|Ink sketch of a young George Washington, surveying|
Reading through the 100+ rules of etiquette really enriched my understanding of the culture of the time. And explained some things. You know how you get that particular feeling of decorum and elegance from paintings of the time? These rules actually make it pretty clear it wasn't a trick of the artist. I'm going to give y'all a taste of some of their rules and manners. The spelling and capitalization are all George's. =) Enjoy!
~In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.
~Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.
~(One of my favorites) Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs rowl not the Eys lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.
~Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexteriously upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.
~let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.
~Shew not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
~Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremonie are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.
~Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.
~Undertake not to Teach your equal in the art himself Proffesses; it Savours of arrogancy.
~Do not express Joy before one sick or in pain for that contrary Passion will aggravate his Misery.
~ Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break no Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasent abstain from Laughing there at yourself.
~ Wherein wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.
~ Wear not your Cloths, foul, unript or Dusty but See they be Brush'd once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any Uncleaness.
~ Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking yr Arms kick not the earth with yr feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion.
~ Eat not in the Streets, nor in the House, out of Season.
~ Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Discourse tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend.
~ Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice without being Ask'd & when desired do it briefly.
~Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiours.
Roseanna M. White pens her novels under the Betsy Ross flag hanging above her desk, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When she isn’t writing fiction, she’s editing it for WhiteFire Publishing or reviewing it for the Christian Review of Books, both of which she co-founded with her husband. www.roseannawhite.com