Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation
Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation is the name of a list best known as a school writing exercise of George Washington, who became the first president of the United States of America. Most of the rules have been traced to a French etiquette manual written by Jesuits in 1595 entitled "Bienséance de la conversation entre les hommes". As a handwriting exercise in around 1744, Washington merely copied word-for-word Francis Hawkins' translation which was published in England in about 1640.
The list of rules opens with:
- Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
- When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usualy [sic] Discovered.
- Shew Nothing to your Freind that may affright him.
- In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.
- If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkercheif or Hand before your face and turn aside.
The exercise goes on to list a total of 110 such rules.
The list features in the plot of the Amor Towles novel Rules of Civility, which is named after it.
- Washington, George. Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation: a Book of Etiquette. Williamsburg, VA: Beaver Press, 1971.
- see Charles Moore, "Washington's Copy of Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation"
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