The Entire PG Edition of Chesterfield's Letters to His Son
The Earl of Chesterfield

Part 7 out of 15

most knaves, and many fools, call prejudices, ever tempt you to avow,
excuse, extenuate, or laugh at the least breach of morality; but show
upon all occasions, and take all occasions to show, a detestation and
abhorrence of it. There, though young, you ought to be strict; and there
only, while young, it becomes you to be strict and severe. But there,
too, spare the persons while you lash the crimes. All this relates, as
you easily judge, to the vices of the heart, such as lying, fraud, envy,
malice, detraction, etc., and I do not extend it to the little frailties
of youth, flowing from high spirits and warm blood. It would ill become
you, at your age, to declaim against them, and sententiously censure a
gallantry, an accidental excess of the table, a frolic, an inadvertency;
no, keep as free from them yourself as you can: but say nothing against
them in others. They certainly mend by time, often by reason; and a
man's worldly character is not affected by them, provided it be pure in
all other respects.

To come now to a point of much less, but yet of very great consequence at
your first setting out. Be extremely upon your guard against vanity, the
common failing of inexperienced youth; but particularly against that kind
of vanity that dubs a man a coxcomb; a character which, once acquired, is
more indelible than that of the priesthood. It is not to be imagined by
how many different ways vanity defeats its own purposes. One man decides
peremptorily upon every subject, betrays his ignorance upon many, and
shows a disgusting presumption upon the rest. Another desires to appear
successful among the women; he hints at the encouragement he has
received, from those of the most distinguished rank and beauty, and
intimates a particular connection with some one; if it is true, it is
ungenerous; if false, it is infamous: but in either case he destroys the
reputation he wants to get. Some flatter their vanity by little
extraneous objects, which have not the least relation to themselves; such
as being descended from, related to, or acquainted with, people of
distinguished merit and eminent characters. They talk perpetually of
their grandfather such-a-one, their uncle such-a-one, and their intimate
friend Mr. Such-a-one, with whom, possibly, they are hardly acquainted.
But admitting it all to be as they would have it, what then? Have they
the more merit for those accidents? Certainly not. On the contrary,
their taking up adventitious, proves their want of intrinsic merit; a
rich man never borrows. Take this rule for granted, as a never-failing
one: That you must never seem to affect the character in which you have a
mind to shine. Modesty is the only sure bait when you angle for praise.
The affectation of courage will make even a brave man pass only for a
bully; as the affectation of wit will make a man of parts pass for a
coxcomb. By this modesty I do not mean timidity and awkward bashfulness.
On the contrary, be inwardly firm and steady, know your own value
whatever it may be, and act upon that principle; but take great care to.
let nobody discover that you do know your own value. Whatever real merit
you have, other people will discover, and people always magnify their own
discoveries, as they lessen those of others.

For God's sake, revolve all these things seriously in your thoughts,
before you launch out alone into the ocean of Paris. Recollect the
observations that you have yourself made upon mankind, compare and
connect them with my instructions, and then act systematically and
consequentially from them; not 'au jour la journee'. Lay your little
plan now, which you will hereafter extend and improve by your own
observations, and by the advice of those who can never mean to mislead
you; I mean Mr. Harte and myself.


LONDON, May 24., O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 7th, N. S., from
Naples, to which place I find you have traveled, classically, critically,
and 'da virtuoso'. You did right, for whatever is worth seeing at, all,
is worth seeing well, and better than most people see it. It is a poor
and frivolous excuse, when anything curious is talked of that one has
seen, to say, I SAW IT, BUT REALLY I DID NOT MUCH MIND IT. Why did they
go to see it, if they would not mind it? or why not mind it when they
saw it? Now that you are at Naples, you pass part of your time there
'en honnete homme, da garbato cavaliere', in the court and the best
companies. I am told that strangers are received with the utmost
hospitality at Prince -------'s, 'que lui il fait bonne chere, et que
Madame la Princesse donne chere entire; mais que sa chair est plus que
hazardee ou mortifiee meme'; which in plain English means, that she is
not only tender, but rotten. If this be true, as I am pretty sure it is,
one may say to her in a little sense, 'juvenumque prodis, publics cura'.

Mr. Harte informs me that you are clothed in sumptuous apparel; a young
fellow should be so; especially abroad, where fine clothes are so
generally the fashion. Next to their being fine, they should be well
made, and worn easily for a man is only the less genteel for a fine coat,
if, in wearing it, he shows a regard for it, and is not as easy in it as
if it were a plain one.

I thank you for your drawing, which I am impatient to see, and which I
shall hang up in a new gallery that I am building at Blackheath, and very
fond of; but I am still more impatient for another copy, which I wonder
I have not yet received, I mean the copy of your countenance. I believe,
were that a whole length, it would still fall a good deal short of the
dimensions of the drawing after Dominichino, which you say is about eight
feet high; and I take you, as well as myself, to be of the family of the
Piccolomini. Mr. Bathurst tells me that he thinks you rather taller than
I am; if so, you may very possibly get up to five feet eight inches,
which I would compound for, though I would wish you five feet ten. In
truth, what do I not wish you, that has a tendency to perfection? I say
a tendency only, for absolute perfection is not in human nature, so that
it would be idle to wish it. But I am very willing to compound for your
coming nearer to perfection than the generality of your contemporaries:
without a compliment to you, I think you bid fair for that. Mr. Harte
affirms (and if it were consistent with his character would, I believe,
swear) that you have no vices of the heart; you have undoubtedly a stock
of both ancient and modern learning, which I will venture to say nobody
of your age has, and which must now daily increase, do what you will.
What, then, do you want toward that practicable degree of perfection
which I wish you? Nothing but the knowledge, the turn, and the manners
of the world; I mean the 'beau monde'. These it is impossible that you
can yet have quite right; they are not given, they must be learned. But
then, on the other hand, it is impossible not to acquire them, if one has
a mind to them; for they are acquired insensibly, by keeping good
company, if one has but the least attention to their characters and

Every man becomes, to a certain degree, what the people he generally
converses with are. He catches their air, their manners, and even their
way of thinking. If he observes with attention, he will catch them soon,
but if he does not, he will at long run contract them insensibly. I know
nothing in the world but poetry that is not to be acquired by application
and care. The sum total of this is a very comfortable one for you, as it
plainly amounts to this in your favor, that you now want nothing but what
even your pleasures, if they are liberal ones, will teach you. I
congratulate both you and myself upon your being in such a situation,
that, excepting your exercises, nothing is now wanting but pleasures to
complete you. Take them, but (as I am sure you will) with people of the
first fashion, whereever you are, and the business is done; your
exercises at Paris, which I am sure you will attend to, will supple and
fashion your body; and the company you will keep there will, with some
degree of observation on your part, soon give you their air, address,
manners, in short, 'le ton de la bonne compagnie'. Let not these
considerations, however, make you vain: they are only between you and me
but as they are very comfortable ones, they may justly give you a manly
assurance, a firmness, a steadiness, without which a man can neither be
well-bred, or in any light appear to advantage, or really what he is.
They may justly remove all, timidity, awkward bashfulness, low diffidence
of one's self, and mean abject complaisance to every or anybody's
opinion. La Bruyere says, very truly, 'on ne vaut dans ce monde, que ce
que l'on veut valoir'. It is a right principle to proceed upon in the
world, taking care only to guard against the appearances and outward
symptoms of vanity. Your whole then, you see, turns upon the company you
keep for the future. I have laid you in variety of the best at Paris,
where, at your arrival you will find a cargo of letters to very different
sorts of people, as 'beaux esprils, savants, et belles dames'. These, if
you will frequent them, will form you, not only by their examples,
advice, and admonitions in private, as I have desired them to do; and
consequently add to what you have the only one thing now needful.

Pray tell me what Italian books you have read, and whether that language
is now become familiar to you.

Read Ariosto and Tasso through, and then you will have read all the
Italian poets who in my opinion are worth reading. In all events, when
you get to Paris, take a good Italian master to read Italian with you
three times a week; not only to keep what you have already, which you
would otherwise forget, but also to perfect you in the rest. It is a
great pleasure, as well as a great advantage, to be able to speak to
people of all nations, and well, in their own language. Aim at
perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable;
however, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer it,
than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as
unattainable. 'Magnis tamen excidit ausis' is a degree of praise which
will always attend a noble and shining temerity, and a much better sign
in a young fellow, than 'serpere humi, tutus nimium timidusque
procellae'. For men as well as women:

"---------born to be controlled,
Stoop to the forward and the bold."

A man who sets out in the world with real timidity and diffidence has not
an equal chance for it; he will be discouraged, put by, or trampled upon.
But to succeed, a man, especially a young one, should have inward
firmness, steadiness, and intrepidity, with exterior modesty and SEEMING
diffidence. He must modestly, but resolutely, assert his own rights and
privileges. 'Suaviter in modo', but 'fortiter in re'. He should have an
apparent frankness and openness, but with inward caution and closeness.
All these things will come to you by frequenting and observing good
company. And by good company, I mean that sort of company which is
called good company by everybody of that place. When all this is over,
we shall meet; and then we will talk over, tete-a-tete, the various
little finishing strokes which conversation and, acquaintance
occasionally suggest, and which cannot be methodically written.

Tell Mr. Harte that I have received his two letters of the 2d and 8th
N. S., which, as soon as I have received a third, I will answer. Adieu,
my dear! I find you will do.


LONDON, June 5, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received your picture, which I have long waited
for with impatience: I wanted to see your countenance from whence I am
very apt, as I believe most people are, to form some general opinion of
the mind. If the painter has taken you as well as he has done Mr. Harte
(for his picture is by far the most like I ever saw in my life), I draw
good conclusions from your countenance, which has both spirit and finesse
in it. In bulk you are pretty well increased since I saw you; if your
height has not increased in proportion, I desire that you will make haste
to, complete it. Seriously, I believe that your exercises at Paris will
make you shoot up to a good size; your legs, by all accounts, seem to
promise it. Dancing excepted, the wholesome part is the best part of
those academical exercises. 'Ils degraissent leur homme'.

'A propos' of exercises, I have prepared everything for your reception at
Monsieur de la Gueriniere's, and your room, etc., will be ready at your
arrival. I am sure you must be sensible how much better it will be for
you to be interne in the Academy for the first six or seven months at
least, than to be 'en hotel garni', at some distance from it, and obliged
to go to it every morning, let the weather be what it will, not to
mention the loss of time too; besides, by living and boarding in the
Academy, you will make an acquaintance with half the young fellows of
fashion at Paris; and in a very little while be looked upon as one of
them in all French companies: an advantage that has never yet happened to
any one Englishman that I have known. I am sure you do not suppose that
the difference of the expense, which is but a trifle, has any weight with
me in this resolution. You have the French language so perfectly, and
you will acquire the French 'tournure' so soon, that I do not know
anybody likely to pass their time so well at Paris as yourself. Our
young countrymen have generally too little French, and too bad address,
either to present themselves, or be well received in the best French
companies; and, as a proof of it, there is no one instance of an
Englishman's having ever been suspected of a gallantry with a French
woman of condition, though every French woman of condition is more than
suspected of having a gallantry. But they take up with the disgraceful
and dangerous commerce of prostitutes, actresses, dancing-women, and that
sort of trash; though, if they had common address, better achievements
would be extremely easy. 'Un arrangement', which is in plain English a
gallantry, is, at Paris, as necessary a part of a woman of fashion's
establishment, as her house, stable, coach, etc. A young fellow must
therefore be a very awkward one, to be reduced to, or of a very singular
taste, to prefer drabs and danger to a commerce (in the course of the
world not disgraceful) with a woman of health, education, and rank.
Nothing sinks a young man into low company, both of women and men, so
surely as timidity and diffidence of himself. If he thinks that he shall
not, he may depend upon it he will not please. But with proper endeavors
to please, and a degree of persuasion that he shall, it is almost certain
that he will. How many people does one meet with everywhere, who, with
very moderate parts, and very little knowledge, push themselves pretty
far, simply by being sanguine, enterprising, and persevering? They will
take no denial from man or woman; difficulties do not discourage them;
repulsed twice or thrice, they rally, they charge again, and nine times
in ten prevail at last. The same means will much sooner, and, more
certainly, attain the same ends, with your parts and knowledge. You have
a fund to be sanguine upon, and good forces to rally. In business
(talents supposed) nothing is more effectual or successful, than a good,
though concealed opinion of one's self, a firm resolution, and an
unwearied perseverance. None but madmen attempt impossibilities; and
whatever is possible, is one way or another to be brought about. If one
method fails, try another, and suit your methods to the characters you
have to do with. At the treaty of the Pyrenees, which Cardinal Mazarin
and Don Louis de Haro concluded, 'dans l'Isle des Faisans', the latter
carried some very important points by his constant and cool perseverance.

