Stans Puer ad Mensam. ASCRIBED TO JOHN LIDGATE.
[MS. Harl. 2251,? about 1460 A.D., fol. 153 or 148. The parts between brackets [ ], and various readings, are from Mr Halliwell's print in Reliquiæ Antiquæ, v. 1, p. 156-8, of a 15th|century MS. Q. T. 8, fol. 77, ro, in the Library of Jesus College, Cambridge.]
¶ [My dere childe, first thiself enable
With all thin herte to vertuous disciplyne
Afor thi soverayne standing at the table,
Dispose thi youth aftir my doctryne
To all norture thi corage to enclyne.
First when thu spekist be not rekles,
Kepe feete and fingeris and handes still in pese.]
BE symple of chiere, cast nat thyn ye aside,
Agenst the post lete nat thy bak abyde;
Gaase nat aboute, tournyng ouer alle;
Make nat thi myrrour also of the walle,
Pyke nat thy nose, and in especialle
Be right wele ware, and sette hieron thi thought,
By-fore thy souerayne cracche ne rubbe nought.
¶ Who spekithe to the in any maner place,
Rudely*. [Rel. Ant., Lumbisshly] cast nat thyn ye*. [hede] adowne,
But with a sadde chiere loke hym in the face;
Walke demurely by strete in the towne,
Advertise the withe wisdom and Reasoune.
Withe dissolute laughters do thow non offence
To-fore thy souerayn, whiles he is in presence.
¶ Pare clene thy nailes, thyn handes wasshe also
To-fore mete, and whan thow dooest arise;
Sitte in that place thow art assigned to;
Prease nat to hye in no maner wise;
And til thow se afore the thy service,
Be nat to hasty on brede for to byte,
Of gredynesse lest men wolde the endwyte.*. [a-wite.]
¶ Grennyng and mowes at the table eschowe;
Cry nat to loude; kepe honestly silence;
To enboce thy Iowis withe mete*. [brede it] is nat diewe;
With ful mowthe speke nat, lest thow do offence;
Drynk nat bretheles*. [bridlid] for hast ne necligence;
Kepe clene thy lippes from fat of flesshe or fysshe;
Wype clene*. [fayre] thi spone, leve it nat in thy disshe.
¶ Of brede I-byten no soppis that thow make;
In ale nor wyne withe hande leve no fattenes;
With mowthe enbrewed thi cuppe thou nat take;
Enbrewe*. [Foul] no napery for no rekelesnes;
For to souppe [loude] is agenst gentiles;
[N]evyr at mete begynne thow nat*. [be warre gynne no] stryfe;
Thi teth also thow pike nat with no knyf.
¶ Of honest myrth latt be thy daliaunce; [folio 153b]
Swere none othes, speke no ribawdrye;
The best morsel, have in remembraunce,
Hole to thyself alway do nat applie;
Part with thy felaw, for that is curtesie:
Laade not thy trenchour with many remyssailes;
And frome blaknes alwey kepe thy nayles.
¶ Of curtesye also agenst the lawe,
With sowne*. [Which sou] dishonest for to do offence;
Of old surfaytes abrayde nat thy felawe;
Toward thy souerayne alwey thyn aduertence;
Play withe no knyf, take heede to my sentence;
At mete and soupper kepe the stille and soft;
Eke to and fro meve nat thy foote to oft.
¶ Droppe nat thi brest withe sawce ne with potage;
Brynge no knyves vnskoured to the table;
Fil nat thy spone, lest in the cariage
It went beside, whiche were nat comendable;
Be quyke and redy, meke and seruisable,
Wele awaityng to fulfylle anone
What that thy souerayne comav[n]dithe the to be done.
¶ And whare-so euer that thow dyne or soupe,
Of gentilesse take salt withe thy knyf;
And be wele ware thow blowe nat in the cuppe.
Reuerence thy felawe, gynne withe hym no stryf;
Be thy powere kepe pees all thy lyf.
Interrupt nat, where so thow wende,
None other mans tale, til he have made an ende.
¶ With thy fyngres make*. [Rel. Ant., marke] thow nat thy tale;
Be wele avised, namly in tendre age,
To drynk by mesure bothe wyne and ale;
Be nat copious also of langage;
As tyme requyrithe, shewe out thy visage,
To gladde ne to sory, but kepe atwene tweyne,
For losse or lucre or any case sodayne.
¶ Be meke in mesure, nat hasti, but tretable; [folio 154a] [folio 149a]
Ouer moche is nat worthe in no maner thyng;
To children it longithe nat to be [vengeable,*. [MS. Harl., tretable]]
Sone meved and sone forgyvyng;
And as it is remembrid bi*. [Rel. Ant., by olde] writyng,
Wrathe of children is sone ouergone,
With an apple the parties be made at one.
¶ In children werre*. [Rel. Ant., In childre] now myrthe and now debate,
In theyr quarel no grete violence;
Now pley, now wepyng, sielde in one estate;
To theyr playntes gyve no credence;
A Rodde refourmythe all theyr insolence;
In theyr corage no Rancour dothe abyde;
Who sparithe the yerd, all vertue set aside.
Go, litel bille, bareyn of eloquence,
Pray yonge children that the shal see or Reede,
Thoughe thow be compendious of sentence,
Of thi clauses for to taken heede,
Whiche to al vertu shal theyr yowthe leede.
