President George W. Bush shakes hands with General George Washington, played by actor Dean Malissa, following President Bush’s address at the Mount Vernon Estate, Monday, Feb. 19, 2007 in Mount Vernon, Va., honoring Washington’s 275th birthday. White House photo by Eric Draper

Today is the 275th anniversary of the birth of our first President, George Washington. President George W. Bush paid a visit to America’s homeplace, Mount Vernon this past Monday. Having been to Mount Vernon many times I was pleased to see President Bush make the visit.

On one visit to Mount Vernon we purchased George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Bahvior In Company and Conversation.

When George Washington was fifteen years old, he copied out by hand, 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. They are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595.

While some of the rules are dated many of them are just as valid today.

Richard Brookhiser, in his book on Washington wrote that “all modern manners in the western world were originally aristocratic. Courtesy meant behavior appropriate to a court; chivalry comes from chevalier – a knight. Yet Washington was to dedicate himself to freeing America from a court’s control. Could manners survive the operation? Without realizing it, the Jesuits who wrote them, and the young man who copied them, were outlining and absorbing a system of courtesy appropriate to equals and near-equals. When the company for whom the decent behavior was to be performed expanded to the nation, Washington was ready. Parson Weems got this right, when he wrote that it was ‘no wonder every body honoured him who honoured every body.’”

Here are a few.

Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.

Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play’d Withal.

Reproach none for the Infirmities of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof.

Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always show Pity to the Suffering Offender.

Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.

In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physician if you be not Knowing therein.

Do not express Joy before one sick or in pain for that contrary Passion will aggravate his Misery.

When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.

Wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.

Use no Reproachful Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.

Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ‘is better to be alone than in bad Company.

Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of Others and ask not how they came. What you may Speak in Secret to your Friend deliver not before others.

Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.

When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously & with reverence. Honor & obey your natural parents although they be poor.

Let your recreations be manful not sinful.

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

The cherry preserves found at the Gift Shop at Mount Vernon are delicious.