The Cardinal had all the Italian vivacity and impatience; Don Louis all
the Spanish phlegm and tenaciousness. The point which the Cardinal had
most at heart was, to hinder the re-establishment of the Prince of Conde,
his implacable enemy; but he was in haste to conclude, and impatient to
return to Court, where absence is always dangerous. Don Louis observed
this, and never failed at every conference to bring the affair of the
Prince of Conde upon the tapis. The Cardinal for some time refused even
to treat upon it. Don Louis, with the same 'sang froid', as constantly
persisted, till he at last prevailed: contrary to the intentions and the
interest both of the Cardinal and of his Court. Sense must distinguish
between what is impossible, and what is only difficult; and spirit and
perseverance will get the better of the latter. Every man is to be had
one way or another, and every woman almost any way. I must not omit one
thing, which is previously necessary to this, and, indeed, to everything
else; which is attention, a flexibility of attention; never to be wholly
engrossed by any past or future object, but instantly directed to the
present one, be it what it will. An absent man can make but few
observations; and those will be disjointed and imperfect ones, as half
the circumstance must necessarily escape him. He can pursue nothing
steadily, because his absences make him lose his way. They are very
disagreeable, and hardly to be tolerated in old age; but in youth they
cannot be forgiven. If you find that you have the least tendency to
them, pray watch yourself very carefully, and you may prevent them now;
but if you let them grow into habit, you will find it very difficult to
cure them hereafter, and a worse distemper I do not know.

I heard with great satisfaction the other day, from one who has been
lately at Rome, that nobody was better received in the best companies
than yourself. The same thing, I dare say, will happen to you at Paris;
where they are particularly kind to all strangers, who will be civil to
them, and show a desire of pleasing. But they must be flattered a
little, not only by words, but by a seeming preference given to their
country, their manners, and their customs; which is but a very small
price to pay for a very good reception. Were I in Africa, I would pay it
to a negro for his goodwill. Adieu.


LONDON, June 11, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: The President Montesquieu (whom you will be acquainted
with at Paris), after having laid down in his book, 'De l'Esprit des
Lois', the nature and principles of the three different kinds of
government, viz, the democratical, the monarchical, and the despotic,
treats of the education necessary for each respective form. His chapter
upon the education proper for the monarchical I thought worth
transcribing and sending to you. You will observe that the monarchy
which he has in his eye is France:--

"In monarchies, the principal branch of education is not taught in
colleges or academies. It commences, in some measure, at our setting out
in the world; for this is the school of what we call honor, that
universal preceptor, which ought everywhere to be our guide.

"Here it is that we constantly hear three rules or maxims, viz: That we
should have a certain nobleness in our virtues, a kind of frankness in
our morals, and a particular politeness in our behavior.

"The virtues we are here taught, are less what we owe to others, than to
ourselves; they are not so much what draws us toward society, as what
distinguishes us from our fellow-citizens.

"Here the actions of men are judged, not as virtuous, but as shining; not
as just, but as great; not as reasonable, but as extraordinary.

"When honor here meets with anything noble in our actions, it is either a
judge that approves them, or a sophister by whom they are excused.

"It allows of gallantry, when united with the idea of sensible affection,
or with that of conquest; this is the reason why we never meet with so
strict a purity of morals in monarchies as in republican governments.

"It allows of cunning and craft, when joined with the notion of greatness
of soul or importance of affairs; as, for instance, in politics, with
whose finenesses it is far from being offended.

"It does not forbid adulation, but when separate from the idea of a large
fortune, and connected only with the sense of our mean condition.

"With regard to morals, I have observed, that the education of monarchies
ought to admit of a certain frankness and open carriage. Truth,
therefore, in conversation, is here a necessary point. But is it for the
sake of truth. By no means. Truth is requisite only, because a person
habituated to veracity has an air of boldness and freedom. And, indeed,
a man of this stamp seems to lay a stress only on the things themselves,
not on the manner in which they are received.

"Hence it is, that in proportion as this kind of frankness is commended,
that of the common people is despised, which has nothing but truth and
simplicity for its object.

"In fine, the education of monarchies requires a certain politeness of
behavior. Man, a sociable animal, is formed to please in society; and a
person that would break through the rules of decency, so as to shock
those he conversed with, would lose the public esteem, and become
incapable of doing any good.

"But politeness, generally speaking, does not derive its original from so
pure a source. It arises from a desire of distinguishing ourselves. It
is pride that renders us polite; we are flattered with being taken notice
of for a behavior that shows we are not of a mean condition, and that we
have not been bred up with those who in all ages are considered as the
scum of the people.

"Politeness, in monarchies, is naturalized at court. One man excessively
great renders everybody else little. Hence that regard which is paid to
our fellow-subjects; hence that politeness, equally pleasing to those by
whom, as to those toward whom, it is practiced; because it gives people
to understand that a person actually belongs, or at least deserves to
belong, to the court.

"A court air consists in quitting a real for a borrowed greatness. The
latter pleases the courtier more than the former. It inspires him with a
certain disdainful modesty, which shows itself externally, but whose
pride insensibly diminishes in proportion to his distance from the source
of this greatness.

"At court we find a delicacy of taste in everything; a delicacy arising
from the constant use of the superfluities of life; from the variety, and
especially the satiety of pleasures; from the multiplicity and even
confusion of fancies, which, if they are not agreeable, are sure of being
well received.

"These are the things which properly fall within the province of
education, in order to form what we call a man of honor, a man possessed
of all the qualities and virtues requisite in this kind of government.

"Here it is that honor interferes with everything, mixing even with
people's manner of thinking, and directing their very principles.

"To this whimsical honor it is owing that the virtues are only just what
it pleases; it adds rules of its own invention to everything prescribed
to us; it extends or limits our duties according to its own fancy,
whether they proceed from religion, politics, or morality.

"There is nothing so strongly inculcated in monarchies, by the laws, by
religion, and honor, as submission to the Prince's will, but this very
honor tells us, that the Prince never ought to command a dishonorable
action, because this would render us incapable of serving him.

"Crillon refused to assassinate the Duke of Guise, but offered to fight
him. After the massacre of St. Bartholomew, Charles IX., having sent
orders to the governors in the several provinces for the Huguenots to be
murdered, Viscount Dorte, who commanded at Bayonne, wrote thus to the
King: 'Sire, Among the inhabitants of this town, and your Majesty's
troops, I could not find so much as one executioner; they are honest
citizens and brave soldiers. We jointly, therefore, beseech your Majesty
to command our arms and lives in things that are practicable.' This
and generous soul looked upon a base action as a thing impossible.

"There is nothing that honor more strongly recommends to the nobility,
than to serve their Prince in a military capacity. And indeed this is
their favorite profession, because its dangers, its success, and even its
miscarriages, are the road to grandeur. Yet this very law, of its own
making, honor chooses to explain; and in case of any affront, it requires
or permits us to retire.

"It insists also, that we should be at liberty either to seek or to
reject employments; a liberty which it prefers even to an ample fortune.

"Honor, therefore, has its supreme laws, to which education is obliged to
conform. The chief of these are, that we are permitted to set a value
upon our fortune, but are absolutely forbidden to set any upon our lives.

"The second is, that when we are raised to a post or preferment, we
should never do or permit anything which may seem to imply that we look
upon ourselves as inferior to the rank we hold.

"The third is, that those things which honor forbids are more rigorously
forbidden, when the laws do not concur in the prohibition; and those it
commands are more strongly insisted upon, when they happen not to be
commanded by law."

Though our government differs considerably from the French, inasmuch as
we have fixed laws and constitutional barriers for the security of our
liberties and properties, yet the President's observations hold pretty
near as true in England as in France. Though monarchies may differ a
good deal, kings differ very little. Those who are absolute desire to
continue so, and those who are not, endeavor to become so; hence the same
maxims and manners almost in all courts: voluptuousness and profusion
encouraged, the one to sink the people into indolence, the other into
poverty--consequently into dependence. The court is called the world
here as well as at Paris; and nothing more is meant by saying that a man
knows the world, than that he knows courts. In all courts you must
expect to meet with connections without friendship, enmities without
hatred, honor without virtue, appearances saved, and realities
sacrificed; good manners with bad morals; and all vice and virtues so
disguised, that whoever has only reasoned upon both would know neither
when he first met them at court. It is well that you should know the map
of that country, that when you come to travel in it, you may do it with
greater safety.

From all this you will of yourself draw this obvious conclusion: That you
are in truth but now going to the great and important school, the world;
to which Westminster and Leipsig were only the little preparatory
schools, as Marylebone, Windsor, etc., are to them. What you have
already acquired will only place you in the second form of this new
school, instead of the first. But if you intend, as I suppose you do, to
get into the shell, you have very different things to learn from Latin
and Greek: and which require much more sagacity and attention than those
two dead languages; the language of pure and simple nature; the language
of nature variously modified and corrupted by passions, prejudices, and
habits; the language of simulation and dissimulation: very hard, but very
necessary to decipher. Homer has not half so many, nor so difficult
dialects, as the great book of the school you are now going to. Observe,
therefore, progressively, and with the greatest attention, what the best
scholars in the form immediately above you do, and so on, until you get
into the shell yourself. Adieu.

Pray tell Mr. Harte that I have received his letter of the 27th May,
N. S., and that I advise him never to take the English newswriters
literally, who never yet inserted any one thing quite right. I have both
his patent and his mandamus, in both which he is Walter, let the
newspapers call him what they please.


LONDON, July 9, O. S. 1750.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I should not deserve that appellation in return from you,
if I did not freely and explicitly inform you of every corrigible defect
which I may either hear of, suspect, or at any time discover in you.
Those who, in the common course of the world, will call themselves your
friends; or whom, according to the common notions of friendship, you may
possibly think such, will never tell you of your faults, still less of
your weaknesses. But, on the contrary, more desirous to make you their
friend, than to prove themselves yours, they will flatter both, and, in
truth, not be sorry for either. Interiorly, most people enjoy the
inferiority of their best friends. The useful and essential part of
friendship, to you, is reserved singly for Mr. Harte and myself: our
relations to you stand pure and unsuspected of all private views.
In whatever we say to you, we can have no interest but yours. We are
therefore authorized to represent, advise, and remonstrate; and your
reason must tell you that you ought to attend to and believe us.

