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Letters to His Son, 1748 by The Earl of Chesterfield

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This etext was produced by David Widger

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



on the Fine Art of becoming a


and a



January 2, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I am edified with the allotment of your time at Leipsig; which
is so well employed from morning till night, that a fool would say you
had none left for yourself; whereas, I am sure you have sense enough to
know, that such a right use of your time is having it all to yourself;
nay, it is even more, for it is laying it out to immense interest, which,
in a very few years, will amount to a prodigious capital.

Though twelve of your fourteen 'Commensaux' may not be the liveliest
people in the world, and may want (as I easily conceive that they do) 'le
ton de la bonne campagnie, et les graces', which I wish you, yet pray
take care not to express any contempt, or throw out any ridicule; which I
can assure you, is not more contrary to good manners than to good sense:
but endeavor rather to get all the good you can out of them; and
something or other is to be got out of everybody. They will, at least,
improve you in the German language; and, as they come from different
countries, you may put them upon subjects, concerning which they must
necessarily be able to give you some useful informations, let them be
ever so dull or disagreeable in general: they will know something, at
least, of the laws, customs, government, and considerable families of
their respective countries; all which are better known than not, and
consequently worth inquiring into. There is hardly any body good for
every thing, and there is scarcely any body who is absolutely good for
nothing. A good chemist will extract some spirit or other out of every
substance; and a man of parts will, by his dexterity and management,
elicit something worth knowing out of every being he converses with.

As you have been introduced to the Duchess of Courland, pray go there as
often as ever your more necessary occupations will allow you. I am told
she is extremely well bred, and has parts. Now, though I would not
recommend to you, to go into women's company in search of solid
knowledge, or judgment, yet it has its use in other respects; for it
certainly polishes the manners, and gives 'une certaine tournure', which
is very necessary in the course of the world; and which Englishmen have
generally less of than any people in the world.

I cannot say that your suppers are luxurious, but you must own they are
solid; and a quart of soup, and two pounds of potatoes, will enable you
to pass the night without great impatience for your breakfast next
morning. One part of your supper (the potatoes) is the constant diet of
my old friends and countrymen,--[Lord Chesterfield, from the time he was
appointed Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, 1775, used always to call the Irish
his countrymen.]--the Irish, who are the healthiest and the strongest
bodies of men that I know in Europe.

As I believe that many of my letters to you and to Mr. Harte have
miscarried, as well as some of yours and his to me; particularly one of
his from Leipsig, to which he refers in a subsequent one, and which I
never received; I would have you, for the future, acknowledge the dates
of all the letters which either of you shall receive from me; and I will
do the same on my part.

That which I received by the last mail, from you, was of the 25th
November, N. S.; the mail before that brought me yours, of which I have
forgot the date, but which inclosed one to Lady Chesterfield: she will
answer it soon, and, in the mean time, thanks you for it.

My disorder was only a very great cold, of which I am entirely recovered.
You shall not complain for want of accounts from Mr. Grevenkop, who will
frequently write you whatever passes here, in the German language and
character; which will improve you in both. Adieu.


LONDON, January 15, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I willingly accept the new-year's gift which you promise me for
next year; and the more valuable you make it, the more thankful I shall
be. That depends entirely upon you; and therefore I hope to be presented,
every year, with a new edition of you, more correct than the former, and
considerably enlarged and amended.

Since you do not care to be an assessor of the imperial chamber, and that
you desire an establishment in England; what do you think of being Greek
Professor at one of our universities? It is a very pretty sinecure, and
requires very little knowledge (much less than, I hope, you have already)
of that language. If you do not approve of this, I am at a loss to know
what else to propose to you; and therefore desire that you will inform me
what sort of destination you propose for yourself; for it is now time to
fix it, and to take our measures accordingly. Mr. Harte tells me that
you set up for a ----------; if so, I presume it is in the view of
succeeding me in my office;--[A secretary of state.]--which I will very
willingly resign to you, whenever you shall call upon me for it. But, if
you intend to be the --------, or the ------- ----, there are some
trifling circumstances upon which you should previously take your
resolution. The first of which is, to be fit for it: and then, in order
to be so, make yourself master of ancient and, modern history, and
languages. To know perfectly the constitution, and form of government of
every nation; the growth and the decline of ancient and modern empires;
and to trace out and reflect upon the causes of both. To know the
strength, the riches, and the commerce of every country. These little
things, trifling as they may seem, are yet very necessary for a
politician to know; and which therefore, I presume, you will condescend
to apply yourself to. There are some additional qualifications
necessary, in the practical part of business, which may deserve some
consideration in your leisure moments; such as, an absolute command of
your temper, so as not to be provoked to passion, upon any account;
patience, to hear frivolous, impertinent, and unreasonable applications;
with address enough to refuse, without offending, or, by your manner of
granting, to double the obligation; dexterity enough to conceal a truth
without telling a lie; sagacity enough to read other people's
countenances; and serenity enough not to let them discover anything by
yours; a seeming frankness with a real reserve. These are the rudiments
of a politician; the world must be your grammar.

Three mails are now due from Holland; so that I have no letters from you
to acknowledge. I therefore conclude with recommending myself to your
favor and protection when you succeed. Yours.


LONDON, January 29, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I find, by Mr. Harte's last letter, that many of my letters to
you and him, have been frozen up on their way to Leipsig; the thaw has, I
suppose, by this time, set them at liberty to pursue their journey to
you, and you will receive a glut of them at once. Hudibras alludes, in
this verse,

"Like words congealed in northern air,"

to a vulgar notion, that in Greenland words were frozen in their
utterance; and that upon a thaw, a very mixed conversation was heard in
the air, of all those words set at liberty. This conversation was, I
presume, too various and extensive to be much attended to: and may not
that be the case of half a dozen of my long letters, when you receive
them all at once? I think that I can, eventually, answer that question,
thus: If you consider my letters in their true light, as conveying to you
the advice of a friend, who sincerely wishes your happiness, and desires
to promote your pleasure, you will both read and attend to them; but, if
you consider them in their opposite, and very false light, as the
dictates of a morose and sermonizing father, I am sure they will be not
only unattended to, but unread. Which is the case, you can best tell me.
Advice is seldom welcome; and those who want it the most always like it
the least. I hope that your want of experience, of which you must be
conscious, will convince you, that you want advice; and that your good
sense will incline you to follow it.

Tell me how you pass your leisure hours at Leipsig; I know you have not
many; and I have too good an opinion of you to think, that, at this age,
you would desire more. Have you assemblies, or public spectacles? and of
what kind are they? Whatever they are, see them all; seeing everything,
is the only way not to admire anything too much.

If you ever take up little tale-books, to amuse you by snatches, I will
recommend two French books, which I have already mentioned; they will
entertain you, and not without some use to your mind and your manners.
One is, 'La Maniere de bien penser dans les Ouvrages d'Esprit', written
by Pere Bouhours; I believe you read it once in England, with Monsieur
Coderc; but I think that you will do well to read it again, as I know of
no book that will form your taste better. The other is, 'L'Art de plaire
dans la Conversation', by the Abbe de Bellegarde, and is by no means
useless, though I will not pretend to say, that the art of pleasing can
be reduced to a receipt; if it could, I am sure that receipt would be
worth purchasing at any price. Good sense, and good nature, are the
principal ingredients; and your own observation, and the good advice of
others, must give the right color and taste to it. Adieu! I shall always
love you as you shall deserve.


LONDON, February 9, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: You will receive this letter, not from a Secretary of State but
from a private man; for whom, at his time of life, quiet was as fit, and
as necessary, as labor and activity are for you at your age, and for many
years yet to come. I resigned the seals, last Saturday, to the King; who
parted with me most graciously, and (I may add, for he said so himself)
with regret. As I retire from hurry to quiet, and to enjoy, at my ease,
the comforts of private and social life, you will easily imagine that I
have no thoughts of opposition, or meddling with business. 'Otium cum
dignitate' is my object. The former I now enjoy; and I hope that my
conduct and character entitle me to some share of the latter. In short,
I am now happy: and I found that I could not be so in my former public

As I like your correspondence better than that of all the kings, princes,
and ministers, in Europe, I shall now have leisure to carry it on more
regularly. My letters to you will be written, I am sure, by me, and, I
hope, read by you, with pleasure; which, I believe, seldom happens,
reciprocally, to letters written from and to a secretary's office.

Do not apprehend that my retirement from business may be a hindrance to
your advancement in it, at a proper time: on the contrary, it will
promote it; for, having nothing to ask for myself, I shall have the
better title to ask for you. But you have still a surer way than this of
rising, and which is wholly in your own power. Make yourself necessary;
which, with your natural parts, you may, by application, do. We are in
general, in England, ignorant of foreign affairs: and of the interests,
views, pretensions, and policy of other courts. That part of knowledge
never enters into our thoughts, nor makes part of our education; for
which reason, we have fewer proper subjects for foreign commissions,
than any other country in Europe; and, when foreign affairs happen to be
debated in Parliament, it is incredible with how much ignorance. The
harvest of foreign affairs being then so great, and the laborers so few,
if you make yourself master of them, you will make yourself necessary;
first as a foreign, and then as a domestic minister for that department.

I am extremely well pleased with the account which you give me of the
allotment of your time. Do but go on so, for two years longer, and I
will ask no more of you. Your labors will be their own reward; but if
you desire any other, that I can add, you may depend upon it.

I am glad that you perceive the indecency and turpitude of those of your
'Commensaux', who disgrace and foul themselves with dirty w----s and
scoundrel gamesters. And the light in which, I am sure, you see all
reasonable and decent people consider them, will be a good warning to
you. Adieu.


LONDON, February 13, O. S. 1748

DEAR BOY: your last letter gave me a very satisfactory account of your
manner of employing your time at Leipsig. Go on so but for two years
more, and, I promise you, that you will outgo all the people of your age
and time. I thank you for your explanation of the 'Schriftsassen', and
'Amptsassen'; and pray let me know the meaning of the 'Landsassen'. I am
very willing that you should take a Saxon servant, who speaks nothing but
German, which will be a sure way of keeping up your German, after you
leave Germany. But then, I would neither have that man, nor him whom you
have already, put out of livery; which makes them both impertinent and
useless. I am sure, that as soon as you shall have taken the other
servant, your present man will press extremely to be out of livery, and
valet de chambre; which is as much as to say, that he will curl your hair
and shave you, but not condescend to do anything else. I therefore
advise you, never to have a servant out of livery; and, though you may
not always think proper to carry the servant who dresses you abroad in
the rain and dirt, behind a coach or before a chair, yet keep it in your
power to do so, if you please, by keeping him in livery.

I have seen Monsieur and Madame Flemming, who gave me a very good account
of you, and of your manners, which to tell you the plain truth, were what
I doubted of the most. She told me, that you were easy, and not ashamed:
which is a great deal for an Englishman at your age.

I set out for Bath to-morrow, for a month; only to be better than well,
and enjoy, in, quiet, the liberty which I have acquired by the
resignation of the seals. You shall hear from me more at large from
thence; and now good night to you.


