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Letters to His Son, 1750 by The Earl of Chesterfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, August 6, O. S. 1750

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

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

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

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


LONDON, October 22, O. S. 1750

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, November 1, O. S. 1750

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, November 8, O. S. 1750

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, November 12, O. S. 1750

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, November 19, O. S. 1750

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, December 24, 1750

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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