June 28, 2007

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George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation (Cico Books, 2007, 63 pages)
Reviewed by Amy Diaz news@hippopress.com

“When in company, put not your hands to any part of the body, not usually discover.”

“Shew nothing to your friend that may affright him.”

Makes sense that those little nuggets of wisdom would follow each other, doesn’t it?

To be clear, these aren’t Washington’s own personal rules. These are rules that he, as a teen (a pompous teen, one suspects) copied form a book on etiquette into his notebook, according to the book’s jacket. Not that it makes his advice any less worthy:

• “In visiting the sick, do not presently play the physician if you be not knowing therein.”

• “Be not tedious in discourse, make not many digressions, nor repeat often the same manner of discourse.”

Don’t be a schmuck, basically. Don’t be a jerk, a nudge, a whiner, a know-it-all or a bully. Keep your hands to yourself, chew your food like a gentleman and don’t bore people. It’s remarkably wise advice and perhaps a window into why Washington was well liked enough to be the first president. B- —Amy Diazs