Fertility and saints

December 9 is the commemoration of the conception the Virgin Mary by Anna and the prophet Samuel by Hanna.

Saint Anna was the youngest daughter of the priest Nathan from Bethlehem, the wife of Saint Joachim of Galilee, and the mother of the Virgin Mary. Typical iconography shows Anna and Joachim embracing, sometimes with the city of Jerusalem in the background.

A different Anna, or more commonly Hannah, was the mother of Samuel, the prophet who anointed King David. “Hannah’s Prayer” is in 1 Samuel: 2.

This page from Walters manuscript W.106 depicts two scenes from the story of Hannah. Top: Hannah, the barren wife of Elkanah, went to the temple, where the Ark of the Covenant was, and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. She vowed that if God gave her a son, then she would give him to God. Eli the priest saw her praying and thought that she was drunk. Bottom: In due time, Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called him Samuel. Samuel was to crown David, King of Israel.

While these conception stories recall the personal struggles of biblical matriarchs – and the conception of John the Baptist is sometimes observed on this day as well – they are also representative of a hidden turning point in history, often brought about by ordinary people.

“Hannah’s prayer”, in 1 Samuel 2: 1-10, recognizes that “it was a sign that the Lord was about to turn Israel upside-down, throwing down the oppressive rich and mighty and raising up the weak and the poor. She praises the Lord that he is about to tear down the corrupt house of Israel and re-establish it again upon righteous foundations.”

It is not just their days that are interconnected, their prayers/songs are also interconnected. Hannah’s prayer…

“the Lord kills and brings to life;

he brings down to Sheol and raises up”

…also foreshadows the message of Mary’s Magnificat in Luke (Luke 1:46-55) to cast down the mighty, lift the lowly, fill the hungry, send the rich away.

He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat,

and hath exalted the humble and meek.

He hath filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he hath sent empty away.

For some interesting exegesis, see this lesson in Old Testament studies, for instance the Hebrew word for “Lord” used in the prayer is YHWH, or Jehovah, the formal name of God, rather than a title like Elohim. There are also interesting explanations for horn, rock, etc. and discussion of some of the merisms, a common biblical literary device that defines something by describing its boundaries, i e who will be lowly and who will be set high.

Kristyna Valouskova, soprano, “Hannah’s Song of Praise” recorded at Maisel Synagogue, Prague, 1995:


More “rules of civility” translations

Still backtracking the sources for George Washington’s rules of civility, “George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation”, or in French, Bienseance de la Conversation entre les Hommes, composed by French Jesuits in 1595 at the College of La Flèche.

Czech / Bohemian

The “Bohemian” title, “Sslechetnost, neb Mrawnost w společném s Lidmi Obcowánj“, is starting to yield interesting results.

Here is another three-language version, with the rather long (3-language) title of “Commvnis Vitae Inter Homines-Scita Vrbanitas Sslechetnost, neb Mrawnost w společném s Lidmi Obcowánj = Wolstand Täglicher Gemainschafft mit dem Menschen” (1645) , which the catalog describes in English as being written in “Czech, German, and Latin”.  The digitized version is available online here.
Here are some database pages for the document, the record at the National Library of Czech Republic Prague, and the full record, with links to digitized records.  There is a little bit cleaner copy of the book here, without the crossouts on the front cover, which also has a viewer so you can download PDF, zoom in, etc.


The Spanish version, “Normas de civismo y urbanidad en compañía y en conversación de George Washington,” is on this blog with a good native-level translation: “Normas de urbanidad de George Washington” (1745). This blog identifies another translation, “LAS NORMAS DE URBANIDAD DE GEORGE WASHINGTON (1745 – CIMIENTOS DE UNA SÓLIDA EDUCACIÓN DEL CARÁCTER DE UN JOVEN DEL SIGLO DIECIOCHO)“, now a broken link, but through the miracle of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, can still be accessed.  http://angeline.com.ar/urbanidad.html [Archived.] (this has an unfortunate color scheme and you will have to highlight the text to read it).

Still no “Jesuitas” or “sociedad de Jesus“.  Much less a translation from the French “Conducta de la conversación entre hombres“.

There is a “Mannual de urbanidad y buenas costumbres” or Manual of urbanity and good habits, by Manuel Carreño, that is said to have some of these same rules.

