Letters to His Son, 1752
The Earl of Chesterfield

Part 1 out of 2

This etext was produced by David Widger

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]



on the Fine Art of becoming a


and a



LONDON, January 2, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Laziness of mind, or inattention, are as great enemies to
knowledge as incapacity; for, in truth, what difference is there between
a man who will not, and a man who cannot be informed? This difference
only, that the former is justly to be blamed, the latter to be pitied.
And yet how many there are, very capable of receiving knowledge, who from
laziness, inattention, and incuriousness, will not so much as ask for it,
much less take the least pains to acquire it!

Our young English travelers generally distinguish themselves by a
voluntary privation of all that useful knowledge for which they are sent
abroad; and yet, at that age, the most useful knowledge is the most easy
to be acquired; conversation being the book, and the best book in which
it is contained. The drudgery of dry grammatical learning is over, and
the fruits of it are mixed with, and adorned by, the flowers of
conversation. How many of our young men have been a year at Rome, and as
long at Paris, without knowing the meaning and institution of the
Conclave in the former, and of the parliament in the latter? and this
merely for want of asking the first people they met with in those several
places, who could at least have given them some general notions of those

You will, I hope, be wiser, and omit no opportunity (for opportunities
present themselves every hour of the day) of acquainting yourself with
all those political and constitutional particulars of the kingdom and
government of France. For instance, when you hear people mention le
Chancelier, or 'le Garde de Sceaux', is it any great trouble for you to
ask, or for others to tell you, what is the nature, the powers, the
objects, and the profits of those two employments, either when joined
together, as they often are, or when separate, as they are at present?
When you hear of a gouverneur, a lieutenant du Roi, a commandant, and an
intendant of the same province, is, it not natural, is it not becoming,
is it not necessary, for a stranger to inquire into their respective
rights and privileges? And yet, I dare say, there are very few
Englishmen who know the difference between the civil department of the
Intendant, and the military powers of the others. When you hear (as I am
persuaded you must) every day of the 'Vingtieme', which is one in twenty,
and consequently five per cent., inquire upon what that tax is laid,
whether upon lands, money, merchandise, or upon all three; how levied,
and what it is supposed to produce. When you find in books: (as you will
sometimes) allusion to particular laws and customs, do not rest till you
have traced them up to their source. To give you two examples: you will
meet in some French comedies, 'Cri', or 'Clameur de Haro'; ask what it
means, and you will be told that it is a term of the law in Normandy, and
means citing, arresting, or obliging any person to appear in the courts
of justice, either upon a civil or a criminal account; and that it is
derived from 'a Raoul', which Raoul was anciently Duke of Normandy, and a
prince eminent for his justice; insomuch, that when any injustice was
committed, the cry immediately was, 'Venez, a Raoul, a Raoul', which
words are now corrupted and jumbled into 'haro'. Another, 'Le vol du
Chapon, that is, a certain district of ground immediately contiguous to
the mansion-seat of a family, and answers to what we call in English
DEMESNES. It is in France computed at about 1,600 feet round the house,
that being supposed to be the extent of the capon's flight from 'la basse
cour'. This little district must go along with the mansion-seat, however
the rest of the estate may be divided.

I do not mean that you should be a French lawyer; but I would not have
you unacquainted with the general principles of their law, in matters
that occur every day: Such is the nature of their descents, that is, the
inheritance of lands: Do they all go to the eldest son, or are they
equally divided among the children of the deceased? In England, all
lands unsettled descend to the eldest son, as heir-at-law, unless
otherwise disposed of by the father's will, except in the county of Kent,
where a particular custom prevails, called Gavelkind; by which, if the
father dies intestate, all his children divide his lands equally among
them. In Germany, as you know, all lands that, are not fiefs are equally
divided among all the children, which ruins those families; but all male
fiefs of the empire descend unalienably to the next male heir, which
preserves those families. In France, I believe, descents vary in
different provinces.

The nature of marriage contracts deserves inquiry. In England, the
general practice is, the husband takes all the wife's fortune; and in
consideration of it settles upon her a proper pin-money, as it is called;
that is, an annuity during his life, and a jointure after his death. In
France it is not so, particularly at Paris; where 'la communaute des
biens' is established. Any married woman at Paris (IF YOU ARE ACQUAINTED
WITH ONE) can inform you of all these particulars.

These and other things of the same nature, are the useful and rational
objects of the curiosity of a man of sense and business. Could they only
be attained by laborious researches in folio-books, and wormeaten
manuscripts, I should not wonder at a young fellow's being ignorant of
them; but as they are the frequent topics of conversation, and to be
known by a very little degree of curiosity, inquiry and attention, it is
unpardonable not to know them.

Thus I have given you some hints only for your inquiries; 'l'Etat de la
France, l'Almanach Royal', and twenty other such superficial books, will
furnish you with a thousand more. 'Approfondissez.'

How often, and how justly, have I since regretted negligences of this
kind in my youth! And how often have I since been at great trouble to
learn many things which I could then have learned without any! Save
yourself now, then, I beg of you, that regret and trouble hereafter. Ask
questions, and many questions; and leave nothing till you are thoroughly
informed of it. Such pertinent questions are far from being illbred or
troublesome to those of whom you ask them; on the contrary, they are a
tacit compliment to their knowledge; and people have a better opinion of
a young man, when they see him desirous to be informed.

I have by last post received your two letters of the 1st and 5th of
January, N. S. I am very glad that you have been at all the shows at
Versailles: frequent the courts. I can conceive the murmurs of the
French at the poorness of the fireworks, by which they thought their king
of their country degraded; and, in truth, were things always as they
should be, when kings give shows they ought to be magnificent.

I thank you for the 'These de la Sorbonne', which you intend to send me,
and which I am impatient to receive. But pray read it carefully yourself
first; and inform yourself what the Sorbonne is by whom founded, and for
what puraoses.

Since you have time, you have done very well to take an Italian and a
German master; but pray take care to leave yourelf time enough for
company; for it is in company only that you can learn what will be much
more useful to you than either Italian or German; I mean 'la politesse,
les manieres et les graces, without which, as I told you long ago, and I
told you true, 'ogni fatica a vana'. Adieu.

Pray make my compliments to Lady Brown.


LONDON, January 6, O. S. 1752.


I recommended to you, in my last, some inquiries into the constitution of
that famous society the Sorbonne; but as I cannot wholly trust to the
diligence of those inquiries, I will give you here the outlines of that
establishment; which may possibly excite you to inform yourself of
particulars, which you are more 'a portee' to know than I am.

It was founded by Robert de Sorbon, in the year 1256 for sixteen poor
scholars in divinity; four of each nation, of the university of which it
made a part; since that it hath been much extended and enriched,
especially by the liberality and pride of Cardinal Richelieu; who made it
a magnificent building for six-and-thirty doctors of that society to live
in; besides which, there are six professors and schools for divinity.
This society has long been famous for theological knowledge and
exercitations. There unintelligible points are debated with passion,
though they can never be determined by reason. Logical subtilties set
common sense at defiance; and mystical refinements disfigure and disguise
the native beauty and simplicity of true natural religion; wild
imaginations form systems, which weak minds adopt implicitly, and which
sense and reason oppose in vain; their voice is not strong enough to be
heard in schools of divinity. Political views are by no means neglected
in those sacred places; and questions are agitated and decided, according
to the degree of regard, or rather submission, which the Sovereign is
pleased to show the Church. Is the King a slave to the Church, though a
tyrant to the laity? The least resistance to his will shall be declared
damnable. But if he will not acknowledge the superiority of their
spiritual over his temporal, nor even admit their 'imperium in imperio',
which is the least they will compound for, it becomes meritorious not
only to resist, but to depose him. And I suppose that the bold
propositions in the thesis you mention, are a return for the valuation of
'les biens du Clerge'.

I would advise you, by all means, to attend to two or three of their
public disputations, in order to be informed both of the manner and the
substance of those scholastic exercises. Pray remember to go to all
those kind of things. Do not put it off, as one is too apt to do those
things which one knows can be done every day, or any day; for one
afterward repents extremely, when too late, the not having done them.

But there is another (so-called) religious society, of which the minutest
circumstance deserves attention, and furnishes great matter for useful
reflections. You easily guess that I mean the society of 'les R. R. P.
P. Jesuites', established but in the year 1540, by a Bull of Pope Paul
III. Its progress, and I may say its victories, were more rapid than
those of the Romans; for within the same century it governed all Europe;
and, in the next, it extended its influence over the whole world. Its
founder was an abandoned profligate Spanish officer, Ignatius Loyola;
who, in the year 1521, being wounded in the leg at the 'siege of
Pampeluna, went mad from the smart of his wound, the reproaches of his
conscience, and his confinement, during which he read the lives of the
Saints. Consciousness of guilt, a fiery temper, and a wild imagination,
the common ingredients of enthusiasm, made this madman devote himself to
the particular service of the Virgin Mary; whose knight-errant he
declared himself, in the very same form in which the old knight-errants
in romances used to declare themselves the knights and champions of
certain beautiful and incomparable princesses, whom sometimes they had,
but oftener had not, seen. For Dulcinea del Toboso was by no means the
first princess whom her faithful and valorous knight had never seen in
his life. The enthusiast went to the Holy Land, from whence he returned
to Spain, where he began to learn Latin and philosophy at three-and-
thirty years old, so that no doubt but he made great progress in both.
The better to carry on his mad and wicked designs, he chose four
disciples, or rather apostles, all Spaniards, viz, Laynes, Salmeron,
Bobadilla, and Rodriguez. He then composed the rules and constitutions
of his order; which, in the year 1547, was called the order of Jesuits,
from the church of Jesus in Rome, which was given them. Ignatius died in
1556, aged sixty-five, thirty-five years after his conversion, and
sixteen years after the establishment of his society. He was canonized
in the year 1609, and is doubtless now a saint in heaven.

If the religious and moral principles of this society are to be detested,
as they justly are, the wisdom of their political principles is as justly
to be admired. Suspected, collectively as an order, of the greatest
crimes, and convicted of many, they have either escaped punishment, or
triumphed after it; as in France, in the reign of Henry IV. They have,
directly or indirectly, governed the consciences and the councils of all
the Catholic princes in Europe; they almost governed China in the reign
of Cangghi; and they are now actually in possession of the Paraguay in
America, pretending, but paying no obedience to the Crown of Spain.
As a collective body they are detested, even by all the Catholics, not
excepting the clergy, both secular and regular, and yet, as individuals,
they are loved, respected, and they govern wherever they are.

Two things, I believe, contribute to their success. The first, that
passive, implicit, unlimited obedience to their General (who always
resides at Rome), and to the superiors of their several houses, appointed
by him. This obedience is observed by them all to a most astonishing
degree; and, I believe, there is no one society in the world, of which so
many individuals sacrifice their private interest to the general one of
the society itself. The second is the education of youth, which they
have in a manner engrossed; there they give the first, and the first are
the lasting impressions; those impressions are always calculated to be
favorable to the society. I have known many Catholics, educated by the
Jesuits, who, though they detested the society, from reason and
knowledge, have always remained attached to it, from habit and prejudice.
The, Jesuits know, better than any set of people in the world, the
importance of the art of pleasing, and study it more; they become all
things to all men in order to gain, not a few, but many. In Asia,
Africa, and America they become more than half pagans, in order to
convert the pagans to be less than half Christians. In private families
they begin by insinuating themselves as friends, they grow to be
favorites, and they end DIRECTORS. Their manners are not like those of
any other regulars in the world, but gentle, polite, and engaging. They
are all carefully bred up to that particular destination, to which they
seem to have a natural turn; for which reason one sees most Jesuits excel
in some particular thing. They even breed up some for martyrdom in case
of need; as the superior of a Jesuit seminary at Rome told Lord
Bolingbroke. 'E abbiamo anche martiri per il martirio, se bisogna'.

Inform yourself minutely of everything concerning this extraordinary
establishment; go into their houses, get acquainted with individuals,
hear some of them preach. The finest preacher I ever heard in my life is
le Pere Neufville, who, I believe, preaches still at Paris, and is so
much in the best company, that you may easily get personally acquainted
with him.

