Cough loudly to cover the sound

No offense to other etiquette guides, but Laura Claridge says these are impeccable.

From the Wall Street Journal:

1. On the Civility of Children's Conduct

By Erasmus


The great classical scholar of the Northern Renaissance, Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, also had some thoughts about proper behavior. Teach manners early, Erasmus believed. To that end, he produced this small book addressed to children. It admirably commanded the attention of his young audience and remained popular for three centuries. “To lick greasy fingers or to wipe them on your coat is impolite. It is better to use the table cloth,” he counsels. Also: “It is not seemly, after wiping your nose, to spread out your handkerchief and peer into it as if pearls and rubies might have fallen out of your head.” He returns repeatedly to the era's apparently vexing problem of the gaseous bellows: “Retain your wind by compressing the belly” and “Do not move back and forth on your chair. Whoever does that gives the impression of constantly breaking or trying to break wind.” If attempts at restraint fail, he advises, then do what you must but “cough loudly” to cover the sound.

2. Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior

By George Washington


Though often credited with writing this treatise on manners, the 16-year-old George Washington at best merely translated the rules compiled in 1595 by French Jesuits. A translation had already appeared in England long before the young Washington produced what may have been a school assignment, but in the folklore associated with our nation's first president, his name has been attached to the advice given in “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior.” In any event, the American document retains its interest as a window into the standards of behavior that Washington thought, early on, to set for himself and, by extension, for his nation. One of the rules would become increasingly relevant to the leader after he received his ivory (not wooden) dentures: “Cleanse not your teeth with the Table Cloth Napkin Fork or Knife but if Others do it let it be done wt. a Pick Tooth.”

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