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Letters to His Son, 1751 by The Earl of Chesterfield

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and you are sure to enjoy them at last: without them, I am sure, you will
never enjoy anybody else. You observe, truly, that Mr. ------ is gauche;
it is to be hoped that will mend with keeping company; and is yet
pardonable in him, as just come from school. But reflect what you would
think of a man, who had been any time in the world, and yet should be so
awkward. For God's sake, therefore, now think of nothing but shining,
and even distinguishing yourself in the most polite courts, by your air,
your address, your manners, your politeness, your 'douceur', your graces.
With those advantages (and not without them) take my word for it, you
will get the better of all rivals, in business as well as in 'ruelles'.
Adieu. Send me your patterns, by the next post, and also your
instructions to Grevenkop about the seal, which you seem to have


LONDON, May 16, O. S. 1751.

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

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

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

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


LONDON, May 23, O. S. 1751.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


GREENWICH, June 6, O. S. 1751.

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

For example, if you read in the morning some of La Rochefoucault's
maxims; consider them, examine them well, and compare them with the real
characters you meet with in the evening. Read La Bruyere in the morning,
and see in the evening whether his pictures are like. Study the heart
and the mind of man, and begin with your own. Meditation and reflection
must lay the foundation of that knowledge: but experience and practice
must, and alone can, complete it. Books, it is true, point out the
operations of the mind, the sentiments of the heart, the influence of the
passions; and so far they are of previous use: but without subsequent
practice, experience, and observation, they are as ineffectual, and would
even lead you into as many errors in fact, as a map would do, if you were
to take your notions of the towns and provinces from their delineations
in it. A man would reap very little benefit by his travels, if he made
them only in his closet upon a map of the whole world. Next to the two
books that I have already mentioned, I do not know a better for you to
read, and seriously reflect upon, than 'Avis d'une Mere d'un Fils, par la
Marquise de Lambert'. She was a woman of a superior understanding and
knowledge of the world, had always kept the best company, was solicitous
that her son should make a figure and a fortune in the world, and knew
better than anybody how to point out the means. It is very short, and
will take you much less time to read, than you ought to employ in
reflecting upon it, after you have read it. Her son was in the army, she
wished he might rise there; but she well knew, that, in order to rise, he
must first please: she says to him, therefore, With regard to those upon
whom you depend, the chief merit is to please. And, in another place, in
subaltern employments, the art of pleasing must be your support. Masters
are like mistresses: whatever services they may be indebted to you for,
they cease to love when you cease to be agreeable. This, I can assure
you, is at least as true in courts as in camps, and possibly more so.
If to your merit and knowledge you add the art of pleasing, you may very
probably come in time to be Secretary of State; but, take my word for it,
twice your merit and knowledge, without the art of pleasing, would, at
most, raise you to the IMPORTANT POST of Resident at Hamburgh or
Ratisbon. I need not tell you now, for I often have, and your own
discernment must have told you, of what numberless little ingredients
that art of pleasing is compounded, and how the want of the least of them
lowers the whole; but the principal ingredient is, undoubtedly, 'la
douceur dans le manieres': nothing will give you this more than keeping
company with your superiors. Madame Lambert tells her son, Let your
connections be with people above you; by that means you will acquire a
habit of respect and politeness. With one's equals, one is apt to become
negligent, and the mind grows torpid. She advises him, too, to frequent
those people, and to see their inside; In order to judge of men, one must
be intimately connected; thus you see them without, a veil, and with
their mere every-day merit. A happy expression! It was for this reason
that I have so often advised you to establish and domesticate yourself,
wherever you can, in good houses of people above you, that you may see
their EVERY-DAY character, manners, habits, etc. One must see people
undressed to judge truly of their shape; when they are dressed to go
abroad, their clothes are contrived to conceal, or at least palliate the
defects of it: as full-bottomed wigs were contrived for the Duke of
Burgundy, to conceal his hump back. Happy those who have no faults to
disguise, nor weaknesses to conceal! there are few, if any such; but
unhappy those who know little enough of the world to judge by outward
appearances. Courts are the best keys to characters; there every passion
is busy, every art exerted, every character analyzed; jealousy, ever
watchful, not only discovers, but exposes, the mysteries of the trade, so
that even bystanders 'y apprennent a deviner'. There too the great art
of pleasing is practiced, taught, and learned with all its graces and
delicacies. It is the first thing needful there: It is the absolutely
necessary harbinger of merit and talents, let them be ever so great.
There is no advancing a step without it. Let misanthropes and would-be
philosophers declaim as much as they please against the vices, the
simulation, and dissimulation of courts; those invectives are always the
result of ignorance, ill-humor, or envy. Let them show me a cottage,
where there are not the same vices of which they accuse courts; with this
difference only, that in a cottage they appear in their native deformity,
and that in courts, manners and good-breeding make them less shocking,
and blunt their edge. No, be convinced that the good-breeding, the
'tournure, la douceur dans les manieres', which alone are to be acquired
at courts, are not the showish trifles only which some people call or
think them; they are a solid good; they prevent a great deal of real
mischief; they create, adorn, and strengthen friendships; they keep
hatred within bounds; they promote good-humor and good-will in families,
where the want of good-breeding and gentleness of manners is commonly the
original cause of discord. Get then, before it is too late, a habit of
these 'mitiores virtutes': practice them upon every, the least occasion,
that they may be easy and familiar to you upon the greatest; for they
lose a great degree of their merit if they seem labored, and only called
in upon extraordinary occasions. I tell you truly, this is now the only
doubtful part of your character with me; and it is for that reason that I
dwell upon it so much, and inculcate it so often. I shall soon see
whether this doubt of mine is founded; or rather I hope I shall soon see
that it is not.

