. . . Rules of Civility . . .
We were recently reading some of George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company And Conversation. Here are the first few.
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.
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.
6. Sleep not when others speak, sit not when others stand, speak not when you should hold your peace, walk not on when others stop.
7. Put not off your clothes in the presence of others, nor go out of your chamber half dressed.
8. At play and at fire it is good manners to give place to the last comer, and affect not to speak louder than ordinary.
9. Spit not in the fire, nor stoop low before it. Neither put your hands into the flames to war them, nor set your feet upon the fire, especially if there be meat before it.
10. When you sit down, keep your feet firm and eve, without putting one on the other or crossing them.
11. Shift not yourself in the sight of others nor gnaw your nails.
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 to near him when you speak.
13. Kill no vermin as fleas, lice, ticks &c in the sight of others; if you see any filth or thick spittle, put your foot dexteriously upon it; if it be upon the clothes of your companions, put it off privately; and if it be upon your own clothes, return thanks to him who puts it off.
14. Turn not your back to others especially in speaking; jog not the table or desk on which another reads or writes; lean not upon anyone.
15. Keep not your nails clean and short, also your hands and teeth clean, yet without showing any great concern for them.
16. Do not puff up the cheeks; loll not out the tongue, rub the hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them, or keep the lips too open or close.
17. B no flatterer; neither play with any that delights not to be played with.
18. Read no letters, books, or papers in company; but when there is a necessity for the doing of it, you may ask leave. Come not near the books and writings of another so as to read them or give your opinion of them unasked; also look not nigh when another is writing a letter.
19. Let your countenance be pleasant, but in serious matters somewhat grave.
20. The gestures of the body must be suited to the discourse you are upon.
Aren’t they great?