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.