The full title is “Manual de urbanidad y buenas maneras para uso de la juventud de ambos sexos en el cual se encuentran las principales reglas de civilidad y etiqueta que deben observarse en las diversas situaciones sociales, precedido de un breve tratado sobre los deberes morales del hombre”.

It is a classic Latin American text by the Venezuelan Manuel Antonio Carreño from 1853. Amazon has in in paperback for around $16 USD. Free ebook here, from 1899, and there are quite a few more scans of this one on Gbooks.

In Spain the classic text was Galateo Español, destierro de ignorancias, maternario de avisos by Lucas Gracián Dantisco , (Madrid, 1582). It was composed as an adaptation of Giovanni della Casa’s work in Italian and was very popular – by the end of the 18th century it had gone through 26 editions and was read by Cervantes and Lope de Vega.

French /Latin

The British Museum copy has turned up. The full title is “Les Maximes de la Gentillesse et de l’Honnesteté en la Conversation entre les Hommes. Communis Vitæ inter homines scita urbanitas. Par un Père de la Compagnie de Jesus.”  This edition was printed in Paris in 1663 “for the College of Clermont, issued by Pierre de Bresche ‘auec privilege du Roy.’” This was the copy examined by Moncure D. Conway for his book on the George Washington manuscripts. Bonus Latin quotation from Horace: “Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci.” (Every point is covered by blending the useful with the sweet.)

Whether this is an improvement over the earlier French or just a nicer quality printing, I can’t tell.  For anyone who wants to make a comparison, here is the earlier translation.

So direct links:”Bienseance de la conversation entre les hommes“, Lyon, 1618, and “Les Maximes de la gentillesse et de l’honnesteté en la conuersation ...”, British Museum, 1662.

Addendum: An intermediate edition, with French and Latin on facing pages. “Bienséance de la conversation entre les hommes. Communis vitae inter homines scita urbanitas. Reueu et corrigé auec augmentation” Chez Jean Grégoire, A Lyon, à la grand’ ruë de l’Hospital à S.Roch. 1660.
version 1660 spliced version 1660 signature page version 1660 chapter 1 french and latin


The 1595 Bienseance de la Conversation entre les Hommes, written at the Jesuit College of La Flèche in France, was said to have been copied from an Italian original, now lost.

But Italy had an earlier, and very famous text on civility. Giovanni della Casa was a wealthy Florentine who had a successful literary career, as well as a prestigious career in the Church. After introducing the inquisition to Venice, having Baldo Lupetino, the first Lutheran martyr arrested, and wiping out the Lutheran community in Venice, he retired to the Abbey of Nervesa near Treviso, to write his most famous work, Galateo, “a series of rules and restrictions that consent one to live a life of simple dignity and harmony. ” Wikipedia tells us this “was translated into French (1562), English (1576), Latin (1580), Spanish (1585), and German (1587),” and was an influence on George Washington’s manuscript of 110 rules. “Galateo” became a synonym  for etiquette manuals. Here is the text of a 1914 edition on Internet Archive.

AI and porn, what could possibly go wrong

Kevin the crochet candle, flagged as adult content

has a very thoughtful Twitter thread on AI and social evaluations.

For a long time, people have been hopeful about AI and Wikipedia, that some kind of bot could be developed to detect harassment and either delete it as soon as it is posted or prevent it from posting in the first place, for instance by using a filter and an “are you sure” kind of reminder, … say someone posts the word “dick”, you could have a sub-routine that says “are you talking about someone named Richard?” to remind them of where they are, and give them a chance to rephrase, or suggest changing it to “jerk”, or just hold in in a moderator queue until it can be evaluated by a live person.

But AI has turned out not to be a panecea. evaluates it in the context of background checks of social media for babysitters, but it doesn’t  take much imagination to see how it might apply to Wikipedia..

When it comes to AI, there are a few problems here. The first is that people often believe AI to be unbiased – it’s a “neutral” system, not subject to human emotions or prejudices or biases. But that isn’t true.

AI is only as good as its programming and training. Programming and training conducted by humans. With biases. You can absolutely draw from a diverse group when creating an AI and be extremely intentional about avoiding bias, but some may still seep in.

