The Duenna's Advice on Table Manners

(from Romance of the Rose (Jean de Meun's Continuation, late thirteenth century)

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 
14100 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 
14110 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 Do Not Dip Fingers
That in the sauce her fingers ne'er Too Deeply in the Sauce
She dip beyond the joint, nor soil 
14120 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  Do Not Spill Wine
14130 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.  Wipe Upper Lip
And first should she  Before Drinking
Her upper lip wipe delicately,
Lest, having drunk, a grease-formed groat
14140 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, Do Not
Lest those around perchance should think Drink Too Much
Or say, if she the cup should clutch 
With eager haste: She drinks too much; 
Therefore should she the tempting tide 
14150 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, 
14160 And if a woman drinketh deep
She leaves herself without defence, Drunken Woman
And jangles much with little sense.  Is Defenceless
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,  No Dozing at Table
For many a strange untoward thing 
Hath happed to dames thus slumbering 
Such places are not made for sleep, 
14170 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  Palinuus, AEneas' Steersman
Until he fell within the realm 
Of Morpheus, then straight toppled he 
14180 From off the ship, and in the sea 
Was drowned before his comrades' eyes, 
Who mourned his watery obsequies. 

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.