Letters to His Son, 1749
The Earl of Chesterfield

Part 2 out of 3

Stanhope. To tell you the truth, it can be no day in the morning; for I
neither go out, nor see anybody at home before twelve.

Englishman. And what the devil do you do with yourself till twelve

Stanhope. I am not by myself; I am with Mr. Harte.

Englishman. Then what the devil do you do with him?

Stanhope. We study different things; we read, we converse.

Englishman. Very pretty amusement indeed! Are you to take orders then?

Stanhope. Yes, my father's orders, I believe I must take.

Englishman. Why hast thou no more spirit, than to mind an old fellow a
thousand miles off?

Stanhope. If I don't mind his orders he won't mind my draughts.

Englishman. What, does the old prig threaten then? threatened folks live
long; never mind threats.

Stanhope. No, I can't say that he has ever threatened me in his life;
but I believe I had best not provoke him.

Englishman. Pooh! you would have one angry letter from the old fellow,
and there would be an end of it.

Stanhope. You mistake him mightily; he always does more than he says.
He has never been angry with me yet, that I remember, in his life; but if
I were to provoke him, I am sure he would never forgive me; he would be
coolly immovable, and I might beg and pray, and write my heart out to no

Englishman. Why, then, he is an old dog, that's all I can say; and pray
are you to obey your dry-nurse too, this same, and what's his name--Mr.

Stanhope. Yes.

Englishman. So he stuffs you all morning with Greek, and Latin, and
Logic, and all that. Egad I have a dry-nurse too, but I never looked
into a book with him in my life; I have not so much as seen the face of
him this week, and don't care a louse if I never see it again.

Stanhope. My dry-nurse never desires anything of me that is not
reasonable, and for my own good; and therefore I like to be with him.

Englishman. Very sententious and edifying, upon my word! at this rate
you will be reckoned a very good young man.

Stanhope. Why, that will do me no harm.

Englishman. Will you be with us to-morrow in the evening, then? We
shall be ten with you; and I have got some excellent good wine; and we'll
be very merry.

Stanhope. I am very much obliged to you, but I am engaged for all the
evening, to-morrow; first at Cardinal Albani's; and then to sup at the
Venetian Ambassadress's.

Englishman. How the devil can you like being always with these
foreigners? I never go among them with all their formalities and
ceremonies. I am never easy in company with them, and I don't know why,
but I am ashamed.

Stanhope. I am neither ashamed nor afraid; I am very, easy with them;
they are very easy with me; I get the language, and I see their
characters, by conversing with them; and that is what we are sent abroad
for, is it not?

Englishman. I hate your modest women's company; your women of fashion as
they call 'em; I don't know what to say to them, for my part.

Stanhope. Have you ever conversed with them?

Englishman. No; I never conversed with them; but have been sometimes in
their company, though much against my will.

Stanhope. But at least they have done you no hurt; which is, probably,
more than you can say of the women you do converse with.

Englishman. That's true, I own; but for all that, I would rather keep
company with my surgeon half the year, than with your women of fashion
the year round.

Stanhope. Tastes are different, you know, and every man follows his own.

Englishman. That's true; but thine's a devilish odd one, Stanhope. All
morning with thy dry-nurse; all the evening in formal fine company; and
all day long afraid of Old Daddy in England. Thou art a queer fellow,
and I am afraid there is nothing to be made of thee.

Stanhope. I am afraid so too.

Englishman. Well, then, good night to you; you have no objection, I
hope, to my being drunk to-night, which I certainly will be.

Stanhope. Not in the least; nor to your being sick tomorrow, which you
as certainly will be; and so good night, too.

You will observe, that I have not put into your mouth those good
arguments which upon such an occasion would, I am sure, occur to you;
as piety and affection toward me; regard and friendship for Mr. Harte;
respect for your own moral character, and for all the relative duties of
man, son, pupil, and citizen. Such solid arguments would be thrown away
upon such shallow puppies. Leave them to their ignorance and to their
dirty, disgraceful vices. They will severely feel the effects of them,
when it will be too late. Without the comfortable refuge of learning,
and with all the sickness and pains of a ruined stomach, and a rotten
carcass, if they happen to arrive at old age, it is an uneasy and
ignominious one. The ridicule which such fellows endeavor to throw upon
those who are not like them, is, in the opinion of all men of sense, the
most authentic panegyric. Go on, then, my dear child, in the way you are
in, only for a year and a half more: that is all I ask of you. After
that, I promise that you shall be your own master, and that I will
pretend to no other title than that of your best and truest friend. You
shall receive advice, but no orders, from me; and in truth you will want
no other advice but such as youth and inexperience must necessarily
require. You shall certainly want nothing that is requisite, not only
for your conveniency, but also for your pleasures; which I always desire
shall be gratified. You will suppose that I mean the pleasures 'd'un
honnete homme'.

While you are learning Italian, which I hope you do with diligence, pray
take care to continue your German, which you may have frequent
opportunities of speaking. I would also have you keep up your knowledge
of the 'Jus Publicum Imperii', by looking over, now and then, those
INESTIMABLE MANUSCRIPTS which Sir Charles Williams, who arrived here last
week, assures me you have made upon that subject. It will be of very
great use to you, when you come to be concerned in foreign affairs; as
you shall be (if you qualify yourself for them) younger than ever any
other was: I mean before you are twenty. Sir Charles tells me, that he
will answer for your learning; and that, he believes, you will acquire
that address, and those graces, which are so necessary to give it its
full lustre and value. But he confesses, that he doubts more of the
latter than of the former. The justice which he does Mr. Harte, in his
panegyrics of him, makes me hope that there is likewise a great deal of
truth in his encomiums of you. Are you pleased with, and proud of the
reputation which you have already acquired? Surely you are, for I am
sure I am. Will you do anything to lessen or forfeit it? Surely you
will not. And will you not do all you can to extend and increase it?
Surely you will. It is only going on for a year and a half longer, as
you have gone on for the two years last past, and devoting half the day
only to application; and you will be sure to make the earliest figure and
fortune in the world, that ever man made. Adieu.


LONDON, September 22, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: If I had faith in philters and love potions, I should suspect
that you had given Sir Charles Williams some, by the manner in which he
speaks of you, not only to me, but to everybody else. I will not repeat
to you what he says of the extent and correctness of your knowledge, as
it might either make you vain, or persuade you that you had already
enough of what nobody can have too much. You will easily imagine how
many questions I asked, and how narrowly I sifted him upon your subject;
he answered me, and I dare say with truth, just as I could have wished;
till satisfied entirely with his accounts of your character and learning,
I inquired into other matters, intrinsically indeed of less consequence,
but still of great consequence to every man, and of more to you than to
almost any man: I mean, your address, manners, and air. To these
questions, the same truth which he had observed before, obliged him to
give me much less satisfactory answers. And as he thought himself, in
friendship both to you and me, obliged to tell me the disagreeable as
well as the agreeable truths, upon the same principle I think myself
obliged to repeat them to you.

He told me then, that in company you were frequently most PROVOKINGLY
inattentive, absent; and distrait; that you came into a room, and
presented yourself, very awkwardly; that at table you constantly threw
down knives, forks, napkins, bread, etc., and that you neglected your
person and dress, to a degree unpardonable at any age, and much more so
at yours.

These things, howsoever immaterial they may seem to people who do not
know the world, and the nature of mankind, give me, who know them to be
exceedingly material, very great concern. I have long distrusted you,
and therefore frequently admonished you, upon these articles; and I tell
you plainly, that I shall not be easy till I hear a very different
account of them. I know no one thing more offensive to a company than
that inattention and DISTRACTION. It is showing them the utmost
contempt; and people never forgive contempt. No man is distrait with the
man he fears, or the woman he loves; which is a proof that every man can
get the better of that DISTRACTION, when he thinks it worth his while to
do so; and, take my word for it, it is always worth his while. For my
own part, I would rather be in company with a dead man, than with an
absent one; for if the dead man gives me no pleasure; at least he shows
me no contempt; whereas, the absent man, silently indeed, but very
plainly, tells me that he does not think me worth his attention.
Besides, can an absent man make any observations upon the characters.
customs, and manners of the company? No. He may be in the best
companies all his lifetime (if they will admit him, which, if I were
they, I would not) and never be one jot the wiser. I never will converse
with an absent man; one may as well talk to a deaf one. It is, in truth,
a practical blunder, to address ourselves to a man who we see plainly
neither hears, minds, or understands us. Moreover, I aver that no man
is, in any degree, fit for either business or conversation, who cannot
and does not direct and command his attention to the present object, be
that what it will. You know, by experience, that I grudge no expense in
your education, but I will positively not keep you a Flapper. You may
read, in Dr. Swift, the description of these flappers, and the use they
were of to your friends the Laputans; whose minds (Gulliver says) are so
taken up with intense speculations, that they neither can speak nor
attend to the discourses of others, without being roused by some external
traction upon the organs of speech and hearing; for which reason, those
people who are able to afford it, always keep a flapper in their family,
as one of their domestics; nor ever walk about, or make visits without
him. This flapper is likewise employed diligently to attend his master
in his walks; and, upon occasion, to give a soft flap upon his eyes,
because he is always so wrapped up in cogitation, that he is in manifest
danger of falling down every precipice, and bouncing his head against
every post, and, in the streets, of jostling others, or being jostled
into the kennel himself. If CHRISTIAN will undertake this province into
the bargain, with all my heart; but I will not allow him any increase of
wages upon that score. In short, I give you fair warning, that, when we
meet, if you are absent in mind, I will soon be absent in body; for it
will be impossible for me to stay in the room; and if at table you throw
down your knife, plate, bread, etc., and hack the wing of a chicken for
half an hour, without being able to cut it off, and your sleeve all the
time in another dish, I must rise from the table to escape the fever you
would certainly give me. Good God! how I should be shocked, if you came
into my room, for the first time, with two left legs, presenting yourself
with all the graces and dignity of a tailor, and your clothes hanging
upon you, like those in Monmouth street, upon tenter-hooks! whereas, I
expect, nay, require, to see you present yourself with the easy and
genteel air of a man of fashion, who has kept good company. I expect you
not only well dressed but very well dressed; I expect a gracefulness in
all your motions, and something particularly engaging in your address,
All this I expect, and all this it is in your power, by care and
attention, to make me find; but to tell you the plain truth, if I do not
find it, we shall not converse very much together; for I cannot stand
inattention and awkwardness; it would endanger my health. You have often
seen, and I have as often made you observe L----'s distinguished
inattention and awkwardness. Wrapped up, like a Laputan, in intense
thought, and possibly sometimes in no thought at all (which, I believe,
is very often the case with absent people), he does not know his most
intimate acquaintance by sight, or answers them as if he were at cross
purposes. He leaves his hat in one room, his sword in another, and would
leave his shoes in a third, if his buckles, though awry, did not save
them: his legs and arms, by his awkward management of them, seem to have
undergone the question extraordinaire; and his head, always hanging upon
one or other of his shoulders, seems to have received the first stroke
upon a block. I sincerely value and esteem him for his parts, learning,
and virtue; but, for the soul of me, I cannot love him in company. This
will be universally the case, in common life, of every inattentive,
awkward man, let his real merit and knowledge be ever so great. When I
was of your age, I desired to shine, as far as I was able, in every part
of life; and was as attentive to my manners, my dress, and my air, in
company of evenings, as to my books and my tutor in the mornings. A
young fellow should be ambitious to shine in everything--and, of the two,
always rather overdo than underdo. These things are by no means trifles:
they are of infinite consequence to those who are to be thrown into the
great world, and who would make a figure or a fortune in it. It is not
sufficient to deserve well; one must please well too. Awkward,
disagreeable merit will never carry anybody far. Wherever you find a
good dancing-master, pray let him put you upon your haunches; not so much
for the sake of dancing, as for coming into a room, and presenting
yourself genteelly and gracefully. Women, whom you ought to endeavor to
please, cannot forgive vulgar and awkward air and gestures; 'il leur faut
du brillant'. The generality of men are pretty like them, and are
equally taken by the same exterior graces.

