The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Etiquette in 18th Century London

February 9th, 2015 · 2 Comments

Casanova gives us a glimpse into etiquette in 18th century London, as only he can. Here it is, in my translation, from Volume 9, Chapter 10 of his memoirs.

Going toward Buckingham House, I see in the bushes, some twelve or fifteen steps to my left, an indecency which surprises me. Four or five men at different distances doing their necessities, and showing their behinds to all who pass.

“This is indelicate,” I say to Martinelli. “It would be better if those swine turned toward us.”

“Not at all, for then they would be recognized, and probably watched, whereas when they show us their ass, they oblige us, unless we are unusually curious about that part, not to look.”

“That is well reasoned, my friend, but it is new to a foreigner, so please excuse me.”

“You may have noticed that when an Englishman is walking in the street, and needs to make water, he does not do as in our countries, and piss on someone’s door, or alley, or courtyard.”

“I have noticed that. They turn to the middle of the street, and piss there. But those who ride by in coaches see them, and that is not good, in my opinion.”

“Who says that those who ride by in coaches have to look?”

“That is also true.”

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: Belief Systems · Books

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gaylord DuBois // Feb 9, 2015 at 5:02 am

    i will endeavor to employ the phrase “make water” when informing my companion that i must do same.

  • 2 Doug // Feb 9, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Can’t hurt.

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