Skip to comments.A proofread version of George Washington's Rules of Civility
Posted on 02/22/2016 11:16:30 AM PST by re_tail20
Today is George Washingtonâs Birthday. I thought I would post a proofread version of his famous Rules of Civility.
George Washington was a product of the time in which he lived, as are we. Grammar and Punctuation were much different 270 years ago than they are today. Periods and commas were not used in places where they are used today, and words that are not capitalized now were capitalized then. In some cases, I have substituted words. In some cases, I have left the original words.
Some of these translate well to today, and some don't. For example, the rules speak of âsuperiorsâ and âinferiorsâ. Many require factoring in the ânormsâ of the time in order to make sense of them
The original is available online for anyone wanting to do their own comparison.
Every action done in company should be done with some sign of respect to those who are present
When in company, donât put your hands to any part of your body not usually discovered
Donât show anything to your friend that may frighten him.
Donât sing to yourself with a humming noise or drum with your fingers or feet when in the presence of others
If you cough, sneeze, sigh, or yawn, do it privately and softly.
Donât speak in your yawning, but put your handkerchief or hand before your face and turn aside
Donât sleep when others are speaking
Donât sit when others are standing
Donât speak when you should be quiet
Donât walk on when others have stopped
Donât take off your clothes in the presence of others or go out of your room half dressed
At play and sitting at the fireplace, it is good manners to give a place to the person who has come last
Donât speak louder than ordinary
Donât spit in the fire in the fireplace or stoop low before it
Donât put your hands near the fire in the fireplace to warm them
Donât set your feet near the fire in the fireplace, especially if there is meat before it.
When you sit down, keep your feet firm and even, without putting one on the other or crossing them
Donât shift yourself in the sight of others or bite your fingernails
Donât shake your head, feet, or legs
Donât roll your eyes
Donât lift one eyebrow higher than the other
Donât wry your mouth
Donât accidentally spit in anyoneâs face by approaching too near that person when you speak.
Donât kill any vermin such as fleas, lice, ticks, etc., in the sight of others
If you see any filth, put your foot dexterously upon it
If filth is on the clothes of your companions, brush it off privately
If filth is on your own clothes, give thanks to the person who brushes it off
Donât turn your back to others, especially in speaking
Donât jog the table or desk on which another person is reading or writing
Donât lean upon anyone.
Keep your nails clean and short
Also keep your hands and teeth clean, yet without showing any great concern for them.
Donât puff up your cheeks
Donât loll out your tongue
Donât rub your hands or beard
Donât thrust out your lips
Donât bite your lips
Donât keep your lips too open or too closed.
Donât be a flatterer, neither play with any person that delights not to be played with.
Donât read any letters, books, or papers in company.
But when there is a necessity for the doing of it, you must ask leave
Let your countenance be pleasant
Let your countenance be somewhat grave in serious matters
The gestures of the body must be suited to the discourse you are upon
Donât reproach anyone for the infirmities of nature or delight to put them that have in mind thereof.
Donât show yourself glad at the misfortune of another person, though he were your enemy
When you see a crime punished, you may be inwardly pleased, but always show pity to the suffering offender.
Donât laugh too loud or too much at any public spectacle
Superfluous complements and all affectation of ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be neglected
In taking off your hat to persons of distinction, such as noblemen, justices, churchmen, etc., make a reverence, bowing more or less according to the custom of the better breed and better quality of the person.
Among your equals, donât always expect that they should begin with you first, but to take off the hat when there is no need is affectation
In the manner or saluting and re-saluting in words, keep to the most usual custom.
It is bad manners to bid one more eminent than yourself to be covered, as well as not to do it to whom it is 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 anyone comes to speak to you while you 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 are walking together, the middle place is the most honorable.
The wall is usually given to the most worthy if two are walking together.
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
To one that is your equal, or not much inferior, you are to give to chief place in your lodging
And he to who it 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 precedence in all places.
But while they are young, they ought to respect those that are their equals in birth or other qualities, though they have no public charge.
If is good manners to prefer them to whom we speak before ourselves, especially if they are above us with whom in no sort we ought to begin.
Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive
Artificers and 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 and courtesy, without arrogance.
In speaking to men of quality, keep a full pace from them, and donât lean or look them full in the face, or approach too near them.