BATH, February 18, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: The first use that I made of my liberty was to come here, where
I arrived yesterday. My health, though not fundamentally bad yet, for
want of proper attention of late, wanted some repairs, which these waters
never fail giving it. I shall drink them a month, and return to London,
there to enjoy the comforts of social life, instead of groaning under the
load of business. I have given the description of the life that I
propose to lead for the future, in this motto, which I have put up in the
frize of my library in my new house:--

Nunc veterum libris, nunc somno, et inertibus horis
Ducere sollicitae jucunda oblivia vitas.

I must observe to you upon this occasion, that the uninterrupted
satisfaction which I expect to find in that library, will be chiefly
owing to my having employed some part of my life well at your age. I
wish I had employed it better, and my satisfaction would now be complete;
but, however, I planted while young, that degree of knowledge which is
now my refuge and my shelter. Make your plantations still more
extensive; they will more than pay you for your trouble. I do not regret
the time that I passed in pleasures; they were seasonable; they were the
pleasures of youth, and I enjoyed them while young. If I had not,
I should probably have overvalued them now, as we are very apt to do what
we do not know; but, knowing them as I do, I know their real value, and
how much they are generally overrated. Nor do I regret the time that
I have passed in business, for the same reason; those who see only the
outside of it, imagine it has hidden charms, which they pant after; and
nothing but acquaintance can undeceive them. I, who have been behind the
scenes, both of pleasure and business, and have seen all the springs and
pullies of those decorations which astonish and dazzle the audience,
retire, not only without regret, but with contentment and satisfaction.
But what I do, and ever shall regret, is the time which, while young,
I lost in mere idleness, and in doing nothing. This is the common effect
of the inconsideracy of youth, against which I beg you will be most
carefully upon your guard. The value of moments, when cast up, is
immense, if well employed; if thrown away, their loss is irrecoverable.
Every moment may be put to some use, and that with much more pleasure,
than if unemployed. Do not imagine, that by the employment of time, I
mean an uninterrupted application to serious studies. No; pleasures are,
at proper times, both as necessary and as useful; they fashion and form
you for the world; they teach you characters, and show you the human
heart in its unguarded minutes. But then remember to make that use of
them. I have known many people, from laziness of mind, go through both
pleasure and business with equal inattention; neither enjoying the one,
nor doing the other; thinking themselves men of pleasure, because they
were mingled with those who were, and men of business, because they had
business to do, though they did not do it. Whatever you do, do it to the
purpose; do it thoroughly, not superficially. 'Approfondissez': go to
the bottom of things. Any thing half done or half known, is, in my mind,
neither done nor known at all. Nay worse, it often misleads. There is
hardly any place or any company, where you may not gain knowledge, if you
please; almost everybody knows some one thing, and is glad to talk upon
that one thing. Seek and you will find, in this world as well as in the
next. See everything; inquire into everything; and you may excuse your
curiosity, and the questions you ask which otherwise might be thought
impertinent, by your manner of asking them; for most things depend a
great deal upon the manner. As, for example, I AM AFRAID THAT I AM VERY
or something of that kind.

Now that you are in a Lutheran country, go to their churches, and observe
the manner of their public worship; attend to their ceremonies, and
inquire the meaning and intention of everyone of them. And, as you will
soon understand German well enough, attend to their sermons, and observe
their manner of preaching. Inform yourself of their church government:
whether it resides in the sovereign, or in consistories and synods.
Whence arises the maintenance of their clergy; whether from tithes, as in
England, or from voluntary contributions, or from pensions from the
state. Do the same thing when you are in Roman Catholic countries; go to
their churches, see all their ceremonies: ask the meaning of them, get
the terms explained to you. As, for instance, Prime, Tierce, Sexte,
Nones, Matins, Angelus, High Mass, Vespers, Complines, etc. Inform
yourself of their several religious orders, their founders, their rules,
their vows, their habits, their revenues, etc. But, when you frequent
places of public worship, as I would have you go to all the different
ones you meet with, remember, that however erroneous, they are none of
them objects of laughter and ridicule. Honest error is to be pitied, not
ridiculed. The object of all the public worships in the world is the
same; it is that great eternal Being who created everything. The
different manners of worship are by no means subjects of ridicule. Each
sect thinks its own is the best; and I know no infallible judge in this
world, to decide which is the best. Make the same inquiries, wherever
you are, concerning the revenues, the military establishment, the trade,
the commerce, and the police of every country. And you would do well to
keep a blank paper book, which the Germans call an ALBUM; and there,
instead of desiring, as they do, every fool they meet with to scribble
something, write down all these things as soon as they come to your
knowledge from good authorities.

I had almost forgotten one thing, which I would recommend as an object
for your curiosity and information, that is, the administration of
justice; which, as it is always carried on in open court, you may, and I
would have you, go and see it with attention and inquiry.

I have now but one anxiety left, which is concerning you. I would have
you be, what I know nobody is--perfect. As that is impossible, I would
have you as near perfection as possible. I know nobody in a fairer way
toward it than yourself, if you please. Never were so much pains taken
for anybody's education as for yours; and never had anybody those
opportunities of knowledge and improvement which you, have had, and still
have, I hope, I wish, I doubt, and fear alternately. This only I am sure
of, that you will prove either the greatest pain or the greatest pleasure
of, Yours.


BATH, February 22, O. S. 1748.

DEAR Boy: Every excellency, and every virtue, has its kindred vice or
weakness; and if carried beyond certain bounds, sinks into one or the
other. Generosity often runs into profusion, economy into avarice,
courage into rashness, caution into timidity, and so on:--insomuch that,
I believe, there is more judgment required, for the proper conduct of our
virtues, than for avoiding their opposite vices. Vice, in its true
light, is so deformed, that it shocks us at first sight, and would hardly
ever seduce us, if it did not, at first, wear the mask of some virtue.
But virtue is, in itself, so beautiful, that it charms us at first sight;
engages us more and more upon further acquaintance; and, as with other
beauties, we think excess impossible; it is here that judgment is
necessary, to moderate and direct the effects of an excellent cause.
I shall apply this reasoning, at present, not to any particular virtue,
but to an excellency, which, for want of judgment, is often the cause of
ridiculous and blamable effects; I mean, great learning; which, if not
accompanied with sound judgment, frequently carries us into error, pride,
and pedantry. As, I hope, you will possess that excellency in its utmost
extent, and yet without its too common failings, the hints, which my
experience can suggest, may probably not be useless to you.

Some learned men, proud of their knowledge, only speak to decide, and
give judgment without appeal; the consequence of which is, that mankind,
provoked by the insult, and injured by the oppression, revolt; and, in
order to shake off the tyranny, even call the lawful authority in
question. The more you know, the modester you should be: and (by the
bye) that modesty is the surest way of gratifying your vanity. Even
where you are sure, seem rather doubtful; represent, but do not
pronounce, and, if you would convince others, seem open to conviction

Others, to show their learning, or often from the prejudices of a school-
education, where they hear of nothing else, are always talking of the
ancients, as something more than men, and of the moderns, as something
less. They are never without a classic or two in their pockets; they
stick to the old good sense; they read none of the modern trash; and will
show you, plainly, that no improvement has been made, in any one art or
science, these last seventeen hundred years. I would by no means have
you disown your acquaintance with the ancients: but still less would I
have you brag of an exclusive intimacy with them. Speak of the moderns
without contempt, and of the ancients without idolatry; judge them all by
their merits, but not by their ages; and if you happen to have an Elzevir
classic in your pocket neither show it nor mention it.

Some great scholars, most absurdly, draw all their maxims, both for
public and private life, from what they call parallel cases in the
ancient authors; without considering, that, in the first place, there
never were, since the creation of the world, two cases exactly parallel;
and, in the next place, that there never was a case stated, or even
known, by any historian, with every one of its circumstances; which,
however, ought to be known, in order to be reasoned from. Reason upon
the case itself, and the several circumstances that attend it, and act
accordingly; but not from the authority of ancient poets, or historians.
Take into your consideration, if you please, cases seemingly analogous;
but take them as helps only, not as guides. We are really so prejudiced
by our education, that, as the ancients deified their heroes, we deify
their madmen; of which, with all due regard for antiquity, I take
Leonidas and Curtius to have been two distinguished ones. And yet a
solid pedant would, in a speech in parliament, relative to a tax of two-
pence in the pound upon some community or other, quote those two heroes,
as examples of what we ought to do and suffer for our country. I have
known these absurdities carried so far by people of injudicious learning,
that I should not be surprised, if some of them were to propose, while we
are at war with the Gauls, that a number of geese should be kept in the
Tower, upon account of the infinite advantage which Rome received IN A
PARALLEL CASE, from a certain number of geese in the Capitol. This way
of reasoning, and this way of speaking, will always form a poor
politician, and a puerile declaimer.

There is another species of learned men, who, though less dogmatical and
supercilious, are not less impertinent. These are the communicative and
shining pedants, who adorn their conversation, even with women, by happy
quotations of Greek and Latin; and who have contracted such a familiarity
with the Greek and Roman authors, that they, call them by certain names
or epithets denoting intimacy. As OLD Homer; that SLY ROGUE Horace;
MARO, instead of Virgil; and Naso, Instead of Ovid. These are often
imitated by coxcombs, who have no learning at all; but who have got some
names and some scraps of ancient authors by heart, which they improperly
and impertinently retail in all companies, in hopes of passing for
scholars. If, therefore, you would avoid the accusation of pedantry on
one hand, or the suspicion of ignorance on the other, abstain from
learned ostentation. Speak the language of the company that you are in;
speak it purely, and unlarded with any other. Never seem wiser, nor more
learned, than the people you are with. Wear your learning, like your
watch, in a private pocket: and do not pull it out and strike it; merely
to show that you have one. If you are asked what o'clock it is, tell it;
but do not proclaim it hourly and unasked, like the watchman.

Upon the whole, remember that learning (I mean Greek and Roman learning)
is a most useful and necessary ornament, which it is shameful not to be
master of; but, at the same time most carefully avoid those errors and
abuses which I have mentioned, and which too often attend it. Remember,
too, that great modern knowledge is still more necessary than ancient;
and that you had better know perfectly the present, than the old state of
Europe; though I would have you well acquainted with both.

I have this moment received your letter of the 17th, N. S. Though, I
confess, there is no great variety in your present manner of life, yet
materials can never be wanting for a letter; you see, you hear, or you
read something new every day; a short account of which, with your own
reflections thereupon, will make out a letter very well. But, since you
desire a subject, pray send me an account of the Lutheran establishment
in Germany; their religious tenets, their church government, the
maintenance, authority, and titles of their clergy.

'Vittorio Siri', complete, is a very scarce and very dear book here; but
I do not want it. If your own library grows too voluminous, you will not
know what to do with it, when you leave Leipsig. Your best way will be,
when you go away from thence, to send to England, by Hamburg, all the
books that you do not absolutely want.


BATH, March 1, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: By Mr. Harte's letter to Mr. Grevenkop, of the 21st February,
N. S., I find that you had been a great while without receiving any
letters from me; but by this time, I daresay you think you have received
enough, and possibly more than you have read; for I am not only a
frequent, but a prolix correspondent.

