Category Archives: Etiquette

Custom Etiquette Love Men Women

To the Faire Murderess of my Soul


More today from the entertaining book of compliments from 1699. The author devotes quite a few pages to guiding his male readers through the process of writing a love letter, and provides some possible greetings and signatures for his readers to adopt. He also presents a series of sample letters which can be copied in an effort to woo the ladies, and below the suggested greetings are two of the most entertaining.


Suggested droll greetings when writing a love letter to a mistress:

To the most gracious Queen of my Soul
To the most illustrious Princess of my Heart
To the Countess Dowager of my Affections
To the Baroness of my Words and Actions
To the Peerles Paragon of Exquisite Formosity
To the Empress of my Thoughts
To the Lilly-white-hands of my Angelical Mistress
To the Ninth Wonder of the World
To the most Accomplished Work of Nature, and the Astonishment of all Eyes
To the Faire Murderess of my Soul
To the Rose of pure Delight
To the Choise Nutmeg of Sweetest Consolation
To her who is Day without Night, a Sun full of Shade, a Shade full of Light, Mistress, Etcetera

Suggested signatures:

Your Gally-Slave
Your Always burning Salamander
Your Continual Martyr
Your poor Worm, that must of necessity die, if trod upon by the foot of your disdain
The Vassal of your Severest Frowns



A Cockney to his Mistress

My Dear Peggie

I have here sent thee these Lines writ with my tears, and a little blacking that our Maid rubs my Father’s Shoes with, that I may unload a whole Cart-load of grief into the Warehouse of thy bosome. Truly Peggie, I think I shall die, for I can neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, nor wake. Nothing that my mother can buy, either in Cheap-side or Newgate-Market will go down with me. My mother sees me looking as pale as the Linen in Moor-fields, and moping in the Chimney corner. She jeers me, saying, What are you love-sick Tom? I cry and make a noise like a Cat upon the Tiles. But let all the world say what they will, I will pout and be sick, and my Father and Mother shall lose their eldest Son, but I’ll have Peggie, that I will. I beseech thee not to omit any occasion of writing to me, that since I cannot kiss thy hand, I may kiss the Letters that thy hand did write. The Bearer hereof is our Cook-maid, one that pitties my condition, and is very trusty. I have therefore engaged her to call and see thee every time she goes to Market. My Mothers Rings are all close lockt up, else I would steal one to send it thee. However I intreat thee to accept of the good will for the deed, and to take in good part the endeavours of thy most faithful servant.


As I was going to steal a ring, my Father came in, taken suddently and desperately ill. The Physicians were sent for, and by their whispering, assure me that he cannot live. As soon as he is dead I shall not fail to visit thee.


A Countrey Bumpkin to his Mistress

Sweet honey, Jone

I have here sent thee a thing, such a one as the Gentlefolks call a Love Letter. T’was indicted by my self after I had drank two or three draughts of Ale. Truly Jone, my parents never brought me up to speak finely, but this I can say in downright terms, I love thee. Marry, Jone, many times and oft have I fetcht home thy Cows when no body knew who did it. Marry, Jone, when thou didst win the Garland in the Whitson-holidayes, I was sure to be drunk that night for joy. I know thou dost love Will the Tayler, but I can tell thee Jone, I think I shall be a better man than he shortly; I am learning to play the Fiddle, so that if thou wilt not yeild the sooner, I will ravish thee with my musick. Tis true I never yet gave thee a Token, but I have here sent thee a piece of silver Ribband. I bought it in the Exchange, where all the folks shouted at me. But what wilt thou give me, Jone? Alas, I ask for nothing but thy self. What a happy day that would be, to see us with our best Cloathes on, at Church, and the Parson saying, I Tom, take thee Jone. I would take thee, and hug thee, and then away to the Alehouse for the Canaries and the Sillabubs and the Shoulder a Mutton and gravie, with a hey down derry and a diddle diddle dee. Thus having no more to say, I rest in assurance of thy good will. Honestly, truly, and blewly.


If you enjoyed this, you’ll enjoy the same author’s hyperbolic compliments for women here at The Stars Borrow Light From Your Radiant Eyes

Conversation Custom Etiquette Love

The stars borrow light from your radiant eyes

I’ve been laughing out loud at a book of wooing and courtship from the late seventeenth century. Here are a few entertaining chat up lines for men. And yes, the book really does contain a section on how to woo in a cake shop.

An address to make known a man’s affection:

Madam, among all the dayes of my life I must accompt this the happiest above all the rest, wherein I had the honour first to know you.

Saying hello:

Save you, fair Lady, all health and your own wishes be upon you. All the toys the Gods delight in wait on you, fairest.

Complimenting her looks:

You are the beauty without parallel; in your Face all the Graces, and in your Mind all the vertues are met: he that looks upon your mild aspect were it the most savage creature, would derive a new nature from your beauty.

