Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company & Conversation
by George Washington
The first president of the United States, George Washington, was indeed a great American patriot, despite how some on the radical left today try to smear him. Washington had other lesser known qualities, like his ability to pen his thoughts on behavior. He wrote a short book entitled “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation” which contains 110 gems of his wisdom. Below are a small sampling of Washington’s thoughts on human behavior.
The original punctuation and spelling from his writings have been preserved.
1. Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
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.
7. Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Dressed.
10. When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them.
17. Keep your Nails clean and Short, also your Hands and Teeth Clean yet without Showing any great Concern for them.
25. Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.
29. When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire especially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass.
35. Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.
36. Artificers & Persons of low Degree ought not to use many ceremonies to Lords, or Others of high Degree but Respect and highly Honor them, and those of high Degree ought to treat them with affability & Courtesy, without Arrogance.
44. When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.
48. Wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.
51. Wear not your Cloths, foul, ripped or Dusty but See they be Brushed once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any Uncleaness.
52. In your Apparel be Modest and endeavor to accommodate Nature, rather than to procure Admiration keep to the Fashion of your equals Such as are Civil and orderly with respect to Times and Places.
56. Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ‘is better to be alone than in bad Company.
60. Be not immodest in urging your Friends to Discover a Secret.
70. Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiors.
72. Speak not in an unknown Tongue in Company but in your own Language and that as those of Quality do and not as the Vulgar; Sublime matters treat Seriously.
76. While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.
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.
82. Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise.
83. When you deliver a matter do it without Passion & with Discretion, however mean the Person be you do it too.
85. In Company of these of Higher Quality than yourself Speak not til you are asked a Question then Stand upright put of your Hat & Answer in few words.
97. Put not another bit into your mouth till the former be swallowed. Let not your morsels be too big for the jowls.
108. When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously & with reverence. Honor & obey your natural parents although they be poor.
110. Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.