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.
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.