Washington’s Rules of Civility

June’s theme on RitaBay’s blog is To the Manner Born, a look at manners–past and present.  Tomorrow, we’ll have the full introduction for the month but today, we begin with a short general introduction to manners as written by George Washington.

George Washington

George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation were originally composed by French Jesuit priests in 1595. Washington’s rules were copied as an assignment given to him by his schoolmaster.   Later in Washington’s life, the rules provided a framework for the treatment of equals among equals, a profound belief of American society that all men were created equal.  Whether serious or humorous (for our time), the rules provide a foundation of self-respect and self-esteem and respect and esteem for others. Here’s a few favorites in their original form—others will be featured throughout the month.  

110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company

1st Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

20th The Gestures of the Body must be Suited to the discourse you are upon.

21st: Reproach none for the Infirmaties of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof.

22d Shew not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

23d When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always shew Pity to the Suffering Offender.

24th Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Publick Spectacle.

86th In Disputes, be not So Desireous to Overcome as not to give Liberty to each one to deliver his Opinion and Submit to the Judgment of the Major Part especially if they are Judges of the Dispute.

87th Let thy carriage be such as becomes a Man Grave Settled and attentive to that which is spoken. Contradict not at every turn what others Say.

88th Be not tedious in Discourse, make not many Digressigns, nor repeat often the Same manner of Discourse.

89th Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.

108th When you Speak of God or his Atributes, let it be Seriously & wt. Reverence. Honour & Obey your Natural Parents altho they be Poor.

109th Let your Recreations be Manfull not Sinfull.

110th Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.

More to follow later this month.    Tomorrow,  To the Manner Born     Rita Bay

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