1641: “Bedew not thy face of those thou speakest with”

Youths Behaviour, or Decency in Conversation amongst Men, is a mid 17th century guide to etiquette and manners. First published in 1641, its author was Francis Hawkins, a lad of just ten years old. Youths Behaviour was, in essence, an example of parental vanity publishing, printed at the request of Hawkins’ father; its frontispiece featured an engraved image of the author, promoting him as a child prodigy. Despite Hawkins’ tender age, Youths Behaviour became a best seller, going through numerous print runs and at least 12 editions over the next three decades. Much of its advice was not original but was translated and adapted by Hawkins from earlier works, such as Desiderius Erasmus’ De Civilitate Morum Puerilium. Topics covered by Hawkins included personal conduct, bearing, manners and methods of speaking. There was also a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ when dining out. When at the house of another, Hawkins cautions against eating too much – and warns not to sniff the fare:

“Take not thy repast like a glutton… Eat not with cheeks full and with full mouth… Smell not to thy meat, and if thou do hold thy nose to it, set it not afterwards before another [diner]…”

He also warns against spreading thy germs by double-dipping:

“If thou soakest thy bread or meat in the sauce, soak it not again after thou hast bitten it. Dip therein at each time a reasonable morsel which may be eaten at one mouthful.”

Hawkins also gave advice on conversation. He suggested respecting the personal space of others, lest you drench them with spit:

“Neither shake thy head, feet or legs. Roll not thine eyes. Lift not one of thine eyebrows higher than thine other. Wry not thy mouth. Take heed that thy spittle [doth] not bedew his face with whom thou speakest. To that end, approach not too nigh him.”

On reaching adulthood Francis Hawkins joined the Jesuits. He studied theology and, according to some sources, medicine. Hawkins was later responsible for training novices in Scotland and on the continent. He died in Liege, Belgium in 1681.

Source: Francis Hawkins, Youths Behaviour, or Decency in Conversation amongst Men, 1641. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.

1609: Curl your moustache for sneeze-free kissing

An appropriately maintained early 17th century beard and moustache

Simion Grahame (1570-1614) was a Scottish-born writer and courtier to James VI. Little is known about Grahame’s life. He was a good scholar who soldiered for a time, after which he traveled widely in Europe, possibly while in exile. In the early 1600s Grahame returned to Scotland and turned his hand to writing, earning the patronage of James VI. He later moved to the Italian states and spent his final years as a Franciscan friar. One of Grahame’s better known works was his 1609 Anatomie of Humors. Much of this manuscript dwells on human emotions, particularly melancholy or depression, something Grahame himself seemed familiar with. But it is also interspersed with advice about conduct, manners and how to forge and maintain good relationships with others. In one chapter Grahame urged gentlemen to keep their beards and moustaches clean, well trimmed and tightly curled:

“…A man is to be commended if he be [clean] in his linings, his hair well dressed, his beard well brushed and always his upper lip well curled… For if he chance to kiss a gentlewoman, some rebellious hairs may happen to startle in her nose and make her sneeze…”

Those who did not attend to their facial hair, wrote Grahame, were slobs, not fit to socialise with:

“[These] snotty nosed gentlemen, with their drooping moustaches covering their mouth and becoming a harbour for meldrops [mucus]… He will drink with anybody whatsoever, and after he hath washed his filthy beard in the cup… he will suck the hair so heartily with his under lip.”

Source: Simion Grahame, The Anatomie of Humors, Edinburgh, 1609. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.