Wednesday, June 30, 2010

George Washington's Rules of Civility

When George Washington was a schoolboy in Virginia, he was given a list of 110 Rules to live by. To practice his penmanship, the young Washington carefully wrote out each rule and committed it to memory. Some of the rules were special admonitions governing good behavior at the dinner table. Here are some of them:

“Don't Take so big a Bite that you must Chew with your Mouth open.” “Let not your Morsels be too Big for the Jowls.” “Drink not nor Talk with your Mouth full.” “Cleanse not your Teeth with the Table Cloth Napkin Fork or Knife.”

This is still superb advice today! Originally written by French Jesuit priests in the 1590s, the list was later published in a booklet entitled George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. If you would like to read it, it is still available from booksellers today.

Credit: Washington Receiving a Salute on the Field of Trenton, from the engraving by William Holl (1865) after the painting by John Faed.