LATELY — 4 January 2006

The Book of the Courtier

Suitable New Year’s Resolutions? (From The Book of the Courtier by a Baldesar Castiglione today, tr. 1561 by Sir Thomas Hoby.)

A Breef Rehersall of the Chiefe Conditions and Qualities in a Courtier (extracts)

  • Not to be womanish in his sayinges or doinges.
  • To play for his pastime at Dice and Cardes, not wholye for monies sake, nor fume and chafe in his losse.
  • To speake and write the language that is most in use emonge the commune people, without inventing new woordes, inckhorn tearmes or straunge phrases, and such as be growen out of use by long time.
  • To make his garmentes after the facion of the most, and those to be black, or of some darkish and sad colour, not garish.
  • Not to be rash, nor perswade hymselfe to knowe the thing that he knoweth not.
  • To confesse his ignorance, whan he seeth time and place therto, in suche qualities as he knoweth him selfe to have no maner skill in.
  • To daunce well without over nimble footinges or to busie trickes.
  • Not to use sluttish and Ruffianlike pranckes with anye man.
  • Not to love promotions so, that a man shoulde thinke he coulde not live without them, nor unshamefastlye to begg any office.
  • His love towarde women, not to be sensuall or fleshlie, but honest and godly, and more ruled with reason, then appetyte: and to love better the beawtye of the minde, then of the bodie.

Of the Chief Conditions and Qualityes in a Waytyng Gentylwoman (extracts)

  • Not to be haughtie, envious, yltunged, lyght, contentious nor untowardlye.
  • To accompany sober and quiet maners and honesty with a livelie quicknesse of wit.
  • To beeware of praysinge her self undiscreatlye, and of beeing to tedious and noysome in her talke.
  • Not to mingle with grave and sad matters, meerie jestes and laughinge matters: nor with mirth, matters of gravitie.
  • To sett out her beawtye and disposition of person with meete garmentes that shall best beecome her, but as feininglye as she can, makyng semblant to bestowe no labour about it, nor yet to minde it.
  • To devise sportes and pastimes. (?!)
  • To be heedefull and remembre that men may with lesse jeopardy show to be in love, then women.
  • To geve her lover nothing but her minde, when eyther the hatred of her husband, or the love that he beareth to others inclineth her to love. (You can have a lover, you just can’t fuck him?)
  • To make her self beloved for her desertes, amiablenesse, and good grace, not with anie uncomelie or dishonest behaviour, or flickeringe enticement with wanton lookes, but with vertue and honest condicions.