George Washington's Rules of Civility eBook

Moncure Daniel Conway
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 98 pages of information about George Washington's Rules of Civility.
“The greatest Magnetismes in the World are Civility, Conforming to the innocent humours, and infirmities, sometimes, of others, readiness to do courtesies for all, Speaking well of all behind their backs.  And sly Affability, which is not only to be used in common and unconcerning speech, but upon all occasions.  A man may deny a request, chide, reprehend, command &c. affably, with good words, nor is there anything so harsh which may not be inoffensively represented.”


There has been no alteration of the original French and English documents in the pages following.  The spelling, punctuation, use of small or capital letters, italics, etc., whether faults or archaisms, are strictly preserved.

The word ‘Maxim’ refers to the early French work (of the Jesuit Fathers).  ‘Rule’ refers to Washington’s MS.

‘Hawkins’ indicates the English version of the Maxims, chiefly the anonymous additions thereto.  See p. 19.

‘Walker’ refers to Obadiah Walker’s work on Education, spoken of on p. 18.

‘The later French book’ refers to the anonymous work of 1673, translated into English, mentioned on p. 17.

1st.  Every Action done in Company ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.


     Chapter ii. 1.  Que toutes actions qui se font publiquement fassent
     voir son sentiment respectueux a toute la compagnie.

     All actions done before others should be with some sign of
     respectful feeling to the entire company.

2d.  When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body not usually Discovered.

Chapter ii. 3.  Gardez-vous bien de toucher de la main aucune partie de vostre corps, de celles qui ne sont point en veue, en la presence d’aucune autre personne.  Pour les mains, & le visage, cela leur est ordinaire.  Et afin de vous y accoustumer pratiquez ce poinct de ciuilite mesme en vostre particulier.
In the presence of any one, never put your hand to any part of the person not usually uncovered.  As for the hands and face they are usually visible.  In order to form a habit in this point of decency, practise it even when with your intimate friend.

3d.  Shew Nothing to your Friend that may affright him.

     Chapter ii. 4.  Ne faites pas voir a vostre compagnon, ce qui luy
     pourroit faire mal au coeur.

     Show nothing to your companion that may grieve him.

4th.  In the Presence of Others sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum, with your Fingers or Feet.

Chapter ii. 5.  Ne vous amusez pas a chanter en vous mesme, si vous ne vous rencontrez si fort a l’ecart qu’aucun autre ne vous puisse entendre, non plus qu’a contre-faire le son du tambour par l’agitation des pieds ou des mains.

     Do not seek amusement in singing to yourself, unless beyond the
     hearing of others, nor drum with your hands or feet.

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George Washington's Rules of Civility from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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