell, 1848
?Cookery and Domestic Economy for Young Housekeepers? by William & Robert Chambers, 1862
?The Book of Household Management? by Isabella Beeton, 1861
The House Keeper?s Encyclopedia of Useful Information? by E. F. Haskell, 1861
?The Household Encycolpedia, or Family Dictionary of Everything? by Anonymous, 1858
?The Lady?s Receipt Book? by Eliza Leslie, 1847, beginning page 365
?The Young Housewife?s Daily Assistant? by Cre-Frydd, 1864, beginning page xviii
?French Domestic Cookery? by Louis-Eustache Audot, 1846
?The Improved Housewife, or Book of Receipts? by A Married Lady, 1851
?Cassell?s Household Guide? by Cassell, Petter, & Galpin, 1869