Sunday, April 18, 2010

Page 3 - Maxims

Children are nothing if not ideal and, if Lila started this book, she was younger than I thought when she did so. That's why I now wonder if it was started instead by her mother, Eva (Evangeline) Peet Minkler, and then passed to her to continue. But it's also not unreasonable that the ten or eleven year old Lila would have kept a scrapbook and continued into her late middle age. (I have gotten new information through internet research in the last few days.) We find ideals or subtleties to pin our hopes upon in these pages. Did Lila try to live by these maxims? (Only a few of the actual 101 originally penned are included in her clipping.) Did she ever hand her book, kept from childhood, to Ferdinand "Ray," her husband, in hopes he would read them and be influenced toward Christianity? Become a kinder man? Did she have those early aspirations we often have as budding wives that with a few well placed words, and the proper encouragement for ourselves and others, we will assure harmony and happiness within our homes? She steeled herself to try, it would seem, because her theme throughout is to be our best selves.
The Papers of George Washington which you can access here, has this to say:
“These maxims originated in the late sixteenth century in France and were popularly circulated during Washington's time. Washington wrote out a copy of the 110 Rules in his school book when he was about sixteen-years old.
This exercise, now regarded as a formative influence in the development of his character, included guidelines for behavior in pleasant company, appropriate actions in formal situations, and general courtesies, such as: "Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremonie are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected" (no. 25); "Think before you Speak" (no. 73); and "Rince not your Mouth in the Presence of Others" (no. 101).”
Many of these maxims are lifted right from the pages of Biblical scripture. Others are simply practical and should fall under the heading, “We hold these truths to be self evident.” I have read all 101 maxims to my son and now I want him to write them down at the rate of one per day. It will be a great history lesson and even greater development lesson. Maybe if I have to drill them into him, a few might adhere to me. Hope springs eternal.
Maxims of George Washington
(These were often credited to George Washington as having created them. Editor’s note.)
1. Speak not when others speak.
2. Jog not the table or desk upon which another reads or writes.
3. Turn not your back to others, especially when speaking.
4. Come not near the books or writings of anyone so as to read them unasked.
5. Read no letters, books or papers in company.
6. Mock not, nor jest anything of importance.
7. Let your conversation be without malice or envy.
8. Whisper not in the company of others.
9. Be not apt to related news if you no not the truth thereof.
10. When another speaks, be attentive yourself and disturb not the audience.
11. Speak no evil of the absent, for it is unjust.
12. Every action in company ought to be some sign of respect to those present.
13. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy.
14. When a man does all he can, though it succeed not well, blame not him who did it.
15. Whenever you reprove another, be not blamable yourself, for example is more prevalent than precept.
16. Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of anyone.
17. Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
18. When your superiors talk to anybody, hear them, neither talk nor laugh.
19. Speak not in an unknown tongue in company, but in your own language.
20. Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.
21. Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise.

©Copyright 2010


  1. I've never seen these listed! For almost every one of them I can think of things we say today - it's rude to whisper, don't talk over others, don't read over others' shoulders - just plain old courtesy.

  2. These are FABULOUS.. THIS, this 'looking in' to the past is just ... fabulous!
    Thank you.

  3. Wonderful lessons for everyone in this list! I think that I will write one on my daughters chalkboard everyday! Love Di ♥