I am credibly informed, that there is still a considerable hitch or
hobble in your enunciation; and that when you speak fast you sometimes
speak unintelligibly. I have formerly and frequently laid my thoughts
before you so fully upon this subject, that I can say nothing new upon it
now. I must therefore only repeat, that your whole depends upon it.
Your trade is to speak well, both in public and in private. The manner
of your speaking is full as important as the matter, as more people have
ears to be tickled, than understandings to judge. Be your productions
ever so good, they will be of no use, if you stifle and strangle them in
their birth. The best compositions of Corelli, if ill executed and
played out of tune, instead of touching, as they do when well performed,
would only excite the indignation of the hearer's, when murdered by an
unskillful performer. But to murder your own productions, and that
'coram Populo', is a MEDEAN CRUELTY, which Horace absolutely forbids.
Remember of what importance Demosthenes, and one of the Gracchi, thought
ENUNCIATION; and read what stress Cicero and Quintilian lay upon it; even
the herb-women at Athens were correct judges of it. Oratory, with all
its graces, that of enunciation in particular, is full as necessary in
our government as it ever was in Greece or Rome. No man can make a
fortune or a figure in this country, without speaking, and speaking well
in public. If you will persuade, you must first please; and if you will
please, you must tune your voice to harmony, you must articulate every
syllable distinctly, your emphasis and cadences must be strongly and
properly marked; and the whole together must be graceful and engaging: If
you do not speak in that manner, you had much better not speak at all.
All the learning you have, or ever can have, is not worth one groat
without it. It may be a comfort and an amusement to you in your closet,
but can be of no use to you in the world. Let me conjure you, therefore,
to make this your only object, till you have absolutely conquered it,
for that is in your power; think of nothing else, read and speak for
nothing else. Read aloud, though alone, and read articulately and
distinctly, as if you were reading in public, and on the most important
occasion. Recite pieces of eloquence, declaim scenes of tragedies to Mr.
Harte, as if he were a numerous audience. If there is any particular
consonant which you have a difficulty in articulating, as I think you had
with the R, utter it millions and millions of times, till you have
uttered it right. Never speak quick, till you have first learned to
speak well. In short, lay aside every book, and every thought, that does
not directly tend to this great object, absolutely decisive of your
future fortune and figure.

The next thing necessary in your destination, is writing correctly,
elegantly, and in a good hand too; in which three particulars, I am sorry
to tell you, that you hitherto fail. Your handwriting is a very bad one,
and would make a scurvy figure in an office-book of letters, or even in a
lady's pocket-book. But that fault is easily cured by care, since every
man, who has the use of his eyes and of his right hand, can write
whatever hand he pleases. As to the correctness and elegance of your
writing, attention to grammar does the one, and to the best authors the
other. In your letter to me of the 27th June, N. S., you omitted the
date of the place, so that I only conjectured from the contents that you
were at Rome.

Thus I have, with the truth and freedom of the tenderest affection, told
you all your defects, at least all that I know or have heard of. Thank
God, they are all very curable; they must be cured, and I am sure, you
will cure them. That once done, nothing remains for you to acquire, or
for me to wish you, but the turn, the manners, the address, and the
GRACES, of the polite world; which experience, observation, and good
company; will insensibly give you. Few people at your age have read,
seen, and known, so much as you have; and consequently few are so near as
yourself to what I call perfection, by which I only, mean being very near
as well as the best. Far, therefore, from being discouraged by what you
still want, what you already have should encourage you to attempt, and
convince you that by attempting you will inevitably obtain it. The
difficulties which you have surmounted were much greater than any you
have now to encounter. Till very lately, your way has been only through
thorns and briars; the few that now remain are mixed with roses.
Pleasure is now the principal remaining part of your education. It will
soften and polish your manners; it will make you pursue and at last
overtake the GRACES. Pleasure is necessarily reciprocal; no one feels,
who does not at the same time give it. To be pleased one must please.
What pleases you in others, will in general please them in you. Paris is
indisputably the seat of the GRACES; they will even court you, if you are
not too coy. Frequent and observe the best companies there, and you will
soon be naturalized among them; you will soon find how particularly
attentive they are to the correctness and elegance of their language,
and to the graces of their enunciation: they would even call the
understanding of a man in question, who should neglect or not know the
infinite advantages arising from them. 'Narrer, reciter, declamer bien',
are serious studies among them, and well deserve to be so everywhere.
The conversations, even among the women, frequently turn upon the
elegancies and minutest delicacies of the French language. An
'enjouement', a gallant turn, prevails in all their companies, to women,
with whom they neither are, nor pretend to be, in love; but should you
(as may very possibly happen) fall really in love there with some woman
of fashion and sense (for I do not suppose you capable of falling in love
with a strumpet), and that your rival, without half your parts or
knowledge, should get the better of you, merely by dint of manners,
'enjouement, badinage', etc., how would you regret not having
sufficiently attended to those accomplishments which you despised as
superficial and trifling, but which you would then find of real
consequence in the course of the world! And men, as well as women,
are taken by those external graces. Shut up your books, then, now as a
business, and open them only as a pleasure; but let the great book of the
world be your serious study; read it over and over, get it by heart,
adopt its style, and make it your own.

When I cast up your account as it now stands, I rejoice to see the
balance so much in your favor; and that the items per contra are so few,
and of such a nature, that they may be very easily cancelled. By way of
debtor and creditor, it stands thus:

Creditor. By French Debtor. To English
German Enunciation
Italian Manners
Jus |Gentium

This, my dear friend, is a very true account; and a very encouraging one
for you. A man who owes so little can clear it off in a very little
time, and, if he is a prudent man, will; whereas a man who, by long
negligence, owes a great deal, despairs of ever being able to pay; and
therefore never looks into his account at all.

When you go to Genoa, pray observe carefully all the environs of it, and
view them with somebody who can tell you all the situations and
operations of the Austrian army, during that famous siege, if it deserves
to be called one; for in reality the town never was besieged, nor had the
Austrians any one thing necessary for a siege. If Marquis Centurioni,
who was last winter in England, should happen to be there, go to him with
my compliments, and he will show you all imaginable civilities.

I could have sent you some letters to Florence, but that I knew Mr. Mann
would be of more use to you than all of them. Pray make him my
compliments. Cultivate your Italian, while you are at Florence, where it
is spoken in its utmost purity, but ill pronounced.

Pray save me the seed of some of the best melons you eat, and put it up
dry in paper. You need not send it me; but Mr. Harte will bring it in
his pocket when he comes over. I should likewise be glad of some
cuttings of the best figs, especially la Pica gentile and the Maltese;
but as this is not the season for them, Mr. Mann will, I dare say,
undertake that commission, and send them to me at the proper time by
Leghorn. Adieu. Endeavor to please others, and divert yourself as much
as ever you can, in 'honnete et galant homme'.

P. S. I send you the inclosed to deliver to Lord Rochford, upon your
arrival at Turin.


LONDON, August 6, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: Since your letter from Sienna, which gave me a very
imperfect account both of your illness and your recovery, I have not
received one word either from you or Mr. Harte. I impute this to the
carelessness of the post simply: and the great distance between us at
present exposes our letters to those accidents. But when you come to
Paris, from whence the letters arrive here very regularly, I shall insist
upon you writing to me constantly once a week; and that upon the same
day, for instance, every Thursday, that I may know by what mail to expect
your letter. I shall also require you to be more minute in your account
of yourself than you have hitherto been, or than I have required, because
of the informations which I receive from time to time from Mr. Harte.
At Paris you will be out of your time, and must set up for yourself; it
is then that I shall be very solicitous to know how you carry on your
business. While Mr. Harte was your partner, the care was his share, and
the profit yours. But at Paris, if you will have the latter, you must
take the former along with it. It will be quite a new world to you; very
different from the little world that you have hitherto seen; and you will
have much more to do in it. You must keep your little accounts
constantly every morning, if you would not have them run into confusion,
and swell to a bulk that would frighten you from ever looking into them
at all. You must allow some time for learning what you do not know, and
some for keeping what you do know; and you must leave a great deal of
time for your pleasures; which (I repeat it, again) are now become the
most necessary part of your education. It is by conversations, dinners,
suppers, entertainments, etc., in the best companies, that you must be
formed for the world. 'Les manieres les agremens, les graces' cannot be
learned by theory; they are only to be got by use among those who have
them; and they are now the main object of your life, as they are the
necessary steps to your fortune. A man of the best parts, and the
greatest learning, if he does not know the world by his own experience
and observation, will be very absurd; and consequently very unwelcome in
company. He may say very good things; but they will probably be so ill-
timed, misplaced, or improperly addressed, that he had much better hold
his tongue. Full of his own matter, and uninformed of; or inattentive
to, the particular circumstances and situations of the company, he vents
it indiscriminately; he puts some people out of countenance; he shocks
others; and frightens all, who dread what may come out next. The most
general rule that I can give you for the world, and which your experience
will convince you of the truth of, is, Never to give the tone to the
company, but to take it from them; and to labor more to put them in
conceit with themselves, than to make them admire you. Those whom you
can make like themselves better, will, I promise you, like you very well.

A system-monger, who, without knowing anything of the world by
experience, has formed a system, of it in his dusty cell, lays it down,
for example, that (from the general nature of mankind) flattery is
pleasing. He will therefore flatter. But how? Why, indiscriminately.
And instead of repairing and heightening the piece judiciously, with soft
colors and a delicate pencil,--with a coarse brush and a great deal of
whitewash, he daubs and besmears the piece he means to adorn. His
flattery offends even his patron; and is almost too gross for his
mistress. A man of the world knows the force of flattery as well as he
does; but then he knows how, when, and where to give it; he proportions
his dose to the constitution of the patient. He flatters by application,
by inference, by comparison, by hint, and seldom directly. In the course
of the world, there is the same difference in everything between system
and practice.

I long to have you at Paris, which is to be your great school; you will
be then in a manner within reach of me.

Tell me, are you perfectly recovered, or do you still find any remaining
complaint upon your lungs? Your diet should be cooling, and at the same
time nourishing. Milks of all kinds are proper for you; wines of all
kinds bad. A great deal of gentle, and no violent exercise, is good for
you. Adieu. 'Gratia, fama, et valetudo, contingat, abunde!'


LONDON, October 22, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: This letter will, I am persuaded, find you, and I hope
safely, arrived at Montpelier; from whence I trust that Mr. Harte's
indisposition will, by being totally removed, allow you to get to Paris
before Christmas. You will there find two people who, though both
English, I recommend in the strongest manner possible to your attention;
and advise you to form the most intimate connections with them both, in
their, different ways. The one is a man whom you already know something
of, but not near enough: it is the Earl of Huntingdon; who, next to you,
is the truest object of my affection and esteem; and who (I am proud to
say it) calls me, and considers me as his adopted father. His parts are
as quick as his knowledge is extensive; and if quality were worth putting
into an account, where every other item is so much more valuable, he is
the first almost in this country: the figure he will make in it, soon
after he returns to it, will, if I am not more mistaken than ever I was
in my life, equal his birth and my hopes. Such a connection will be of
infinite advantage to you; and, I can assure you, that he is extremely
disposed to form it upon my account; and will, I hope and believe, desire
to improve and cement it upon your own.