When visiting the sick in a hospital, donât be a doctor if you are not a doctor
In writing or speaking, give to every person his or her due title according to his degree and the custom of the place
Donât strive with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty
Donât undertake to teach your equal in the art he professes, as it savors of arrogance
Let your ceremonies in courtesy be proper to the dignity of his place with whom you converse, for it is absurd to act the same with a clown and prince
Do not express joy before one who is sick or in pain, for that contrary passion will aggravate that personâs misery
When a man does all he can though it doesnât succeed, donât blame him
Being to advise or reprehend anyone, consider whether it ought to be in public, or in private, presently, or at some other time, in what terms to do it, and in reproving, show no sign of cholar, but do it with all sweetness and mildness.
Take all admonitions thankfully in what time or place soever given
But afterwards not being culpable, take a time and place convenient to let him know it that gave them.
Donât mock or jest at anything of importance.
Break no jest that are sharp biting
And if you deliver anything witty and pleasant, abstain from laughing thereat yourself.
Wherein you reprove another, be unblameable yourself, for example is more prevalent than precepts.
Donât use any reproachful language against anyone, neither curse nor revile.
Donât be hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any
Donât wear your clothes foul, ripped, or dusty, but see they be brushed once every day at least, and take heed that you donât approach to any uncleanness.
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
Donât run in the streets
Donât go too slowly or or with your mouth open
Donât shake your arms
Donât kick the earth with your feet
Donât go upon your toes or in a dancing fashion
Donât play the Peacock, looking everywhere about you, to see if you be well decked, if your shoes fit well, if your stocking sit neatly, and clothes handsomely.
Donât eat in the streets, or in the house, out of season
Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation, for it is better to be alone than in bad company
In walking around in a house, only with one in company, if he is greater than yourself, at the first give him the right hand and donât stop until he does, and donât be the first that turns, and when you do turn, let it be with your face towards him.
If he is a man of great quality, donât walk directly beside him, but somewhat behind him, but yet in such a manner that he may easily speak to you.
Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for it is a sign of a tractable and commendable nature, and in all causes of passion admit reason to govern
Never express anything unbecoming or act against the moral rules before your inferiors
Donât be immodest in urging your friends to discover a secret
Donât utter base and frivolous things among grave and learned men or very difficult questions or subjects among the ignorant or things hard to be believed
Donât stuff your discourse with sentences among your betters or equals
Donât speak of doleful things in a time of mirth or at the table
Donât speak of melancholy things as death and wounds
And if others mention them, change the discourse if you can
Only tell your dreams to your intimate friends
A man should not value himself of his achievements or rare qualities of wit, much less of his riches virtue or kindred
Donât break a jest where none takes pleasure in mirth
Donât laugh aloud, or at all, without occasion
Donât deride any manâs misfortune, though there seem to be some cause
Donât speak injurious words, either in jest or earnest
Scoff at none, although they give occasion
Donât be froward
Be friendly and courteous,
Be the first to salute, hear and answer
Donât be pensive when it is time to converse
Donât detract from others
Donât be excessive in commanding
If you donât know for sure if you will be welcome at a place, donât go there
Donât give advice without being asked
When asked to give advice, do it briefly
If two persons contend together, donât take the part of either unconstrained, and donât be obstinate in your own opinion
In things indifferent, be of the major side
Donât reprehend the imperfections of others, for that belongs to parents, masters, and superiors
Donât gaze on the marks or blemishes of others and donât ask how they came
What you may speak in secret to your friend, donât deliver before others
Donât speak in an unknown tongue in company, but in your own language, and that as those of quality do, and not as the vulgar
Treat sublime matters seriously
Think before you speak
Donât pronounce imperfectly, or bring out your words too hastily, but orderly and distinctly.
When another is speaking, be attentive yourself, and donât disturb the audience
If any man hesitate in his words, donât help him or prompt him unless he desires it
Donât interrupt him or answer him until his speech is finished
In the middle of discourse, donât ask of what one treats
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 you are conversing, it is good to repeat what was said before
While you are talking, donât point with your finger at him of whom you discourse or approach too near him to whom you talk, especially to his face
Treat with men at fit times about business and donât whisper in the company of others
Make no comparisons
And if any of the company be commended for any brave act of virtue, donât commend another for the same
Donât be apt to relate news if you donât know the truth thereof
In discoursing of things you have heard, donât name your author
Always a secret discover not.
