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

Part 8 out of 15


LONDON, January 21, O. S.. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: In all my letters from Paris, I have the pleasure of
finding, among many other good things, your docility mentioned with
emphasis; this is the sure way of improving in those things, which you
only want. It is true they are little, but it is as true too that they
are necessary things. As they are mere matters of usage and mode, it is
no disgrace for anybody of your age to be ignorant of them; and the most
compendious way of learning them is, fairly to avow your ignorance, and
to consult those who, from long usage and experience, know them best.
Good sense and good-nature suggest civility in general; but, in good-
breeding there are a thousand little delicacies, which are established
only by custom; and it is these little elegances of manners which
distinguish a courtier and a man of fashion from the vulgar. I am
assured by different people, that your air is already much improved; and
one of my correspondents makes you the true French compliment of saying,
'F'ose vous promettre qu'il sera bientot comme un de nos autres'.
However unbecoming this speech may be in the mouth of a Frenchman, I am
very glad that they think it applicable to you; for I would have you not
only adopt, but rival, the best manners and usages of the place you are
at, be they what they will; that is the versatility of manners which is
so useful in the course of the world. Choose your models well at Paris,
and then rival them in their own way. There are fashionable words,
phrases, and even gestures, at Paris, which are called 'du bon ton'; not
to mention 'certaines Petites politesses et attentions, qui ne sont rien
en elle-memes', which fashion has rendered necessary. Make yourself
master of all these things; and to such a degree, as to make the French
say, 'qu'on diroit que c'est un Francois'; and when hereafter you shall
be at other courts, do the same thing there; and conform to the
fashionable manners and usage of the place; that is what the French
themselves are not apt to do; wherever they go, they retain their own
manners, as thinking them the best; but, granting them to be so, they are
still in the wrong not to conform to those of the place. One would
desire to please, wherever one is; and nothing is more innocently
flattering than an approbation, and an imitation of the people one
converses with.

I hope your colleges with Marcel go on prosperously. In these
ridiculous, though, at the same time, really important lectures, pray
attend, and desire your professor also to attend, more particularly to
the chapter of the arms. It is they that decide of a man's being genteel
or otherwise, more than any other part of the body. A twist or stiffness
in the wrist, will make any man in Europe look awkward. The next thing
to be attended to is, your coming into a room, and presenting yourself to
a company. This gives the first impression; and the first impression is
often a lasting one. Therefore, pray desire Professor Marcel to make you
come in and go out of his room frequently, and in the supposition of
different companies being there; such as ministers, women, mixed
companies, etc. Those who present themselves well, have a certain
dignity in their air, which, without the least seeming mixture of pride,
at once engages, and is respected.

I should not so often repeat, nor so long dwell upon such trifles, with
anybody that had less solid and valuable knowledge than you have.
Frivolous people attend to those things, 'par preference'; they know
nothing else; my fear with you is, that, from knowing better things, you
should despise these too much, and think them of much less consequence
than they really are; for they are of a great deal, and more especially
to you.

Pleasing and governing women may, in time, be of great service to you.
They often please and govern others. 'A propos', are you in love with
Madame de Berkenrode still, or has some other taken her place in your
affections? I take it for granted, that 'qua to cumque domat Venus, non
erubescendis adurit ignibus. Un arrangement honnete sied bien a un
galant homme'. In that case I recommend to you the utmost discretion,
and the profoundest silence. Bragging of, hinting at, intimating, or
even affectedly disclaiming and denying such an arrangement will equally
discredit you among men and women. An unaffected silence upon that
subject is the only true medium.

In your commerce with women, and indeed with men too, 'une certaine
douceur' is particularly engaging; it is that which constitutes that
character which the French talk of so much, and so justly value, I mean
'l'aimable'. This 'douceur' is not so easily described as felt. It is
the compound result of different things; a complaisance, a flexibility,
but not a servility of manners; an air of softness in the countenance,
gesture, and expression, equally whether you concur or differ with the
person you converse with. Observe those carefully who have that
'douceur' that charms you and others; and your own good sense will soon
enable you to discover the different ingredients of which it is composed.
You must be more particularly attentive to this 'douceur', whenever you
are obliged to refuse what is asked of you, or to say what in itself
cannot be very agreeable to those to whom you say it. It is then the
necessary gilding of a disagreeable pill. 'L'aimable' consists in a
thousand of these little things aggregately. It is the 'suaviter in
modo', which I have so often recommended to you. The respectable, Mr.
Harte assures me, you do not want, and I believe him. Study, then,
carefully; and acquire perfectly, the 'Aimable', and you will have

Abbe Guasco, who is another of your panegyrists, writes me word that he
has taken you to dinner at Marquis de St. Germain's; where you will be
welcome as often as you please, and the oftener the better. Profit of
that, upon the principle of traveling in different countries, without
changing places. He says, too, that he will take you to the parliament,
when any remarkable cause is to be tried. That is very well; go through
the several chambers of the parliament, and see and hear what they are
doing; join practice and observation to your theoretical knowledge of
their rights and privileges. No Englishman has the least notion of them.

I need not recommend you to go to the bottom of the constitutional and
political knowledge of countries; for Mr. Harte tells me that you have a
peculiar turn that way, and have informed yourself most correctly of

I must now put some queries to you, as to a 'juris publici peritus',
which I am sure you can answer me, and which I own I cannot answer
myself; they are upon a subject now much talked of.

1st. Are there any particular forms requisite for the election of a King
of the Romans, different from those which are necessary for the election
of an Emperor?

2d. Is not a King of the Romans as legally elected by the votes of a
majority of the electors, as by two-thirds, or by the unanimity of the

3d. Is there any particular law or constitution of the empire, that
distinguishes, either in matter or in, form, the election of a King of
the Romans from that of an Emperor? And is not the golden bull of
Charles the Fourth equally the rule for both?

4th. Were there not, at a meeting of a certain number of the electors (I
have forgotten when), some rules and limitations agreed upon concerning
the election of a King of the Romans? And were those restrictions legal,
and did they obtain the force of law?

How happy am I, my dear child, that I can apply to you for knowledge, and
with a certainty of being rightly informed! It is knowledge, more than
quick, flashy parts, that makes a man of business. A man who is master
of his matter, twill, with inferior parts, be too hard in parliament, and
indeed anywhere else, for a man of-better parts, who knows his subject
but superficially: and if to his knowledge he joins eloquence and
elocution, he must necessarily soon be at the head of that assembly; but
without those two, no knowledge is sufficient.

Lord Huntingdon writes me word that he has seen you, and that you have
renewed your old school-acquaintance.

Tell me fairly your opinion of him, and of his friend Lord Stormount: and
also of the other English people of fashion you meet with. I promise you
inviolable secrecy on my part. You and I must now write to each other-
as friends, and without the least reserve; there will for the future be a
thousand-things in my letters, which I would not have any mortal living
but yourself see or know. Those you will easily distinguish, and neither
show nor repeat; and I will do the same by you.

To come to another subject (for I have a pleasure in talking over every
subject with you): How deep are you in Italian? Do you understand
Ariosto, Tasso, Boccaccio and Machiavelli? If you do, you know enough of
it and may know all the rest, by reading, when you have time. Little or
no business is written in Italian, except in Italy; and if you know
enough of it to understand the few Italian letters that may in time come
in your way, and to speak Italian tolerably to those very few Italians
who speak no French, give yourself no further trouble about that language
till you happen to have full leisure to perfect yourself in it. It is
not the same with regard to German; your speaking and writing it well,
will particularly distinguish you from every other man in England; and
is, moreover, of great use to anyone who is, as probably you will be,
employed in the Empire. Therefore, pray cultivate them sedulously, by
writing four or five lines of German every day, and by speaking it to
every German you meet with.

You have now got a footing in a great many good houses at Paris, in which
I advise you to make yourself domestic. This is to be done by a certain
easiness of carriage, and a decent familiarity. Not by way of putting
yourself upon the frivolous footing of being 'sans consequence', but by
doing in some degree, the honors of the house and table, calling yourself
'en badinant le galopin d'ici', saying to the masters or mistress, 'ceci
est de mon departement; je m'en charge; avouez, que je m'en acquitte a
merveille.' This sort of 'badinage' has something engaging and 'liant'
in it, and begets that decent familiarity, which it is both agreeable and
useful to establish in good houses and with people of fashion. Mere
formal visits, dinners, and suppers, upon formal invitations, are not the
thing; they add to no connection nor information; but it is the easy,
careless ingress and egress at all hours, that forms the pleasing and
profitable commerce of life.

The post is so negligent, that I lose some letters from Paris entirely,
and receive others much later than I should. To this I ascribe my having
received no letter from you for above a fortnight, which to my impatience
seems a long time. I expect to hear from you once a-week. Mr. Harte is
gone to Cornwall, and will be back in about three weeks. I have a packet
of books to send you by the first opportunity, which I believe will be
Mr. Yorke's return to Paris. The, Greek books come from Mr. Harte, and
the English ones from your humble servant. Read Lord Bolingbroke's with
great attention, as well to the style as to the matter. I wish you could
form yourself such a style in every language. Style is the dress of
thoughts; and a well-dressed thought, like a well-dressed man, appears to
great advantage. Yours. Adieu.


LONDON, August 28, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: A bill for ninety pounds sterling was brought me the
other day, said to be drawn upon me by you: I scrupled paying it at
first, not upon account of the sum, but because you had sent me no letter
of advice, which is always done in those transactions; and still more,
because I did not perceive that you had signed it. The person who
presented it, desired me to look again, and that I should discover your
name at the bottom: accordingly I looked again, and, with the help of my
magnifying glass, did perceive that what I had first taken only for
somebody's mark, was, in truth, your name, written in the worst and
smallest hand I ever saw in my life.

However, I paid it at a venture; though I would almost rather lose the
money, than that such a signature should be yours. All gentlemen, and
all men of business, write their names always in the same way, that their
signature may be so well known as not to be easily counterfeited; and
they generally sign in rather larger character than their common hand;
whereas your name was in a less, and a worse, than your common writing.
This suggested to me the various accidents which may very probably happen
to you, while you write so ill. For instance, if you were to write in
such a character to the Secretary's office, your letter would immediately
be sent to the decipherer, as containing matters of the utmost secrecy,
not fit to be trusted to the common character. If you were to write so
to an antiquarian, he (knowing you to be a man of learning) would
certainly try it by the Runic, Celtic, or Sclavonian alphabet, never
suspecting it to be a modern character. And, if you were to send a
'poulet' to a fine woman, in such a hand, she would think that it really
came from the 'poulailler'; which, by the bye, is the etymology of the
word 'poulet'; for Henry the Fourth of France used to send billets-doux
to his mistresses by his 'poulailler', under pretense of sending them
chickens; which gave the name of poulets to those short, but expressive
manuscripts. I have often told you that every man who has the use of his
eyes and of his hand, can write whatever hand he pleases; and it is plain
that you can, since you write both the Greek and German characters, which
you never learned of a writing-master, extremely well, though your common
hand, which you learned of a master, is an exceedingly bad and illiberal
one; equally unfit for business or common use. I do not desire that you
should write the labored, stiff character of a writing-master: a man of
business must write quick and well, and that depends simply upon use.
I would therefore advise you to get some very good writing-master at
Paris, and apply to it for a month only, which will be sufficient; for,
upon my word, the writing of a genteel plain hand of business is of much
more importance than you think. You will say, it may be, that when you
write so very ill, it is because you are in a hurry, to which I answer,
Why are you ever in a hurry? A man of sense may be in haste, but can
never be in a hurry, because he knows that whatever he does in a hurry,
he must necessarily do very ill. He may be in haste to dispatch an
affair, but he will care not to let that haste hinder his doing it well.
Little minds are in a hurry, when the object proves (as it commonly does)
too big for them; they run, they hare, they puzzle, confound, and perplex
themselves: they want to do everything at once, and never do it at all.
But a man of sense takes the time necessary for doing the thing he is
about, well; and his haste to dispatch a business only appears by the
continuity of his application to it: he pursues it with a cool
steadiness, and finishes it before he begins any other. I own your time
is much taken up, and you have a great many different things to do; but
remember that you had much better do half of them well and leave the
other half undone, than do them all indifferently. Moreover, the few
seconds that are saved in the course of the day, by writing ill instead
of well, do not amount to an object of time by any means equivalent to
the disgrace or ridicule of writing the scrawl of a common whore.
Consider, that if your very bad writing could furnish me with matter of
ridicule, what will it not do to others who do not view you in that
partial light that I do? There was a pope, I think it was Cardinal
Chigi, who was justly ridiculed for his attention to little things, and
his inability in great ones: and therefore called maximus in minimis, and
minimus in maximis. Why? Because he attended to little things when he
had great ones to do. At this particular period of your life, and at the
place you are now in, you have only little things to do; and you should
make it habitual to you to do them well, that they may require no
attention from you when you have, as I hope you will have, greater things
to mind. Make a good handwriting familiar to you now, that you may
hereafter have nothing but your matter to think of, when you have
occasion to write to kings and ministers. Dance, dress, present
yourself, habitually well now, that you may have none of those little
things to think of hereafter, and which will be all necessary to be done
well occasionally, when you will have greater things to do.