This moment I receive your letter of the 9th N. S. I am sorry to find
that you have had, though ever so slight a return of your Carniolan
disorder; and I hope your conclusion will prove a true one, and that this
will be the last. I will send the mohairs by the first opportunity. As
for the pictures, I am already so full, that I am resolved not to buy one
more, unless by great accident I should meet with something surprisingly
good, and as surprisingly cheap.

I should have thought that Lord -------, at his age, and with his parts
and address, need not have been reduced to keep an opera w---e, in such a
place as Paris, where so many women of fashion generously serve as
volunteers. I am still more sorry that he is in love with her; for that
will take him out of good company, and sink him into bad; such as
fiddlers, pipers, and 'id genus omne'; most unedifying and unbecoming
company for a man of fashion!

Lady Chesterfield makes you a thousand compliments. Adieu, my dear


GREENWICH, June 10, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: Your ladies were so slow in giving their specific orders,
that the mohairs, of which you at last sent me the patterns, were all
sold. However, to prevent further delays (for ladies are apt to be very
impatient, when at last they know their own minds), I have taken the
quantities desired of three mohairs which come nearest to the description
you sent me some time ago, in Madame Monconseil's own hand; and I will
send them to Calais by the first opportunity. In giving 'la petite Blot'
her piece, you have a fine occasion of saying fine things, if so

Lady Hervey, who is your puff and panegyrist, writes me word that she saw
you lately dance at a ball, and that you dance very genteelly. I am
extremely glad to hear it; for (by the maxim, that 'omne majus continet
in se minus'), if you dance genteelly, I presume you walk, sit, and stand
genteelly too; things which are much more easy, though much more
necessary, than dancing well. I have known many very genteel people, who
could not dance well; but I never knew anybody dance very well, who was
not genteel in other things. You will probably often have occasion to
stand in circles, at the levees of princes and ministers, when it is very
necessary 'de payer de sa personne, et d'etre bien plante', with your
feet not too near nor too distant from each other. More people stand and
walk, than sit genteelly. Awkward, ill-bred people, being ashamed,
commonly sit bolt upright and stiff; others, too negligent and easy,
'se vautrent dans leur fauteuil', which is ungraceful and ill-bred,
unless where the familiarity is extreme; but a man of fashion makes
himself easy, and appears so by leaning gracefully instead of lolling
supinely; and by varying those easy attitudes instead of that stiff
immobility of a bashful booby. You cannot conceive, nor can I express,
how advantageous a good air, genteel motions, and engaging address are,
not only among women, but among men, and even in the course of business;
they fascinate the affections, they steal a preference, they play about
the heart till they engage it. I know a man, and so do you, who, without
a grain of merit, knowledge, or talents, has raised himself millions of
degrees above his level, simply by a good air and engaging manners;
insomuch that the very Prince who raised him so high, calls him, 'mon
aimable vaut-rien';--[The Marichal de Richelieu.]--but of this do not
open your lips, 'pour cause'. I give you this secret as the strongest
proof imaginable of the efficacy of air, address, 'tournure, et tout ces
Petits riens'.

