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Letters to His Son, 1750 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



LONDON, January 8, O. S. 1750

DEAR BOY: I have seldom or never written to you upon the subject of
religion and morality; your own reason, I am persuaded, has given you
true notions of both; they speak best for themselves; but if they wanted
assistance, you have Mr. Harte at hand, both for precept and example; to
your own reason, therefore, and to Mr. Harte, shall I refer you for the
reality of both, and confine myself in this letter to the decency, the
utility, and the necessity of scrupulously preserving the appearances of
both. When I say the appearances of religion, I do not mean that you
should talk or act like a missionary or an enthusiast, nor that you
should take up a controversial cudgel against whoever attacks the sect
you are of; this would be both useless and unbecoming your age; but I
mean that you should by no means seem to approve, encourage, or applaud,
those libertine notions, which strike at religions equally, and which are
the poor threadbare topics of halfwits and minute philosophers. Even
those who are silly enough to laugh at their jokes, are still wise enough
to distrust and detest their characters; for putting moral virtues at the
highest, and religion at the lowest, religion must still be allowed to be
a collateral security, at least, to virtue, and every prudent man will
sooner trust to two securities than to one. Whenever, therefore, you
happen to be in company with those pretended 'Esprits forts', or with
thoughtless libertines, who laugh at all religion to show their wit, or
disclaim it, to complete their riot, let no word or look of yours
intimate the least approbation; on the contrary, let a silent gravity
express your dislike: but enter not into the subject and decline such
unprofitable and indecent controversies. Depend upon this truth, that
every man is the worse looked upon, and the less trusted for being
thought to have no religion; in spite of all the pompous and specious
epithets he may assume, of 'Esprit fort', freethinker, or moral
philosopher; and a wise atheist (if such a thing there is) would, for his
own interest and character in this world, pretend to some religion.

Your moral character must be not only pure, but, like Caesar's wife,
unsuspected. The least speck or blemish upon it is fatal. Nothing
degrades and vilifies more, for it excites and unites detestation and
contempt. There are, however, wretches in the world profligate enough to
explode all notions of moral good and evil; to maintain that they are
merely local, and depend entirely upon the customs and fashions of
different countries; nay, there are still, if possible, more
unaccountable wretches; I mean those who affect to preach and propagate
such absurd and infamous notions without believing them themselves.
These are the devil's hypocrites. Avoid, as much as possible, the
company of such people; who reflect a degree of discredit and infamy upon
all who converse with them. But as you may, sometimes, by accident, fall
into such company, take great care that no complaisance, no good-humor,
no warmth of festal mirth, ever make you seem even to acquiesce, much
less to approve or applaud, such infamous doctrines. On the other hand,
do not debate nor enter into serious argument upon a subject so much
below it: but content yourself with telling these APOSTLES that you know
they are not, serious; that you have a much better opinion of them than
they would have you have; and that, you are very sure, they would not
practice the doctrine they preach. But put your private mark upon them,
and shun them forever afterward.

There is nothing so delicate as your moral character, and nothing which
it is your interest so much to preserve pure. Should you be suspected of
injustice, malignity, perfidy, lying, etc., all the parts and knowledge
in the world will never procure you esteem, friendship, or respect.
A strange concurrence of circumstances has sometimes raised very bad men
to high stations, but they have been raised like criminals to a pillory,
where their persons and their crimes, by being more conspicuous, are only
the more known, the more detested, and the more pelted and insulted.
If, in any case whatsoever, affectation and ostentation are pardonable,
it is in the case of morality; though even there, I would not advise you
to a pharisaical pomp of virtue. But I will recommend to you a most
scrupulous tenderness for your moral character, and the utmost care not
to say or do the least thing that may ever so slightly taint it. Show
yourself, upon all occasions, the advocate, the friend, but not the bully
of virtue. Colonel Chartres, whom you have certainly heard of (who was,
I believe, the most notorious blasted rascal in the world, and who had,
by all sorts of crimes, amassed immense wealth), was so sensible of the
disadvantage of a bad character, that I heard him once say, in his
impudent, profligate manner, that though he would not give one farthing
for virtue, he would give ten thousand pounds for a character; because he
should get a hundred thousand pounds by it; whereas, he was so blasted,
that he had no longer an opportunity of cheating people. Is it possible,
then, that an honest man can neglect what a wise rogue would purchase so

There is one of the vices above mentioned, into which people of good
education, and, in the main, of good principles, sometimes fall, from
mistaken notions of skill, dexterity, and self-defense, I mean lying;
though it is inseparably attended with more infamy and loss than any
other. The prudence and necessity of often concealing the truth,
insensibly seduces people to violate it. It is the only art of mean
capacities, and the only refuge of mean spirits. Whereas, concealing the
truth, upon proper occasions, is as prudent and as innocent, as telling a
lie, upon any occasion, is infamous and foolish. I will state you a case
in your own department. Suppose you are employed at a foreign court, and
that the minister of that court is absurd or impertinent enough to ask
you what your instructions are? will you tell him a lie, which as soon as
found out (and found out it certainly will be) must destroy your credit,
blast your character, and render you useless there? No. Will you tell
him the truth then, and betray your trust? As certainly, No. But you
will answer with firmness, That you are surprised at such a question,
that you are persuaded he does not expect an answer to it; but that, at
all events, he certainly will not have one. Such an answer will give him
confidence in you; he will conceive an opinion of your veracity, of which
opinion you may afterward make very honest and fair advantages. But if,
in negotiations, you are looked upon as a liar and a trickster, no
confidence will be placed in you, nothing will be communicated to you,
and you will be in the situation of a man who has been burned in the
cheek; and who, from that mark, cannot afterward get an honest livelihood
if he would, but must continue a thief.

Lord Bacon, very justly, makes a distinction between simulation and
dissimulation; and allows the latter rather than the former; but still
observes, that they are the weaker sort of politicians who have recourse
to either. A man who has strength of mind and strength of parts, wants
neither of them. Certainly (says he) the ablest men that ever were, have
all had an openness and frankness of dealing, and a name of certainty and
veracity; but then, they were like horses well managed; for they could
tell, passing well, when to stop or turn; and at such times, when they
thought the case indeed required some dissimulation, if then they used
it, it came to pass that the former opinion spread abroad of their good
faith and clearness of dealing, made them almost invisible.

There are people who indulge themselves in a sort of lying, which they
reckon innocent, and which in one sense is so; for it hurts nobody but
themselves. This sort of lying is the spurious offspring of vanity,
begotten upon folly: these people deal in the marvelous; they have seen
some things that never existed; they have seen other things which they
never really saw, though they did exist, only because they were thought
worth seeing. Has anything remarkable been said or done in any place,
or in any company? they immediately present and declare themselves eye or
ear witnesses of it. They have done feats themselves, unattempted, or at
least unperformed by others. They are always the heroes of their own
fables; and think that they gain consideration, or at least present
attention, by it. Whereas, in truth, all that they get is ridicule and
contempt, not without a good degree of distrust; for one must naturally
conclude, that he who will tell any lie from idle vanity, will not
scruple telling a greater for interest. Had I really seen anything so
very extraordinary as to be almost incredible I would keep it to myself,
rather than by telling it give anybody room to doubt, for one minute, of
my veracity. It is most certain, that the reputation of chastity is not
so necessary for a women, as that of veracity is for a man; and with
reason; for it is possible for a woman to be virtuous, though not
strictly chaste, but it is not possible for a man to be virtuous without
strict veracity. The slips of the poor women are sometimes mere bodily
frailties; but a lie in a man is a vice of the mind and of the heart.
For God's sake be scrupulously jealous of the purity of your moral
character; keep it immaculate, unblemished, unsullied; and it will be
unsuspected. Defamation and calumny never attack, where there is no weak
place; they magnify, but they do not create.

There is a very great difference between the purity of character, which I
so earnestly recommend to you, and the stoical gravity and austerity of
character, which I do by no means recommend to you. At your, age,
I would no more wish you to be a Cato than a Clodius. Be, and be
reckoned, a man of pleasure as well as a man of business. Enjoy this
happy and giddy time of your life; shine in the pleasures, and in the
company of people of your own age. This is all to be done, and indeed
only can be done, without the least taint to the purity of your moral
character; for those mistaken young fellows, who think to shine by an
impious or immoral licentiousness, shine only from their stinking, like
corrupted flesh, in the dark. Without this purity, you can have no
dignity of character; and without dignity of character it is impossible
to rise in the world. You must be respectable, if you will be respected.
I have known people slattern away their character, without really
polluting it; the consequence of which has been, that they have become
innocently contemptible; their merit has been dimmed, their pretensions
unregarded, and all their views defeated. Character must be kept bright,
as well as clean. Content yourself with mediocrity in nothing. In
purity of character and in politeness of manners labor to excel all, if
you wish to equal many. Adieu.


