The Little Children's Little Book (courtesy book c. 1480)

Lytylle childrene, here ye may lere 
Moche curtesy that is wrytyne here 
For clerkis that the vij artes cunne, Clerks say that
4 Seyn that curtesy from hevyn come  courtesy came from heaven when
Whan Gabryelle oure lady grette, Gabriel greeted our Lady,
And Elizabeth with Mary mette. 
Alle vertues arne closide yn curtesye,  All virtues are included in it.
8 And alle vices yn vylonye. 
Loke thyne hondis be wasshe clene,  See that your
That no fylthe on thy nayles be sene.  hands and nails are clean.
Take thou no mete tylle grace be seyde, Don't eat till
12 And tylle thou see alle thynge arayede. you're told.
Loke, my son, that thow not sytte  or sit down till
Tylle the ruler of the hous the bydde;  you're told.
And at thy mete, yn the begynnyng,  First, think on
16 Loke on pore men that thow thynk, the poor;
For the fulle wombe without any faylys  the full belly
Wot fulle lytyl what the hungery aylys. wots not what the hungry feels.
Ete not thy mete to hastely,  Don't eat too quickly.
20 A-byde and ete esely. 
Tylle thou have thy fulle servyse, Till you are fully helped,
Touche noo messe in noo wyse. touch nothing.
Kerve not thy brede to thynne,  Don't break your
24 Ne breke hit not on twynne:  bread in two,
The mosselle that thou begynnsse to touche, 
Cast them not in thy pouche.  or put your pieces in your pocket,
Put not thy fyngerys on thy dysche, your fingers in the dish,
28 Nothyr in flesche, nothyr in fysche. 
Put not thy mete in-to the salte, or your meat in
In-to thy Seler that thy salte halte,  the saltcellar.
But ley it fayre on thi trenchere 
32 The byfore, and that is thyne honore. 
Pyke not thine Eris ne thy nostrellis; Don't pick your ears or nose,
If thou do, men wolle sey thou come of cherlis. 
And I whylle thi mete yn thi mouth is,  or drink with
36 Drynk thow not; for-gete not this.  your mouth full,
Ete thi mete by smalle mosselles; 
Fylle not thy mouth as done brothellis. 
Pyke not thi teth with thy knyfe 
40 In no company begynne thow stryfe. 
And whan thou hast thi potage doone, 
Out of thy dyssh thow put thi spone. 
Ne spitte thow not over the tabylle,  Don't spit over or on the table;
44 Ne therupon, for that is no thing abylle. that's not proper.
Ley not thyne Elbowe nor thy fyst Don't out your elbows
Vpon the tabylle whylis that thow etist. on the table,
Bulk not as a Beene were yn thi throte, nor belch as if you had
48 As a karle that comys oute of a cote. a bean in your throat.
And thy mete be of grete pryce, 
Be ware of hyt, or thou arte not wyse. Be careful of good food;
Speke noo worde stylle ne sterke; 
52 And honowre and curtesy loke thou kepe, and be courteous
And at the table loke thou mkake good chere; and cheerful
Loke thou rownde not in nomannys ere. Don't whisper in any man's ear.
Wyth thy fyngeres thou towche and taste Take your food with your fingers,
56 Thy mete; And look thou do no waste. and don't waste it.
Loke thou laughe not, nor grenne; Don't grin or talk too much,
And with moche speche thou mayste do synne. 
Mete ne drynke loke thou ne spylle,  or spill your food.
60 But sette hit downe fayre and stylle. 
Kepe thy cloth clene the byforne,  Keep your cloth clean before you.
And bere the so thow have no scorne. 
Byte not thi mete, but kerve it clene, Cut your meat; don't bite it.
64 Be welle ware no drop be sene. 
Whan thou etyst, gape not to wyde  Don't open your mouth
That thi mouth be sene on yche a syde. too wide when you eat,
And son, beware, I rede, of on thyng, 
68 Blow nether yn thi mete nor yn thi drynk. or blow on your food.
And yif thi lord drynk at that tyde,  If your lord drinks
Drynk thou not, but hym abyde;  always wait till he has done.
Be it at Evyne, be it at noone, 
72 Drynk thou not tylle he haue done. 
Upon thi trencher no fyllthe thou see, Keep your trencher clean.
It is not honest, as I telle the; 
Ne drynk behynde no mannes bakke, Drink behind no man's back.
76 For yf thou do, thow art to lakke. 
And chese come forthe, be not to gredy, Don't rush at
Ne cutte thow not therof to hastely.  the cheese,
Caste not thi bones ynto the flore, or throw your bones on the floor,
80 But ley them fayre on thi trenchore. 
Kepe clene thi cloth byfore the alle; 
And sit thou stylle, what so be-falle, Sit still till grace
Tylle grace be said vnto the ende, is said
84 And tylle thou haue wasshen with thi frend. and you've washed your hands,
Let the more worthy than thow 
Wassh to-fore the, & that is thi prow; 
And spitte not yn thi basyne,  and don't spit in
88 My swete son, that thow wasshist yne; the basin.
And aryse up soft & stylle, Rise quietly,
And jangylle nether with Jak ne Jylle, don't jabber, but
But take thi leve of the hede lowly, 
92 And thank hym with thyne hert hyghly,  thank your host
And alle the gentyllis togydre yn-same,  and all the company,
And bare the so thow haue no blame; 
Than men wylle say therafter and then men will say,
96 That a gentylleman was heere.  `A gentleman was here!'
And he that dispiseth this techyng, He who despises this teaching
He is not worthy, withoute lesyng, isn't fit to sit at a
Nether at good mannes tabulle to sitte, good man's table.
100 Ner of no worships for to wytte. 
And therfore, chyldren, for charyte, Children,
Lovyth this boke though yt lytil be! love this little book,
And pray for hym that made it thus, and pray that Jesus
104 That hym may helpe swete Jesus may help its
To lyve & dye among his frendes,  author to die among his friends
And never to be combred with no fendes; and not be troubled with devils,
And geve vs grace yn Joy to be; but be in joy for
108 Amen, Amen, for charytee! ever. Amen!
EXPLICIT. lerne or be lewde 
quod Whytyng, 
HERE endythe the boke of Curtesy that ys fulle necessary unto 
yonge chyldryn that muste nedys lerne the maner of curtesy. 

Text (slightly regularized and some small changes in running commentary) from The Babees Book, ed. Frederick J. Furnivall, EETS 32, 1868, pp. 16-24.