If you would know their 'morale' read Pascal's 'Lettres Provinciales', in
which it is very truly displayed from their own writings.

Upon the whole, this is certain, that a society of which so little good
is said, and so much ill believed, and that still not only subsists, but
flourishes, must be a very able one. It is always mentioned as a proof
of the superior abilities of the Cardinal Richelieu, that, though hated
by all the nation, and still more by his master, he kept his power in
spite of both.

I would earnestly wish you to do everything now, which I wish, that I had
done at your age, and did not do. Every country has its peculiarities,
which one can be much better informed of during one's residence there,
than by reading all the books in the world afterward. While you are in
Catholic countries, inform yourself of all the forms and ceremonies of
that tawdry church; see their converts both of men and women, know their
several rules and orders, attend their most remarkable ceremonies; have
their terms of art explained to you, their 'tierce, sexte, nones,
matines; vepres, complies'; their 'breviares, rosaires, heures,
chapelets, agnus', etc., things that many people talk of from habit,
though few people know the true meaning of anyone of them. Converse
with, and study the characters of some of those incarcerated enthusiasts.
Frequent some 'parloirs', and see the air and manners of those Recluse,
who are a distinct nation themselves, and like no other.

I dined yesterday with Mrs. F----d, her mother and husband. He is an
athletic Hibernian, handsome in his person, but excessively awkward and
vulgar in his air and manner. She inquired much after you, and, I
thought, with interest. I answered her as a 'Mezzano' should do: 'Et je
pronai votre tendresse, vos soins, et vos soupirs'.

When you meet with any British returning to their own country, pray send
me by them any little 'brochures, factums, theses', etc., 'qui font du
bruit ou du plaisir a Paris'. Adieu, child.


LONDON, January 23, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Have you seen the new tragedy of Varon,--[Written by the
Vicomte de Grave; and at that time the general topic of conversation at
Paris.]--and what do you think of it? Let me know, for I am determined
to form my taste upon yours. I hear that the situations and incidents
are well brought on, and the catastrophe unexpected and surprising, but
the verses bad. I suppose it is the subject of all conversations at
Paris, where both women and men are judges and critics of all such
performances; such conversations, that both form and improve the taste,
and whet the judgment; are surely preferable to the conversations of our
mixed companies here; which, if they happen to rise above bragg and
whist, infallibly stop short of everything either pleasing or

I take the reason of this to be, that (as women generally give the 'ton'
to the conversation) our English women are not near so well informed and
cultivated as the French; besides that they are naturally more serious
and silent.

I could wish there were a treaty made between the French and English
theatres, in which both parties should make considerable concessions.
The English ought to give up their notorious violations of all the
unities; and all their massacres, racks, dead bodies, and mangled
carcasses, which they so frequently exhibit upon their stage. The French
should engage to have more action and less declamation; and not to cram
and crowd things together, to almost a degree of impossibility, from a
too scrupulous adherence to the unities. The English should restrain the
licentiousness of their poets, and the French enlarge the liberty of
theirs; their poets are the greatest slaves in their country, and that is
a bold word; ours are the most tumultuous subjects in England, and that
is saying a good deal. Under such regulations one might hope to see a
play in which one should not be lulled to sleep by the length of a
monotonical declamation, nor frightened and shocked by the barbarity of
the action. The unity of time extended occasionally to three or four
days, and the unity of place broke into, as far as the same street, or
sometimes the same town; both which, I will affirm, are as probable as
four-and-twenty hours, and the same room.

More indulgence too, in my mind, should be shown, than the French are
willing to allow, to bright thoughts, and to shining images; for though,
I confess, it is not very natural for a hero or a princess to say fine
things in all the violence of grief, love, rage, etc., yet, I can as well
suppose that, as I can that they should talk to themselves for half an
hour; which they must necessarily do, or no tragedy could be carried on,
unless they had recourse to a much greater absurdity, the choruses of the
ancients. Tragedy is of a nature, that one must see it with a degree of
self-deception; we must lend ourselves a little to the delusion; and I am
very willing to carry that complaisance a little farther than the French

Tragedy must be something bigger than life, or it would not affect us.
In nature the most violent passions are silent; in tragedy they must
speak, and speak with dignity too. Hence the necessity of their being
written in verse, and unfortunately for the French, from the weakness of
their language, in rhymes. And for the same reason, Cato the Stoic,
expiring at Utica, rhymes masculine and feminine at Paris; and fetches
his last breath at London, in most harmmonious and correct blank verse.

It is quite otherwise with Comedy, which should be mere common life, and
not one jot bigger. Every character should speak upon the stage, not
only what it would utter in the situation there represented, but in the
same manner in which it would express it. For which reason I cannot
allow rhymes in comedy, unless they were put into the mouth, and came out
of the mouth of a mad poet. But it is impossible to deceive one's self
enough (nor is it the least necessary in comedy) to suppose a dull rogue
of an usurer cheating, or 'gross Jean' blundering in the finest rhymes in
the world.

As for Operas, they are essentially too absurd and extravagant to
mention; I look upon them as a magic scene, contrived to please the eyes
and the ears, at the expense of the understanding; and I consider
singing, rhyming, and chiming heroes, and princesses, and philosophers,
as I do the hills, the trees, the birds, and the beasts, who amicably
joined in one common country dance, to the irresistible turn of Orpheus's
lyre. Whenever I go to an opera, I leave my sense and reason at the door
with my half guinea, and deliver myself up to my eyes and my ears.

Thus I have made you my poetical confession; in which I have acknowledged
as many sins against the established taste in both countries, as a frank
heretic could have owned against the established church in either, but I
am now privileged by my age to taste and think for myself, and not to
care what other people think of me in those respects; an advantage which
youth, among its many advantages, hath not. It must occasionally and
outwardly conform, to a certain degree, to establish tastes, fashions,
and decisions. A young man may, with a becoming modesty, dissent, in
private companies, from public opinions and prejudices: but he must not
attack them with warmth, nor magisterially set up his own sentiments
against them. Endeavor to hear, and know all opinions; receive them with
complaisance; form your own with coolness, and give it with modesty.

I have received a letter from Sir John Lambert, in which he requests me
to use my interest to procure him the remittance of Mr. Spencer's money,
when he goes abroad and also desires to know to whose account he is to
place the postage of my letters. I do not trouble him with a letter in
answer, since you can execute the commission. Pray make my compliments
to him, and assure him that I will do all I can to procure him Mr.
Spencer's business; but that his most effectual way will be by Messrs.
Hoare, who are Mr. Spencer's cashiers, and who will undoubtedly have
their choice upon whom they will give him his credit. As for the postage
of the letters, your purse and mine being pretty near the same, do you
pay it, over and above your next draught.

Your relations, the Princes B-----, will soon be with you at Paris; for
they leave London this week: whenever you converse with them, I desire it
may be in Italian; that language not being yet familiar enough to you.

By our printed papers, there seems to be a sort of compromise between the
King and the parliament, with regard to the affairs of the hospitals, by
taking them out of the hands of the Archbishop of Paris, and placing them
in Monsieur d'Argenson's: if this be true, that compromise, as it is
called, is clearly a victory on the side of the court, and a defeat on
the part of the parliament; for if the parliament had a right, they had
it as much to the exclusion of Monsieur d'Argenson as of the Archbishop.


LONDON, February 6, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Your criticism of Varon is strictly just; but, in truth,
severe. You French critics seek for a fault as eagerly as I do for a
beauty: you consider things in the worst light, to show your skill, at
the expense of your pleasure; I view them in the best, that I may have
more pleasure, though at the expense of my judgment. A 'trompeur
trompeur et demi' is prettily said; and, if you please, you may call
'Varon, un Normand', and 'Sostrate, un Manceau, qui vaut un Normand et
demi'; and, considering the 'denouement' in the light of trick upon
trick, it would undoubtedly be below the dignity of the buskin, and
fitter for the sock.

But let us see if we cannot bring off the author. The great question
upon which all turns, is to discover and ascertain who Cleonice really
is. There are doubts concerning her 'etat'; how shall they be cleared?
Had the truth been extorted from Varon (who alone knew) by the rack, it
would have been a true tragical 'denouement'. But that would probably
not have done with Varon, who is represented as a bold, determined,
wicked, and at that time desperate fellow; for he was in the hands of an
enemy who he knew could not forgive him, with common prudence or safety.
The rack would, therefore, have extorted no truth from him; but he would
have died enjoying the doubts of his enemies, and the confusion that must
necessarily attend those doubts. A stratagem is therefore thought of to
discover what force and terror could not, and the stratagem such as no
king or minister would disdain, to get at an important discovery. If you
call that stratagem a TRICK, you vilify it, and make it comical; but call
that trick a STRATAGEM, or a MEASURE, and you dignify it up to tragedy:
so frequently do ridicule or dignity turn upon one single word. It is
commonly said, and more particularly by Lord Shaftesbury, that ridicule
is the best test of truth; for that it will not stick where it is not
just. I deny it. A truth learned in a certain light, and attacked in
certain words, by men of wit and humor, may, and often doth, become
ridiculous, at least so far that the truth is only remembered and
repeated for the sake of the ridicule. The overturn of Mary of Medicis
into a river, where she was half-drowned, would never have been
remembered if Madame de Vernuel, who saw it, had not said 'la Reine
boit'. Pleasure or malignity often gives ridicule a weight which it does
not deserve. The versification, I must confess, is too much neglected
and too often bad: but, upon the whole, I read the play with pleasure.

If there is but a great deal of wit and character in your new comedy, I
will readily compound for its having little or no plot. I chiefly mind
dialogue and character in comedies. Let dull critics feed upon the
carcasses of plays; give me the taste and the dressing.

I am very glad you went to Versailles to see the ceremony of creating the
Prince de Conde 'Chevalier de l' Ordre'; and I do not doubt but that upon
this occasion you informed yourself thoroughly of the institution and
rules of that order. If you did, you were certainly told it was
instituted by Henry III. immediately after his return, or rather his
flight from Poland; he took the hint of it at Venice, where he had seen
the original manuscript of an order of the 'St. Esprit, ou droit desir',
which had been instituted in 1352, by Louis d'Anjou, King of Jerusalem
and Sicily, and husband to Jane, Queen of Naples, Countess of Provence.
This Order was under the protection of St. Nicholas de Bari, whose image
hung to the collar. Henry III. found the Order of St. Michael
prostituted and degraded, during the civil wars; he therefore joined it
to his new Order of the St. Esprit, and gave them both together; for
which reason every knight of the St. Esprit is now called Chevalier des
Ordres du Roi. The number of the knights hath been different, but is now
fixed to ONE HUNDRED, exclusive of the sovereign. There, are many
officers who wear the riband of this Order, like the other knights; and
what is very singular is, that these officers frequently sell their
employments, but obtain leave to wear the blue riband still, though the
purchasers of those offices wear it also.

As you will have been a great while in France, people will expect that
you should be 'au fait' of all these sort of things relative to that
country. But the history of all the Orders of all countries is well
worth your knowledge; the subject occurs often, and one should not be
ignorant of it, for fear of some such accident as happened to a solid
Dane at Paris, who, upon seeing 'L'Ordre du St. Esprit', said, 'Notre St.
Esprit chez nous c'est un Elephant'. Almost all the princes in Germany
have their Orders too; not dated, indeed, from any important events, or
directed to any great object, but because they will have orders, to show
that they may; as some of them, who have the 'jus cudendae monetae',
borrow ten shillings worth of gold to coin a ducat. However, wherever
you meet with them, inform yourself, and minute down a short account of
them; they take in all the colors of Sir Isaac Newton's prisms. N. B:
When you inquire about them, do not seem to laugh.

I thank you for le Mandement de Monseigneur l'Archeveyue; it is very well
drawn, and becoming an archbishop. But pray do not lose sight of a much
more important object, I mean the political disputes between the King and
the parliament, and the King and the clergy; they seem both to be
patching up; but, however, get the whole clue to them, as far as they
have gone.