LONDON, January 11, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received a letter from Mr. Harte, of the 31st
December, N. S., which I will answer soon; and for which I desire you to
return him my thanks now. He tells me two things that give me great
satisfaction: one is that there are very few English at Rome; the other
is, that you frequent the best foreign companies. This last is a very
good symptom; for a man of sense is never desirous to frequent those
companies, where he is not desirous to please, or where he finds that he
displeases; it will not be expected in those companies, that, at your
age, you should have the 'Garbo', the 'Disinvoltura', and the
'Leggiadria' of a man of five-and-twenty, who has been long used to keep
the best companies; and therefore do not be discouraged, and think
yourself either slighted or laughed at, because you see others, older and
more used to the world, easier, more familiar, and consequently rather
better received in those companies than yourself. In time your turn will
come; and if you do but show an inclination, a desire to please, though
you should be embarrassed or even err in the means, which must
necessarily happen to you at first, yet the will (to use a vulgar
expression) will be taken for the deed; and people, instead of laughing
at you, will be glad to instruct you. Good sense can only give you the
great outlines of good-breeding; but observation and usage can alone give
you the delicate touches, and the fine coloring. You will naturally
endeavor to show the utmost respect to people of certain ranks and
characters, and consequently you will show it; but the proper, the
delicate manner of showing that respect, nothing but observation and time
can give.

I remember that when, with all the awkwardness and rust of Cambridge
about me, I was first introduced into good company, I was frightened out
of my wits. I was determined to be, what I thought, civil; I made fine
low bows, and placed myself below everybody; but when I was spoken to,
or attempted to speak myself, 'obstupui, steteruntque comae, et vox
faucibus haesit'. If I saw people whisper, I was sure it was at me; and
I thought myself the sole object of either the ridicule or the censure of
the whole company, who, God knows, did not trouble their heads about me.
In this way I suffered, for some time, like a criminal at the bar; and
should certainly have renounced all polite company forever, if I had not
been so convinced of the absolute necessity of forming my manners upon
those of the best companies, that I determined to persevere and suffer
anything, or everything, rather than not compass that point. Insensibly
it grew easier to me; and I began not to bow so ridiculously low, and to
answer questions without great hesitation or stammering: if, now and
then, some charitable people, seeing my embarrassment, and being
'desoevre' themselves, came and spoke to me, I considered them as angels
sent to comfort me, and that gave me a little courage. I got more soon
afterward, and was intrepid enough to go up to a fine woman, and tell her
that I thought it a warm day; she answered me, very civilly, that she
thought so too; upon which the conversation ceased, on my part, for some
time, till she, good-naturedly resuming it, spoke to me thus: "I see your
embarrassment, and I am sure that the few words you said to me cost you a
great deal; but do not be discouraged for that reason, and avoid good
company. We see that you desire to please, and that is the main point;
you want only the manner, and you think that you want it still more than
you do. You must go through your noviciate before you can profess good-
breeding: and, if you will be my novice, I will present you my
acquaintance as such."

You will easily imagine how much this speech pleased me, and how
awkwardly I answered it; I hemmed once or twice (for it gave me a bur in
my throat) before I could tell her that I was very much obliged to her;
that it was true, that I had a great deal of reason to distrust my own
behavior, not being used to fine company; and that I should be proud of
being her novice, and receiving her instructions.

As soon as I had fumbled out this answer, she called up three or four
people to her, and said: Savez-vous (for she was a foreigner, and I was
abroad) que j'ai entrepris ce jeune homme, et qu'il le faut rassurer?
Pour moi, je crois en avoir fait---- [Do you know that I have undertaken
this young man, and he must be encouraged? As for me, I think I have
made a conquest of him; for he just now ventured to tell me, although
tremblingly, that it is warm. You will assist me in polishing him. He
must necessarily have a passion for somebody; if he does not think me
worthy of being the object, he will seek out some other. However, my
novice, do not disgrace yourself by frequenting opera girls and
actresses; who will not require of you sentiments and politeness, but
will be your ruin in every respect. I repeat it to you, my, friend, if
you should get into low, mean company, you will be undone. Those
creatures will destroy your fortune and your health, corrupt your morals,
and you will never acquire the style of good company.]

The company laughed at this lecture, and I was stunned with it. I did
not know whether she was serious or in jest. By turns I was pleased,
ashamed, encouraged, and dejected. But when I found afterward, that both
she, and those to whom she had presented me, countenanced and protected
me in company, I gradually got more assurance, and began not to be
ashamed of endeavoring to be civil. I copied the best masters, at first
servilely, afterward more freely, and at last I joined habit and

All this will happen to you, if you persevere in the desire of pleasing
and shining as a man of the world; that part of your character is the
only one about which I have at present the least doubt. I cannot
entertain the least suspicion of your moral character; your learned
character is out of question. Your polite character is now the only
remaining object that gives me the least anxiety; and you are now in the
right way of finishing it. Your constant collision with good company
will, of course, smooth and polish you. I could wish that you would say,
to the five or six men or women with whom you are the most acquainted,
that you are sensible that, from youth and inexperience, you must make
many mistakes in good-breeding; that you beg of them to correct you,
without reserve, wherever they see you fail; and that you shall take such
admonition as the strongest proofs of their friendship. Such a
confession and application will be very engaging to those to whom you
make them. They will tell others of them, who will be pleased with that
disposition, and, in a friendly manner, tell you of any little slip or
error. The Duke de Nivernois--[At that time Ambassador from the Court
of France to Rome.]--would, I am sure, be charmed, if you dropped such a
thing to him; adding, that you loved to address yourself always to the
best masters. Observe also the different modes of good-breeding of
several nations, and conform yourself to them respectively. Use an easy
civility with the French, more ceremony with the Italians, and still more
with the Germans; but let it be without embarrassment and with ease.
Bring it by use to be habitual to you; for, if it seems unwilling and
forced; it will never please. 'Omnis Aristippum decuit color, et res'.
Acquire an easiness and versatility of manners, as well as of mind; and,
like the chameleon, take the hue of the company you are with.

There is a sort of veteran women of condition, who having lived always in
the 'grande monde', and having possibly had some gallantries, together
with the experience of five-and-twenty, or thirty years, form a young
fellow better than all the rules that can be given him. These women,
being past their bloom, are extremely flattered by the least attention
from a young fellow; and they will point out to him those manners and
ATTENTIONS that pleased and engaged them, when they were in the pride of
their youth and beauty. Wherever you go, make some of those women your
friends; which a very little matter will do. Ask their advice, tell them
your doubts or difficulties as to your behavior; but take great care not
to drop one word of their experience; for experience implies age; and the
suspicion of age, no woman, let her be ever so old, ever forgives. I
long for your picture, which Mr. Harte tells me is now drawing. I want
to see your countenance, your air, and even your dress; the better they
all three are, the better I am not wise enough to despise any one of
them. Your dress, at least, is in your own power, and I hope that you
mind it to a proper degree. Yours, Adieu.


LONDON, January 18, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: I consider the solid part of your little edifice as so
near being finished and completed, that my only remaining care is about
the embellishments; and that must now be your principal care too. Adorn
yourself with all those graces and accomplishments, which, without
solidity, are frivolous; but without which solidity is, to a great
degree, useless. Take one man, with a very moderate degree of knowledge,
but with a pleasing figure, a prepossessing address, graceful in all that
he says and does, polite, 'liant', and, in short, adorned with all the
lesser talents: and take another man, with sound sense and profound
knowledge, but without the above-mentioned advantages; the former will
not only get the better of the latter, in every pursuit of every KIND,
but in truth there will be no sort of competition between them. But can
every man acquire these advantages? I say, Yes, if he please, suppose he
is in a situation and in circumstances to frequent good company.
Attention, observation, and imitation, will most infallibly do it.

When you see a man whose first 'abord' strikes you, prepossesses you in
his favor, and makes you entertain a good opinion of him, you do not know
why, analyze that 'abord', and examine, within yourself, the several
parts that composed it; and you will generally find it to be the result,
the happy assemblage of modesty unembarrassed, respect without timidity,
a genteel, but unaffected attitude of body and limbs, an open, cheerful,
but unsmirking countenance, and a dress, by no means negligent, and yet
not foppish. Copy him, then, not servilely, but as some of the greatest
masters of painting have copied others; insomuch that their copies have
been equal to the originals, both as to beauty and freedom. When you see
a man who is universally allowed to shine as an agreeable, well-bred man,
and a fine gentleman (as, for example, the Duke de Nivernois), attend to
him, watch him carefully; observe in what manner he addresses himself to
his superiors, how he lives with his equals, and how he treats his
inferiors. Mind his turn of conversation in the several situations of
morning visits, the table, and the evening amusements. Imitate, without
mimicking him; and be his duplicate, but not his ape. You will find that
he takes care never to say or do any thing that can be construed into a
slight, or a negligence; or that can, in any degree, mortify people's
vanity and self-love; on the contrary, you will perceive that he makes
people pleased with him, by making them first pleased with themselves: he
shows respect, regard, esteem and attention, where they are severally
proper: he sows them with care, and he reaps them in plenty.