As I am eternally thinking of everything that can be relative to you, one
thing has occurred to me, which I think necessary to mention to you, in
order to prevent the difficulties which it might otherwise lay you under;
it is this as you get more acquaintances at Paris, it will be impossible
for you to frequent your first acquaintances so much as you did, while
you had no others. As, for example, at your first 'debut', I suppose you
were chiefly at Madame Monconseil's, Lady Hervey's, and Madame du
Boccage's. Now, that you have got so many other houses, you cannot be at
theirs so often as you used; but pray take care not to give them the
least reason to think that you neglect, or despise them, for the sake of
new and more dignified and shining acquaintances; which would be
ungrateful and imprudent on your part, and never forgiven on theirs.
Call upon them often, though you do not stay with them so long as
formerly; tell them that you are sorry you are obliged to go away, but
that you have such and such engagements, with which good-breeding obliges
you to comply; and insinuate that you would rather stay with them. In
short, take care to make as many personal friends, and as few personal
enemies, as possible. I do not mean, by personal friends, intimate and
confidential friends, of which no man can hope to have half a dozen in
the whole course of his life; but I mean friends, in the common
acceptation of the word; that is, people who speak well of you, and
who would rather do you good than harm, consistently with their own
interest, and no further. Upon the whole, I recommend to you, again and
again, 'les Graces'. Adorned by them, you may, in a manner, do what you
please; it will be approved of; without them, your best qualities will
lose half their efficacy. Endeavor to be fashionable among the French,
which will soon make you fashionable here. Monsieur de Matignon already
calls you 'le petit Francois'. If you can get that name generally at
Paris, it will put you 'a la mode'. Adieu, my dear child.


LONDON, February 4, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: The accounts which I receive of you from Paris grow every
day more and more satisfactory. Lord Albemarle has wrote a sort of
panegyric of you, which has been seen by many people here, and which will
be a very useful forerunner for you. Being in fashion is an important
point for anybody anywhere; but it would be a very great one for you to
be established in the fashion here before you return. Your business will
be half done by it, as I am sure you would not give people reason to
change their favorable presentiments of you. The good that is said of
you will not, I am convinced, make you a coxcomb; and, on the other hand,
the being thought still to want some little accomplishments, will, I am
persuaded, not mortify you, but only animate you to acquire them: I will,
therefore, give you both fairly, in the following extract of a letter
which I lately received from an impartial and discerning friend:--

"Permit me to assure you, Sir, that Mr. Stanhope will succeed. He has a
great fund of knowledge, and an uncommonly good memory, although he does
not make any parade of either the one or the other. He is desirous of
pleasing, and he will please. He has an expressive countenance; his
figure is elegant, although little. He has not the least awkwardness,
though he has not as yet acquired all-the graces requisite; which Marcel
and the ladies will soon give him. In short, he wants nothing but those
things, which, at his age, must unavoidably be wanting; I mean, a certain
turn and delicacy of manners, which are to be acquired only by time, and
in good company. Ready as he is, he will soon learn them; particularly
as he frequents such companies as are the most proper to give them."

By this extract, which I can assure you is a faithful one, you and I have
both of us the satisfaction of knowing how much you have, and how little
you want. Let what you have give you (if possible) rather more SEEMING
modesty, but at the same time more interior firmness and assurance; and
let what you want, which you see is very attainable, redouble your
attention and endeavors to acquire it. You have, in truth, but that one
thing to apply to and a very pleasing application it is, since it is
through pleasures you must arrive at it. Company, suppers, balls,
spectacles, which show you the models upon which you should form
yourself, and all the little usages, customs, and delicacies, which you
must adopt and make habitual to you, are now your only schools and
universities; in which young fellows and fine women will give you the
best lectures.

Monsieur du Boccage is another of your panegyrists; and he tells me that
Madame Boccage 'a pris avec vous le ton de mie et de bonne'; and that you
like it very well. You are in the right of it; it is the way of
improving; endeavor to be upon that footing with every woman you converse
with; excepting where there may be a tender point of connection; a point
which I have nothing to do with; but if such a one there is, I hope she
has not 'de mauvais ni de vilains bras', which I agree with you in
thinking a very disagreeable thing.

I have sent you, by the opportunity of Pollok the courier, who was once
my servant, two little parcels of Greek and English books; and shall send
you two more by Mr. Yorke: but I accompany them with this caution, that
as you have not much time to read, you should employ it in reading what
is the most necessary, and that is, indisputably modern historical,
geographical, chronological, and political knowledge; the present
constitution, maxims, force, riches, trade, commerce, characters,
parties, and cabals of the several courts of Europe. Many who are
reckoned good scholars, though they know pretty accurately the
governments of Athens and Rome, are totally ignorant of the constitution
of any one country now in Europe, even of their own. Read just Latin and
Greek enough to keep up your classical learning, which will be an
ornament to you while young, and a comfort to you when old. But the true
useful knowledge, and especially for you, is the modern knowledge above
mentioned. It is that must qualify you both for domestic and foreign
business, and it is to that, therefore, that you should principally
direct your attention; and I know, with great pleasure, that you do so.
I would not thus commend you to yourself, if I thought commendations
would have upon you those ill effects, which they frequently have upon
weak minds. I think you are much above being a vain coxcomb, overrating
your own merit, and insulting others with the superabundance of it. On
the contrary, I am convinced that the consciousness of merit makes a man
of sense more modest, though more firm. A man who displays his own merit
is a coxcomb, and a man who does not know it is a fool. A man of sense
knows it, exerts it, avails himself of it, but never boasts of it; and
always SEEMS rather to under than over value it, though in truth, he sets
the right value upon it. It is a very true maxim of La Bruyere's (an
author well worth your studying), 'qu'on ne vaut dans ce monde, que ce
que l'on veut valoir'. A man who is really diffident, timid, and
bashful, be his merit what it will, never can push himself in the world;
his despondency throws him into inaction; and the forward, the bustling,
and the petulant, will always get the better of him. The manner makes
the whole difference. What would be impudence in one manner, is only a
proper and decent assurance in another. A man of sense, and of knowledge
in the world, will assert his own rights, and pursue his own objects,
as steadily and intrepidly as the most impudent man living, and commonly
more so; but then he has art enough to give an outward air of modesty to
all he does. This engages and prevails, while the very same things shock
and fail, from the overbearing or impudent manner only of doing them.
I repeat my maxim, 'Suaviter in modo, sed fortiter in re'. Would you
know the characters, modes and manners of the latter end of the last age,
which are very like those of the present, read La Bruyere. But would you
know man, independently of modes, read La Rochefoucault, who, I am
afraid, paints him very exactly.

Give the inclosed to Abbe Guasco, of whom you make good use, to go about
with you, and see things. Between you and me, he has more knowledge than
parts. 'Mais un habile homme sait tirer parti de tout', and everybody is
good for something. President Montesquieu is, in every sense, a most
useful acquaintance. He has parts, joined to great reading and knowledge
of the world. 'Puisez dans cette source tant que vous pourrez'.

Adieu. May the Graces attend you! for without them 'ogni fatica e vana'.
If they do not come to you willingly, ravish them, and force them to
accompany you in all you think, all you say, and all you do.


LONDON, February 11, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: When you go to the play, which I hope you do often, for
it is a very instructive amusement, you must certainly have observed the
very different effects which the several parts have upon you, according
as they are well or ill acted. The very best tragedy of, Corneille's,
if well spoken and acted, interests, engages, agitates, and affects your
passions. Love, terror, and pity alternately possess you. But, if ill
spoken and acted, it would only excite your indignation or your laughter.
Why? It is still Corneille's; it is the same sense, the same matter,
whether well or ill acted. It is, then, merely the manner of speaking
and acting that makes this great difference in the effects. Apply this
to yourself, and conclude from it, that if you would either please in a
private company, or persuade in a public assembly, air, looks, gestures,
graces, enunciation, proper accents, just emphasis, and tuneful cadences,
are full as necessary as the matter itself. Let awkward, ungraceful,
inelegant, and dull fellows say what they will in behalf of their solid
matter and strong reasonings; and let them despise all those graces and
ornaments which engage the senses and captivate the heart; they will find
(though they will possibly wonder why) that their rough, unpolished
matter, and their unadorned, coarse, but strong arguments, will neither
please nor persuade; but, on the contrary, will tire out attention, and
excite disgust. We are so made, we love to be pleased better than to be
informed; information is, in a certain degree, mortifying, as it implies
our previous ignorance; it must be sweetened to be palatable.

To bring this directly to you: know that no man can make a figure in this
country, but by parliament. Your fate depends upon your success there as
a speaker; and, take my word for it, that success turns much more upon
manner than matter. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Murray the solicitor-general, uncle
to Lord Stormount, are, beyond comparison, the best speakers; why? only
because they are the best orators. They alone can inflame or quiet the
House; they alone are so attended to, in that numerous and noisy
assembly, that you might hear a pin fall while either of them is
speaking. Is it that their matter is better, or their arguments
stronger, than other people's? Does the House expect extraordinary
informations from them? Not, in the least: but the House expects
pleasure from them, and therefore attends; finds it, and therefore
approves. Mr. Pitt, particularly, has very little parliamentary
knowledge; his matter is generally flimsy, and his arguments often weak;
but his eloquence is superior, his action graceful, his enunciation just
and harmonious; his periods are well turned, and every word he makes use
of is the very best, and the most expressive, that can be used in that
place. This, and not his matter, made him Paymaster, in spite of both
king and ministers. From this draw the obvious conclusion. The same
thing holds full as true in conversation; where even trifles, elegantly
expressed, well looked, and accompanied with graceful action, will ever
please, beyond all the homespun, unadorned sense in the world. Reflect,
on one side, how you feel within yourself, while you are forced to suffer
the tedious, muddy, and ill-turned narration of some awkward fellow, even
though the fact may be interesting; and, on the other hand, with what
pleasure you attend to the relation of a much less interesting matter,
when elegantly expressed, genteelly turned, and gracefully delivered.
By attending carefully to all these agremens in your daily conversation,
they will become habitual to you, before you come into parliament; and
you will have nothing then, to do, but to raise them a little when you
come there. I would wish you to be so attentive to this object, that I,
would not have you speak to your footman, but in the very best words that
the subject admits of, be the language what it will. Think of your
words, and of their arrangement, before you speak; choose the most
elegant, and place them in the best order. Consult your own ear, to
avoid cacophony, and, what is very near as bad, monotony. Think also of
your gesture and looks, when you are speaking even upon the most trifling
subjects. The same things, differently expressed, looked, and delivered,
cease to be the same things. The most passionate lover in the world
cannot make a stronger declaration of love than the 'Bourgeois
gentilhomme' does in this happy form of words, 'Mourir d'amour me font
belle Marquise vos beaux yeux'. I defy anybody to say more; and yet I
would advise nobody to say that, and I would recommend to you rather to
smother and conceal your passion entirely than to reveal it in these
words. Seriously, this holds in everything, as well as in that ludicrous
instance. The French, to do them justice, attend very minutely to the
purity, the correctness, and the elegance of their style in conversation
and in their letters. 'Bien narrer' is an object of their study; and
though they sometimes carry it to affectation, they never sink into
inelegance, which is much the worst extreme of the two. Observe them,
and form your French style upon theirs: for elegance in one language will
reproduce itself in all. I knew a young man, who, being just elected a
member of parliament, was laughed at for being discovered, through the
keyhole of his chamber-door, speaking to himself in the glass, and
forming his looks and gestures. I could not join in that laugh; but, on
the contrary, thought him much wiser than those who laughed at him; for
he knew the importance of those little graces in a public assembly, and
they did not. Your little person (which I am told, by the way, is not
ill turned), whether in a laced coat or a blanket, is specifically the
same; but yet, I believe, you choose to wear the former, and you are in
the right, for the sake of pleasing more. The worst-bred man in Europe,
if a lady let fall her fan, would certainly take it up and give it her;
the best-bred man in Europe could do no more. The difference, however,
would be considerable; the latter would please by doing it gracefully;
the former would be laughed at for doing it awkwardly. I repeat it, and
repeat it again, and shall never cease repeating it to you: air, manners,
graces, style, elegance, and all those ornaments, must now be the only
objects of your attention; it is now, or never, that you must acquire
them. Postpone, therefore, all other considerations; make them now your
serious study; you have not one moment to lose. The solid and the
ornamental united, are undoubtedly best; but were I reduced to make an
option, I should without hesitation choose the latter.

