My parents placed a great emphasis on manners in the home. Table manners were very important to our family. If I was forced to I could have written a dozen or so house rules for proper manners. “No singing at the table.” “Ask to be excused.” “Don’t run with scissors in your hand.” Maybe, just maybe I could think of a few more. The following is a selection of many of the 110 aphorisms that George Washington wrote as a teenager. (About 15 years of age.)
What attractive Christian schools we would have if our freshmen and sophomores were able to write these sayings and heed them! Some of the 110 have been deleted. The numbering, spelling and grammar are taken directly from the original text. Some of them may bring a smile to your face (16th Do not Puff up the Cheeks) and some may make you scratch your head in confusion (92nd Take no Salt or cut Bread with your Knife Greasy.). Enjoy these thoughts from the Father of Our Country. Enjoy them all the more knowing they were written when he was just a teen.
3. Shew 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.
8. At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the last Commer, 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 warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.
12. …Bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.
13. Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice, ticks in the Sight of Others…
15. Keep your Nails clean and Short, also your Hands and Teeth Clean yet without Shewing 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 too Close.
18. Read no Letters, Books, or Papers in Company but when there is a Necessity for the doing of it you must ask leave: come not near the Books or Writings of Another so as to read them unless desired or give your opinion of them unasked also look not nigh when another is writing a Letter.
22. Shew not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
29. When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire especially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass.
38. In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physician if you be not Knowing therein.
40. Strive not with your Superiors in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty.
44. When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.
47. Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break no Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasant abstain from Laughing there at yourself.
50. Be not hasty to believe flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.
56. Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad Company.
72. Speak not in an unknown Tongue in Company but in your own Language…
73. Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.
79. Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Discoursing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always. A Secret Discover not.
80. Be not Tedious in Discourse or in reading unless you find the Company pleased therewith.
82. Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Carefull to keep your Promise.
89. Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.
91. Make no Shew of taking great Delight in your Victuals, Feed not with Greediness; cut your Bread with a Knife, lean not on the Table neither find fault with what you Eat.
95. Put not your meat to your Mouth with your Knife in your hand neither Spit forth the Stones of any fruit Pye upon a Dish nor Cast anything under the table.
98. Drink not nor talk with your mouth full…
100. Cleanse not your teeth with the Table Cloth Napkin Fork or Knife but if Others do it let it be done with a pick Tooth.
101. Rince not your Mouth in the Presence of Others.
108. When you Speak of God or his Atributes, let it be Seriously and with Reverence. Honour and Obey your Natural Parents although they be Poor.
109. Let your Recreations be Manfull not Sinfull.
Treating others with respect and common courtesy is never out of date or old fashioned. Philippians 2:4 states: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” These mannerly maxims will help us look to the concerns of others.
2.) “George Washington: Mr. Manners,” compiled by Brad K. Gsell, Fundamental Presbyterian Publications, Charlotte, NC.