In our parliamentary government, connections are absolutely necessary;
and, if prudently formed and ably maintained, the success of them is
infallible. There are two sorts of connections, which I would always
advise you to have in view. The first I will call equal ones; by which I
mean those, where the two connecting parties reciprocally find their
account, from pretty near an equal degree of parts and abilities. In
those, there must be a freer communication; each must see that the other
is able, and be convinced that he is willing to be of use to him. Honor
must be the principle of such connections; and there must be a mutual
dependence, that present and separate interest shall not be able to break
them. There must be a joint system of action; and, in case of different
opinions, each must recede a little, in order at last to form an
unanimous one. Such, I hope, will be your connection with Lord
Huntingdon. You will both come into parliament at the same time; and if
you have an equal share of abilities and application, you and he, with
other young people, with whom you will naturally associate, may form a
band which will be respected by any administration, and make a figure in
the public. The other sort of connections I call unequal ones; that is,
where the parts are all on one side, and the rank and fortune on the
other. Here, the advantage is all on one side; but that advantage must
be ably and artfully concealed. Complaisance, an engaging manner, and a
patient toleration of certain airs of superiority, must cement them.
The weaker party must be taken by the heart, his head giving no hold;
and he must be governed by being made to believe that he governs.
These people, skillfully led, give great weight to their leader.
I have formerly pointed out to you a couple that I take to be proper
objects for your skill; and you will meet with twenty more, for they are
very rife.

The other person whom I recommended to you is a woman; not as a woman,
for that is not immediately my business; besides, I fear that she is
turned of fifty. It is Lady Hervey, whom I directed you to call upon at
Dijon, but who, to my great joy, because to your great advantage, passes
all this winter at Paris. She has been bred all her life at courts; of
which she has acquired all the easy good-breeding and politeness, without
the frivolousness. She has all the reading that a woman should have; and
more than any woman need have; for she understands Latin perfectly well,
though she wisely conceals it. As she will look upon you as her son,
I desire that you will look upon her as my delegate: trust, consult,
and apply to her without reserve. No woman ever had more than she has,
'le ton de la parfaitement bonne compagnie, les manieres engageantes, et
le je ne sais quoi qui plait'. Desire her to reprove and correct any,
and every, the least error and in-, accuracy in your manners, air,
address, etc. No woman in Europe can do it so well; none will do it more
willingly, or in a more proper and obliging manner. In such a case she
will not put you out of countenance, by telling you of it in company;
but either intimate it by some sign, or wait for an opportunity when you
are alone together. She is also in the best French company, where she
will not only introduce but PUFF you, if I may use so low a word. And I
can assure you that it is no little help, in the 'beau monde', to be
puffed there by a fashionable woman. I send you the inclosed billet to
carry her, only as a certificate of the identity of your person, which I
take it for granted she could not know again.

You would be so much surprised to receive a whole letter from me without
any mention of the exterior ornaments necessary for a gentleman, as
manners, elocution, air, address, graces, etc., that, to comply with your
expectations, I will touch upon them; and tell you, that when you come to
England, I will show you some people, whom I do not now care to name,
raised to the highest stations singly by those exterior and adventitious
ornaments, whose parts would never have entitled them to the smallest
office in the excise. Are they then necessary, and worth acquiring, or
not? You will see many instances of this kind at Paris, particularly a
glaring one, of a person--[M. le Marechal de Richelieu]--raised to the
highest posts and dignities in France, as well as to be absolute
sovereign of the 'beau monde', simply by the graces of his person and
address; by woman's chit-chat, accompanied with important gestures; by an
imposing air and pleasing abord. Nay, by these helps, he even passes for
a wit, though he hath certainly no uncommon share of it. I will not name
him, because it would be very imprudent in you to do it. A young fellow,
at his first entrance into the 'beau monde', must not offend the king 'de
facto' there. It is very often more necessary to conceal contempt than
resentment, the former forgiven, but the latter sometimes forgot.

There is a small quarto book entitled, 'Histoire Chronologique de la
France', lately published by Le President Henault, a man of parts and
learning, with whom you will probably get acquainted at Paris. I desire
that it may always lie upon your table, for your recourse as often as you
read history. The chronology, though chiefly relative to the history of
France, is not singly confined to it; but the most interesting events of
all the rest of Europe are also inserted, and many of them adorned by
short, pretty, and just reflections. The new edition of 'Les Memoires de
Sully', in three quarto volumes, is also extremely well worth your
reading, as it will give you a clearer, and truer notion of one of the
most interesting periods of the French history, than you can yet have
formed from all the other books you may have read upon the subject. That
prince, I mean Henry the Fourth, had all the accomplishments and virtues
of a hero, and of a king, and almost of a man. The last are the most
rarely seen. May you possess them all! Adieu.

Pray make my compliments to Mr. Harte, and let him know that I have this
moment received his letter of the 12th, N. S., from Antibes. It requires
no immediate answer; I shall therefore delay mine till I have another
from him. Give him the inclosed, which I have received from Mr. Eliot.


LONDON, November 1, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: I hope that this letter will not find you still at
Montpelier, but rather be sent after you from thence to Paris, where,
I am persuaded, that Mr. Harte could find as good advice for his leg as
at Montpelier, if not better; but if he is of a different opinion, I am
sure you ought to stay there, as long as he desires.

While you are in France, I could wish that the hours you allot for
historical amusement should be entirely devoted to the history of France.
One always reads history to most advantage in that country to which it is
relative; not only books, but persons being ever at hand to solve doubts
and clear up difficulties. I do by no means advise you to throw away
your time in ransacking, like a dull antiquarian, the minute and
unimportant parts of remote and fabulous times. Let blockheads read what
blockheads wrote. And a general notion of the history of France, from
the conquest of that country by the Franks, to the reign of Louis the
Eleventh, is sufficient for use, consequently sufficient for you. There
are, however, in those remote times, some remarkable eras that deserve
more particular attention; I mean those in which some notable alterations
happened in the constitution and form of government. As, for example,
in the settlement of Clovis in Gaul, and the form of government which he
then established; for, by the way; that form of government differed in
this particular from all the other Gothic governments, that the people,
neither collectively nor by representatives, had any share in it. It was
a mixture of monarchy and aristocracy: and what were called the States
General of France consisted only of the nobility and clergy till the time
of Philip le Bel, in the very beginning of the fourteenth century, who
first called the people to those assemblies, by no means for the good of
the people, who were only amused by this pretended honor, but, in truth,
to check the nobility and clergy, and induce them to grant the money he
wanted for his profusion; this was a scheme of Enguerrand de Marigny, his
minister, who governed both him and his kingdom to such a degree as to,
be called the coadjutor and governor of the kingdom. Charles Martel laid
aside these assemblies, and governed by open force. Pepin restored them,
and attached them to him, and with them the nation; by which means he
deposed Childeric and mounted the throne. This is a second period worth
your attention. The third race of kings, which begins with Hugues Capet,
is a third period. A judicious reader of history will save himself a
great deal of time and trouble by attending with care only to those
interesting periods of history which furnish remarkable events, and make
eras, and going slightly over the, common run of events. Some people
read history as others read the "Pilgrim's Progress"; giving equal
attention to, and indiscriminately loading their memories with every part
alike. But I would have you read it in a different manner; take the
shortest general history you can find of every country; and mark down in
that history the most important periods, such as conquests, changes of
kings, and alterations of the form of government; and then have recourse
to more extensive histories or particular treatises, relative to those
great points. Consider them well, trace up their causes, and follow
their consequences. For instance, there is a most excellent, though very
short history of France, by Le Gendre. Read that with attention, and you
will know enough of the general history; but when you find there such
remarkable periods as are above mentioned, consult Mezeray, and other of
the best and minutest historians, as well as political treatises upon
those subjects. In later times, memoirs, from those of Philip de
Commines, down to the innumerble ones in the reign of Louis the
Fourteenth, have been of great use, and thrown great light upon
particular parts of history.

Conversation in France, if you have the address and dexterity to turn it
upon useful subjects, will exceedingly improve your historical knowledge;
for people there, however classically ignorant they may be, think it a
shame to be ignorant of the history of their own country: they read that,
if they read nothing else, and having often read nothing else, are proud
of having read that, and talk of it willingly; even the women are well
instructed in that sort of reading. I am far from meaning by this that
you should always be talking wisely in company, of books, history, and
matters of knowledge. There are many companies which you will, and ought
to keep, where such conversations would be misplaced and ill-timed; your
own good sense must distinguish the company and the time. You must
trifle only with triflers; and be serious only with the serious, but
dance to those who pipe. 'Cur in theatrum Cato severs venisti?' was
justly said to an old man: how much more so would it be to one of your
age? From the moment that you are dressed and go out, pocket all your
knowledge with your watch, and never pull it out in company unless
desired: the producing of the one unasked, implies that you are weary of
the company; and the producing of the other unrequired, will make the
company weary of you. Company is a republic too jealous of its
liberties, to suffer a dictator even for a quarter of an hour; and yet in
that, as in republics, there are some few who really govern; but then it
is by seeming to disclaim, instead of attempting to usurp the power; that
is the occasion in which manners, dexterity, address, and the undefinable
'je ne sais quoi' triumph; if properly exerted, their conquest is sure,
and the more lasting for not being perceived. Remember, that this is not
only your first and greatest, but ought to be almost your only object,
while you are in France.

I know that many of your countrymen are apt to call the freedom and
vivacity of the French petulancy and illbreeding; but, should you think
so, I desire upon many accounts that you will not say so; I admit that it
may be so in some instances of 'petits maitres Etourdis', and in some
young people unbroken to the world; but I can assure you, that you will
find it much otherwise with people of a certain rank and age, upon whose
model you will do very well to form yourself. We call their steady
assurance, impudence why? Only because what we call modesty is awkward
bashfulness and 'mauvaise honte'. For my part, I see no impudence, but,
on the contrary, infinite utility and advantage in presenting one's self
with the same coolness and unconcern in any and every company. Till one
can do that, I am very sure that one can never present one's self well.
Whatever is done under concern and embarrassment, must be ill done, and,
till a man is absolutely easy and unconcerned in every company, he will
never be thought to have kept good company, nor be very welcome in it.
A steady assurance, with seeming modesty, is possibly the most useful
qualification that a man can have in every part of life. A man would
certainly make a very considerable fortune and figure in the world, whose
modesty and timidity should often, as bashfulness always does (put him in
the deplorable and lamentable situation of the pious AEneas, when
'obstupuit, steteruntque comae; et vox faucibus haesit!). Fortune (as
well as women)--

"---------born to be controlled,
Stoops to the forward and the bold."

Assurance and intrepidity, under the white banner of seeming modesty,
clear the way for merit, that would otherwise be discouraged by
difficulties in its journey; whereas barefaced impudence is the noisy and
blustering harbinger of a worthless and senseless usurper.

You will think that I shall never have done recommending to you these
exterior worldly accomplishments, and you will think right, for I never
shall; they are of too great consequence to you for me to be indifferent
or negligent about them: the shining part of your future figure and
fortune depends now wholly upon them. These are the acquisitions which
must give efficacy and success to those you have already made. To have
it said and believed that you are the most learned man in England, would
be no more than was said and believed of Dr. Bentley; but to have it
said, at the same time, that you are also the best-bred, most polite, and
agreeable man in the kingdom, would be such a happy composition of a
character as I never yet knew any one man deserve; and which I will
endeavor, as well as ardently wish, that you may. Absolute perfection
is, I well know, unattainable; but I know too, that a man of parts may be
unweariedly aiming at it, and arrive pretty near it. Try, labor,
persevere. Adieu.


