11 February 2009

Etiquette Wednesday

I am sure that when you reached the ripe old age of 15, you were concerned with your complexion and how many "friends" you had amassed on Facebook. Not to make you feel shallow, but by the time George Washington (yes, the "Father" of our country) had reached 15 he had compiled his epic work, Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation.*

Washington enumerated such rules as: Strive not with your Superiers in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty. Washington and I share a unique love of spelling! Or a love of unique spelling?

But what, pray tell, did Washington mean? While these rules might have been spot on in the 1700, a new day has come. Thankfully for us, we have a new interpreter of the Rules of Civility, one James Henry.

The very mannerly Mr. Henry has take a long look at George Washington’s Rules of Civility and updated it for the modern reader. If you don't understand "submitting your judgement", James Henry translates it for you in his book, Mind Your Manners George Washington's Rules of Civility.

George Washington says:
When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usualy Discovered.

James Henry says:
Fishing for one's privates should rarely be done in public.

Of course, now it makes perfect sense. Have you recently encountered someone you know indelicately "fishing"? Do not despair, Mr. Henry has just what you need, an anonymous email to the guilty party! It's so easy. Simply log on to Mr. Henry's site, Rule of Civility, then click on the little postcard. Here you can find the appropriate offense and anonymously notify the offender with a simple click. Which is much less messy than say -- a duel.

What to do with the colossal oaf in your life? Despair not! Mr. Henry will send out an anonymous copy of his book, filled with everything one needs to be a mannerly soul in this modern world. Have him send you one, too, it's great fun and you might learn a thing or two.

*Truth be told, there were many such books floating around in the 1700's and Washington kinda cribbed some his rules. In fact the rather elegantly named Moncure Conway did quite a bit of research as to where Washington actually "procured" his rules. If the OCD kicks in check out, George Washington's Rules of Civility: Traced to their Sources and Restored. And, thank your lucky stars that Moncure Conway wasn't your English teacher.

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