Romance of the Rose (Jean de Meun's Continuation, late 13th. century)

The Duenna's Advice on Table Manners



P. 220




P. 221




P. 222



She should behave her when at table
In manner fit and convenable;
But should, ere yet she takes her place,
'Fore all the household show her face,
To let those present understand
That she much business hath in hand.
Hither and thither should she flit
And be the last of all to sit,
Making the company await
While scanneth she each dish and plate;
And when at last down sitteth she,
On each and all her eye should be.

Before the guests should she divide
The bread and see each one supplied.
Then let her know the heart to win
Of some one guest by putting in
His platter dainty morsels, or
A wing or leg of fowl before
Him sets she, with choicest slice,
Of pork or beef will she entice
His appetite, or savory fish,
If of the day that be the dish.
No stint she makes, if he permits,
To ply his taste with choicest bits.

'Tis well she take especial care
That in the sauce her fingers ne'er
She dip beyond the joint, nor soil
Her lips with garlick, sops, or oil,
Nor heap up gobbets and the charge
Her nouth with pieces overlarge,
And only with the finger point
Should touch the bit she'd fain anoint
With sauce white, yellow, brown or green,
And lift it towards her mouth between
Finger and thumb with care and skill,
That she no sauce or morsel spill
About her breast-cloth.

Then her cup
She should so gracefully lift up
Towards her mouth that not a gout
By any chance doth fall about
Her vesture, or for glutton rude,
By such unseemly habitude,

Might she be deemed.

Nor should she set
Drink neatly and Moderately
Lips to her cup while food is yet
Within her mouth.
And first should she
Her upper lip wipe delicately,
Lest, having drunk, a grease-formed groat
Were seen upon the wine to float.
She should not take one long-breathed draught,
Whether from cup or hanap quaffed,
But gently taste with sipping soft
Now and again, but not too oft,
Though thirst impels, at large should drink,
Lest those around perchance should think
Or say, if she the cup should clutch
With eager haste: She drinks too much;
Therefore should she the tempting tide
Resist, nor grip the goblet's side
Like some of that fat matron crew,
So gluttonous and boorish, who
Pour wine adown their cavernous throats
Enough to fill a horseman's boots,
Till lastly are their gullets full,
And all their senses drowned and dull.
She should avoid all such excess
As leadeth on to drunkenness,
For drunken folk no secrets keep,
And if a woman drinketh deep
She leaves herself without defence,
And jangles much with little sense.
To any man she falls a prey
When thus her wits she casts away.

She should not at the table close
Her eyes in sleep, nor even doze,
For many a strange untoward thing
Hath happed to dames thus slumbering
Such places are not made for sleep,
Tis wiser far good watch to keep,
For often folk mishaps have known
Thus sleeping: many have tumbled down
Supine, or prone, or on the side,
And greivous hurt sustained, or died:
She should, who feels disposed to wink,
Of Palinurus' ending think,
Who governed well AEneas' helm
Until he fell within the realm
Of Morpheus, then straight toppled he
From off the ship, and in the sea
Was drowned before his comrades' eyes,
Who mourned his watery obsequies.

Do Not Dip Fingers
Too Deeply in the Sauce

Do Not Spill Wine

Wipe Upper Lip
Before Drinking

Do Not
Drink Too Much

Drunken Woman
Is Defenceless

No Dozing at Table

Palinuus, AEneas' Steersman

From The Romance of the Rose by W. Lorris and J. Clopinel, Englished by F.S, Ellis. London, 1900 [Lamont PQ 1528 A24], Vol 2 (of three); side notes added.

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