LONDON, November 8, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: Before you get to Paris, where you will soon be left to
your own discretion, if you have any, it is necessary that we should
understand one another thoroughly; which is the most probable way of
preventing disputes. Money, the cause of much mischief in the world, is
the cause of most quarrels between fathers and sons; the former commonly
thinking that they cannot give too little, and the latter, that they
cannot have enough; both equally in the wrong. You must do me the
justice to acknowledge, that I have hitherto neither stinted nor grudged
any expense that could be of use or real pleasure to you; and I can
assure you, by the way, that you have traveled at a much more
considerable expense than I did myself; but I never so much as thought of
that, while Mr. Harte was at the head of your finances; being very sure
that the sums granted were scrupulously applied to the uses for which
they were intended. But the case will soon be altered, and you will be
your own receiver and treasurer. However, I promise you, that we will
not quarrel singly upon the quantum, which shall be cheerfully and freely
granted: the application and appropriation of it will be the material
point, which I am now going to clear up and finally settle with you.
I will fix, or even name, no settled allowance; though I well know in my
own mind what would be the proper one; but I will first try your
draughts, by which I can in a good degree judge of your conduct. This
only I tell you in general, that if the channels through which my money
is to go are the proper ones, the source shall not be scanty; but should
it deviate into dirty, muddy, and obscure ones (which by the bye, it
cannot do for a week without my knowing it); I give you fair and timely
notice, that the source will instantly be dry. Mr. Harte,
in establishing you at Paris, will point out to you those proper
channels; he will leave you there upon the foot of a man of fashion, and
I will continue you upon the same; you will have your coach, your valet
de chambre, your own footman, and a valet de place; which, by the way, is
one servant more than I had. I would have you very well dressed, by
which I mean dressed as the generality of people of fashion are; that is,
not to be taken notice of, for being either more or less fine than other
people: it is by being well dressed, not finely dressed, that a gentleman
should be distinguished. You must frequent 'les spectacles', which
expense I shall willingly supply. You must play 'a des petits jeux de
commerce' in mixed companies; that article is trifling; I shall pay it
cheerfully. All the other articles of pocket-money are very
inconsiderable at Paris, in comparison of what they are here, the silly
custom of giving money wherever one dines or sups, and the expensive
importunity of subscriptions, not being yet introduced there. Having
thus reckoned up all the decent expenses of a gentleman, which I will
most readily defray, I come now to those which I will neither bear nor
supply. The first of these is gaming, of which, though I have not the
least reason to suspect you, I think it necessary eventually to assure
you, that no consideration in the world shall ever make me pay your play
debts; should you ever urge to me that your honor is pawned, I should
most immovably answer you, that it was your honor, not mine, that was
pawned; and that your creditor might e'en take the pawn for the debt.

Low company, and low pleasures, are always much more costly than liberal
and elegant ones. The disgraceful riots of a tavern are much more
expensive, as well as dishonorable, than the sometimes pardonable
excesses in good company. I must absolutely hear of no tavern scrapes
and squabbles.

I come now to another and very material point; I mean women; and I will
not address myself to you upon this subject, either in a religious, a
moral, or a parental style. I will even lay aside my age, remember
yours, and speak to you as one man of pleasure, if he had parts too,
would speak to another. I will by no means pay for whores, and their
never-failing consequences, surgeons; nor will I, upon any account, keep
singers, dancers, actresses, and 'id genus omne'; and, independently of
the expense, I must tell you, that such connections would give me,
and all sensible people, the utmost contempt for your parts and address;
a young fellow must have as little sense as address, to venture, or more
properly to sacrifice, his health and ruin his fortune, with such sort of
creatures; in such a place as Paris especially, where gallantry is both
the profession and the practice of every woman of fashion. To speak
plainly, I will not forgive your understanding c--------s and p-------s;
nor will your constitution forgive them you. These distempers, as well
as their cures, fall nine times in ten upon the lungs. This argument,
I am sure, ought to have weight with you: for I protest to you, that if
you meet with any such accident, I would not give one year's purchase for
your life. Lastly, there is another sort of expense that I will not
allow, only because it is a silly one; I mean the fooling away your money
in baubles at toy shops. Have one handsome snuff-box (if you take
snuff), and one handsome sword; but then no more pretty and very useless

By what goes before, you will easily perceive that I mean to allow you
whatever is necessary, not only for the figure, but for the pleasures of
a gentleman, and not to supply the profusion of a rake. This, you must
confess, does not savor of either the severity or parsimony of old age.
I consider this agreement between us, as a subsidiary treaty on my part,
for services to be performed on yours. I promise you, that I will be as
punctual in the payment of the subsidies, as England has been during the
last war; but then I give you notice at the same time, that I require a
much more scrupulous execution of the treaty on your part, than we met
with on that of our allies; or else that payment will be stopped. I hope
all that I have now said was absolutely unnecessary, and that sentiments
more worthy and more noble than pecuniary ones, would of themselves have
pointed out to you the conduct I recommend; but, at all events, I
resolved to be once for all explicit with you, that, in the worst that
can happen, you may not plead ignorance, and complain that I had not
sufficiently explained to you my intentions.

Having mentioned the word rake, I must say a word or two more on that
subject, because young people too frequently, and always fatally, are apt
to mistake that character for that of a man of pleasure; whereas, there
are not in the world two characters more different. A rake is a
composition of all the lowest, most ignoble, degrading, and shameful
vices; they all conspire to disgrace his character, and to ruin his
fortune; while wine and the p-------s contend which shall soonest and
most effectually destroy his constitution. A dissolute, flagitious
footman, or porter, makes full as good a rake as a man of the first
quality. By the bye, let me tell you, that in the wildest part of my
youth, I never was a rake, but, on the contrary, always detested and
despised that character.

A man of pleasure, though not always so scrupulous as he should be, and
as one day he will wish he had been, refines at least his pleasures by
taste, accompanies them with decency, and enjoys them with dignity.
Few men can be men of pleasure, every man may be a rake. Remember that
I shall know everything you say or do at Paris, as exactly as if, by the
force of magic, I could follow you everywhere, like a sylph or a gnome,
invisible myself. Seneca says, very prettily, that one should ask
nothing of God, but what one should be willing that men should know; nor
of men, but what one should be willing that God should know. I advise
you to say and do nothing at Paris, but what you would be willing that
I should know. I hope, nay, I believe, that will be the case. Sense,
I dare say, you do not want; instruction, I am sure, you have never
wanted: experience you are daily gaining: all which together must
inevitably (I should think) make you both 'respectable et aimable', the
perfection of a human character. In that case nothing shall be wanting
on my part, and you shall solidly experience all the extent and
tenderness of my affection for you; but dread the reverse of both! Adieu!

P. S. When you get to Paris, after you have been to wait on Lord
Albemarle, go to see Mr. Yorke, whom I have particular reasons for
desiring that you should be well with, as I shall hereafter explain to
you. Let him know that my orders, and your own inclinations, conspired
to make you desire his friendship and protection.


MY DEAR FRIEND: I have sent you so many preparatory letters for Paris,
that this, which will meet you there, shall only be a summary of them

You have hitherto had more liberty than anybody of your age ever had;
and I must do you the justice to own, that you have made a better use of
it than most people of your age would have done; but then, though you had
not a jailer, you had a friend with you. At Paris, you will not only be
unconfined, but unassisted. Your own good sense must be your only guide:
I have great confidence in it, and am convinced that I shall receive just
such accounts of your conduct at Paris as I could wish; for I tell you
beforehand, that I shall be most minutely informed of all that you do,
and almost of all that you say there. Enjoy the pleasures of youth,
you cannot do better: but refine and dignify them like a man, of parts;
let them raise, and not sink; let them adorn and not vilify your
character; let them, in short, be the pleasures of a gentleman, and taken
with your equals at least, but rather with your superiors, and those
chiefly French.

Inquire into the characters of the several Academicians, before you form
a connection with any of them; and be most upon your guard against those
who make the most court to you.

You cannot study much in the Academy; but you may study usefully there,
if you are an economist of your time, and bestow only upon good books
those quarters and halves of hours, which occur to everybody in the
course of almost every day; and which, at the year's end, amount to a
very considerable sum of time. Let Greek, without fail, share some part
of every day; I do not mean the Greek poets, the catches of Anacreon, or
the tender complaints of Theocritus, or even the porter-like language of
Homer's heroes; of whom all smatterers in Greek know a little, quote
often, and talk of always; but I mean Plato, Aristoteles, Demosthenes,
and Thucydides, whom none but adepts know. It is Greek that must
distinguish you in the learned world, Latin alone will not: and Greek
must be sought to be retained, for it never occurs like Latin. When you
read history or other books of amusement, let every language you are
master of have its turn, so that you may not only retain, but improve in
everyone. I also desire that you will converse in German and Italian,
with all the Germans and the Italians with whom you converse at all.
This will be a very agreeable and flattering thing to them, and a very
useful one to you.

Pray apply yourself diligently to your exercises; for though the doing
them well is not supremely meritorious, the doing them ill is illiberal,
vulgar, and ridiculous.

I recommend theatrical representations to you; which are excellent at
Paris. The tragedies of Corneille and Racine, and the comedies of
Moliere, well attended to, are admirable lessons, both for the heart and
the head. There is not, nor ever was, any theatre comparable to the
French. If the music of the French operas does not please your Italian
ear, the words of them, at least, are sense and poetry, which is much
more than I can, say of any Italian opera that I ever read or heard in my

I send you the inclosed letter of recommendation to Marquis Matignon,
which I would have you deliver to him as soon as you can; you will, I am
sure, feel the good effects of his warm friendship for me and Lord
Bolingbroke, who has also wrote to him upon your subject. By that, and
by the other letters which I have sent you, you will be at once so
thoroughly introduced into the best French company, that you must take
some pains if you will keep bad; but that is what I do not suspect you
of. You have, I am sure, too much right ambition to prefer low and
disgraceful company to that of your superiors, both in rank and age.
Your character, and consequently your fortune, absolutely depends upon
the company you keep, and the turn you take at Paris. I do not in the
least mean a grave turn; on the contrary, a gay, a sprightly, but, at the
same time, an elegant and liberal one.

Keep carefully out of all scrapes and quarrels. They lower a character
extremely; and are particularly dangerous in France; where a man is
dishonored by not resenting an affront, and utterly ruined by resenting
it. The young Frenchmen are hasty, giddy, and petulant; extremely
national, and 'avantageux'. Forbear from any national jokes or
reflections, which are always improper, and commonly unjust. The colder
northern nations generally look upon France as a whistling, singing,
dancing, frivolous nation; this notion is very far from being a true one,
though many 'Petits maitres' by their behavior seem to justify it; but
those very 'petits maltres', when mellowed by age and experience, very
often turn out very able men. The number of great generals and
statesmen, as well as excellent authors, that France has produced, is an
undeniable proof, that it is not that frivolous, unthinking, empty nation
that northern prejudices suppose it. Seem to like and approve of
everything at first, and I promise you that you will like and approve of
many things afterward.

I expect that you will write to me constantly, once every week, which I
desire may be every Thursday; and that your letters may inform me of your
personal transactions: not of what you see, but of whom you see, and what
you do.

Be your own monitor, now that you will have no other. As to enunciation,
I must repeat it to you again and again, that there is no one thing so
necessary: all other talents, without that, are absolutely useless,
except in your own closet.

It sounds ridiculously to bid you study with your dancing-master; and yet
I do. The bodily-carriage and graces are of infinite consequence to
everybody, and more particularly to you.

Adieu for this time, my dear child. Yours tenderly.


LONDON, November 12, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: You will possibly think, that this letter turns upon
strange, little, trifling objects; and you will think right, if you
consider them separately; but if you take them aggregately, you will be
convinced that as parts, which conspire to form that whole, called the
exterior of a man of fashion, they are of importance. I shall not dwell
now upon these personal graces, that liberal air, and that engaging
address, which I have so often recommended to you; but descend still
lower, to your dress, cleanliness, and care of your person.