Many assume that the AI will be “neutral” so they don’t question its assumptions and results as they might a person. AI is also notorious for being unable to read context (see the current Tumblr fiasco). In some areas, AI is actually MORE likely to make mistakes than people.

Having humans review these AI-generated social evaluations is a good step, but it still means that results have been pre-judged by the time a human sees them. The pool of information has already been collected, limited, and evaluated by the AI.

AI can be hugely useful in some contexts. But using a non-human system to evaluate human behavior, attitudes, and motivations is going to result in mistakes – sometimes major ones. Using it for something as important as work and reputation. Oof. Bad move.
(Incidentally, the scenario that a parent or parent’s family member may be a creep who would misuse the sensitive information of caretakers, frequently young women, to stalk or harass seems not to have crossed the service’s mind or been deemed too unimportant to matter.)
Starting this relationship with secrecy, lack of consent, and an assumption that you need an AI service to tell you whether to trust a person implies that you are starting from a negative. It’s not that there hasn’t been time to build trust, it’s that you ASSUME they will lie.

It’s believing a non-human system using questionable and out-of-context and un-consented-to information will be more helpful than talking to the person in front of you. And it’s respecting that person so little that you don’t believe their privacy or consent matters.

Cartoon insect flagged as adult content

The “current Tumblr fiasco” bit was intriguing, it turns out to be about porn. Tumblr has started using AI to detect pornography.  The result: “Tumblr is flagging non-adult content as adult content, and vice versa.”

Which reminds me of my own experience on Facebook.

I tried to sign up on Facebook, and being a bit cautious about posting my photo, for an avatar I used a very expressive picture of a monkey from Commons.  Soon I was receiving multiple invitations to friend people–all black and all suggesting “is this someone you know”.  I can imagine Facebook was showing my monkey avatar to them with the same message.

Obviously Facebook has some kind of AI that evaluates your avatar by race and uses it for their own promotional purposes.  And it can’t distinguish between a monkey and a black person.

But here is where it gets even weirder.  One of the friend suggestions was for Nékh Boune Diope, whose avatar seems to be lying face down with a somewhat photoshopped pair of naked buttocks showing.

Before I was blocked for about the third time (and having changed my avatar to something less simian) I had the chance to flag this account as objectionable.  It is still there, and my account has been taken down.

Oh gross, he’s got a different photo now, not much better than the old one.
Below the fold, …
Continue reading “AI and porn, what could possibly go wrong”

George Washington in Spanish

martha and george on silver certificate
Martha and George on a silver certificate

Well well well, here is a list of George Washington’s rules translated into Spanish.  Unfortunately the ones from the 17th century haven’t turned up–yet, but you never know.  Sometimes if you jog the algorithms enough, things start to appear.

The way I found this was to put “George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation” into google translate then google the result: “Reglas de civismo y comportamiento decente de George Washington en compañía y conversación”.

There’s a partial view of a different translation here, and a nicely formatted one here. But still no 17th century documents from, say, Pont-à-Mousson or some version of the Latin translation of Jesuit priest Leonard Perin of “Bienseance de la Conversation entre les Hommes”

Las 110 Reglas de urbanidad y comportamiento decente en compania y conversacion tienen su origen en los jesuitas franeses. Debieron de ser redactadas en torno a 1595. Consisten en una recopilacion de maximas sobre los modales que se ensenaban in el Colegio Frances de Jesuitas La Fleche. Estas reglas fueron traducidas al ingles por un nino llamado Francis Hawkins a la temprana edad de los ocho anos, en las cuidad de Londres en 1640. El joven Hawkins encontrol la publicacion farncesa e hizo la traduccion del documento, que seria publicado por su orgulloso padre.

These are from a citizenship class.

So, in good Spanish, (we hope) it’s called “Las reglas de urbanidad y comportamiento decente.”

On second thought, it looks pretty iffy, putting it below the fold.

Continue reading “George Washington in Spanish”

S slechetnost neb mrawnost w společnem s lidmi obcowánj

Jesuit College of La Flèche, 1695

This week, in the midst of the state funeral for George Bush Sr., a tweet went viral: Bette Midler instructing Donald Trump to “…READ ‘S “RULES OF CIVILITY” YOU IGNORAMUS!!!”

