Manners for Renaissance Men


SATURDAY

So there be some kind of men that in coughing and sneezing make such noise that they make a man deaf to hear them; some others use in like things so little discretion that they spit in men’s faces that stand about them. Besides these there be some that in yawning bray and cry like asses. And yet such, with open mouth, will ever say and do what they list, and make such noise, or rather such roaring, as the dumb man does, when he strives with himself to speak. All these ill-favored fashions, a man must leave, as loathsome to the ear and the eye….

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And when you have blown your nose, use not to open your handkerchief, to glare upon your snot, as if you had pearls and rubies fallen from your brains, for these be slovenly parts, enough to cause men, not so much not to love us, as if they did love us, to unlove us again….

When a man talks with one, it is no good manner to come near, that he must needs breathe in his face; for there be many that cannot abide to feel the air of another man’s breath, albeit there come no ill savour from him. These and like fashions be very unseemly, and would be eschewed, because their senses with whom we acquaint ourselves, cannot brook nor bear them.

[Giovanni della Casa (1503-1556), “The Perfect Gentleman” (from Il Galateo [The Etiquette]a treatise on manners, c. 1555; Robert Peterson, trans., 1576), in James Bruce Ross and Mary Martin McLaughlin, eds., The Portable Renaissance Reader,rev. ed., (New York, NY, USA: Penguin Books, 1977), 342.]

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