I hope you assiduously frequent Marcell--[At that time the most
celebrated dancing-master at Paris.]--and carry graces from him; nobody
had more to spare than he had formerly. Have you learned to carve? for
it is ridiculous not to carve well. A man who tells you gravely that he
cannot carve, may as well tell you that he cannot blow his nose: it is
both as necessary, and as easy.

Make my compliments to Lord Huntingdon, whom I love and honor extremely,
as I dare say you do; I will write to him soon, though I believe he has
hardly time to read a letter; and my letters to those I love are, as you
know by experience, not very short ones: this is one proof of it, and
this would have been longer, if the paper had been so. Good night then,
my dear child.


LONDON, February 28, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: This epigram in Martial--

"Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare;
Hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te"-----

[OR: "I do not love thee Dr. Fell
The reason why I cannot tell.
But this I know and know full well:
I do not love thee Dr. Fell." D.W.]

has puzzled a great many people, who cannot conceive how it is possible
not to love anybody, and yet not to know the reason why. I think I
conceive Martial's meaning very clearly, though the nature of epigram,
which is to be short, would not allow him to explain it more fully; and I
take it to be this: O Sabidis, you are a very worthy deserving man; you
have a thousand good qualities, you have a great deal of learning; I
esteem, I respect, but for the soul of me I cannot love you, though I
cannot particularly say why. You are not aimable: you have not those
engaging manners, those pleasing attentions, those graces, and that
address, which are absolutely necessary to please, though impossible to
define. I cannot say it is this or that particular thing that hinders me
from loving you; it is the whole together; and upon the whole you are not

How often have I, in the course of my life, found myself in this
situation, with regard to many of my acquaintance, whom I have honored
and respected, without being able to love. I did not know why, because,
when one is young, one does not take the trouble, nor allow one's self
the time, to analyze one's sentiments and to trace them up to their
source. But subsequent observation and reflection have taught me why.
There is a man, whose moral character, deep learning, and superior parts,
I acknowledge, admire, and respect; but whom it is so impossible for me
to love, that I am almost in a fever whenever I am in his company. His
figure (without being deformed) seems made to disgrace or ridicule the
common structure of the human body. His legs and arms are never in the
position which, according to the situation of his body, they ought to be
in, but constantly employed in committing acts of hostility upon the
Graces. He throws anywhere, but down his throat, whatever he means to
drink, and only mangles what he means to carve. Inattentive to all the
regards of social life, he mistimes or misplaces everything. He disputes
with heat, and indiscriminately, mindless of the rank, character, and
situation of those with whom he disputes; absolutely ignorant of the
several gradations of familiarity or respect, he is exactly the same to
his superiors, his equals, and his inferiors; and therefore, by a
necessary consequence, absurd to two of the three. Is it possible to
love such a man? No. The utmost I can do for him, is to consider him as
a respectable Hottentot.--[This 'mot' was aimed at Dr. Johnson in
retaliation for his famous letter.]

I remember, that when I came from Cambridge, I had acquired, among the
pedants of that illiberal seminary, a sauciness of literature, a turn to
satire and contempt, and a strong tendency to argumentation and
contradiction. But I had been but a very little while in the world,
before I found that this would by no means do; and I immediately adopted
the opposite character; I concealed what learning I had; I applauded
often, without approving; and I yielded commonly without conviction.
'Suaviter in modo' was my law and my prophets; and if I pleased (between
you and me) it was much more owing to that, than to any superior
knowledge or merit of my own. Apropos, the word PLEASING puts one always
in mind of Lady Hervey; pray tell her, that I declare her responsible to
me for your pleasing; that I consider her as a pleasing Falstaff, who not
only pleases, herself, but is the cause of pleasing in others; that I
know she can make anything of anybody; and that, as your governess, if
she does not make you please, it must be only because she will not, and
not because she cannot. I hope you are 'dubois don't on en fait'; and if
so, she is so good a sculptor, that I am sure she can give you whatever
form she pleases. A versatility of manners is as necessary in social, as
a versatility of parts is in political life. One must often yield, in
order to prevail; one must humble one's self, to be exalted; one must,
like St. Paul, become all things to all men, to gain some; and, by the
way, men are taken by the same means, 'mutatis mutandis', that women are
gained--by gentleness, insinuation, and submission: and these lines of
Mr. Dryden will hold to a minister as well as to a mistress:

"The prostrate lover, when he lowest lies,
But stoops to conquer, and but kneels to rise."

In the course of the world, the qualifications of the chameleon are often
necessary; nay, they must be carried a little further, and exerted a
little sooner; for you should, to a certain degree, take the hue of
either the man or the woman that you want, and wish to be upon terms
with. 'A propos', have you yet found out at Paris, any friendly and
hospitable Madame de Lursay, 'qui veut bien se charger du soin de vous
eduquer'? And have you had any occasion of representing to her, 'qu'elle
faisoit donc des noeuds'? But I ask your, pardon, Sir, for the
abruptness of the question, and acknowledge that I am meddling with
matters that are out of my department. However, in matters of less
importance, I desire to be 'de vos secrets le fidele depositaire'. Trust
me with the general turn and color of your amusements at Paris. Is it
'le fracas du grand monde, comedies, bals, operas, cour,' etc.? Or is it
'des petites societes, moins bruyantes, mais pas pour cela moins
agreables'? Where are you the most 'etabli'? Where are you 'le petit
Stanhope? Voyez vous encore jour, a quelque arrangement honnete? Have
you made many acquaintances among the young Frenchmen who ride at your
Academy; and who are they? Send to me this sort of chit-chat in your
letters, which, by the bye, I wish you would honor me with somewhat
oftener. If you frequent any of the myriads of polite Englishmen who
infest Paris, who are they? Have you finished with Abbe Nolet, and are
you 'au fait' of all the properties and effects of air? Were I inclined
to quibble, I would say, that the effects of air, at least, are best to
be learned of Marcel. If you have quite done with l'Abbes Nolet, ask my
friend l'Abbe Sallier to recommend to you some meagre philomath, to teach
you a little geometry and astronomy; not enough to absorb your attention
and puzzle your intellects, but only enough not to be grossly ignorant of
either. I have of late been a sort of 'astronome malgre moi',
by bringing in last Monday into the House of Lords a bill for reforming
our present Calendar and taking the New Style. Upon which occasion I was
obliged to talk some astronomical jargon, of which I did not understand
one word, but got it by heart, and spoke it by rote from a master.
I wished that I had known a little more of it myself; and so much I would
have you know. But the great and necessary knowledge of all is, to know,
yourself and others: this knowledge requires great attention and long
experience; exert the former, and may you have the latter! Adieu!

P. S. I have this moment received your letters of the 27th February, and
the 2d March, N. S. The seal shall be done as soon as possible. I am,
glad that you are employed in Lord Albemarle's bureau; it will teach you,
at least, the mechanical part of that business, such as folding,
entering, and docketing letters; for you must not imagine that you are
let into the 'fin fin' of the correspondence, nor indeed is it fit that
you should, at, your age. However, use yourself to secrecy as to the
letters you either read or write, that in time you may be trusted with
SECRET, VERY SECRET, SEPARATE, APART, etc. I am sorry that this business
interferes with your riding; I hope it is seldom; but I insist upon its
not interfering with your dancing-master, who is at this time the most
useful and necessary of all the masters you have or can have.


MY DEAR FRIEND: I mentioned to you, some time ago a sentence which I
would most earnestly wish you always to retain in your thoughts, and
observe in your conduct. It is 'suaviter in modo, fortiter in re'
[gentleness of manners, with firmness of mind D.W.]. I do not know any
one rule so unexceptionably useful and necessary in every part of life.
I shall therefore take it for my text to-day, and as old men love
preaching, and I have some right to preach to you, I here present you
with my sermon upon these words. To proceed, then, regularly and
PULPITICALLY, I will first show you, my beloved, the necessary connection
of the two members of my text 'suaviter in modo: fortiter in re'. In the
next place, I shall set forth the advantages and utility resulting from a
strict observance of the precept contained in my text; and conclude with
an application of the whole. The 'suaviter in modo' alone would
degenerate and sink into a mean, timid complaisance and passiveness, if
not supported and dignified by the 'fortiter in re', which would also run
into impetuosity and brutality, if not tempered and softened by the
'suaviter in modo': however, they are seldom united.

The warm, choleric man, with strong animal spirits, despises the
'suaviter in modo', and thinks to, carry all before him by the 'fortiter
in re'. He may, possibly, by great accident, now and then succeed, when
he has only weak and timid people to deal with; but his general fate will
be, to shock offend, be hated, and fail. On the other hand, the cunning,
crafty man thinks to gain all his ends by the 'suaviter in modo' only; HE
BECOMES ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN; he seems to have no opinion of his own,
and servilely adopts the present opinion of the present person; he
insinuates himself only into the esteem of fools, but is soon detected,
and surely despised by everybody else. The wise man (who differs as much
from the cunning, as from the choleric man) alone joins the 'suaviter in
modo' with the 'fortiter in re'. Now to the advantages arising from the
strict observance of this precept:

If you are in authority, and have a right to command, your commands
delivered 'suaviter in modo' will be willingly, cheerfully, and
consequently well obeyed; whereas, if given only 'fortiter', that is
brutally, they will rather, as Tacitus says, be interrupted than
executed. For my own part, if I bid my footman bring me a glass of wine,
in a rough insulting manner, I should expect that, in obeying me, he
would contrive to spill some of it upon me: and I am sure I should
deserve it. A cool, steady resolution should show that where you have a
right to command you will be obeyed; but at the same time, a gentleness
in the manner of enforcing that obedience should make it a cheerful one,
and soften as much as possible the mortifying consciousness of
inferiority. If you are to ask a favor, or even to solicit your due, you
must do it 'suaviter in modo', or you will give those who have a mind to
refuse you, either a pretense to do it, by resenting the manner; but, on
the other hand, you must, by a steady perseverance and decent
tenaciousness, show the 'fortiter in re'. The right motives are seldom
the true ones of men's actions, especially of kings, ministers, and
people in high stations; who often give to importunity and fear, what
they would refuse to justice or to merit. By the 'suaviter in modo'
engage their hearts, if you can; at least prevent the pretense of offense
but take care to show enough of the 'fortiter in re' to extort from their
love of ease, or their fear, what you might in vain hope for from their
justice or good-nature. People in high life are hardened to the wants
and distresses of mankind, as surgeons are to their bodily pains; they
see and hear of them all day long, and even of so many simulated ones,
that they do not know which are real, and which not. Other sentiments
are therefore to be applied to, than those of mere justice and humanity;
their favor must be captivated by the 'suaviter in modo'; their love of
ease disturbed by unwearied importunity, or their fears wrought upon by a
decent intimation of implacable, cool resentment; this is the true
'fortiter in re'. This precept is the only way I know in the world of
being loved without being despised, and feared without being hated. It
constitutes the dignity of character which every wise man must endeavor
to establish.

Now to apply what has been said, and so conclude.