These amiable accomplishments are all to be acquired by use and
imitation; for we are, in truth, more than half what we are by imitation.
The great point is, to choose good models and to study them with care.
People insensibly contract, not only the air, the manners, and the vices,
of those with whom they commonly converse, but their virtues too, and
even their way of thinking. This is so true, that I have known very
plain understandings catch a certain degree of wit, by constantly
conversing with those who had a great deal. Persist, therefore, in
keeping the best company, and you will insensibly become like them; but
if you add attention and observation, you will very soon become one of
them. The inevitable contagion of company shows you the necessity of
keeping the best, and avoiding all other; for in everyone, something will
stick. You have hitherto, I confess, had very few opportunities of
keeping polite company. Westminster school is, undoubtedly, the seat of
illiberal manners and brutal behavior. Leipsig, I suppose, is not the
seat of refined and elegant manners. Venice, I believe, has done
something; Rome, I hope, will do a great deal more; and Paris will, I
dare say, do all that you want; always supposing that you frequent the
best companies, and in the intention of improving and forming yourself;
for without that intention nothing will do.

I here subjoin a list of all those necessary, ornamental accomplishments
(without which, no man living can either please, or rise in the world)
which hitherto I fear you want, and which only require your care and
attention to possess.

To speak elegantly, whatever language you speak in; without which nobody
will hear you with pleasure, and consequently you will speak to very
little purpose.

An agreeable and distinct elocution; without which nobody will hear you
with patience: this everybody may acquire, who is not born with some
imperfection in the organs of speech. You are not; and therefore it is
wholly in your power. You need take much less pains for it than
Demosthenes did.

A distinguished politeness of manners and address; which common sense,
observation, good company, and imitation, will infallibly give you if you
will accept it.

A genteel carriage and graceful motions, with the air of a man of
fashion: a good dancing-master, with some care on your part, and some
imitation of those who excel, will soon bring this about.

To be extremely clean in your person, and perfectly well dressed,
according to the fashion, be that what it will: Your negligence of your
dress while you were a schoolboy was pardonable, but would not be so now.

Upon the whole, take it for granted, that without these accomplishments,
all you know, and all you can do, will avail you very little. Adieu.


LONDON, January 25, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: It is so long since I have heard from you, that I suppose
Rome engrosses every moment of your time; and if it engrosses it in the
manner I could wish, I willingly give up my share of it. I would rather
'prodesse quam conspici'. Put out your time, but to good interest; and I
do not desire to borrow much of it. Your studies, the respectable
remains of antiquity, and your evening amusements cannot, and indeed
ought not, to leave you much time to write. You will, probably, never
see Rome again; and therefore you ought to see it well now; by seeing it
well, I do not mean only the buildings, statues, and paintings, though
they undoubtedly deserve your attention: but I mean seeing into the
constitution and government of it. But these things certainly occur to
your own common sense.

How go, your pleasures at Rome? Are you in fashion there? that is, do
you live with the people who are?--the only way of being so yourself, in
time. Are you domestic enough in any considerable house to be called 'le
petit Stanhope'? Has any woman of fashion and good-breeding taken the
trouble of abusing and laughing at you amicably to your face? Have you
found a good 'decrotteuse'. For those are the steps by which you must
rise to politeness. I do not presume to ask if you have any attachment,
because I believe you will not make me your confident; but this I will
say, eventually, that if you have one, 'il faut bien payer d'attentions
et de petits soin', if you would have your sacrifice propitiously
received. Women are not so much taken by beauty as men are, but prefer
those men who show them the most attention.

Would you engage the lovely fair?
With gentlest manners treat her;
With tender looks and graceful air,
In softest accents greet her.

Verse were but vain, the Muses fail,
Without the Graces' aid;
The God of Verse could not prevail
To stop the flying maid.

Attention by attentions gain,
And merit care by cares;
So shall the nymph reward your pain;
And Venus crown your prayers.
Probatum est.

A man's address and manner weigh much more with them than his beauty;
and, without them, the Abbati and Monsignori will get the better of you.
This address and manner should be exceedingly respectful, but at the same
time easy and unembarrassed. Your chit-chat or 'entregent' with them
neither can, nor ought to be very solid; but you should take care to turn
and dress up your trifles prettily, and make them every now and then
convey indirectly some little piece of flattery. A fan, a riband, or a
head-dress, are great materials for gallant dissertations, to one who has
got 'le ton leger et aimable de la bonne compagnie'. At all events, a
man had better talk too much to women, than too little; they take silence
for dullness, unless where they think that the passion they have inspired
occasions it; and in that case they adopt the notion, that

Silence in love betrays more woe
Than words, though ne'er so witty;
The beggar that is dumb, we know,
Deserves a double pity.

'A propos' of this subject: what progress do you make in that language,
in which Charles the Fifth said that he would choose to speak to his
mistress? Have you got all the tender diminutives, in 'etta, ina', and
'ettina', which, I presume, he alluded to? You already possess, and, I
hope, take care not to forget, that language which he reserved for his
horse. You are absolutely master, too, of that language in which he said
he would converse with men; French. But, in every language, pray attend
carefully to the choice of your words, and to the turn of your
expression. Indeed, it is a point of very great consequence. To be
heard with success, you must be heard with pleasure: words are the dress
of thoughts; which should no more be presented in rags, tatters, and
dirt, than your person should. By the way, do you mind your person and
your dress sufficiently? Do you take great care of your teeth? Pray
have them put in order by the best operator at Rome. Are you be-laced,
bepowdered, and be-feathered, as other young fellows are, and should be?
At your age, 'il faut du brillant, et meme un peu de fracas, mais point
de mediocre; il faut un air vif, aise et noble. Avec les hommes, un
maintien respectueux et en meme tems respectable; avec les femmes, un
caquet leger, enjoue, et badin, mais toujours fort poli'.

To give you an opportunity of exerting your talents, I send you, here
inclosed, a letter of recommendation from Monsieur Villettes to Madame de
Simonetti at Milan; a woman of the first fashion and consideration there;
and I shall in my next send you another from the same person to Madame
Clerici, at the same place. As these two ladies' houses are the resort
of all the people of fashion at Milan, those two recommendations will
introduce you to them all. Let me know, in due time, if you have
received these two letters, that I may have them renewed, in case of

Adieu, my dear friend! Study hard; divert yourself heartily; distinguish
carefully between the pleasures of a man of fashion, and the vices of a
scoundrel; pursue the former, and abhor the latter, like a man of sense.


LONDON, February 5, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: Very few people are good economists of their fortune,
and still fewer of their time; and yet of the two, the latter is the most
precious. I heartily wish you to be a good economist of both: and you
are now of an age to begin to think seriously of those two important
articles. Young people are apt to think that they have so much time
before them, that they may squander what they please of it, and yet have
enough left; as very great fortunes have frequently seduced people to a
ruinous profusion. Fatal mistakes, always repented of, but always too
late! Old Mr. Lowndes, the famous Secretary of the Treasury in the
reigns of King William, Queen Anne, and King George the First, used to
To this maxim, which he not only preached but practiced, his two grandsons
at this time owe the very considerable fortunes that he left them.

This holds equally true as to time; and I most earnestly recommend to you
the care of those minutes and quarters of hours, in the course of the
day, which people think too short to deserve their attention; and yet, if
summed up at the end of the year, would amount to a very considerable
portion of time. For example: you are to be at such a place at twelve,
by appointment; you go out at eleven, to make two or three visits first;
those persons are not at home, instead of sauntering away that
intermediate time at a coffeehouse, and possibly alone, return home,
write a letter, beforehand, for the ensuing post, or take up a good book,
I do not mean Descartes, Malebranche, Locke, or Newton, by way of
dipping; but some book of rational amusement and detached pieces, as
Horace, Boileau, Waller, La Bruyere, etc. This will be so much time
saved, and by no means ill employed. Many people lose a great deal of
time by reading: for they read frivolous and idle books, such as the
absurd romances of the two last centuries; where characters, that never
existed, are insipidly displayed, and sentiments that were never felt,
pompously described: the Oriental ravings and extravagances of the
"Arabian Nights," and Mogul tales; or, the new flimsy brochures that now
swarm in France, of fairy tales, 'Reflections sur le coeur et l'esprit,
metaphysique de l'amour, analyse des beaux sentimens', and such sort of
idle frivolous stuff, that nourishes and improves the mind just as much
as whipped cream would the body. Stick to the best established books in
every language; the celebrated poets, historians, orators, or
philosophers. By these means (to use a city metaphor) you will make
fifty PER CENT. Of that time, of which others do not make above three or
four, or probably nothing at all.

Many people lose a great deal of their time by laziness; they loll and
yawn in a great chair, tell themselves that they have not time to begin
anything then, and that it will do as well another time. This is a most
unfortunate disposition, and the greatest obstruction to both knowledge
and business. At your age, you have no right nor claim to laziness; I
have, if I please, being emeritus. You are but just listed in the world,
and must be active, diligent, indefatigable. If ever you propose
commanding with dignity, you must serve up to it with diligence. Never
put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.