I am very glad that you have received the diamond buckles safe; all I
desire in return for them is, that they may be buckled even upon your
feet, and that your stockings may not hide them. I should be sorry that
you were an egregious fop; but, I protest, that of the two, I would
rather have you a fop than a sloven. I think negligence in my own dress,
even at my age, when certainly I expect no advantages from my dress,
would be indecent with regard to others. I have done with fine clothes;
but I will have my plain clothes fit me, and made like other people's: In
the evenings, I recommend to you the company of women of fashion, who
have a right to attention and will be paid it. Their company will smooth
your manners, and give you a habit of attention and respect, of which you
will find the advantage among men.

My plan for you, from the beginning, has been to make you shine equally
in the learned and in the polite world; the former part is almost
completed to my wishes, and will, I am persuaded, in a little time more,
be quite so. The latter part is still in your power to complete; and I
flatter myself that you will do it, or else the former part will avail
you very little; especially in your department, where the exterior
address and graces do half the business; they must be the harbingers of
your merit, or your merit will be very coldly received; all can, and do
judge of the former, few of the latter.

Mr. Harte tells me that you have grown very much since your illness; if
you get up to five feet ten, or even nine inches, your figure will
probably be a good one; and if well dressed and genteel, will probably
please; which is a much greater advantage to a man than people commonly
think. Lord Bacon calls it a letter of recommendation.

I would wish you to be the omnis homo, 'l'homme universel'. You are
nearer it, if you please, than ever anybody was at your age; and if you
will but, for the course of this next year only, exert your whole
attention to your studies in the morning, and to your address, manners,
air and tournure in the evenings, you will be the man I wish you, and the
man that is rarely seen.

Our letters go, at best, so irregularly, and so often miscarry totally,
that for greater security I repeat the same things. So, though I
acknowledged by last post Mr. Harte's letter of the 8th September, N. S.,
I acknowledge it again by this to you. If this should find you still at
Verona, let it inform you that I wish you would set out soon for Naples;
unless Mr. Harte should think it better for you to stay at Verona, or any
other place on this side Rome, till you go there for the Jubilee. Nay,
if he likes it better, I am very willing that you should go directly from
Verona to Rome; for you cannot have too much of Rome, whether upon
account of the language, the curiosities, or the company. My only reason
for mentioning Naples, is for the sake of the climate, upon account of
your health; but if Mr. Harte thinks that your health is now so well
restored as to be above climate, he may steer your course wherever he
thinks proper: and, for aught I know, your going directly to Rome, and
consequently staying there so much the longer, may be as well as anything
else. I think you and I cannot put our affairs in better hands than in
Mr. Harte's; and I will stake his infallibility against the Pope's, with
some odds on his side. Apropos of the Pope: remember to be presented to
him before you leave Rome, and go through the necessary ceremonies for
it, whether of kissing his slipper or his b---h; for I would never
deprive myself of anything that I wanted to do or see, by refusing to
comply with an established custom. When I was in Catholic countries,
I never declined kneeling in their churches at the elevation, nor
elsewhere, when the Host went by. It is a complaisance due to the custom
of the place, and by no means, as some silly people have imagined, an
implied approbation of their doctrine. Bodily attitudes and situations
are things so very indifferent in themselves, that I would quarrel with
nobody about them. It may, indeed, be improper for Mr. Harte to pay that
tribute of complaisance, upon account of his character.

This letter is a very long, and possibly a very tedious one; but my
anxiety for your perfection is so great, and particularly at this
critical and decisive period of your life, that I am only afraid of
omitting, but never of repeating, or dwelling too long upon anything that
I think may be of the least use to you. Have the same anxiety for
yourself, that I have for you, and all will do well. Adieu! my dear


LONDON, September 27, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: A vulgar, ordinary way of thinking, acting, or speaking,
implies a low education, and a habit of low company. Young people
contract it at school, or among servants, with whom they are too often
used to converse; but after they frequent good company, they must want
attention and observation very much, if they do not lay it quite aside;
and, indeed, if they do not, good company will be very apt to lay them
aside. The various kinds of vulgarisms are infinite; I cannot pretend to
point them out to you; but I will give some samples, by which you may
guess at the rest.

A vulgar man is captious and jealous; eager and impetuous about trifles.
He suspects himself to be slighted, thinks everything that is said meant
at him: if the company happens to laugh, he is persuaded they laugh at
him; he grows angry and testy, says something very impertinent, and draws
himself into a scrape, by showing what he calls a proper spirit, and
asserting himself. A man of fashion does not suppose himself to be
either the sole or principal object of the thoughts, looks, or words of
the company; and never suspects that he is either slighted or laughed at,
unless he is conscious that he deserves it. And if (which very seldom
happens) the company is absurd or ill-bred enough to do either, he does
not care twopence, unless the insult be so gross and plain as to require
satisfaction of another kind. As he is above trifles, he is never
vehement and eager about them; and, wherever they are concerned, rather
acquiesces than wrangles. A vulgar man's conversation always savors
strongly of the lowness of his education and company. It turns chiefly
upon his domestic affairs, his servants, the excellent order he keeps in
his own family, and the little anecdotes of the neighborhood; all which
he relates with emphasis, as interesting matters. He is a man gossip.

Vulgarism in language is the next and distinguishing characteristic of
bad company and a bad education. A man of fashion avoids nothing with
more care than that. Proverbial expressions and trite sayings are the
flowers of the rhetoric of a vulgar man. Would he say that men differ in
their tastes; he both supports and adorns that opinion by the good old
saying, as he respectfully calls it, that WHAT IS ONE MAN'S MEAT, IS
ANOTHER MAN'S POISON. If anybody attempts being SMART, as he calls it,
upon him, he gives them TIT FOR TAT, aye, that he does. He has always
some favorite word for the time being; which, for the sake of using
often, he commonly abuses. Such as VASTLY angry, VASTLY kind, VASTLY
handsome, and VASTLY ugly. Even his pronunciation of proper words
carries the mark of the beast along with it. He calls the earth YEARTH;
he is OBLEIGED, not OBLIGED to you. He goes TO WARDS, and not TOWARDS,
such a place. He sometimes affects hard words, by way of ornament, which
he always mangles like a learned woman. A man of fashion never has
recourse to proverbs and vulgar aphorisms; uses neither favorite words
nor hard words; but takes great care to speak very correctly and
grammatically, and to pronounce properly; that is, according to the usage
of the best companies.

An awkward address, ungraceful attitudes and actions, and a certain left-
handedness (if I may use that word), loudly proclaim low education and
low company; for it is impossible to suppose that a man can have
frequented good company, without having catched something, at least, of
their air and motions. A new raised man is distinguished in a regiment
by his awkwardness; but he must be impenetrably dull, if, in a month or
two's time, he cannot perform at least the common manual exercise, and
look like a soldier. The very accoutrements of a man of fashion are
grievous encumbrances to a vulgar man. He is at a loss what to do with
his hat, when it is not upon his head; his cane (if unfortunately he
wears one) is at perpetual war with every cup of tea or coffee he drinks;
destroys them first, and then accompanies them in their fall. His sword
is formidable only to his own legs, which would possibly carry him fast
enough out of the way of any sword but his own. His clothes fit him so
ill, and constrain him so much, that he seems rather, their prisoner
than their proprietor. He presents himself in company like a criminal in
a court of justice; his very air condemns him; and people of fashion will
no more connect themselves with the one, than people of character will
with the other. This repulse drives and sinks him into low company; a
gulf from whence no man, after a certain age, ever emerged.

'Les manieres nobles et aisees, la tournure d'un homme de condition, le
ton de la bonne compagnie, les graces, le jeune sais quoi, qui plait',
are as necessary to adorn and introduce your intrinsic merit and
knowledge, as the polish is to the diamond; which, without that polish,
would never be worn, whatever it might weigh. Do not imagine that these
accomplishments are only useful with women; they are much more so with
men. In a public assembly, what an advantage has a graceful speaker,
with genteel motions, a handsome figure, and a liberal air, over one who
shall speak full as much good sense, but destitute of these ornaments?
In business, how prevalent are the graces, how detrimental is the want of
them? By the help of these I have known some men refuse favors less
offensively than others granted them. The utility of them in courts and
negotiations is inconceivable. You gain the hearts, and consequently the
secrets, of nine in ten, that you have to do with, in spite even of their
prudence; which will, nine times in ten, be the dupe of their hearts and
of their senses. Consider the importance of these things as they
deserve, and you will not lose one minute in the pursuit of them.

You are traveling now in a country once so famous both for arts and arms,
that (however degenerate at present) it still deserves your attention and
reflection. View it therefore with care, compare its former with its
present state, and examine into the causes of its rise and its decay.
Consider it classically and politically, and do not run through it, as
too many of your young countrymen do, musically, and (to use a ridiculous
word) KNICK-KNACKICALLY. No piping nor fiddling, I beseech you; no days
lost in poring upon almost imperceptible 'intaglios and cameos': and do
not become a virtuoso of small wares. Form a taste of painting,
sculpture, and architecture, if you please, by a careful examination of
the works of the best ancient and modern artists; those are liberal arts,
and a real taste and knowledge of them become a man of fashion very well.
But, beyond certain bounds, the man of taste ends, and the frivolous
virtuoso begins.

Your friend Mendes, the good Samaritan, dined with me yesterday. He has
more good-nature and generosity than parts. However, I will show him all
the civilities that his kindness to you so justly deserves. He tells me
that you are taller than I am, which I am very glad of: I desire that you
may excel me in everything else too; and, far from repining, I shall
rejoice at your superiority. He commends your friend Mr. Stevens
extremely; of whom too I have heard so good a character from other
people, that I am very glad of your connection with him. It may prove of
use to you hereafter. When you meet with such sort of Englishmen abroad,
who, either from their parts or their rank, are likely to make a figure
at home, I would advise you to cultivate them, and get their favorable
testimony of you here, especially those who are to return to England
before you. Sir Charles Williams has puffed you (as the mob call it)
here extremely. If three or four more people of parts do the same,
before you come back, your first appearance in London will be to great
advantage. Many people do, and indeed ought, to take things upon trust;
many more do, who need not; and few dare dissent from an established
opinion. Adieu!


LONDON, October 2, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: I received by the last post your letter of the 22d September,
N. S., but I have not received that from Mr. Harte to which you refer,
and which you say contained your reasons for leaving Verona, and
returning to Venice; so that I am entirely ignorant of them. Indeed the
irregularity and negligence of the post provoke me, as they break the
thread of the accounts I want to receive from you, and of the
instructions and orders which I send you, almost every post. Of these
last twenty posts.

I am sure that I have wrote eighteen, either to you or to Mr. Harte, and
it does not appear by your letter, that all or even any of my letters
have been received. I desire for the future, that both you and Mr. Harte
will constantly, in your letters, mention the dates of mine. Had it not
been for their miscarriage, you would not have, been in the uncertainty
you seem to be in at present, with regard to your future motions. Had
you received my letters, you would have been by this time at Naples: but
we must now take things where they are.

Upon the receipt, then, of this letter, you will as soon as conveniently
you can, set out for Rome; where you will not arrive too long before the
jubilee, considering the difficulties of getting lodgings, and other
accommodations there at this time. I leave the choice of the route to
you; but I do by no means intend that you should leave Rome after the
jubilee, as you seem to hint in your letter: on the contrary, I will have
Rome your headquarters for six months at least; till you shall have, in a
manner, acquired the 'Jus Civitatis' there. More things are to be seen
and learned there, than in any other town in Europe; there are the best
masters to instruct, and the best companies to polish you. In the spring
you may make (if you please) frequent excursions to Naples; but Rome must
still be your headquarters, till the heats of June drive you from thence
to some other place in Italy, which we shall think of by that time. As
to the expense which you mention, I do not regard it in the least; from
your infancy to this day, I never grudged any expense in your education,
and still less do it now, that it is become more important and decisive:
I attend to the objects of your expenses, but not to the sums. I will
certainly not pay one shilling for your losing your nose, your money, or
your reason; that is, I will not contribute to women, gaming, and
drinking. But I will most cheerfully supply, not only every necessary,
but every decent expense you can make. I do not care what the best
masters cost. I would have you as well dressed, lodged, and attended, as
any reasonable man of fashion is in his travels. I would have you have
that pocket-money that should enable you to make the proper expense 'd'un
honnete homme'. In short, I bar no expense, that has neither vice nor
folly for its object; and under those two reasonable restrictions, draw,
and welcome.