Of the writyng, thoughe ther be no date,
If ought be mysse,—worde, sillable, or dede,—
Put all the defaute vpon John Lydegate.
The Book of Curteisie That is Clepid Stans Puer ad Mensam.
[Lambeth MS. 853, ab. 1430 A.D., page 150, back. Part written as prose.]
Mi dere sone, first þi silf able
with al þin herte to vertuose discipline,—
A-fore þi souereyn stondinge at þe table
Dispose þou þee aftir my doctryne—
To al nortur þi corage to encline.
First while þou spekist, be not richelees;
Kepe boþe fyngir and hond stille in pees.
Be symple in cheer; caste not þi looke a-side, [page 151]
gase not about, turnynge þi siȝt oueral.
aȝen þe post lete not þi bak abide,
neiþer make þi myrrour also of þe wal.
Pike not þi nose; & moost in especial
be weel waar, sette her-on þi þouȝt,
to-fore þi souereyn cratche ne picke þee nouȝt.
¶ Who-so speke to þee in ony maner place,
lumpischli caste not þin heed a-doun,
but with a sad cheer loke him in þe face.
walke demurely bi streetis in þe toun,
And take good hede bi wisdom & resoun
þat bi no wantowne lauȝinge þou do noon offence
To-fore þi souereyne while he is in presence.
Pare clene þi nailis; þin hondis waische also
to-fore þi mete, [&] whanne þou doist arise.
sitte þou in þat place þat þou art a-signed to;
Prece not to hie in no maner wise;
And whanne þou seest afore þee þi seruice,
be not to hasti upon breed to bite
lest men þerof Do þee edwite.
Grennynge & mowynge at þi table eschewe; [page 152]
Crie not to lowde: honestli kepe silence.
To enbrace þi iowis with breed, it is not dewe;
with ful mouþ speke not lest þou do offence;
Drinke not bridelid for haste ne necligence;
Kepe clene þi lippis from fleisch & fische;
Wipe faire þi spoon; leue it not in þi dische.
Of breed with þi teeþ no soppis þou make;
Lowde for to soupe is aȝen gentilnes:
With mouþ enbrowide þi cuppe þou not take,
In ale ne in wiyn with hond leue no fatnes;
Defoule not þe naprie bi no richelesnes.
Be waar þat at þe mete þou bigynne no striif;
Þi teeþ also at þe table picke with no knyf.
Of honest mirþe euere be þi daliaunce;
Swere noon ooþis; speke no ribaudie.
Þe beste morsels,—haue þis in remembraunce,—
Holli alwey þi silf to take do not applie.
Parte with þi felawis, for þat is curteisie.
Lete not þi trenchour be with many morsels;
And fro blaknes kepe weel þi nailis.
Of curtesie it is aȝen þe lawe, [page 153]
With dishoneste, sone, for to do difence;
Of oolde forfetis vpbraide not þi felawe;
Towarde þi souereyn do euere reuerence.
Pleie with no knif, take hede to my sentence;
At mete & at soper kepe þee stille & softe,
And eek to & fro meeue not þi feeþ to ofte.
Droppe not þi brest with seew & oþer potage,
Bringe no foule knyues vnto þe table;
Fille not þi spoon lest in þe cariage
It scheede bi side, it were not commendable.
Be quik & redi, meke & seruiable,
Weel awaitinge to fulfille anoon
What þat þi souereyn commaundiþ to be doon.
And where-so-euere þou be to digne or to suppe,
Of gentilnes take salt with þi knyf,
And be weel waar þou blowe not in þe cuppe.
Reuerence þi felawis; bigynne with hem no strijf;
To þi power kepe pees al þi lijf.
Intrippe no man where so þat þou wende,
No man in his tale, til he haue maade an eende.
¶ With þi fyngris marke not þi tale; [page 154]
be weel avysid, & nameli in tendir age,
To drinke mesurabli boþe wiyn & ale.
Be not to copiose of langage;
As tyme requiriþ schewe out þi visage,
To glad, ne to sory, but kepe þee euene bitwene
For los, or lucre, or ony case sodene.
Be soft in mesure, not hasti, but treteable;
Ouer soft is nouȝt in no maner þing;
To children longiþ not to be vengeable,
Soone meued and soone fiȝtinge;
And as it is remembrid bi writynge,
wraþþe of children is ouercome soone,
With þe partis of an appil ben made at oon.
In children werre is now mirþe & now debate,
In her quarel is no violence,
now pleie, now wepinge, & seelde in oon state;
to her pleyntis ȝeue no credence;
A rodde reformeþ al her necligence;
in her corage no rancour dooþ abide,
who þat spariþ þe rodde all uertues settiþ a-side.
A! litil balade, voide of eloquence, [page 155]
I praie ȝou ȝonge children þat þis schal se & rede,
Þouȝ ȝe be copious of sentence,
Ȝit to þese clausis for to take hede
Which al into vertues schal ȝoure ȝouþe lede.
In þis writynge, þouȝ þer be no date,
Yf ouȝt be mys in word, sillable, or dede,
I submitte me to correccioun withoute ony debate.
Thus eendith þe book of curteisie þat is clepid stans puer ad mensam.