Your other puff and panegyrist, Mr. Harte, is gone to Windsor in his way
to Cornwall, in order to be back soon enough to meet you here: I really
believe he is as impatient for that moment as I am, 'et c'est tout dire':
but, however, notwithstanding my impatience, if by chance you should then
be in a situation, that leaving Paris would cost your heart too many
pangs, I allow you to put off your journey, and to tell me, as Festus did
that I eventually sacrifice my sentiments to yours, and this in a very
uncommon object of paternal complaisance. Provided always, and be it
understood (as they say in acts of Parliament), that 'quae te cumque
domat Venus, non erubescendis adurit ignibus'. If your heart will let
you come, bring with you only your valet de chambre, Christian, and your
own footman; not your valet de place, whom you may dismiss for the time,
as also your coach; but you had best keep on your lodgings, the
intermediate expense of which will be but inconsiderable, and you will
want them to leave your books and baggage in. Bring only the clothes you
travel in, one suit of black, for the mourning for the Prince will not be
quite out by that time, and one suit of your fine clothes, two or three
of your laced shirts, and the rest plain ones; of other things, as bags,
feathers, etc., as you think proper. Bring no books, unless two or three
for your' amusement upon the road; for we must apply simply to English,
in which you are certainly no 'puriste'; and I will supply you
sufficiently with the proper English authors. I shall probably keep you
here till about the middle of October, and certainly not longer; it being
absolutely necessary for you to pass the next winter at Paris; so that;
should any fine eyes shed tears for your departure, you may dry them by
the promise of your return in two months.

Have you got a master for geometry? If the weather is very hot, you may
leave your riding at the 'manege' till you return to Paris, unless you
think the exercise does you more good than the heat can do you harm; but
I desire you will not leave off Marcel for one moment; your fencing
likewise, if you have a mind, may subside for the summer; but you will do
well to resume it in the winter and to be adroit at it, but by no means
for offense, only for defense in case of necessity. Good night. Yours.

P. S. I forgot to give you one commission, when you come here; which is,
not to fail bringing the GRACES along with you.


GREENWICH, June 13, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: 'Les bienseances'--[This single word implies decorum,
good-breeding, and propriety]--are a most necessary part of the
knowledge of the world. They consist in the relations of persons,
things, time, and place; good sense points them out, good company
perfects them ( supposing always an attention and a desire to please),
and good policy recommends them.

Were you to converse with a king, you ought to be as easy and
unembarrassed as with your own valet de chambre; but yet, every look,
word and action, should imply the utmost respect. What would be proper
and well-bred with others, much your superiors, would be absurd and ill-
bred with one so very much so. You must wait till you are spoken to; you
must receive, not give, the subject of conversation; and you must even
take care that the given subject of such conversation do not lead you
into any impropriety. The art would be to carry it, if possible, to some
indirect flattery; such as commending those virtues in some other person,
in which that prince either thinks he does, or at least would be thought
by others to excel. Almost the same precautions are necessary to be used
with ministers, generals, etc., who expect to be treated with very near
the same respect as their masters, and commonly deserve it better. There
is, however, this difference, that one may begin the conversation with
them, if on their side it should happen to drop, provided one does not
carry it to any subject upon which it is improper either for them to
speak, or be spoken to. In these two cases, certain attitudes and
actions would be extremely absurd, because too easy, and consequently
disrespectful. As, for instance, if you were to put your arms across in
your bosom, twirl your snuff-box, trample with your feet, scratch your
head, etc., it would be shockingly ill-bred in that company; and, indeed,
not extremely well-bred in any other. The great difficulty in those
cases, though a very surmountable one by attention and custom, is to join
perfect inward ease with perfect outward respect.