I received a letter yesterday from Madame Monconseil, who assures me you
have gained ground 'du cote des maniires', and that she looks upon you to
be 'plus qu'a moitie chemin'. I am very glad to hear this, because, if
you are got above half way of your journey, surely you will finish it,
and not faint in the course. Why do you think I have this affair so
extremely at heart, and why do I repeat it so often? Is it for your
sake, or for mine? You can immediately answer yourself that question;
you certainly have--I cannot possibly have any interest in it. If then
you will allow me, as I believe you may, to be a judge of what is useful
and necessary to you, you must, in consequence, be convinced of the
infinite importance of a point which I take so much pains to inculcate.

I hear that the new Duke of Orleans 'a remercie Monsieur de Melfort, and
I believe, 'pas sans raison', having had obligations to him; 'mais il ne
l'a pas remercie en mari poli', but rather roughly. Il faut que ce soit
un bourru'. I am told, too, that people get bits of his father's rags,
by way of relies; I wish them joy, they will do them a great deal of
good. See from hence what weaknesses human nature is capable of, and
make allowances for such in all your plans and reasonings. Study the
characters of the people you have to do with, and know what they are,
instead of thinking them what they should be; address yourself generally
to the senses, to the heart, and to the weaknesses of mankind, but very
rarely to their reason.

Good-night or good-morrow to you, according to the time you shall receive
this letter from, Yours.


LONDON, February 14, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: In a month's time, I believe I shall have the pleasure of
sending you, and you will have the pleasure of reading, a work of Lord
Bolingbroke's, in two volumes octavo, "Upon the Use of History," in
several letters to Lord Hyde, then Lord Cornbury. It is now put into the
press. It is hard to determine whether this work will instruct or please
most: the most material historical facts, from the great era of the
treaty of Munster, are touched upon, accompanied by the most solid
reflections, and adorned by all that elegance of style which was peculiar
to himself, and in which, if Cicero equals, he certainly does not exceed
him; but every other writer falls short of him. I would advise you
almost to get this book by heart. I think you have a turn to history,
you love it, and have a memory to retain it: this book will teach you the
proper use of it. Some people load their memories indiscriminately with
historical facts, as others do their stomachs with food; and bring out
the one, and bring up the other, entirely crude and undigested. You will
find in Lord Bolingbroke's book an infallible specific against that
epidemical complaint.--[It is important to remember that at this time
Lord Bolingbroke's philosophical works had not appeared; which accounts
for Lord Chesterfield's recommending to his son, in this, as well as in
some foregoing passages, the study of Lord Bolingbroke's writings.]

I remember a gentleman who had read history in this thoughtless and
undistinguishing manner, and who, having traveled, had gone through the
Valtelline. He told me that it was a miserable poor country, and
therefore it was, surely, a great error in Cardinal Richelieu to make
such a rout, and put France to so much expense about it. Had my friend
read history as he ought to have done, he would have known that the great
object of that great minister was to reduce the power of the House of
Austria; and in order to that, to cut off as much as he could the
communication between the several parts of their then extensive
dominions; which reflections would have justified the Cardinal to him,
in the affair of the Valtelline. But it was easier to him to remember
facts, than to combine and reflect.

One observation I hope you will make in reading history; for it is an
obvious and a true one. It is, that more people have made great figures
and great fortunes in courts by their exterior accomplishments, than by
their interior qualifications. Their engaging address, the politeness of
their manners, their air, their turn, hath almost always paved the way
for their superior abilities, if they have such, to exert themselves.
They have been favorites before they have been ministers. In courts, an
universal gentleness and 'douceur dans les manieres' is most absolutely
necessary: an offended fool, or a slighted valet de chambre, may very
possibly do you more hurt at court, than ten men of merit can do you
good. Fools, and low people, are always jealous of their dignity, and
never forget nor forgive what they reckon a slight: on the other hand,
they take civility and a little attention as a favor; remember, and
acknowledge it: this, in my mind, is buying them cheap; and therefore
they are worth buying. The prince himself, who is rarely the shining
genius of his court, esteems you only by hearsay but likes you by his
senses; that is, from your air, your politeness, and your manner of
addressing him, of which alone he is a judge. There is a court garment,
as well as a wedding garment, without which you will not be received.
That garment is the 'volto sciolto'; an imposing air, an elegant
politeness, easy and engaging manners, universal attention, an
insinuating gentleness, and all those 'je ne sais quoi' that compose the

I am this moment disagreeably interrupted by a letter; not from you, as I
expected, but from a friend of yours at Paris, who informs me that you
have a fever which confines you at home. Since you have a fever, I am
glad you have prudence enough in it to stay at home, and take care of
yourself; a little more prudence might probably have prevented it. Your
blood is young, and consequently hot; and you naturally make a great deal
by your good stomach and good digestion; you should, therefore,
necessarily attenuate and cool it, from time to time, by gentle purges,
or by a very low diet, for two or three days together, if you would avoid
fevers. Lord Bacon, who was a very great physician in both senses of the
word, hath this aphorism in his "Essay upon Health," 'Nihil magis ad
Sanitatem tribuit quam crebrae et domesticae purgationes'. By
'domesticae', he means those simple uncompounded purgatives which
everybody can administer to themselves; such as senna-tea, stewed prunes
and senria, chewing a little rhubarb, or dissolving an ounce and a half
of manna in fair water, with the juice of a lemon to make it palatable.
Such gentle and unconfining evacuations would certainly prevent those
feverish attacks to which everybody at your age is subject.

By the way, I do desire, and insist, that whenever, from any
indisposition, you are not able to write to me upon the fixed days, that
Christian shall; and give me a TRUE account how you are. I do not expect
from him the Ciceronian epistolary style; but I will content myself with
the Swiss simplicity and truth.

I hope you extend your acquaintance at Paris, and frequent variety of
companies; the only way of knowing the world; every set of company
differs in some particulars from another; and a man of business must, in
the course of his life, have to do with all sorts. It is a very great
advantage to know the languages of the several countries one travels in;
and different companies may, in some degree, be considered as different
countries; each hath its distinctive language, customs, and manners: know
them all, and you will wonder at none.

Adieu, child. Take care of your health; there are no pleasures without


LONDON, February 20, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: In all systems whatsoever, whether of religion,
government, morals, etc., perfection is the object always proposed,
though possibly unattainable; hitherto, at least, certainly unattained.
However, those who aim carefully at the mark itself, will unquestionably
come nearer it, than those who from despair, negligence, or indolence,
leave to chance the work of skill. This maxim holds equally true in
common life; those who aim at perfection will come infinitely nearer it
than those desponding or indolent spirits, who foolishly say to
themselves: Nobody is perfect; perfection is unattainable; to attempt it
is chimerical; I shall do as well as others; why then should I give
myself trouble to be what I never can, and what, according to the common
course of things, I need not be, PERFECT?

I am very sure that I need not point out to you the weakness and the
folly of this reasoning, if it deserves the name of reasoning. It would
discourage and put a stop to the exertion of any one of our faculties.
On the contrary, a man of sense and spirit says to himself: Though the
point of perfection may (considering the imperfection of our nature) be
unattainable, my care, my endeavors, my attention, shall not be wanting
to get as near it as I can. I will approach it every day, possibly, I
may arrive at it at last; at least, what I am sure is in my own power,
I will not be distanced. Many fools (speaking of you) say to me: What!
would you have him perfect? I answer: Why not? What hurt would it do
him or me? O, but that is impossible, say they; I reply, I am not sure
of that: perfection in the abstract, I admit to be unattainable, but what
is commonly called perfection in a character I maintain to be attainable,
and not only that, but in every man's power. He hath, continue they, a
good head, a good heart, a good fund of knowledge, which would increase
daily: What would you have more? Why, I would have everything more that
can adorn and complete a character. Will it do his head, his heart, or
his knowledge any harm, to have the utmost delicacy of manners, the most
shining advantages of air and address, the most endearing attentions, and
the most engaging graces? But as he is, say they, he is loved wherever
he is known. I am very glad of it, say I; but I would have him be liked
before he is known, and loved afterward. I would have him, by his first
abord and address, make people wish to know him, and inclined to love
him: he will save a great deal of time by it. Indeed, reply they, you
are too nice, too exact, and lay too much stress upon things that are of
very little consequence. Indeed, rejoin I, you know very little of the
nature of mankind, if you take those things to be of little consequence:
one cannot be too attentive to them; it is they that always engage the
heart, of which the understanding is commonly the bubble. And I would
much rather that he erred in a point of grammar, of history, of
philosophy, etc., than in point of manners and address. But consider,
he is very young; all this will come in time. I hope so; but that time
must be when he is young, or it will never be at all; the right 'pli'
must be taken young, or it will never be easy or seem natural. Come,
come, say they (substituting, as is frequently done, assertion instead of
argument), depend upon it he will do very well: and you have a great deal
of reason to be satisfied with him. I hope and believe he will do well,
but I would have him do better than well. I am very well pleased with
him, but I would be more, I would be proud of him. I would have him have
lustre as well as weight. Did you ever know anybody that reunited all
these talents? Yes, I did; Lord Bolingbroke joined all the politeness,
the manners, and the graces of a courtier, to the solidity of a
statesman, and to the learning of a pedant. He was 'omnis homo'; and
pray what should hinder my boy from being so too, if he 'hath, as I think
he hath, all the other qualifications that you allow him? Nothing can
hinder him, but neglect of or inattention to, those objects which his own
good sense must tell him are, of infinite consequence to him, and which
therefore I will not suppose him capable of either neglecting or

This (to tell you the whole truth) is the result of a controversy that
passed yesterday, between Lady Hervey and myself, upon your subject, and
almost in the very words. I submit the decision of it to yourself; let
your own good sense determine it, and make you act in consequence of that
determination. The receipt to make this composition is short and
infallible; here I give it to you:

Take variety of the best company, wherever you are; be minutely attentive
to every word and action; imitate respectively those whom you observe to
be distinguished and considered for any one accomplishment; then mix all
those several accomplishments together, and serve them up yourself to

I hope your fair, or rather your brown AMERICAN is well. I hear that she
makes very handsome presents, if she is not so herself. I am told there
are people at Paris who expect, from this secret connection, to see in
time a volume of letters, superior to Madame de Graffiny's Peruvian ones;
I lay in my claim to one of the first copies.

Francis's Genie--[Francis's "Eugenia."]--hath been acted twice, with
most universal applause; to-night is his third night, and I am going to
it. I did not think it would have succeeded so well, considering how
long our British audiences have been accustomed to murder, racks, and
poison, in every tragedy; but it affected the heart so much, that it
triumphed over habit and prejudice. All the women cried, and all the men
were moved. The prologue, which is a very good one, was made entirely by
Garrick. The epilogue is old Cibber's; but corrected, though not
enough, by Francis. He will get a great deal of, money by it; and,
consequently, be better able to lend you sixpence, upon any emergency.

The parliament of Paris, I find by the newspapers, has not carried its
point concerning the hospitals, and, though the King hath given up the
Archbishop, yet as he has put them under the management and direction
'du Grand Conseil', the parliament is equally out of the question. This
will naturally put you upon inquiring into the constitution of the 'Grand
Conseil'. You will, doubtless, inform yourself who it is composed of,
what things are 'de son ressort', whether or not there lies an appeal
from thence to any other place; and of all other particulars, that may
give you a clear notion of this assembly. There are also three or four
other Conseils in France, of which you ought to know the constitution and
the objects; I dare say you do know them already; but if you do not, lose
no time in informing yourself. These things, as I have often told you,
are best learned in various French companies: but in no English ones, for
none of our countrymen trouble their heads about them. To use a very
trite image, collect, like the bee, your store from every quarter. In
some companies ('parmi les fermiers generaux nommement') you may, by
proper inquiries, get a general knowledge, at least, of 'les affaires des
finances'. When you are with 'des gens de robe', suck them with regard
to the constitution, and civil government, and 'sic de caeteris'. This
shows you the advantage of keeping a great deal of different French
company; an advantage much superior to any that you can possibly receive
from loitering and sauntering away evenings in any English company at
Paris, not even excepting Lord A------. Love of ease, and fear of
restraint (to both which I doubt you are, for a young fellow, too much
addicted) may invite you among your countrymen: but pray withstand those
mean temptations, 'et prenez sur vous', for the sake of being in those
assemblies, which alone can inform your mind and improve your manners.
You have not now many months to continue at Paris; make the most of them;
get into every house there, if you can; extend acquaintance, know
everything and everybody there; that when you leave it for other places,
you may be 'au fait', and even able to explain whatever you may hear
mentioned concerning it. Adieu.


