George Washington "..
They are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in Presumably they were copied out as part of an exercise in penmanship assigned by young Washington's schoolmaster. The first English translation of the French rules appeared in , and are ascribed to Francis Hawkins the twelve-year-old son of a doctor. Today many, if not all of these rules, sound a little fussy if not downright silly.
It would be easy to dismiss them as outdated and appropriate to a time of powdered wigs and quills, but they reflect a focus that is increasingly difficult to find. The rules have in common a focus on other people rather than the narrow focus of our own self-interests that we find so prevalent today.
Fussy or not, they represent more than just manners. They are the small sacrifices that we should all be willing to make for the good of all and the sake of living together. These rules proclaim our respect for others and in turn give us the gift of self-respect and heightened self-esteem.
Richard Brookhiser, in his book on Washington wrote that "all modern manners in the western world were originally aristocratic. Yet Washington was to dedicate himself to freeing America from a court's control. Could manners survive the operation? Without realizing it, the Jesuits who wrote them, and the young man who copied them, were outlining and absorbing a system of courtesy appropriate to equals and near-equals. When the company for whom the decent behavior was to be performed expanded to the nation, Washington was ready.
Parson Weems got this right, when he wrote that it was 'no wonder every body honoured him who honoured every body.
Treat everyone with respect. Be considerate of others.
Do not embarrass others. Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop. Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Dressed. Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.
Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs roll not the Eyes lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.
Turn not your Back to others especially in Speaking, Jog not the Table or Desk on which Another reads or writes, lean not upon any one. Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue rub the Hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Close.
Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play'd Withal. Read no Letters, Books, or Papers in Company but when there is a Necessity for the doing of it you must ask leave: come not near the Books or Writings of Another so as to read them unless desired or give your opinion of them unasked also look not nigh when another is writing a Letter.
Reproach none for the Infirmities of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof. Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always show Pity to the Suffering Offender. Don't draw attention to yourself. Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected. Amongst your equals expect not always that they Should begin with you first, but to Pull off the Hat when there is no need is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting and resaluting in words keep to the most usual Custom.
Tis ill manners to bid one more eminent than yourself be covered as well as not to do it to whom it's due Likewise he that makes too much haste to Put on his hat does not well, yet he ought to Put it on at the first, or at most the Second time of being asked; now what is herein Spoken, of Qualification in behavior in Saluting, ought also to be observed in taking of Place, and Sitting down for ceremonies without Bounds is troublesome.
If any one come to Speak to you while you are are Sitting Stand up though he be your Inferior, and when you Present Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree. 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.
In walking the highest Place in most Countries Seems to be on the right hand therefore Place yourself on the left of him whom you desire to Honor: but if three walk together the middest Place is the most Honorable the wall is usually given to the most worthy if two walk together. If any one far Surpasses others, either in age, Estate, or Merit yet would give Place to a meaner than himself in his own lodging or elsewhere the one ought not to except it, So he on the other part should not use much earnestness nor offer it above once or twice.
George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior: A Most Merry and Illustrated Edition
To one that is your equal, or not much inferior you are to give the chief Place in your Lodging and he to who 'is offered ought at the first to refuse it but at the Second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthiness. They that are in Dignity or in office have in all places Precedency but whilst they are Young they ought to respect those that are their equals in Birth or other Qualities, though they have no Public charge.
It is good Manners to prefer them to whom we Speak before ourselves especially if they be above us with whom in no Sort we ought to begin. When you speak, be concise. In speaking to men of Quality do not lean nor Look them full in the Face, nor approach too near them at lest Keep a full Pace from them. In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physician if you be not Knowing therein.
Do not argue with your superior. Submit your ideas with humility. Strive not with your Superiors in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty. Undertake not to Teach your equal in the art himself Professes; it Savours of arrogance. Let thy ceremonies in Courtesy be proper to the Dignity of his place with whom thou converses for it is absurd to act the same with a Clown and a Prince.
The Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour
Do not express Joy before one sick or in pain for that contrary Passion will aggravate his Misery. When a person does their best and fails, do not criticize him.
When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it. When you must give advice or criticism, consider the timing, whether it should be given in public or private, the manner and above all be gentle.
If you are corrected, take it without argument. If you were wrongly judged, correct it later.
Do not make fun of anything important to others. 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. If you criticize someone else of something, make sure you are not guilty of it yourself.
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Actions speak louder than words. Wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts. Do not be quick to believe bad reports about others. 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. 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.
Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking your Arms kick not the earth with R feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion. Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Decked, if your Shoes fit well if your Stockings sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely.
Associate with good people. It is better to be alone than in bad company. Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for 'is better to be alone than in bad Company. In walking up and Down in a House, only with One in Company if he be Greater than yourself, at the first give him the Right hand and Stop not till he does and be not the first that turns, and when you do turn let it be with your face towards him, if he be a Man of Great Quality, walk not with him Cheek by Joul but Somewhat behind him; but yet in Such a Manner that he may easily Speak to you.
Always allow reason to govern your actions. Never break the rules in front of your subordinates. Never express anything unbecoming, nor Act against the Rules Moral before your inferiors. Some things are better kept secret.
Utter not base and frivolous things amongst grave and Learned Men nor very Difficult Questions or Subjects, among the Ignorant or things hard to be believed, Stuff not your Discourse with Sentences amongst your Betters nor Equals.
A person should not overly value their own accomplishments.
A Man ought not to value himself of his Achievements, or rare Qualities of wit; much less of his riches Virtue or Kindred. Break not a Jest where none take pleasure in mirth Laugh not aloud, nor at all without Occasion, deride no mans Misfortune, though there Seem to be Some cause.
Do not detract from others nor be overbearing in giving orders. Do not go where you are not wanted. Do not give unasked-for advice.
Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. If two people disagree, do not take one side or the other. Be flexible in your own opinions and when you don't care, take the majority opinion. If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrained; and be not obstinate in your own Opinion, in Things indifferent be of the Major Side.
Do not correct others when it is not your place to do so. Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiors. Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of Others and ask not how they came. What you may Speak in Secret to your Friend deliver not before others. 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.
The rules of civility and decent behavior pdf995
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. In the midst of Discourse ask not of what one treateth but if you Perceive any Stop because of your coming you may well intreat him gently to Proceed: If a Person of Quality comes in while your Conversing it's handsome to Repeat what was said before.
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. Don't compare yourselves amongst yourselves. Make no Comparisons and if any of the Company be Commended for any brave act of Virtue, commend not another for the Same.
Do not be quick to talk about something when you don't have all the facts.
Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. Be not Tedious in Discourse or in reading unless you find the Company pleased therewith. Do not be curious about the affairs of others. Do not start what you cannot finish.