In mixed companies with your equals (for in mixed companies all people
are to a certain degree equal), greater ease and liberty are allowed; but
they too have their bounds within 'bienseance'. There is a social
respect necessary: you may start your own subject of conversation with
modesty, taking great care, however, 'de ne jamais parler de cordes.
dans la maison d'un pendu.--[Never to mention a rope in the family of a
man who has been hanged]--Your words, gestures, and attitudes, have a
greater degree of latitude, though by no means an unbounded one. You may
have your hands in your pockets, take snuff, sit, stand, or occasionally
walk, as you like; but I believe you would not think it very 'bienseant'
to whistle, put on your hat, loosen your garters or your buckles, lie
down upon a couch, or go to bed, and welter in an easychair. These are
negligences and freedoms which one can only take when quite alone; they
are injurious to superiors, shocking and offensive to equals, brutal and
insulting to inferiors. That easiness of carriage and behavior, which is
exceedingly engaging, widely differs from negligence and inattention, and
by no means implies that one may do whatever one pleases; it only means
that one is not to be stiff, formal, embarrassed, disconcerted, and
ashamed, like country bumpkins, and, people who have never been in good
company; but it requires great attention to, and a scrupulous observation
of 'les bienseances': whatever one ought to do, is to be done with ease
and unconcern; whatever is improper must not be done at all. In mixed
companies also, different ages and sexes are to be differently addressed.
You would not talk of your pleasures to men of a certain age, gravity,
and dignity; they justly expect from young people a degree of deference
and regard. You should be full as easy with them as with people of your
own years: but your manner must be different; more respect must be
implied; and it is not amiss to insinuate that from them you expect to
learn. It flatters and comforts age for not being able to take a part in
the joy and titter of youth. To women you should always address yourself
with great outward respect and attention, whatever you feel inwardly;
their sex is by long prescription entitled to it; and it is among the
duties of 'bienseance'; at the same time that respect is very properly
and very agreeably mixed with a degree of 'enjouement', if you have it;
but then, that badinage must either directly or indirectly tend to their
praise, and even not be liable to a malicious construction to their
disadvantage. But here, too, great attention must be had to the
difference of age, rank, and situation. A 'marechale' of fifty must not
be played with like a young coquette of fifteen; respect and serious
'enjouement', if I may couple those two words, must be used with the
former, and mere 'badinage, zeste meme d'un peu de polissonerie', is
pardonable with the latter.

Another important point of 'les bienseances', seldom enough attended to,
is, not to run your own present humor and disposition indiscriminately
against everybody, but to observe, conform to, and adopt them. For
example, if you happened to be in high good humor and a flow of spirits,
would you go and sing a 'pont neuf',--[a ballad]--or cut a caper, to la
Marechale de Coigny, the Pope's nuncio, or Abbe Sallier, or to any person
of natural gravity and melancholy, or who at that time should be in
grief? I believe not; as, on the other hand, I suppose, that if you were
in low spirits or real grief, you would not choose to bewail your
situation with 'la petite Blot'. If you cannot command your present
humor and disposition, single out those to converse with, who happen to
be in the humor the nearest to your own.

Loud laughter is extremely inconsistent with 'les bienseances', as it is
only the illiberal and noisy testimony of the joy of the mob at some very
silly thing. A gentleman is often seen, but very seldom heard to laugh.
Nothing is more contrary to 'les bienseances' than horse-play, or 'jeux
de main' of any kind whatever, and has often very serious, sometimes very
fatal consequences. Romping, struggling, throwing things at one
another's head, are the becoming pleasantries of the mob, but degrade a
gentleman: 'giuoco di mano, giuoco di villano', is a very true saying,
among the few true sayings of the Italians.

Peremptoriness and decision in young people is 'contraire aux
bienseances', and they should seldom seem to assert, and always use some
softening mitigating expression; such as, 's'il m'est permis de le dire,
je croirais plutot, si j'ose m'expliquer', which soften the manner,
without giving up or even weakening the thing. People of more age and
experience expect, and are entitled to, that degree of deference.

There is a 'bienseance' also with regard to people of the lowest degree:
a gentleman observes it with his footman--even with the beggar in the
street. He considers them as objects of compassion, not of insult; he
speaks to neither 'd'un ton brusque', but corrects the one coolly, and
refuses the other with humanity. There is one occasion in the world in
which 'le ton brusque' is becoming a gentleman. In short, 'les
bienseances' are another word for MANNERS, and extend to every part of
life. They are propriety; the Graces should attend, in order to complete
them; the Graces enable us to do, genteelly and pleasingly, what 'les
bienseances' require to be done at all. The latter are an obligation
upon every man; the former are an infinite advantage and ornament to any
man. May you unite both!

Though you dance well, do not think that you dance well enough, and
consequently not endeavor to dance still better. And though you should
be told that you are genteel, still aim at being genteeler. If Marcel
should, do not you be satisfied. Go on, court the Graces all your
lifetime; you will find no better friends at court: they will speak in
your favor, to the hearts of princes, ministers, and mistresses.