LONDON, March 2, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Whereabouts are you in Ariosto? Or have you gone through
that most ingenious contexture of truth and lies, of serious and
extravagant, of knights-errant, magicians, and all that various matter
which he announces in the beginning of his poem:

Le Donne, I Cavalier, l'arme, gli amori,
Le cortesie, l'audaci impreso io canto.

I am by no means sure that Homer had superior invention, or excelled more
in description than Ariosto. What can be more seducing and voluptuous,
than the description of Alcina's person and palace? What more
ingeniously extravagant, than the search made in the moon for Orlando's
lost wits, and the account of other people's that were found there? The
whole is worth your attention, not only as an ingenious poem, but as the
source of all modern tales, novels, fables, and romances; as Ovid's
"Metamorphoses;" was of the ancient ones; besides, that when you have
read this work, nothing will be difficult to you in the Italian language.
You will read Tasso's 'Gierusalemme', and the 'Decamerone di Boccacio',
with great facility afterward; and when you have read those three
authors, you will, in my opinion, have read all the works of invention
that are worth reading in that language; though the Italians would be
very angry at me for saying so.

A gentleman should know those which I call classical works, in every
language; such as Boileau, Corneille, Racine, Moliere, etc., in French;
Milton, Dryden, Pope, Swift, etc., in English; and the three authors
above mentioned in Italian; whether you have any such in German I am not
quite sure, nor, indeed, am I inquisitive. These sort of books adorn the
mind, improve the fancy, are frequently alluded to by, and are often the
subjects of conversations of the best companies. As you have languages
to read, and memory to retain them, the knowledge of them is very well
worth the little pains it will cost you, and will enable you to shine in
company. It is not pedantic to quote and allude to them, which it would
be with regard to the ancients.

Among the many advantages which you have had in your education, I do not
consider your knowledge of several languages as the least. You need not
trust to translations; you can go to the source; you can both converse
and negotiate with people of all nations, upon equal terms; which is by
no means the case of a man, who converses or negotiates in a language
which those with whom he hath to do know much better than himself. In
business, a great deal may depend upon the force and extent of one word;
and, in conversation, a moderate thought may gain, or a good one lose, by
the propriety or impropriety, the elegance or inelegance of one single
word. As therefore you now know four modern languages well, I would have
you study (and, by the way, it will be very little trouble to you) to
know them correctly, accurately, and delicately. Read some little books
that treat of them, and ask questions concerning their delicacies, of
those who are able to answer you. As, for instance, should I say in
French, 'la lettre que je vous ai ECRIT', or, 'la lettre que je vous ai
ECRITE'? in which, I think, the French differ among themselves. There
is a short French grammar by the Port Royal, and another by Pere Bufiier,
both which are worth your reading; as is also a little book called 'Les
Synonymes Francois. There are books of that kind upon the Italian
language, into some of which I would advise you to dip; possibly the
German language may have something of the same sort, and since you
already speak it, the more properly you speak it the better; one would,
I think, as far as possible, do all one does correctly and elegantly.
It is extremely engaging to people of every nation, to meet with a
foreigner who hath taken pains enough to speak their language correctly;
it flatters that local and national pride and prejudice of which
everybody hath some share.

Francis's "Eugenia," which I will send you, pleased most people of good
taste here; the boxes were crowded till the sixth night, when the pit and
gallery were totally deserted, and it was dropped. Distress, without
death, was not sufficient to affect a true British audience, so long
accustomed to daggers, racks, and bowls of poison: contrary to Horace's
rule, they desire to see Medea murder her children upon the stage. The
sentiments were too delicate to move them; and their hearts are to be
taken by storm, not by parley.

Have you got the things, which were taken from you at Calais, restored?
and, among them, the little packet which my sister gave you for Sir
Charles Hotham? In this case, have you forwarded it to him? If you have
not had an opportunity, you will have one soon; which I desire you will
not omit; it is by Monsieur d'Aillion, whom you will see in a few days at
Paris, in his way to Geneva, where Sir Charles now is, and will remain
some time. Adieu:


LONDON, March 5, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: As I have received no letter from you by the usual post,
I am uneasy upon account of your health; for, had you been well, I am
sure you would have written, according to your engagement and my
requisition. You have not the least notion of any care of your health;
but though I would not have you be a valetudinarian, I must tell you that
the best and most robust health requires some degree of attention to
preserve. Young fellows, thinking they have so much health and time
before them, are very apt to neglect or lavish both, and beggar
themselves before they are aware: whereas a prudent economy in both would
make them rich indeed; and so far from breaking in upon their pleasures,
would improve, and almost perpetuate them. Be you wiser, and, before it
is too late, manage both with care and frugality; and lay out neither,
but upon good interest and security.

I will now confine myself to the employment of your time, which, though I
have often touched upon formerly, is a subject that, from its importance,
will bear repetition. You have it is true, a great deal of time before
you; but, in this period of your life, one hour usefully employed may be
worth more than four-and-twenty hereafter; a minute is precious to you
now, whole days may possibly not be so forty years hence. Whatever time
you allow, or can snatch for serious reading (I say snatch, because
company and the knowledge of the world is now your chief object), employ
it in the reading of some one book, and that a good one, till you have
finished it: and do not distract your mind with various matters at the
same time. In this light I would recommend to you to read 'tout de
suite' Grotius 'de Jure Belli et Pacis', translated by Barbeyrac, and
Puffendorff's 'Jus Gentium', translated by the same hand. For accidental
quarters of hours, read works of invention, wit and humor, of the best,
and not of trivial authors, either ancient or modern.

Whatever business you have, do it the first moment you can; never by
halves, but finish it without interruption, if possible. Business must
not be sauntered and trifled with; and you must not say to it, as Felix
did to Paul, "At a more convenient season I will speak to thee."
The most convenient season for business is the first; but study and
business in some measure point out their own times to a man of sense;
time is much oftener squandered away in the wrong choice and improper
methods of amusement and pleasures.

Many people think that they are in pleasures, provided they are neither
in study nor in business. Nothing like it; they are doing nothing, and
might just as well be asleep. They contract habitudes from laziness, and
they only frequent those places where they are free from all restraints
and attentions. Be upon your guard against this idle profusion of time;
and let every place you go to be either the scene of quick and lively
pleasures, or the school of your own improvements; let every company you
go into either gratify your senses, extend your knowledge, or refine your
manners. Have some decent object of gallantry in view at some places;
frequent others, where people of wit and taste assemble; get into others,
where people of superior rank and dignity command respect and attention
from the rest of the company; but pray frequent no neutral places, from
mere idleness and indolence. Nothing forms a young man so much as being
used to keep respectable and superior company, where a constant regard
and attention is necessary. It is true, this is at first a disagreeable
state of restraint; but it soon grows habitual, and consequently easy;
and you are amply paid for it, by the improvement you make, and the
credit it gives you. What you said some time ago was very true,
concerning 'le Palais Royal'; to one of your age the situation is
disagreeable enough: you cannot expect to be much taken notice of;
but all that time you can take notice of others; observe their manners,
decipher their characters, and insensibly you will become one of the

All this I went through myself, when I was of your age. I have sat hours
in company without being taken the least notice of; but then I took
notice of them, and learned in their company how to behave myself better
in the next, till by degrees I became part of the best companies myself.
But I took great care not to lavish away my time in those companies where
there were neither quick pleasures nor useful improvements to be

Sloth, indolence, and 'mollesse' are pernicious and unbecoming a young
fellow; let them be your 'ressource' forty years hence at soonest.
Determine, at all events, and however disagreeable it may to you in some
respects, and for some time, to keep the most distinguished and
fashionable company of the place you are at, either for their rank, or
for their learning, or 'le bel esprit et le gout'. This gives you
credentials to the best companies, wherever you go afterward. Pray,
therefore, no indolence, no laziness; but employ every minute in your
life in active pleasures, or useful employments. Address yourself to
some woman of fashion and beauty, wherever you are, and try how far that
will go. If the place be not secured beforehand, and garrisoned, nine
times in ten you will take it. By attentions and respect you may always
get into the highest company: and by some admiration and applause,
whether merited or not, you may be sure of being welcome among 'les
savans et les beaux esprits'. There are but these three sorts of company
for a young fellow; there being neither pleasure nor profit in any other.

My uneasiness with regard to your health is this moment removed by your
letter of the 8th N. S., which, by what accident I do not know, I did not
receive before.

I long to read Voltaire's 'Rome Sauvee', which, by the very faults that
your SEVERE critics find with it, I am sure I shall like; for I will at
an any time give up a good deal of regularity for a great deal of
brillant; and for the brillant surely nobody is equal to Voltaire.
Catiline's conspiracy is an unhappy subject for a tragedy; it is too
single, and gives no opportunity to the poet to excite any of the tender
passions; the whole is one intended act of horror, Crebillon was sensible
of this defect, and to create another interest, most absurdly made
Catiline in love with Cicero's daughter, and her with him.

I am very glad that you went to Versailles, and dined with Monsieur de
St. Contest. That is company to learn 'les bonnes manieres' in; and it
seems you had 'les bonnes morceaux' into the bargain. Though you were no
part of the King of France's conversation with the foreign ministers, and
probably not much entertained with it, do you think that it is not very
useful to you to hear it, and to observe the turn and manners of people
of that sort? It is extremely useful to know it well. The same in the
next rank of people, such as ministers of state, etc., in whose company,
though you cannot yet, at your age, bear a part, and consequently be
diverted, you will observe and learn, what hereafter it may be necessary
for you to act.

Tell Sir John Lambert that I have this day fixed Mr. Spencer's having his
credit upon him; Mr. Hoare had also recommended him. I believe Mr.
Spencer will set out next month for some place in France, but not Paris.
I am sure he wants a great deal of France, for at present he is most
entirely English: and you know very well what I think of that. And so we
bid you heartily good-night.