As for Turin, you may go there hereafter, as a traveler, for a month or
two; but you cannot conveniently reside there as an academician, for
reasons which I have formerly communicated to Mr. Harte, and which Mr.
Villettes, since his return here, has shown me in a still stronger light
than he had done by his letters from Turin, of which I sent copies to Mr.
Harte, though probably he never received them.

After you have left Rome, Florence is one of the places with which you
should be thoroughly acquainted. I know that there is a great deal of
gaming there; but, at the same time, there are in every place some people
whose fortunes are either too small, or whose understandings are too good
to allow them to play for anything above trifles; and with those people
you will associate yourself, if you have not (as I am assured you have
not, in the least) the spirit of gaming in you. Moreover, at suspected
places, such as Florence, Turin, and Paris, I shall be more attentive to
your draughts, and such as exceed a proper and handsome expense will not
be answered; for I can easily know whether you game or not without being

Mr. Harte will determine your route to Rome as he shall think best;
whether along the coast of the Adriatic, or that of the Mediterranean,
it is equal to me; but you will observe to come back a different way from
that you went.

Since your health is so well restored, I am not sorry that you have
returned to Venice, for I love capitals. Everything is best at capitals;
the best masters, the best companions, and the best manners. Many other
places are worth seeing, but capitals only are worth residing at. I am
very glad that Madame Capello received you so well. Monsieur I was sure
would: pray assure them both of my respects, and of my sensibility of
their kindness to you. Their house will be a very good one for you at
Rome; and I would advise you to be domestic in it if you can. But
Madame, I can tell you, requires great attentions. Madame Micheli has
written a very favorable account of you to my friend the Abbe Grossa
Testa, in a letter which he showed me, and in which there are so many
civil things to myself, that I would wish to tell her how much I think
myself obliged to her. I approve very much of the allotment of your time
at Venice; pray go on so for a twelvemonth at least, wherever you are.
You will find your own account in it.

I like your last letter, which gives me an account of yourself, and your
own transactions; for though I do not recommend the EGOTISM to you, with
regard to anybody else, I desire that you will use it with me, and with
me only. I interest myself in all that you do; and as yet (excepting Mr.
Harte) nobody else does. He must of course know all, and I desire to
know a great deal.

I am glad you have received, and that you like the diamond buckles. I am
very willing that you should make, but very unwilling that you should CUT
a figure with them at the jubilee; the CUTTING A FIGURE being the very
lowest vulgarism in the English language; and equal in elegancy to Yes,
my Lady, and No, my Lady. The word VAST and VASTLY, you will have found
by my former letter that I had proscribed out of the diction of a
gentleman, unless in their proper signification of sizes and BULK. Not
only in language, but in everything else, take great care that the first
impressions you give of yourself may be not only favorable, but pleasing,
engaging, nay, seducing. They are often decisive; I confess they are a
good deal so with me: and I cannot wish for further acquaintance with a
man whose first 'abord' and address displease me.

So many of my letters have miscarried, and I know so little which, that I
am forced to repeat the same thing over and over again eventually. This
is one. I have wrote twice to Mr. Harte, to have your picture drawn in
miniature, while you were at Venice; and send it me in a letter: it is
all one to me whether in enamel or in watercolors, provided it is but
very like you. I would have you drawn exactly as you are, and in no
whimsical dress: and I lay more stress upon the likeness of the picture,
than upon the taste and skill of the painter. If this be not already
done, I desire that you will have it done forthwith before you leave
Venice; and inclose it in a letter to me, which letter, for greater
security, I would have you desire Sir James Gray to inclose in his packet
to the office; as I, for the same, reason, send this under his cover.
If the picture be done upon vellum, it will be the most portable. Send
me, at the same time, a thread of silk of your own length exactly. I am
solicitous about your figure; convinced, by a thousand instances, that a
good one is a real advantage. 'Mens sana in corpore sano', is the first
and greatest blessing. I would add 'et pulchro', to complete it. May
you have that and every other! Adieu.

Have you received my letters of recommendation to Cardinal Albani and the
Duke de Nivernois, at Rome?


LONDON, October 9, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: If this letter finds you at all, of which I am very doubtful,
it will find you at Venice, preparing for your journey to Rome; which, by
my last letter to Mr. Harte, I advised you to make along the coast of the
Adriatic, through Rimini, Loretto, Ancona, etc., places that are all
worth seeing; but not worth staying at. And such I reckon all places
where the eyes only are employed. Remains of antiquity, public
buildings, paintings, sculptures, etc., ought to be seen, and that with a
proper degree of attention; but this is soon done, for they are only
outsides. It is not so with more important objects; the insides of which
must be seen; and they require and deserve much more attention. The
characters, the heads, and the, hearts of men, are the useful science of
which I would have you perfect master. That science is best taught and
best learned in capitals, where every human passion has its object, and
exerts all its force or all its art in the pursuit. I believe there is
no place in the world, where every passion is busier, appears in more
shapes, and is conducted with more art, than at Rome. Therefore, when
you are there, do not imagine that the Capitol, the Vatican, and the
Pantheon, are the principal objects of your curiosity. But for one
minute that you bestow upon those, employ ten days in informing yourself
of the nature of that government, the rise and decay of the papal power,
the politics of that court, the 'Brigues' of the cardinals, the tricks of
the Conclaves; and, in general, everything that relates to the interior
of that extraordinary government, founded originally upon the ignorance
and superstition of mankind, extended by the weakness of some princes,
and the ambition of others; declining of late in proportion as knowledge
has increased; and owing its present precarious security, not to the
religion, the affection, or the fear of the temporal powers, but to the
jealousy of each other. The Pope's excommunications are no longer
dreaded; his indulgences little solicited, and sell very cheap; and his
territories formidable to no power, are coveted by many, and will, most
undoubtedly, within a century, be scantled out among the great powers,
who have now a footing in Italy, whenever they can agree upon the
division of the bear's skin. Pray inform yourself thoroughly of the
history of the popes and the popedom; which, for many centuries, is
interwoven with the history of all Europe. Read the best authors who
treat of these matters, and especially Fra Paolo, 'De Beneficiis', a
short, but very material book. You will find at Rome some of all the
religious orders in the Christian world. Inform yourself carefully of
their origin, their founders, their rules, their reforms, and even their
dresses: get acquainted with some of all of them, but particularly with
the Jesuits; whose society I look upon to be the most able and best
governed society in the world. Get acquainted, if you can, with their
General, who always resides at Rome; and who, though he has no seeming
power out of his own society, has (it may be) more real influence over
the whole world, than any temporal prince in it. They have almost
engrossed the education of youth; they are, in general, confessors to
most of the princes of Europe; and they are the principal missionaries
out of it; which three articles give them a most extensive influence and
solid advantages; witness their settlement in Paraguay. The Catholics in
general declaim against that society; and yet are all governed by
individuals of it. They have, by turns, been banished, and with infamy,
almost every country in Europe; and have always found means to be
restored, even with triumph. In short, I know no government in the world
that is carried on upon such deep principles of policy, I will not add
morality. Converse with them, frequent them, court them; but know them.

Inform yourself, too, of that infernal court, the Inquisition; which,
though not so considerable at Rome as in Spain and Portugal, will,
however, be a good sample to you of what the villainy of some men can
contrive, the folly of others receive, and both together establish, in
spite of the first natural principles of reason, justice, and equity.

These are the proper and useful objects of the attention of a man of
sense, when he travels; and these are the objects for which I have sent
you abroad; and I hope you will return thoroughly informed of them.

I receive this very moment Mr. Harte's letter of the 1st October, N. S.,
but I never received his former, to which he refers in this, and you
refer in your last; in which he gave me the reasons for your leaving
Verona so soon; nor have I ever received that letter in which your case
was stated by your physicians. Letters to and from me have worse luck
than other people's; for you have written to me, and I to you, for these
last three months, by way of Germany, with as little success as before.

I am edified with your morning applications, and your evening gallantries
at Venice, of which Mr. Harte gives me an account. Pray go on with both
there, and afterward at Rome; where, provided you arrive in the beginning
of December, you may stay at Venice as much longer as you please.

Make my compliments to Sir James Gray and Mr. Smith, with my
acknowledgments for the great civilities they show you.

I wrote to Mr. Harte by the last post, October the 6th, O. S., and will
write to him in a post or two upon the contents of his last. Adieu!
'Point de distractions'; and remember the GRACES.


LONDON, October 17, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: I have at last received Mr. Harte's letter of the 19th
September, N. S., from Verona. Your reasons for leaving that place were
very good ones; and as you stayed there long enough to see what was to be
seen, Venice (as a capital) is, in my opinion, a much better place for
your residence. Capitals are always the seats of arts and sciences, and
the best companies. I have stuck to them all my lifetime, and I advise
you to do so too.

You will have received in my three or four last letters my directions for
your further motions to another capital, where I propose that your stay
shall be pretty considerable. The expense, I am well aware, will be so
too; but that, as I told you before, will have no weight when your
improvement and advantage are in the other scale. I do not care a groat
what it is, if neither vice nor folly are the objects of it, and if Mr.
Harte gives his sanction.

I am very well pleased with your account of Carniola; those are the kind
of objects worthy of your inquiries and knowledge. The produce, the
taxes, the trade, the manufactures, the strength, the weakness, the
government of the several countries which a man of sense travels through,
are the material points to which he attends; and leaves the steeples, the
market-places, and the signs, to the laborious and curious researches of
Dutch and German travelers.

Mr. Harte tells me, that he intends to give you, by means of Signor
Vicentini, a general notion of civil and military architecture; with
which I am very well pleased. They are frequent subjects of
conversation; and it is very right that you should have some idea of the
latter, and a good taste of the former; and you may very soon learn as
much as you need know of either. If you read about one-third of
Palladio's book of architecture with some skillful person, and then, with
that person, examine the best buildings by those rules, you will know the
different proportions of the different orders; the several diameters of
their columns; their intercolumniations, their several uses, etc. The
Corinthian Order is chiefly used in magnificent buildings, where ornament
and decoration are the principal objects; the Doric is calculated for
strength, and the Ionic partakes of the Doric strength, and of the
Corinthian ornaments. The Composite and the Tuscan orders are more
modern, and were unknown to the Greeks; the one is too light, the other
too clumsy. You may soon be acquainted with the considerable parts of
civil architecture; and for the minute and mechanical parts of it, leave
them to masons, bricklayers, and Lord Burlington, who has, to a certain
extent, lessened himself by knowing them too well. Observe the same
method as to military architecture; understand the terms, know the
general rules, and then see them in execution with some skillful person.
Go with some engineer or old officer, and view with care the real
fortifications of some strong place; and you will get a clearer idea of
bastions, half-moons, horn-works, ravelins, glacis, etc., than all the
masters in the world could give you upon paper. And thus much I would,
by all means, have you know of both civil and military architecture.

I would also have you acquire a liberal taste of the two liberal arts of
painting and sculpture; but without descending into those minutia, which
our modern virtuosi most affectedly dwell upon. Observe the great parts
attentively; see if nature be truly represented; if the passions are
strongly expressed; if the characters are preserved; and leave the
trifling parts, with their little jargon, to affected puppies. I would
advise you also, to read the history of the painters and sculptors, and I
know none better than Felibien's. There are many in Italian; you will
inform yourself which are the best. It is a part of history very
entertaining, curious enough, and not quite useless. All these sort of
things I would have you know, to a certain degree; but remember, that
they must only be the amusements, and not the business of a man of parts.

