Thursday, September 2, 2010

George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior, Part 1


On our recent visit to Williamsburg, Virginia (more on that anon) and sidetrip to Washington D.C. (ditto) I was amused to find giftshops offering a slim little volume called George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. After resisting three times and feeling virtuous, I could resist no more and bought a copy.

According to legend, George was a Virginia schoolboy when he copied these rules by hand from a 16th Century Jesuit text. How much (if any) alteration Georgie made to the original precepts is unclear. But hey, if these rules were good enough for the future Father of our Country, they're good enough for me. The book contains 110 of these gems, so I'll present them here a few at a time to allow time for proper study and contemplation.

1. Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.

2. When in company, put not your hands to any part of the body not usually discovered.

3. Show nothing to your friend that may affright him.

4. In the presence of others, sing not to yourself with a humming voice, or drum with your fingers or feet.

5. If you cough, sneeze, sigh or yawn, do it not loud but privately, and speak not in your yawning, but put your handkerchief or hand before your face and turn aside.

Words to live by.

7 comments:

Laurie Powers said...

Very wise indeed. Looking forward to more and your trip report.

Richard R. said...

He never had to go to an airport, and would have been dismayed by the behavior there if he had.

David Cranmer said...

I have a copy of this book. But have a hard time following #2.

Charles Gramlich said...

"Show nothing to your friend that might affright him." That one I can't agree with. Man half my writing career is based on that.

Evan Lewis said...

Dang, I've broken all these rules, some on a regular basis. No wonder I'm so unpopular.

Amanda said...

George Washington wrote fabulous rules. No wonder he is one of my favorite historical figures

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I'm batting a thousand in the deportment department. *kaff-kaff*