At the age sixteen, George Washington wrote out by hand, 110 Rules of Civility. These are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. The rules have one major interest in common; a focus on other people and not on our own self-interests which is so prevalent today. Some of his ideas may seem quaint to our modern minds but they are an excellent reminder of the importance of being a gentleman!
61 Utter not base and frivolous things among grave and learned men, nor very difficult questions or subjects among the ignorant, or things hard to be believed; stuff not your discourse with sentences among your betters nor equals.
62 Speak not of doleful things in a time of mirth or at the table; speak not of melancholy things or death and wounds, and if others mention them, change if you can the discourse; tell not your dream, but to your intimate.
63 A man ought not to value himself of his achievements or rare qualities [damaged manuscript] virtue or kindred.
64 Break not a jest where none take pleasure in mirth; laugh not alone, nor at all without occasion; deride no man’s misfortune though there seem to be some cause.
65 Speak not injurious words neither in jest nor earnest; scoff at none although they give occasion.
66 Be not forward but friendly and courteous,the first to salute, hear, and answer; and be not pensive when it’s a time to converse.
67 Detract not from others neither be excessive in commanding.
68 Go not thither, where you know not whether you shall be welcome or not; give not advice [without] being asked, and when desired do it briefly.
69 If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrained, and be not obstinate in your own opinion; in things indifferent be of the major side.
70 Reprehend not the imperfections of others, for that belongs to parents, masters, and superiors.
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