The Babees' Book / Medieval Manners for the Young: Done into Modern English
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NEARLY forty years ago, Dr. Furnivall collected for the Early English Text Society “divers treatises touching the Manners and Meals of Englishmen in former days.” Some of these were published in 1868, under the title The Babees’ Book, and others, chiefly of later date, in 1869, under the title Queene Elizabethes Achademy.
These two volumes, with their introductions and illustrative matter, to my mind present the most vivid picture of home life in medieval England that we have. Aside from their general human interest, they are valuable to the student of social history, and almost essential to an understanding of the literature of their time. The whole fabric of the romances was based upon the intricate system of “courtesy” as here set forth, and John Russell furnishes an interesting comment on Chaucer and his school, as do Rhodes and Seager and Weste on the writers of the sixteenth century. Finally, among these treatises, there is many a plum by the way for the seeker of proverbs, curious lore, superstitions, literary oddities. And as comparatively few people have time or inclination to worry through antiquated English, Dr. Furnivall has long wished that the substance of his collections might be presented in modern form. Therefore this little volume has been undertaken.