«back | home
Francis Hawkins was born in London in 1628. His father, John Hawkins, M.D. (Padua), was a brother of Sir Thomas Hawkins and of Henry Hawkins, all members of an old, active and influential family. Dr. John Hawkins had pub fished five books before his precocious son Francis, at the age of eight years, turned into English the French version of the Maxims. The pleased father took the manuscript to the printer, William Lee, who published it about 1640. The troubled state of the country kept the book from being reprinted until 1646, when a second edition appeared. Then followed in quick succession nine other editions before 1672.
A second part, entitled "Youth's behaviour, or Decency in Conversation amongst Women": with a portrait of Lady Ferrers, was added by the Puritan bookmaker, Robert Codrington, in 1664. This shows that Puritans as well as Cavaliers, Protestants as well as Romanists, regarded Hawkins's Maxims as stepping-stones to favor. Indeed, so thoroughly was Hawkins's English version accepted that Hawkins is regarded as the author of the book, and mention of the French authorship does not go beyond the expression on the title-page: "composed in French by grave persons for the use and benefit of their youth."
Meanwhile Hawkins, at the age of twenty-one, entered the Society of Jesus. In 1662 he was professed of four vows; ten years later he was confessor at Ghent, and from 1675 till his death in 1680-81 he was professor of Holy Scripture at Liege College. [Dictionary of National Biography.]
The open questions are: who condensed, and arranged as exercises in writing, the Hawkins Maxims; and, second, who taught George Washington penmanship by the use of them ?
In any event, and whoever the teacher, it was the Hawkins English version and not the French version that was the source of the rules Washington copied. Is it not probable that the Hawkins book was one of those compilations that "no gentleman's library could be without," notwithstanding the fact that no such title appears in the catalogue of the library of William Byrd of Westover, reputed to have been the finest in the Colonies? Is it not possible that either Washington's father or one of his half-brothers, all three of whom were educated in England, brought back a copy of one of the Hawkins editions?
One copy of the edition of 1663 has survived in the Library of Congress. The New York, Harvard, and Richmond Libraries report no copies. But the British Museum has the editions of 1646, 1651, 1663, and 1672; and also a Latin translation of the same work, London, MDCLII. The Bodleian Library, Oxford, has the seventh impression, 1661; eighth impression, I 663; ninth impression, I 668; and eleventh impression, 1672. Trinity College Library, Cambridge, England, has at least two editions-1663 and 1672. Dr. James H. Penniman of Philadelphia owns a copy of the edition of 1651,--the only copy of any edition I have found in this country, except the one in the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress copy has been used as the basis of the comparisons herein made between the Washington and Hawkins texts. With its aid the Washington Rules have been restored, in cases of mutilation, with an accuracy more complete than the conjectural restorations of Dr. Toner [Author's note: Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation. Copied from the original . . . and edited with notes, by J. M. Toner, M.D. Washington, D.C., 1888.] and of Mr. Conway. Of the one hundred and ten Rules in the Washington manuscript, not all are in the French version. Among them are a number that were added by English writers in the later editions of the Hawkins book. All the Rules are in the 1663 edition.
The hiatus of three quarters of a century between the latest known edition of Hawkins and the date which Washington himself placed upon his manuscript of the Rules is still unclosed. The Rules are not found in The Young Man's Companion, by W. Mather, a copy of which school-book, with the name of George Washington and the date 1742 plainly written on the title-page, has been on the market. It is not established that the writing is his or that he owned the book, although it is contemporary with him. Nor have the Rules yet been discovered in any other like publication from 1672 till this day.
Professor E. K. Rand, of Harvard University, has called my attention to Dr. F. J. Furnivall's collections of texts on Early English Meals and Manners and Queene Elizabethes Academy; and to the modernization of these texts by Edith Rickert, under the title of The Babees' Book: Medieval Manners for the Young (1908). Many rules naturally are similar to those to be found in both the French and the English versions, but identity is lacking. Moreover, although mention is made of compilations so late as Richard Weste's School of Virtue, printed in 1619, no mention is made of Perin's work, or of Hawkins'.
Here, then, is the conclusion of the whole matter as it now stands: The Rules of Civility were composed originally, or compiled, and published in France, by the Jesuits, about 1595; they were translated into English by Francis Hawkins about 1640, and passed through no fewer than eleven editions down to 1672. From the Hawkins book the one hundred and ten Rules written by Washington were selected, simplified and arranged by some person at present unknown. One copy came into the hands of George Washington, who from it wrote out the manuscript that is among the Washington Papers purchased: from the family by Congress in 1834 and 1849, and held in the Department of State until 1903, when they were transferred to the Library of Congress.
I am indebted to Mr. R. F. Sharp, Keeper of the Department of Printed Books in the British Museum; to Mr. S. Gibson, Secretary of the Bodleian Library, Oxford; and to Mr. H. M. Adams, Librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge, England, for painstaking investigation in their several institutions, and for their prompt and courteous replies to inquiries.
Miss Emily B. Mitchell, long connected with the Division of Manuscripts in the Library of Congress, has prepared the manuscript of this work, and has aided in the research involved. Mr. Levin C. Handy has photographed the Washington Rules in such manner as to bring out the very best that in them is.
Washington, D.C. May, 1926.
From George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation. Edited with an Introduction by Charles Moore (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926), xi-xv.
The Library of Congress owns the original manuscript for the Rules of Civility, along with most of the other of Washington's school exercises. The introduction that follows, Charles Moore's "Origin of the Rules of Civility," is taken from Moore's George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation, published in 1926 with an introduction and photographic facsimiles of the manuscript pages by the Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston and New York. The Papers of George Washington has set aside Washington's school exercises for separate publication because with appropriate annotation they will fill a volume in themselves (see the editorial note to Washington's School Exercises, 1744-1748, in The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, W. W. Abbot et al, eds., [University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1983], vol. 1, pp. 1-4). For a copy of Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation, published by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association in 1989, call the Mount Vernon Museum Shop at (703) 799-8614.