A scramble ensued to locate this venerable document, which it now appears the young George Washington copied out at the age of 13 as a school exercise, based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595:“Bienseance de la Conversation entre les Hommes”.

The document has been translated from the original French into Latin, German, Spanish, “Bohemian”, and finally English, but it is the provenance of the Bohemian version we are chasing here.

The evidence, mostly based on Perin’s Latin translation, shows that these translations were used only in the Jesuit monasteries, and were not circulated publicly.  So first, where were these manuscripts used….

Major editions of this include:

Bienseance de la Conversation entre les Hommes, College of La Flèche in the in the Loire Valley 1595.

La Flèche and the Jesuit college:

The Latin translation of Jesuit priest Leonard Perin was published several times.  This translation contained 90 of Washington’s 110 rules.

Perin was born in the Waloon district of France, which had once been part of Belgium, and he had been a professor of humanities in Paris.  His Latin translation was ordered by Nicolas François, Bishop of Toul, and dedicated to him.

This patron would appear to be Nicholas Francis, Duke of Lorraine, whose Wikipedia article is totally – totally – unsourced.  Fun fact: in 1626 he was made cardinal in pectore (secretly). (remember Jimmy Wales’ 2015 in pectore nomination for Wikipedian of the Year?), the appointment proclaimed publicly in 1627, and in 1634 when he wanted to resign as cardinal to marry his cousin Claude of Lorraine, “the pope declared him in nullo e sacris ordinis constitutum, depriving him of the title of cardinal and the diocese of Toul.”  So Jimmy, that’s how it is done, just in case you haven’t read the article yet.

Toul and the cathedral:

The Latin translation was first published by Car.(?) Marchand (probably Charles Marchant Imprimeur de son Altesse) at Pont-à-Mousson in northeastern France in 1615.

Pont-à-Mousson Jesuit monastery:

It was printed in Rouen in 1631…

The Saint-Louis church in Rouen (l), third largest Jesuit church in France, established 1614 and Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen (r), the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Rouen:

…and in Paris in 1638.

The Professed House in Paris, largest Jesuit establishment in France, founded in 1580:

It was translated into Spanish, German, and Bohemian.

The Spanish version has yet to turn up.

The best possibility for the Spanish translation so far is a Jesuit named Wapy:

“jesuita nacio en Verdun el ano 1586, hizo profesion delo los cuatro votos el 24 de Agostoa de 1622, en Pont-a Mouson”…born in 1586, was received into the Jesuits in 1602,  took vows in 1622, and died November 6, 1638 at the house in Pont-a Mouson.  He taught humanities for 4 years, philosophy for 3 years, also new moral theology.  He was prefect twice “dos veces prefecto de los pensionistas de Pont-a Mouson” and “escribio muchas obras que publico sin su nombre” wrote many works that were published without his name.  The works he is recognized for include “Regocijos de Pont-a Mouson para las canonizaciones de S. Ignacio de Loyola y S. Franciso Javier“, Pont-a Mouson 1623 en 4⁰ , “obra que tradujo al latin el P. Leonardo Perin”, a work that P. Leonardo Perin translated to Latin.

And now a first name for Wapy… Louis Wapy (1586-1638) or Louis Wappy.  Data base at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

A version in three languages, Latin, German, and Bohemian, was published with the languages in parallel columns, something typically done in bilingual Bibles or in church services when there is not enough of a congregation to sustain the expense of separate services.

So now we have finally arrived at the Bohemian.

From screenshot of the text, Joannes Nitzman was the name of the publisher, the three-language version was published in Prague in June 1629. (Publisher note in Latin: “Pragæ Cal. Iunij M. DC.XXIX.”)

The German title is “Wolstand taglicher Gemainschafft mit dem Menschen”.  The Bohemain title “Sslechetnost neb Mrawnost w společnem s Lidmi Obcowánj.  There is a copy in the Czech national library. Another listed author is Léva of Brozánek, Zikmund, active 1619-1645; Czech Catholic Bookbinder and Administrator of the Prague Jesuit Academic Press; publisher Jesuit Printers (Prague, Czech Republic), W Old Town of Prague: w Ympressý Akademické 1645.