Dispatch is the soul of business; and nothing contributes more to
dispatch than method. Lay down a method for everything, and stick to it
inviolably, as far as unexpected incidents may allow. Fix one certain
hour and day in the week for your accounts, and keep them together in
their proper order; by which means they will require very little time,
and you can never be much cheated. Whatever letters and papers you keep,
docket and tie them up in their respective classes, so that you may
instantly have recourse to any one. Lay down a method also for your
reading, for which you allot a certain share of your mornings; let it be
in a consistent and consecutive course, and not in that desultory and
unmethodical manner, in which many people read scraps of different
authors, upon different subjects. Keep a useful and short commonplace
book of what you read, to help your memory only, and not for pedantic
quotations. Never read history without having maps and a chronological
book, or tables, lying by you, and constantly recurred to; without which
history is only a confused heap of facts. One method more I recommend to
you, by which I have found great benefit, even in the most dissipated
part of my life; that is, to rise early, and at the same hour every
morning, how late soever you may have sat up the night before. This
secures you an hour or two, at least, of reading or reflection before the
common interruptions of the morning begin; and it will save your
constitution, by forcing you to go to bed early, at least one night in

You will say, it may be, as many young people would, that all this order
and method is very troublesome, only fit for dull people, and a
disagreeable restraint upon the noble spirit and fire of youth. I deny
it; and assert, on the contrary, that it will procure you both more time
and more taste for your pleasures; and, so far from being troublesome to
you, that after you have pursued it a month, it would be troublesome to
you to lay it aside. Business whets the appetite, and gives a taste to
pleasure, as exercise does to food; and business can never be done
without method; it raises the spirits for pleasures; and a SPECTACLE, a
ball, an assembly, will much more sensibly affect a man who has employed,
than a man who has lost, the preceding part of the day; nay, I will
venture to say, that a fine lady will seem to have more charms to a man
of study or business, than to a saunterer. The same listlessness runs
through his whole conduct, and he is as insipid in his pleasures, as
inefficient in everything else.

I hope you earn your pleasures, and consequently taste them; for, by the
way, I know a great many men, who call themselves men of pleasure, but
who, in truth, have none. They adopt other people's indiscriminately,
but without any taste of their own. I have known them often inflict
excesses upon themselves because they thought them genteel; though they
sat as awkwardly upon them as other people's clothes would have done.
Have no pleasures but your own, and then you will shine in them. What
are yours? Give me a short history of them. 'Tenez-vous votre coin a
table, et dans les bonnes compagnies? y brillez-vous du cote de la
politesse, de d'enjouement, du badinage? Etes-vous galant? Filex-vous
le parfait amour? Est-il question de flechir par vos soins et par vos
attentions les rigueurs de quelque fiere Princesse'? You may safely
trust me; for though I am a severe censor of vice and folly, I am a
friend and advocate for pleasures, and will contribute all in my power to

There is a certain dignity to be kept up in pleasures, as well as in
business. In love, a man may lose his heart with dignity; but if he
loses his nose, he loses his character into the bargain. At table, a man
may with decency have a distinguishing palate; but indiscriminate
voraciousness degrades him to a glutton. A man may play with decency;
but if he games, he is disgraced. Vivacity and wit make a man shine in
company; but trite jokes and loud laughter reduce him to a buffoon. [see
Mark Twain's identical advice in his 'Speeches' D.W.] Every virtue,
they say, has its kindred vice; every pleasure, I am sure, has its
neighboring disgrace. Mark carefully, therefore, the line that separates
them, and rather stop a yard short, than step an inch beyond it.

I wish to God that you had as much pleasure in following my advice, as I
have in giving it you! and you may the more easily have it, as I give you
none that is inconsistent with your pleasure. In all that I say to you,
it is your interest alone that I consider: trust to my experience; you
know you may to my affection. Adieu.

I have received no letter yet from you or Mr. Harte.


LONDON, February 8, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: You have, by this time, I hope and believe, made such a
progress in the Italian language, that you can read it with ease; I mean,
the easy books in it; and indeed, in that, as well as in every other
language, the easiest books are generally the best; for, whatever author
is obscure and difficult in his own language, certainly does not think
clearly. This is, in my opinion, the case of a celebrated Italian
author; to whom the Italians, from the admiration they have of him, have
given the epithet of il divino; I mean Dante. Though I formerly knew
Italian extremely well, I could never understand him; for which reason I
had done with him, fully convinced that he was not worth the pains
necessary to understand him.

The good Italian authors are, in my mind, but few; I mean, authors of
invention; for there are, undoubtedly, very good historians and excellent
translators. The two poets worth your reading, and, I was going to say,
the only two, are Tasso and Ariosto. Tasso's 'Gierusalemme Liberata' is
altogether unquestionably a fine poem, though--it has some low, and many
false thoughts in it: and Boileau very justly makes it the mark of a bad
taste, to compare 'le Clinquant Tasse a l' Or de Virgile'. The image,
with which he adorns the introduction of his epic poem, is low and
disgusting; it is that of a froward, sick, puking child, who is deceived
into a dose of necessary physic by 'du bon-bon'. These verses are these:

"Cosi all'egro fanciul porgiamo aspersi
Di soavi licor gli orli del vaso:
Succhi amari ingannato intanto ei beve,
E dall' inganno suo vita riceve."

However, the poem, with all its faults about it, may justly be called a
fine one.

If fancy, imagination, invention, description, etc., constitute a poet,
Ariosto is, unquestionably, a great one. His "Orlando," it is true, is a
medley of lies and truths--sacred and profane--wars, loves, enchantments,
giants, madheroes, and adventurous damsels, but then, he gives it you
very fairly for what it is, and does not pretend to put it upon you for
the true 'epopee', or epic poem. He says:

"Le Donne, i Cavalier, l'arme, gli amori
Le cortesie, l'audaci imprese, io canto."

The connections of his stories are admirable, his reflections just, his
sneers and ironies incomparable, and his painting excellent. When
Angelica, after having wandered over half the world alone with Orlando,
pretends, notwithstanding,

"--- ch'el fior virginal cosi avea salvo,
Come selo porto dal matern' alvo."

The author adds, very gravely,--

"Forse era ver, ma non pero credibile
A chi del senso suo fosse Signore."

Astolpho's being carried to the moon by St. John, in order to look for
Orlando's lost wits, at the end of the 34th book, and the many lost
things that he finds there, is a most happy extravagancy, and contains,
at the same time, a great deal of sense. I would advise you to read this
poem with attention. It is, also, the source of half the tales, novels,
and plays, that have been written since.

The 'Pastor Fido' of Guarini is so celebrated, that you should read it;
but in reading it, you will judge of the great propriety of the
characters. A parcel of shepherds and shepherdesses, with the TRUE
PASTORAL' SIMPLICITY, talk metaphysics, epigrams, 'concetti', and
quibbles, by the hour to each other.

The Aminto del Tasso, is much more what it is intended to be, a pastoral:
the shepherds, indeed, have their 'concetti' and their antitheses; but
are not quite so sublime and abstracted as those in Pastor Fido. I think
that you will like it much the best of the two.

Petrarca is, in my mind, a sing-song, love-sick poet; much admired,
however, by the Italians: but an Italian who should think no better of
him than I do, would certainly say that he deserved his 'Laura' better
than his 'Lauro'; and that wretched quibble would be reckoned an
excellent piece of Italian wit.

The Italian prose-writers (of invention I mean) which I would recommend
to your acquaintance, are Machiavello and Boccacio; the former, for the
established reputation which he has acquired, of a consummate politician
(whatever my own private sentiments may be of either his politics or his
morality): the latter, for his great invention, and for his natural and
agreeable manner of telling his stories.

Guicciardini, Bentivoglio, Davila, etc., are excellent historians, and
deserved being read with attention. The nature of history checks, a
little, the flights of Italian imaginations; which, in works of
invention, are very high indeed. Translations curb them still more: and
their translations of the classics are incomparable; particularly the
first ten, translated in the time of Leo the Tenth, and inscribed to him,
under the title of Collana. That original Collana has been lengthened
since; and if I mistake not, consist now of one hundred and ten volumes.

From what I have said, you will easily guess that I meant to put you upon
your guard; and not let your fancy be dazzled and your taste corrupted by
the concetti, the quaintnesses, and false thoughts, which are too much
the characteristics of the Italian and Spanish authors. I think you are
in no great danger, as your taste has been formed upon the best ancient
models, the Greek and Latin authors of the best ages, who indulge
themselves in none of the puerilities I have hinted at. I think I may
say, with truth; that true wit, sound taste, and good sense, are now, as
it were, engrossed by France and England. Your old acquaintances, the
Germans, I fear, are a little below them; and your new acquaintances, the
Italians, are a great deal too much above them. The former, I doubt,
crawl a little; the latter, I am sure, very often fly out of sight.

I recommended to you a good many years ago, and I believe you then read,
La maniere de bien penser dans les ouvrages d'esprit par le Pere
Bouhours; and I think it is very well worth your reading again, now that
you can judge of it better. I do not know any book that contributes more
to form a true taste; and you find there, into the bargain, the most
celebrated passages, both of the ancients and the moderns, which refresh
your memory with what you have formerly read in them separately. It is
followed by a book much of the same size, by the same author, entitled,
'Suite des Pensees ingenieuses'.

