father died when George was only eleven years old,
leaving him, with his brothers and sisters, to the care of a most excellent and
sensible mother. It was that mother's influence, more than anything else,
which made George the man he became.
George went to a little country school, where he learned to read, write, and
cipher. By the time he was twelve, he could write a clear, bold hand. Here is
Washington's signature at the age of twelve:
In one of his writing-books he copied many good rules and sayings. Here are
some of these sayings:
Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called
Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your
Be not forward, but friendly and courteous.
Be not curious to know the affairs of others, neither approach to those
that speak in private.
Be not tedious in disclosure.
Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.
Let your recreations be manful, not sinful.
When a man does all that he can, though it succeeds not well, blame him
Mock not, nor jest at anything of importance; break no jests that are
sharp-biting, and, if you deliver anything witty and pleasant, abstain from
laughing thereat yourself.
Use no reproachable language against any one, neither curse nor revile.
Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own
Be not immodest in urging your friend to discover a secret.
Speak not of doleful things in time of mirth, nor at the table.
Break not a jest where none takes pleasure in mirth.
Laugh not aloud, nor at all without occasion.
When you speak of God or His attributes, let it be seriously, in reverence.