If you find that you have a hastiness in your temper, which unguardedly
breaks out into indiscreet sallies, or rough expressions, to either your
superiors, your equals, or your inferiors, watch it narrowly, check it
carefully, and call the 'suaviter in modo' to your assistance: at the
first impulse of passion, be silent till you can be soft. Labor even to
get the command of your countenance so well, that those emotions may not
be read in it; a most unspeakable advantage in business! On the other
hand, let no complaisance, no gentleness of temper, no weak desire of
pleasing on your part,--no wheedling, coaxing, nor flattery, on other
people's,--make you recede one jot from any point that reason and
prudence have bid you pursue; but return to the charge, persist,
persevere, and you will find most things attainable that are possible.
A yielding, timid meekness is always abused and insulted by the unjust
and the unfeeling; but when sustained by the 'fortiter in re', is always
respected, commonly successful. In your friendships and connections,
as well as in your enmities, this rule is particularly useful; let your
firmness and vigor preserve and invite attachments to you; but, at the
same time, let your manner hinder the enemies of your friends and
dependents from becoming yours; let your enemies be disarmed by the
gentleness of your manner, but let them feel, at the same time, the
steadiness of your just resentment; for there is a great difference
between bearing malice, which is always ungenerous, and a resolute self-
defense, which is always prudent and justifiable. In negotiations with
foreign ministers, remember the 'fortiter in re'; give up no point,
accept of no expedient, till the utmost necessity reduces you to it,
and even then, dispute the ground inch by inch; but then, while you are
contending with the minister 'fortiter in re', remember to gain the man
by the 'suaviter in modo'. If you engage his heart, you have a fair
chance for imposing upon his understanding, and determining his will.
Tell him, in a frank, gallant manner, that your ministerial wrangles do
not lessen your personal regard for his merit; but that, on the contrary,
his zeal and ability in the service of his master, increase it; and that,
of all things, you desire to make a good friend of so good a servant.
By these means you may, and will very often be a gainer: you never can be
a loser. Some people cannot gain upon themselves to be easy and civil to
those who are either their rivals, competitors, or opposers, though,
independently of those accidental circumstances, they would like and
esteem them. They betray a shyness and an awkwardness in company with
them, and catch at any little thing to expose them; and so, from
temporary and only occasional opponents, make them their personal
enemies. This is exceedingly weak and detrimental, as indeed is all
humor in business; which can only be carried on successfully by,
unadulterated good policy and right reasoning. In such situations I
would be more particularly and 'noblement', civil, easy, and frank with
the man whose designs I traversed: this is commonly called generosity and
magnanimity, but is, in truth, good sense and policy. The manner is
often as important as the matter, sometimes more so; a favor may make an
enemy, and an injury may make a friend, according to the different manner
in which they are severally done. The countenance, the address, the
words, the enunciation, the Graces, add great efficacy to the 'suaviter
in modo', and great dignity to the 'fortiter in re', and consequently
they deserve the utmost attention.

From what has been said, I conclude with this observation, that
gentleness of manners, with firmness of mind, is a short, but full
description of human perfection on this side of religious and moral
duties. That you may be seriously convinced of this truth, and show it
in your life and conversation, is the most sincere and ardent wish of,


LONDON, March 11, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received by the last post a letter from Abbe Guasco,
in which he joins his representations to those of Lord Albemarle, against
your remaining any longer in your very bad lodgings at the Academy; and,
as I do not find that any advantage can arise to you from being 'interne'
in an academy which is full as far from the riding-house and from all
your other masters, as your lodgings will probably be, I agree to your
removing to an 'hotel garni'; the Abbe will help you to find one, as I
desire him by the inclosed, which you will give him. I must, however,
annex one condition to your going into private lodgings, which is an
absolute exclusion of English breakfasts and suppers at them; the former
consume the whole morning, and the latter employ the evenings very ill,
in senseless toasting a l'Angloise in their infernal claret. You will be
sure to go to the riding-house as often as possible, that is, whenever
your new business at Lord Albemarle's does not hinder you. But, at all
events, I insist upon your never missing Marcel, who is at present of
more consequence to you than all the bureaux in Europe; for this is the
time for you to acquire 'tous ces petits riens', which, though in an
arithmetical account, added to one another 'ad infinitum', they would
amount to nothing, in the account of the world amount to a great and
important sum. 'Les agremens et les graces', without which you will
never be anything, are absolutely made up of all those 'riens', which are
more easily felt than described. By the way, you may take your lodgings
for one whole year certain, by which means you may get them much cheaper;
for though I intend to see you here in less than a year, it will be but
for a little time, and you will return to Paris again, where I intend you
shall stay till the end of April twelvemonth, 1752, at which time,
provided you have got all 'la politesse, les manieres, les attentions, et
les graces du beau monde', I shall place you in some business suitable to
your destination.

I have received, at last, your present of the cartoon, from Dominichino,
by Planchet. It is very finely done, it is pity that he did not take in
all the figures of the original. I will hang it up, where it shall be
your own again some time or other.

Mr. Harte is returned in perfect health from Cornwall, and has taken
possession of his prebendal house at Windsor, which is a very pretty one.
As I dare say you will always feel, I hope you will always express, the
strongest sentiments of gratitude and friendship for him. Write to him
frequently, and attend to the letters you receive from him. He shall be
with us at Blackheath, alias BABIOLE, all the time that I propose you
shall be there, which I believe will be the month of August next.

Having thus mentioned to you the probable time of our meeting, I will
prepare you a little for it. Hatred; jealousy, or envy, make, most
people attentive to discover the least defects of those they do not love;
they rejoice at every new discovery they make of that kind, and take care
to publish it. I thank God, I do not know what those three ungenerous
passions are, having never felt them in my own breast; but love has just
the same effect upon me, except that I conceal, instead of publishing,
the defeats which my attention makes me discover in those I love. I
curiously pry into them; I analyze them; and, wishing either to find them
perfect, or to make them so, nothing escapes me, and I soon discover
every the least gradation toward or from that perfection. You must
therefore expect the most critical 'examen' that ever anybody underwent.
I shall discover your least, as well as your greatest defects, and I
shall very freely tell you of them, 'Non quod odio habeam sed quod amem'.
But I shall tell them you 'tete-a-tete', and as MICIO not as DEMEA; and I
will tell them to nobody else. I think it but fair to inform you
beforehand, where I suspect that my criticisms are likely to fall; and
that is more upon the outward, than upon the inward man; I neither
suspect your heart nor your head; but to be plain with you, I have a
strange distrust of your air, your address, your manners, your
'tournure', and particularly of your ENUNCIATION and elegance of style.
These will be all put to the trial; for while you are with me, you must
do the honors of my house and table; the least inaccuracy or inelegance
will not escape me; as you will find by a LOOK at the time, and by a
remonstrance afterward when we are alone. You will see a great deal of
company of all sorts at BABIOLE, and particularly foreigners. Make,
therefore, in the meantime, all these exterior and ornamental
qualifications your peculiar care, and disappoint all my imaginary
schemes of criticism. Some authors have criticised their own works
first, in hopes of hindering others from doing it afterward: but then
they do it themselves with so much tenderness and partiality for their
own production, that not only the production itself, but the preventive
criticism is criticised. I am not one of those authors; but, on the
contrary, my severity increases with my fondness for my work; and if you
will but effectually correct all the faults I shall find, I will insure
you from all subsequent criticisms from other quarters.

Are you got a little into the interior, into the constitution of things
at Paris? Have you seen what you have seen thoroughly? For, by the way,
few people see what they see, or hear what they hear. For example, if
you go to les Invalides, do you content yourself with seeing the
building, the hall where three or four hundred cripples dine, and the
galleries where they lie? or do you inform yourself of the numbers, the
conditions of their admission, their allowance, the value and nature of
the fund by which the whole is supported? This latter I call seeing, the
former is only starting. Many people take the opportunity of 'les
vacances', to go and see the, empty rooms where the several chambers of
the parliament did sit; which rooms are exceedingly like all other large
rooms; when you go there, let it be when they are full; see and hear what
is doing in them; learn their respective constitutions, jurisdictions,
objects, and methods of proceeding; hear some causes tried in every one
of the different chambers; 'Approfondissez les choses'.

I am glad to hear that you are so well at Marquis de St. Germain's,
--[At that time Ambassador from the King of Sardinia at the Court of
France.]--of whom I hear a very good character. How are you with the
other foreign ministers at Paris? Do you frequent the Dutch Ambassador
or Ambassadress? Have you any footing at the Nuncio's, or at the
Imperial and Spanish ambassadors? It is useful. Be more particular in
your letters to me, as to your manner of passing your time, and the
company you keep. Where do you dine and sup oftenest? whose house is
most your home? Adieu. 'Les Graces, les Graces'.


LONDON, March 18, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I acquainted you in a former letter, that I had brought a
bill into the House of Lords for correcting and reforming our present
calendar, which is the Julian, and for adopting the Gregorian. I will
now give you a more particular account of that affair; from which
reflections will naturally occur to you that I hope may be useful, and
which I fear you have not made. It was notorious, that the Julian
calendar was erroneous, and had overcharged the solar year with eleven
days. Pope Gregory the Thirteenth corrected this error; his reformed
calendar was immediately received by all the Catholic powers of Europe,
and afterward adopted by all the Protestant ones, except Russia, Sweden,
and England. It was not, in my opinion, very honorable for England to
remain, in a gross and avowed error, especially in such company; the
inconveniency of it was likewise felt by all those who had foreign
correspondences, whether political or mercantile. I determined,
therefore, to attempt the reformation; I consulted the best lawyers and
the most skillful astronomers, and we cooked up a bill for that purpose.
But then my difficulty began: I was to bring in this bill, which was
necessarily composed of law jargon and astronomical calculations, to both
which I am an utter stranger. However, it was absolutely necessary to
make the House of Lords think that I knew something of the matter; and
also to make them believe that they knew something of it themselves,
which they do not. For my own part, I could just as soon have talked
Celtic or Sclavonian to them as astronomy, and they would have understood
me full as well: so I resolved to do better than speak to the purpose,
and to please instead of informing them. I gave them, therefore, only an
historical account of calendars, from the Egyptian down to the Gregorian,
amusing them now and then with little episodes; but I was particularly
attentive to the choice of my words, to the harmony and roundness of my
periods, to my elocution, to my action. This succeeded, and ever will
succeed; they thought I informed, because I pleased them; and many of
them said that I had made the whole very clear to them; when, God knows,
I had not even attempted it. Lord Macclesfield, who had the greatest
share in forming the bill, and who is one of the greatest mathematicians
and astronomers in Europe, spoke afterward with infinite knowledge, and
all the clearness that so intricate a matter would admit of: but as his
words, his periods, and his utterance, were not near so good as mine,
the preference was most unanimously, though most unjustly, given to me.
This will ever be the case; every numerous assembly is MOB, let the
individuals who compose it be what they will. Mere reason and good sense
is never to be talked to a mob; their passions, their sentiments, their
senses, and their seeming interests, are alone to be applied to.
Understanding they have collectively none, but they have ears and eyes,
which must be flattered and seduced; and this can only be done by
eloquence, tuneful periods, graceful action, and all the various parts of

When you come into the House of Commons, if you imagine that speaking
plain and unadorned sense and reason will do your business, you will find
yourself most grossly mistaken. As a speaker, you will be ranked only
according to your eloquence, and by no means according to your matter;
everybody knows the matter almost alike, but few can adorn it. I was
early convinced of the importance and powers of eloquence; and from that
moment I applied myself to it. I resolved not to utter one word, even in
common conversation, that should not be the most expressive and the most
elegant that the language could supply me with for that purpose; by which
means I have acquired such a certain degree of habitual eloquence, that I
must now really take some pains, if, I would express myself very
inelegantly. I want to inculcate this known truth into you, which, you
seem by no means to be convinced of yet, that ornaments are at present
your only objects. Your sole business now is to shine, not to weigh.
Weight without lustre is lead. You had better talk trifles elegantly to
the most trifling woman, than coarse in elegant sense to the most solid
man; you had better, return a dropped fan genteelly, than give a thousand
pounds awkwardly; and you had better refuse a favor gracefully, than to
grant it clumsily. Manner is all, in everything: it is by manner only
that you can please, and consequently rise. All your Greek will never
advance you from secretary to envoy, or from envoy to ambassador; but
your address, your manner, your air, if good, very probably may. Marcel
can be of much more use to you than Aristotle. I would, upon my word,
much rather that you had Lord Bolingbroke's style and eloquence in
speaking and writing, than all the learning of the Academy of Sciences,
the Royal Society, and the two Universities united.