Your hair is like the Beams that adorn Apollo’s head. Your hair is as soft as new spun silk, curling with such a natural wantonness as if it strove to delight the fancy. read more »

Etiquette Men

Do not glare upon thy snot

The following extracts come from a book of manners, written by the Italian Giovanni Della Casa. This edition was published in English in 1576. I’ve standardised the spelling since the text would otherwise prove rather difficult to read.

When thou hast blown thy nose, use not to open thy handkerchief, to glare upon thy snot, as if you had pearls and Rubies fallen from thy brains.

A man must leave to yawn much, as that it seems to proceed of a certain weariness that shows that he that yawneth could better like to be elsewhere than there in that place, as wearied with the company, their talk, and their doings. And sure, albeit a man be many times disposed to yawn, yet if he be occupied with any delight, or earnest matter to think upon, he shall have no mind to do it. But if he be lumpish & idle, it is an easy matter to fall into it. And therefore, when a man yawneth, in place where there be slothful and idle folks that have nothing to doe, the rest, as you may see many times, yawn again for company by & by. And I have many times heard learned and wise men say, that A yawner meaneth as much in Latin as a careless and idle body. Let us then fly from these conditions that loathe the eyes, the ears, & the stomach. For in using these fashions, we do not only show that we take little pleasure in the company, but we give them occasion to judge amiss of us

It is ill to see a Gentleman settle himself to do the needs of Nature in the presence of men: And after he hath done, to truss himself again before them. Neither would I have him (if I may give him counsel) when he comes from such an occupation, so much as wash his hands in the sight of honest company: for yet the cause of his washing puts them in mind of some filthy matter that hath been done apart. And by the same reason, it is no good manner, when a man chanceth to see, as he passeth the way, a loathsome thing, that will make a man to cast [turn] his stomach, to turn unto the company, & show it them. And much worse, to reach some stinking thing unto a man to smell it, as it is many a man’s fashion to do, with importunate means, thrusting it unto their nose, saying: ‘Oh, I pray you, how this doth stink’. Where they should rather say, ‘smell not unto it: for it hath an ill scent.’

And as these and like fashions offend the senses: to grind the teethe, to whistle, to make pitiful cries, to rub sharp stones together, and to file upon Iron, [and] do much offend the ears and would be left in any case. Neither must we refrain those things alone, but we must also beware we do not sing, and specially alone, if we have an untuneable voice, which is a common fault with most men.

It is also an unmannerly for a man to lay his nose upon the cup where another must drink: or upon the meat that another must eat, to the end to smell unto it, because it may chance there might fall some drop from his nose that would make a man to loath it

Let a man take heed he does not begrease his fingers so deep that he befile the napkins, for it is an ill sight to see it: neither is it good manners to rub your greasy fingers upon the bread you must eat. The servants that be appointed to wait upon the table must not (in any way) scratch and rub their heads, nor any part else in the sight of their Lord & Master. Nor thrust their hands in any of those parts of their body that be covered, as some careless fellows do, holding their hands in their bosom, or under the flaps of their coats behind them. But they must bear them abroad without any suspicion and keep them (in any case) washed & clean without any spot of dirt upon them. And they that carry the dishes, or reach the cup, must beware at that time they do not spit, cough or sneeze.

It is a rude fashion some men use, to lie lolling asleep in that place where honest men be met together, of purpose to talk. For his so doing shows that he doth not esteem the company, and little reckoneth of their talk. And more than that, he that sleepeth wonts (for the most part) to do some foul thing, to behold, or hear, and many times they awake sweating and drivelling at the mouth. And in like manner, to rise up where other men do sit and talk, and to walk up and down the chamber is no point of good manner. Also there be some that so buskell themselves, reach, stretch and yawn, writhing now one side, and then another, that a man would think they had some fever upon them: A manifest sign that the company they keep doth weary them.

Likewise do they very ill that now & then pull out a letter out of their pocket, to read it as if they had great matters of charge, and affairs of the common weal committed unto them. But they are much more to be blamed that pull out their knives or their scissors, and do nothing else but pare their nails, as if they made no account at all of the company, and would seek some other solace to passe the time away.

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Dining Etiquette Food Household

Ill words may provoke blows from a cook

These snippets come from a late seventeenth century household manual, and offer sagacious advice on acceptable behaviour of servants in Great Houses.

First, For the Kitchin, because without that we shall look lean, and grow faint quickly.

The Cook, whether Man or Woman, ought to be very well skilled in all manner of things both Fish and Flesh, also good at Pastry business, seasoning of all things, and knowing all kinds of Sauces, and pickling all manner of Pickles, in making all manner of Meat Jellies; also very frugal of their Lord’s or of their Master’s, Ladies or Mistresses Purse, very saving, cleanly and careful, obliging to all persons, kind to those under them, and willing to inform them. Quiet in their Office, not swearing nor cursing, nor wrangling, but silently and ingeniously to do their Business, and neat and quick about it; they ought also to have a very good Fancy, such a one, whether Man or Woman, deserves the title of a fit Cook.

For the Maid under such a Cook.