Mr. Harte says, in that letter, that he looks upon Professor Mascow to be
one of the ablest men in Europe, in treaty and political knowledge. I am
extremely glad of it; for that is what I would have you particularly
apply to, and make yourself perfect master of. The treaty part you must
chiefly acquire by reading the treaties themselves, and the histories and
memoirs relative to them; not but that inquiries and conversations upon
those treaties will help you greatly, and imprint them better in your
mind. In this course of reading, do not perplex yourself, at first, by
the multitude of insignificant treaties which are to be found in the
Corps Diplomatique; but stick to the material ones, which altered the
state of Europe, and made a new arrangement among the great powers; such
as the treaties of Munster, Nimeguen, Ryswick, and Utrecht.

But there is one part of political knowledge, which is only to be had by
inquiry and conversation; that is, the present state of every power in
Europe, with regard to the three important points, of strength, revenue,
and commerce. You will, therefore, do well, while you are in Germany, to
inform yourself carefully of the military force, the revenues, and the
commerce of every prince and state of the empire; and to write down those
informations in a little book, for that particular purpose. To give you
a specimen of what I mean:--


The revenue is about L500,000 a year.

The military establishment, in time of war, may be about 25,000 men;
but that is the utmost.

The trade is chiefly linens, exported from Stade.

There are coarse woolen manufactures for home-consumption.

The mines of Hartz produce about L100,000 in silver, annually.

Such informations you may very easily get, by proper inquiries, of every
state in Germany if you will but prefer useful to frivolous

There are many princes in Germany, who keep very few or no troops, unless
upon the approach of danger, or for the sake of profit, by letting them
out for subsidies, to great powers: In that case, you will inform
yourself what number of troops they could raise, either for their own
defense, or furnish to other powers for subsidies.

There is very little trouble, and an infinite use, in acquiring of this
knowledge. It seems to me even to be a more entertaining subject to talk
upon, than 'la pluie et le beau tens'.

Though I am sensible that these things cannot be known with the utmost
exactness, at least by you yet, you may, however, get so near the truth,
that the difference will be very immaterial.

Pray let me know if the Roman Catholic worship is tolerated in Saxony,
anywhere but at Court; and if public mass-houses are allowed anywhere
else in the electorate. Are the regular Romish clergy allowed; and have
they any convents?

Are there any military orders in Saxony, and what? Is the White Eagle a
Saxon or a Polish order? Upon what occasion, and when was it founded?
What number of knights?

Adieu! God bless you; and may you turn out what I wish!


BATH, March 9, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I must from time to time, remind you of what I have often
recommended to you, and of what you cannot attend to too much; SACRIFICE
TO THE GRACES. The different effects of the same things, said or done,
when accompanied or abandoned by them, is almost inconceivable. They
prepare the way to the heart; and the heart has such an influence over
the understanding, that it is worth while to engage it in our interest.
It is the whole of women, who are guided by nothing else: and it has so
much to say, even with men, and the ablest men too, that it commonly
triumphs in every struggle with the understanding. Monsieur de
Rochefoucault, in his "Maxims," says, that 'l'esprit est souvent la dupe
du coeur.' If he had said, instead of 'souvent, tresque toujours', I
fear he would have been nearer the truth. This being the case, aim at
the heart. Intrinsic merit alone will not do; it will gain you the
general esteem of all; but not the particular affection, that is, the
heart of any. To engage the affections of any particular person, you
must, over and above your general merit, have some particular merit to
that person by services done, or offered; by expressions of regard and
esteem; by complaisance, attentions, etc., for him. And the graceful
manner of doing all these things opens the way to the heart, and
facilitates, or rather insures, their effects. From your own
observation, reflect what a disagreeable impression an awkward address, a
slovenly figure, an ungraceful manner of speaking, whether stuttering,
muttering, monotony, or drawling, an unattentive behavior, etc., make
upon you, at first sight, in a stranger, and how they prejudice you
against him, though for aught you know, he may have great intrinsic sense
and merit. And reflect, on the other hand, how much the opposites of all
these things prepossess you, at first sight, in favor of those who enjoy
them. You wish to find all good qualities in them, and are in some
degree disappointed if you do not. A thousand little things, not
separately to be defined, conspire to form these graces, this je ne sais
quoi, that always please. A pretty person, genteel motions, a proper
degree of dress, an harmonious voice, something open and cheerful in the
countenance, but without laughing; a distinct and properly varied manner
of speaking: All these things, and many others, are necessary ingredients
in the composition of the pleasing je ne sais quoi, which everybody
feels, though nobody can describe. Observe carefully, then, what
displeases or pleases you in others, and be persuaded, that in general;
the same things will please or displease them in you. Having mentioned
laughing, I must particularly warn you against it: and I could heartily
wish, that you may often be seen to smile, but never heard to laugh while
you live. Frequent and loud laughter is the characteristic of folly and
in manners; it is the manner in which the mob express their silly joy at
silly things; and they call it being merry. In my mind, there is nothing
so illiberal, and so ill-bred, as audible laughter. True wit, or sense,
never yet made anybody laugh; they are above it: They please the mind,
and give a cheerfulness to the countenance. But it is low buffoonery, or
silly accidents, that always excite laughter; and that is what people of
sense and breeding should show themselves above. A man's going to sit
down, in the supposition that he has a chair behind him, and falling down
upon his breech for want of one, sets a whole company a laughing, when
all the wit in the world would not do it; a plain proof, in my mind, how
low and unbecoming a thing laughter is: not to mention the disagreeable
noise that it makes, and the shocking distortion of the face that it
occasions. Laughter is easily restrained, by a very little reflection;
but as it is generally connected with the idea of gaiety, people do not
enough attend to its absurdity. I am neither of a melancholy nor a
cynical disposition, and am as willing and as apt to be pleased as
anybody; but I am sure that, since I have had the full use of my reason,
nobody has ever heard me laugh. Many people, at first, from awkwardness
and 'mauvaise honte', have got a very disagreeable and silly trick of
laughing whenever they speak; and I know a man of very good parts, Mr.
Waller, who cannot say the commonest thing without laughing; which makes
those, who do not know him, take him at first for a natural fool. This,
and many other very disagreeable habits, are owing to mauvaise honte at
their first setting out in the world. They are ashamed in company, and
so disconcerted, that they do not know what they do, and try a thousand
tricks to keep themselves in countenance; which tricks afterward grow
habitual to them. Some put their fingers in their nose, others scratch
their heads, others twirl their hats; in short, every awkward, ill-bred
body has his trick. But the frequency does not justify the thing, and
all these vulgar habits and awkwardnesses, though not criminal indeed,
are most carefully to be guarded against, as they are great bars in the
way of the art of pleasing. Remember, that to please is almost to
prevail, or at least a necessary previous step to it. You, who have your
fortune to make, should more particularly study this art. You had not,
I must tell you, when you left England, 'les manieres prevenantes'; and I
must confess they are not very common in England; but I hope that your
good sense will make you acquire them abroad. If you desire to make
yourself considerable in the world (as, if you have any spirit, you do),
it must be entirely your own doing; for I may very possibly be out of the
world at the time you come into it. Your own rank and fortune will not
assist you; your merit and your manners can alone raise you to figure and
fortune. I have laid the foundations of them, by the education which I
have given you; but you must build the superstructure yourself.

I must now apply to you for some informations, which I dare say you can,
and which I desire you will give me.

Can the Elector of Saxony put any of his subjects to death for high
treason, without bringing them first to their trial in some public court
of justice?

Can he, by his own authority, confine any subject in prison as long as he
pleases, without trial?

Can he banish any subject out of his dominions by his own authority?

Can he lay any tax whatsoever upon his subjects, without the consent of
the states of Saxony? and what are those states? how are they elected?
what orders do they consist of? Do the clergy make part of them? and
when, and how often do they meet?

If two subjects of the elector's are at law, for an estate situated in
the electorate, in what court must this suit be tried? and will the
decision of that court be final, or does there lie an appeal to the
imperial chamber at Wetzlaer?

What do you call the two chief courts, or two chief magistrates, of civil
and criminal justice?

What is the common revenue of the electorate, one year with another?

What number of troops does the elector now maintain? and what is the
greatest number that the electorate is able to maintain?

I do not expect to have all these questions answered at once; but you
will answer them, in proportion as you get the necessary and authentic

You are, you see, my German oracle; and I consult you with so much faith,
that you need not, like the oracles of old, return ambiguous answers;
especially as you have this advantage over them, too, that I only consult
you about past end present, but not about what is to come.

I wish you a good Easter-fair at Leipsig. See, with attention all the
shops, drolls, tumblers, rope-dancers, and 'hoc genus omne': but inform
yourself more particularly of the several parts of trade there. Adieu.


LONDON, March 25, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I am in great joy at the written and the verbal accounts which
I have received lately of you.

The former, from Mr. Harte; the latter, from Mr. Trevanion, who is
arrived here: they conspire to convince me that you employ your time well
at Leipsig. I am glad to find you consult your own interest and your own
pleasure so much; for the knowledge which you will acquire in these two
years is equally necessary for both. I am likewise particularly pleased
to find that you turn yourself to that sort of knowledge which is more
peculiarly necessary for your destination: for Mr. Harte tells me you
have read, with attention, Caillieres, Pequet, and Richelieu's "Letters."
The "Memoirs" of the Cardinal de Retz will both entertain and instruct
you; they relate to a very interesting period of the French history, the
ministry of Cardinal Mazarin, during the minority of Lewis XIV. The
characters of all the considerable people of that time are drawn, in a
short, strong, and masterly manner; and the political reflections, which
are most of them printed in italics, are the justest that ever I met
with: they are not the labored reflections of a systematical closet
politician, who, without the least experience of business, sits at home
and writes maxims; but they are the reflections which a great and able
man formed from long experience and practice in great business. They are
true conclusions, drawn from facts, not from speculations.

As modern history is particularly your business, I will give you some
rules to direct your study of it. It begins, properly with Charlemagne,
in the year 800. But as, in those times of ignorance, the priests and
monks were almost the only people that could or did write, we have
scarcely any histories of those times but such as they have been pleased
to give us, which are compounds of ignorance, superstition, and party
zeal. So that a general notion of what is rather supposed, than really
known to be, the history of the five or six following centuries, seems to
be sufficient; and much time would be but ill employed in a minute
attention to those legends. But reserve your utmost care, and most
diligent inquiries, from the fifteenth century, and downward. Then
learning began to revive, and credible histories to be written; Europe
began to take the form, which, to some degree, it still retains: at least
the foundations of the present great powers of Europe were then laid.
Lewis the Eleventh made France, in truth, a monarchy, or, as he used to
say himself, 'la mit hors de Page'. Before his time, there were
independent provinces in France, as the Duchy of Brittany, etc., whose
princes tore it to pieces, and kept it in constant domestic confusion.
Lewis the Eleventh reduced all these petty states, by fraud, force, or
marriage; for he scrupled no means to obtain his ends.

About that time, Ferdinand King of Aragon, and Isabella his wife, Queen
of Castile, united the whole Spanish monarchy, and drove the Moors out of
Spain, who had till then kept position of Granada. About that time, too,
the house of Austria laid the great foundations of its subsequent power;
first, by the marriage of Maximilian with the heiress of Burgundy; and
then, by the marriage of his son Philip, Archduke of Austria, with Jane,
the daughter of Isabella, Queen of Spain, and heiress of that whole
kingdom, and of the West Indies. By the first of these marriages, the
house of Austria acquired the seventeen provinces, and by the latter,
Spain and America; all which centered in the person of Charles the Fifth,
son of the above-mentioned Archduke Philip, the son of Maximilian. It
was upon account of these two marriages, that the following Latin distich
was made:

Bella gerant alii, Tu felix Austria nube;
Nam qua, Mars aliis; dat tibi regna Venus.