LONDON, March 16, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: How do you go on with the most useful and most necessary
of all studies, the study of the world? Do you find that you gain
knowledge? And does your daily experience at once extend and demonstrate
your improvement? You will possibly ask me how you can judge of that
yourself. I will tell you a sure way of knowing. Examine yourself, and
see whether your notions of the world are changed, by experience, from
what they were two years ago in theory; for that alone is one favorable
symptom of improvement. At that age (I remember it in myself) every
notion that one forms is erroneous; one hath seen few models, and those
none of the best, to form one's self upon. One thinks that everything is
to be carried by spirit and vigor; that art is meanness, and that
versatility and complaisance are the refuge of pusilanimity and weakness.
This most mistaken opinion gives an indelicacy, a 'brusquerie', and a
roughness to the manners. Fools, who can never be undeceived, retain
them as long as they live: reflection, with a little experience, makes
men of sense shake them off soon. When they come to be a little better
acquainted with themselves, and with their own species, they discover that
plain right reason is, nine times in ten, the fettered and shackled
attendant of the triumph of the heart and the passions; and,
consequently, they address themselves nine times in ten to the conqueror,
not to the conquered: and conquerors, you know, must be applied to in the
gentlest, the most engaging, and the most insinuating manner. Have you
found out that every woman is infallibly to be gained by every sort of
flattery, and every man by one sort or other? Have you discovered what
variety of little things affect the heart, and how surely they
collectively gain it? If you have, you have made some progress. I would
try a man's knowledge of the world, as I would a schoolboy's knowledge of
Horace: not by making him construe 'Maecenas atavis edite regibus', which
he could do in the first form; but by examining him as to the delicacy
and 'curiosa felicitas' of that poet. A man requires very little
knowledge and experience of the world, to understand glaring, high-
colored, and decided characters; they are but few, and they strike at
first: but to distinguish the almost imperceptible shades, and the nice
gradations of virtue and vice, sense and folly, strength and weakness (of
which characters are commonly composed), demands some experience, great
observation, and minute attention. In the same cases, most people do the
same things, but with this material difference, upon which the success
commonly turns: A man who hath studied the world knows when to time, and
where to place them; he hath analyzed the characters he applies to, and
adapted his address and his arguments to them: but a man, of what is
called plain good sense, who hath only reasoned by himself, and not acted
with mankind, mistimes, misplaces, runs precipitately and bluntly at the
mark, and falls upon his nose in the way. In the common manners of
social life, every man of common sense hath the rudiments, the A B C of
civility; he means not to offend, and even wishes to please: and, if he
hath any real merit, will be received and tolerated in good company.
But that is far from being enough; for, though he may be received, he
will never be desired; though he does not offend, he will never be loved;
but, like some little, insignificant, neutral power, surrounded by great
ones, he will neither be feared nor courted by any; but, by turns,
invaded by all, whenever it is their interest. A most contemptible
situation! Whereas, a man who hath carefully attended to, and
experienced, the various workings of the heart, and the artifices of the
head; and who, by one shade, can trace the progression of the whole
color; who can, at the proper times, employ all the several means of
persuading the understanding, and engaging the heart, may and will have
enemies; but will and must have friends: he may be opposed, but he will
be supported too; his talents may excite the jealousy of some, but his
engaging arts will make him beloved by many more; he will be
considerable; he will be considered. Many different qualifications must
conspire to form such a man, and to make him at once respectable and
amiable; the least must be joined to the greatest; the latter would be
unavailing without the former; and the former would be futile and
frivolous, without the latter. Learning is acquired by reading books;
but the much more necessary learning, the knowledge of the world, is only
to be acquired by reading men, and studying all the various editions of
them. Many words in every language are generally thought to be
synonymous; but those who study the language attentively will find, that
there is no such thing; they will discover some little difference, some
distinction between all those words that are vulgarly called synonymous;
one hath always more energy, extent, or delicacy, than another. It is
the same with men; all are in general, and yet no two in particular,
exactly alike. Those who have not accurately studied, perpetually
mistake them; they do not discern the shades and gradations that
distinguish characters seemingly alike. Company, various company, is the
only school for this knowledge. You ought to be, by this time, at least
in the third form of that school, from whence the rise to the uppermost
is easy and quick; but then you must have application and vivacity; and
you must not only bear with, but even seek restraint in most companies,
instead of stagnating in one or two only, where indolence and love of
ease may be indulged.

In the plan which I gave you in my last,--[That letter is missing.]--
for your future motions, I forgot to tell you; that, if a king of the
Romans should be chosen this year, you shall certainly be at that
election; and as, upon those occasions, all strangers are excluded from
the place of the election, except such as belong to some ambassador,
I have already eventually secured you a place in the suite of the King's
Electoral Ambassador, who will be sent upon that account to Frankfort,
or wherever else the election may be. This will not only secure you a
sight of the show, but a knowledge of the whole thing; which is likely to
be a contested one, from the opposition of some of the electors, and the
protests of some of the princes of the empire. That election, if there
is one, will, in my opinion, be a memorable era in the history of the
empire; pens at least, if not swords, will be drawn; and ink, if not
blood, will be plentifully shed by the contending parties in that
dispute. During the fray, you may securely plunder, and add to your
present stock of knowledge of the 'jus publicum imperii'. The court of
France hath, I am told, appointed le President Ogier, a man of great
abilities, to go immediately to Ratisbon, 'pour y souffler la discorde'.
It must be owned that France hath always profited skillfully of its
having guaranteed the treaty of Munster; which hath given it a constant
pretense to thrust itself into the affairs of the empire. When France
got Alsace yielded by treaty, it was very willing to have held it as a
fief of the empire; but the empire was then wiser. Every power should be
very careful not to give the least pretense to a neighboring power to
meddle with the affairs of its interior. Sweden hath already felt the
effects of the Czarina's calling herself Guarantee of its present form of
government, in consequence of the treaty of Neustadt, confirmed afterward
by that of Abo; though, in truth, that guarantee was rather a provision
against Russia's attempting to alter the then new established form of
government in Sweden, than any right given to Russia to hinder the Swedes
from establishing what form of government they pleased. Read them both,
if you can get them. Adieu.


LONDON, April 73, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: I receive this moment your letter of the 19th, N. S.,
with the inclosed pieces relative to the present dispute between the
King and the parliament. I shall return them by Lord Huntingdon, whom
you will soon see at Paris, and who will likewise carry you the piece,
which I forgot in making up the packet I sent you by the Spanish
Ambassador. The representation of the parliament is very well drawn,
'suaviter in modo, fortiter in re'. They tell the King very
respectfully, that, in a certain case, WHICH THEY SHOULD THINK IT
CRIMINAL To SUPPOSE, they would not obey him. This hath a tendency to
what we call here revolution principles. I do not know what the Lord's
anointed, his vicegerent upon earth, divinely appointed by him, and
accountable to none but him for his actions, will either think or do,
upon these symptoms of reason and good sense, which seem to be breaking
out all over France: but this I foresee, that, before the end of this
century, the trade of both king and priest will not be half so good a one
as it has been. Du Clos, in his "Reflections," hath observed, and very
truly, 'qu'il y a un germe de raison qui commence a se developper en
France';--a developpement that must prove fatal to Regal and Papal
pretensions. Prudence may, in many cases, recommend an occasional
submission to either; but when that ignorance, upon which an implicit
faith in both could only be founded, is once removed, God's Vicegerent,
and Christ's Vicar, will only be obeyed and believed, as far as what the
one orders, and the other says, is conformable to reason and to truth.

I am very glad (to use a vulgar expression) that You MAKE AS IF YOU WERE
NOT WELL, though you really are; I am sure it is the likeliest way to
keep so. Pray leave off entirely your greasy, heavy pastry, fat creams,
and indigestible dumplings; and then you need not confine yourself to
white meats, which I do not take to be one jot wholesomer than beef,
mutton, and partridge.

Voltaire sent me, from Berlin, his 'History du Siecle de Louis XIV. It
came at a very proper time; Lord Bolingbroke had just taught me how
history should be read; Voltaire shows me how it should be written.
I am sensible that it will meet with almost as many critics as readers.
Voltaire must be criticised; besides, every man's favorite is attacked:
for every prejudice is exposed, and our prejudices are our mistresses;
reason is at best our wife, very often heard indeed, but seldom minded.
It is the history of the human understanding, written by a man of parts,
for the use of men of parts. Weak minds will not like it, even though
they do not understand it; which is commonly the measure of their
admiration. Dull ones will want those minute and uninteresting details
with which most other histories are encumbered. He tells me all I want
to know, and nothing more. His reflections are short, just, and produce
others in his readers. Free from religious, philosophical, political and
national prejudices, beyond any historian I ever met with, he relates all
those matters as truly and as impartially, as certain regards, which must
always be to some degree observed, will allow him; for one sees plainly
that he often says much less than he would say, if he might. He hath
made me much better acquainted with the times of Lewis XIV., than the
innumerable volumes which I had read could do; and hath suggested this
reflection to me, which I have never made before--His vanity, not his
knowledge, made him encourage all, and introduce many arts and sciences
in his country. He opened in a manner the human understanding in France,
and brought it to its utmost perfection; his age equalled in all, and
greatly exceeded in many things (pardon me, Pedants!) the Augustan. This
was great and rapid; but still it might be done, by the encouragement,
the applause, and the rewards of a vain, liberal, and magnificent prince.
What is much more surprising is, that he stopped the operations of the
human mind just where he pleased; and seemed to say, "Thus far shalt thou
go, and no farther." For, a bigot to his religion, and jealous of his
power, free and rational thoughts upon either, never entered into a
French head during his reign; and the greatest geniuses that ever any age
produced, never entertained a doubt of the divine right of Kings, or the
infallibility of the Church. Poets, Orators, and Philosophers, ignorant
of their natural rights, cherished their chains; and blind, active faith
triumphed, in those great minds, over silent and passive reason. The
reverse of this seems now to be the case in France: reason opens itself;
fancy and invention fade and decline.

I will send you a copy of this history by Lord Huntingdon, as I think it
very probable that it is not allowed to be published and sold at Paris.
Pray read it more than once, and with attention, particularly the second
volume, which contains short, but very clear accounts of many very
interesting things, which are talked of by everybody, though fairly.
understood by very few. There are two very puerile affectations which I
wish this book had been free from; the one is, the total subversion of
all the old established French orthography; the other is, the not making
use of any one capital letter throughout the whole book, except at the
beginning of a paragraph. It offends my eyes to see rome, paris, france,
Caesar, I henry the fourth, etc., begin with small letters; and I do not
conceive that there can be any reason for doing it, half so strong as the
reason of long usage is to the contrary. This is an affectation below
Voltaire; who, I am not ashamed to say, that I admire and delight in, as
an author, equally in prose and in verse.

I had a letter a few days ago from Monsieur du Boccage, in which he says,
'Monsieur Stanhope s'est jete dans la politique, et je crois qu'il y
reussira': You do very well, it is your destination; but remember that,
to succeed in great things, one must first learn to please in little
ones. Engaging manners and address must prepare the way for superior
knowledge and abilities to act with effect. The late Duke of
Marlborough's manners and address prevailed with the first king of
Prussia, to let his troops remain in the army of the Allies, when neither
their representations, nor his own share in the common cause could do it.
The Duke of Marlborough had no new matter to urge to him; but had a
manner, which he could not, nor did not, resist. Voltaire, among a
thousand little delicate strokes of that kind, says of the Duke de la
Feuillade, 'qu'il etoit l'homme le plus brillant et le plus aimable du
royaume; et quoique gendre du General et Ministre, il avoit pour lui la
faveur publique'. Various little circumstances of that sort will often
make a man of great real merit be hated, if he hath not address and
manners to make him be loved. Consider all your own circumstances
seriously; and you will find that, of all arts, the art of pleasing is
the most necessary for you to study and possess. A silly tyrant said,
'oderint modo timeant'; a wise man would have said, 'modo ament nihil
timendum est mihi'. Judge from your own daily experience, of the
efficacy of that pleasing 'je ne sais quoi', when you feel, as you and
everybody certainly does, that in men it is more engaging than knowledge,
in women than beauty.

I long to see Lord and Lady ------- (who are not yet arrived), because
they have lately seen you; and I always fancy, that I can fish out
something new concerning you, from those who have seen you last: not that
I shall much rely upon their accounts, because I distrust the judgment of
Lord and Lady -------, in those matters about which I am most
inquisitive. They have ruined their own son by what they called and
thought loving him. They have made him believe that the world was made
for him, not he for the world; and unless he stays abroad a great while,
and falls into very good company, he will expect, what he will never
find, the attentions and complaisance from others, which he has hitherto
been used to from Papa and Mamma. This, I fear, is too much the case of
Mr.; who, I doubt, will be run through the body, and be near dying,
before he knows how to live. However you may turn out, you can never
make me any of these reproaches. I indulged no silly, womanish fondness
for you; instead of inflicting my tenderness upon you, I have taken all
possible methods to make you deserve it; and thank God you do; at least,
I know but one article, in which you are different from what I could wish
you; and you very well know what that is I want: That I and all the world
should like you, as well as I love you. Adieu.