She ought to be of a quick and nimble Apprehension, neat and cleanly in her own habit, and then we need not doubt of it in her Office; not to dress her self, especially her Head, in the Kitchin, for that is abominable sluttish, but in her Chamber, before she comes down, and that to be at a fit hour, that the fire may be made, and all things prepared for the Cook, against he or she comes in. She must not have a sharp Tongue, but humble; pleasing, and willing to learn, for ill words may provoke Blows from a Cook, their heads being always filled with the contrivance of their business, which may cause them to be peevish if provoked to it. This Maid ought also to have a good Memory, and not to forget from one day to another what should be done, nor to leave any manner of thing foul at night, neither in the Kitchin, nor Larders, to keep her Iron things and others clean scowred, and the Floors clean as well as places above them, not to sit up junketting and giggling with Fellows, when she should be in bed. Such a one is a Consumer of her Masters Goods, and no better than a Thief; and besides, such Behaviour savoureth much of Levity.  But such a one that will take the Counsel I have seriously given, will not only make her Superiors happy in a good Servant, but she will make her self happy also; for by her Industry she may come one day to be Mistress over others.

Now to the Butler.

He ought to be Gentle and Neat in his Habit, and in his Behaviour, courteous to all people, yet very saving of his Masters Goods, and to order himself in his Office as a faithful Steward, charge and do all things for the honour of his Master or Lady, not suffering their Wine or Strong Drink to be devoured by ill Companions, nor Pieces of good bread to lie to mould and spoil. He must keep his Vessels close stopped, and his Bottles sweet, his Cellars clean washed, and his Buttery clean, and his Bread-Bins wholsome and sweet, his Knives whetted, his Glasses clean washed that there be no dimness upon them when they come to be used, all his Plate clean and bright, his Table, Basket and Linnen very neat. He must be sure to have all things of Sauce ready which is for him to bring forth, that it may not be to be fetched when it is called for, as Oil, Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Mustard, Oranges and Limons, and also some Pepper. He must also be very neat and handy in laying the Cloths for the Chief Table, and also the Side boards, in laying his Napkins in several Fashions, and pleating them, to set his Glasse, Plate, and Trencher-Plates in order upon the Side-Boards, his Water-Glasses, Oranges or Limons. That he be careful to set the Salts on the Table, and to lay a Knife, Spoon and Fork at every-Plate, that his Bread be chipped before he brings it in; that he set drink to warm in due time if the season require. That he observe a fit time to set Chairs or Stools, that he have his Cistern ready to set his Drink in, that none be spilt about the Room, to wash the Glasses when any one hath drunk, and to wait diligently on them at the Table, not filling the Glasses too full; such an one may call himself a Butler.

To the Carver.

If any Gentleman who attends the Table, be employed or commanded to cut up any Fowl or Pig, or any thing else whatsoever, it is requisite that he have a clean Napkin upon his Arm, and a Knife and Fork for his use. That he take that Dish he should carve from the Table till he hath made it ready for his Superiours to eat, and neatly and handsomly to carve it, not touching of it so near as he can with his Fingers, but if he chance unawares to do so, not to lick his Fingers, but wipe them upon a Cloth, or his Napkin, which he hath for that purpose; for otherwise it is unhandsome and unmannerly; the neatest Carvers never touch any Meat but with the Knife & Fork. He must be very nimble lest the Meat cool too much, and when he hath done, return it to the Table again, putting away his Carving Napkin, and take a clean one to wait withal; he must be very Gentle and Gallant in his Habit lest he be deemed unfit to attend such Persons.

To all other Men-Servants or Maid-Servants who commonly attend such Tables.

They must all be neat and cleanly in their Habit, and keep their Heads clean combed, alwaies ready at the least Call, and very attentive to hear any one at the Table, to set Chairs or Stools, and not to give any a foul Napkin, but see that every one whom their Lord or Master is pleased to admit to their Table have every thing which is fit for them, and that they change their Plates when need shall be. They must wait diligently, and at a distance from the Table, not daring to lean on the Chaires for soiling them, or shewing Rudeness; for to lean on a Chair when they wait is a particular Favour shewn to any superiour Servant, as the Chief Gentleman, or the Waiting Woman when she rises from the Table. They must not hold the Plates before their mouths to be defiled with their Breath nor touch them on the right side. When any Dish is taken off the Table, they must not set it down for Dogs to eat, nor eat it themselves by the way, but haste into the Kitchin with it to the Cook, that he may see what is to be set away, and what to be kept hot for Servants. When all is taken away, and Thanks given, they must help the Butler out with those things which belong to him, that he may not lose his Dinner.  They must be careful also to lay the Cloth for themselves, and see that nothing be wanting at the Table, and to call the rest of the Servants to Meals, whose Office was not to wait at the Table, then to sit down in a handsome manner, and to be courteous to every stranger, especially the Servants of those Persons whom their Lord or Master hath a kindness for.  If any poor Body comes to ask an Alms, do not shut the door against them rudely, but be modest and Civil to them, and see if you can procure somewhat for them, and think with your selves, that though you are now full fed, and well cloathed, and free from care, yet you know not what may be your condition another day.

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