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GEORGE WASHINGTON'S RULES OF CIVILITY AND DECENT BEHAVIOR

George Washington
ivy
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. Shew Nothing to your Friend that may affright him.

4. In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor 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.

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

7. Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Dressed.

8. At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the last Commer, and affect not to Speak Louder than Ordinary.

9. 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.

10. When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them.

11. Shift not yourself in Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.

12. 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.

13. Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexterously upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.

14. 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.

15. Keep your Nails clean and Short, also your Hands and Teeth Clean, yet without Shewing any great Concern for them.

16. 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.

17. Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play'd Withal.

18. Read no Letters, Books or Papers in Company 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.

19. Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.

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

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

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

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

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

25. Superfluous Complements and all Affectations of Ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected

26. In Pulling off your Hat to Persons of Distinction, as Noblemen, Justices, Churchmen & make a Reverence, bowing more or less according to the Custom of the Better Bred, and Quality of the Person. 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

27. 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 ask'd; 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

28. If any one come to Speak to you while you are sitting Stand up tho he be your Inferior, and when you Present Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree

29. When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire especially if it be at the Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass

30. 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 Honour: but if three walk together the middest place is the most Honourable the wall is usually given to the most worthy if two walk together

31. If anyone 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.

32. To one that is your equal, or not much inferior you are to give the chief Place in your Lodging and he to who 'tis offered ought at first to refuse it but at the second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthiness.

33. They that are in Dignity or in office have in all places Precedence 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.

34. 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.

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 Honour them, and those of high Degree ought to treat them with affability and 36. Courtesies, without Arrogance

37. 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

38. In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physician if you be not Knowing therein

39. In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title according to his Degree & the Custom of the Place.

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

41. Undertake not to Teach your equal in the art himself Professes; it Savors of arrogance

42. Let thy ceremonies in Courtesies be proper to the Dignity of his place with whom thou converses for it is absurd to act ye same with a Clown and a Prince

43. Do not express Joy before one sick or in pain for that contrary Passion will aggravate his Misery.

44. When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.

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 Shew no Sign of Cholera but do it with all Sweetness and Mildness

46. Take all Admonitions thankfully in what Time or Place so ever given but afterwards not being culpable take a Time & Place convenient to let him know it that gave them.

47. Mock not nor Jest at anything of Importance break no 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

49. Use no Reproachful Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile

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

51. Wear not your Cloths, foul, unripe or Dusty but See they be Brushed once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any uncleanness

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

53. Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking your arms kick not the earth with your feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion.

54. Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Deck't, if your Shoes fit well if your Stockings Sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely.

55. Eat not in the Streets, nor in ye House, out of Season

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

57. 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 Jowl but Somewhat behind him; but yet in Such a Manner that he may easily Speak to you

58. Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy, for 'tis a Sign of a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Causes of Passion admit Reason to Govern

59. Never express anything unbecoming, nor Act against ye Rules Moral before your inferiors

60. Be not immodest in urging your Friends to Discover a Secret

61. Utter not base and frivolous things amongst grave and Learn'd 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

62. Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Discourse tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend

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

64. Break not a Jest where none takes pleasure in mirth Laugh not aloud, nor at all without Occasion, deride no mans Misfortune, tho' there seem to be Some cause

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

66. Be not forward but friendly and Courteous; the first to Salute hear and answer & be not Pensive when it's a time to Converse

67. Detract not from others neither be excessive in Commanding

68. Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice with being Ask'd & when desired do it briefly

69. If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrained; and be not obstinate in your own Opinions, in Things indifferent be of the Major Side

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

71. 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

72. Speak not in an unknown Tongue in Company but in your own Language and that as those of Quality do and not as ye Vulgar; Sublime matters treat Seriously

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

75. 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

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

77. Treat with men at fit Times about Business & Whisper not in the Company of Others

78. Make no Comparisons and if any of the Company be Commended for any Brave act of Virtue, commend not another for the Same

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

80. Be not Tedious in Discourse or in reading unless you find the Company pleased therewith

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

83. When you deliver a matter do it without Passion & with Discretion, however mean ye Person be you do it too

84. When your Superiors talk to any Body, hearken not, neither Speak nor Laugh

85. In Company of these of Higher Quality than yourself Speak not till you are ask'd a Question then Stand upright put of your Hat & Answer in few words

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

87. 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

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

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

90. Being Set at meat Scratch not neither Spit Cough or blow your Nose except there's a Necessity for it

91. Make no Shew of taking great Delight in your Victuals, Feed not with Greediness; cut your Bread with a Knife, lean not on the Table, neither find fault with what you Eat

92. Take no Salt or cut Bread with your Knife Greasy

93. Entertaining any one at table it is decent to present him with meat, Undertake not to help others undesired by ye Master

94. If you Soak bread in the Sauce let it be no more than what you put in your Mouth at a time and blow not your broth at Table but Stay till Cools of it Self

95. Put not your meat to your Mouth with your Knife in your hand neither Spit forth the Stones of any fruit Pye upon a Dish nor Cast anything under the table

96. It's unbecoming to Stoop much to ones Meat Keep your Fingers clean & when foul wipe them on a Corner of your Table Napkin

97. Put not another bit into your Mouth till the former be Swallowed let not your Morsels be too big for the Gowls.

98. Drink not nor talk with your mouth full neither Gaze about you while you are a Drinking

99. Drink not too leisurely nor yet too hastily. Before and after Drinking wipe your Lips breath not then or Ever with too great a Noise, for its uncivil

100. Cleanse not your teeth with the Table Cloth Napkin Fork or Knife but if Others do it let it be done with a Pick Tooth

101. Rinse not your Mouth in the Presence of Others

102. It is out of use to call upon the Company often to Eat nor need you Drink to others every Time you Drink

103. In Company of your Betters be not longer in eating than they are lay not your Arm but only your hand upon the table

104. It belongs to ye Chiefest in Company to unfold his Napkin and fall to Meat first, But he ought then to Begin in time & to Dispatch with Dexterity that ye Slowest may have time allowed him

105. Be not Angry at Table whatever happens & if you have reason to be so, shew it not but on a Cheerful Countenance especially if there be Strangers for a Good Humour makes one Dish of Meat a Feast

106. Set not yourself at ye upper of ye Table but if it be your Due or that ye Master of ye house will have it So, Contend not, least you Should Trouble ye Company

107. If others talk at Table be attentive but talk not with Meat in your Mouth

108. When you Speak of God or His Attributes, let it be Seriously & with Reverence. Honour & Obey your Natural Parents although they be Poor

109. Let your Recreations be Manful not Sinful.

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