The main texts are written in Old English, but are still quite inspiring to the average reader with a little work. It contains, besides this part detailing the duties of officials, various memoranda about wood carried partly at Talatun (1 Talaton in Devon), some medical recipes in English and Latin, and a vellum fragment which was formerly in the binding, and contains some fifteenth-century accounts. But the only thing of much interest is the general Rule to teche euery man that is willynge for to lerne to serve a lorde or mayster in euery thyng to his plesure '. So far as I can gather, Dr. Furnivall was right in describing this tract as unique; no other treatise seems to correspond to it closely in detail. But it is one of a very numerous class of which, in the opening years of the Early English Text Society, Dr. Furnivall made a special study. During the sixties he edited for the Society three volumes of Books of Courtesy, Books of Nurture, Books of Carving, Babies' Books, and other treatises illustrating English manners. It was during the fifteenth century that this type of book flourished peculiarly in England: in other countries-in Italy and Provence-it is found much earlier. It has been stated that the early Italian courtesy books' are few and of little mark '! But probably there was a considerable body of Italian courtesy books which has been lost: 2 and, in any case, some early and important Italian books of manners have been preserved. Thomasin von Zirklaria, the author of the South German treatise Der Walsche Gast, 'WaS an Italian. Der Walsche Gast though not essentially a courtesy book, contains the elements which go to make one. And Thomasin tells .us that he had written in welhschen a book of , courtesy, buoch von der hufscheit. Then there is Ser Brunetto Latini, who wrote much concerning courtesy in his Tesoreteo, the little book in which he treated of all things appertaining to the human race. Above all, long before any courtesy book appeared in English, whilst Dante was still a young man, 'Fra Bonvexino da Riva' wrote his Zinquanta Cortexie da Tavola, 'Fifty rules of courtesy for the table.' In many ways these rules remind us of the English courtesy books of two centuries later. Cats and dogs are not to be fondled at meals : 'The third rule after the thirtieth: not to stroke with the hands, so long as thou eatest at the table, either cat, or dog. It is not allowed unto the courteous to stroke animals with the hands with which he touches the dishes.'
R W Chambers MA, Walter W Sexton MA, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1482591324, ISBN 13: 9781482591323