This immense power, which the Emperor Charles the Fifth found himself
possessed of, gave him a desire for universal power (for people never
desire all till they have gotten a great deal), and alarmed France; this
sowed the seeds of that jealousy and enmity, which have flourished ever
since between those two great powers. Afterward the House of Austria was
weakened by the division made by Charles the Fifth of his dominions,
between his son, Philip the Second of Spain, and his brother Ferdinand;
and has ever since been dwindling to the weak condition in which it now
is. This is a most interesting part of the history of Europe, of which
it is absolutely necessary that you should be exactly and minutely

There are in the history of most countries, certain very remarkable eras,
which deserve more particular inquiry and attention than the common run
of history. Such is the revolt of the Seventeen Provinces, in the reign
of Philip the Second of Spain, which ended in forming the present
republic of the Seven United Provinces, whose independency was first
allowed by Spain at the treaty of Munster. Such was the extraordinary
revolution of Portugal, in the year 1640, in favor of the present House
of Braganza. Such is the famous revolution of Sweden, when Christian the
Second of Denmark, who was also king of Sweden, was driven out by
Gustavus Vasa. And such also is that memorable era in Denmark, of 1660;
when the states of that kingdom made a voluntary surrender of all their
rights and liberties to the Crown, and changed that free state into the
most absolute monarchy now in Europe. The Acta Regis, upon that
occasion, are worth your perusing. These remarkable periods of modern
history deserve your particular attention, and most of them have been
treated singly by good historians, which are worth your reading. The
revolutions of Sweden, and of Portugal, are most admirably well written
by L'Abbe de Vertot; they are short, and will not take twelve hours'
reading. There is another book which very well deserves your looking
into, but not worth your buying at present, because it is not portable;
if you can borrow or hire it, you should; and that is, 'L' Histoire des
Traits de Paix, in two volumes, folio, which make part of the 'Corps
Diplomatique'. You will there find a short and clear history, and the
substance of every treaty made in Europe, during the last century, from
the treaty of Vervins. Three parts in four of this book are not worth
your reading, as they relate to treaties of very little importance; but
if you select the most considerable ones, read them with attention, and
take some notes, it will be of great use to you. Attend chiefly to those
in which the great powers of Europe are the parties; such as the treaty
of the Pyrenees, between France and Spain; the treaties of Nimeguen and
Ryswick; but, above all, the treaty of Munster should be most
circumstantially and minutely known to you, as almost every treaty made
since has some reference to it. For this, Pere Bougeant is the best book
you can read, as it takes in the thirty years' war, which preceded that
treaty. The treaty itself, which is made a perpetual law of the empire,
comes in the course of your lectures upon the 'Jus Publicum Imperii'.

In order to furnish you with materials for a letter, and at the same time
to inform both you and myself of what it is right that we should know,
pray answer me the following questions:

How many companies are there in the Saxon regiments of foot? How many
men in each company?

How many troops in the regiments of horse and dragoons; and how many men
in each?

What number of commissioned and non-commissioned officers in a company of
foot, or in a troop of horse or dragoons? N. B. Noncommissioned
officers are all those below ensigns and cornets.

What is the daily pay of a Saxon foot soldier, dragoon, and trooper?

What are the several ranks of the 'Etat Major-general'? N. B. The Etat
Major-general is everything above colonel. The Austrians have no
brigadiers, and the French have no major-generals in their Etat Major.
What have the Saxons? Adieu!


LONDON, March 27, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: This little packet will be delivered to you by one Monsieur
Duval, who is going to the fair at Leipsig. He is a jeweler, originally
of Geneva, but who has been settled here these eight or ten years, and a
very sensible fellow: pray do be very civil to him.

As I advised you, some time ago, to inform yourself of the civil and
military establishments of as many of the kingdoms and states of Europe,
as you should either be in yourself, or be able to get authentic accounts
of, I send you here a little book, in which, upon the article of Hanover,
I have pointed out the short method of putting down these informations,
by way of helping your memory. The book being lettered, you can
immediately turn to whatever article you want; and, by adding interleaves
to each letter, may extend your minutes to what particulars you please.
You may get such books made anywhere; and appropriate each, if you
please, to a particular object. I have myself found great utility in
this method. If I had known what to have sent you by this opportunity I
would have done it. The French say, 'Que les petits presens
entretiennent l'amite et que les grande l'augmentent'; but I could not
recollect that you wanted anything, or at least anything that you cannot
get as well at Leipsig as here. Do but continue to deserve, and, I
assure you, that you shall never want anything I can give.

Do not apprehend that my being out of employment may be any prejudice to
you. Many things will happen before you can be fit for business; and
when you are fit, whatever my situation may be, it will always be in my
power to help you in your first steps; afterward you must help yourself
by your own abilities. Make yourself necessary, and, instead of
soliciting, you will be solicited. The thorough knowledge of foreign
affairs, the interests, the views, and the manners of the several courts
in Europe, are not the common growth of this country. It is in your
power to acquire them; you have all the means. Adieu! Yours.



LONDON, April 1, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I have not received any letter, either from you or from Mr,
Harte, these three posts, which I impute wholly to accidents between this
place and Leipsig; and they are distant enough to admit of many. I
always take it for granted that you are well, when I do not hear to the
contrary; besides, as I have often told you, I am much more anxious about
your doing well, than about your being well; and, when you do not write,
I will suppose that you are doing something more useful. Your health
will continue, while your temperance continues; and at your age nature
takes sufficient care of the body, provided she is left to herself, and
that intemperance on one hand, or medicines on the other, do not break in
upon her. But it is by no means so with the mind, which, at your age
particularly, requires great and constant care, and some physic. Every
quarter of an hour, well or ill employed, will do it essential and
lasting good or harm. It requires also a great deal of exercise, to
bring it to a state of health and vigor. Observe the difference there is
between minds cultivated, and minds uncultivated, and you will, I am
sure, think that you cannot take too much pains, nor employ too much of
your time in the culture of your own. A drayman is probably born with as
good organs as Milton, Locke, or Newton; but, by culture, they are as
much more above him as he is above his horse. Sometimes, indeed,
extraordinary geniuses have broken out by the force of nature, without
the assistance of education; but those instances are too rare for anybody
to trust to; and even they would make a much greater figure, if they had
the advantage of education into the bargain. If Shakespeare's genius had
been cultivated, those beauties, which we so justly admire in him, would
have been undisgraced by those extravagancies, and that nonsense, with
which they are frequently accompanied. People are, in general, what they
are made, by education and company, from fifteen to five-and-twenty;
consider well, therefore, the importance of your next eight or nine
years; your whole depends upon them. I will tell you sincerely, my hopes
and my fears concerning you. I think you will be a good scholar; and
that you will acquire a considerable stock of knowledge of various kinds;
but I fear that you neglect what are called little, though, in truth,
they are very material things; I mean, a gentleness of manners, an
engaging address, and an insinuating behavior; they are real and solid
advantages, and none but those who do not know the world, treat them as
trifles. I am told that you speak very quick, and not distinctly; this
is a most ungraceful and disagreeable trick, which you know I have told
you of a thousand times; pray attend carefully to the correction of it.
An agreeable and, distinct manner of speaking adds greatly to the matter;
and I have known many a very good speech unregarded, upon account of the
disagreeable manner in which it has been delivered, and many an
indifferent one applauded, from the contrary reason. Adieu!


LONDON, April 15, O. S. 1748

DEAR BOY: Though I have no letters from you to acknowledge since my last
to you, I will not let three posts go from hence without a letter from
me. My affection always prompts me to write to you; and I am encouraged
to do it, by the hopes that my letters are not quite useless. You will
probably receive this in the midst of the diversions of Leipsig fair; at
which, Mr. Harte tells me, that you are to shine in fine clothes, among
fine folks. I am very glad of it, as it is time that you should begin to
be formed to the manners of the world in higher life. Courts are the
best schools for that sort of learning. You are beginning now with the
outside of a court; and there is not a more gaudy one than that of
Saxony. Attend to it, and make your observations upon the turn and
manners of it, that you may hereafter compare it with other courts which
you will see; And, though you are not yet able to be informed, or to
judge of the political conduct and maxims of that court, yet you may
remark the forms, the ceremonies, and the exterior state of it. At least
see everything that you can see, and know everything that you can know of
it, by asking questions. See likewise everything at the fair, from
operas and plays, down to the Savoyard's raree-shows.

Everything is worth seeing once; and the more one sees, the less one
either wonders or admires.

Make my compliments to Mr. Harte, and tell him that I have just now
received his letter, for which I thank him. I am called away, and my
letter is therefore very much shortened. Adieu.

I am impatient to receive your answers to the many questions that I have
asked you.


LONDON, April 26, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I am extremely pleased with your continuation of the history of
the Reformation; which is one of those important eras that deserves your
utmost attention, and of which you cannot be too minutely informed. You
have, doubtless, considered the causes of that great event, and observed
that disappointment and resentment had a much greater share in it, than a
religious zeal or an abhorrence of the errors and abuses of popery.

Luther, an Augustine monk, enraged that his order, and consequently
himself, had not the exclusive privilege of selling indulgences, but that
the Dominicans were let into a share of that profitable but infamous
trade, turns reformer, and exclaims against the abuses, the corruption,
and the idolatry, of the church of Rome; which were certainly gross
enough for him to have seen long before, but which he had at least
acquiesced in, till what he called the rights, that is, the profit, of
his order came to be touched. It is true, the church of Rome furnished
him ample matter for complaint and reformation, and he laid hold of it

This seems to me the true cause of that great and necessary, work; but
whatever the cause was, the effect was good; and the Reformation spread
itself by its own truth and fitness; was conscientiously received by
great numbers in Germany, and other countries; and was soon afterward
mixed up with the politics of princes; and, as it always happens in
religious disputes, became the specious covering of injustice and

Under the pretense of crushing heresy, as it was called, the House of
Austria meant to extend and establish its power in the empire; as, on the
other hand, many Protestant princes, under the pretense of extirpating
idolatry, or at least of securing toleration, meant only to enlarge their
own dominions or privileges. These views respectively, among the chiefs
on both sides, much more than true religious motives, continued what were
called the religious wars in Germany, almost uninterruptedly, till the
affairs of the two religions were finally settled by the treaty of