The Jesuits were absolutely huge in Prague, even though it was mostly a Protestant city. According to this tourist guide, “The Church of St. Ignatius with the original New Town Jesuit College is ranked among one of the early Baroque buildings of Prague and is considered the third greatest Jesuit complex in Europe.” Not sure of the first two, but I am duly impressed. Built between 1655 and 1677 though, so a little out of our time frame.  The Jesuits arrived in Prague in 1556 though, during the counter-reformation,  at the invitation of Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand I; the former Jesuit college is now the Clementinum.and houses the national library.

Another note about Prague.  This city was smack dab in the middle of the Thirty Years War, that started as a crackdown on Protestants by Ferdinand II of the Holy Roman Empire, and ended in the permanent weakening of the Roman Catholic church in Europe. Prague was the scene of a famous historical event, the Defenestration, where local militias attacked government buildings and threw the emperor’s governor out the window.  Definitely a city in need of Civility.  Even though the city was largely Protestant, the Jesuits had been influential in the city before.  France ultimately found itself squeezed between powerful neighbors, and even though France was largely Roman Catholic, France eventually came in on the side of the Protestants.  At the time that the Jesuits were publishing their multi-lingual Civility code in Prague, the Bohemians were losing the war, and the armies of the Holy Roman Empire were winning easily, but the tide would turn after Sweden entered the war, and the Holy Roman Empire would never recover.

Prague: Church of St. Ignacius (l) and Jesuit College (Clemntimun) (r)

Worldcat claims an even older translation, from the Italian, now lost, that was used to write the original:

Text in French and Latin on facing pages.
Written in French (from a lost Italian original) by the students at the Jesuit college at La Flèche and sent to the college at Pont-à-Mousson, where it was translated into Latin by Léonard Périn with an addition text entitled “Addition touchant les services & honneurs de table = Appendix convivalis”.
Sommervogel cites the printer’s privilege, which also names Melchior Bernard, printer to the University.

This is the version with the added table manners, published by “Au Pont-à-Mousson : par Charles Marchant Imprimeur de son Altesse, 1617.” Alternate titles: “Communis vitae inter homines scita urbanitas” and “Vita communis“.

What a delight, here it is in German, from 1672, with high quality downloadable scan, thanks to Wolfenbüttel : Herzog August Bibliothek.  The languages cited are Latin, French, German, translated from the French. http://diglib.hab.de/drucke/xb-7371/start.htm  The citation is here.

Another in Latin, date unknown, year M.D.C.XIIX (1618), from dedication page, “Communis Vitae Inter Homines Scita Urbanitas or “Communis Vitae Inter Homines scita urbanitas, A Convictoribus collecti Mussipontani Societ. Jesu transmissa ad convictores Collegii Flexiensis eiusdem Societatis” inside stamp from Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München. https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=2cRWAAAAcAAJ&hl=en_GB&pg=GBS.PP1

The document in the British Library is titled “Les Maximes de la Gentillesse et de l’Honnesteté en la Conversation entre les Hommes. Communis Vitæ inter homines scita urbanitas. Par un Père de la Compagnie de Jesus.”  This edition was printed in Paris “for the College of Clermont, issued by Pierre de Bresche ‘auec privilege du Roy.'” This 1663 translation praised the Latin and offered a new translation of the French to match the quality of the Latin. The school (College of Clermont) is the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris, founded by Jesuits in 1563.

Other catalog listings:
A catalog here lists it as “Paris 1663; in-24, cartonné” (Catalogue des livres anciens et modernes composant la bibliothèque de feu M. Paulin Paris: vente, Paris, 30 rue des Bons-Enfants, 7-24 novembre 1881, commis. pris. Delestre] L. Techener, 1881 – 478 pages)

Bienseance de la conversation entre les hommes; Orleans, Ol. Beynard, 1618, in-24. Listing in Dictionnaire de bibliographie catholique, J.P. Migne, 1838.

So back to the “Bohemian”. Here are some screenshots, can’t seem to download any entire pages.  What on earth is this language?  I can barely read the Latin.

Now here is something you don’t see every day. Here is another version of the Latin – German – Bohemian book and this one is consecutive rather than in three columns. And it is for sale. For the mere price of 49 000 CZK or about $2000 USD, you too can own an irreplaceable and unique tri-lingual 17th century Civility book printed during the Thirty Years War (1645).

