Manners at Table When Away from Home

LITTLE children, here ye may lere,
Much courtesy that is written here.

Look thine hands be washen clean,
That no filth in thy nails be seen.
Take thou no meat till grace be said
And till thou see all things arrayed.
Look, my son, that thou not sit
Till the ruler of the house thee bid.
And at thy meat, in the beginning,
Look on poor men that thou think:
For the full stomach ever fails
To understand what the hungry ails.
Eat not thy meat too hastily,
Abide and eat easily.
Carve not thy bread too thin,
Nor break it not in twain:
The morsels that thou beginnest to touch
Cast them not in thy pouch.
Put not thy fingers in thy dish,
Neither in flesh, neither in fish;
Put not thy meat into the salt
(Into thy cellar that thy salt halt)
But lay it fair on thy trencher
Before thee, that is honour.

Pick not thine ears nor thy nostrils,
If thou do, men will say thou com'st of churls.
And while thy meat in thy mouth is
Drink thou not—forget not this.
Eat thy meat by small morsels,
Fill not thy mouth as doeth rascals.
Pick not thy teeth with thy knife;
In no company begin thou strife.

And when thou hast thy pottage done,
Out of thy dish put thou thy spoon.
Nor spit thou not over the table
Nor thereupon—for it is not able.
Lay not thine elbow nor thy fist
Upon the table whilst thou eat'st.
Bulk not, as a bean were in thy throat,
As a churl that comes out of a cot.
And if thy meat be of great price
Be ware of it, or thou art not wise.

Bite not thy meat, but carve it clean:
Be well ware no drop be seen.
When thou eatest gape not too wide,
That thy mouth be seen on every side.
And son, be ware, I rede, of one thing,
Blow neither in thy meat nor in thy drink.

And cast not thy bones unto the floor,
But lay them fair on thy trencher.
Keep clean thy cloth before all
And sit thou still, whatso befall,
Till grace be said unto the end,
And till thou have washen with thy friend.
And spit not in thy basin,
My sweet son, that thou washest in;
And arise up soft and still,
And jangle neither with Jack nor Jill,
But take thy leave of thy host lowly,
And thank him with thine heart highly.
Then men will say thereafter
That ‘A gentleman was here.’
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