Having mentioned Lord Bolingbroke's style, which is, undoubtedly,
infinitely superior to anybody's, I would have you read his works, which
you have, over and-over again, with particular attention to his style.
Transcribe, imitate, emulate it, if possible: that would be of real use
to you in the House of Commons, in negotiations, in conversation; with
that, you may justly hope to please, to persuade, to seduce, to impose;
and you will fail in those articles, in proportion as you fall short of
it. Upon the whole, lay aside, during your year's residence at Paris,
all thoughts of all that dull fellows call solid, and exert your utmost
care to acquire what people of fashion call shining. 'Prenez l'eclat et
le brillant d'un galant homme'.

Among the commonly called little things, to which you, do not attend,
your handwriting is one, which is indeed shamefully bad and illiberal;
it is neither the hand of a man of business, nor of a gentleman, but of
a truant school-boy; as soon, therefore, as you have done with Abbe
Nolet, pray get an excellent writing-master (since you think that you
cannot teach yourself to write what hand you please), and let him teach
you to write a genteel, legible, liberal hand, and quick; not the hand of
a procureur or a writing-master, but that sort of hand in which the first
'Commis' in foreign bureaus commonly write; for I tell you truly, that
were I Lord Albemarle, nothing should remain in my bureau written in your
present hand. From hand to arms the transition is natural; is the
carriage and motion of your arms so too? The motion of the arms is the
most material part of a man's air, especially in dancing; the feet are
not near so material. If a man dances well from the waist upward, wears
his hat well, and moves his head properly, he dances well. Do the women
say that you dress well? for that is necessary too for a young fellow.
Have you 'un gout vif', or a passion for anybody? I do not ask for whom:
an Iphigenia would both give you the desire, and teach you the means to

In a fortnight or three weeks you will see Sir Charles Hotham at Paris,
in his way to Toulouse, where he is to stay a year or two. Pray be very
civil to him, but do not carry him into company, except presenting him to
Lord Albemarle; for, as he is not to stay at Paris above a week, we do
not desire that he should taste of that dissipation: you may show him a
play and an opera. Adieu, my dear child.


LONDON, March 25, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: What a happy period of your life is this? Pleasure is
now, and ought to be, your business. While you were younger, dry rules,
and unconnected words, were the unpleasant objects of your labors. When
you grow older, the anxiety, the vexations, the disappointments
inseparable from public business, will require the greatest share of your
time and attention; your pleasures may, indeed, conduce to your business,
and your business will quicken your pleasures; but still your time must,
at least, be divided: whereas now it is wholly your own, and cannot be so
well employed as in the pleasures of a gentleman. The world is now the
only book you want, and almost the only one you ought to read: that
necessary book can only be read in company, in public places, at meals,
and in 'ruelles'. You must be in the pleasures, in order to learn the
manners of good company. In premeditated, or in formal business, people
conceal, or at least endeavor to conceal, their characters: whereas
pleasures discover them, and the heart breaks out through the guard of
the understanding. Those are often propitious moments for skillful
negotiators to improve. In your destination particularly, the able
conduct of pleasures is of infinite use; to keep a good table, and to do
the honors of it gracefully, and 'sur le ton de la bonne compagnie',
is absolutely necessary for a foreign minister. There is a certain light
table chit-chat, useful to keep off improper and too serious subjects,
which is only to be learned in the pleasures of good company. In truth
it may be trifling; but, trifling as it is, a man of parts and experience
of the world will give an agreeable turn to it. 'L'art de badiner
agreablement' is by no means to be despised.

An engaging address, and turn to gallantry, is often of very great
service to foreign ministers. Women have, directly or indirectly; a good
deal to say in most courts. The late Lord Strafford governed, for a
considerable time, the Court of Berlin and made his own fortune, by being
well with Madame de Wartenberg, the first King of Prussia's mistress.
I could name many other instances of that kind. That sort of agreeable
'caquet de femmes', the necessary fore-runners of closer conferences, is
only to be got by frequenting women of the first fashion, 'et, qui
donnent le ton'. Let every other book then give way to this great and
necessary book, the world, of which there are so many various readings,
that it requires a great deal of time and attention to under stand it
well: contrary to all other books, you must not stay home, but go abroad
to read it; and when you seek it abroad, you will not find it in
booksellers' shops and stalls, but in courts, in hotels, at
entertainments, balls, assemblies, spectacles, etc. Put yourself upon
the footing of an easy, domestic, but polite familiarity and intimacy in
the several French houses to which you have been introduced: Cultivate
them, frequent them, and show a desire of becoming 'enfant de la maison'.
Get acquainted as much as you can with 'les gens de cour'; and observe,
carefully, how politely they can differ, and how civilly they can hate;
how easy and idle they can seem in the multiplicity of their business;
and how they can lay hold of the proper moments to carry it on, in the
midst of their pleasures. Courts, alone, teach versatility and
politeness; for there is no living there without them. Lord Albermarle
has, I hear, and am very glad of it, put you into the hands of Messieurs
de Bissy. Profit of that, and beg of them to let you attend them in all
the companies of Versailles and Paris. One of them, at least, will
naturally carry you to Madame de la Valiores, unless he is discarded by
this time, and Gelliot--[A famous opera-singer at Paris.]--retaken.
Tell them frankly, 'que vous cherchez a vous former, que vous etes en
mains de maitres, s'ils veulent bien s'en donner la peine'. Your
profession has this agreeable peculiarity in it, which is, that it is
connected with, and promoted by pleasures; and it is the only one in
which a thorough knowledge of the world, polite manners, and an engaging
address, are absolutely necessary. If a lawyer knows his law, a parson
his divinity, and a financier his calculations, each may make a figure
and a fortune in his profession, without great knowledge of the world,
and without the manners of gentlemen. But your profession throws you
into all the intrigues and cabals, as well as pleasures, of courts: in
those windings and labyrinths, a knowledge of the world, a discernment of
characters, a suppleness and versatility of mind, and an elegance of
manners, must be your clue; you must know how to soothe and lull the
monsters that guard, and how to address and gain the fair that keep,
the golden fleece. These are the arts and the accomplishments absolutely
necessary for a foreign minister; in which it must be owned, to our
shame, that most other nations outdo the English; and, 'caeteris
paribus', a French minister will get the better of an English one at any
third court in Europe. The French have something more 'liant', more
insinuating and engaging in their manner, than we have. An English
minister shall have resided seven years at a court, without having made
any one personal connection there, or without being intimate and domestic
in any one house. He is always the English minister, and never
naturalized. He receives his orders, demands an audience, writes an
account of it to his Court, and his business is done. A French minister,
on the contrary, has not been six weeks at a court without having, by a
thousand little attentions, insinuated himself into some degree of favor
with the Prince, his wife, his mistress, his favorite, and his minister.
He has established himself upon a familiar and domestic footing in a
dozen of the best houses of the place, where he has accustomed the people
to be not only easy, but unguarded, before him; he makes himself at home
there, and they think him so. By these means he knows the interior of
those courts, and can almost write prophecies to his own, from the
knowledge he has of the characters, the humors, the abilities, or the
weaknesses of the actors. The Cardinal d'Ossat was looked upon at Rome
as an Italian, and not as a French cardinal; and Monsieur d'Avaux,
wherever he went, was never considered as a foreign minister, but as a
native, and a personal friend. Mere plain truth, sense, and knowledge,
will by no means do alone in courts; art and ornaments must come to their
assistance. Humors must be flattered; the 'mollia tempora' must be
studied and known: confidence acquired by seeming frankness, and profited
of by silent skill. And, above all; you must gain and engage the heart,
to betray the understanding to you. 'Ha tibi erunt artes'.

The death of the Prince of Wales, who was more beloved for his affability
and good-nature than esteemed for his steadiness and conduct, has given
concern to many, and apprehensions to all. The great difference of the
ages of the King and Prince George presents the prospect of a minority;
a disagreeable prospect for any nation! But it is to be hoped, and is
most probable, that the King, who is now perfectly recovered of his late
indisposition, may live to see his grandson of age. He is, seriously, a
most hopeful boy: gentle and good-natured, with good sound sense. This
event has made all sorts of people here historians, as well as
politicians. Our histories are rummaged for all the particular
circumstances of the six minorities we have had since the Conquest, viz,
those of Henry III., Edward III., Richard II., Henry VI., Edward V., and
Edward VI.; and the reasonings, the speculations, the conjectures, and
the predictions, you will easily imagine, must be innumerable and
endless, in this nation, where every porter is a consummate politician.
Dr. Swift says, very humorously, that "Every man knows that he
understands religion and politics, though he never learned them; but that
many people are conscious that they do not understand many other
sciences, from having never learned them." Adieu.


LONDON, April 7, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: Here you have, altogether, the pocketbooks, the
compasses, and the patterns. When your three Graces have made their
option, you need only send me, in a letter small pieces of the three
mohairs they fix upon. If I can find no way of sending them safely and
directly to Paris, I will contrive to have them left with Madame Morel,
at Calais, who, being Madame Monconseil's agent there, may find means of
furthering them to your three ladies, who all belong to your friend
Madame Monconseil. Two of the three, I am told, are handsome; Madame
Polignac, I can swear, is not so; but, however, as the world goes, two
out of three is a very good composition.

You will also find in the packet a compass ring set round with little
diamonds, which I advise you to make a present of to Abbe Guasco, who has
been useful to you, and will continue to be so; as it is a mere bauble,
you must add to the value of it by your manner of giving it him. Show it
him first, and, when he commends it, as probably he will, tell him that
it is at his service, 'et que comme il est toujours par vole et par
chemins, il est absolument necessaire qu'il ale une boussole'. All those
little gallantries depend entirely upon the manner of doing them; as, in
truth, what does not? The greatest favors may be done so awkwardly and
bunglingly as to offend; and disagreeable things may be done so agreeably
as almost to oblige. Endeavor to acquire this great secret; it exists,
it is to be found, and is worth a great deal more than the grand secret
of the alchemists would be if it were, as it is not, to be found. This
is only to be learned in courts, where clashing views, jarring opinions,
and cordial hatreds, are softened and kept within decent bounds by
politeness and manners. Frequent, observe, and learn courts. Are you
free of that of St. Cloud? Are you often at Versailles? Insinuate and
wriggle yourself into favor at those places. L'Abbe de la Ville, my old
friend, will help you at the latter; your three ladies may establish you
in the former. The good-breeding 'de la ville et de la cour' [of the
city and of the court] are different; but without deciding which is
intrinsically the best, that of the court is, without doubt, the most
necessary for you, who are to live, to grow, and to rise in courts. In
two years' time, which will be as soon as you are fit for it, I hope to
be able to plant you in the soil of a YOUNG COURT here: where, if you
have all the address, the suppleness and versatility of a good courtier,
you will have a great chance of thriving and flourishing. Young favor is
easily acquired if the proper means are employed; and, when acquired, it
is warm, if not durable; and the warm moments must be snatched and
improved. 'Quitte pour ce qui en pent arriver apres'. Do not mention
this view of mine for you to any one mortal; but learn to keep your own
secrets, which, by the way, very few people can do.

If your course of experimental philosophy with Abbe Nolot is over, I
would have you apply to Abbe Sallier, for a master to give you a general
notion of astronomy and geometry; of both of which you may know as much,
as I desire you should, in six months' time. I only desire that you
should have a clear notion of the present planetary system, and the
history of all the former systems. Fontenelle's 'Pluralites des Mondes'
will almost teach you all you need know upon that subject. As for
geometry, the seven first books of Euclid will be a sufficient portion of
it for you. It is right to have a general notion of those abstruse
sciences, so as not to appear quite ignorant of them, when they happen,
as sometimes they do, to be the topics of conversation; but a deep
knowledge of them requires too much time, and engrosses the mind too
much. I repeat it again and again to you, Let the great book of the
world be your principal study. 'Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna';
which may be rendered thus in English: Turn Over MEN BY DAY, AND WOMEN BY
NIGHT. I mean only the best editions.

Whatever may be said at Paris of my speech upon the bill for the
reformation of the present calendar, or whatever applause it may have met
with here, the whole, I can assure you, is owing to the words and to the
delivery, but by no means to the matter; which, as I told you in a former
letter, I was not master of. I mention this again, to show you the
importance of well-chosen words, harmonious periods, and good delivery;
for, between you and me, Lord Macclefield's speech was, in truth, worth a
thousand of mine. It will soon be printed, and I will send it you. It
is very instructive. You say, that you wish to speak but half as well as
I did; you may easily speak full as well as ever I did, if you will but
give the same attention to the same objects that I did at your age, and
for many years afterward; I mean correctness, purity, and elegance of
style, harmony of periods, and gracefulness of delivery. Read over and
over again the third book of 'Cicero de Oratore', in which he
particularly treats of the ornamental parts of oratory; they are indeed
properly oratory, for all the rest depends only upon common sense, and
some knowledge of the subject you speak upon. But if you would please,
persuade, and prevail in speaking, it must be by the ornamental parts of
oratory. Make them therefore habitual to you; and resolve never to say
the most common things, even to your footman, but in the best words you
can find, and with the best utterance. This, with 'les manieres, la
tournure, et les usages du beau monde', are the only two things you want;
fortunately, they are both in your power; may you have them both! Adieu.


