Rules of Civility
Among the manuscript books of George Washington, preserved in the State Archives at Washington City, the earliest bears the date, written in it by himself, 1745. Washington was born February 11, 1731 O. S., so that while writing in this book he was either near the close of his fourteenth, or in his fifteenth, year. It is entitled "Forms of Writing", has thirty folio pages, and the contents, all in his boyish handwriting, are sufficiently curious. Amid copied forms of exchange, bonds, receipts, sales, and similar exercises, occasionally, in ornate penmanship, there are poetic selections, among them lines of a religious tone on "True Happiness". But the great interest of the book centres in the pages headed : "Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation". The book had been gnawed at the bottom by Mount Vernon mice, before it reached the State Archives, and nine of the 110 Rules have thus suffered, the sense of several being lost...
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The author of these 110 maxims was a Jesuit priest, who wrote them in 1595 to instruct the French aristocracy. The maxims were translated into English in 1640. It is unknown whether Washington was actually devoted to the principles or merely copying them to hone his penmanship.