Were most historical events traced up to their true causes, I fear we
should not find them much more noble or disinterested than Luther's
disappointed avarice; and therefore I look with some contempt upon those
refining and sagacious historians, who ascribe all, even the most common
events, to some deep political cause; whereas mankind is made up of
inconsistencies, and no man acts invariably up to his predominant
character. The wisest man sometimes acts weakly, and the weakest
sometimes wisely. Our jarring passions, our variable humors, nay, our
greater or lesser degree of health and spirits, produce such
contradictions in our conduct, that, I believe, those are the oftenest
mistaken, who ascribe our actions to the most seemingly obvious motives;
and I am convinced, that a light supper, a good night's sleep, and a fine
morning, have sometimes made a hero of the same man, who, by an
indigestion, a restless night, and rainy morning, would, have proved a
coward. Our best conjectures, therefore, as to the true springs of
actions, are but very uncertain; and the actions themselves are all that
we must pretend to know from history. That Caesar was murdered by
twenty-three conspirators, I make no doubt: but I very much doubt that
their love of liberty, and of their country, was their sole, or even
principal motive; and I dare say that, if the truth were known, we should
find that many other motives at least concurred, even in the great Brutus
himself; such as pride, envy, personal pique, and disappointment. Nay, I
cannot help carrying my Pyrrhonism still further, and extending it often
to historical facts themselves, at least to most of the circumstances
with which they are related; and every day's experience confirms me in
this historical incredulity. Do we ever hear the most recent fact
related exactly in the same way, by the several people who were at the
same time eyewitnesses of it? No. One mistakes, another misrepresents,
and others warp it a little to their own, turn of mind, or private views.
A man who has been concerned in a transaction will not write it fairly;
and a man who has not, cannot. But notwithstanding all this uncertainty,
history is not the less necessary to be known, as the best histories are
taken for granted, and are the frequent subjects both of conversation and
writing. Though I am convinced that Caesar's ghost never appeared to
Brutus, yet I should be much ashamed to be ignorant of that fact, as
related by the historians of those times. Thus the Pagan theology is
universally received as matter for writing and conversation, though
believed now by nobody; and we talk of Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, etc., as
gods, though we know, that if they ever existed at all, it was only as
mere mortal men. This historical Pyrrhonism, then, proves nothing
against the study and knowledge of history; which, of all other studies,
is the most necessary for a man who is to live in the world. It only
points out to us, not to be too decisive and peremptory; and to be
cautious how we draw inferences for our own practice from remote facts,
partially or ignorantly related; of which we can, at best, but
imperfectly guess, and certainly not know the real motives. The
testimonies of ancient history must necessarily be weaker than those of
modern, as all testimony grows weaker and weaker, as it is more and more
remote from us. I would therefore advise you to study ancient history,
in general, as other people, do; that is, not to be ignorant of any or
those facts which are universally received, upon the faith of the best
historians; and whether true or false, you have them as other people have
them. But modern history, I mean particularly that of the last three
centuries, is what I would have you apply to with the greatest attention
and exactness. There the probability of coming at the truth is much
greater, as the testimonies are much more recent; besides, anecdotes,
memoirs, and original letters, often come to the aid of modern history.
The best memoirs that I know of are those of Cardinal de Retz, which I
have once before recommended to you; and which I advise you to read more
than once, with attention. There are many political maxims in these
memoirs, most of which are printed in italics; pray attend to, and
remember them. I never read them but my own experience confirms the
truth of them. Many of them seem trifling to people who are not used to
business; but those who are, feel the truth of them.

It is time to put an end to this long rambling letter; in which if any
one thing can be of use to you, it will more than pay the trouble I have
taken to write it. Adieu! Yours.


LONDON, May 10, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I reckon that this letter will find you just returned from
Dresden, where you have made your first court caravanne. What
inclination for courts this taste of them may have given you, I cannot
tell; but this I think myself sure of, from your good sense, that in
leaving Dresden, you have left dissipation too; and have resumed at
Leipsig that application which, if you like courts, can alone enable you
to make a good figure at them. A mere courtier, without parts or
knowledge, is the most frivolous and contemptible of all beings; as, on
the other hand, a man of parts and knowledge, who acquires the easy and
noble manners of a court, is the most perfect. It is a trite,
commonplace observation, that courts are the seats of falsehood and
dissimulation. That, like many, I might say most, commonplace
observations, is false. Falsehood and dissimulation are certainly to be
found at courts; but where are they not to be found? Cottages have them,
as well as courts; only with worse manners. A couple of neighboring
farmers in a village will contrive and practice as many tricks, to over-
reach each other at the next market, or to supplant each other in the
favor, of the squire, as any two courtiers can do to supplant each other
in the favor of their prince.

Whatever poets may write, or fools believe, of rural innocence and truth,
and of the perfidy of courts, this is most undoubtedly true that
shepherds and ministers are both men; their nature and passions the same,
the modes of them only different.

Having mentioned commonplace observations, I will particularly caution
you against either using, believing, or approving them. They are the
common topics of witlings and coxcombs; those, who really have wit, have
the utmost contempt for them, and scorn even to laugh at the pert things
that those would-be wits say upon such subjects.

Religion is one of their favorite topics; it is all priest-craft; and an
invention contrived and carried on by priests of all religions, for their
own power and profit; from this absurd and false principle flow the
commonplace, insipid jokes, and insults upon the clergy. With these
people, every priest, of every religion, is either a public or a
concealed unbeliever, drunkard, and whoremaster; whereas, I conceive,
that priests are extremely like other men, and neither the better nor the
worse for wearing a gown or a surplice: but if they are different from
other people, probably it is rather on the side of religion and morality,
or, at least, decency, from their education and manner of life.

Another common topic for false wit, and cool raillery, is matrimony.
Every man and his wife hate each other cordially, whatever they may
pretend, in public, to the contrary. The husband certainly wishes his
wife at the devil, and the wife certainly cuckolds her husband. Whereas,
I presume, that men and their wives neither love nor hate each other the
more, upon account of the form of matrimony which has been said over
them. The cohabitation, indeed, which is the consequence of matrimony,
makes them either love or hate more, accordingly as they respectively
deserve it; but that would be exactly the same between any man and woman
who lived together without being married.

These and many other commonplace reflections upon nations or professions
in general (which are at least as often false as true), are the poor
refuge of people who have neither wit nor invention of their own, but
endeavor to shine in company by second-hand finery. I always put these
pert jackanapes out of countenance, by looking extremely grave, when they
expect that I should laugh at their pleasantries; and by saying WELL, AND
SO, as if they had not done, and that the sting were still to come. This
disconcerts them, as they have no resources in themselves, and have but
one set of jokes to live upon. Men of parts are not reduced to these
shifts, and have the utmost contempt for them, they find proper subjects
enough for either useful or lively conversations; they can be witty
without satire or commonplace, and serious without being dull. The
frequentation of courts checks this petulancy of manners; the good-
breeding and circumspection which are necessary, and only to be learned
there, correct those pertnesses. I do not doubt but that you are
improved in your manners by the short visit which you have made at
Dresden; and the other courts, which I intend that you shall be better
acquainted with, will gradually smooth you up to the highest polish.
In courts, a versatility of genius and softness of manners are absolutely
necessary; which some people mistake for abject flattery, and having no
opinion of one's own; whereas it is only the decent and genteel manner of
maintaining your own opinion, and possibly of bringing other people to
it. The manner of doing things is often more important than the things
themselves; and the very same thing may become either pleasing or
offensive, by the manner of saying or doing it. 'Materiam superabat
opus', is often said of works of sculpture; where though the materials
were valuable, as silver, gold, etc., the workmanship was still more so.
This holds true, applied to manners; which adorn whatever knowledge or
parts people may have; and even make a greater impression upon nine in
ten of mankind, than the intrinsic value of the materials. On the other
hand, remember, that what Horace says of good writing is justly
applicable to those who would make a good figure in courts, and
distinguish themselves in the shining parts of life; 'Sapere est
principium et fons'. A man who, without a good fund of knowledge and
parts, adopts a court life, makes the most ridiculous figure imaginable.
He is a machine, little superior to the court clock; and, as this points
out the hours, he points out the frivolous employment of them. He is, at
most, a comment upon the clock; and according to the hours that it
strikes, tells you now it is levee, now dinner, now supper time, etc.
The end which I propose by your education, and which (IF YOU PLEASE) I
shall certainly attain, is to unite in you all the knowledge of a scholar
with the manners of a courtier; and to join, what is seldom joined by any
of my countrymen, books and the world. They are commonly twenty years
old before they have spoken to anybody above their schoolmaster, and the
fellows of their college. If they happen to have learning, it is only
Greek and Latin, but not one word of modern history, or modern languages.
Thus prepared, they go abroad, as they call it; but, in truth, they stay
at home all that while; for being very awkward, confoundedly ashamed, and
not speaking the languages, they go into no foreign company, at least
none good; but dine and sup with one another only at the tavern. Such
examples, I am sure, you will not imitate, but even carefully avoid. You
will always take care to keep the best company in the place where you
are, which is the only use of traveling: and (by the way) the pleasures
of a gentleman are only to be found in the best company; for that not
which low company, most falsely and impudently, call pleasure, is only
the sensuality of a swine.

I ask hard and uninterrupted study from you but one year more; after
that, you shall have every day more and more time for your amusements.
A few hours each day will then be sufficient for application, and the
others cannot be better employed than in the pleasures of good company.


LONDON, May 31, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I received yesterday your letter of the 16th, N. S., and have,
in consequence of it, written this day to Sir Charles Williams, to thank
him for all the civilities he has shown you. Your first setting out at
court has, I find, been very favorable; and his Polish Majesty has
distinguished you. I hope you received that mark of distinction with
respect and with steadiness, which is the proper behavior of a man of
fashion. People of a low, obscure education cannot stand the rays of
greatness; they are frightened out of their wits when kings and great men
speak to them; they are awkward, ashamed, and do not know what nor how to
answer; whereas, 'les honnetes gens' are not dazzled by superior rank:
they know, and pay all the respect that is due to it; but they do it
without being disconcerted; and can converse just as easily with a king
as with any one of his subjects. That is the great advantage of being
introduced young into good company, and being used early to converse with
one's superiors. How many men have I seen here, who, after having had
the full benefit of an English education, first at school, and then at
the university, when they have been presented to the king, did not know
whether they stood upon their heads or their heels! If the king spoke to
them, they were annihilated; they trembled, endeavored to put their hands
in their pockets, and missed them; let their hats fall, and were ashamed
to take them up; and in short, put themselves in every attitude but the
right, that is, the easy and natural one. The characteristic of a well-
bred man, is to converse with his inferiors without insolence, and with
his superiors with respect and ease. He talks to kings without concern;
he trifles with women of the first condition with familiarity, gayety,
but respect; and converses with his equals, whether he is acquainted with
them or not, upon general common topics, that are not, however, quite
frivolous, without the least concern of mind or awkwardness of body:
neither of which can appear to advantage, but when they are perfectly

The tea-things, which Sir Charles Williams has given you, I would have
you make a present of to your Mamma, and send them to her by Duval when
he returns. You owe her not only duty, but likewise great obligations
for her care and tenderness; and, consequently, cannot take too many
opportunities of showing your gratitude.

I am impatient to receive your account of Dresden, and likewise your
answers to the many questions that I asked you.

Adieu for this time, and God bless you!