Since writing to me in German would take up so much of your time, of
which I would not now have one moment wasted, I will accept of your
composition, and content myself with a moderate German letter once a
fortnight, to Lady Chesterfield or Mr. Gravenkop. My meaning was only
that you should not forget what you had already learned of the German
language and character; but, on the contrary, that by frequent use it
should grow more easy and familiar. Provided you take care of that, I do
not care by what means: but I do desire that you will every day of your
life speak German to somebody or other (for you will meet with Germans
enough), and write a line or two of it every day to keep your hand in.
Why should you not (for instance) write your little memorandums and
accounts in that language and character? by which, too, you would have
this advantage into the bargain, that, if mislaid, few but yourself could
read them.

I am extremely glad to hear that you like the assemblies at Venice well
enough to sacrifice some suppers to them; for I hear that you do not
dislike your suppers neither. It is therefore plain, that there is
somebody or something at those assemblies, which you like better than
your meat. And as I know that there is none but good company at those
assemblies, I am very glad to find that you like good company so well.
I already imagine that you are a little, smoothed by it; and that you
have either reasoned yourself, or that they have laughed you out of your
absences and DISTRACTIONS; for I cannot suppose that you go there to
insult them. I likewise imagine, that you wish to be welcome where you
wish to go; and consequently, that you both present and behave yourself
there 'en galant homme, et pas in bourgeois'.

If you have vowed to anybody there one of those eternal passions which I
have sometimes known, by great accident, last three months, I can tell
you that without great attention, infinite politeness, and engaging air
and manners, the omens will be sinister, and the goddess unpropitious.
Pray tell me what are the amusements of those assemblies? Are they
little commercial play, are they music, are they 'la belle conversation',
or are they all three? 'Y file-t-on le parfait amour? Y debite-t-on les
beaux sentimens? Ou est-ce yu'on y parle Epigramme? And pray which is
your department? 'Tutis depone in auribus'. Whichever it is, endeavor
to shine and excel in it. Aim at least at the perfection of everything
that is worth doing at all; and you will come nearer it than you would
imagine; but those always crawl infinitely short of it whose aim is only
mediocrity. Adieu.

P. S. By an uncommon diligence of the post, I have this moment received
yours of the 9th, N. S.


LONDON, October 24, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: By my last I only acknowledged, by this I answer, your letter
of the 9th October, N. S.

I am very glad that you approved of my letter of September the 12th,
O. S., because it is upon that footing that I always propose living with
you. I will advise you seriously, as a friend of some experience, and I
will converse with you cheerfully as a companion; the authority of a
parent shall forever be laid aside; for, wherever it is exerted, it is
useless; since, if you have neither sense nor sentiments enough to follow
my advice as a friend, your unwilling obedience to my orders as a father
will be a very awkward and unavailing one both to yourself and me.
Tacitus, speaking of an army that awkwardly and unwillingly obeyed its
generals only from the fear of punishment, says, they obeyed indeed, 'Sed
ut qua mallent jussa Imperatorum interpretari, quam exequi'. For my own
part, I disclaim such obedience.

You think, I find, that you do not understand Italian; but I can tell
you, that, like the 'Bourgeois Gentilhomme', who spoke prose without
knowing it, you understand a great deal, though you do not know that you
do; for whoever understands French and Latin so well as you do,
understands at least half the Italian language, and has very little
occasion for a dictionary. And for the idioms, the phrases, and the
delicacies of it, conversation and a little attention will teach them
you, and that soon; therefore, pray speak it in company, right or wrong,
'a tort ou a travers', as soon as ever you have got words enough to ask a
common question, or give a common answer. If you can only say 'buon
giorno', say it, instead of saying 'bon jour', I mean to every Italian;
the answer to it will teach you more words, and insensibly you will be
very soon master of that easy language. You are quite right in not
neglecting your German for it, and in thinking that it will be of more
use to you; it certainly will, in the course of your business; but
Italian has its use too, and is an ornament into the bargain; there being
many very polite and good authors in that language. The reason you
assign for having hitherto met with none of my swarms of Germans in
Italy, is a very solid one; and I can easily conceive, that the expense
necessary for a traveler must amount to a number of thalers, groschen,
and kreutzers, tremendous to a German fortune. However, you will find
several at Rome, either ecclesiastics, or in the suite of the Imperial
Minister; and more, when you come into the Milanese, among the Queen of
Hungary's officers. Besides, you have a Saxon servant, to whom I hope
you speak nothing but German.

I have had the most obliging letter in the world from Monsieur Capello,
in which he speaks very advantageously of you, and promises you his
protection at Rome. I have wrote him an answer by which I hope I have
domesticated you at his hotel there; which I advise you to frequent as
much as you can. 'Il est vrai qui'il ne paie pas beaucaup de sa figure';
but he has sense and knowledge at bottom, with a great experience of
business, having been already Ambassador at Madrid, Vienna, and London.
And I am very sure that he will be willing to give you any informations,
in that way, that he can.

Madame was a capricious, whimsical, fine lady, till the smallpox, which
she got here, by lessening her beauty, lessened her humors too; but, as I
presume it did not change her sex, I trust to that for her having such a
share of them left, as may contribute to smooth and polish you. She,
doubtless, still thinks that she has beauty enough remaining to entitle
her to the attentions always paid to beauty; and she has certainly rank
enough to require respect. Those are the sort of women who polish a
young man the most, and who give him that habit of complaisance, and that
flexibility and versatility of manners which prove of great use to him
with men, and in the course of business.

You must always expect to hear, more or less, from me, upon that
important subject of manners, graces, address, and that undefinable
'je ne sais quoi' that ever pleases. I have reason to believe that you
want nothing else; but I have reason to fear too, that you want those:
and that want will keep you poor in the midst of all the plenty of
knowledge which you may have treasured up. Adieu.


LONDON, November 3, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: From the time that you have had life, it has been the principle
and favorite object of mine, to make you as perfect as the imperfections
of human nature will allow: in this view, I have grudged no pains nor
expense in your education; convinced that education, more than nature,
is the cause of that great difference which you see in the characters of
men. While you were a child, I endeavored to form your heart habitually
to virtue and honor, before your understanding was capable of showing you
their beauty and utility. Those principles, which you then got, like
your grammar rules, only by rote, are now, I am persuaded, fixed and
confirmed by reason. And indeed they are so plain and clear, that they
require but a very moderate degree of understanding, either to comprehend
or practice them. Lord Shaftesbury says, very prettily, that he would be
virtuous for his own sake, though nobody were to know it; as he would be
clean for his own sake, though nobody were to see him. I have therefore,
since you have had the use of your reason, never written to you upon
those subjects: they speak best for themselves; and I should now just as
soon think of warning you gravely not to fall into the dirt or the fire,
as into dishonor or vice. This view of mine, I consider as fully
attained. My next object was sound and useful learning. My own care
first, Mr. Harte's afterward, and OF LATE (I will own it to your praise)
your own application, have more than answered my expectations in that
particular; and, I have reason to believe, will answer even my wishes.
All that remains for me then to wish, to recommend, to inculcate, to
order, and to insist upon, is good-breeding; without which, all your
other qualifications will be lame, unadorned, and to a certain degree
unavailing. And here I fear, and have too much reason to believe, that
you are greatly deficient. The remainder of this letter, therefore,
shall be (and it will not be the last by a great many) upon that subject.

A friend of yours and mine has very justly defined good-breeding to be,
FROM THEM. Taking this for granted (as I think it cannot be disputed),
it is astonishing to me that anybody who has good sense and good nature
(and I believe you have both), can essentially fail in good-breeding.
As to the modes of it, indeed, they vary according to persons, and
places, and circumstances; and are only to be acquired by observation and
experience: but the substance of it is everywhere and eternally the same.
Good manners are, to particular societies, what good morals are to
society in general; their cement and their security. And, as laws are
enacted to enforce good morals, or at least to prevent the ill effects of
bad ones; so there are certain rules of civility, universally implied and
received, to enforce good manners and punish bad ones. And, indeed,
there seems to me to be less difference, both between the crimes and
between the punishments than at first one would imagine. The immoral
man, who invades another man's property, is justly hanged for it; and the
ill-bred man, who, by his ill-manners, invades and disturbs the quiet and
comforts of private life, is by common consent as justly banished
society. Mutual complaisances, attentions, and sacrifices of little
conveniences, are as natural an implied compact between civilized people,
as protection and obedience are between kings and subjects; whoever, in
either case, violates that compact, justly forfeits all advantages
arising from it. For my own part, I really think, that next to the
consciousness of doing a good action, that of doing a civil one is the
most pleasing; and the epithet which I should covet the most, next to
that of Aristides, would be that of well-bred. Thus much for good-
breeding in general; I will now consider some of the various modes and
degrees of it.

Very few, scarcely any, are wanting in the respect which they should show
to those whom they acknowledge to be infinitely their superiors; such as
crowned heads, princes, and public persons of distinguished and eminent
posts. It is the manner of showing that respect which is different. The
man of fashion and of the world, expresses it in its fullest extent; but
naturally, easily, and without concern: whereas a man, who is not used to
keep good company, expresses it awkwardly; one sees that he is not used
to it, and that it costs him a great deal: but I never saw the worst-bred
man living guilty of lolling, whistling, scratching his head, and such-
like indecencies, in company that he respected. In such companies,
therefore, the only point to be attended to is to show that respect,
which everybody means to show, in an easy, unembarrassed, and graceful
manner. This is what observation and experience must teach you.

In mixed companies, whoever is admitted to make part of them, is, for the
time at least, supposed to be upon a footing of equality with the rest:
and consequently, as there is no one principal object of awe and respect,
people are apt to take a greater latitude in their behavior, and to be
less upon their guard; and so they may, provided it be within certain
bounds, which are upon no occasion to be transgressed. But, upon these
occasions, though no one is entitled to distinguished marks of respect,
everyone claims, and very justly, every mark of civility and good-
breeding. Ease is allowed, but carelessness and negligence are strictly
forbidden. If a man accosts you, and talks to you ever so dully or
frivolously, it is worse than rudeness, it is brutality, to show him, by
a manifest inattention to what he says, that you think him a fool or a
blockhead, and not worth hearing. It is much more so with regard to
women; who, of whatever rank they are, are entitled, in consideration of
their sex, not only to an attentive, but an officious good-breeding from
men. Their little wants, likings, dislikes, preferences, antipathies,
fancies, whims, and even impertinencies, must be officiously attended to,
flattered, and, if possible, guessed at and anticipated by a well-bred
man. You must never usurp to yourself those conveniences and 'agremens'
which are of common right; such as the best places, the best dishes,
etc., but on the contrary, always decline them yourself, and offer them
to others; who, in their turns, will offer them to you; so that, upon the
whole, you will in your turn enjoy your share of the common right. It
would be endless for me to enumerate all the particular instances in
which a well-bred man shows his good-breeding in good company; and it
would be injurious to you to suppose that your own good sense will not
point them out to you; and then your own good-nature will recommend, and
your self-interest enforce the practice.