Now that all tumultuous passions and quick sensations have subsided with
me, and that I have no tormenting cares nor boisterous pleasures to
agitate me, my greatest joy is to consider the fair prospect you have
before you, and to hope and believe you will enjoy it. You are already
in the world, at an age when others have hardly heard of it. Your
character is hitherto not only unblemished in its mortal part, but even
unsullied by any low, dirty, and ungentleman-like vice; and will, I hope,
continue so. Your knowledge is sound, extensive and avowed, especially
in everything relative to your destination. With such materials to begin
with, what then is wanting! Not fortune, as you have found by
experience. You have had, and shall have, fortune sufficient to assist
your merit and your industry; and if I can help it, you never shall have
enough to make you negligent of either. You have, too, 'mens sana in
corpore sano', the greatest blessing of all. All, therefore, that you
want is as much in your power to acquire, as to eat your breakfast when
set before you; it is only that knowledge of the world, that elegance of
manners, that universal politeness, and those graces which keeping good
company, and seeing variety of places and characters, must inevitably,
with the least attention on your part, give you. Your foreign
destination leads to the greatest things, and your parliamentary
situation will facilitate your progress. Consider, then, this pleasing
prospect as attentively for yourself as I consider it for you. Labor on
your part to realize it, as I will on mine to assist, and enable you to
do it. 'Nullum numen abest, si sit prudentia'.

Adieu, my dear child! I count the days till I have the pleasure of
seeing you; I shall soon count the hours, and at last the minutes, with
increasing impatience.

P. S. The mohairs are this day gone from hence for Calais, recommended
to the care of Madame Morel, and directed, as desired, to the
Comptroller-general. The three pieces come to six hundred and eighty
French livres.


GREENWICH, June 20, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: So very few people, especially young travelers, see what
they see, or hear what they hear, that though I really believe it may be
unnecessary with you, yet there can be no harm in reminding you, from
time to time, to see what you see, and to hear what you hear; that is,
to see and hear as you should do. Frivolous, futile people, who make at
least three parts in four of mankind, only desire to see and hear what
their frivolous and futile precursors have seen and heard: as St.
Peter's, the Pope, and High Mass, at Rome; Notre Dame, Versailles, the
French King, and the French Comedy, in France. A man of parts sees and
hears very differently from these gentlemen, and a great deal more.
He examines and informs himself thoroughly of everything he sees or
hears; and, more particularly, as it is relative to his own profession or
destination. Your destination is political; the object, therefore, of
your inquiries and observations should be the political interior of
things; the forms of government, laws, regulations, customs, trade,
manufactures, etc., of the several nations of Europe. This knowledge is
much better acquired by conversation with sensible and well-informed
people, than by books, the best of which upon these subjects are always
imperfect. For example, there are "Present States" of France, as there
are of England; but they are always defective, being published by people
uninformed, who only copy one another; they are, however, worth looking
into because they point out objects for inquiry, which otherwise might
possibly never have occurred to one's mind; but an hour's conversation
with a sensible president or 'conseiller' will let you more into the true
state of the parliament of Paris, than all the books in France. In the
same manner, the 'Almanack Militaire' is worth your having; but two or
three conversations with officers will inform you much better of their
military regulations. People have, commonly, a partiality for their own
professions, love to talk of them, and are even flattered by being
consulted upon the subject; when, therefore, you are with any of those
military gentlemen (and you can hardly be in any company without some),
ask them military questions, inquire into their methods of discipline,
quartering, and clothing their men; inform yourself of their pay, their
perquisites, 'lours montres, lours etapes', etc. Do the same as to the
marine, and make yourself particularly master of that detail; which has,
and always will have, a great relation to the affairs of England; and, in
proportion as you get good informations, take minutes of them in writing.

The regulations of trade and commerce in France are excellent, as appears
but too plainly for us, by the great increase of both, within these
thirty years; for not to mention their extensive commerce in both the
East and West Indies, they have got the whole trade of the Levant from
us; and now supply all the foreign markets with their sugars, to the ruin
almost of our sugar colonies, as Jamaica, Barbadoes, and the Leeward
Islands. Get, therefore, what informations you can of these matters

Inquire too into their church matters; for which the present disputes
between the court and the clergy give you fair and frequent
opportunities. Know the particular rights of the Gallican church, in
opposition to the pretensions of the See of Rome. I need not recommend
ecclesiastical history to you, since I hear that you study 'Du Pin' very