To do justice to the best English and French authors, they have not given
into that false taste; they allow no thoughts to be good, that are not
just and founded upon truth. The age of Lewis XIV. was very like the
Augustan; Boileau, Moliere, La Fontaine, Racine, etc., established the
true, and exposed the false taste. The reign of King Charles II.
(meritorious in no other respect) banished false taste out of England,
and proscribed puns, quibbles, acrostics, etc. Since that, false wit has
renewed its attacks, and endeavored to recover its lost empire, both in
England and France; but without success; though, I must say, with more
success in France than in England. Addison, Pope, and Swift, have
vigorously defended the rights of good sense, which is more than can be
said of their contemporary French authors, who have of late had a great
tendency to 'le faux brillant', 'le raffinement, et l'entortillement'.
And Lord Roscommon would be more in the right now, than he was then, in
saying, that,

"The English bullion of one sterling line,
Drawn to French wire, would through whole pages shine."

Lose no time, my dear child, I conjure you, in forming your taste, your
manners, your mind, your everything; you have but two years' time to do
it in; for whatever you are, to a certain degree, at twenty, you will be,
more or less, all the rest of your life. May it be a long and happy one.


LONDON, February 22, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: If the Italian of your letter to Lady Chesterfield was
all your own, I am very well satisfied with the progress which you have
made in that language in so short a time; according to that gradation,
you will, in a very little time more, be master of it. Except at the
French Ambassador's, I believe you hear only Italian spoke; for the
Italians speak very little French, and that little generally very ill.
The French are even with them, and generally speak Italian as ill; for I
never knew a Frenchman in my life who could pronounce the Italian ce, ci,
or ge, gi. Your desire of pleasing the Roman ladies will of course give
you not only the desire, but the means of speaking to them elegantly in
their own language. The Princess Borghese, I am told, speaks French both
ill and unwillingly; and therefore you should make a merit to her of your
application to her language. She is, by a kind of prescription (longer
than she would probably wish), at the head of the 'beau monde' at Rome;
and can, consequently, establish or destroy a young fellow's fashionable
character. If she declares him 'amabile e leggiadro', others will think
him so, or at least those who do not will not dare to say so. There are
in every great town some such women, whose rank, beauty, and fortune have
conspired to place them at the head of the fashion. They have generally
been gallant, but within certain decent bounds. Their gallantries have
taught, both them and their admirers, good-breeding; without which they
could keep up no dignity, but would be vilified by those very gallantries
which put them in vogue. It is with these women, as with ministers and
favorites at court; they decide upon fashion and characters, as these do
of fortunes and preferments. Pay particular court, therefore, wherever
you are, to these female sovereigns of the 'beau monde'; their
recommendation is a passport through all the realms of politeness.
But then, remember that they require minute officious attentions. You
should, if possible, guess at and anticipate all their little fancies and
inclinations; make yourself familiarly and domestically useful to them,
by offering yourself for all their little commissions, and assisting in
doing the honors of their houses, and entering with seeming unction into
all their little grievances, bustles, and views; for they are always
busy. If you are once 'ben ficcato' at the Palazzo Borghese, you twill
soon be in fashion at Rome; and being in fashion will soon fashion you;
for that is what you must now think of very seriously.

I am sorry that there is no good dancing-master at Rome, to form your
exterior air and carriage; which, I doubt, are not yet the genteelest in
the world. But you may, and I hope you will, in the meantime, observe
the air and carriage of those who are reckoned to have the best, and form
your own upon them. Ease, gracefulness, and dignity, compose the air and
address of a man of fashion; which is as unlike the affected attitudes
and motions of a 'petit maitre', as it is to the awkward, negligent,
clumsy, and slouching manner of a booby.

I am extremely pleased with the account Mr. Harte has given me of the
allotment of your time at Rome. Those five hours every morning, which
you employ in serious studies with Mr. Harte, are laid out with great
interest, and will make you rich all the rest of your life. I do not
look upon the subsequent morning hours, which you pass with your
Ciceroni, to be ill-disposed of; there is a kind of connection between
them; and your evening diversions in good company are, in their way, as
useful and necessary. This is the way for you to have both weight and
lustre in the world; and this is the object which I always had in view in
your education.

Adieu, my friend! go on and prosper.

Mr. Grevenkop has just received Mr. Harte's letter of the 19th N. S.


LONDON, March 8, O. S. 1750

Young as you are, I hope you are in haste to live; by living, I mean
living with lustre and honor to yourself, with utility to society; doing
what may deserve to be written, or writing what may deserve to be read; I
should wish both. Those who consider life in that light, will not idly
lavish one moment. The present moments are the only ones we are sure of,
and as such the most valuable; but yours are doubly so at your age; for
the credit, the dignity, the comfort, and the pleasure of all your future
moments, depend upon the use you make of your present ones.

I am extremely satisfied with your present manner of employing your time;
but will you always employ it as well? I am far from meaning always in
the same way; but I mean as well in proportion, in the variation of age
and circumstances. You now, study five hours every morning; I neither
suppose that you will, nor desire that you should do so for the rest of
your life. Both business and pleasure will justly and equally break in
upon those hours. But then, will you always employ the leisure they
leave you in useful studies? If you have but an hour, will you improve
that hour, instead of idling it away? While you have such a friend and
monitor with you as Mr. Harte, I am sure you will. But suppose that
business and situations should, in six or seen months, call Mr. Harte
away from you; tell me truly, what may I expect and depend upon from you,
when left to yourself? May I be sure that you will employ some part of
every day, in adding something to that stock of knowledge which he will
have left you? May I hope that you will allot one hour in the week to
the care of your own affairs, to keep them in that order and method which
every prudent man does? But, above all, may I be convinced that your
pleasures, whatever they may be, will be confined within the circle of
good company, and people of fashion? Those pleasures I recommend to you;
I will promote them I will pay for them; but I will neither pay for, nor
suffer, the unbecoming, disgraceful, and degrading pleasures (they should
not be called pleasures), of low and profligate company. I confess the
pleasures of high life are not always strictly philosophical; and I
believe a Stoic would blame, my indulgence; but I am yet no Stoic, though
turned of five-and-fifty; and I am apt to think that you are rather less
so, at eighteen. The pleasures of the table, among people of the first
fashion, may indeed sometimes, by accident, run into excesses: but they
will never sink into a continued course of gluttony and drunkenness.
The gallantry of high life, though not strictly justifiable, carries,
at least, no external marks of infamy about it. Neither the heart nor
the constitution is corrupted by it; neither nose nor character lost by
it; manners, possibly, improved. Play, in good company, is only play,
and not gaming; not deep, and consequently not dangerous nor
dishonorable. It is only the interacts of other amusements.

This, I am sure, is not talking to you like an old man, though it is
talking to you like an old friend; these are not hard conditions to ask
of you. I am certain you have sense enough to know how reasonable they
are on my part, how advantageous they are on yours: but have you
resolution enough to perform them? Can you withstand the examples,
and the invitations, of the profligate, and their infamous missionaries?
For I have known many a young fellow seduced by a 'mauvaise honte', that
made him ashamed to refuse. These are resolutions which you must form,
and steadily execute for yourself, whenever you lose the friendly care
and assistance of your Mentor. In the meantime, make a greedy use of
him; exhaust him, if you can, of all his knowledge; and get the prophet's
mantle from him, before he is taken away himself.

You seem to like Rome. How do you go on there? Are you got into the
inside of that extraordinary government? Has your Abbate Foggini
discovered many of those mysteries to you? Have you made an acquaintance
with some eminent Jesuits? I know no people in the world more
instructive. You would do very well to take one or two such sort of
people home with you to dinner every day. It would be only a little
'minestra' and 'macaroni' the more; and a three or four hours'
conversation 'de suite' produces a thousand useful informations, which
short meetings and snatches at third places do not admit of; and many of
those gentlemen are by no means unwilling to dine 'gratis'. Whenever you
meet with a man eminent in any way, feed him, and feed upon him at the
same time; it will not only improve you, but give you a reputation of
knowledge, and of loving it in others.

I have been lately informed of an Italian book, which I believe may be of
use to you, and which, I dare say, you may get at Rome, written by one
Alberti, about fourscore or a hundred years ago, a thick quarto. It is
a classical description of Italy; from whence, I am assured, that Mr.
Addison, to save himself trouble, has taken most of his remarks and
classical references. I am told that it is an excellent book for a
traveler in Italy.