There is a third sort of good-breeding, in which people are the most apt
to fail, from a very mistaken notion that they cannot fail at all. I
mean with regard to one's most familiar friends and acquaintances, or
those who really are our inferiors; and there, undoubtedly, a greater
degree of ease is not only allowed, but proper, and contributes much to
the comforts of a private, social life. But that ease and freedom have
their bounds too, which must by no means be violated. A certain degree
of negligence and carelessness becomes injurious and insulting, from the
real or supposed inferiority of the persons: and that delightful liberty
of conversation among a few friends is soon destroyed, as liberty often
has been, by being carried to licentiousness. But example explains
things best, and I will put a pretty strong case. Suppose you and me
alone together; I believe you will allow that I have as good a right to
unlimited freedom in your company, as either you or I can possibly have
in any other; and I am apt to believe too, that you would indulge me in
that freedom as far as anybody would. But, notwithstanding this, do you
imagine that I should think there were no bounds to that freedom? I
assure you, I should not think so; and I take myself to be as much tied
down by a certain degree of good manners to you, as by other degrees of
them to other people. Were I to show you, by a manifest inattention to
what you said to me, that I was thinking of something else the whole
time; were I to yawn extremely, snore, or break wind in your company, I
should think that I behaved myself to you like a beast, and should not
expect that you would care to frequent me. No. The most familiar and
intimate habitudes, connections, and friendships, require a degree of
good-breeding, both to preserve and cement them. If ever a man and his
wife, or a man and his mistress, who pass nights as well as days
together, absolutely lay aside all good-breeding, their intimacy will
soon degenerate into a coarse familiarity, infallibly productive of
contempt or disgust. The best of us have our bad sides, and it is as
imprudent, as it is ill-bred, to exhibit them. I shall certainly not use
ceremony with you; it would be misplaced between us: but I shall
certainly observe that degree of good-breeding with you, which is, in the
first place, decent, and which I am sure is absolutely necessary to make
us like one another's company long.

I will say no more, now, upon this important subject of good-breeding,
upon which I have already dwelt too long, it may be, for one letter; and
upon which I shall frequently refresh your memory hereafter; but I will
conclude with these axioms:

That the deepest learning, without good-breeding, is unwelcome and
tiresome pedantry, and of use nowhere but in a man's own closet; and
consequently of little or no use at all.

That a man, Who is not perfectly well-bred, is unfit for good company and
unwelcome in it; will consequently dislike it soon, afterward renounce
it; and be reduced to solitude, or, what is worse, low and bad company.

That a man who is not well-bred, is full as unfit for business as for

Make then, my dear child, I conjure you, good-breeding the great object
of your thoughts and actions, at least half the day. Observe carefully
the behavior and manners of those who are distinguished by their good-
breeding; imitate, nay, endeavor to excel, that you may at least reach
them; and be convinced that good-breeding is, to all worldly
qualifications, what charity is to all Christian virtues. Observe how it
adorns merit, and how often it covers the want of it. May you wear it to
adorn, and not to cover you! Adieu.


LONDON, November 14, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: There is a natural good-breeding which occurs to every man of
common sense, and is practiced by every man, of common good-nature. This
good-breeding is general, independent of modes, and consists in endeavors
to please and oblige our fellow-creatures by all good offices, short of
moral duties. This will be practiced by a good-natured American savage,
as essentially as by the best-bred European. But then, I do not take it
to extend to the sacrifice of our own conveniences, for the sake of other
people's. Utility introduced this sort of good-breeding as it introduced
commerce; and established a truck of the little 'agremens' and pleasures
of life. I sacrifice such a conveniency to you, you sacrifice another to
me; this commerce circulates, and every individual finds his account in
it upon the whole. The third sort of good-breeding is local, and is
variously modified, in not only different countries, but in different
towns of the same country. But it must be founded upon the two former
sorts; they are the matter to which, in this case, fashion and custom
only give the different shapes and impressions. Whoever has the two
first sorts will easily acquire this third sort of good-breeding, which
depends singly upon attention and observation. It is, properly, the
polish, the lustre, the last finishing stroke of good-breeding. It is to
be found only in capitals, and even there it varies; the good-breeding of
Rome differing, in some things, from that of Paris; that of Paris, in
others, from that of Madrid; and that of Madrid, in many things, from
that of London. A man of sense, therefore, carefully attends to the
local manners of the respective places where he is, and takes for his
models those persons whom he observes to be at the head of fashion and
good-breeding. He watches how they address themselves to their
superiors, how they accost their equals, and how they treat their
inferiors; and lets none of those little niceties escape him which are to
good-breeding what the last delicate and masterly touches are to a good
picture; and of which the vulgar have no notion, but by which good judges
distinguish the master. He attends even to their air, dress, and
motions, and imitates them, liberally, and not servilely; he copies, but
does not mimic. These personal graces are of very great consequence.
They anticipate the sentiments, before merit can engage the
understanding; they captivate the heart, and give rise, I believe, to the
extravagant notions of charms and philters. Their effects were so
surprising, that they were reckoned supernatural. The most graceful and
best-bred men, and the handsomest and genteelest women, give the most
philters; and, as I verily believe, without the least assistance of the
devil. Pray be not only well dressed, but shining in your dress; let it
have 'du brillant'. I do not mean by a clumsy load of gold and silver,
but by the taste and fashion of it. The women like and require it; they
think it an attention due to them; but, on the other hand, if your
motions and carriage are not graceful, genteel, and natural, your fine
clothes will only display your awkwardness the more. But I am unwilling
to suppose you still awkward; for surely, by this time, you must have
catched a good air in good company. When you went from hence you were
naturally awkward; but your awkwardness was adventitious and
Westmonasterial. Leipsig, I apprehend, is not the seat of the Graces;
and I presume you acquired none there. But now, if you will be pleased
to observe what people of the first fashion do with their legs and arms,
heads and bodies, you will reduce yours to certain decent laws of motion.
You danced pretty well here, and ought to dance very well before you come
home; for what one is obliged to do sometimes, one ought to be able to do
well. Besides, 'la belle danse donne du brillant a un jeune homme'.
And you should endeavor to shine. A calm serenity, negative merit and
graces, do not become your age. You should be 'alerte, adroit, vif'; be
wanted, talked of, impatiently expected, and unwillingly parted with in
company. I should be glad to hear half a dozen women of fashion say,
'Ou est donc le petit Stanhope? due ne vient-il? Il faut avouer qu'il
est aimable'. All this I do not mean singly with regard to women as the
principal object; but, with regard to men, and with a view of your making
yourself considerable. For with very small variations, the same things
that please women please men; and a man whose manners are softened and
polished by women of fashion, and who is formed by them to an habitual
attention and complaisance, will please, engage, and connect men, much
easier and more than he would otherwise. You must be sensible that you
cannot rise in the world, without forming connections, and engaging
different characters to conspire in your point. You must make them your
dependents without their knowing it, and dictate to them while you seem
to be directed by them. Those necessary connections can never be formed,
or preserved, but by an uninterrupted series of complaisance, attentions,
politeness, and some constraint. You must engage their hearts, if you
would have their support; you must watch the 'mollia tempora', and
captivate them by the 'agremens' and charms of conversation. People will
not be called out to your service, only when you want them; and, if you
expect to receive strength from them, they must receive either pleasure
or advantage from you.

I received in this instant a letter from Mr. Harte, of the 2d N. S.,
which I will answer soon; in the meantime, I return him my thanks for it,
through you. The constant good accounts which he gives me of you, will
make me suspect him of partiality, and think him 'le medecin tant mieux'.
Consider, therefore, what weight any future deposition of his against you
must necessarily have with me. As, in that case, he will be a very
unwilling, he must consequently be a very important witness. Adieu!


DEAR Boy: My last was upon the subject of good-breeding; but I think it
rather set before you the unfitness and disadvantages of ill-breeding,
than the utility and necessity of good; it was rather negative than
positive. This, therefore, should go further, and explain to you the
necessity, which you, of all people living, lie under, not only of being
positively and actively well-bred, but of shining and distinguishing
yourself by your good-breeding. Consider your own situation in every
particular, and judge whether it is not essentially your interest, by
your own good-breeding to others, to secure theirs to you and that, let
me assure you, is the only way of doing it; for people will repay, and
with interest too, inattention with inattention, neglect with neglect,
and ill manners with worse: which may engage you in very disagreeable
affairs. In the next place, your profession requires, more than any
other, the nicest and most distinguished good-breeding. You will
negotiate with very little success, if you do not previously, by your
manners, conciliate and engage the affections of those with whom you are
to negotiate. Can you ever get into the confidence and the secrets of
the courts where you may happen to reside, if you have not those
pleasing, insinuating manners, which alone can procure them? Upon my
word, I do not say too much, when I say that superior good-breeding,
insinuating manners, and genteel address, are half your business. Your
knowledge will have but very little influence upon the mind, if your
manners prejudice the heart against you; but, on the other hand, how
easily will you DUPE the understanding, where you have first engaged the
heart? and hearts are by no means to be gained by that mere common
civility which everybody practices. Bowing again to those who bow to
you, answering dryly those who speak to you, and saying nothing offensive
to anybody, is such negative good-breeding that it is only not being a
brute; as it would be but a very poor commendation of any man's
cleanliness to say that he did not stink. It is an active, cheerful,
officious, seducing, good-breeding that must gain you the good-will and
first sentiments of men, and the affections of the women. You must
carefully watch and attend to their passions, their tastes, their little
humors and weaknesses, and 'aller au devant'. You must do it at the same
time with alacrity and 'empressement', and not as if you graciously
condescended to humor their weaknesses.

For instance, suppose you invited anybody to dine or sup with you, you
ought to recollect if you had observed that they had any favorite dish,
and take care to provide it for them; and when it came you should say,
YOU LIKED, AND THEREFORE I PROCURED SOME. The more trifling these things
are, the more they prove your attention for the person, and are
consequently the more engaging. Consult your own breast, and recollect
how these little attentions, when shown you by others, flatter that
degree of self-love and vanity from which no man living is free. Reflect
how they incline and attract you to that person, and how you are
propitiated afterward to all which that person says or does. The same
causes will have the same effects in your favor. Women, in a great
degree, establish or destroy every man's reputation of good-breeding; you
must, therefore, in a manner, overwhelm them with these attentions: they
are used to them, they expect them, and, to do them justice, they
commonly requite them. You must be sedulous, and rather over officious
than under, in procuring them their coaches, their chairs, their
conveniences in public places: not see what you should not see; and
rather assist, where you cannot help seeing. Opportunities of showing
these attentions present themselves perpetually; but if they do not, make
them. As Ovid advises his lover, when he sits in the Circus near his
mistress, to wipe the dust off her neck, even if there be none: 'Si
nullus, tamen excute nullum'. Your conversation with women should always
be respectful; but, at the same time, enjoue, and always addressed to
their vanity. Everything you say or do should convince them of the
regard you have (whether you have it or not) for their beauty, their wit,
or their merit. Men have possibly as much vanity as women, though of
another kind; and both art and good-breeding require, that, instead of
mortifying, you should please and flatter it, by words and looks of
approbation. Suppose (which is by no means improbable) that, at your
return to England, I should place you near the person of some one of the
royal family; in that situation, good-breeding, engaging address, adorned
with all the graces that dwell at courts, would very probably make you a
favorite, and, from a favorite, a minister; but all the knowledge and
learning in the world, without them, never would. The penetration of
princes seldom goes deeper than the surface.

It is the exterior that always engages their hearts; and I would never
advise you to give yourself much trouble about their understanding.
Princes in general (I mean those 'Porphyrogenets' who are born and bred
in purple) are about the pitch of women; bred up like them, and are to be
addressed and gained in the same manner. They always see, they seldom
weigh. Your lustre, not your solidity, must take them; your inside will
afterward support and secure what your outside has acquired. With weak
people (and they undoubtedly are three parts in four of mankind) good-
breeding, address, and manners are everything; they can go no deeper; but
let me assure you that they are a great deal even with people of the best
understandings. Where the eyes are not pleased, and the heart is not
flattered, the mind will be apt to stand out. Be this right or wrong,
I confess I am so made myself. Awkwardness and ill-breeding shock me to
that degree, that where I meet with them, I cannot find in my heart to
inquire into the intrinsic merit of that person--I hastily decide in
myself that he can have none; and am not sure that I should not even be
sorry to know that he had any. I often paint you in my imagination, in
your present 'lontananza', and, while I view you in the light of ancient
and modern learning, useful and ornamental knowledge, I am charmed with
the prospect; but when I view you in another light, and represent you
awkward, ungraceful, ill-bred, with vulgar air and manners, shambling
toward me with inattention and DISTRACTIONS, I shall not pretend to
describe to you what I feel; but will do as a skillful painter did
formerly--draw a veil before the countenance of the father.

