George Washington wrote Rules for Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation at the age of 14 (in 1746) while drawing upon an English translation of an earlier French deportment guide. A couple of my favorites are 22 and 23: "Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy" and "When you see a crime punished, you may be inwardly pleased, but always show pity to the suffering offender." The maxims grant insight into the young Washington's philosophy as well as the prevailing attitudes regarding behavior and deportment around the time of the American Revolution. Some more background or an introductory essay comparing Washington's edition with the original English and French volumes would have been nice, but this will still entertain those interested in the development of standards for deportment and early American codes of conduct.
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Taking his inspiration from a 16th century French manual on etiquette, young George Washington compiled his own set of instructions under the title, The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior. These concise rules to live by have been studied and copied by millions of readers eager to absorb Washington’s secrets of success in life and work. Neither unduly severe nor sentimental, the rules have stood the test of time and still reverberate today.George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior - eBook
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George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior
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George Washington wrot...
A quick and interestin...
A quick and interesting little collection of aphorisms on courtesy and respect by George Washington. He wrote this when he was 14 years old, and these maxims are not original, but selected by Washington from an English translation of a French book of etiquette. It may be more appropriate to identify the young Washington as the editor rather than the author. Much of the wisdom is common sense, "Sleep not while others speak" or "Jog not the table or desk where another reads or writes." Others are bits of antiquated etiquette. There are a number which would improve the world if more people were to observe them.
At the age of 14, Geor...
At the age of 14, George Washington translated and copied down a list of 110 French maxims on civility and decent behavior. Reading these, I'm willing to bet that Washington would be appalled at the current state of civility in the world, but then, I'm sure there were also plenty of people in his own time that appalled him if he truly believed and followed all of these rules. I think my favorite of the bunch is number 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 man's face with your spittle by approaching too near him when you speak." Firstly, I'm willing to bet the French writer included the eyebrow thing just because he couldn't do it, and felt annoyed when others could. Second, we really should use the word "bedew" more often these days. You may remember hearing this book get a mention on Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing. President Bartlett is seen reading the book at one point and explains to his aide Charlie how the book came to be. Then he calls Washington a "poncy little twerp" after reading one of the maxims (the 2nd one, I believe. I'm too tired to Google it right now. The quote from Bartlett could be off as well, but he definitely calls George "poncy").
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