When you come to Paris, you may take care to be extremely well dressed;
that is, as the fashionable people are; this does by no means consist in
the finery, but in the taste, fitness, and manner of wearing your
clothes; a fine suit ill-made, and slatternly or stiffly worn, far from
adorning, only exposes the awkwardness of the wearer. Get the best
French tailor to make your clothes, whatever they are, in the fashion,
and to fit you: and then wear them, button them, or unbutton them, as the
genteelest people you see do. Let your man learn of the best friseur to
do your hair well, for that is a very material part of your dress. Take
care to have your stockings well gartered up, and your shoes well
buckled; for nothing gives a more slovenly air to a man than ill-dressed
legs. In your person you must be accurately clean; and your teeth,
hands, and nails, should be superlatively so; a dirty mouth has real ill
consequences to the owner, for it infallibly causes the decay, as well as
the intolerable pain of the teeth, and it is very offensive to his
acquaintance, for it will most inevitably stink. I insist, therefore,
that you wash your teeth the first thing you do every morning, with a
soft sponge and swarm water, for four or five minutes; and then wash your
mouth five or six times. Mouton, whom I desire you will send for upon
your arrival at Paris, will give you an opiate, and a liquor to be used
sometimes. Nothing looks more ordinary, vulgar, and illiberal, than
dirty hands, and ugly, uneven, and ragged nails: I do not suspect you of
that shocking, awkward trick, of biting yours; but that is not enough:
you must keep the ends of them smooth and clean, not tipped with black,
as the ordinary people's always are. The ends of your nails should be
small segments of circles, which, by a very little care in the cutting,
they are very easily brought to; every time that you wipe your hands, rub
the skin round your nails backward, that it may not grow up, and shorten
your nails too much. The cleanliness of the rest of your person, which,
by the way, will conduce greatly to your health, I refer from time to
time to the bagnio. My mentioning these particulars arises (I freely
own) from some suspicion that the hints are not unnecessary; for, when
you were a schoolboy, you were slovenly and dirty above your fellows.
I must add another caution, which is that upon no account whatever, you
put your fingers, as too many people are apt to do, in your nose or ears.
It is the most shocking, nasty, vulgar rudeness, that can be offered to
company; it disgusts one, it turns one's stomach; and, for my own part,
I would much rather know that a man's fingers were actually in his
breech, than see them in his nose. Wash your ears well every morning,
and blow your nose in your handkerchief whenever you have occasion; but,
by the way, without looking at it afterward. There should be in the
least, as well as in the greatest parts of a gentleman, 'les manieres
nobles'. Sense will teach you some, observation others; attend carefully
to the manners, the diction, the motions, of people of the first fashion,
and form your own upon them. On the other hand, observe a little those
of the vulgar, in order to avoid them: for though the things which they
say or do may be the same, the manner is always totally different: and in
that, and nothing else, consists the characteristic of a man of fashion.
The lowest peasant speaks, moves, dresses, eats, and drinks, as much as a
man of the first fashion, but does them all quite differently; so that by
doing and saying most things in a manner opposite to that of the vulgar,
you have a great chance of doing and saying them right. There are
gradations in awkwardness and vulgarism, as there are in everything else.
'Les manieres de robe', though not quite right, are still better than
'les manieres bourgeoises'; and these, though bad, are still better than
'les manieres de campagne'. But the language, the air, the dress, and
the manners of the court, are the only true standard 'des manieres
nobles, et d'un honnete homme. Ex pede Herculem' is an old and true
saying, and very applicable to our present subject; for a man of parts,
who has been bred at courts, and used to keep the best company, will
distinguish himself, and is to be known from the vulgar by every word,
attitude, gesture, and even look. I cannot leave these seeming
'minutiae', without repeating to you the necessity of your carving well;
which is an article, little as it is, that is useful twice every day of
one's life; and the doing it ill is very troublesome to one's self, and
very disagreeable, often ridiculous, to others.

Having said all this, I cannot help reflecting, what a formal dull
fellow, or a cloistered pedant, would say, if they were to see this
letter: they would look upon it with the utmost contempt, and say that
surely a father might find much better topics for advice to a son.
I would admit it, if I had given you, or that you were capable of
receiving, no better; but if sufficient pains have been taken to form
your heart and improve your mind, and, as I hope, not without success,
I will tell those solid gentlemen, that all these trifling things,
as they think them, collectively, form that pleasing 'je ne sais quoi',
that ensemble, which they are utter strangers to both in themselves and
others. The word aimable is not known in their language, or the thing in
their manners. Great usage of the world, great attention, and a great
desire of pleasing, can alone give it; and it is no trifle. It is from
old people's looking upon these things as trifles, or not thinking of
them at all, that so many young people are so awkward and so ill-bred.
Their parents, often careless and unmindful of them, give them only the
common run of education, as school, university, and then traveling;
without examining, and very often without being able to judge, if they
did examine, what progress they make in any one of these stages. Then,
they carelessly comfort themselves, and say, that their sons will do like
other people's sons; and so they do, that is, commonly very ill. They
correct none of the childish nasty tricks, which they get at school;
nor the illiberal manners which they contract at the university; nor the
frivolous and superficial pertness, which is commonly all that they
acquire by their travels. As they do not tell them of these things,
nobody else can; so they go on in the practice of them, without ever
hearing, or knowing, that they are unbecoming, indecent, and shocking.
For, as I have often formerly observed to you, nobody but a father can
take the liberty to reprove a young fellow, grown up, for those kinds of
inaccuracies and improprieties of behavior. The most intimate
friendship, unassisted by the paternal superiority, will not authorize
it. I may truly say, therefore, that you are happy in having me for a
sincere, friendly, and quick-sighted monitor. Nothing will escape me:
I shall pry for your defects, in order to correct them, as curiously as
I shall seek for your perfections, in order to applaud and reward them,
with this difference only, that I shall publicly mention the latter, and
never hint at the former, but in a letter to, or a tete-d-tete with you.
I will never put you out of countenance before company; and I hope you
will never give me reason to be out of countenance for you, as any one of
the above-mentioned defects would make me. 'Praetor non, curat de
minimis', was a maxim in the Roman law; for causes only of a certain
value were tried by him but there were inferior jurisdictions, that took
cognizance of the smallest. Now I shall try you, not only as 'praetor'
in the greatest, but as 'censor' in lesser, and as the lowest magistrate
in the least cases.

I have this moment received Mr. Harte's letter of the 1st November,
N. S., by which I am very glad to find that he thinks of moving toward
Paris, the end of this month, which looks as if his leg were better;
besides, in my opinion, you both of you only lose time at Montpelier;
he would find better advice, and you better company, at Paris. In the
meantime, I hope you go into the best company there is at Montpelier;
and there always is some at the Intendant's, or the Commandant's. You
will have had full time to learn 'les petites chansons Languedociennes',
which are exceedingly pretty ones, both words and tunes. I remember,
when I was in those parts, I was surprised at the difference which I
found between the people on one side, and those on the other side of the
Rhone. The Provencaux were, in general, surly, ill-bred, ugly, and
swarthy; the Languedocians the very reverse: a cheerful, well-bred,
handsome people. Adieu! Yours most affectionately.

P. S. Upon reflection, I direct this letter to Paris; I think you must
have left Montpelier before it could arrive there.


LONDON, November 19, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: I was very glad to find by your letter of the 12th,
N. S., that you had informed yourself so well of the state of the French
marine at Toulon, and of the commerce at Marseilles; they are objects
that deserve the inquiry and attention of every man who intends to be
concerned in public affairs. The French are now wisely attentive to
both; their commerce is incredibly increased within these last thirty
years; they have beaten us out of great part of our Levant trade; their
East India trade has greatly affected ours; and, in the West Indies,
their Martinico establishment supplies, not only France itself, but the
greatest part of Europe, with sugars whereas our islands, as Jamaica,
Barbadoes, and the Leeward, have now no other market for theirs but
England. New France, or Canada, has also greatly lessened our fur and
skin trade. It is true (as you say) that we have no treaty of commerce
subsisting (I do not say WITH MARSEILLES) but with France. There was a
treaty of commerce made between England and France, immediately after the
treaty of Utrecht; but the whole treaty was conditional, and to depend
upon the parliament's enacting certain things which were stipulated in
two of the articles; the parliament, after a very famous debate, would
not do it; so the treaty fell to the ground: however, the outlines of
that treaty are, by mutual and tacit consent, the general rules of our
present commerce with France. It is true, too, that our commodities
which go to France, must go in our bottoms; the French having imitated in
many respects our famous Act of Navigation, as it is commonly called.
This act was made in the year 1652, in the parliament held by Oliver
Cromwell. It forbids all foreign ships to bring into England any
merchandise or commodities whatsoever, that were not of the growth and
produce of that country to which those ships belonged, under penalty of
the forfeiture of such ships. This act was particularly leveled at the
Dutch, who were at that time the carriers of almost all Europe, and got
immensely by freight. Upon this principle, of the advantages arising
from freight, there is a provision in the same act, that even the growth
and produce of our own colonies in America shall not be carried from
thence to any other country in Europe, without first touching in England;
but this clause has lately been repealed, in the instances of some
perishable commodities, such as rice, etc., which are allowed to be
carried directly from our American colonies to other countries. The act
also provides, that two-thirds, I think, of those who navigate the said
ships shall be British subjects. There is an excellent, and little book,
written by the famous Monsieur Huet Eveque d'Avranches, 'Sur le Commerce
des Anciens', which is very well worth your reading, and very soon read.
It will give you a clear notion of the rise and progress of commerce.
There are many other books, which take up the history of commerce where
Monsieur d'Avranches leaves it, and bring it down to these times. I
advise you to read some of them with care; commerce being a very
essential part of political knowledge in every country; but more
particularly in that which owes all its riches and power to it.

I come now to another part of your letter, which is the orthography, if I
may call bad spelling ORTHOGRAPHY. You spell induce, ENDUCE; and
grandeur, you spell grandURE; two faults of which few of my housemaids
would have been guilty. I must tell you that orthography, in the true
sense of the word, is so absolutely necessary for a man of letters; or a
gentleman, that one false spelling may fix ridicule upon him for the rest
of his life; and I know a man of quality, who never recovered the
ridicule of having spelled WHOLESOME without the w.

Reading with care will secure everybody from false spelling; for books
are always well spelled, according to the orthography of the times. Some
words are indeed doubtful, being spelled differently by different authors
of equal authority; but those are few; and in those cases every man has
his option, because he may plead his authority either way; but where
there is but one right way, as in the two words above mentioned, it is
unpardonable and ridiculous for a gentleman to miss it; even a woman of a
tolerable education would despise and laugh, at a lover, who should send
her an ill-spelled billet-doux. I fear and suspect, that you have taken
it into your head, in most cases, that the matter is all, and the manner
little or nothing. If you have, undeceive yourself, and be convinced
that, in everything, the manner is full as important as the matter. If
you speak the sense of an angel, in bad words and with a disagreeable
utterance, nobody will hear you twice, who can help it. If you write
epistles as well as Cicero, but in a very bad hand, and very ill-spelled,
whoever receives will laugh at them; and if you had the figure of Adonis,
with an awkward air and motions, it will disgust instead of pleasing.
Study manner, therefore, in everything, if you would be anything. My
principal inquiries of my friends at Paris, concerning you, will be
relative to your manner of doing whatever you do. I shall not inquire
whether you understand Demosthenes, Tacitus, or the 'Jus Publicum
Imperii'; but I shall inquire, whether your utterance is pleasing, your
style not only pure, but elegant, your manners noble and easy, your air
and address engaging in short, whether you are a gentleman, a man of
fashion, and fit to keep good company, or not; for, till I am satisfied
in these particulars, you and I must by no means meet; I could not
possibly stand it. It is in your power to become all this at Paris, if
you please. Consult with Lady Hervey and Madame Monconseil upon all
these matters; and they will speak to you, and advise you freely. Tell
them, that 'bisogna compatire ancora', that you are utterly new in the
world; that you are desirous to form yourself; that you beg they will
reprove, advise, and correct you; that you know that none can do it so
well; and that you will implicitly follow their directions. This,
together with your careful observation of the manners of the best
company, will really form you.