What Italian books have you read, or are you reading? Ariosto. I hope,
is one of them. Pray apply yourself diligently to Italian; it is so easy
a language, that speaking it constantly, and reading it often, must, in
six months more, make you perfect master of it: in which case you will
never forget it; for we only forget those things of which we know but

But, above all things, to all that you learn, to all that you say, and to
all that you do, remember to join the Graces. All is imperfect without
them; with them everything is at least tolerable. Nothing could hurt me
more than to find you unattended by them. How cruelly should I be
shocked, if, at our first meeting, you should present yourself to me
without them! Invoke them, and sacrifice to them every moment; they are
always kind, where they are assiduously courted. For God's sake, aim at
perfection in everything: 'Nil actum reputans si quid superesset agendum.
Adieu. Yours most tenderly.


LONDON, March 19, O. S. 1750.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I acknowledge your last letter of the 24th February,
N. S. In return for your earthquake, I can tell you that we have had
here more than our share of earthquakes; for we had two very strong ones
in eight-and-twenty days. They really do too much honor to our cold
climate; in your warm one, they are compensated by favors from the sun,
which we do not enjoy.

I did not think that the present Pope was a sort of man to build seven
modern little chapels at the expense of so respectable a piece of
antiquity as the Coliseum. However, let his Holiness's taste of 'virtu'
be ever so bad, pray get somebody to present you to him before you leave
Rome; and without hesitation kiss his slipper, or whatever else the
etiquette of that Court requires. I would have you see all those
ceremonies; and I presume that you are, by this time, ready enough at
Italian to understand and answer 'il Santo Padre' in that language.
I hope, too, that you have acquired address and usage enough of the world
to be presented to anybody, without embarrassment or disapprobation.
If that is not yet quite perfect, as I cannot suppose it is entirely,
custom will improve it daily, and habit at last complete it. I have for
some time told you, that the great difficulties are pretty well
conquered. You have acquired knowledge, which is the 'principium et
fons'; but you have now a variety of lesser things to attend to, which
collectively make one great and important object. You easily guess that
I mean the graces, the air, address, politeness, and, in short, the whole
'tournure' and 'agremens' of a man of fashion; so many little things
conspire to form that 'tournure', that though separately they seem too
insignificant to mention, yet aggregately they are too material for me
(who think for you down to the very lowest things) to omit. For
instance, do you use yourself to carve, eat and drink genteelly,
and with ease? Do you take care to walk, sit, stand, and present
yourself gracefully? Are you sufficiently upon your guard against
awkward attitudes, and illiberal, ill-bred, and disgusting habits, such
as scratching yourself, putting your fingers in your mouth, nose, and
ears? Tricks always acquired at schools, often too much neglected
afterward; but, however, extremely ill-bred and nauseous. For I do not
conceive that any man has a right to exhibit, in company, any one
excrement more than another. Do you dress well, and think a little of
the brillant in your person? That, too, is necessary, because it is
'prevenant'. Do you aim at easy, engaging, but, at the same time, civil
or respectful manners, according to the company you are in? These, and a
thousand other things, which you will observe in people of fashion better
than I can describe them, are absolutely necessary for every man; but
still more for you, than for almost any man living. The showish, the
shining, the engaging parts of the character of a fine gentleman, should
(considering your destination) be the principal objects, of your present

When you return here, I am apt to think that you will find something
better to do than to run to Mr. Osborne's at Gray's Inn, to pick up
scarce books. Buy good books and read them; the best books are the
commonest, and the last editions are always the best, if the editors are
not blockheads, for they may profit of the former. But take care not to
understand editions and title-pages too well. It always smells of
pedantry, and not always of learning. What curious books I have--they
are indeed but few--shall be at your service. I have some of the old
Collana, and the Machiavel of 1550. Beware of the 'Bibliomanie'.

In the midst of either your studies or your pleasures, pray never lose
view of the object of your destination: I mean the political affairs of
Europe. Follow them politically, chronologically, and geographically,
through the newspapers, and trace up the facts which you meet with there
to their sources: as, for example, consult the treaties Neustadt and Abo,
with regard to the disputes, which you read of every day in the public
papers, between Russia and Sweden. For the affairs of Italy, which are
reported to be the objects of present negotiations, recur to the
quadruple alliance of the year 1718, and follow them down through their
several variations to the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748; in which (by
the bye) you will find the very different tenures by which the Infant Don
Philip, your namesake, holds Parma and Placentia. Consult, also, the
Emperor Charles the Sixth's Act of Cession of the kingdoms of Naples and
Sicily, being a point which, upon the death of the present King of Spain,
is likely to occasion some disputes; do not lose the thread of these
matters; which is carried on with great ease, but if once broken, is
resumed with difficulty.

Pray tell Mr. Harte, that I have sent his packet to Baron Firmian by
Count Einsiedlen, who is gone from hence this day for Germany, and passes
through Vienna in his way to Italy; where he is in hopes of crossing upon
you somewhere or other. Adieu, my friend.


LONDON, March 29, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: You are now, I suppose, at Naples, in a new scene of
'Virtu', examining all the curiosities of Herculaneum, watching the
eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, and surveying the magnificent churches and
public buildings, by which Naples is distinguished.

You have a court there into the bargain, which, I hope, you frequent and
attend to. Polite manners, a versatility of mind, a complaisance even to
enemies, and the 'volto sciolto', with the 'pensieri stretti', are only
to be learned at courts, and must be well learned by whoever would either
shine or thrive in them. Though they do not change the nature, they
smooth and soften the manners of mankind. Vigilance, dexterity, and
flexibility supply the place of natural force; and it is the ablest mind,
not the strongest body that prevails there. Monsieur and Madame Fogliani
will, I am sure, show you all the politeness of courts; for I know no
better bred people than they are. Domesticate yourself there while you
stay at Naples, and lay aside the English coldness and formality. You
have also a letter to Comte Mahony, whose house I hope you frequent, as
it is the resort of the best company. His sister, Madame Bulkeley, is
now here; and had I known of your going so soon to Naples, I would have
got you, 'ex abundanti', a letter from her to her brother. The
conversation of the moderns in the evening is full as necessary for you,
as that of the ancients in the morning.

You would do well, while you are at Naples, to read some very short
history of that kingdom. It has had great variety of masters, and has
occasioned many wars; the general history of which will enable you to ask
many proper questions, and to receive useful informations in return.
Inquire into the manner and form of that government; for constitution it
has none, being an absolute one; but the most absolute governments have
certain customs and forms, which are more or less observed by their
respective tyrants. In China it is the fashion for the emperors,
absolute as they are, to govern with justice and equity; as in the other
Oriental monarchies, it is the custom to govern by violence and cruelty.
The King of France, as absolute, in fact, as any of them, is by custom
only more gentle; for I know of no constitutional bar to his will.
England is now, the only monarchy in the world, that can properly be said
to have a constitution; for the people's rights and liberties are secured
by laws; and I cannot reckon Sweden and Poland to be monarchies, those
two kings having little more to say than the Doge of Venice. I do not
presume to say anything of the constitution of the empire to you, who are
'jurisperitorum Germanicorum facile princeps'.

When you write to me, which, by the way, you do pretty seldom, tell me
rather whom you see, than what you see. Inform me of your evening
transactions and acquaintances; where, and how you pass your evenings;
what people of learning you have made acquaintance with; and, if you will
trust me with so important an affair, what belle passion inflames you.
I interest myself most in what personally concerns you most; and this is
a very critical year in your life. To talk like a virtuoso, your canvas
is, I think, a good one, and RAPHAEL HARTE has drawn the outlines
admirably; nothing is now wanting but the coloring of Titian, and the
Graces, the 'morbidezza' of Guido; but that is a great deal. You must
get them soon, or you will never get them at all. 'Per la lingua
Italiana, sono sicuro ch'ella n'e adesso professore, a segno tale ch'io
non ardisca dirle altra cosa in quela lingua se non. Addio'.


LONDON, April 26, O. S. 1756.

MY DEAR FRIEND: As your journey to Paris approaches, and as that period
will, one way or another, be of infinite consequence to you, my letters
will henceforward be principally calculated for that meridian. You will
be left there to your own discretion, instead of Mr. Harte's, and you
will allow me, I am sure, to distrust a little the discretion of
eighteen. You will find in the Academy a number of young fellows much
less discreet than yourself. These will all be your acquaintances; but
look about you first, and inquire into their respective characters,
before you form any connections among them; and, 'caeteris paribus',
single out those of the most considerable rank and family. Show them a
distinguishing attention; by which means you will get into their
respective houses, and keep the best company. All those French young
fellows are excessively 'etourdis'; be upon your guard against scrapes
and quarrels; have no corporal pleasantries with them, no 'jeux de
mains', no 'coups de chambriere', which frequently bring on quarrels.
Be as lively as they, if you please, but at the same time be a little
wiser than they. As to letters, you will find most of them ignorant;
do not reproach them with that ignorance, nor make them feel your
superiority. It is not their faults, they are all bred up for the army;
but, on the other, hand, do not allow their ignorance and idleness to
break in upon those morning hours which you may be able to allot to your
serious, studies. No breakfastings with them, which consume a great deal
of time; but tell them (not magisterially and sententiously) that you
will read two or three hours in the morning, and that for the rest of the
day you are very much at their service. Though, by the way, I hope you
will keep wiser company in the evenings.

