This is one thing I think we miss.
We miss, meaning we as a society long for it, we wish we still had it around. Or, at least, we think that we do. Or, at least, some os us think that we do.
Not that your ancestors and mine are all that likely to have been courtly, or refined. Most of our ancestors were not like that. Most of us Westerners’ ancestors — those of us of European extraction, I mean — were drinking liquor all day long because the water was poisonous. They were dying at age thirty of pneumonia, or at age 16 in childbirth. Plenty of our European ancestors didn’t think telling a dirty joke in front of a little child was different from telling a dirty joke in front of a drinking buddy. Little kids dressed like little adults. People didn’t bathe anywhere near as often as we deem sensible.
But you know what? The people who had decorum, they had it in spades. If you listen to Renaissance music, if you flip through a few pages of Shaxpere, if you look at a few Dutch Renaissance paintings, you see something at work that’s infinitely more refined and detailed than anything produced in our own century, this 21st century still young and wet in its ears. Very little since 1950 rivals it, in my opinion.