Monday, 21 May 2012

Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation by George Washington

A Charming little book reportedly written by George Washington, (yes, that George Washington) when he was just 14 years old.

The book is laid out as a list of 110 rules for decent behaviour in polite society. This may sound a bit dull but each rule is very short and easy to digest and most of them are perfectly relevant, even today. For example; 56: "Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company" and 89; "Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust"
Of course some of the rules aren't useful anymore, and some are just beyond my understanding, such as 55: "Eat not in the streets nor in the house out of season". Some of them are quite funny such as Rule 7 "Put not off your clothes in the presence of others, nor go out your chamber half dressed"

My personal favourite is 44: "When a man does all he can though it succeeds not well blame not him that did it"

It's a shame that we don't all carry around a little copy and adopt its ideas, i'm certain modern society would benefit from a few old fashioned rules of behaviour.

Well worth a read

Overall rating 4/5



  1. After reading the new book Rules of Civility, set in New York, I've been curious to read this one.

  2. Melissa,

    I didn't know there was a new one! Who wrote it?


  3. I think these were appended to the end of my copy of the Amor Towles book Rules of Civility, which Melissa refers to above. I loved the Towles book, which has big echoes of Fitzgerald. Recommended.

    1. Annabel,

      Thanks for that. I'll keep an eye out