Thomas Jefferson said of George Washington, “… and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great …”

I suspect Mr. Washington became the man respected by all – friend and foe –  because he was constantly, in every situation, thinking of the importance of others in his company than in bestowing honor upon himself.

Washington’s training for showing such high respect likely came from lessons taught him by his schoolmaster.

One on George’s assignments was to improve and perfect his penmanship by copying The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.

I think the world would be a better place if these obligations of politeness were still thought necessary.

Here are the first five:

  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. Be considerate of others. Do not embarrass others.
  3.  Show 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.

To see the remainder of the 110 Rules of Civility click.


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