LONDON, May 27, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: This and the two next years make so important a period of your
life, that I cannot help repeating to you my exhortations, my commands,
and (what I hope will be still more prevailing with you than either) my
earnest entreaties, to employ them well. Every moment that you now lose,
is so much character and advantage lost; as, on the other hand, every
moment that you now employ usefully, is so much time wisely laid out, at
most prodigious interest. These two years must lay the foundations of
all the knowledge that you will ever have; you may build upon them
afterward as much as you please, but it will be too late to lay any new
ones. Let me beg of you, therefore, to grudge no labor nor pains to
acquire, in time, that stock of knowledge, without which you never can
rise, but must make a very insignificant figure in the world. Consider
your own situation; you have not the advantage of rank or fortune to bear
you up; I shall, very probably, be out of the world before you can
properly be said to be in it. What then will you have to rely on but
your own merit? That alone must raise you, and that alone will raise
you, if you have but enough of it. I have often heard and read of
oppressed and unrewarded merit, but I have oftener (I might say always)
seen great merit make its way, and meet with its reward, to a certain
degree at least, in spite of all difficulties. By merit, I mean the
moral virtues, knowledge, and manners; as to the moral virtues, I say
nothing to you; they speak best for themselves, nor can I suspect that
they want any recommendation with you; I will therefore only assure you,
that without them you will be most unhappy.

As to knowledge, I have often told you, and I am persuaded you are
thoroughly convinced, how absolutely necessary it is to you, whatever
your destination may be. But as knowledge has a most extensive meaning,
and as the life of man is not long enough to acquire, nor his mind
capable of entertaining and digesting, all parts of knowledge, I will
point out those to which you should particularly apply, and which, by
application, you may make yourself perfect master of. Classical
knowledge, that is, Greek and Latin, is absolutely necessary for
everybody; because everybody has agreed to think and to call it so. And
the word ILLITERATE, in its common acceptation, means a man who is
ignorant of those two languages. You are by this time, I hope, pretty
near master of both, so that a small part of the day dedicated to them,
for two years more, will make you perfect in that study. Rhetoric,
logic, a little geometry, and a general notion of astronomy, must, in
their turns, have their hours too; not that I desire you should be deep
in any one of these; but it is fit you should know something of them all.
The knowledge more particularly useful and necessary for you, considering
your destination, consists of modern languages, modern history,
chronology, and geography, the laws of nations, and the 'jus publicum
Imperii'. You must absolutely speak all the modern Languages, as purely
and correctly as the natives of the respective countries: for whoever
does not speak a language perfectly and easily, will never appear to
advantage in conversation, nor treat with others in it upon equal terms.
As for French, you have it very well already; and must necessarily, from
the universal usage of that language, know it better and better every
day: so that I am in no pain about that: German, I suppose, you know
pretty well by this time, and will be quite master of it before you leave
Leipsig: at least, I am sure you may. Italian and Spanish will come in
their turns, and, indeed, they are both so easy, to one who knows Latin
and French, that neither of them will cost you much time or trouble.
Modern history, by which I mean particularly the history of the last
three centuries, should be the object of your greatest and constant
attention, especially those parts of it which relate more immediately to
the great powers of Europe. This study you will carefully connect with
chronology and geography; that is, you will remark and retain the dates
of every important event; and always read with the map by you, in which
you will constantly look for every place mentioned: this is the only way
of retaining geography; for, though it is soon learned by the lump, yet,
when only so learned, it is still sooner forgot.

Manners, though the last, and it may be the least ingredient of real
merit, are, however, very far from being useless in its composition; they
adorn, and give an additional force and luster to both virtue and
knowledge. They prepare and smooth the way for the progress of both; and
are, I fear, with the bulk of mankind, more engaging than either.
Remember, then, the infinite advantage of manners; cultivate and improve
your own to the utmost good sense will suggest the great rules to you,
good company will do the rest. Thus you see how much you have to do; and
how little time to do it in: for when you are thrown out into the world,
as in a couple of years you must be, the unavoidable dissipation of
company, and the necessary avocations of some kind of business or other,
will leave you no time to undertake new branches of knowledge: you may,
indeed, by a prudent allotment of your time, reserve some to complete and
finish the building; but you will never find enough to lay new
foundations. I have such an opinion of your understanding, that I am
convinced you are sensible of these truths; and that, however hard and
laborious your present uninterrupted application may seem to you, you
will rather increase than lessen it. For God's sake, my dear boy, do not
squander away one moment of your time, for every moment may be now most
usefully employed. Your future fortune, character, and figure in the
world, entirely depend upon your use or abuse of the two next years.
If you do but employ them well, what may you not reasonably expect to be,
in time? And if you do not, what may I not reasonably fear you will be?
You are the only one I ever knew, of this country, whose education was,
from the beginning, calculated for the department of foreign affairs;
in consequence of which, if you will invariably pursue, and diligently
qualify yourself for that object, you may make yourself absolutely
necessary to the government, and, after having received orders as a
minister abroad, send orders, in your turn, as Secretary of State at
home. Most of our ministers abroad have taken up that department
occasionally, without having ever thought of foreign affairs before;
many of them, without speaking any one foreign language; and all of them
without manners which are absolutely necessary toward being well
received, and making a figure at foreign courts. They do the business
accordingly, that is, very ill: they never get into the secrets of these
courts, for want of insinuation and address: they do not guess at their
views, for want of knowing their interests: and, at last, finding
themselves very unfit for, soon grow weary of their commissions, and are
impatient to return home, where they are but too justly laid aside and
neglected. Every moment's conversation may, if you please, be of use to
you; in this view, every public event, which is the common topic of
conversation, gives you an opportunity of getting some information. For
example, the preliminaries of peace, lately concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle,
will be the common subject of most conversations; in which you will take
care to ask the proper questions: as, what is the meaning of the Assiento
contract for negroes, between England and Spain; what the annual ship;
when stipulated; upon what account suspended, etc. You will likewise
inform yourself about Guastalla, now given to Don Philip, together with
Parma and Placentia; who they belonged to before; what claim or
pretensions Don Philip had to them; what they are worth; in short,
everything concerning them. The cessions made by the Queen of Hungary to
the King of Sardinia, are, by these preliminaries, confirmed and secured
to him: you will inquire, therefore, what they are, and what they are
worth. This is the kind of knowledge which you should be most thoroughly
master of, and in which conversation will help you almost as much as
books: but both are best. There are histories of every considerable
treaty, from that of Westphalia to that of Utrecht, inclusively; all
which I would advise you to read. Pore Bougeant's, of the treaty of
Westphalia, is an excellent one; those of Nimeguen, Ryswick, and Utrecht,
are not so well written; but are, however, very useful. 'L'Histoire des
Traites de Paix', in two volumes, folio, which I recommended to you some
time ago, is a book that you should often consult, when you hear mention
made of any treaty concluded in the seventeenth century.

Upon the whole, if you have a mind to be considerable, and to shine
hereafter, you must labor hard now. No quickness of parts, no vivacity,
will do long, or go far, without a solid fund of knowledge; and that fund
of knowledge will amply repay all the pains that you can take in
acquiring it. Reflect seriously, within yourself, upon all this, and ask
yourself whether I can have any view, but your interest, in all that I
recommend to you. It is the result of my experience, and flows from that
tenderness and affection with which, while you deserve them, I shall be,

Make my compliments to Mr. Harte, and tell him that I have received his
letter of the 24th, N. S.


LONDON, May 31, O. S. 1748

DEAR BOY: I have received, with great satisfaction, your letter of the
28th N. S., from Dresden: it finishes your short but clear account of the
Reformation which is one of those interesting periods of modern history,
that can not be too much studied nor too minutely known by you. There
are many great events in history, which, when once they are over, leave
things in the situation in which they found them. As, for instance, the
late war; which, excepting the establishment in Italy for Don Philip,
leave things pretty much in state quo; a mutual restitution of all
acquisitions being stipulated by the preliminaries of the peace. Such
events undoubtedly deserve your notice, but yet not so minutely as those,
which are not only important in themselves, but equally (or it may be
more) important by their consequences too: of this latter sort were the
progress of the Christian religion in Europe; the Invasion of the Goths;
the division of the Roman empire into Western and Eastern; the
establishment and rapid progress of Mahometanism; and, lastly, the
Reformation; all which events produced the greatest changes in the
affairs of Europe, and to one or other of which, the present situation of
all the parts of it is to be traced up.

Next to these, are those events which more immediately effect particular
states and kingdoms, and which are reckoned entirely local, though their
influence may, and indeed very often does, indirectly, extend itself
further, such as civil wars and revolutions, from which a total change in
the form of government frequently flows. The civil wars in England, in
the reign of King Charles I., produced an entire change of the government
here, from a limited monarchy to a commonwealth, at first, and afterward
to absolute power, usurped by Cromwell, under the pretense of protection,
and the title of Protector.

The Revolution in 1688, instead of changing, preserved one form of
government; which King James II. intended to subvert, and establish
absolute power in the Crown.

These are the two great epochs in our English history, which I recommend
to your particular attention.

The league formed by the House of Guise, and fomented by the artifices of
Spain, is a most material part of the history of France. The foundation
of it was laid in the reign of Henry II., but the superstructure was
carried on through the successive reigns of Francis II., Charles IX. and
Henry III., till at last it was crushed, partly, by the arms, but more by
the apostasy of Henry IV.

In Germany, great events have been frequent, by which the imperial
dignity has always either gotten or lost; and so it they have affected
the constitution of the empire. The House of Austria kept that dignity
to itself for near two hundred years, during which time it was always
attempting extend its power, by encroaching upon the rights and
privileges of the other states of the empire; till at the end of the
bellum tricennale, the treaty of Munster, of which France is guarantee,
fixed the respective claims.

Italy has been constantly torn to pieces, from the time of the Goths, by
the Popes and the Anti-popes, severally supported by other great powers
of Europe, more as their interests than as their religion led them; by
the pretensions also of France, and the House of Austria, upon Naples,
Sicily, and the Milanese; not to mention the various lesser causes of
squabbles there, for the little states, such as Ferrara, Parma,
Montserrat, etc.

The Popes, till lately, have always taken a considerable part, and had
great influence in the affairs of Europe; their excommunications, bulls,
and indulgences, stood instead of armies in the time of ignorance and
bigotry; but now that mankind is better informed, the spiritual authority
of the Pope is not only less regarded, but even despised by the Catholic
princes themselves; and his Holiness is actually little more than Bishop
of Rome, with large temporalities, which he is not likely to keep longer
than till the other greater powers in Italy shall find their conveniency
in taking them from him. Among the modern Popes, Leo the Tenth,
Alexander the Sixth, and Sextus Quintus, deserve your particular notice;
the first, among other things, for his own learning and taste, and for
his encouragement of the reviving arts and sciences in Italy. Under his
protection, the Greek and Latin classics were most excellently translated
into Italian; painting flourished and arrived at its perfection; and
sculpture came so near the ancients, that the works of his time, both in
marble and bronze, are now called Antico-Moderno.

Alexander the Sixth, together with his natural son Caesar Borgia, was
famous for his wickedness, in which he, and his son too, surpassed all
imagination. Their lives are well worth your reading. They were
poisoned themselves by the poisoned wine which they had prepared for
others; the father died of it, but Caesar recovered.

Sixtus the Fifth was the son of a swineherd, and raised himself to the
popedom by his abilities: he was a great knave, but an able and singular

Here is history enough for to-day: you shall have some more soon. Adieu.