I must insist upon your never going to what is called the English coffee-
house at Paris, which is the resort of all the scrub English, and also of
the fugitive and attainted Scotch and Irish; party quarrels and drunken
squabbles are very frequent there; and I do not know a more degrading
place in all Paris. Coffee-houses and taverns are by no means creditable
at Paris. Be cautiously upon your guard against the infinite number of
fine-dressed and fine-spoken 'chevaliers d'industrie' and 'avanturiers'
which swarm at Paris: and keep everybody civilly at arm's length, of
whose real character or rank you are not previously informed. Monsieur
le Comte or Monsieur le Chevalier, in a handsome laced coat, 'et tres
bien mis', accosts you at the play, or some other public place; he
conceives at first sight an infinite regard for you: he sees that you are
a stranger of the first distinction; he offers you his services, and
wishes nothing more ardently than to contribute, as far as may be in his
little power, to procure you 'les agremens de Paris'. He is acquainted
with some ladies of condition, 'qui prefrent une petite societe agreable,
et des petits soupers aimables d'honnetes gens, au tumulte et a la
dissipation de Paris'; and he will with the greatest pleasure imaginable
have the honor of introducing you to those ladies of quality. Well, if
you were to accept of this kind offer, and go with him, you would find
'au troisieme; a handsome, painted and p----d strumpet, in a tarnished
silver or gold second-hand robe, playing a sham party at cards for
livres, with three or four sharpers well dressed enough, and dignified by
the titles of Marquis, Comte, and Chevalier. The lady receives you in
the most polite and gracious manner, and with all those 'complimens de
routine' which every French woman has equally. Though she loves
retirement, and shuns 'le grande monde', yet she confesses herself
obliged to the Marquis for having procured her so inestimable, so
accomplished an acquaintance as yourself; but her concern is how to amuse
you: for she never suffers play at her house for above a livre; if you
can amuse yourself with that low play till supper, 'a la bonne heure'.
Accordingly you sit down to that little play, at which the good company
takes care that you shall win fifteen or sixteen livres, which gives them
an opportunity of celebrating both your good luck and your good play.
Supper comes up, and a good one it is, upon the strength of your being
able to pay for it. 'La Marquise en fait les honneurs au mieux, talks
sentiments, 'moeurs et morale', interlarded with 'enjouement', and
accompanied with some oblique ogles, which bid you not despair in time.
After supper, pharaoh, lansquenet, or quinze, happen accidentally to be
mentioned: the Marquise exclaims against it, and vows she will not suffer
it, but is at last prevailed upon by being assured 'que ce ne sera que
pour des riens'. Then the wished-for moment is come, the operation
begins: you are cheated, at best, of all the money in your pocket, and if
you stay late, very probably robbed of your watch and snuff-box, possibly
murdered for greater security. This I can assure you, is not an
exaggerated, but a literal description of what happens every day to some
raw and inexperienced stranger at Paris. Remember to receive all these
civil gentlemen, who take such a fancy to you at first sight, very
coldly, and take care always to be previously engaged, whatever party
they propose to you. You may happen sometimes, in very great and good
companies, to meet with some dexterous gentlemen, who may be very
desirous, and also very sure, to win your money, if they can but engage
you to play with them. Therefore lay it down as an invariable rule never
to play with men, but only with women of fashion, at low play, or with
women and men mixed. But, at the same time, whenever you are asked to
play deeper than you would, do not refuse it gravely and sententiously,
alleging the folly of staking what would be very inconvenient to one to
lose, against what one does not want to win; but parry those invitations
ludicrously, 'et en badinant'. Say that, if you were sure to lose, you
might possibly play, but that as you may as well win, you dread
'l'embarras des richesses', ever since you have seen what an encumbrance
they were to poor Harlequin, and that, therefore, you are determined
never to venture the winning above two louis a-day; this sort of light
trifling way of declining invitations to vice and folly, is more becoming
your age, and at the same time more effectual, than grave philosophical
refusals. A young fellow who seems to have no will of his own, and who
does everything that is asked of him, is called a very good-natured, but
at the same time, is thought a very silly young fellow. Act wisely, upon
solid principles, and from true motives, but keep them to yourself, and
never talk sententiously. When you are invited to drink, say that you
wish you could, but that so little makes you both drunk and sick, 'que le
jeu me vaut pas la chandelle'.

Pray show great attention, and make your court to Monsieur de la
Gueriniere; he is well with Prince Charles and many people of the first
distinction at Paris; his commendations will raise your character there,
not to mention that his favor will be of use to you in the Academy
itself. For the reasons which I mentioned to you in my last, I would
have you be interne in the Academy for the first six months; but after
that, I promise you that you shall have lodgings of your own 'dans un
hotel garni', if in the meantime I hear well of you, and that you
frequent, and are esteemed in the best French companies. You want
nothing now, thank God, but exterior advantages, that last polish, that
'tournure du monde', and those graces, which are so necessary to adorn,
and give efficacy to, the most solid merit. They are only to be acquired
in the best companies, and better in the best French companies than in
any other. You will not want opportunities, for I shall send you letters
that will establish you in the most distinguished companies, not only of
the beau monde, but of the beaux esprits, too. Dedicate, therefore, I
beg of you, that whole year to your own advantage and final improvement,
and do not be diverted from those objects by idle dissipations, low
seduction, or bad example. After that year, do whatever you please; I
will interfere no longer in your conduct; for I am sure both you and I
shall be safe then. Adieu!


LONDON, April 30, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: Mr. Harte, who in all his letters gives you some dash of
panegyric, told me in his last a thing that pleases me extremely; which
was that at Rome you had constantly preferred the established Italian
assemblies to the English conventicles setup against them by dissenting
English ladies. That shows sense, and that you know what you are sent
abroad for. It is of much more consequence to know the 'mores multorem
hominum' than the 'urbes'. Pray continue this judicious conduct wherever
you go, especially at Paris, where, instead of thirty, you will find
above three hundred English, herding together and conversing with no one
French body.

The life of 'les Milords Anglois' is regularly, or, if you will,
irregularly, this. As soon as they rise, which is very late, they
breakfast together, to the utter loss of two good morning hours. Then
they go by coachfuls to the Palais, the Invalides, and Notre-Dame; from
thence to the English coffee-house, where they make up their tavern party
for dinner. From dinner, where they drink quick, they adjourn in
clusters to the play, where they crowd up the stage, dressed up in very
fine clothes, very ill-made by a Scotch or Irish tailor. From the play
to the tavern again, where they get very drunk, and where they either
quarrel among themselves, or sally forth, commit some riot in the
streets, and are taken up by the watch. Those who do not speak French
before they go, are sure to learn none there. Their tender vows are
addressed to their Irish laundress, unless by chance some itinerant
Englishwoman, eloped from her husband, or her creditors, defrauds her of
them. Thus they return home, more petulant, but not more informed, than
when they left it; and show, as they think, their improvement by
affectedly both speaking and dressing in broken French:--

"Hunc to Romane caveito."

Connect yourself, while you are in France, entirely with the French;
improve yourself with the old, divert yourself with the young; conform
cheerfully to their customs, even to their little follies, but not to
their vices. Do not, however, remonstrate or preach against them, for
remonstrances do not suit with your age. In French companies in general
you will not find much learning, therefore take care not to brandish
yours in their faces. People hate those who make them feel their own
inferiority. Conceal all your learning carefully, and reserve it for the
company of les Gens d'Eglise, or les Gens de Robe; and even then let them
rather extort it from you, than find you over-willing to draw it. Your
are then thought, from that seeming unwillingness, to have still more
knowledge than it may be you really have, and with the additional merit
of modesty into the bargain. A man who talks of, or even hints at, his
'bonnes fortunes', is seldom believed, or, if believed, much blamed;
whereas a man who conceals with care is often supposed to have more than
he has, and his reputation of discretion gets him others. It is just so
with a man of learning; if he affects to show it, it is questioned, and
he is reckoned only superficial; but if afterward it appears that he
really has it, he is pronounced a pedant. Real merit of any kind, 'ubi
est non potest diu celari'; it will be discovered, and nothing can
depreciate it but a man's exhibiting it himself. It may not always be
rewarded as it ought, but it will always be known. You will in general
find the women of the beau monde at Paris more instructed than the men,
who are bred up singly for the army, and thrown into it at twelve or
thirteen years old; but then that sort of education, which makes them
ignorant of books, gives them a great knowledge of the world, an easy
address, and polite manners.

Fashion is more tyrannical at Paris than in any other place in the world;
it governs even more absolutely than their king, which is saying a great
deal. The least revolt against it is punished by proscription. You must
observe, and conform to all the 'minutiae' of it, if you will be in
fashion there yourself; and if you are not in fashion, you are nobody.
Get, therefore, at all events, into the company of those men and women
'qui donnent le ton'; and though at first you should be admitted upon
that shining theatre only as a 'persona muta', persist, persevere, and
you will soon have a part given you. Take great care never to tell in
one company what you see or hear in another, much less to divert the
present company at the expense of the last; but let discretion and
secrecy be known parts of your character. They will carry you much
further, and much safer than more shining talents. Be upon your guard
against quarrels at Paris; honor is extremely nice there, though the
asserting of it is exceedingly penal. Therefore, 'point de mauvaises
plaisanteries, point de jeux de main, et point de raillerie piquante'.