Donât be tedious in discourse or in reading unless you find the company pleased therewith
Donât be curious to know the affairs of others, or approach those that speak in private
Donât undertake what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise
When you deliver a matter, do it without passion and with discretion, however mean the person is that you did it to
When your superiors talk to anybody, hearken not, neither speak or laugh
In company of these of higher quality than yourself, donât speak until you are asked a question, then stand upright, take off your hat, and answer in few words
In disputes, donât be so desirous 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
Let your carriage be such as becomes a man grave, seated, and attentive to that which is spoken
Donât contradict at every turn what others say
Donât be tedious in discourse
Donât make many digressions or often repeat the same manner of discourse
Donât speak evil of the absent, for it is unjust
Being set at meat, donât scratch, spit, cough, or blow your nose, except when there is a necessity for it
Donât make a show of taking great delight in your victuals
Donât feed with greediness
Donât cut your bread with a knife
Donât lean on the table
Donât find fault with what you eat
Donât take salt or cut bread with your knife greasy
When entertaining anyone at the table, it is decent to present him with meat
Donât undertake to help others undesired by the master
If you soak bread in the sauce, let it be no more than what you put in your mouth at a time
Donât blow your broth at the table, but let it cool down on its own
Donât put your meat to your mouth with your knife in your hand
Donât spit forth the stones of any fruit pie upon a dish
Donât cast anything under the table
It is unbecoming to stoop much to oneâs meat
Keep your fingers clean
When your fingers are foul, wipe them on a corner of your table napkin
Donât put another bit into your mouth until the former bit is swallowed
Donât let your morsels be too big for the jowls
Donât drink or talk with your mouth full
Donât gaze about you while you are drinking
Donât drink too leisurely or yet too hastily
Before and after drinking, wipe your lips
Donât breath then or ever with too great a noise, for it is uncivil
Donât cleanse your teeth with the table cloth napkin, fork, or knife
But if others do it, let it be done without a peep to them
Donât rinse your mouth in the presence of others
It is out of use to call upon the company often to eat, or need you drink to others every time you drink
In the company of your betters, donât be longer in eating than they are
Donât lay your arm, but only your hand, on the table
It belongs to the chiefest in company to unfold his napkin and fall to meat first
But he ought then to begin in time and to dispatch with dexterity that the slowest may have time allowed him
Donât be angry at the table whatever happens
And if you have reason to be so, donât show it
Put on a cheerful countenance, especially if there are strangers present, for good humor makes one dish of meat a feast
Donât set yourself at the upper of the table
But if it be you due, or that the master of the house will have it so, donât contend, least you should trouble the company
If others talk at the table, be attentive, but donât talk with meat in your mouth
When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence
Honor and obey your natural parents although they be poor
Let your recreations be manful and not sinful
Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience
Any way you could copy and post your proofread version on this link first to get rid of those goofy symbols?
..and then possibly condense and re-post here? I’d love to print a copy.
The formatting is all messed up in the original post, and it makes me want to give up reading it.
So please cite where this comes from. Your claim that it is from Washington himself requires some sort of verification
I don’t know if “Rules of Civility” has any author listed on it. But Washington copied it word for word, and so his name is generally transferred to it when it is reposted.
I am so angry that freerepublic has not fixed this longstanding symbols problem.
Anyone who wants me to send a “pure” version, either post an email address, or “email” me an “email” address on my freerepublic mail account above and I’ll send you one.
I don’t know the first thing about programming, and find it just too hard to jump through all the hoops to try to do what I shouldn’t have to do.
Please cite where it is reported that Washington copied word for word
Many have to do with good posture, control of your own physical system, and treating other with respect.
Google links to Colonial Williamsnurg page with more history on it
It is a copy book assignment
You posted the LOCATION on your computer for that program. Not a link to the website where others can access it.
Worked for me when I copied and pasted it in the URL.
Worked for me when I copied and pasted it in the URL.
I don't see how that file location, or whatever it is, could take one to an internet site. I copied and pasted it into my url window and all I got was a "file could not be found" notice.
Don't stop unannounced when others are walking and expect them to stop too.
bump for later
I think the modern word here would be color. As in a face flush with anger.
This takes me right to it (on Google Chrome).
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