LONDON, June 21, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: Your very bad enunciation runs so much in my head, and gives me
such real concern, that it will be the subject of this, and, I believe,
of many more letters. I congratulate both you and myself, that, was
informed of it (as I hope) in time to prevent it: and shall ever think
myself, as hereafter you will, I am sure think yourself, infinitely
obliged to Sir Charles Williams for informing me of it. Good God! if
this ungraceful and disagreeable manner of speaking had, either by your
negligence or mine, become habitual to you, as in a couple of years more
it would have been, what a figure would you have made in company, or in a
public assembly? Who would have liked you in the one or attended you; in
the other? Read what Cicero and Quintilian say of enunciation, and see
what a stress they lay upon the gracefulness of it; nay, Cicero goes
further, and even maintains, that a good figure is necessary for an
orator; and particularly that he must not be vastus, that is, overgrown
and clumsy. He shows by it that he knew mankind well, and knew the
powers of an agreeable figure and a graceful, manner. Men, as well as
women, are much oftener led by their hearts than by their understandings.
The way to the heart is through the senses; please their eyes and their
ears and the work is half done. I have frequently known a man's fortune
decided for ever by his first address. If it is pleasing, people are
hurried involuntarily into a persuasion that he has a merit, which
possibly he has not; as, on the other hand, if it is ungraceful, they are
immediately prejudiced against him, and unwilling to allow him the merit
which it may be he has. Nor is this sentiment so unjust and unreasonable
as at first it may seem; for if a man has parts, he must know of what
infinite consequence it is to him to have a graceful manner of speaking,
and a genteel and pleasing address; he will cultivate and improve them to
the utmost. Your figure is a good one; you have no natural defect in the
organs of speech; your address may be engaging, and your manner of
speaking graceful, if you will; so that if you are not so, neither I nor
the world can ascribe it to anything but your want of parts. What is the
constant and just observation as to all actors upon the stage? Is it
not, that those who have the best sense, always speak the best, though
they may happen not to have the best voices? They will speak plainly,
distinctly, and with the proper emphasis, be their voices ever so bad.
Had Roscius spoken QUICK, THICK, and UNGRACEFULLY, I will answer for it,
that Cicero would not have thought him worth the oration which he made in
his favor. Words were given us to communicate our ideas by: and there
must be something inconceivably absurd in uttering them in such a manner
as that either people cannot understand them, or will not desire to
understand them. I tell you, truly and sincerely, that I shall judge of
your parts by your speaking gracefully or ungracefully. If you have
parts, you will never be at rest till you have brought yourself to a
habit of speaking most gracefully; for I aver, that it is in your power--
You will desire Mr. Harte, that you may read aloud to him every day; and
that he will interrupt and correct you every time that you read too fast,
do not observe the proper stops, or lay a wrong emphasis. You will take
care to open your teeth when you speak; to articulate every word
distinctly; and to beg of Mr. Harte, Mr. Eliot, or whomsoever you speak
to, to remind and stop you, if you ever fall into the rapid and
unintelligible mutter. You will even read aloud to yourself, and time
your utterance to your own ear; and read at first much slower than you
need to do, in order to correct yourself of that shameful trick of
speaking faster than you ought. In short, if you think right, you will
make it your business; your study, and your pleasure to speak well.
Therefore, what I have said in this, and in my last, is more than
sufficient, if you have sense; and ten times more would not be
sufficient, if you have not; so here I rest it.

Next to graceful speaking, a genteel carriage, and a graceful manner of
presenting yourself, are extremely necessary, for they are extremely
engaging: and carelessness in these points is much more unpardonable in a
young fellow than affectation. It shows an offensive indifference about
pleasing. I am told by one here, who has seen you lately, that you are
awkward in your motions, and negligent of your person: I am sorry for
both; and so will you be, when it will be too late, if you continue so
some time longer. Awkwardness of carriage is very alienating; and a
total negligence of dress and air is an impertinent insult upon custom
and fashion. You remember Mr. ------ very well, I am sure, and you must
consequently remember his, extreme awkwardness: which, I can assure you,
has been a great clog to his parts and merit, that have, with much
difficulty, but barely counterbalanced it at last. Many, to whom I have
formerly commended him, have answered me, that they were sure he could
not have parts, because he was so awkward: so much are people, as I
observed to you before, taken by the eye. Women have great influence as
to a man's fashionable character; and an awkward man will never have
their votes; which, by the way, are very numerous, and much oftener
counted than weighed. You should therefore give some attention to your
dress, and the gracefulness of your motions. I believe, indeed, that you
have no perfect model for either at Leipsig, to form yourself upon; but,
however, do not get a habit of neglecting either; and attend properly to
both, when you go to courts, where they are very necessary, and where you
will have good masters and good models for both. Your exercises of
riding, fencing, and dancing, will civilize and fashion your body and
your limbs, and give you, if you will but take it, 'l'air d'un honnete

I will now conclude with suggesting one reflection to you; which is, that
you should be sensible of your good fortune, in having one who interests
himself enough in you, to inquire into your faults, in order to inform
you of them. Nobody but myself would be so solicitous, either to know or
correct them; so that you might consequently be ignorant of them
yourself; for our own self-love draws a thick veil between us and our
faults. But when you hear yours from me, you may be sure that you hear
them from one who for your sake only desires to correct them; from one
whom you cannot suspect of any, partiality but in your favor; and from
one who heartily wishes that his care of you, as a father, may, in a
little time, render every care unnecessary but that of a friend. Adieu.

P. S. I condole with you for the untimely and violent death of the
tuneful Matzel.


LONDON, July 1, O. S. 1748.

DEAR Boy: I am extremely well pleased with the course of studies which
Mr. Harte informs me you are now in, and with the degree of application
which he assures me you have to them. It is your interest to do so, as
the advantage will be all your own. My affection for you makes me both
wish and endeavor that you may turn out well; and, according as you do
turn out, I shall either be proud or ashamed of you. But as to mere
interest, in the common acceptation of that word, it would be mine that
you should turn out ill; for you may depend upon it, that whatever you
have from me shall be most exactly proportioned to your desert. Deserve
a great deal, and you shall have a great deal; deserve a little, and you
shall have but a little; and be good for nothing at all, and, I assure
you, you shall have nothing at all.

Solid knowledge, as I have often told you, is the first and great
foundation of your future fortune and character; for I never mention to
you the two much greater points of Religion and Morality, because I
cannot possibly suspect you as to either of them. This solid knowledge
you are in a fair way of acquiring; you may, if you please; and I will
add, that nobody ever had the means of acquiring it more in their power
than you have. But remember, that manners must adorn knowledge, and
smooth its way through the world. Like a great rough diamond, it may do
very well in a closet by way of curiosity, and also for its intrinsic
value; but it will never be worn or shine if it is not polished. It is
upon this article, I confess, that I suspect you the most, which makes me
recur to it so often; for I fear that you are apt to show too little
attention to everybody, and too much contempt to many. Be convinced,
that there are no persons so insignificant and inconsiderable, but may,
some time or other, have it in their power to be of use to you; which
they certainly will not, if you have once shown them contempt. Wrongs
are often forgiven; but contempt never is. Our pride remembers it
forever. It implies a discovery of weaknesses, which we are much more
careful to conceal than crimes. Many a man will confess his crimes to a
common friend, but I never knew a man who would tell his silly weaknesses
to his most intimate one--as many a friend will tell us our faults
without reserve, who will not so much as hint at our follies; that
discovery is too mortifying to our self-love, either to tell another,
or to be told of one's self. You must, therefore, never expect to hear
of your weaknesses, or your follies, from anybody but me; those I will
take pains to discover, and whenever I do, shall tell you of them.

Next to manners are exterior graces of person and address, which adorn
manners, as manners adorn knowledge. To say that they please, engage,
and charm, as they most indisputably do, is saying that one should do
everything possible to acquire them. The graceful manner of speaking is,
particularly, what I shall always holloa in your ears, as Hotspur
holloaed MORTIMER to Henry IV., and, like him too, I have aimed to have a
starling taught to say, SPEAK DISTINCTLY AND GRACEFULLY, and send him
you, to replace your loss of the unfortunate Matzel, who, by the way, I
am told, spoke his language very distinctly and gracefully.

As by this time you must be able to write German tolerably well, I desire
that you will not fail to write a German letter, in the German character,
once every fortnight, to Mr. Grevenkop: which will make it more familiar
to you, and enable me to judge how you improve in it.

Do not forget to answer me the questions, which I asked you a great while
ago, in relation to the constitution of Saxony; and also the meaning of
the words 'Landsassii and Amptsassii'.

I hope you do not forget to inquire into the affairs of trade and
commerce, nor to get the best accounts you can of the commodities and
manufactures, exports and imports of the several countries where you may
be, and their gross value.

I would likewise have you attend to the respective coins, gold, silver,
copper, etc., and their value, compared with our coin's; for which
purpose I would advise you to put up, in a separate piece of paper, one
piece of every kind, wherever you shall be, writing upon it the name and
the value. Such a collection will be curious enough in itself; and that
sort of knowledge will be very useful to you in your way of business,
where the different value of money often comes in question.

I am doing to Cheltenham to-morrow, less for my health; which is pretty
good, than for the dissipation and amusement of the journey. I shall
stay about a fortnight.

L'Abbe Mably's 'Droit de l'Europe', which Mr. Harte is so kind as to send
me, is worth your reading. Adieu.


CHELTENHAM, July 6, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: Your school-fellow, Lord Pulteney,--[Only child of the Right
Hon. William Pulteney, Earl of Bath. He died before his father.]--set
out last week for Holland, and will, I believe, be at Leipsig soon after
this letter: you will take care to be extremely civil to him, and to do
him any service that you can while you stay there; let him know that I
wrote to you to do so. As being older, he should know more than you; in
that case, take pains to get up to him; but if he does not, take care not
to let him feel his inferiority. He will find it out of himself without
your endeavors; and that cannot be helped: but nothing is more insulting,
more mortifying and less forgiven, than avowedly to take pains to make a
man feel a mortifying inferiority in knowledge, rank, fortune, etc. In
the two last articles, it is unjust, they not being in his power: and in
the first it is both ill-bred and ill-natured. Good-breeding, and good-
nature, do incline us rather to raise and help people up to ourselves,
than to mortify and depress them, and, in truth, our own private interest
concurs in it, as it is making ourselves so many friends, instead of so
many enemies. The constant practice of what the French call 'les
Attentions', is a most necessary ingredient in the art of pleasing; they
flatter the self-love of those to whom they are shown; they engage, they
captivate, more than things of much greater importance. The duties of
social life every man is obliged to discharge; but these attentions are
voluntary acts, the free-will offerings of good-breeding and good.
nature; they are received, remembered, and returned as such. Women,
particularly, have a right to them; and any omission in that respect is
downright ill-breeding.

Do you employ your, whole time in the most useful manner? I do not mean,
do you study all day long? nor do I require it. But I mean, do you make
the most of the respective allotments of your time? While you study, is
it with attention? When you divert yourself, is it with spirit? Your
diversions may, if you please, employ some part of your time very
usefully. It depends entirely upon the nature of them. If they are
futile and frivolous it is time worse than lost, for they will give you
an habit of futility. All gaming, field-sports, and such sort of
amusements, where neither the understanding nor the senses have the least
share, I look upon as frivolous, and as the resources of little minds,
who either do not think, or do not love to think. But the pleasures of a
man of parts either flatter the senses or improve the mind; I hope at
least, that there is not one minute of the day in which you do nothing at
all. Inaction at your age is unpardonable.

