In 1729 a French guide to behavior for the “civilized Christian” covered such subjects as speech, table manners, bodily functions, spitting, nose blowing and behavior in the bedroom. This guide to good manners was reissued with increasingly complex advice through 1774, though with significantly changing emphases, as certain behavior (blowing one’s nose into a kerchief no longer worn about the neck but now carried in the hand, hence handkerchief) became acceptable, and other behavior more closely regulated. These guides emphasized class differences, pointing out that behavior that was acceptable in the presence of one’s social inferiors was to be avoided in the presence of one’s equals or social superiors.
It is a part of decency and modesty to cover all parts of the body except the head and hands. You should take care … not to touch with your bare hand any part of the body that is normally uncovered….
You should get used to suffering small discomforts without twisting, rubbing, or scratching….
It is far more contrary to decency and propriety to touch or see in another person, particularly of the other sex, that which Heaven forbids you to look at yourself.
When you need to pass water, you should always withdraw to some unfrequented place. And it is proper (even for children) to perform other natural functions where you cannot be seen.
It is very impolite to emit wind from your body when in company, either from above or from below, even if it is done without noise….
It is never proper to speak of the parts of the body that should be hidden, nor of certain bodily necessities to which Nature has subjected us, nor even to mention them… .
You should avoid making a noise when blowing your nose….
Before blowing it, it is impolite to spend a long time taking out your handkerchief. It shows a lack of respect toward the people you are with to unfold it in different places to see where you are to use it.