LONDON, April 15, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: What success with the graces, and in the
accomplishments, elegancies, and all those little nothings so
indispensably necessary to constitute an amiable man? Do you take them,
do you make a progress in them? The great secret is the art of pleasing;
and that art is to be attained by every man who has a good fund of common
sense. If you are pleased with any person, examine why; do as he does;
and you will charm others by the same things which please you in him.
To be liked by women, you must be esteemed by men; and to please men, you
must be agreeable to women. Vanity is unquestionably the ruling passion
in women; and it is much flattered by the attentions of a man who is
generally esteemed by men; when his merit has received the stamp of their
approbation, women make it current, that is to say, put him in fashion.
On the other hand, if a man has not received the last polish from women,
he may be estimable among men, but will never be amiable. The
concurrence of the two sexes is as necessary to the perfection of our
being, as to the formation of it. Go among women with the good qualities
of your sex, and you will acquire from them the softness and the graces
of theirs. Men will then add affection to the esteem which they before
had for you. Women are the only refiners of the merit of men; it is true,
they cannot add weight, but they polish and give lustre to it. 'A
propos', I am assured, that Madame de Blot, although she has no great
regularity of features, is, notwithstanding, excessively pretty; and
that, for all that, she has as yet been scrupulously constant to her
husband, though she has now been married above a year. Surely she does
not reflect, that woman wants polishing. I would have you polish one
another reciprocally. Force, assiduities, attentions, tender looks, and
passionate declarations, on your side will produce some irresolute
wishes, at least, on hers; and when even the slightest wishes arise, the
rest will soon follow.

As I take you to be the greatest 'juris peritus' and politician of the
whole Germanic body, I suppose you will have read the King of Prussia's
letter to the Elector of Mayence, upon the election of a King of the
Romans; and on the other side, a memorial entitled, IMPARTIAL
THE ROMANS, etc. The first is extremely well written, but not grounded
upon the laws and customs of the empire. The second is very ill written
(at least in French), but well grounded. I fancy the author is some
German, who has taken into his head that he understands French. I am,
however, persuaded that the elegance and delicacy of the King of
Prussia's letter will prevail with two-thirds of the public, in spite of
the solidity and truth contained in the other piece. Such is the force
of an elegant and delicate style!

I wish you would be so good as to give me a more particular and
circumstantial account of the method of passing your time at Paris.
For instance, where it is that you dine every Friday, in company with
that amiable and respectable old man, Fontenelle? Which is the house
where you think yourself at home? For one always has such a one, where
one is better established, and more at ease than anywhere else. Who are
the young Frenchmen with whom you are most intimately connected? Do you
frequent the Dutch Ambassador's. Have you penetrated yet into Count
Caunitz's house? Has Monsieur de Pignatelli the honor of being one of
your humble servants? And has the Pope's nuncio included you in the
jubilee? Tell me also freely how you are with Lord Huntingdon: Do you
see him often? Do you connect yourself with him? Answer all these
questions circumstantially in your first letter.

I am told that Du Clos's book is not in vogue at Paris, and that it is
violently criticised: I suppose that is because one understands it; and
being intelligible is now no longer the fashion. I have a very great
respect for fashion, but a much greater for this book; which is, all at
once, true, solid, and bright. It contains even epigrams; what can one
wish for more?

Mr.------ will, I suppose, have left Paris by this time for his residence
at Toulouse. I hope he will acquire manners there; I am sure he wants
them. He is awkward, he is silent, and has nothing agreeable in his
address,--most necessary qualifications to distinguish one's self in
business, as well as in the POLITE WORLD! In truth, these two things are
so connected, that a man cannot make a figure in business, who is not
qualified to shine in the great world; and to succeed perfectly in either
the one or the other, one must be in 'utrumque paratus'. May you be
that, my dear friend! and so we wish you a good night.

P. S. Lord and Lady Blessington, with their son Lord Mountjoy, will be
at Paris next week, in their way to the south of France; I send you a
little packet of books by them. Pray go wait upon them, as soon as you
hear of their arrival, and show them all the attentions you can.


LONDON, April 22, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: I apply to you now, as to the greatest virtuoso of this,
or perhaps any other age; one whose superior judgment and distinguishing
eye hindered the King of Poland from buying a bad picture at Venice, and
whose decisions in the realms of 'virtu' are final, and without appeal.
Now to the point. I have had a catalogue sent me, 'd'une Trente a
l'aimable de Tableaux des plus Grands Maitres, appartenans au Sieur
Araignon Aperen, valet de chambre de la Reine, sur le quai de la
Megisserie, au coin de Arche Marion'. There I observe two large pictures
of Titian, as described in the inclosed page of the catalogue, No. 18,
which I should be glad to purchase upon two conditions: the first is,
that they be undoubted originals of Titian, in good preservation; and the
other that they come cheap. To ascertain the first (but without
disparaging your skill), I wish you would get some undoubted connoisseurs
to examine them carefully: and if, upon such critical examination, they
should be unanimously allowed to be undisputed originals of Titian, and
well preserved, then comes the second point, the price: I will not go
above two hundred pounds sterling for the two together; but as much less
as you can get them for. I acknowledge that two hundred pounds seems to
be a very small sum for two undoubted Titians of that size; but, on the
other hand, as large Italian pictures are now out of fashion at Paris,
where fashion decides of everything, and as these pictures are too large
for common rooms, they may possibly come within the price above limited.
I leave the whole of this transaction (the price excepted, which I will
not exceed) to your consummate skill and prudence, with proper advice
joined to them. Should you happen to buy them for that price, carry them
to your own lodgings, and get a frame made to the second, which I observe
has none, exactly the same with the other frame, and have the old one new
gilt; and then get them carefully packed up, and sent me by Rouen.

I hear much of your conversing with 'les beaux esprits' at Paris: I am
very glad of it; it gives a degree of reputation, especially at Paris;
and their conversation is generally instructive, though sometimes
affected. It must be owned, that the polite conversation of the men and
women of fashion at Paris, though not always very deep, is much less
futile and frivolous than ours here. It turns at least upon some
subject, something of taste, some point of history, criticism, and even
philosophy; which, though probably not quite so solid as Mr. Locke's,
is, however, better, and more becoming rational beings, than our
frivolous dissertations upon the weather, or upon whist. Monsieur du
Clos observes, and I think very justly, 'qu'il y a a present en France
une fermentation universelle de la raison qui tend a se developper'.
Whereas, I am sorry to say, that here that fermentation seems to have
been over some years ago, the spirit evaporated, and only the dregs left.
Moreover, 'les beaux esprits' at Paris are commonly well-bred, which ours
very frequently are not; with the former your manners will be formed;
with the latter, wit must generally be compounded for at the expense of
manners. Are you acquainted with Marivaux, who has certainly studied,
and is well acquainted with the heart; but who refines so much upon its
'plis et replis', and describes them so affectedly, that he often is
unintelligible to his readers, and sometimes so, I dare say, to himself?
Do you know 'Crebillon le fils'? He is a fine painter and a pleasing
writer; his characters are admirable and his reflections just. Frequent
these people, and be glad, but not proud of frequenting them: never boast
of it, as a proof of your own merit, nor insult, in a manner, other
companies by telling them affectedly what you, Montesquieu and Fontenelle
were talking of the other day; as I have known many people do here, with
regard to Pope and Swift, who had never been twice in company with
either; nor carry into other companies the 'ton' of those meetings of
'beaux esprits'. Talk literature, taste, philosophy, etc., with them,
'a la bonne heure'; but then, with the same ease, and more 'enjouement',
talk 'pom-pons, moires', etc., with Madame de Blot, if she requires it.
Almost every subject in the world has its proper time and place; in which
no one is above or below discussion. The point is, to talk well upon the
subject you talk upon; and the most trifling, frivolous subjects will
still give a man of parts an opportunity of showing them. 'L'usage du
grand monde' can alone teach that. That was the distinguishing
characteristic of Alcibiades, and a happy one it was, that he could
occasionally, and with so much ease, adopt the most different, and even
the most opposite habits and manners, that each seemed natural to him.
Prepare yourself for the great world, as the 'athletae' used to do for
their exercises: oil (if I may use that expression) your mind and your
manners, to give them the necessary suppleness and flexibility; strength
alone will not do, as young people are too apt to think.

How do your exercises go on? Can you manage a pretty vigorous 'sauteur'
between the pillars? Are you got into stirrups yet? 'Faites-vous assaut
aux armes? But, above all, what does Marcel say of you? Is he
satisfied? Pray be more particular in your accounts of yourself, for
though I have frequent accounts of you from others, I desire to have your
own too. Adieu. Yours, truly and friendly.


LONDON, May 2, O. S. 1751

DEAR FRIEND: Two accounts, which I have very lately received of you,
from two good judges, have put me into great spirits, as they have given
me reasonable hopes that you will soon acquire all that I believe you
want: I mean the air, the address; the graces, and the manners of a man
of fashion. As these two pictures of you are very unlike that which I
received, and sent you some months ago, I will name the two painters:
the first is an old friend and acquaintance of mine, Monsieur d'Aillon.
His picture is, I hope, like you; for it is a very good one: Monsieur
Tollot's is still a better, and so advantageous a one, that I will not
send you a copy of it, for fear of making you too vain. So far only I
will tell you, that there was but one BUT in either of their accounts;
and it was this: I gave d'Aillon the question ordinary and extraordinary,
upon the important article of manners; and extorted this from him:
"But, since you will know it, he still wants that last beautiful varnish,
which raises the colors, and gives brilliancy to the piece. Be persuaded
that he will acquire it: he has too much sense not to know its value;
and if I am not greatly mistaken, more persons than one are now
endeavoring to give it him. "Monsieur Tollot says: "In order to be
exactly all that you wish him, he only wants those little nothings, those
graces in detail, and that amiable ease, which can only be acquired by
usage of the great world. I am assured that he is, in that respect, in
good hands. I do not know whether that does not rather imply in fine
arms." Without entering into a nice discussion of the last question, I
congratulate you and myself upon your being so near that point at which I
so anxiously wish you to arrive. I am sure that all your attention and
endeavors will be exerted; and, if exerted, they will succeed. Mr.
Tollot says, that you are inclined to be fat, but I hope you will decline
it as much as you can; not by taking anything corrosive to make you lean,
but by taking as little as you can of those things that would make you
fat. Drink no chocolate; take your coffee without cream: you cannot
possibly avoid suppers at Paris, unless you avoid company too, which I
would by no means have you do; but eat as little at supper as you can,
and make even an allowance for that little at your dinners. Take
occasionally a double dose of riding and fencing; and now that summer is
come, walk a good deal in the Tuileries. It is a real inconvenience to
anybody to be fat, and besides it is ungraceful for a young fellow. 'A
propos', I had like to have forgot to tell you, that I charged Tollot to
attend particularly to your utterence and diction; two points of the
utmost importance. To the first he says: "His enunciation is not bad,
but it is to be wished that it were still better; and he expresses
himself with more fire than elegance. Usage of good company will
instruct him likewise in that." These, I allow, are all little things,
separately; but aggregately, they make a most important and great article
in the account of a gentleman. In the House of Commons you can never
make a figure without elegance of style, and gracefulness of utterance;
and you can never succeed as a courtier at your own Court, or as a
minister at any other, without those innumerable 'petite riens dans les
manieres, et dans les attentions'. Mr. Yorke is by this time at Paris;
make your court to him, but not so as to disgust, in the least, Lord
Albemarle, who may possibly dislike your considering Mr. Yorke as the man
of business, and him as only 'pour orner la scene'. Whatever your
opinion may be upon THAT POINT, take care not to let it appear; but be
well with them both by showing no public preference to either.