Paris is the place in the world where, if you please, you may the best
unite the 'utile' and the 'dulce'. Even your pleasures will be your
improvements, if you take them with the people of the place, and in high
life. From what you have hitherto done everywhere else, I have just
reason to believe, that you will do everything that you ought at Paris.
Remember that it is your decisive moment; whatever you do there will be
known to thousands here, and your character there, whatever it is, will
get before you here. You will meet with it at London. May you and I
both have reason to rejoice at that meeting! Adieu.


LONDON, May 8, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: At your age the love of pleasures is extremely natural,
and the enjoyment of them not unbecoming: but the danger, at your age,
is mistaking the object, and setting out wrong in the pursuit. The
character of a man of pleasure dazzles young eyes; they do not see their
way to it distinctly, and fall into vice and profligacy. I remember a
strong instance of this a great many years ago. A young fellow,
determined to shine as a man of pleasure, was at the play called the
"Libertine Destroyed," a translation of 'Le Festin de Pierre' of
Molieire's. He was so struck with what he thought the fine character of
the libertine, that he swore he would be the LIBERTINE DESTROYED. Some
friends asked him, whether he had not better content himself with being
only the libertine, but without being DESTROYED? to which he answered
with great warmth, "No, for that being destroyed was the perfection of
the whole." This, extravagant as it seems in this light, is really the
case of many an unfortunate young fellow, who, captivated by the name of
pleasures, rushes indiscriminately, and without taste, into them all, and
is finally DESTROYED. I am not stoically advising, nor parsonically
preaching to you to be a Stoic at your age; far from it: I am pointing
out to you the paths to pleasures, and am endeavoring only to quicken and
heighten them for you. Enjoy pleasures, but let them be your own, and
then you will taste them; but adopt none; trust to nature for genuine
ones. The pleasures that you would feel you must earn; the man who gives
himself up to all, feels none sensibly. Sardanapalus, I am convinced,
never felt any in his life. Those only who join serious occupations with
pleasures, feel either as they should do. Alcibiades, though addicted to
the most shameful excesses, gave some time to philosophy, and some to
business. Julius Caesar joined business with pleasure so properly, that
they mutually assisted each other; and though he was the husband of all
the wives at Rome, he found time to be one of the best scholars, almost
the best orator, and absolutely the best general there. An uninterrupted
life of pleasures is as insipid as contemptible. Some hours given every
day to serious business must whet both the mind and the senses, to enjoy
those of pleasure. A surfeited glutton, an emaciated sot, and an
enervated rotten whoremaster, never enjoy the pleasures to which they
devote themselves; but they are only so many human sacrifices to false
gods. The pleasures of low life are all of this mistaken, merely
sensual, and disgraceful nature; whereas, those of high life, and in good
company (though possibly in themselves not more moral) are more delicate,
more refined, less dangerous, and less disgraceful; and, in the common
course of things, not reckoned disgraceful at all. In short, pleasure
must not, nay, cannot, be the business of a man of sense and character;
but it may be, and is, his relief, his reward. It is particularly so
with regard to the women; who have the utmost contempt for those men,
that, having no character nor consideration with their own sex,
frivolously pass their whole time in 'ruelles' and at 'toilettes'. They
look upon them as their lumber, and remove them whenever they can get
better furniture. Women choose their favorites more by the ear than by
any other of their senses or even their understandings. The man whom
they hear the most commended by the men, will always be the best received
by them. Such a conquest flatters their vanity, and vanity is their
universal, if not their strongest passion. A distinguished shining
character is irresistible with them; they crowd to, nay, they even
quarrel for the danger in hopes of the triumph. Though, by the way (to
use a vulgar expression), she who conquers only catches a Tartar, and
becomes the slave of her captive. 'Mais c'est la leur affaire'. Divide
your time between useful occupations and elegant pleasures. The morning
seems to belong to study, business, or serious conversations with men of
learning and figure; not that I exclude an occasional hour at a toilette.
From sitting down to dinner, the proper business of the day is pleasure,
unless real business, which must never be postponed for pleasure, happens
accidentally to interfere. In good company, the pleasures of the table
are always carried to a certain point of delicacy and gratification, but
never to excess and riot. Plays, operas, balls, suppers, gay
conversations in polite and cheerful companies, properly conclude the
evenings; not to mention the tender looks that you may direct and the
sighs that you may offer, upon these several occasions, to some
propitious or unpropitious female deity, whose character and manners will
neither disgrace nor corrupt yours. This is the life of a man of real
sense and pleasure; and by this distribution of your time, and choice of
your pleasures, you will be equally qualified for the busy, or the 'beau
monde'. You see I am not rigid, and do not require that you and I should
be of the same age. What I say to you, therefore, should have the more
weight, as coming from a friend, not a father. But low company, and
their low vices, their indecent riots and profligacy, I never will bear
nor forgive.

I have lately received two volumes of treaties, in German and Latin, from
Hawkins, with your orders, under your own hand, to take care of them for
you, which orders I shall most dutifully and punctually obey, and they
wait for you in my library, together with your great collection of rare
books, which your Mamma sent me upon removing from her old house.

I hope you not only keep up, but improve in your German, for it will be
of great use to you when you cone into business; and the more so, as you
will be almost the only Englishman who either can speak or understand it.
Pray speak it constantly to all Germans, wherever you meet them, and you
will meet multitudes of them at Paris. Is Italian now become easy and
familiar to you? Can you speak it with the same fluency that you can
speak German? You cannot conceive what an advantage it will give you in
negotiations to possess Italian, German, and French perfectly, so as to
understand all the force and finesse of those three languages. If two
men of equal talents negotiate together, he who best understands the
language in which the negotiation is carried on, will infallibly get the
better of the other. The signification and force of one single word is
often of great consequence in a treaty, and even in a letter.

Remember the GRACES, for without them 'ogni fatica e vana'. Adieu.


LONDON, May 17, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: Your apprenticeship is near out, and you are soon to set
up for yourself; that approaching moment is a critical one for you, and
an anxious one for me. A tradesman who would succeed in his way, must
begin by establishing a character of integrity and good manners; without
the former, nobody will go to his shop at all; without the latter, nobody
will go there twice. This rule does not exclude the fair arts of trade.
He may sell his goods at the best price he can, within certain bounds.
He may avail himself of the humor, the whims, and the fantastical tastes
of his customers; but what he warrants to be good must be really so, what
he seriously asserts must be true, or his first fraudulent profits will
soon end in a bankruptcy. It is the same in higher life, and in the
great business of the world. A man who does not solidly establish, and
really deserve, a character of truth, probity, good manners, and good
morals, at his first setting out in the world, may impose, and shine like
a meteor for a very short time, but will very soon vanish, and be
extinguished with contempt. People easily pardon, in young men, the
common irregularities of the senses: but they do not forgive the least
vice of the heart. The heart never grows better by age; I fear rather
worse; always harder. A young liar will be an old one; and a young knave
will only be a greater knave as he grows older. But should a bad young
heart, accompanied with a good head (which, by the way, very seldom is
the case), really reform in a more advanced age, from a consciousness of
its folly, as well as of its guilt; such a conversion would only be
thought prudential and political, but never sincere. I hope in God, and
I verily. believe, that you want no moral virtue. But the possession of
all the moral virtues, in 'actu primo', as the logicians call it, is not
sufficient; you must have them in 'actu secundo' too; nay, that is not
sufficient neither--you must have the reputation of them also. Your
character in the world must be built upon that solid foundation, or it
will soon fall, and upon your own head. You cannot, therefore, be too
careful, too nice, too scrupulous, in establishing this character at
first, upon which your whole depends. Let no conversation, no example,
no fashion, no 'bon mot', no silly desire of seeming to be above, what
most knaves, and many fools, call prejudices, ever tempt you to avow,
excuse, extenuate, or laugh at the least breach of morality; but show
upon all occasions, and take all occasions to show, a detestation and
abhorrence of it. There, though young, you ought to be strict; and there
only, while young, it becomes you to be strict and severe. But there,
too, spare the persons while you lash the crimes. All this relates, as
you easily judge, to the vices of the heart, such as lying, fraud, envy,
malice, detraction, etc., and I do not extend it to the little frailties
of youth, flowing from high spirits and warm blood. It would ill become
you, at your age, to declaim against them, and sententiously censure a
gallantry, an accidental excess of the table, a frolic, an inadvertency;
no, keep as free from them yourself as you can: but say nothing against
them in others. They certainly mend by time, often by reason; and a
man's worldly character is not affected by them, provided it be pure in
all other respects.

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

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


LONDON, May 24., O. S. 1750

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, June 5, O. S. 1750

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

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

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

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


LONDON, June 11, O. S. 1750

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, July 9, O. S. 1750.

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