I dare say you know already enough of architecture, to know that the
Tuscan is the strongest and most solid of all the orders; but at the same
time, it is the coarsest and clumsiest of them. Its solidity does
extremely well for the foundation and base floor of a great edifice; but
if the whole building be Tuscan, it will attract no eyes, it will stop no
passengers, it will invite no interior examination; people will take it
for granted that the finishing and furnishing cannot be worth seeing,
where the front is so unadorned and clumsy. But if, upon the solid
Tuscan foundation, the Doric, the Ionic, and the Corinthian orders rise
gradually with all their beauty, proportions, and ornaments, the fabric
seizes the most incurious eye, and stops the most careless passenger; who
solicits admission as a favor, nay, often purchases it. Just so will it
fare with your, tittle fabric, which, at present, I fear, has more of the
Tuscan than of the Corinthian order. You must absolutely change the
whole front, or nobody will knock at the door. The several parts, which
must compose this new front, are elegant, easy, natural, superior good-
breeding; an engaging address; genteel motions; an insinuating softness
in your looks, words, and actions; a spruce, lively air, fashionable
dress; and all the glitter that a young fellow should have.

I am sure you would do a great deal for my sake; and therefore consider
at your return here, what a disappointment and concern it would be to me,
if I could not safely depute you to do the honors of my house and table;
and if I should be ashamed to present you to those who frequent both.
Should you be awkward, inattentive, and distrait, and happen to meet Mr.
L----- at my table, the consequences of that meeting must be fatal; you
would run your heads against each other, cut each other's fingers,
instead of your meat, or die by the precipitate infusion of scalding

This is really so copious a subject, that there is no end of being either
serious or ludicrous upon it. It is impossible, too, to enumerate or
state to you the various cases in good-breeding; they are infinite; there
is no situation or relation in the world so remote or so intimate, that
does not require a degree of it. Your own good sense must point it out
to you; your own good-nature must incline, and your interest prompt you
to practice it; and observation and experience must give you the manner,
the air and the graces which complete the whole.

This letter will hardly overtake you, till you are at or near Rome.
I expect a great deal in every way from your six months' stay there.
My morning hopes are justly placed in Mr. Harte, and the masters he will
give you; my evening ones, in the Roman ladies: pray be attentive to
both. But I must hint to you, that the Roman ladies are not 'les femmes
savantes, et ne vous embrasseront point pour Pamour du Grec. They must
have 'ilgarbato, il leggiadro, it disinvolto, il lusinghiero, quel non so
che, che piace, che alletta, che incanta'.

I have often asserted, that the profoundest learning and the politest
manners were by no means incompatible, though so seldom found united in
the same person; and I have engaged myself to exhibit you, as a proof of
the truth of this assertion. Should you, instead of that, happen to
disprove me, the concern indeed would be mine, but the loss will be
yours. Lord Bolingbroke is a strong instance on my side of the question;
he joins to the deepest erudition, the most elegant politeness and good-
breeding that ever any courtier and man of the world was adorned with.
And Pope very justly called him "All-accomplished St. John," with regard
to his knowledge and his manners. He had, it is true, his faults; which
proceeded from unbounded ambition, and impetuous passions; but they have
now subsided by age and experience; and I can wish you nothing better
than to be, what he is now, without being what he has been formerly. His
address pre-engages, his eloquence persuades, and his knowledge informs
all who approach him. Upon the whole, I do desire, and insist, that from
after dinner till you go to bed, you make good-breeding, address, and
manners, your serious object and your only care. Without them, you will
be nobody; with them, you may be anything.

Adieu, my dear child! My compliments to Mr. Harte.


LONDON, November 24, O. S. 1749.

DEAR Boy: Every rational being (I take it for granted) proposes to
himself some object more important than mere respiration and obscure
animal existence. He desires to distinguish himself among his fellow-
creatures; and, 'alicui negotio intentus, prreclari facinoris, aut artis
bonae, faman quaerit'. Caesar, when embarking in a storm, said, that it
was not necessary he should live; but that it was absolutely necessary he
should get to the place to which he was going. And Pliny leaves mankind
this only alternative; either of doing what deserves to be written, or of
writing what deserves to be read. As for those who do neither, 'eorum
vitam mortemque juxta aestumo; quoniam de utraque siletur'. You have, I
am convinced, one or both of these objects in view; but you must know and
use the necessary means, or your pursuit will be vain and frivolous. In
either case, 'Sapere est princihium et fons'; but it is by no means all.
That knowledge must be adorned, it must have lustre as well as weight,
or it will be oftener taken, for lead than for gold. Knowledge you have,
and will have: I am easy upon that article. But my business, as your
friend, is not to compliment you upon what you have, but to tell you with
freedom what you want; and I must tell you plainly, that I fear you want
everything but knowledge.

I have written to you so often, of late, upon good-breeding, address,
'les manieres liantes', the Graces, etc., that I shall confine this
letter to another subject, pretty near akin to them, and which, I am
sure, you are full as deficient in; I mean Style.

Style is the dress of thoughts; and let them be ever so just, if your
style is homely, coarse, and vulgar, they will appear to as much
disadvantage, and be as ill received as your person, though ever so well
proportioned, would, if dressed in rags, dirt, and tatters. It is not
every understanding that can judge of matter; but every ear can and does
judge, more or less, of style: and were I either to speak or write to the
public, I should prefer moderate matter, adorned with all the beauties
and elegancies of style, to the strongest matter in the world, ill-worded
and ill-delivered. Your business is negotiation abroad, and oratory in
the House of Commons at home. What figure can you make, in either case,
if your style be inelegant, I do not say bad? Imagine yourself writing
an office-letter to a secretary of state, which letter is to be read by
the whole Cabinet Council, and very possibly afterward laid before
parliament; any one barbarism, solecism, or vulgarism in it, would, in a
very few days, circulate through the whole kingdom, to your disgrace and
ridicule. For instance, I will suppose you had written the following
letter from The Hague to the Secretary of State at London; and leave you
to suppose the consequences of it:

MY LORD: I HAD, last night, the honor of your Lordship's letter of the
24th; and will SET ABOUT DOING the orders contained THEREIN; and IF so BE
that I can get that affair done by the next post, I will not fail FOR TO
give your Lordship an account of it by NEXT POST. I have told the French
Minister, AS HOW THAT IF that affair be not soon concluded, your Lordship
would think it ALL LONG OF HIM; and that he must have neglected FOR TO
have wrote to his court about it. I must beg leave to put your Lordship
in mind AS HOW, that I am now full three quarter in arrear; and if SO BE
that I do not very soon receive at least one half year, I shall CUT A
VERY BAD FIGURE; FOR THIS HERE place is very dear. I shall be VASTLY
BEHOLDEN to your Lordship for THAT THERE mark of your favor; and so I
REST or REMAIN, Your, etc.

You will tell me, possibly, that this is a caricatura of an illiberal and
inelegant style: I will admit it; but assure you, at the same time, that
a dispatch with less than half these faults would blow you up forever.
It is by no means sufficient to be free from faults, in speaking and
writing; but you must do both correctly and elegantly. In faults of this
kind, it is not 'ille optimus qui minimis arguetur'; but he is
unpardonable who has any at all, because it is his own fault: he need
only attend to, observe, and imitate the best authors.

It is a very true saying, that a man must be born a poet, but that he may
make himself an orator; and the very first principle of an orator is to
speak his own language, particularly, with the utmost purity and
elegance. A man will be forgiven even great errors in a foreign
language; but in his own, even the least slips are justly laid hold of
and ridiculed.

A person of the House of Commons, speaking two years ago upon naval
affairs; asserted, that we had then the finest navy UPON THE FACE OF THE
YEARTH. This happy mixture of blunder and vulgarism, you may easily
imagine, was matter of immediate ridicule; but I can assure you that it
continues so still, and will be remembered as long as he lives and
speaks. Another, speaking in defense of a gentleman, upon whom a censure
was moved, happily said that he thought that gentleman was more LIABLE to
be thanked and rewarded, than censured. You know, I presume, that LIABLE
can never be used in a good sense.

You have with you three or four of the best English authors, Dryden,
Atterbury, and Swift; read them with the utmost care, and with a
particular view to their language, and they may possibly correct that
CURIOUS INFELICITY OF DICTION, which you acquired at Westminster.
Mr. Harte excepted, I will admit that you have met with very few English
abroad, who could improve your style; and with many, I dare say, who
speak as ill as yourself, and, it may be, worse; you must, therefore,
take the more pains, and consult your authors and Mr. Harte the more.
I need not tell you how attentive the Romans and Greeks, particularly the
Athenians, were to this object. It is also a study among the Italians
and the French; witness their respective academies and dictionaries for
improving and fixing their languages. To our shame be it spoken, it is
less attended to here than in any polite country; but that is no reason
why you should not attend to it; on the contrary, it will distinguish you
the more. Cicero says, very truly, that it is glorious to excel other
men in that very article, in which men excel brutes; SPEECH.

Constant experience has shown me, that great purity and elegance of
style, with a graceful elocution, cover a multitude of faults, in either
a speaker or a writer. For my own part, I confess (and I believe most
people are of my mind) that if a speaker should ungracefully mutter or
stammer out to me the sense of an angel, deformed by barbarism and
solecisms, or larded with vulgarisms, he should never speak to me a
second time, if I could help it. Gain the heart, or you gain nothing;
the eyes and the ears are the only roads to the heart. Merit and
knowledge will not gain hearts, though they will secure them when gained.
Pray, have that truth ever in your mind. Engage the eyes by your
address, air, and motions; soothe the ears by the elegance and harmony of
your diction; the heart will certainly follow; and the whole man, or
woman, will as certainly follow the heart. I must repeat it to you,
over and over again, that with all the knowledge which you may have at
present, or hereafter acquire, and with all merit that ever man had,
if you have not a graceful address, liberal and engaging manners,
a prepossessing air, and a good degree of eloquence in speaking and
writing; you will be nobody; but will have the daily mortification of
seeing people, with not one-tenth part of your merit or knowledge, get
the start of you, and disgrace you, both in company and in business.

You have read "Quintilian," the best book in the world to form an orator;
pray read 'Cicero de Oratore', the best book in the world to finish one.
Translate and retranslate from and to Latin, Greek, and English; make
yourself a pure and elegant English style: it requires nothing but
application. I do not find that God has made you a poet; and I am very
glad that he has not: therefore, for God's sake, make yourself an orator,
which you may do. Though I still call you boy, I consider you no longer
as such; and when I reflect upon the prodigious quantity of manure that
has been laid upon you, I expect that you should produce more at
eighteen, than uncultivated soils do at eight-and-twenty.

Pray tell Mr. Harte that I have received his letter of the 13th, N. S.
Mr. Smith was much in the right not to let you go, at this time of the
year, by sea; in the summer you may navigate as much as you please; as,
for example, from Leghorn to Genoa, etc. Adieu.