Though I must necessarily fall into repetitions by treating the same
subject so often, I cannot help recommending to you again the utmost
attention to your air and address. Apply yourself now to Marcel's
lectures, as diligently as you did formerly to Professor Mascow's; desire
him to teach you every genteel attitude that the human body can be put
into; let him make you go in and out of his room frequently, and present
yourself to him, as if he were by turns different persons; such as a
minister, a lady, a superior, an equal, and inferior, etc. Learn to seat
genteelly in different companies; to loll genteelly, and with good
manners, in those companies where you are authorized to be free, and to
sit up respectfully where the same freedom is not allowable. Learn even
to compose your countenance occasionally to the respectful, the cheerful,
and the insinuating. Take particular care that the motions of your hands
and arms be easy and graceful; for the genteelness of a man consists more
in them than in anything else, especially in his dancing. Desire some
women to tell you of any little awkwardness that they observe in your
carriage; they are the best judges of those things; and if they are
satisfied, the men will be so too. Think now only of the decorations.
Are you acquainted with Madame Geoffrain, who has a great deal of wit;
and who, I am informed, receives only the very best company in her house?
Do you know Madame du Pin, who, I remember, had beauty, and I hear has
wit and reading? I could wish you to converse only with those who,
either from their rank, their merit, or their beauty, require constant
attention; for a young man can never improve in company where he thinks
he may neglect himself. A new bow must be constantly kept bent; when it
grows older, and has taken the right turn, it may now and then be

I have this moment paid your draft of L89 75s.; it was signed in a very
good hand; which proves that a good hand may be written without the
assistance of magic. Nothing provokes me much more, than to hear people
indolently say that they cannot do, what is in everybody's power to do,
if it be but in their will. Adieu.


LONDON, May 6, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: The best authors are always the severest critics of
their own works; they revise, correct, file, and polish them, till they
think they have brought them to perfection. Considering you as my work,
I do not look upon myself as a bad author, and am therefore a severe
critic. I examine narrowly into the least inaccuracy or inelegance, in
order to correct, not to expose them, and that the work may be perfect at
last. You are, I know, exceedingly improved in your air, address, and
manners, since you have been at Paris; but still there is, I believe,
room for further improvement before you come to that perfection which I
have set my heart upon seeing you arrive at; and till that moment I must
continue filing and polishing. In a letter that I received by last post,
from a friend of yours at Paris, there was this paragraph: "I have the
honor to assure you, without flattery, that Mr. Stanhope succeeds beyond
what might be expected from a person of his age. He goes into very good
company; and that kind of manner, which was at first thought to be too
decisive and peremptory, is now judged otherwise; because it is
acknowledged to be the effect of an ingenuous frankness, accompanied by
politeness, and by a proper deference. He studies to please, and
succeeds. Madame du Puisieux was the other day speaking of him with
complacency and friendship. You will be satisfied with him in all
respects. "This is extremely well, and I rejoice at it: one little
circumstance only may, and I hope will, be altered for the better. Take
pains to undeceive those who thought that 'petit ton un peu delcide et un
peu brusque'; as it is not meant so, let it not appear so. Compose your
countenance to an air of gentleness and 'douceur', use some expressions
of diffidence of your own opinion, and deference to other people's; such
as, "If I might be permitted to say--I should think--Is it not rather so?
At least I have the greatest reason to be diffident of myself." Such
mitigating, engaging words do by no means weaken your argument; but, on
the contrary, make it more powerful by making it more pleasing. If it is
a quick and hasty manner of speaking that people mistake 'pour decide et
brusque', prevent their mistakes for the future by speaking more
deliberately, and taking a softer tone of voice; as in this case you are
free from the guilt, be free from the suspicion, too. Mankind, as I have
often told you, are more governed by appearances than by realities; and
with regard to opinion, one had better be really rough and hard, with the
appearance of gentleness and softness, than just the reverse. Few people
have penetration enough to discover, attention enough to observe, or even
concern enough to examine beyond the exterior; they take their notions
from the surface, and go no deeper: they commend, as the gentlest and
best-natured man in the world, that man who has the most engaging
exterior manner, though possibly they have been but once in his company.
An air, a tone of voice, a composure of countenance to mildness and
softness, which are all easily acquired, do the business: and without
further examination, and possibly with the contrary qualities, that man
is reckoned the gentlest, the modestest, and the best-natured man
alive. Happy the man, who, with a certain fund of parts and knowledge,
gets acquainted with the world early enough to make it his bubble, at an
age when most people are the bubbles of the world! for that is the common
case of youth. They grow wiser when it is too late; and, ashamed and
vexed at having been bubbles so long, too often turn knaves at last. Do
not therefore trust to appearances and outside yourself, but pay other
people with them; because you may be sure that nine in ten of mankind do,
and ever will trust to them. This is by no means a criminal or blamable
simulation, if not used with an ill intention. I am by no means blamable
in desiring to have other people's good word, good-will, and affection,
if I do not mean to abuse them. Your heart, I know, is good, your sense
is sound, and your knowledge extensive. What then remains for you to do?
Nothing, but to adorn those fundamental qualifications, with such
engaging and captivating manners, softness, and gentleness, as will
endear you to those who are able to judge of your real merit, and which
always stand in the stead of merit with those who are not. I do not mean
by this to recommend to you 'le fade doucereux', the insipid softness of
a gentle fool; no, assert your own opinion, oppose other people's when
wrong; but let your manner, your air, your terms, and your tone of voice,
be soft and gentle, and that easily and naturally, not affectedly. Use
palliatives when you contradict; such as I MAY BE MISTAKEN, I AM NOT
SURE, BUT I BELIEVE, I SHOULD RATHER THINK, etc. Finish any argument or
dispute with some little good-humored pleasantry, to show that you are
neither hurt yourself, nor meant to hurt your antagonist; for an
argument, kept up a good while, often occasions a temporary alienation on
each side. Pray observe particularly, in those French people who are
distinguished by that character, 'cette douceur de moeurs et de
manieres', which they talk of so much, and value so justly; see in what
it consists; in mere trifles, and most easy to be acquired, where the
heart is really good. Imitate, copy it, till it becomes habitual and
easy to you. Without a compliment to you, I take it to be the only thing
you now want: nothing will sooner give it you than a real passion, or, at
least, 'un gout vif', for some woman of fashion; and, as I suppose that
you have either the one or the other by this time, you are consequently
in the best school. Besides this, if you were to say to Lady Hervey,
Madame Monconseil, or such others as you look upon to be your friends, It
is said that I have a kind of manner which is rather too decisive and too
peremptory; it is not, however, my intention that it should be so; I
entreat you to correct, and even publicly to punish me whenever I am
guilty. Do not treat me with the least indulgence, but criticise to the
utmost. So clear-sighted a judge as you has a right to be severe; and I
promise you that the criminal will endeavor to correct himself.
Yesterday I had two of your acquaintances to dine with me, Baron B. and
his companion Monsieur S. I cannot say of the former, 'qu'il est paitri
de graces'; and I would rather advise him to go and settle quietly at
home, than to think of improving himself by further travels. 'Ce n'est
pas le bois don't on en fait'. His companion is much better, though he
has a strong 'tocco di tedesco'. They both spoke well of you, and so far
I liked them both. How go you on with the amiable little Blot? Does she
listen to your Battering tale? Are you numbered among the list of her
admirers? Is Madame ------ your Madame de Lursay? Does she sometimes
knot, and are you her Meilcour? They say she has softness, sense, and
engaging manners; in such an apprenticeship much may be learned.--[This
whole passage, and several others, allude to Crebillon's 'Egaremens du
Coeur et de l'Esprit', a sentimental novel written about that time, and
then much in vogue at Paris.]

A woman like her, who has always pleased, and often been pleased, can
best teach the art of pleasing; that art, without which, 'ogni fatica
vana'. Marcel's lectures are no small part of that art: they are the
engaging forerunner of all other accomplishments. Dress is also an
article not to be neglected, and I hope you do not neglect it; it helps
in the 'premier abord', which is often decisive. By dress, I mean your
clothes being well made, fitting you, in the fashion and not above it;
your hair well done, and a general cleanliness and spruceness in your
person. I hope you take infinite care of your teeth; the consequences of
neglecting the mouth are serious, not only to one's self, but to others.
In short, my dear child, neglect nothing; a little more will complete the
whole. Adieu. I have not heard from you these three weeks, which I
think a great while.


LONDON, May 10, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday, at the same time, your letters of
the 4th and 11th, N. S., and being much more careful of my commissions
than you are of yours, I do not delay one moment sending you my final
instructions concerning the pictures. The man you allow to be a Titian,
and in good preservation; the woman is an indifferent and a damaged
picture; but as I want them for furniture for a particular room,
companions are necessary; and therefore I am willing to take the woman
for better for worse, upon account of the man; and if she is not too much
damaged, I can have her tolerably repaired, as many a fine woman is, by a
skillful hand here; but then I expect that the lady should be, in a
manner, thrown into the bargain with the man; and, in this state of
affairs, the woman being worth little or nothing, I will not go above
fourscore Louis for the two together. As for the Rembrandt you mention,
though it is very cheap, if good, I do not care for it. I love 'la belle
nature'; Rembrandt paints caricatures. Now for your own commissions,
which you seem to have forgotten. You mention nothing of the patterns
which you received by Monsieur Tollot, though I told you in a former
letter, which you must have had before the date of your last, that I
should stay till I received the patterns pitched upon by your ladies;
for as to the instructions which you sent me in Madame Monconseil's hand,
I could find no mohairs in London that exactly answered that description;
I shall, therefore, wait till you send me (which you may easily do in a
letter) the patterns chosen by your three graces.

I would, by all means, have you go now and then, for two or three days,
to Marechal Coigny's, at Orli; it is but a proper civility to that
family, which has been particularly civil to you; and, moreover, I would
have you familiarize yourself with, and learn the interior and domestic
manners of, people of that rank and fashion. I also desire that you will
frequent Versailles and St. Cloud, at both of which courts you have been
received with distinction. Profit of that distinction, and familiarize
yourself at both. Great courts are the seats of true good-breeding; you
are to live at courts, lose no time in learning them. Go and stay
sometimes at Versailles for three or four days, where you will be
domestic in the best families, by means of your friend Madame de
Puisieux; and mine, l'Abbe de la Ville. Go to the King's and the
Dauphin's levees, and distinguish yourself from the rest of your
countrymen, who, I dare say, never go there when they can help it.
Though the young Frenchmen of fashion may not be worth forming intimate
connections with, they are well worth making acquaintance of; and I do
not see how you can avoid it, frequenting so many good French houses as
you do, where, to be sure, many of them come. Be cautious how you
contract friendships, but be desirous, and even industrious, to obtain a
universal acquaintance. Be easy, and even forward, in making new
acquaintances; that is the only way of knowing manners and characters in
general, which is, at present, your great object. You are 'enfant de
famille' in three ministers' houses; but I wish you had a footing, at
least, in thirteen and that, I should think, you might easily bring
about, by that common chain, which, to a certain degree, connects those
you do not with those you do know.

For instance, I suppose that neither Lord Albemarle, nor Marquis de St.
Germain, would make the least difficulty to present you to Comte Caunitz,
the Nuncio, etc. 'Il faut etre rompu du monde', which can only be done
by an extensive, various, and almost universal acquaintance.

