Etiquette advice from 1679

Continuing on from 17th century romantic compliments, here is some advice from 1679 on how not to behave in public. The book, The Refin’d Courtier, or, A Correction of several Indecencies crept into Civil Conversation, criticises the foul manners of some of the author’s high-born contemporaries. It provides an interesting insight into the social etiquette of Restoration Britain, showing that much of what was socially prohibited then is still thought bad manners today.

On bodily effusions

*It is an uncomely thing…after you have blown your Nose, to open and look upon, and rub your Handkerchief, as if a Pearl or a Rubie were dropt unto it, or some precious Liquor distill’d from the Brain
 
* The Ears are offended by gnashing and grating the Teeth, and by breaking wind, and by snorting and snuffing up the nose
 
* Nor does it consist with good manners, to prepare for the easing of Nature in publick view, or to truss up our Clothes before others when we return from performing that office
 
On table manners
 
*Tis an unmannerly trick to wet your fore-finger in your mouth, and to print it in the Salt-cellar, and then to lick the salt that sticks to it
 
*Neither is it a cleanly Fashion for any to put his Nose towards a glass of Wine which another is about to drink, or to smell to that which is laid upon his neighbour’s Trencher
If music be the food of love…
*We ought industriously to refrain from singing, especially if the voice be immusical…or if we are not desir’d to shew our skill…commonly those who have no sweetness at all, but make a noise as harsh as a Mandrake, are readiest to transgress in this kind

Further Reading

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