LONDON, April 30, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: 'Avoir du monde' is, in my opinion, a very just and happy
expression for having address, manners, and for knowing how to behave
properly in all companies; and it implies very truly that a man who hath
not those accomplishments is not of the world. Without them, the best
parts are inefficient, civility is absurd, and freedom offensive. A
learned parson, rusting in his cell, at Oxford or Cambridge, will season
admirably well upon the nature of man; will profoundly analyze the head,
the heart, the reason, the will, the passions, the senses, the
sentiments, and all those subdivisions of we know not what; and yet,
unfortunately, he knows nothing of man, for he hath not lived with him;
and is ignorant of all the various modes, habits, prejudices, and tastes,
that always influence and often determine him. He views man as he does
colors in Sir Isaac Newton's prism, where only the capital ones are seen;
but an experienced dyer knows all their various shades and gradations,
together with the result of their several mixtures. Few men are of one
plain, decided color; most are mixed, shaded, and blended; and vary as
much, from different situations, as changeable silks do form different
lights. The man 'qui a du monde' knows all this from his own experience
and observation: the conceited, cloistered philosopher knows nothing of
it from his own theory; his practice is absurd and improper, and he acts
as awkwardly as a man would dance, who had never seen others dance, nor
learned of a dancing-master; but who had only studied the notes by which
dances are now pricked down as well as tunes. Observe and imitate, then,
the address, the arts, and the manners of those 'qui ont du monde': see
by what methods they first make, and afterward improve impressions in
their favor. Those impressions are much oftener owing to little causes
than to intrinsic merit; which is less volatile, and hath not so sudden
an effect. Strong minds have undoubtedly an ascendant over weak ones, as
Galigai Marachale d'Ancre very justly observed, when, to the disgrace and
reproach of those times, she was executed for having governed Mary of
Medicis by the arts of witchcraft and magic. But then ascendant is to be
gained by degrees, and by those arts only which experience and the
knowledge of the world teaches; for few are mean enough to be bullied,
though most are weak enough to be bubbled. I have often seen people of
superior, governed by people of much inferior parts, without knowing or
even suspecting that they were so governed. This can only happen when
those people of inferior parts have more worldly dexterity and
experience, than those they govern. They see the weak and unguarded
part, and apply to it they take it, and all the rest follows. Would you
gain either men or women, and every man of sense desires to gain both,
'il faut du monde'. You have had more opportunities than ever any man
had, at your age, of acquiring 'ce monde'. You have been in the best
companies of most countries, at an age when others have hardly been in
any company at all. You are master of all those languages, which John
Trott seldom speaks at all, and never well; consequently you need be a
stranger nowhere. This is the way, and the only way, of having
'du monde', but if you have it not, and have still any coarse rusticity
about you, may not one apply to you the 'rusticus expectat' of Horace?

This knowledge of the world teaches us more particularly two things,
both which are of infinite consequence, and to neither of which nature
inclines us; I mean, the command of our temper, and of our countenance.
A man who has no 'monde' is inflamed with anger, or annihilated with
shame, at every disagreeable incident: the one makes him act and talk
like a madman, the other makes him look like a fool. But a man who has
'du monde', seems not to understand what he cannot or ought not to
resent. If he makes a slip himself, he recovers it by his coolness,
instead of plunging deeper by his confusion like a stumbling horse.
He is firm, but gentle; and practices that most excellent maxim,
'suaviter in modo, fortiter in re'. The other is the 'volto sciolto a
pensieri stretti'. People unused to the world have babbling
countenances; and are unskillful enough to show what they have sense
enough not to tell. In the course of the world, a man must very often
put on an easy, frank countenance, upon very disagreeable occasions; he
must seem pleased when he is very much otherwise; he must be able to
accost and receive with smiles, those whom he would much rather meet with
swords. In courts he must not turn himself inside out. All this may,
nay must be done, without falsehood and treachery; for it must go no
further than politeness and manners, and must stop short of assurances
and professions of simulated friendship. Good manners, to those one does
not love, are no more a breach of truth, than "your humble servant" at
the bottom of a challenge is; they are universally agreed upon and
understood, to be things of course. They are necessary guards of the
decency and peace of society; they must only act defensively; and then
not with arms poisoned by perfidy. Truth, but not the whole truth, must
be the invariable principle of every man, who hath either religion,
honor, or prudence. Those who violate it may be cunning, but they are
not able. Lies and perfidy are the refuge of fools and cowards. Adieu!

P. S. I must recommend to you again, to take your leave of all your
French acquaintance, in such a manner as may make them regret your
departure, and wish to see and welcome you at Paris again, where you may
possibly return before it is very long. This must not be done in a cold,
civil manner, but with at least seeming warmth, sentiment, and concern.
Acknowledge the obligations you have to them for the kindness they have
shown you during your stay at Paris: assure them that wherever you are,
you will remember them with gratitude; wish for opportunities of giving
them proofs of your 'plus tendre et respectueux souvenir; beg of them in
case your good fortune should carry them to any part of the world where
you could be of any the least use to them, that they would employ you
without reserve. Say all this, and a great deal more, emphatically and
pathetically; for you know 'si vis me flere'. This can do you no harm,
if you never return to Paris; but if you do, as probably you may, it will
be of infinite use to you. Remember too, not to omit going to every
house where you have ever been once, to take leave and recommend yourself
to their remembrance. The reputation which you leave at one place, where
you have been, will circulate, and you will meet with it at twenty places
where you are to go. That is a labor never quite lost.

This letter will show you, that the accident which happened to me
yesterday, and of which Mr. Grevenkop gives you account, hath had no bad
consequences. My escape was a great one.


LONDON, May 11, O. S. 1752.

DEAR FRIEND: I break my word by writing this letter; but I break it on
the allowable side, by doing more than I promised. I have pleasure in
writing to you; and you may possibly have some profit in reading what I
write; either of the motives were sufficient for me, both for you I
cannot withstand. By your last I calculate that you will leave Paris
upon this day se'nnight; upon that supposition, this letter may still
find you there.

Colonel Perry arrived here two or three days ago, and sent me a book from
you; Cassandra abridged. I am sure it cannot be too much abridged. The
spirit of that most voluminous work, fairly extracted, may be contained
in the smallest duodecimo; and it is most astonishing, that there ever
could have been people idle enough to write or read such endless heaps of
the same stuff. It was, however, the occupation of thousands in the last
century, and is still the private, though disavowed, amusement of young
girls, and sentimental ladies. A lovesick girl finds, in the captain
with whom she is in love, all the courage and all the graces of the
tender and accomplished Oroondates: and many a grown-up, sentimental
lady, talks delicate Clelia to the hero, whom she would engage to eternal
love, or laments with her that love is not eternal.

"Ah! qu'il est doux d'aimer, si Pon aimoit toujours!
Mais helas! il'n'est point d'eternelles amours."

It is, however, very well to have read one of those extravagant works
(of all which La Calprenede's are the best), because it is well to be
able to talk, with some degree of knowledge, upon all those subjects that
other people talk sometimes upon: and I would by no means have anything,
that is known to others, be totally unknown to you. It is a great
advantage for any man, to be able to talk or to hear, neither ignorantly
nor absurdly, upon any subject; for I have known people, who have not
said one word, hear ignorantly and absurdly; it has appeared in their
inattentive and unmeaning faces.

This, I think, is as little likely to happen to you as to anybody of your
age: and if you will but add a versatility and easy conformity of
manners, I know no company in which you are likely to be de trop.

This versatility is more particularly necessary for you at this time,
now that you are going to so many different places: for, though the
manners and customs of the several courts of Germany are in general the
same, yet everyone has its particular characteristic; some peculiarity or
other, which distinguishes it from the next. This you should carefully
attend to, and immediately adopt. Nothing flatters people more, nor
makes strangers so welcome, as such an occasional conformity. I do not
mean by this, that you should mimic the air and stiffness of every
awkward German court; no, by no means; but I mean that you should only
cheerfully comply, and fall in with certain local habits, such as
ceremonies, diet, turn of conversation, etc. People who are lately come
from Paris, and who have been a good while there, are generally
suspected, and especially in Germany, of having a degree of contempt for
every other place. Take great care that nothing of this kind appear, at
least outwardly, in your behavior; but commend whatever deserves any
degree of commendation, without comparing it with what you may have left,
much better of the same kind, at Paris. As for instance, the German
kitchen is, without doubt, execrable, and the French delicious; however,
never commend the French kitchen at a German table; but eat of what you
can find tolerable there, and commend it, without comparing it to
anything better. I have known many British Yahoos, who though while they
were at Paris conformed to no one French custom, as soon as they got
anywhere else, talked of nothing but what they did, saw, and eat at
Paris. The freedom of the French is not to be used indiscriminately at
all the courts in Germany, though their easiness may, and ought; but
that, too, at some places more than others. The courts of Manheim and
Bonn, I take to be a little more unbarbarized than some others; that of
Mayence, an ecclesiastical one, as well as that of Treves (neither of
which is much frequented by foreigners), retains, I conceive, a great
deal of the Goth and Vandal still. There, more reserve and ceremony are
necessary; and not a word of the French. At Berlin, you cannot be too
French. Hanover, Brunswick, Cassel, etc., are of the mixed kind, 'un peu
decrottes, mais pas assez'.

Another thing, which I most earnestly recommend to you, not only in
Germany, but in every part of the world where you may ever be, is not
only real, but seeming attention, to whoever you speak to, or to whoever
speaks to you. There is nothing so brutally shocking, nor so little
forgiven, as a seeming inattention to the person who is speaking to you:
and I have known many a man knocked down, for (in my opinion) a much
lighter provocation, than that shocking inattention which I mean. I have
seen many people, who, while you are speaking to them, instead of looking
at, and attending to you, fix their eyes upon the ceiling or some other
part of the room, look out of the window, play with a dog, twirl their
snuff-box, or pick their nose. Nothing discovers a little, futile,
frivolous mind more than this, and nothing is so offensively ill-bred;
it is an explicit declaration on your part, that every the most trifling
object, deserves your attention more than all that can be said by the
person who is speaking to you. Judge of the sentiments of hatred and
resentment, which such treatment must excite in every breast where any
degree of self-love dwells; and I am sure I never yet met with that
breast where there was not a great deal: I repeat it again and again
(for it is highly necessary for you to remember it), that sort of vanity
and self-love is inseparable from human nature, whatever may be its rank
or condition; even your footmen will sooner forget and forgive a beating,
than any manifest mark of slight and contempt. Be therefore, I beg of
you, not only really, but seemingly and manifestly attentive to whoever
speaks to you; nay, more, take their 'ton', and tune yourself to their
unison. Be serious with the serious, gay with the gay, and trifle with
the triflers. In assuming these various shapes, endeavor to make each of
them seem to sit easy upon you, and even to appear to be your own natural
one. This is the true and useful versatility, of which a thorough
knowledge of the world at once teaches the utility and the means of

I am very sure, at least I hope, that you will never make use of a silly
expression, which is the favorite expression, and the absurd excuse of
all fools and blockheads; I CANNOT DO SUCH A THING; a thing by no means
either morally or physically impossible. I CANNOT attend long together
to the same thing, says one fool; that is, he is such a fool that he will
not. I remember a very awkward fellow, who did not know what to do with
his sword, and who always took it off before dinner, saying that he could
not possibly dine with his sword on; upon which I could not help telling
him, that I really believed he could without any probable danger either
to himself or others. It is a shame and an absurdity, for any man to say
that he cannot do all those things, which are commonly done by all the
rest of mankind.

Another thing that I must earnestly warn you against is laziness; by
which more people have lost the fruit of their travels than, perhaps, by
any other thing. Pray be always in motion. Early in the morning go and
see things; and the rest of the day go and see people. If you stay but a
week at a place, and that an insignificant one, see, however, all that is
to be seen there; know as many people, and get into as many houses, as
ever you can.

I recommend to you likewise, though probably you have thought of it
yourself, to carry in your pocket a map of Germany, in which the
postroads are marked; and also some short book of travels through
Germany. The former will help to imprint in your memory situations and
distances; and the latter will point out many things for you to see, that
might otherwise possibly escape you, and which, though they may be in
themselves of little consequence, you would regret not having seen, after
having been at the places where they were.