LONDON, November 27, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: While the Roman Republic flourished, while glory was pursued,
and virtue practiced, and while even little irregularities and
indecencies, not cognizable by law, were, however, not thought below the
public care, censors were established, discretionally to supply, in
particular cases, the inevitable defects of the law, which must and can
only be general. This employment I assume to myself with regard to your
little republic, leaving the legislative power entirely to Mr. Harte; I
hope, and believe, that he will seldom, or rather never, have occasion to
exert his supreme authority; and I do by no means suspect you of any
faults that may require that interposition. But, to tell you the plain
truth, I am of opinion that my censorial power will not be useless to
you, nor a sinecure to me. The sooner you make it both, the better for
us both. I can now exercise this employment only upon hearsay, or, at
most, written evidence; and therefore shall exercise it with great lenity
and some diffidence; but when we meet, and that I can form my judgment
upon ocular and auricular evidence, I shall no more let the least
impropriety, indecorum, or irregularity pass uncensured, than my
predecessor Cato did. I shall read you with the attention of a critic,
not with the partiality of an author: different in this respect, indeed,
from most critics, that I shall seek for faults only to correct and not
to expose them. I have often thought, and still think, that there are
few things which people in general know less, than how to love and how to
hate. They hurt those they love by a mistaken indulgence, by a
blindness, nay, often by a partiality to their faults. Where they hate
they hurt themselves, by ill-timed passion and rage. Fortunately for
you, I never loved you in that mistaken manner. From your infancy, I
made you the object of my most serious attention, and not my plaything.
I consulted your real good, not your humors or fancies; and I shall
continue to do so while you want it, which will probably be the case
during our joint lives; for, considering the difference of our ages, in
the course of nature, you will hardly have acquired experience enough of
your own, while I shall be in condition of lending you any of mine.
People in general will much better bear being, told of their vices or
crimes, than of their little failings and weaknesses. They, in some
degree, justify or excuse (as they think) the former, by strong passions,
seductions, and artifices of others, but to be told of, or to confess,
their little failings and weaknesses, implies an inferiority of parts,
too mortifying to that self-love and vanity, which are inseparable from
our natures. I have been intimate enough with several people to tell
them that they had said or done a very criminal thing; but I never was
intimate enough with any man, to tell him, very seriously, that he had
said or done a very foolish one. Nothing less than the relation between
you and me can possibly authorize that freedom; but fortunately for you,
my parental rights, joined to my censorial powers, give it me in its
fullest extent, and my concern for you will make me exert it. Rejoice,
therefore, that there is one person in the world who can and will tell
you what will be very useful to you to know, and yet what no other man
living could or would tell you. Whatever I shall tell you of this kind,
you are very sure, can have no other motive than your interest; I can
neither be jealous nor envious of your reputation or fortune, which I
must be both desirous and proud to establish and promote; I cannot be
your rival either in love or in business; on the contrary, I want the
rays of your rising to reflect new lustre upon my setting light. In
order to this, I shall analyze you minutely, and censure you freely, that
you may not (if possible) have one single spot, when in your meridian.

There is nothing that a young fellow, at his first appearance in the
world, has more reason to dread, and consequently should take more pains
to avoid, than having any ridicule fixed upon him. It degrades him with
the most reasonable part of mankind; but it ruins him with the rest; and
I have known many a man undone by acquiring a ridiculous nickname: I
would not, for all the riches in the world, that you should acquire one
when you return to England. Vices and crimes excite hatred and reproach;
failings, weaknesses, and awkwardnesses, excite ridicule; they are laid
hold of by mimics, who, though very contemptible wretches themselves,
often, by their buffoonery, fix ridicule upon their betters. The little
defects in manners, elocution, address, and air (and even of figure,
though very unjustly), are the objects of ridicule, and the causes of
nicknames. You cannot imagine the grief it would give me, and the
prejudice it would do you, if, by way of distinguishing you from others
of your name, you should happen to be called Muttering Stanhope, Absent
Stanhope, Ill-bred Stanhope, or Awkward, Left-legged Stanhope: therefore,
take great care to put it out of the power of Ridicule itself to give you
any of these ridiculous epithets; for, if you get one, it will stick to
you, like the envenomed shirt. The very first day that I see you,
I shall be able to tell you, and certainly shall tell you, what degree of
danger you are in; and I hope that my admonitions, as censor, may prevent
the censures of the public. Admonitions are always useful; is this one
or not? You are the best judge; it is your own picture which I send you,
drawn, at my request, by a lady at Venice: pray let me know how far, in
your conscience, you think it like; for there are some parts of it which
I wish may, and others, which I should be sorry were. I send you,
literally, the copy of that part of her letter, to her friend here, which
relates to you.--[In compliance to your orders, I have examined young
Stanhope carefully, and think I have penetrated into his character. This
is his portrait, which I take to be a faithful one. His face is
pleasing, his countenance sensible, and his look clever. His figure is
at present rather too square; but if he shoots up, which he has matter
and years for, he will then be of a good size. He has, undoubtedly, a
great fund of acquired knowledge; I am assured that he is master of the
learned languages. As for French, I know he speaks it perfectly, and, I
am told, German as well. The questions he asks are judicious; and denote
a thirst after knowledge. I cannot say that he appears equally desirous
of pleasing, for he seems to neglect attentions and the graces. He does
not come into a room well, nor has he that easy, noble carriage, which
would be proper for him. It is true, he is as yet young and
inexperienced; one may therefore reasonably hope that his exercises,
which he has not yet gone through, and good company, in which he is still
a novice, will polish, and give all that is wanting to complete him.
What seems necessary for that purpose, would, be an attachment to some
woman of fashion, and who knows the world. Some Madame de l'Ursay would
be the proper person. In short, I can assure you, that he has everything
which Lord Chesterfield can wish him, excepting that carriage, those
graces, and the style used in the best company; which he will certainly
acquire in time, and by frequenting the polite world. If he should not,
it would be great pity, since he so well deserves to possess them. You
know their importance. My Lord, his father, knows it too, he being
master of them all. To conclude, if little Stanhope acquires the graces,
I promise you he will make his way; if not, he will be stopped in a
course, the goal of which he might attain with honor.]

Tell Mr. Harte that I have this moment received his letter of the 22d,
N. S., and that I approve extremely of the long stay you have made at
Venice. I love long residences at capitals; running post through
different places is a most unprofitable way of traveling, and admits of
no application. Adieu.

You see, by this extract, of what consequence other people think these
things. Therefore, I hope you will no longer look upon them as trifles.
It is the character of an able man to despise little things in great
business: but then he knows what things are little, and what not. He
does not suppose things are little, because they are commonly called so:
but by the consequences that may or may not attend them. If gaining
people's affections, and interesting their hearts in your favor, be of
consequence, as it undoubtedly is, he knows very well that a happy
concurrence of all those, commonly called little things, manners, air,
address, graces, etc., is of the utmost consequence, and will never be at
rest till he has acquired them. The world is taken by the outside of
things, and we must take the world as it is; you nor I cannot set it
right. I know, at this time, a man of great quality and station, who has
not the parts of a porter; but raised himself to the station he is in,
singly by having a graceful figure, polite manners, and an engaging
address; which, by the way, he only acquired by habit; for he had not
sense enough to get them by reflection. Parts and habit should conspire
to complete you. You will have the habit of good company, and you have
reflection in your power.


LONDON, December 5, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: Those who suppose that men in general act rationally, because
they are called rational creatures, know very little of the world, and if
they act themselves upon that supposition, will nine times in ten find
themselves grossly mistaken. That man is, 'animal bipes, implume,
risibile', I entirely agree; but for the 'rationale', I can only allow it
him 'in actu primo' (to talk logic) and seldom in 'actu secundo'. Thus,
the speculative, cloistered pedant, in his solitary cell, forms systems
of things as they should be, not as they are; and writes as decisively
and absurdly upon war, politics, manners, and characters, as that pedant
talked, who was so kind as to instruct Hannibal in the art of war. Such
closet politicians never fail to assign the deepest motives for the most
trifling actions; instead of often ascribing the greatest actions to the
most trifling causes, in which they would be much seldomer mistaken.
They read and write of kings, heroes, and statesmen, as never doing
anything but upon the deepest principles of sound policy. But those who
see and observe kings, heroes, and statesmen, discover that they have
headaches, indigestions, humors, and passions, just like other people;
everyone of which, in their turns, determine their wills, in defiance of
their reason. Had we only read in the "Life of Alexander," that he
burned Persepolis, it would doubtless have been accounted for from deep
policy: we should have been told, that his new conquest could not have
been secured without the destruction of that capital, which would have
been the constant seat of cabals, conspiracies, and revolts. But,
luckily, we are informed at the same time, that this hero, this demi-god,
this son and heir of Jupiter Ammon, happened to get extremely drunk with
his w---e; and, by way of frolic, destroyed one of the finest cities in
the world. Read men, therefore, yourself, not in books but in nature.
Adopt no systems, but study them yourself. Observe their weaknesses,
their passions, their humors, of all which their understandings are, nine
times in ten, the dupes. You will then know that they are to be gained,
influenced, or led, much oftener by little things than by great ones;
and, consequently, you will no longer think those things little, which
tend to such great purposes.

Let us apply this now to the particular object of this letter; I mean,
speaking in, and influencing public assemblies. The nature of our
constitution makes eloquence more useful, and more necessary, in this
country than in any other in Europe. A certain degree of good sense and
knowledge is requisite for that, as well as for everything else; but
beyond that, the purity of diction, the elegance of style, the harmony of
periods, a pleasing elocution, and a graceful action, are the things
which a public speaker should attend to the most; because his audience
certainly does, and understands them the best; or rather indeed
understands little else. The late Lord Chancellor Cowper's strength as
an orator lay by no means in his reasonings, for he often hazarded very
weak ones. But such was the purity and elegance of his style, such the
propriety and charms of his elocution, and such the gracefulness of his
action, that he never spoke without universal applause; the ears and the
eyes gave him up the hearts and the understandings of the audience. On
the contrary, the late Lord Townshend always spoke materially, with
argument and knowledge, but never pleased. Why? His diction was not
only inelegant, but frequently ungrammatical, always vulgar; his cadences
false, his voice unharmonious, and his action ungraceful. Nobody heard
him with patience; and the young fellows used to joke upon him, and
repeat his inaccuracies. The late Duke of Argyle, though the weakest
reasoner, was the most pleasing speaker I ever knew in my life. He
charmed, he warmed, he forcibly ravished the audience; not by his matter
certainly, but by his manner of delivering it. A most genteel figure,
a graceful, noble air, an harmonious voice, an elegance of style, and a
strength of emphasis, conspired to make him the most affecting,
persuasive, and applauded speaker I ever saw. I was captivated like
others; but when I came home, and coolly considered what he had said,
stripped of all those ornaments in which he had dressed it, I often found
the matter flimsy, the arguments weak, and I was convinced of the power
of those adventitious concurring circumstances, which ignorance of
mankind only calls trifling ones. Cicero, in his book 'De Oratore', in
order to raise the dignity of that profession which he well knew himself
to be at the head of, asserts that a complete orator must be a complete
everything, lawyer, philosopher, divine, etc. That would be extremely
well, if it were possible: but man's life is not long enough; and I hold
him to be the completest orator, who speaks the best upon that subject
which occurs; whose happy choice of words, whose lively imagination,
whose elocution and action adorn and grace his matter, at the same time
that they excite the attention and engage the passions of his audience.

You will be of the House of Commons as soon as you are of age; and you
must first make a figure there, if you would make a figure, or a fortune,
in your country. This you can never do without that correctness and
elegance in your own language, which you now seem to neglect, and which
you have entirely to learn. Fortunately for you, it is to be learned.
Care and observation will do it; but do not flatter yourself, that all
the knowledge, sense, and reasoning in the world will ever make you a
popular and applauded speaker, without the ornaments and the graces of
style, elocution, and action. Sense and argument, though coarsely
delivered, will have their weight in a private conversation, with two or
three people of sense; but in a public assembly they will have none, if
naked and destitute of the advantages I have mentioned. Cardinal de Retz
observes, very justly, that every numerous assembly is a mob, influenced
by their passions, humors, and affections, which nothing but eloquence
ever did or ever can engage. This is so important a consideration for
everybody in this country, and more particularly for you, that I
earnestly recommend it to your most serious care and attention. Mind
your diction, in whatever language you either write or speak; contract a
habit of correctness and elegance. Consider your style, even in the
freest conversation and most familiar letters. After, at least, if not
before, you have said a thing, reflect if you could not have said it
better. Where you doubt of the propriety or elegance of a word or a
phrase, consult some good dead or living authority in that language. Use
yourself to translate, from various languages into English; correct those
translations till they satisfy your ear, as well as your understanding.
And be convinced of this truth, that the best sense and reason in the
world will be as unwelcome in a public assembly, without these ornaments,
as they will in public companies, without the assistance of manners and
politeness. If you will please people, you must please them in their own
way; and, as you cannot make them what they should be, you must take them
as they are. I repeat it again, they are only to be taken by 'agremens',
and by what flatters their senses and their hearts. Rabelais first wrote
a most excellent book, which nobody liked; then, determined to conform to
the public taste, he wrote Gargantua and Pantagruel, which everybody
liked, extravagant as it was. Adieu.