Abbe Guasco, a friend of mine, will come to you as soon as he knows of
your arrival at Paris; he is well received in the best companies there,
and will introduce you to them. He will be desirous to do you any
service he can; he is active and curious, and can give you information
upon most things. He is a sort of 'complaisant' of the President
Montesquieu, to whom you have a letter.

I imagine that this letter will not wait for you very long at Paris,
where I reckon you will be in about a fortnight. Adieu.


LONDON, December 24, 1750

DEAR FRIEND: At length you are become a Parisian, and consequently must
be addressed in French; you will also answer me in the same language,
that I may be able to judge of the degree in which you possess the
elegance, the delicacy, and the orthography of that language which is,
in a manner, become the universal one of Europe. I am assured that you
speak it well, but in that well there are gradations. He, who in the
provinces might be reckoned to speak correctly, would at Paris be looked
upon as an ancient Gaul. In that country of mode, even language is
subservient to fashion, which varies almost as often as their clothes.

at present too much in vogue at Paris. Know, observe, and occasionally
converse (if you please) according to those different styles; but do not
let your taste be infected by them. Wit, too, is there subservient to
fashion; and actually, at Paris, one must have wit, even in despite of
Minerva. Everybody runs after it; although if it does not come naturally
and of itself; it never can be overtaken. But, unfortunately for those
who pursue, they seize upon what they take for wit, and endeavor to pass
it for such upon others. This is, at best, the lot of Ixion, who
embraced a cloud instead of the goddess he pursued. Fine sentiments,
which never existed, false and unnatural thoughts, obscure and far-sought
expressions, not only unintelligible, but which it is even impossible to
decipher, or to guess at, are all the consequences of this error; and
two-thirds of the new French books which now appear are made up of those
ingredients. It is the new cookery of Parnassus, in which the still is
employed instead of the pot and the spit, and where quintessences and
extracts ate chiefly used. N. B. The Attic salt is proscribed.

You will now and then be obliged to eat of this new cookery, but do not
suffer your taste to be corrupted by it. And when you, in your turn, are
desirous of treating others, take the good old cookery of Lewis XIV.'s
reign for your rule. There were at that time admirable head cooks, such
as Corneille, Boileau, Racine, and La Fontaine. Whatever they prepared
was simple, wholesome, and solid. But laying aside all metaphors, do not
suffer yourself to be dazzled by false brilliancy, by unnatural
expressions, nor by those antitheses so much in fashion: as a protection
against such innovations, have a recourse to your own good sense, and to
the ancient authors. On the other hand, do not laugh at those who give
into such errors; you are as yet too young to act the critic, or to stand
forth a severe avenger of the violated rights of good sense. Content
yourself with not being perverted, but do not think of converting others;
let them quietly enjoy their errors in taste, as well as in religion.
Within the course of the last century and a half, taste in France has
(as well as that kingdom itself) undergone many vicissitudes. Under the
reign of I do not say Lewis XIII. but of Cardinal de Richelieu, good
taste first began to make its way. It was refined under that of Lewis
XIV., a great king, at least, if not a great man. Corneille was the
restorer of true taste, and the founder of the French theatre; although
rather inclined to the Italian 'Concetti' and the Spanish 'Agudeze'.
Witness those epigrams which he makes Chimene utter in the greatest
excess of grief.

Before his time, those kind of itinerant authors, called troubadours or
romanciers, were a species of madmen who attracted the admiration of
fools. Toward the end of Cardinal de Richelieu's reign, and the
beginning of Lewis XIV.'s, the Temple of Taste was established at the
Hotel of Rambouillet; but that taste was not judiciously refined this
Temple of Taste might more properly have been named a Laboratory of Wit,
where good sense was put to the torture, in order to extract from it the
most subtile essence. There it was that Voiture labored hard and
incessantly to create wit. At length, Boileau and Moliere fixed the
standard of true taste. In spite of the Scuderys, the Calprenedes, etc.,
they defeated and put to flight ARTAMENES, JUBA, OROONDATES, and all
those heroes of romance, who were, notwithstanding (each of them), as
good as a whole Army. Those madmen then endeavored to obtain an asylum
in libraries; this they could not accomplish, but were under a necessity
of taking shelter in the chambers of some few ladies. I would have you
read one volume of "Cleopatra," and one of "Clelia"; it will otherwise be
impossible for you to form any idea of the extravagances they contain;
but God keep you from ever persevering to the twelfth.

During almost the whole reign of Lewis XIV., true taste remained in its
purity, until it received some hurt, although undesignedly, from a very
fine genius, I mean Monsieur de Fontenelle; who, with the greatest sense
and the most solid learning, sacrificed rather too much to the Graces,
whose most favorite child and pupil he was. Admired with reason, others
tried to imitate him; but, unfortunately for us, the author of the
"Pastorals," of the "History of Oracles," and of the "French Theatre,"
found fewer imitators than the Chevalier d'Her did mimics. He has since
been taken off by a thousand authors: but never really imitated by anyone
that I know of.

At this time, the seat of true taste in France seems to me not well
established. It exists, but torn by factions. There is one party of
petits maitres, one of half-learned women, another of insipid authors
whose works are 'verba et voces, et praeterea nihil'; and, in short, a
numerous and very fashionable party of writers, who, in a metaphysical
jumble, introduce their false and subtle reasonings upon the movements
and the sentiments of THE SOUL, THE HEART, and THE MIND.

Do not let yourself be overpowered by fashion, nor by particular sets of
people with whom you may be connected; but try all the different coins
before you receive any in payment. Let your own good sense and reason
judge of the value of each; and be persuaded, that NOTHING CAN BE
BEAUTIFUL UNLESS TRUE: whatever brilliancy is not the result of the
solidity and justness of a thought, it is but a false glare. The Italian
saying upon a diamond is equally just with regard to thoughts, 'Quanto
Piu sodezza, tanto piu splendore'.

All this ought not to hinder you from conforming externally to the modes
and tones of the different companies in which you may chance to be. With
the 'petits maitres' speak epigrams; false sentiments, with frivolous
women; and a mixture of all these together, with professed beaux esprits.
I would have you do so; for at your age you ought not to aim at changing
the tone of the company, but conform to it. Examine well, however; weigh
all maturely within yourself; and do not mistake the tinsel of Tasso for
the gold of Virgil.

You will find at Paris good authors, and circles distinguished by the
solidity of their reasoning. You will never hear TRIFLING, AFFECTED, and
far-sought conversations, at Madame de Monconseil's, nor at the hotels of
Matignon and Coigni, where she will introduce you. The President
Montesquieu will not speak to you in the epigrammatic style. His book,
the "Spirit of the Laws," written in the vulgar tongue, will equally
please and instruct you.

Frequent the theatre whenever Corneille, Racine, and Moliere's pieces are
played. They are according to nature and to truth. I do not mean by
this to give an exclusion to several admirable modern plays, particularly
"Cenie,"--[Imitated in English by Mr. Francis, in a play called
"Eugenia."]--replete with sentiments that are true, natural, and
applicable to one's self. If you choose to know the characters of people
now in fashion, read Crebillon the younger, and Marivaux's works. The
former is a most excellent painter; the latter has studied, and knows the
human heart, perhaps too well. Crebillon's 'Egaremens du Coeur et de
l'Esprit is an excellent work in its kind; it will be of infinite
amusement to you, and not totally useless. The Japanese history of
"Tanzar and Neadarne," by the same author, is an amiable extravagancy,
interspersed with the most just reflections. In short, provided you do
not mistake the objects of your attention, you will find matter at Paris
to form a good and true taste.

As I shall let you remain at Paris without any person to direct your
conduct, I flatter myself that you will not make a bad use of the
confidence I repose in you. I do not require that you should lead the
life of a Capuchin friar; quite the contrary: I recommend pleasures to
you; but I expect that they shall be the pleasures of a gentleman. Those
add brilliancy to a young man's character; but debauchery vilifies and
degrades it. I shall have very true and exact accounts of your conduct;
and, according to the informations I receive, shall be more, or less, or
not at all, yours. Adieu.

P. S. Do not omit writing to me once a-week; and let your answer to this
letter be in French. Connect yourself as much as possible with the
foreign ministers; which is properly traveling into different countries,
without going from one place. Speak Italian to all the Italians, and
German to all the Germans you meet, in order not to forget those two

I wish you, my dear friend, as many happy new years as you deserve, and
not one more. May you deserve a great number!


Absurd romances of the two last centuries
Advocate, the friend, but not the bully of virtue
Assurance and intrepidity
Author is obscure and difficult in his own language
Characters, that never existed, are insipidly displayed
Commanding with dignity, you must serve up to it with diligence
Complaisance to every or anybody's opinion
Conceal all your learning carefully
Content yourself with mediocrity in nothing
Court mores
Dance to those who pipe
Decides peremptorily upon every subject
Desire to please, and that is the main point
Desirous to make you their friend
Despairs of ever being able to pay
Difference in everything between system and practice
Dignity to be kept up in pleasures, as well as in business
Distinction between simulation and dissimulation
Do not mistake the tinsel of Tasso for the gold of Virgil
Doing what may deserve to be written
Done under concern and embarrassment, must be ill done
Dressed as the generality of people of fashion are
Economist of your time
Establishing a character of integrity and good manners
Feed him, and feed upon him at the same time
Fortune stoops to the forward and the bold
Frivolous and superficial pertness
Gentlemen, who take such a fancy to you at first sight
Guard against those who make the most court to you
Have no pleasures but your own
If you will persuade, you must first please
Improve yourself with the old, divert yourself with the young
Indiscriminately loading their memories with every part alike
Insipid in his pleasures, as inefficient in everything else
Labor more to put them in conceit with themselves
Lay down a method for everything, and stick to it inviolably
Leo the Tenth
Let blockheads read what blockheads wrote
Let nobody discover that you do know your own value
Let them quietly enjoy their errors in taste
Man is dishonored by not resenting an affront
Manner is full as important as the matter
Modesty is the only sure bait when you angle for praise
Money, the cause of much mischief
More people have ears to be tickled, than understandings to judg
Most people enjoy the inferiority of their best friends
Necessity of scrupulously preserving the appearances
Never affect the character in which you have a mind to shine
Never put you out of countenance before company
Never read history without having maps
No one feels pleasure, who does not at the same time give it
Not only pure, but, like Caesar's wife, unsuspected
Often more necessary to conceal contempt than resentment
Passes for a wit, though he hath certainly no uncommon share
Patient toleration of certain airs of superiority
People hate those who make them feel their own inferiority
People lose a great deal of time by reading
Pleased with him, by making them first pleased with themselves
Pleasure is necessarily reciprocal
Pocket all your knowledge with your watch
Put out your time, but to good interest
Real merit of any kind will be discovered
Respect without timidity
Rich man never borrows
Same coolness and unconcern in any and every company
Seem to like and approve of everything at first
Sentiments that were never felt, pompously described
Shall be more, or less, or not at all, yours
She has all the reading that a woman should have
She who conquers only catches a Tartar
Silence in love betrays more woe
Spare the persons while you lash the crimes
Steady assurance, with seeming modesty
Suspicion of age, no woman, let her be ever so old, ever forgive
Take the hue of the company you are with
Taking up adventitious, proves their want of intrinsic merit
The present moments are the only ones we are sure of
Those whom you can make like themselves better
Timidity and diffidence
To be heard with success, you must be heard with pleasure
To be pleased one must please
Trifle only with triflers; and be serious only with the serious
Trite jokes and loud laughter reduce him to a buffoon
Unwilling and forced; it will never please
Well dressed, not finely dressed
What is impossible, and what is only difficult
What pleases you in others, will in general please them in you
Whatever real merit you have, other people will discover
Wish you, my dear friend, as many happy new years as you deserve
Women choose their favorites more by the ear
Words are the dress of thoughts
Writing what may deserve to be read
You must be respectable, if you will be respected
Your character there, whatever it is, will get before you here



