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A proofread version of George Washington's Rules of Civility
1730's | George Washington

Posted on 02/22/2016 11:16:30 AM PST by re_tail20

Today is George Washington’s 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 “superiors” and “inferiors”. Many require factoring in the “norms” 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, don’t put your hands to any part of your body not usually discovered


Don’t show anything to your friend that may frighten him.


Don’t 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.

Don’t speak in your yawning, but put your handkerchief or hand before your face and turn aside


Don’t sleep when others are speaking

Don’t sit when others are standing

Don’t speak when you should be quiet

Don’t walk on when others have stopped


Don’t 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

Don’t speak louder than ordinary


Don’t spit in the fire in the fireplace or stoop low before it

Don’t put your hands near the fire in the fireplace to warm them

Don’t 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


Don’t shift yourself in the sight of others or bite your fingernails


Don’t shake your head, feet, or legs

Don’t roll your eyes

Don’t lift one eyebrow higher than the other

Don’t wry your mouth

Don’t accidentally spit in anyone’s face by approaching too near that person when you speak.


Don’t 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


Don’t turn your back to others, especially in speaking

Don’t jog the table or desk on which another person is reading or writing

Don’t lean upon anyone.


Keep your nails clean and short

Also keep your hands and teeth clean, yet without showing any great concern for them.


Don’t puff up your cheeks

Don’t loll out your tongue

Don’t rub your hands or beard

Don’t thrust out your lips

Don’t bite your lips

Don’t keep your lips too open or too closed.


Don’t be a flatterer, neither play with any person that delights not to be played with.


Don’t 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


Don’t reproach anyone for the infirmities of nature or delight to put them that have in mind thereof.


Don’t 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.


Don’t 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, don’t 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 don’t lean or look them full in the face, or approach too near them.


When visiting the sick in a hospital, don’t 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


Don’t strive with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty


Don’t 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 person’s misery


When a man does all he can though it doesn’t succeed, don’t 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.


Don’t 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.


Don’t use any reproachful language against anyone, neither curse nor revile.


Don’t be hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any


Don’t wear your clothes foul, ripped, or dusty, but see they be brushed once every day at least, and take heed that you don’t 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


Don’t run in the streets

Don’t go too slowly or or with your mouth open

Don’t shake your arms

Don’t kick the earth with your feet

Don’t go upon your toes or in a dancing fashion


Don’t 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.


Don’t 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 don’t stop until he does, and don’t 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, don’t 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


Don’t be immodest in urging your friends to discover a secret


Don’t 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

Don’t stuff your discourse with sentences among your betters or equals


Don’t speak of doleful things in a time of mirth or at the table

Don’t 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


Don’t break a jest where none takes pleasure in mirth

Don’t laugh aloud, or at all, without occasion

Don’t deride any man’s misfortune, though there seem to be some cause


Don’t speak injurious words, either in jest or earnest

Scoff at none, although they give occasion


Don’t be froward

Be friendly and courteous,

Be the first to salute, hear and answer

Don’t be pensive when it is time to converse


Don’t detract from others

Don’t be excessive in commanding


If you don’t know for sure if you will be welcome at a place, don’t go there

Don’t give advice without being asked

When asked to give advice, do it briefly


If two persons contend together, don’t take the part of either unconstrained, and don’t be obstinate in your own opinion

In things indifferent, be of the major side


Don’t reprehend the imperfections of others, for that belongs to parents, masters, and superiors


Don’t gaze on the marks or blemishes of others and don’t ask how they came

What you may speak in secret to your friend, don’t deliver before others


Don’t 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

Don’t pronounce imperfectly, or bring out your words too hastily, but orderly and distinctly.


When another is speaking, be attentive yourself, and don’t disturb the audience

If any man hesitate in his words, don’t help him or prompt him unless he desires it

Don’t interrupt him or answer him until his speech is finished


In the middle of discourse, don’t 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, don’t 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 don’t whisper in the company of others


Make no comparisons

And if any of the company be commended for any brave act of virtue, don’t commend another for the same


Don’t be apt to relate news if you don’t know the truth thereof

In discoursing of things you have heard, don’t name your author

Always a secret discover not.


Don’t be tedious in discourse or in reading unless you find the company pleased therewith


Don’t be curious to know the affairs of others, or approach those that speak in private


Don’t 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, don’t speak until you are asked a question, then stand upright, take off your hat, and answer in few words


In disputes, don’t 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

Don’t contradict at every turn what others say


Don’t be tedious in discourse

Don’t make many digressions or often repeat the same manner of discourse


Don’t speak evil of the absent, for it is unjust


Being set at meat, don’t scratch, spit, cough, or blow your nose, except when there is a necessity for it