Thus warned and provided for your journey, God speed you; 'Felix
faustumque sit! Adieu.


LONDON, May 27, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: I send you the inclosed original from a friend of ours,
with my own commentaries upon the text; a text which I have so often
paraphrased, and commented upon already, that I believe I can hardly say
anything new upon it; but, however, I cannot give it over till I am
better convinced, than I yet am, that you feel all the utility, the
importance, and the necessity of it; nay, not only feel, but practice it.
Your panegyrist allows you, what most fathers would be more than
satisified with, in a son, and chides me for not contenting myself with
'l'essentiellement bon'; but I, who have been in no one respect like
other fathers, cannot neither, like them, content myself with
'l'essentiellement bon'; because I know that it will not do your business
in the world, while you want 'quelques couches de vernis'. Few fathers
care much for their sons, or, at least, most of them care more for their
money: and, consequently, content themselves with giving them, at the
cheapest rate, the common run of education: that is, a school till
eighteen; the university till twenty; and a couple of years riding post
through the several towns of Europe; impatient till their boobies come
home to be married, and, as they call it, settled. Of those who really
love their sons, few know how to do it. Some spoil them by fondling them
while they are young, and then quarrel with them when they are grown up,
for having been spoiled; some love them like mothers, and attend only to
the bodily health and strength of the hopes of their family, solemnize
his birthday, and rejoice, like the subjects of the Great Mogul, at the
increase of his bulk; while others, minding, as they think, only
essentials, take pains and pleasure to see in their heir, all their
favorite weaknesses and imperfections. I hope and believe that I have
kept clear of all of these errors in the education which I have given
you. No weaknesses of my own have warped it, no parsimony has starved
it, no rigor has deformed it. Sound and extensive learning was the
foundation which I meant to lay--I have laid it; but that alone, I knew,
would by no means be sufficient: the ornamental, the showish, the
pleasing superstructure was to be begun. In that view, I threw you into
the great world, entirely your own master, at an age when others either
guzzle at the university, or are sent abroad in servitude to some
awkward, pedantic Scotch governor. This was to put you in the way, and
the only way of acquiring those manners, that address, and those graces,
which exclusively distinguish people of fashion; and without which all
moral virtues, and all acquired learning, are of no sort of use in the
courts and 'le beau monde': on the contrary, I am not sure if they are
not an hindrance. They are feared and disliked in those places, as too
severe, if not smoothed and introduced by the graces; but of these
graces, of this necessary 'beau vernis', it seems there are still
'quelque couches qui manquent'. Now, pray let me ask you, coolly and
seriously, 'pourquoi ces couches manquent-elles'? For you may as easily
take them, as you may wear more or less powder in your hair, more or less
lace upon your coat. I can therefore account for your wanting them no
other way in the world, than from your not being yet convinced of their
full value. You have heard some English bucks say, "Damn these finical
outlandish airs, give me a manly, resolute manner. They make a rout with
their graces, and talk like a parcel of dancing-masters, and dress like a
parcel of fops: one good Englishman will beat three of them." But let
your own observation undeceive you of these prejudices. I will give you
one instance only, instead of an hundred that I could give you, of a very
shining fortune and figure, raised upon no other foundation whatsoever,
than that of address, manners, and graces. Between you and me (for this
example must go no further), what do you think made our friend, Lord
A ----e, Colonel of a regiment of guards, Governor of Virginia, Groom of
the Stole, and Ambassador to Paris; amounting in all to sixteen or
seventeen thousand pounds a year? Was it his birth? No, a Dutch
gentleman only. Was it his estate? No, he had none. Was it his
learning, his parts, his political abilities and application? You can
answer these questions as easily, and as soon, as I can ask them. What
was it then? Many people wondered, but I do not; for I know, and will
tell you. It was his air, his address, his manners, and his graces.
He pleased, and by pleasing he became a favorite; and by becoming a
favorite became all that he has been since. Show me any one instance,
where intrinsic worth and merit, unassisted by exterior accomplishments,
have raised any man so high. You know the Due de Richelieu, now
'Marechal, Cordon bleu, Gentilhomme de la Chambre', twice Ambassador,
etc. By what means? Not by the purity of his character, the depth of
his knowledge, or any uncommon penetration and sagacity. Women alone
formed and raised him. The Duchess of Burgundy took a fancy to him, and
had him before he was sixteen years old; this put him in fashion among
the beau monde: and the late Regent's oldest daughter, now Madame de
Modene, took him next, and was near marrying him. These early
connections with women of the first distinction gave him those manners,
graces, and address, which you see he has; and which, I can assure you,
are all that he has; for, strip him of them, and he will be one of the
poorest men in Europe. Man or woman cannot resist an engaging exterior;
it will please, it will make its way. You want, it seems, but 'quelques
couches'; for God's sake, lose no time in getting them; and now you have
gone so far, complete the work. Think of nothing else till that work is
finished; unwearied application will bring about anything: and surely
your application can never be so well employed as upon that object, which
is absolutely necessary to facilitate all others. With your knowledge
and parts, if adorned by manners and graces, what may you not hope one
day to be? But without them, you will be in the situation of a man who
should be very fleet of one leg but very lame of the other. He could not
run; the lame leg would check and clog the well one, which would be very
near useless.

From my original plan for your education, I meant to make you 'un homme
universel'; what depends on me is executed, the little that remains
undone depends singly upon you. Do not then disappoint, when you can so
easily gratify me. It is your own interest which I am pressing you to
pursue, and it is the only return that I desire for all the care and
affection of, Yours.


LONDON, May 31, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: The world is the book, and the only one to which, at
present, I would have you apply yourself; and the thorough knowledge of
it will be of more use to you, than all the books that ever were read.
Lay aside the best book whenever you can go into the best company; and
depend upon it, you change for the better. However, as the most
tumultuous life, whether of business or pleasure, leaves some vacant
moments every day, in which a book is the refuge of a rational being,
I mean now to point out to you the method of employing those moments
(which will and ought to be but few) in the most advantageous manner.
Throw away none of your time upon those trivial, futile books, published
by idle or necessitous authors, for the amusement of idle and ignorant
readers; such sort of books swarm and buzz about one every day; flap them
away, they have no sting. 'Certum pete finem', have some one object for
those leisure moments, and pursue that object invariably till you have
attained it; and then take some other. For instance, considering your
destination, I would advise you to single out the most remarkable and
interesting eras of modern history, and confine all your reading to that
ERA. If you pitch upon the Treaty of Munster (and that is the proper
period to begin with, in the course which I am now recommending), do not
interrupt it by dipping and deviating into other books, unrelative to it;
but consult only the most authentic histories, letters, memoirs, and
negotiations, relative to that great transaction; reading and comparing
them, with all that caution and distrust which Lord Bolingbroke
recommends to you, in a better manner, and in better words than I can.
The next period worth your particular knowledge, is the Treaty of the
Pyrenees: which was calculated to lay, and in effect did lay, the
succession of the House of Bourbon to the crown of Spain. Pursue that in
the same manner, singling, out of the millions of volumes written upon
that occasion, the two or three most authentic ones, and particularly
letters, which are the best authorities in matters of negotiation. Next
come the Treaties of Nimeguen and Ryswick, postscripts in, a manner to
those of Munster and the Pyrenees. Those two transactions have had great
light thrown upon them by the publication of many authentic and original
letters and pieces. The concessions made at the Treaty of Ryswick, by
the then triumphant Lewis the Fourteenth, astonished all those who viewed
things only superficially; but, I should think, must have been easily
accounted for by those who knew the state of the kingdom of Spain, as
well as of the health of its King, Charles the Second, at that time.
The interval between the conclusion of the peace of Ryswick, and the
breaking out of the great war in 1702, though a short, is a most
interesting one. Every week of it almost produced some great event.
Two partition treaties, the death of the King of Spain, his unexpected
will, and the acceptance of it by Lewis the Fourteenth, in violation of
the second treaty of partition, just signed and ratified by him. Philip
the Fifth quietly and cheerfully received in Spain, and acknowledged as
King of it, by most of those powers, who afterward joined in an alliance
to dethrone him. I cannot help making this observation upon that
occasion: That character has often more to do in great transactions,
than prudence and sound policy; for Lewis the Fourteenth gratified his
personal pride, by giving a Bourbon King to Spain, at the expense of the
true interest of France; which would have acquired much more solid and
permanent strength by the addition of Naples, Sicily, and Lorraine, upon
the footing of the second partition treaty; and I think it was fortunate
for Europe that he preferred the will. It is true, he might hope to
influence his Bourbon posterity in Spain; he knew too well how weak the
ties of blood are among men, and how much weaker still they are among
princes. The Memoirs of Count Harrach, and of Las Torres, give a good
deal of light into the transactions of the Court of Spain, previous to
the death of that weak King; and the Letters of the Marachal d'Harcourt,
then the French Ambassador in Spain, of which I have authentic copies in
manuscript, from the year 1698 to 1701, have cleared up that whole affair
to me. I keep that book for you. It appears by those letters, that the
impudent conduct of the House of Austria, with regard to the King and
Queen of Spain, and Madame Berlips, her favorite, together with the
knowledge of the partition treaty, which incensed all Spain, were the
true and only reasons of the will, in favor of the Duke of Anjou.
Cardinal Portocarrero, nor any of the Grandees, were bribed by France,
as was generally reported and believed at that time; which confirms
Voltaire's anecdote upon that subject. Then opens a new scene and a new
century; Lewis the Fourteenth's good fortune forsakes him, till the Duke
of Marlborough and Prince Eugene make him amends for all the mischief
they had done him, by making the allies refuse the terms of peace offered
by him at Gertruydenberg. How the disadvantageous peace of Utrecht was
afterward brought on, you have lately read; and you cannot inform
yourself too minutely of all those circumstances, that treaty 'being the
freshest source from whence the late transactions of Europe have flowed.
The alterations that have since happened, whether by wars or treaties,
are so recent, that all the written accounts are to be helped out,
proved, or contradicted, by the oral ones of almost every informed
person, of a certain age or rank in life. For the facts, dates, and
original pieces of this century, you will find them in Lamberti, till the
year 1715, and after that time in Rousset's 'Recueil'.

I do not mean that you should plod hours together in researches of this
kind: no, you may employ your time more usefully: but I mean, that you
should make the most of the moments you do employ, by method, and the
pursuit of one single object at a time; nor should I call it a digression
from that object, if when you meet with clashing and jarring pretensions
of different princes to the same thing, you had immediately recourse to
other books, in which those several pretensions were clearly stated; on
the contrary, that is the only way of remembering those contested rights
and claims: for, were a man to read 'tout de suite', Schwederus's
'Theatrum Pretensionum', he would only be confounded by the variety, and
remember none of them; whereas, by examining them occasionally, as they
happen to occur, either in the course of your historical reading, or as
they are agitated in your own times, you will retain them, by connecting
them with those historical facts which occasioned your inquiry. For
example, had you read, in the course of two or three folios of
Pretensions, those, among others, of the two Kings of England and Prussia
to Oost Frise, it is impossible, that you should have remembered them;
but now, that they are become the debated object at the Diet at Ratisbon,
and the topic of all political conversations, if you consult both books
and persons concerning them, and inform yourself thoroughly, you will
never forget them as long as you live. You will hear a great deal of
them ow one side, at Hanover, and as much on the other side, afterward,
at Berlin: hear both sides, and form your own opinion; but dispute with

Letters from foreign ministers to their courts, and from their courts to
them, are, if genuine, the best and most authentic records you can read,
as far as they go. Cardinal d'Ossat's, President Jeanin's, D'Estrade's,
Sir William Temple's, will not only inform your mind, but form your
style; which, in letters of business, should be very plain and simple,
but, at the same time, exceedingly clear, correct, and pure.