on the Fine Art of becoming a


and a



LONDON, January 8, O.S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: By your letter of the 5th, N. S., I find that your
'debut' at Paris has been a good one; you are entered into good company,
and I dare say you will, not sink into bad. Frequent the houses where
you have been once invited, and have none of that shyness which makes
most of your countrymen strangers, where they might be intimate and
domestic if they pleased. Wherever you have a general invitation to sup
when you please, profit of it, with decency, and go every now and then.
Lord Albemarle will, I am sure, be extremely kind to you, but his house
is only a dinner house; and, as I am informed, frequented by no French
people. Should he happen to employ you in his bureau, which I much
doubt, you must write a better hand than your common one, or you will get
no credit by your manuscripts; for your hand is at present an illiberal
one; it is neither a hand of business nor of a gentleman, but the hand of
a school-boy writing his exercise, which he hopes will never be read.

Madame de Monconseil gives me a favorable account of you; and so do
Marquis de Matignon and Madame du Boccage; they all say that you desire
to please, and consequently promise me that you will; and they judge
right; for whoever really desires to please, and has (as you now have)
the means of learning how, certainly will please and that is the great
point of life; it makes all other things easy. Whenever you are with
Madame de Monconseil, Madame du Boccage, or other women of fashion, with
whom you are tolerably free, say frankly and naturally: "I know little of
the world; I am quite a novice in it; and although very desirous of
pleasing, I am at a loss for the means. Be so good, Madame, as to let me
into your secret of pleasing everybody. I shall owe my success to it,
and you will always have more than falls to your share." When, in
consequence of this request, they shall tell you of any little error,
awkwardness, or impropriety, you should not only feel, but express the
warmest acknowledgment. Though nature should suffer, and she will at
first hearing them, tell them, that you will look upon the most severe
criticisms as the greatest proof of their friendship. Madame du Boccage
tells me, particularly, to inform you: "I shall always, receive the honor
of his visits with pleasure; it is true, that at his age the pleasures of
conversation are cold; but I will endeavor to make him acquainted with
young people," etc.

Make use of this invitation, and as you live, in a manner, next door to
her, step in and out there frequently. Monsieur du Boccage will go with
you, he tells me, with great pleasure, to the plays, and point out to you
whatever deserves your knowing there. This is worth your acceptance too;
he has a very good taste. I have not yet heard from Lady Hervey upon
your subject; but as you inform me that you have already supped with her
once, I look upon you as adopted by her; consult her in all your little
matters; tell her any difficulties that may occur to you; ask her what
you should do or say in such or such cases; she has 'l'usage du monde en
perfection', and will help you to acquire it. Madame de Berkenrode 'est
paitrie de graces', and your quotation is very applicable to her. You
may be there, I dare say, as often as you please, and I would advise you
to sup there once a week.

You say, very justly, that as Mr. Harte is leaving you, you shall want
advice more than ever; you shall never want mine; and as you have already
had so much of it, I must rather repeat than add to what I have already
given you; but that I will do, and add to it occasionally, as
circumstances may require. At present I shall only remind you of your
two great objects, which you should always attend to; they are parliament
and foreign affairs. With regard to the former, you can do nothing while
abroad but attend carefully to the purity, correctness, and elegance of
your diction; the clearness and gracefulness of your utterance, in
whatever language you speak. As for the parliamentary knowledge, I will
take care of that when you come home. With regard to foreign affairs,
everything you do abroad may and ought to tend that way. Your reading
should be chiefly historical; I do not mean of remote, dark, and fabulous
history, still less of jimcrack natural history of fossils, minerals,
plants, etc., but I mean the useful, political, and constitutional
history of Europe, for these last three centuries and a half. The other
thing necessary for your foreign object, and not less necessary than
either ancient or modern knowledge, is a great knowledge of the world,
manners, politeness, address, and 'le ton de la bonne compagnie'. In
that view, keeping a great deal of good company, is the principal point
to which you are now to attend. It seems ridiculous to tell you, but it
is most certainly true, that your dancing-master is at this time the man
in all Europe of the greatest importance to you. You must dance well,
in order to sit, stand, and walk well; and you must do all these well in
order to please. What with your exercises, some reading, and a great
deal of company, your day is, I confess, extremely taken up; but the day,
if well employed, is long enough for everything; and I am sure you will
not slattern away one moment of it in inaction. At your age, people have
strong and active spirits, alacrity and vivacity in all they do; are
'impigri', indefatigable, and quick. The difference is, that a young
fellow of parts exerts all those happy dispositions in the pursuit of
proper objects; endeavors to excel in the solid, and in the showish parts
of life; whereas a silly puppy, or a dull rogue, throws away all his
youth and spirit upon trifles, where he is serious or upon disgraceful
vices, while he aims at pleasures. This I am sure will not be your case;
your good sense and your good conduct hitherto are your guarantees with
me for the future. Continue only at Paris as you have begun, and your
stay there will make you, what I have always wished you to be, as near
perfection as our nature permits.

Adieu, my dear; remember to write to me once a-week, not as to a father,
but, without reserve, as to a friend.


LONDON, January 14, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: Among the many good things Mr. Harte has told me of you,
two in particular gave me great pleasure. The first, that you are
exceedingly careful and jealous of the dignity of your character; that is
the sure and solid foundation upon which you must both stand and rise.
A man's moral character is a more delicate thing than a woman's
reputation of chastity. A slip or two may possibly be forgiven her, and
her character may be clarified by subsequent and continued good conduct:
but a man's moral character once tainted is irreparably destroyed. The
second was, that you had acquired a most correct and extensive knowledge
of foreign affairs, such as the history, the treaties, and the forms of
government of the several countries of Europe. This sort of knowledge,
little attended to here, will make you not only useful, but necessary,
in your future destination, and carry you very far. He added that you
wanted from hence some books relative to our laws and constitution, our
colonies, and our commerce; of which you know less than of those of any
other part of Europe. I will send you what short books I can find of
that sort, to give you a general notion of those things: but you cannot
have time to go into their depths at present--you cannot now engage with
new folios; you and I will refer the constitutional part of this country
to our meeting here, when we will enter seriously into it, and read the
necessary books together. In the meantime, go on in the course you are
in, of foreign matters; converse with ministers and others of every
country, watch the transactions of every court, and endeavor to trace
them up to their source. This, with your physics, your geometry, and
your exercises, will be all that you can possibly have time for at Paris;
for you must allow a great deal for company and pleasures: it is they
that must give you those manners, that address, that 'tournure' of the
'beau monde', which will qualify you for your future destination. You
must first please, in order to get the confidence, and consequently the
secrets, of the courts and ministers for whom and with whom you

I will send you by the first opportunity a short book written by Lord
Bolingbroke, under the name of Sir John Oldcastle, containing remarks
upon the history of England; which will give you a clear general notion
of our constitution, and which will serve you, at the same time, like all
Lord Bolingbroke's works, for a model of eloquence and style. I will
also send you Sir Josiah Childe's little book upon trade, which may
properly be called the "Commercial Grammar." He lays down the true
principles of commerce, and his conclusions from them are generally very

Since you turn your thoughts a little toward trade and commerce, which I
am very glad you do, I will recommend a French book to you, which you
will easily get at Paris, and which I take to be the best book in the
world of that kind: I mean the 'Dictionnaire de Commerce de Savory', in
three volumes in folio; where you will find every one thing that relates
to trade, commerce, specie, exchange, etc., most clearly stated; and not
only relative to France, but to the whole world. You will easily
suppose, that I do not advise you to read such a book 'tout de suite';
but I only mean that you should have it at hand, to have recourse to

With this great stock of both useful and ornamental knowledge, which you
have already acquired, and which, by your application and industry, you
are daily increasing, you will lay such a solid foundation of future
figure and fortune, that if you complete it by all the accomplishments of
manners, graces, etc., I know nothing which you may not aim at, and in
time hope for. Your great point at present at Paris, to which all other
considerations must give way, is to become entirely a man of fashion: to
be well-bred without ceremony, easy without negligence, steady and
intrepid with modesty, genteel without affectation, insinuating without
meanness, cheerful without being noisy, frank without indiscretion, and
secret without mysteriousness; to know the proper time and place for
whatever you say or do, and to do it with an air of condition all this is
not so soon nor so easily learned as people imagine, but requires
observation and time. The world is an immense folio, which demands a
great deal of time and attention to be read and understood as it ought to
be; you have not yet read above four or five pages of it; and you will
have but barely time to dip now and then in other less important books.

Lord Albemarle has, I know, wrote {It is a pleasure for an ordinary
mortal to find Lord Chesterfield in gramatical error--and he did it again
in the last sentence of this paragraph--but this was 1751? D.W.} to a
friend of his here, that you do not frequent him so much as he expected
and desired; that he fears somebody or other has given you wrong
impressions of him; and that I may possibly think,
from your being seldom at his house, that he has been wanting in his
attentions to you. I told the person who told me this, that, on the
contrary, you seemed, by your letters to me, to be extremely pleased with
Lord Albemarle's behavior to you: but that you were obliged to give up
dining abroad during your course of experimental philosophy. I guessed
the true reason, which I believe was, that, as no French people frequent
his house, you rather chose to dine at other places, where you were
likely to meet with better company than your countrymen and you were in
the right of it. However, I would have you show no shyness to Lord
Albemarle, but go to him, and dine with him oftener than it may be you
would wish, for the sake of having him speak well of you here when he
returns. He is a good deal in fashion here, and his PUFFING you (to use
an awkward expression) before you return here, will be of great use to
you afterward. People in general take characters, as they do most
things, upon trust, rather than be at the trouble of examining them
themselves; and the decisions of four or five fashionable people, in
every place, are final, more particularly with regard to characters,
which all can hear, and but few judge of. Do not mention the least of
this to any mortal; and take care that Lord Albemarle do not suspect that
you know anything of the matter.

Lord Huntingdon and Lord Stormount are, I hear, arrived at Paris; you
have, doubtless, seen them. Lord Stormount is well spoken of here;
however, in your connections, if you form any with them, show rather a
preference to Lord Huntingdon, for reasons which you will easily guess.

Mr. Harte goes this week to Cornwall, to take possession of his living;
he has been installed at Windsor; he will return here in about a month,
when your literary correspondence with him will be regularly carried on.
Your mutual concern at parting was a good sign for both.

I have this moment received good accounts of you from Paris. Go on 'vous
etes en bon train'. Adieu.


Back to Full Books