Why don’t we save this in the Wayback Machine? https://web.archive.org/web/20181208014804/http://www.alatera.cz/index.php/veskere-pisemnosti/bible/731/slechetnost-neb-mravnost-v-spolecnem-s-lidmi-obcovani-1645-detail

Here are the images, much easier to read than the other edition. (below the fold, with the little silver hands and even a foot)
lechetnost neb Mrawnost 1645 33

And now we finally have a translation about what language this is, from a contemporary book seller on a Czech language website.

Jedná se o velmi vzácnou knihu z dob třicetileté války, která je psána 3 jazyky: česky, latinsky a německy.

“It is a very rare book from the time of the Thirty Years War, which is written in 3 languages: “česky“, Latin and German.”

So what is česky? If you run it through google translate it will say “Czech”. But if you run “Czech” through google translate in the opposite direction you get “Bohemian”. And google translate says Czech is čeština.

Now I’m even more confused.

According to this message board, “The word Bohemia (or the adjective Bohemian) has nothing to do with gypsies. It is the same mistake like in the case of the very word „Gypsy“, which is derived from „Egypcyan, Egyptian“, i.e. the country from where the Gypsies allegedly came to Europe. For the French the Gypsies came from the East, from the vaguely known country called Bohemia – in fact there were only few Gypsies in Bohemia then – hence the term Bohemia or Bohême for Gypsies, the nomadic population originated in India (correctly called „Roma“, „Romany“ or so, which has nothing to do neither with Roma or Roman Empire, nor Roumenia).”

Here are the other pages from the Czech book seller.  They are a little easier to read, if anyone wants to look for examples of the Romani language and do a comparison.

The rest are below the fold; since the book is being sold, I have saved them all (love the toes on the bottom photo):
Continue reading “S slechetnost neb mrawnost w společnem s lidmi obcowánj”

Bohemian and Bohémien

George Washington rules in his own handwriting
George Washington’s rules in his own handwriting

So what is the “Bohemian language” referred to in George Washington’s Rules of Civility?

George Washington’s book was the cornerstone for decorum in the new democracy.  His cohorts were only familiar with court etiquette, but the newly formed country of America was based on opposition to royalty and would have to be more egalitarian. So the source Washington turned to was one known to the Jesuits, Bienseance de la Conversation entre les Hommes written in French at the College of La Fleche in 1595.

Scholars seem to be of the opinion that Washington himself did not have access to this personally and it was brought to his attention by a member of the clergy that he knew, also, based on the type of errors in the text, that it may have been written down based on something that was given to him orally.  Even though it originated with the Jesuits, or Society of Jesus, it was quickly embraced by a cross-section of religious leaders.

But before its spread to the New World, Bienseance de la Conversation entre les Hommes was translated into several languages, including English, Latin, German, and the mysterious “Bohemian”.  This is probably either an old term for Czech, a west Slavic language closely related to Polish, or possibly the language of the Romani, an Indic language originating in the Indian subcontinent with a huge number of word borrowed from other languages,  which became extinct during WWII.  But Wikipedia tells us the migration of gypsies/romanis probably first arrived “in Bohemia in the 16th and 17th centuries, from Slovakia via Moravia”.  There were other migrations as well.  For France, Wikipedia lists “Roms”, from eastern Europe, “Manouches”, or “Sinté” with ties to Germany and Italy, and “Gitans”, with ties to Spain.  Think Federico Garcia Lorca’s 1928 ‘Romancero Gitano’ (Gypsy Ballads).  But what language did they speak in France, and what connection would they have with the Jesuits?  I seem to remember they are nominally Roman Catholic, at least in some countries, but are notoriously difficult to proselytize.

The name of the “Bohemian” translator, Joannes Nitzman, has now popped up in a google search, as well as the text of the Latin, German, and Bohemian translations, all together in one document, so I will post them here in hopes of jogging the algorithms into coughing up new information.

Lidzbark County map
Lidzbark County, Poland

The name of Joannes Nitzman pops up in a book,  Nazwiska mieszkańców Komornictwa Lidzbarskiego (1500-1772 r.) or “Surnames of the residents of Lidzbark County (1500-1772)” by Alina Naruszewicz-Duchlińska.  Lidzbark County is in Poland, and while it is extremely unlikely this is the same Joannes Nitzman we are looking for, it does give us a clue about the possible ethnicity and geo-location of the translator and the target audience for the text.