All that I have said may be reduced to these two or three plain
principles: 1st, That you should now read very little, but converse a
great deal; 2d, To read no useless, unprofitable books; and 3d, That
those which you do read, may all tend to a certain object, and be
relative to, and consequential of each other. In this method, half an
hour's reading every day will carry you a great way. People seldom know
how to employ their time to the best advantage till they have too little
left to employ; but if, at your age, in the beginning of life, people
would but consider the value of it, and put every moment to interest,
it is incredible what an additional fund of knowledge and pleasure such
an economy would bring in. I look back with regret upon that large sum
of time, which, in my youth, I lavished away idly, without either
improvement or pleasure. Take warning betimes, and enjoy every moment;
pleasures do not commonly last so long as life, and therefore should not
be neglected; and the longest life is too short for knowledge,
consequently every moment is precious.

I am surprised at having received no letter from you since you left
Paris. I still direct this to Strasburgh, as I did my two last. I shall
direct my next to the post house at Mayence, unless I receive, in the
meantime, contrary instructions from you. Adieu. Remember les
attentions: they must be your passports into good company.


LONDON, June, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Very few celebrated negotiators have been eminent for
their learning. The most famous French negotiators (and I know no nation
that can boast of abler) have been military men, as Monsieur d'Harcourt,
Comte d'Estrades, Marechal d'Uxelles, and others. The late Duke of
Marlborough, who was at least as able a negotiator as a general, was
exceedingly ignorant of books, but extremely knowing in men, whereas the
learned Grotius appeared, both in Sweden and in France, to be a very
bungling minister. This is, in my opinion, very easily to be accounted
for. A man of very deep learning must have employed the greatest part of
his time in books; and a skillful negotiator must necessarily have
employed much the greater part of his time with man. The sound scholar,
when dragged out of his dusty closet into business, acts by book, and
deals with men as he has read of them; not as he has known them by
experience: he follows Spartan and Roman precedents, in what he falsely
imagines to be similar cases; whereas two cases never were, since the
beginning of the world, exactly alike; and he would be capable, where he
thought spirit and vigor necessary, to draw a circle round the persons he
treated with, and to insist upon a categorical answer before they went
out of it, because he had read, in the Roman history, that once upon a
time some Roman ambassador, did so. No; a certain degree of learning may
help, but no degree of learning will ever make a skillful minister
whereas a great knowledge of the world, of the characters, passions, and
habits of mankind, has, without one grain of learning, made a thousand.
Military men have seldom much knowledge of books; their education does
not allow it; but what makes great amends for that want is, that they
generally know a great deal of the world; they are thrown into it young;
they see variety of nations and characters; and they soon find, that to
rise, which is the aim of them all, they must first please: these
concurrent causes almost always give them manners and politeness. In
consequence of which, you see them always distinguished at courts, and
favored by the women. I could wish that you had been of an age to have
made a campaign or two as a volunteer. It would have given you an
attention, a versatility, and an alertness; all which I doubt you want;
and a great want it is.

A foreign minister has not great business to transact every day; so that
his knowledge and his skill in negotiating are not frequently put to the
trial; but he has that to do every day, and every hour of the day, which
is necessary to prepare and smooth the way for his business; that is, to
insinuate himself by his manners, not only into the houses, but into the
confidence of the most considerable people of that place; to contribute
to their pleasures, and insensibly not to be looked upon as a stranger
himself. A skillful minister may very possibly be doing his master's
business full as well, in doing the honors gracefully and genteelly of a
ball or a supper, as if he were laboriously writing a protocol in his
closet. The Marechal d'Harcourt, by his magnificence, his manners, and
his politeness, blunted the edge of the long aversion which the Spaniards
had to the French. The court and the grandees were personally fond, of
him, and frequented his house; and were at least insensibly brought to
prefer a French to a German yoke; which I am convinced would never have
happened, had Comte d'Harrach been Marechal d'Harcourt, or the Marechal
d'Harcourt Comte d'Harrach. The Comte d'Estrades had, by 'ses manieres
polies et liantes', formed such connections, and gained such an interest
in the republic of the United Provinces, that Monsieur De Witt, the then
Pensionary of Holland, often applied to him to use his interest with his
friend, both in Holland and the other provinces, whenever he (De Witt)
had a difficult point which he wanted to carry. This was certainly not
brought about by his knowledge of books, but of men: dancing, fencing,
and riding, with a little military architecture, were no doubt the top of
his education; and if he knew that 'collegium' in Latin signified college
in French, it must have been by accident. But he knew what was more
useful: from thirteen years old he had been in the great world, and had
read men and women so long, that he could then read them at sight.

Talking the other day, upon this and other subjects, all relative to you,
with one who knows and loves you very well, and expressing my anxiety and
wishes that your exterior accomplishments, as a man of fashion, might
adorn, and at least equal your intrinsic merit as a man of sense and
honor, the person interrupted me, and said: Set your heart at rest; that
never will or can happen. It is not in character; that gentleness, that
'douceur', those attentions which you wish him to have, are not in his
nature; and do what you will, nay, let him do what he will, he can never
acquire them. Nature may be a little disguised and altered by care; but
can by no means whatsoever be totally forced and changed. I denied this
principle to a certain degree; but admitting, however, that in many
respects our nature was not to be changed; and asserting, at the same
time, that in others it might by care be very much altered and improved,
so as in truth to be changed; that I took those exterior accomplishments,
which we had been talking of, to be mere modes, and absolutely depending
upon the will, and upon custom; and that, therefore, I was convinced that
your good sense, which must show you the importance of them, would make
you resolve at all events to acquire them, even in spite of nature, if
nature be in the case. Our dispute, which lasted a great while, ended as
Voltaire observes that disputes in England are apt to do, in a wager of
fifty guineas; which I myself am to decide upon honor, and of which this
is a faithful copy. If you think I shall win it, you may go my halves if
you please; declare yourself in time. This I declare, that I would most
cheerfully give a thousand guineas to win those fifty; you may secure
them me if you please.

I grow very impatient for your future letters from the several courts of
Manheim, Bonn, Hanover, etc. And I desire that your letters may be to
me, what I do not desire they should be to anybody else, I mean full of
yourself. Let the egotism, a figure which upon all other occasions I
detest, be your only one to me. Trifles that concern you are not trifles
to me; and my knowledge of them may possibly be useful to you. Adieu.
'Les graces, les graces, les graces'.


LONDON, June 23, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: I direct this letter to Mayence, where I think it is
likely to meet you, supposing, as I do, that you stayed three weeks at
Manheim, after the date of your last from thence; but should you have
stayed longer at Manheim, to which I have no objection, it will wait for
you at Mayence. Mayence will not, I believe, have charms to detain you
above a week; so that I reckon you will be at Bonn at the end of July,
N. S. There you may stay just as little or as long as you please, and
then proceed to Hanover.

I had a letter by the last post from a relation of mine at Hanover,
Mr. Stanhope Aspinwall, who is in the Duke of Newcastle's office, and has
lately been appointed the King's Minister to the Dey of Algiers; a post
which, notwithstanding your views of foreign affairs, I believe you do
not envy him. He tells me in that letter, there are very good lodgings
to be had at one Mrs. Meyers's, the next door to the Duke of Newcastle's,
which he offers to take for you; I have desired him to do it, in case
Mrs. Meyers will wait for you till the latter end of August, or the
beginning of September, N. S., which I suppose is about the time when you
will be at Hanover. You will find this Mr. Aspinwall of great use to you
there. He will exert himself to the utmost to serve you; he has been
twice or thrice at Hanover, and knows all the allures there: he is very
well with the Duke of Newcastle, and will puff you there. Moreover, if
you have a mind to work there as a volunteer in that bureau, he will
assist and inform you. In short, he is a very honest, sensible, and
informed man; 'mais me paye pas beaucoup de sa figure; il abuse meme du
privilege qu'ont les hommes d'etre laids; et il ne sera pas en reste avec
les lions et les leopards qu'il trouvera a Alger'.

As you are entirely master of the time when you will leave Bonn and go to
Hanover, so are you master to stay at Hanover as long as you please, and
to go from thence where you please; provided that at Christmas you are at
Berlin, for the beginning of the Carnival: this I would not have you say
at Hanover, considering the mutual disposition of those two courts; but
when anybody asks you where you are to go next, say that you propose
rambling in Germany, at Brunswick, Cassel, etc., till the next spring;
when you intend to be in Flanders, in your way to England. I take
Berlin, at this time, to be the politest, the most shining, and the most
useful court in Europe for a young fellow to be at: and therefore I would
upon no account not have you there, for at least a couple of months of
the Carnival. If you are as well received, and pass your time as well at
Bonn as I believe you will, I would advise you to remain there till about
the 20th of August, N. S., in four days you will be at Hanover. As for
your stay there, it must be shorter or longer, according to certain
circumstances WHICH YOU KNOW OF; supposing them, at the best, then, stay
within a week or ten days of the King's return to England; but supposing
them at the worst, your stay must not be too short, for reasons which you
also know; no resentment must either appear or be suspected; therefore,
at worst, I think you must remain there a month, and at best, as long as
ever you please. But I am convinced that all will turn out very well for
you there. Everybody is engaged or inclined to help you; the ministers,
English and German, the principal ladies, and most of the foreign
ministers; so that I may apply to you, 'nullum numen abest, si sit
prudentia'. Du Perron will, I believe, be back there from Turin much
about the time you get there: pray be very attentive to him, and connect
yourself with him as much as ever you can; for, besides that he is a very
pretty and well-informed man, he is very much in fashion at Hanover, is
personally very well with the King and certain ladies; so that a visible
intimacy and connection with him will do you credit and service. Pray
cultivate Monsieur Hop, the Dutch minister, who has always been very much
my friend, and will, I am sure, be yours; his manners, it is true, are
not very engaging; he is rough, but he is sincere. It is very useful
sometimes to see the things which one ought to avoid, as it is right to
see very often those which one ought to imitate, and my friend Hop's
manners will frequently point out to you, what yours ought to be by the
rule of contraries.

Congreve points out a sort of critics, to whom he says that we are doubly

"Rules for good writing they with pains indite,
Then show us what is bad, by what they write."

It is certain that Monsieur Hop, with the best heart in the world, and a
thousand good qualities, has a thousand enemies, and hardly a friend;
simply from the roughness of his manners.

N. B. I heartily wish you could have stayed long enough at Manheim to
have been seriously and desperately in love with Madame de Taxis; who,
I suppose, is a proud, insolent, fine lady, and who would consequently
have expected attentions little short of adoration: nothing would do you
more good than such a passion; and I live in hopes that somebody or other
will be able to excite such an one in you; your hour may not yet be come,
but it will come. Love has not been unaptly compared to the smallpox
which most people have sooner or later. Iphigenia had a wonderful effect
upon Cimon; I wish some Hanover Iphigenia may try her skill upon you.

I recommend to you again, though I have already done it twice or thrice,
to speak German, even affectedly, while you are at Hanover; which will
show that you prefer that language, and be of more use to you there with
SOMEBODY, than you can imagine. When you carry my letters to Monsieur
Munchausen and Monsieur Schwiegeldt, address yourself to them in German;
the latter speaks French very well, but the former extremely ill. Show
great attention to Madame, Munchausen's daughter, who is a great
favorite; those little trifles please mothers, and sometimes fathers,
extremely. Observe, and you will find, almost universally, that the
least things either please or displease most; because they necessarily
imply, either a very strong desire of obliging, or an unpardonable
indifference about it. I will give you a ridiculous instance enough of
this truth, from my own experience. When I was Ambassador the first time
in Holland, Comte de Wassenaer and his wife, people of the first rank and
consideration, had a little boy of about three years old, of whom they
were exceedingly fond; in order to make my court to them, I was so too,
and used to take the child often upon my lap, and play with him. One day
his nose was very dirty, upon which I took out my handkerchief and wiped
it for him; this raised a loud laugh, and they called me a very, handy
nurse; but the father and mother were so pleased with it, that to this
day it is an anecdote in the family, and I never receive a letter from
Comte Wassenaer, but he makes me the compliments 'du morveux gue j'ai
mouche autrefois'; who, by the way, I am assured, is now the prettiest
young fellow in Holland. Where one would gain people, remember that
nothing is little. Adieu.


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