When you have got your emaciated Philomath, I desire that his triangles,
rhomboids, etc., may not keep you one moment out of the good company you
would otherwise be in. Swallow all your learning in the morning, but
digest it in company in the evenings. The reading of ten new characters
is more your business now, than the reading of twenty old books; showish
and shining people always get the better of all others, though ever so
solid. If you would be a great man in the world when you are old, shine
and be showish in it while you are young, know everybody, and endeavor to
please everybody, I mean exteriorly; for fundamentally it is impossible.
Try to engage the heart of every woman, and the affections of almost
every man you meet with. Madame Monconseil assures me that you are most
surprisingly improved in your air, manners, and address: go on, my dear
child, and never think that you are come to a sufficient degree of
perfection; 'Nil actum reputans, si quid superesset agendum'; and in
those shining parts of the character of a gentleman, there is always
something remaining to be acquired. Modes and manners vary in different
places, and at different times; you must keep pace with them, know them,
and adopt them, wherever you find them. The great usage of the world,
the knowledge of characters, the brillant dun galant homme, is all that
you now. want. Study Marcel and the 'beau monde' with great
application, but read Homer and Horace only when you have nothing else to
do. Pray who is 'la belle Madame de Case', whom I know you frequent?
I like the epithet given her very well: if she deserves it, she deserves
your attention too. A man of fashion should be gallant to a fine woman,
though he does not make love to her, or may be otherwise engaged.
On 'lui doit des politesses, on fait l'eloge de ses charmes, et il n'en
est ni plus ni moins pour cela': it pleases, it flatters; you get their
good word, and you lose nothing by it. These 'gentillesses' should be
accompanied, as indeed everything else should, with an air: 'un air, un
ton de douceur et de politesse'. Les graces must be of the party, or it
will never do; and they are so easily had, that it is astonishing to me
that everybody has them not; they are sooner gained than any woman of
common reputation and decency. Pursue them but with care and attention,
and you are sure to enjoy them at last: without them, I am sure, you will
never enjoy anybody else. You observe, truly, that Mr. ------ is gauche;
it is to be hoped that will mend with keeping company; and is yet
pardonable in him, as just come from school. But reflect what you would
think of a man, who had been any time in the world, and yet should be so
awkward. For God's sake, therefore, now think of nothing but shining,
and even distinguishing yourself in the most polite courts, by your air,
your address, your manners, your politeness, your 'douceur', your graces.
With those advantages (and not without them) take my word for it, you
will get the better of all rivals, in business as well as in 'ruelles'.
Adieu. Send me your patterns, by the next post, and also your
instructions to Grevenkop about the seal, which you seem to have


LONDON, May 16, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: In about three months from this day, we shall probably
meet. I look upon that moment as a young woman does upon her bridal
night; I expect the greatest pleasure, and yet cannot help fearing some
little mixture of pain. My reason bids me doubt a little, of what my
imagination makes me expect. In some articles I am very sure that my
most sanguine wishes will not be disappointed; and those are the most
material ones. In others, I fear something or other, which I can better
feel than describe. However, I will attempt it. I fear the want of that
amiable and engaging 'je ne sais quoi', which as some philosophers have,
unintelligibly enough, said of the soul, is all in all, and all in every
part; it should shed its influence over every word and action. I fear
the want of that air, and first 'abord', which suddenly lays hold of the
heart, one does not know distinctly how or why. I fear an inaccuracy,
or, at least, inelegance of diction, which will wrong, and lower, the
best and justest matter. And, lastly, I fear an ungraceful, if not an
unpleasant utterance, which would disgrace and vilify the whole. Should
these fears be at present founded, yet the objects of them are (thank
God) of such a nature, that you may, if you please, between this and our
meeting, remove everyone of them. All these engaging and endearing
accomplishments are mechanical, and to be acquired by care and
observation, as easily as turning, or any mechanical trade. A common
country fellow, taken from the plow, and enlisted in an old corps, soon
lays aside his shambling gait, his slouching air, his clumsy and awkward
motions: and acquires the martial air, the regular motions, and whole
exercise of the corps, and particularly of his right and left hand man.
How so? Not from his parts; which were just the same before as after he
was enlisted; but either from a commendable ambition of being like, and
equal to those he is to live with; or else from the fear of being
punished for not being so. If then both or either of these motives
change such a fellow, in about six months' time, to such a degree, as
that he is not to be known again, how much stronger should both these
motives be with you, to acquire, in the utmost perfection, the whole
exercise of the people of fashion, with whom you are to live all your
life? Ambition should make you resolve to be at least their equal in
that exercise, as well as the fear of punishment; which most inevitably
will attend the want of it. By that exercise, I mean the air, the
manners, the graces, and the style of people of fashion. A friend of
yours, in a letter I received from him by the last post, after some other
commendations of you, says, "It is surprising that, thinking with so much
solidity as he does, and having so true and refined a taste, he should
express himself with so little elegance and delicacy. He even totally
neglects the choice of words and turn of phrases."

This I should not be so much surprised or concerned at, if it related
only to the English language; which hitherto you have had no opportunity
of studying, and but few of speaking, at least to those who could correct
your inaccuracies. But if you do not express yourself elegantly and
delicately in French and German, (both which languages I know you possess
perfectly and speak eternally) it can be only from an unpardonable
inattention to what you most erroneously think a little object, though,
in truth, it is one of the most important of your life. Solidity and
delicacy of thought must be given us: it cannot be acquired, though it
may be improved; but elegance and delicacy of expression may be acquired
by whoever will take the necessary care and pains. I am sure you love me
so well; that you would be very sorry when we meet, that I should be
either disappointed or mortified; and I love you so well, that I assure
you I should be both, if I should find you want any of those exterior
accomplishments which are the indispensably necessary steps to that
figure and fortune, which I so earnestly wish you may one day make in the

I hope you do not neglect your exercises of riding, fencing, and dancing,
but particularly the latter: for they all concur to 'degourdir', and to
give a certain air. To ride well, is not only a proper and graceful
accomplishment for a gentleman, but may also save you many a fall
hereafter; to fence well, may possibly save your life; and to dance well,
is absolutely necessary in order to sit, stand, and walk well. To tell
you the truth, my friend, I have some little suspicion that you now and
then neglect or omit your exercises, for more serious studies. But now
'non est his locus', everything has its time; and this is yours for your
exercises; for when you return to Paris I only propose your continuing
your dancing; which you shall two years longer, if you happen to be where
there is a good dancing-master. Here I will see you take some lessons
with your old master Desnoyers, who is our Marcel.

What says Madame du Pin to you? I am told she is very handsome still;
I know she was some few years ago. She has good parts, reading, manners,
and delicacy: such an arrangement would be both creditable and
advantageous to you. She will expect to meet with all the good-breeding
and delicacy that she brings; and as she is past the glare and 'eclat'
of youth, may be the more willing to listen to your story, if you tell it
well. For an attachment, I should prefer her to 'la petite Blot'; and,
for a mere gallantry, I should prefer 'la petite Blot' to her; so that
they are consistent, et 'l'un n'emplche pas l'autre'. Adieu. Remember
'la douceur et les graces'.


LONDON, May 23, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 25th
N. S., and being rather something more attentive to my commissions than
you are to yours, return you this immediate answer to the question you
ask me about the two pictures: I will not give one livre more than what I
told you in my last; having no sort of occasion for them, and not knowing
very well where to put them if I had them.

I wait with impatience for your final orders about the mohairs; the
mercer persecuting me every day for three pieces which I thought pretty,
and which I have kept by me eventually, to secure them in case your
ladies should pitch upon them.

If I durst! what should hinder you from daring? One always dares if
there are hopes of success; and even if there are none, one is no loser
by daring. A man of fashion knows how, and when, to dare. He begins his
approaches by distant attacks, by assiduities, and by attentions. If he
is not immediately and totally repulsed, he continues to advance. After
certain steps success is infallible; and none but very silly fellows can
then either doubt, or not attempt it. Is it the respectable character of
Madame de la Valiere which prevents your daring, or are you intimidated
at the fierce virtue of Madame du Pin? Does the invincible modesty of
the handsome Madame Case discourage, more than her beauty invites you?
Fie, for shame! Be convinced that the most virtuous woman, far from
being offended at a declaration of love, is flattered by it, if it is
made in a polite and agreeable manner. It is possible that she may not
be propitious to your vows; that is to say, if she has a liking or a
passion for another person. But, at all events, she will not be
displeased with you for it; so that, as there is no danger, this cannot
even be called daring. But if she attends, if she listens, and allows
you to repeat your declaration, be persuaded that if you do not dare all
the rest, she will laugh at you. I advise you to begin rather by Madame
du Pin, who has still more than beauty enough for such a youngster as
you. She has, besides, knowledge of the world, sense, and delicacy. As
she is not so extremely young, the choice of her lovers cannot be
entirely at her option. I promise you, she will not refuse the tender of
your most humble services. Distinguish her, then, by attentions and by
tender looks. Take favorable opportunities of whispering that you wish
esteem and friendship were the only motives of your regard for her; but
that it derives from sentiments of a much more tender nature: that you
made not this declaration without pain; but that the concealing your
passion was a still greater torment.

I am sensible, that in saying this for the first time, you will look
silly, abashed, and even express yourself very ill. So much the better;
for, instead of attributing your confusion to the little usage you have
of the world, particularly in these sort of subjects, she will think that
excess of love is the occasion of it. In such a case, the lover's best
friend is self-love. Do not then be afraid; behave gallantly. Speak
well, and you will be heard. If you are not listened to the first time,
try a second, a third, and a fourth. If the place is not already taken,
depend upon it, it may be conquered.

I am very glad you are going to Orli, and from thence to St. Cloud;
go to both, and to Versailles also, often. It is that interior domestic
familiarity with people of fashion, that alone can give you 'l'usage du
monde, et les manieres aisees'. It is only with women one loves, or men
one respects, that the desire of pleasing exerts itself; and without the
desire of pleasing no man living can please. Let that desire be the
spring of all your words and actions. That happy talent, the art of
pleasing, which so few do, though almost all might possess, is worth all
your learning and knowledge put together. The latter can never raise you
high without the former; but the former may carry you, as it has carried
thousands, a great way without the latter.

I am glad that you dance so well, as to be reckoned by Marcel among his
best scholars; go on, and dance better still. Dancing well is pleasing
'pro tanto', and makes a part of that necessary whole, which is composed
of a thousand parts, many of them of 'les infiniment petits quoi
qu'infiniment necessaires'.

I shall never have done upon this subject which is indispensably
necessary toward your making any figure or fortune in the world; both
which I have set my heart upon, and for both which you now absolutely
want no one thing but the art of pleasing; and I must not conceal from
you that you have still a good way to go before you arrive at it. You
still want a thousand of those little attentions that imply a desire of
pleasing: you want a 'douceur' of air and expression that engages: you
want an elegance and delicacy of expression, necessary to adorn the best
sense and most solid matter: in short, you still want a great deal of the
'brillant' and the 'poli'. Get them at any rate: sacrifice hecatombs of
books to them: seek for them in company, and renounce your closet till
you have got them. I never received the letter you refer to, if ever you
wrote it. Adieu, et bon soir, Monseigneur.


GREENWICH, June 6, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Solicitous and anxious as I have ever been to form your
heart, your mind, and your manners, and to bring you as near perfection
as the imperfection of our natures will allow, I have exhausted, in the
course of our correspondence, all that my own mind could suggest, and
have borrowed from others whatever I thought could be useful to you; but
this has necessarily been interruptedly and by snatches. It is now time,
and you are of an age to review and to weigh in your own mind all that
you have heard, and all that you have read, upon these subjects; and to
form your own character, your conduct, and your manners, for the rest of
your life; allowing for such improvements as a further knowledge of the
world will naturally give you. In this view I would recommend to you to
read, with the greatest attention, such books as treat particularly of
those subjects; reflecting seriously upon them, and then comparing the
speculation with the practice.

For example, if you read in the morning some of La Rochefoucault's
maxims; consider them, examine them well, and compare them with the real
characters you meet with in the evening. Read La Bruyere in the morning,
and see in the evening whether his pictures are like. Study the heart
and the mind of man, and begin with your own. Meditation and reflection
must lay the foundation of that knowledge: but experience and practice
must, and alone can, complete it. Books, it is true, point out the
operations of the mind, the sentiments of the heart, the influence of the
passions; and so far they are of previous use: but without subsequent
practice, experience, and observation, they are as ineffectual, and would
even lead you into as many errors in fact, as a map would do, if you were
to take your notions of the towns and provinces from their delineations
in it. A man would reap very little benefit by his travels, if he made
them only in his closet upon a map of the whole world. Next to the two
books that I have already mentioned, I do not know a better for you to
read, and seriously reflect upon, than 'Avis d'une Mere d'un Fils, par la
Marquise de Lambert'. She was a woman of a superior understanding and
knowledge of the world, had always kept the best company, was solicitous
that her son should make a figure and a fortune in the world, and knew
better than anybody how to point out the means. It is very short, and
will take you much less time to read, than you ought to employ in
reflecting upon it, after you have read it. Her son was in the army, she
wished he might rise there; but she well knew, that, in order to rise, he
must first please: she says to him, therefore, With regard to those upon
whom you depend, the chief merit is to please. And, in another place, in
subaltern employments, the art of pleasing must be your support. Masters
are like mistresses: whatever services they may be indebted to you for,
they cease to love when you cease to be agreeable. This, I can assure
you, is at least as true in courts as in camps, and possibly more so.


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