So here are the known translations:

  • Bienseance de la Conversation entre les Hommes, the original, written by the students of the Jesuit College of La Flèche. 1595
  • Communis vitæ inter homines scita vrbanitas, translated into Latin at Pont-a-Mousson monastery in northeastern France in 1617, Latin version with an added chapter on table manners published in Paris by Léonard Perin in 1638.
  • Wolstand täglicher Gemainschafft mit dem Menschen, the German version.
  • S slechetnost neb mravnost v společně s lidmi obcowánj, w cžeský jazyk vwedená, the Bohemian version by Joannes Nitzman
  • Text – original from the British Library, digitized Oct 23, 2018 – (free e-book or PDF) : “Communis vitæ inter homines scita vrbanitas. Wolstand täglicher Gemainschafft mit dem Menschen. S slechetnost neb mrawnost w společnem s lidmi obcowánj, w cžeský jazyk vwedená, etc. [Translated from “Bienséance de la conversation entre les hommes,” written by the students of the Jesuit College of La Flèche. The Latin version by Léonard Perin; the Bohemian by Joannes Nitzman,] Lat., Ger.&Bohem” published by v Pawla Sesse, 1629
  • Youths Behavior, or Decency in Conversation Amongst Men translated by Francis Hawkins, with multiple editions and reprints, first published by William Lee in 1640.
  • George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, c. 1776. Reprinted alongside the French with commentary by Moncure D. Conway, 1890.

Thanks to the internet archive, a copy of the rules in George Washington’s own handwriting has turned up, written apparently written at his home at Ferry Farm in 1744 as a school exercise sometime before the age of 16. The original (broken) link is http://gwpapers.virginia.edu:80/documents/civility/civ01.html found via this blog post about the French in Washington.  Archived.

(If you want to make a contribution somewhere before the end of the year, and for various reasons you feel you have already contributed enough to Wikipedia, why not pop over to Internet Archive and check out their fundraising drive.)

According to the blog, there is also a copy of the 17th century version in the Library of Congress.  All I can find is a copy of a reprint of the Washington version, edited by J.M. Toner and published by W.H. Morrison in 1888. [PDF]


George Washington’s Rules of Civility

Bette Midler has tweeted to Donald Trump, yes in all CAPS just like this:


It’s an old tweet, from November, just now going viral.

Something tells me I’m going to regret looking for it.

Wikipedia is no help of course.

Teh internets tell us there is a “George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation” and you can get a used copy for around $4-6.

We also find it was based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595.  In French of course.  Bienseance de la Conversation entre les Hommes, written at the College of La Fleche, now the Prytanée National Militaire.  Free ebook here.

In 1617 it was translated into Latin at a monastery in northeastern France, Pont-a-Mousson. The Latin edition appeared in Paris in 1638, with an added chapter on table manners, translated by Father Perin. This edition was translated into German, Spanish, and Bohemian.  (Bohemian??!?)

The first English edition of these rules was Youths Behavior, or Decency in Conversation Amongst Men, written, in theory at least, by eight year old Francis Hawkins, and published by William Lee in 1640. Hawkins was the nephew of Henry Hawkins, also a Jesuit, and the author of ‘Partheneia sacra’ (1632).  Free Gutenburg copy here, Internet Archive here, of GEORGE WASHINGTON’S RULES OF CIVILITY Traced to their Sources and Restored BY MONCURE D. CONWAY, 1890, with notes, and side by side with the French.

According to Wikisource, there is also a sequel, ‘Youth’s Behaviour; or Decency in Conversation amongst Women,’ London, 1664, with a portrait of Lady Ferrers, whoever that is, possibly Francis’ maternal grandmother, added by puritan bookmaker Robert Codrington.

There’s a snippet view, with a few of the rules, published along with enough other things to make a new copyright claim.



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With each publication, the rules were expanded and culled, until by Washington’s time there were 110 rules. The novelty of the rules is that there were not separate rules for aristocrat and commoner, as in a court, but the rules applied to equals.

Washington’s full list is here, printed below the fold.
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