LONDON, December 9, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: It is now above forty years since I have never spoken nor
written one single word, without giving myself at least one moment's time
to consider whether it was a good or a bad one, and whether I could not
find out a better in its place. An unharmonious and rugged period, at
this time, shocks my ears; and I, like all the rest of the world, will
willingly exchange and give up some degree of rough sense, for a good
degree of pleasing sound. I will freely and truly own to you, without
either vanity or false modesty, that whatever reputation I have acquired
as a speaker, is more owing to my constant attention to my diction than
to my matter, which was necessarily just the same as other people's.
When you come into parliament, your reputation as a speaker will depend
much more upon your words, and your periods, than upon the subject. The
same matter occurs equally to everybody of common sense, upon the same
question; the dressing it well, is what excites the attention and
admiration of the audience.

It is in parliament that I have set my heart upon your making a figure;
it is there that I want to have you justly proud of yourself, and to make
me justly proud of you. This means that you must be a good speaker
there; I use the word MUST, because I know you may if you will. The
vulgar, who are always mistaken, look upon a speaker and a comet with the
same astonishment and admiration, taking them both for preternatural
phenomena. This error discourages many young men from attempting that
character; and good speakers are willing to have their talent considered
as something very extraordinary, if not, a peculiar gift of God to his
elect. But let you and me analyze and simplify this good speaker; let us
strip him of those adventitious plumes with which his own pride, and the
ignorance of others, have decked him, and we shall find the true
definition of him to be no more than this: A man of good common sense who
reasons justly and expresses himself elegantly on that subject upon which
he speaks. There is, surely, no witchcraft in this. A man of sense,
without a superior and astonishing degree of parts, will not talk
nonsense upon any subject; nor will he, if he has the least taste or
application, talk inelegantly. What then does all this mighty art and
mystery of speaking in parliament amount to? Why, no more than this:
that the man who speaks in the House of Commons, speaks in that House,
and to four hundred people, that opinion upon a given subject which he
would make no difficulty of speaking in any house in England, round the
fire, or at table, to any fourteen people whatsoever; better judges,
perhaps, and severer critics of what he says, than any fourteen gentlemen
of the House of Commons.

I have spoken frequently in parliament, and not always without some
applause; and therefore I can assure you, from my experience, that there
is very little in it. The elegance of the style, and the turn of the
periods, make the chief impression upon the hearers. Give them but one
or two round and harmonious periods in a speech, which they will retain
and repeat; and they will go home as well satisfied as people do from an
opera, humming all the way one or two favorite tunes that have struck
their ears, and were easily caught. Most people have ears, but few have
judgment; tickle those ears, and depend upon it, you will catch their
judgments, such as they are.

Cicero, conscious that he was at the top of his profession (for in his
time eloquence was a profession), in order to set himself off, defines in
his treatise 'De Oratore', an orator to be such a man as never was, nor
never will be; and, by his fallacious argument, says that he must know
every art and science whatsoever, or how shall he speak upon them? But,
with submission to so great an authority, my definition of an orator is
extremely different from, and I believe much truer than his. I call that
man an orator, who reasons justly, and expresses himself elegantly, upon
whatever subject he treats. Problems in geometry, equations in algebra,
processes in chemistry, and experiments in anatomy, are never, that I
have heard of, the object of eloquence; and therefore I humbly conceive,
that a man may be a very fine speaker, and yet know nothing of geometry,
algebra, chemistry, or anatomy. The subjects of all parliamentary
debates are subjects of common sense singly.

Thus I write whatever occurs to me, that I think may contribute either to
form or inform you. May my labor not be in vain! and it will not, if you
will but have half the concern for yourself that I have for you. Adieu.


LONDON; December 12, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: Lord Clarendon in his history says of Mr. John Hampden THAT HE
MISCHIEF. I shall not now enter into the justness of this character of
Mr. Hampden, to whose brave stand against the illegal demand of ship-
money we owe our present liberties; but I mention it to you as the
character, which with the alteration of one single word, GOOD, instead of
MISCHIEF, I would have you aspire to, and use your utmost endeavors to
deserve. The head to contrive, God must to a certain degree have given
you; but it is in your own power greatly to improve it, by study,
observation, and reflection. As for the TONGUE TO PERSUADE, it wholly
depends upon yourself; and without it the best head will contrive to very
little purpose. The hand to execute depends likewise, in my opinion,
in a great measure upon yourself. Serious reflection will always give
courage in a good cause; and the courage arising from reflection is of a
much superior nature to the animal and constitutional courage of a foot
soldier. The former is steady and unshaken, where the 'nodus' is 'dignus
vindice'; the latter is oftener improperly than properly exerted, but
always brutally.

The second member of my text (to speak ecclesiastically) shall be the
subject of my following discourse; THE TONGUE TO PERSUADE--as judicious,
preachers recommend those virtues, which they think their several
audiences want the most; such as truth and continence, at court;
disinterestedness, in the city; and sobriety, in the country.

You must certainly, in the course of your little experience, have felt
the different effects of elegant and inelegant speaking. Do you not
suffer, when people accost you in a stammering or hesitating manner, in
an untuneful voice, with false accents and cadences; puzzling and
blundering through solecisms, barbarisms, and vulgarisms; misplacing even
their bad words, and inverting all method? Does not this prejudice you
against their matter, be it what it will; nay, even against their
persons? I am sure it does me. On the other hand, do you not feel
yourself inclined, prepossessed, nay, even engaged in favor of those who
address you in the direct contrary manner? The effects of a correct and
adorned style of method and perspicuity, are incredible toward
persuasion; they often supply the want of reason and argument, but, when
used in the support of reason and argument, they are irresistible. The
French attend very much to the purity and elegance of their style, even
in common conversation; insomuch that it is a character to say of a man
'qu'il narre bien'. Their conversations frequently turn upon the
delicacies of their language, and an academy is employed in fixing it.
The 'Crusca', in Italy, has the same object; and I have met with very few
Italians, who did not speak their own language correctly and elegantly.
How much more necessary is it for an Englishman to do so, who is to speak
it in a public assembly, where the laws and liberties of his country are
the subjects of his deliberation? The tongue that would persuade there,
must not content itself with mere articulation. You know what pains
Demosthenes took to correct his naturally bad elocution; you know that he
declaimed by the seaside in storms, to prepare himself for the noise of
the tumultuous assemblies he was to speak to; and you can now judge of
the correctness and elegance of his style. He thought all these things
of consequence, and he thought right; pray do you think so too? It is of
the utmost consequence to you to be of that opinion. If you have the
least defect in your elocution, take the utmost care and pains to correct
it. Do not neglect your style, whatever language you speak in, or
whoever you speak to, were it your footman. Seek always for the best
words and the happiest expressions you can find. Do not content yourself
with being barely understood; but adorn your thoughts, and dress them as
you would your person; which, however well proportioned it might be, it
would be very improper and indecent to exhibit naked, or even worse
dressed than people of your sort are.

I have sent you in a packet which your Leipsig acquaintance, Duval, sends
to his correspondent at Rome, Lord Bolingbroke's book,--["Letters on the
Spirit of Patriotism," on the Idea of a Patriot King which he published
about a year ago.]--I desire that you will read it over and over again,
with particular attention to the style, and to all those beauties of
oratory with which it is adorned. Till I read that book, I confess I did
not know all the extent and powers of the English language. Lord
Bolingbroke has both a tongue and a pen to persuade; his manner of
speaking in private conversation is full as elegant as his writings;
whatever subject he either speaks or writes upon, he adorns with the most
splendid eloquence; not a studied or labored eloquence, but such a
flowing happiness of diction, which (from care perhaps at first) is
become so habitual to him, that even his most familiar conversations, if
taken down in writing, would bear the press, without the least correction
either as to method or style. If his conduct, in the former part of his
life, had been equal to all his natural and acquired talents, he would
most justly have merited the epithet of all-accomplished. He is himself
sensible of his past errors: those violent passions which seduced him in
his youth, have now subsided by age; and take him as he is now, the
character of all-accomplished is more his due than any man's I ever knew
in my life.

But he has been a most mortifying instance of the violence of human
passions and of the weakness of the most exalted human reason. His
virtues and his vices, his reason and his passions, did not blend
themselves by a gradation of tints, but formed a shining and sudden
contrast. Here the darkest, there the most splendid colors; and both
rendered more shining from their proximity. Impetuosity, excess, and
almost extravagance, characterized not only his passions, but even his
senses. His youth was distinguished by all the tumult and storm of
pleasures, in which he most licentiously triumphed, disdaining all
decorum. His fine imagination has often been heated and exhausted, with
his body, in celebrating and deifying the prostitute of the night; and
his convivial joys were pushed to all the extravagance of frantic
Bacchanals. Those passions were interrupted but by a stronger ambition.
The former impaired both his constitution and his character, but the
latter destroyed both his fortune and his reputation.

He has noble and generous sentiments, rather than fixed reflected
principles of good nature and friendship; but they are more violent than
lasting, and suddenly and often varied to their opposite extremes, with
regard to the same persons. He receives the common attentions of
civility as obligations, which he returns with interest; and resents with
passion the little inadvertencies of human nature, which he repays with
interest too. Even a difference of opinion upon a philosophical subject
would provoke, and prove him no practical philosopher at least.

Notwithstanding the dissipation of his youth, and the tumultuous
agitation of his middle age, he has an infinite fund of various and
almost universal knowledge, which, from the clearest and quickest
conception, and happiest memory, that ever man was blessed with, he
always carries about him. It is his pocket-money, and he never has
occasion to draw upon a book for any sum. He excels more particularly in
history, as his historical works plainly prove. The relative political
and commercial interests of every country in Europe, particularly of his
own, are better known to him, than perhaps to any man in it; but how
steadily he has pursued the latter, in his public conduct, his enemies,
of all parties and denominations, tell with joy.

He engaged young, and distinguished himself in business; and his
penetration was almost intuition. I am old enough to have heard him
speak in parliament. And I remember that, though prejudiced against him
by party, I felt all the force and charms of his eloquence. Like Belial
in Milton, "he made the worse appear the better cause." All the internal
and external advantages and talents of an orator are undoubtedly his.
Figure, voice, elocution, knowledge, and, above all, the purest and most
florid diction, with the justest metaphors and happiest images, had
raised him to the post of Secretary at War, at four-and-twenty years old,
an age at which others are hardly thought fit for the smallest

During his long exile in France, he applied himself to study with his
characteristical ardor; and there he formed and chiefly executed the plan
of a great philosophical work. The common bounds of human knowledge are
too narrow for his warm and aspiring imagination. He must go 'extra
flammantia maenia Mundi', and explore the unknown and unknowable regions
of metaphysics; which open an unbounded field for the excursion of an
ardent imagination; where endless conjectures supply the defect of
unattainable knowledge, and too often usurp both its name and its

He has had a very handsome person, with a most engaging address in his
air and manners; he has all the dignity and good-breeding which a man of
quality should or can have, and which so few, in this country at least,
really have.

He professes himself a deist; believing in a general Providence, but
doubting of, though by no means rejecting (as is commonly supposed) the
immortality of the soul and a future state.

Upon the whole, of this extraordinary man, what can we say, but, alas,
poor human nature!

In your destination, you will have frequent occasions to speak in public;
to princes and states abroad; to the House of Commons at home; judge,
then, whether eloquence is necessary for you or not; not only common
eloquence, which is rather free from faults than adorned by beauties; but
the highest, the most shining degree of eloquence. For God's sake, have
this object always in your view and in your thoughts. Tune your tongue
early to persuasion; and let no jarring, dissonant accents ever fall from
it, Contract a habit of speaking well upon every occasion, and neglect
yourself in no one. Eloquence and good-breeding, alone, with an
exceeding small degree of parts and knowledge, will carry a man a great
way; with your parts and knowledge, then, how far will they not carry
you? Adieu.



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