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Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
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I suppose it's my fault for not carefully reading the info that Amazon.com posted. The book is a whopping 30 pages and has 110 Rules, many of which consist of only one sentence. Furthermore, most of the Rules are things that we do without thinking. One rule advises the reader not to speak "with meat in your mouth" or "Put not off your clothes in the presence of others, nor go out of your chamber half dressed." If you regularly discuss current events while a chicken leg is dangling from your teeth or serve a cold beer in your underware (unless, of course, you work at a gentleman's club), you might benefit from this book.
But I weakly attempt humor. Most of the rules, while they are common sense, remind us of how we, over 225 years later, should interact with people. Other rules advise us not to give medical advice to friends if we're not a doctor, you frustrate the sick. Don't be too hasty to spread news of someone else's misfortunes. In a business relationship, make conversation quick and to the point, yet not cold or unpleasant. While I admit that a few (five, maybe) are very outdated, many of these rules are very useful. The small size of the book allows for it to be carried in a purse or briefcase easily so that you can frequently look at it. In sum, if you have the money to burn, I say, get the book. It's helpful and insightful. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't get it as I don't think it's worth the money.
Debunkers are correct to point out that this book is not the original work of a 14-year-old child prodigy, as is sometimes claimed, but rather, as this edition reveals, something he copied down from an English translation of the original French, presumably as part of his school work. However, these debunkers go too far when they conclude from this that the work is meaningless because George Washington has too often been described as a self-made man who from an early age carefully, through hard practice acquired the manners and self-control for which all who ever knew him praised him.
He rather obviously took these rules to heart, which may well explain their survival in his handwriting.
The language is archaic, a few rules are obsolete, and several more about respecting one's betters have much less application in our more egalitarian world, but in general most of these still apply. Of course if you had even a half way decent upbringing, you were taught most of these already, but it never hurts to be reminded of what still constitutes good manners. Admirers of Washington might also be interested in the uniform edition of something a lot less questionably the product of his genius: George Washington's Farewell Address.
Note: Some reviewers have complained that this book is available online for free.Read more ›
After you read these "Rules of Civility" you will feel like carrying this little red book around with you and handing it to rude people to read Rule # 1 "Every action done in company aught to be with some sign of respect to those that are present."
How can our kids and grandkids get exposed to this kind of thinking?
It is staggering to contemplate that a fourteen-year-old boy composed these perspicuous aphorisms. Yet, as the extraordinary man George Washington became later suggested, he was no ordinary fourteen-year-old either.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Have you read this?! It is hilarious and brilliant! It is a small/thin book packed with great information on etiquette. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Jessie R.
I purchased this as a Christmas gift for my brother-in-law. He loves anything about history, so I know he will love it.Published 2 months ago by Jane Martin
An interesting & quick read . . . I think if someone could translate this into a modern form it would be interesting.Published 3 months ago by PDW
Amazing that way back when, George thought just like us Today.Published 4 months ago by Rudolph Meyer