Don’t make a show of taking great delight in your victuals

Don’t feed with greediness

Don’t cut your bread with a knife

Don’t lean on the table

Don’t find fault with what you eat


Don’t take salt or cut bread with your knife greasy


When entertaining anyone at the table, it is decent to present him with meat

Don’t 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

Don’t blow your broth at the table, but let it cool down on its own


Don’t put your meat to your mouth with your knife in your hand

Don’t spit forth the stones of any fruit pie upon a dish

Don’t cast anything under the table


It is unbecoming to stoop much to one’s meat

Keep your fingers clean

When your fingers are foul, wipe them on a corner of your table napkin


Don’t put another bit into your mouth until the former bit is swallowed

Don’t let your morsels be too big for the jowls


Don’t drink or talk with your mouth full

Don’t gaze about you while you are drinking


Don’t drink too leisurely or yet too hastily

Before and after drinking, wipe your lips

Don’t breath then or ever with too great a noise, for it is uncivil


Don’t 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


Don’t 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, don’t be longer in eating than they are

Don’t 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


Don’t be angry at the table whatever happens

And if you have reason to be so, don’t show it

Put on a cheerful countenance, especially if there are strangers present, for good humor makes one dish of meat a feast


Don’t 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, don’t contend, least you should trouble the company


If others talk at the table, be attentive, but don’t 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

TOPICS: History
KEYWORDS: georgewashington; godsgravesglyphs; theframers; thegeneral; therevolution
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1 posted on 02/22/2016 11:16:30 AM PST by re_tail20
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To: re_tail20

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.

2 posted on 02/22/2016 11:24:01 AM PST by Jim W N
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To: re_tail20
110 -Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience
3 posted on 02/22/2016 11:29:28 AM PST by Talisker (One who commands, must obey.)
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To: Jim 0216
Any way you could copy and post your proofread version on this link first to get rid of those goofy symbols?

The formatting is all messed up in the original post, and it makes me want to give up reading it.

4 posted on 02/22/2016 11:29:34 AM PST by chud
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To: re_tail20

So please cite where this comes from. Your claim that it is from Washington himself requires some sort of verification

5 posted on 02/22/2016 11:33:02 AM PST by Nifster (I see puppy dogs in the clouds)
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To: Nifster

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.

6 posted on 02/22/2016 11:45:25 AM PST by re_tail20
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To: re_tail20

Please cite where it is reported that Washington copied word for word

7 posted on 02/22/2016 11:50:54 AM PST by Nifster (I see puppy dogs in the clouds)
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To: Jim 0216

Try these.

8 posted on 02/22/2016 11:51:03 AM PST by Ruy Dias de Bivar
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To: re_tail20; All; Jim 0216; chud; Nifster
The following page will open in a new window: Washington's rule of civility
9 posted on 02/22/2016 11:51:31 AM PST by spel_grammer_an_punct_polise (Why does every totalitarian, political hack think that he knows how to run my life better than I?)
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To: re_tail20

Many have to do with good posture, control of your own physical system, and treating other with respect.

10 posted on 02/22/2016 11:52:00 AM PST by MarvinStinson
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To: spel_grammer_an_punct_polise

Google links to Colonial Williamsnurg page with more history on it

It is a copy book assignment

11 posted on 02/22/2016 11:53:49 AM PST by Nifster (I see puppy dogs in the clouds)
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To: chud

12 posted on 02/22/2016 11:53:53 AM PST by MarvinStinson
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; decimon; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ...

13 posted on 02/22/2016 12:00:15 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Here's to the day the forensics people scrape what's left of Putin off the ceiling of his limo.)
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To: Jim 0216

You posted the LOCATION on your computer for that program. Not a link to the website where others can access it.

14 posted on 02/22/2016 12:09:50 PM PST by ETL (You can lead a Trump supporter to critical facts & info, but you can't make him/her think)
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Worked for me when I copied and pasted it in the URL.

15 posted on 02/22/2016 12:26:18 PM PST by Jim W N
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To: Jim 0216
Re: file:///C:/My%20Stuff/FR/Replace%20smart%20quotes%20with%20regular%20straight%20quotes.html

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.

16 posted on 02/22/2016 12:35:17 PM PST by ETL (You can lead a Trump supporter to critical facts & info, but you can't make him/her think)
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To: re_tail20
Don't walk on when others have stopped

Don't stop unannounced when others are walking and expect them to stop too.

17 posted on 02/22/2016 12:46:49 PM PST by JimRed (Is it 1776 yet? TERM LIMITS, now and forever! Build the Wall, NOW!)
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To: re_tail20

bump for later

18 posted on 02/22/2016 12:57:13 PM PST by Albion Wilde (Who can actually defeat the Democrats in 2016? -- the most important thing about all candidates.)
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To: re_tail20
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.

I think the modern word here would be color. As in a face flush with anger.

19 posted on 02/22/2016 12:58:50 PM PST by Pontiac (The welfare state must fail because it is contrary to human nature and diminishes the human spirit.)
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This takes me right to it (on Google Chrome).

20 posted on 02/22/2016 1:21:29 PM PST by Jim W N
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