Thursday, June 4, 2009

Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior

By the time George Washington reached the age of 16 he had written a list of 110 rules of etiquette. Taken from a book on French etiquette Washington more than likely wrote these out as an exercise of penmanship. He showed however that from a young age and through his Presidency, he regarded it important to act as a gentleman at all times. John Adams was quoted as saying, "There is something charming to me in the conduct of Washington, a gentleman of one of the first fortunes upon the continent." The list below identifies just a few of the rules that Washington consistently lived his life by and maybe we should take to heart.

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

#6 - Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.

#22 - Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

#40 - Strive not with your Superiors in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty.

#45 - Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in public or in Private; presently, or at Some other time in what terms to do it & in reproving Show no Sign of Cholar but do it with all Sweetness and Mildness.

#47 - Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break [n]o Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasant abstain from Laughing thereat yourself.

#48 - Wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.

#50 - Be not hasty to believe flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.

#56 - Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for 'is better to be alone than in bad Company.

#59 - Never express anything unbecoming, nor Act against the Rules Moral before your inferiors.

#63 - A Man ought not to value himself of his Achievements, or rare Qualities of wit; much less of his riches Virtue or Kindred.

#65 - Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest Scoff at none although they give Occasion

#70 - Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiors.

#73 - Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.

#74 - When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired, Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speech be ended.

#79 - Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Discoursing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always A Secret Discover not.

#81 - Be not Curious to Know the Affairs of Others neither approach those that Speak in Private.
#82 - Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise.

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

#108 - When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously & with reverence. Honor & obey your natural parents although they be poor.

#109 - Let your recreations be manful not sinful.

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