Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to Enchant Your Lover, c. 1470

BL Stowe 17 f. 143
"When a woman wants to be well loved by her husband or her lover, she must give him catnip to eat: he will be so much in love with her that he will not rest unless she is close to him."

The Distaff Gospels

Even if this man-enchanting trick doesn't work out for some reason, you'll still be accompanied by a devoted band of cats.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to Maintain Facial Hair, 1609


John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis (1650)
"It is most true that a man is to be commended, if he be cleanly... his haire well dressed, his beard well brushed, and alwayes his vpper lip well curled... as if every haire would threaten to pull out his eyes, for if he chance to kisse a Gentlewoman, some rebellious haire may happen to startle in her nose, and make her sneese, so by this meanes, he applies both physick & courtesie at one time, then he may freely say, God blesse you Lady, receaving back the chirping Eccho of I thenk you sir."

Simion Grahame, The Anatomie of Humors 

Want to improve your kissing technique? With a properly curled mustache, your next kiss will really be explosive.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How to Groom Yourself, c. 1200

Walters Art Museum, W.105

 "Let your hair be combed, and your haircut be equally neat. If you are shaggy, have your hairy beard trimmed back. If your eyes are watery, consult a doctor. Let your hands be clean, your sleeves laced up. Don’t have deformed fingernails, or disgusting teeth. Don’t let long hairs sprout from your nostrils. Your feet should not be marred with ugly skin; you should walk elegantly with your head high."
Daniel of Beccles, Urbanus magnus
Don't take this the wrong way, but the Middle Ages would like to gently suggest that you walk those gnarly feet to the pedicurist.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to Cure Tooth Problems, 1673

Jan Miense Molenaer, The Dentist (1629)
"Take the Powder of double refined Sugar, and Powder of White Pepper of each alike, being melted in a Brazen or Copper Ladle, make it up into small Balls, and hold them between your Teeth, and it giveth present ease..." 
William Sermon, A Friend to the Sick 
Toothache? No problem. Just whip up some of these peppery caramels and stick them to your teeth. There, isn't that better?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Keep Your Cat, c. 1470

Cat Churning Butter, 14th c.
Yale, Beinecke MS 404, f. 148r

"If you have a good cat and you don't want to lose it, you must rub its nose and four legs with butter for three days, and it will never leave the house."

The Distaff Gospels

This trick will certainly prevent your cat from running away. It's less clear whether the cat will stick around because of adoration or poor traction.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How to Play with a Cat, 1658

How to make dainty sport with a Cat.

Mildly Grumpy Cat
Edward Topsell, The History of Four-Footed
Beasts
(1607)
☞ "If you will have some sport with a Cat, then get a little Bel, such as the tame Hawkes have at their legs, and tye the Bell something hard at the end of the Cats tayle, and let her go, she feeling of her tayle smart, and hearing of the Bel gingle, she will run up and down as if she were mad, flying against the walls and windowes: then if she can, she will get into some hole to hide her selfe, but when she wags her tayle never so little, then out she comes, and is as mad as before, and never will rest quiet till it be taken off, or she can get it off her selfe."

☞ "Some have shod a Cat round, with putting melted Pitch into foure Walnut-shels, and placing her feet therein, and she will make pretty sport."

☞ "I was told of a merry Fellow that came into an Ale-house in cold weather, and finding but a reasonable Fire, said, Hee would make the Cat pisse it out, and watching his opportunity, he getteth his Hostesses Cat, putting her head betwixt his thighs, and holding her foure feet fast in one hand, and with the other hand held up her tayle neer the fire, and did pisse such abundance that she quite quenched the same."

John White, A Rich Cabinet with Variety of Inventions

Some dainty cat capers from the pre-YouTube era! I imagine the cat would respond by making dainty sport of removing your face from your head.

Monday, August 25, 2014

How to Behave in School, 1595

“Be it far from thee to go unto the Schoole with as ill a will as wicked dooers goe unto the Stockes, or to the Gallowes... when thou art at Schoole, bee studious in thy lectures learning, attentive to thy Masters wordes and documents, what soever thy Master shall teach, mark it heedfully, and meditate thereon earnestly untill thou have learned the same perfectlye... Flie all fighting and wrangling with thy fellowes. But be curteous, gentle & lowlie, among all both rich and poore. Make no noyse nor use any meane, whereby thou maiest disturbe thy schoolefellowes: much lesse thy schoolemaster. Be a patterne of good manners, industry, curtesie, and obeying thy Master unto all in the Shoole. So shall thy praise be great, and thy profit greater.” 
William Fiston, The Schoole of Good Manners

Also: yield not to the temptations of Facebook during thy classes, do not rely overmuch on Wikipedia for thy term paper, and mock not thy Master on social media.