Tell me what Greek and Latin books you can now read with ease. Can you
open Demosthenes at a venture, and understand him? Can you get through
an "Oration" of Cicero, or a "Satire" of Horace, without difficulty?
What German books do you read, to make yourself master of that language?
And what French books do you read for your amusement? Pray give me a
particular and true account of all this; for I am not indifferent as to
any one thing that relates to you. As, for example, I hope you take
great care to keep your whole person, particularly your mouth, very
clean; common decency requires it, besides that great cleanliness is very
conducive to health. But if you do not keep your mouth excessively
clean, by washing it carefully every morning, and after every meal, it
will not only be apt to smell, which is very disgusting and indecent, but
your teeth will decay and ache, which is both a great loss and a great
pain. A spruceness of dress is also very proper and becoming at your
age; as the negligence of it implies an indifference about pleasing,
which does not become a young fellow. To do whatever you do at all to
the utmost perfection, ought to be your aim at this time of your life;
if you can reach perfection, so much the better; but at least, by
attempting it, you will get much nearer than if you never attempted it at

Adieu! SPEAK GRACEFULLY AND DISTINCTLY if you intend to converse ever
with, Yours.

P. S. As I was making up my letter, I received yours of the 6th, O. S.
I like your dissertation upon Preliminary Articles and Truces. Your
definitions of both are true. Those are matters which I would have you
be master of; they belong to your future department, But remember too,
that they are matters upon which you will much oftener have occasion to
speak than to write; and that, consequently, it is full as necessary to
speak gracefully and distinctly upon them as to write clearly and
elegantly. I find no authority among the ancients, nor indeed among the
moderns, for indistinct and unintelligible utterance. The Oracles indeed
meant to be obscure; but then it was by the ambiguity of the expression,
and not by the inarticulation of the words. For if people had not
thought, at least, they understood them, they would neither have
frequented nor presented them as they did. There was likewise among the
ancients, and is still among the moderns, a sort of people called
Ventriloqui, who speak from their bellies, on make the voice seem to come
from some other part of the room than that where they are. But these
Ventriloqui speak very distinctly and intelligibly. The only thing,
then, that I can find like a precedent for your way of speaking (and I
would willingly help you to one if I could) is the modern art 'de
persifler', practiced with great success by the 'Petits maitres' at
Paris. This noble art consists in picking out some grave, serious man,
who neither understands nor expects, raillery, and talking to him very
quick, and inarticulate sounds; while the man, who thinks that he did not
hear well; or attend sufficiently, says, 'Monsieur? or 'Plait-il'? a
hundred times; which affords matter of much mirth to those ingenious
gentlemen. Whether you would follow, this precedent, I submit to you.

Have you carried no English or French comedies of tragedies with you to
Leipsig? If you have, I insist upon your reciting some passages of them
every day to Mr. Harte in the most distinct and graceful manner, as if
you were acting them upon a stage.

The first part of my, letter is more than an answer to your questions
concerning Lord Pulteney.


LONDON, July, 20, O. S. 1748

DEAR BOY: There are two sorts of understandings; one of which hinders a
man from ever being considerable, and the other commonly makes him
ridiculous; I mean the lazy mind, and the trifling, frivolous mind:
Yours, I hope, is neither. The lazy mind will not take the trouble of
going to the bottom of anything; but, discouraged by the first
difficulties (and everything worth knowing or having is attained with
some), stops short, contents, itself with easy, and consequently
superficial knowledge, and prefers a great degree of ignorance to a small
degree of trouble. These people either think, or represent most things
as impossible; whereas, few things are so to industry and activity. But
difficulties seem to them, impossibilities, or at least they pretend to
think them so--by way of excuse for their laziness. An hour's attention
to the same subject is too laborious for them; they take everything in
the light in which it first presents itself; never consider, it in all
its different views; and, in short, never think it through. The
consequence of this is that when they come to speak upon these subjects,
before people who have considered them with attention; they only discover
their own ignorance and laziness, and lay themselves open to answers that
put them in confusion. Do not then be discouraged by the first
difficulties, but 'contra audentior ito'; and resolve to go to the bottom
of all those things which every gentleman ought to know well. Those arts
or sciences which are peculiar to certain professions, need not be deeply
known by those who are not intended for those professions. As, for
instance; fortification and navigation; of both which, a superficial and
general knowledge, such as the common course of conversation, with a very
little inquiry on your part, will give you, is sufficient. Though, by
the way, a little more knowledge of fortification may be of some use to
you; as the events of war, in sieges, make many of the terms, of that
science occur frequently in common conversation; and one would be sorry
to say, like the Marquis de Mascarille in Moliere's 'Precieuses
Ridicules', when he hears of 'une demie lune, Ma foi! c'etoit bien une
lune toute entiere'. But those things which every, gentleman,
independently of profession, should know, he ought to know well, and dive
into all the depth of them. Such are languages, history, and geography
ancient and modern, philosophy, rational logic; rhetoric; and, for you
particularly, the constitutions and the civil and military state of every
country in Europe: This, I confess; is a pretty large circle of
knowledge, attended with some difficulties, and requiring some trouble;
which, however; an active and industrious mind will overcome; and be
amply repaid. The trifling and frivolous mind is always busied, but to
little purpose; it takes little objects for great ones, and throws away
upon trifles that time and attention which only important things deserve.
Knick-knacks; butterflies; shells, insects, etc., are the subjects of
their most serious researches. They contemplate the dress, not the
characters of the company they keep. They attend more to the decorations
of a play than the sense of it; and to the ceremonies of a court more
than to its politics. Such an employment of time is an absolute loss of
it. You have now, at most, three years to employ either well or ill;
for, as I have often told you, you will be all your life what you shall
be three years hence. For God's sake then reflect. Will you throw this
time away either in laziness, or in trifles? Or will you not rather
employ every moment of it in a manner that must so soon reward you with
so much pleasure, figure, and character? I cannot, I will not doubt of
your choice. Read only useful books; and never quit a subject till you
are thoroughly master of it, but read and inquire on till then. When you
are in company, bring the conversation to some useful subject, but 'a
portee' of that company. Points of history, matters of literature, the
customs of particular countries, the several orders of knighthood, as
Teutonic, Maltese, etc., are surely better subjects of conversation, than
the weather, dress, or fiddle-faddle stories, that carry no information
along with them. The characters of kings and great men are only to be
learned in conversation; for they are never fairly written during their
lives. This, therefore, is an entertaining and instructive subject of
conversation, and will likewise give you an opportunity of observing how
very differently characters are given, from the different passions and
views of those who give them. Never be ashamed nor afraid of asking
questions: for if they lead to information, and if you accompany them
with some excuse, you will never be reckoned an impertinent or rude
questioner. All those things, in the common course of life, depend
entirely upon the manner; and, in that respect, the vulgar saying is
true, 'That one man can better steal a horse, than another look over the
hedge.' There are few things that may not be said, in some manner or
other; either in a seeming confidence, or a genteel irony, or introduced
with wit; and one great part of the knowledge of the world consists in
knowing when and where to make use of these different manners. The
graces of the person, the countenance, and the way of speaking,
contribute so much to this, that I am convinced, the very same thing,
said by a genteel person in an engaging way, and GRACEFULLY and
distinctly spoken, would please, which would shock, if MUTTERED out by an
awkward figure, with a sullen, serious countenance. The poets always
represent Venus as attended by the three Graces, to intimate that even
beauty will not do without: I think they should have given Minerva three
also; for without them, I am sure learning is very unattractive. Invoke
them, then, DISTINCTLY, to accompany all your words and motions. Adieu.

P. S. Since I wrote what goes before, I have received your letter, OF NO
DATE, with the inclosed state of the Prussian forces: of which, I hope,
you have kept a copy; this you should lay in a 'portefeuille', and add to
it all the military establishments that you can get of other states and
kingdoms: the Saxon establishment you may, doubtless, easily find. By
the way, do not forget to send me answers to the questions which I sent
you some time ago, concerning both the civil and the ecclesiastical
affairs of Saxony.

Do not mistake me, and think I only mean that you should speak elegantly
with regard to style, and the purity of language; but I mean, that you
should deliver and pronounce what you say gracefully and distinctly; for
which purpose I will have you frequently read very loud, to Mr. Harte,
recite parts of orations, and speak passages of plays; for, without a
graceful and pleasing enunciation, all your elegancy of style, in
speaking, is not worth one farthing.

I am very glad that Mr. Lyttelton approves of my new house, and
particularly of my CANONICAL--[James Brydges, duke of Chandos, built a
most magnificent and elegant house at CANNONS, about eight miles from
London. It was superbly furnished with fine pictures, statues, etc.,
which, after his death, were sold, by auction. Lord Chesterfield
purchased the hall-pillars, the floor; and staircase with double
flights; which are now in Chesterfield House, London.]--pillars. My bust
of Cicero is a very fine one, and well preserved; it will have the best
place in my library, unless at your return you bring me over as good a
modern head of your own, which I should like still better. I can tell
you, that I shall examine it as attentively as ever antiquary did an old

Make my compliments to Mr. Harte, at whose recovery I rejoice.


LONDON, August 2, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: Duval the jeweler, is arrived, and was with me three or four
days ago. You will easily imagine that I asked him a few questions
concerning you; and I will give you the satisfaction of knowing that,
upon the whole, I was very well pleased with the account he gave me.
But, though he seemed to be much in your interest, yet he fairly owned to
me that your utterance was rapid, thick, and ungraceful. I can add
nothing to what I have already said upon this subject; but I can and do
repeat the absolute necessity of speaking distinctly and gracefully, or
else of not speaking at all, and having recourse to signs. He tells me
that you are pretty fat for one of your age: this you should attend to in
a proper way; for if, while very young; you should grow fat, it would be
troublesome, unwholesome, and ungraceful; you should therefore, when you
have time, take very strong exercise, and in your diet avoid fattening
things. All malt liquors fatten, or at least bloat; and I hope you do
not deal much in them. I look upon wine and water to be, in every
respect; much wholesomer.

Duval says there is a great deal of very good company at Madame
Valentin's and at another lady's, I think one Madame Ponce's, at Leipsig.
Do you ever go to either of those houses, at leisure times? It would
not, in my mind, be amiss if you did, and would give you a habit of
ATTENTIONS; they are a tribute which all women expect; and which all men,
who would be well received by them; must pay. And, whatever the mind may
be, manners at least are certainly improved by the company of women of

I have formerly told you, that you should inform yourself of the several
orders, whether military or religious, of the respective countries where
you may be. The Teutonic Order is the great Order of Germany, of which I
send you inclosed a short account. It may serve to suggest questions to
you for more particular inquiries as to the present state of it, of which
you ought to be minutely informed. The knights, at present, make vows,
of which they observe none, except it be that of not marrying; and their
only object now is, to arrive, by seniority, at the Commanderies in their
respective provinces; which are, many of them, very lucrative. The Order
of Malta is, by a very few years, prior to the Teutonic, and owes its
foundation to the same causes. These' knights were first called Knights
Hospitaliers of St. John. of Jerusalem, then Knights of Rhodes; and in
the year 1530, Knights of Malta, the Emperor Charles V. having granted

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