You cannot imagine how much this solid and useful knowledge of other
countries will distinguish you in your own (where, to say the truth, it
is very little known or cultivated), besides the great use it is of in
all foreign negotiations; not to mention that it enables a man to shine
in all companies. When kings and princes have any knowledge, it is of
this sort, and more particularly; and therefore it is the usual topic of
their levee conversations, in which it will qualify you to bear a
considerable part; it brings you more acquainted with them; and they are
pleased to have people talk to them on a subject in which they think to

There is a sort of chit-chat, or SMALL TALK, which is the general run of
conversation at courts, and in most mixed companies. It is a sort of
middling conversation, neither silly nor edifying; but, however, very
necessary for you to become master of. It turns upon the public events
of Europe, and then is at its best; very often upon the number, the
goodness or badness, the discipline, or the clothing of the troops of
different princes; sometimes upon the families, the marriages, the
relations of princes, and considerable people; and sometimes 'sur le bon
chere', the magnificence of public entertainments, balls, masquerades,
etc. I would wish you to be able to talk upon all these things better,
and with more knowledge than other people; insomuch that upon those
occasions, you should be applied to, and that people should say, I DARE

Second-rate knowledge and middling talents carry a man further at courts,
and in the busy part of the world, than superior knowledge and shining
parts. Tacitus very justly accounts for a man's having always kept in
favor and enjoyed the best employments under the tyrannical reigns of
three or four of the very worst emperors, by saying that it was not
'propter aliquam eximiam artem, sed quia par negotiis neque supra erat'.
Discretion is the great article; all these things are to be learned, and
only learned by keeping a great deal of the best company. Frequent those
good houses where you have already a footing, and wriggle yourself
somehow or other into every other. Haunt the courts particularly in
order to get that ROUTINE.

This moment I receive yours of the 18th N. S. You will have had some
time ago my final answers concerning the pictures; and, by my last, an
account that the mohairs were gone to Madame Morel, at Calais, with the
proper directions.

I am sorry that your two sons-in-law [?? D.W.], the Princes B----, are
such boobies; however, as they have the honor of being so nearly related
to you, I will show them what civilities I can.

I confess you have not time for long absences from Paris, at present,
because of your various masters, all which I would have you apply to
closely while you are now in that capital; but when you return thither,
after the visit you intend me the honor of, I do not propose your having
any master at all, except Marcel, once or twice a week. And then the
courts will, I hope, be no longer strange countries to you; for I would
have you run down frequently to Versailles and St. Cloud, for three or
four days at a time. You know the Abbe de la Ville, who will present you
to others, so that you will soon be 'faufile' with the rest of the court.
Court is the soil in which you are to grow and flourish; you ought to be
well acquainted with the nature of it; like all other soil, it is in some
places deeper, in others lighter, but always capable of great improvement
by cultivation and experience.

You say that you want some hints for a letter to Lady Chesterfield; more
use and knowledge of the world will teach you occasionally to write and
talk genteelly, 'sup des riens', which I can tell you is a very useful
part upon worldly knowledge; for in some companies, it would be imprudent
to talk of anything else; and with very many people it is impossible to
talk of anything else; they would not understand you. Adieu.


LONDON, June 24, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: Air, address, manners, and graces are of such infinite
advantage to whoever has them, and so peculiarly and essentially
necessary for you, that now, as the time of our meeting draws near,
I tremble for fear I should not find you possessed of them; and, to tell
you the truth, I doubt you are not yet sufficiently convinced for their
importance. There is, for instance, your intimate friend, Mr. H-----,
who with great merit, deep knowledge, and a thousand good qualities,
will never make a figure in the world while he lives. Why? Merely for
want of those external and showish accomplishments, which he began the
world too late to acquire; and which, with his studious and philosophical
turn, I believe he thinks are not worth his attention. He may, very
probably, make a figure in the republic of letters, but he had ten
thousand times better make a figure as a man of the world and of business
in the republic of the United Provinces, which, take my word for it, he
never will.

As I open myself, without the least reserve, whenever I think that my
doing so can be of any use to you, I will give you a short account of
myself. When I first came into the world, which was at the age you are
of now, so that, by the way, you have got the start of me in that
important article by two or three years at least,--at nineteen I left the
University of Cambridge, where I was an absolute pedant; when I talked my
best, I quoted Horace; when I aimed at being facetious, I quoted Martial;
and when I had a mind to be a fine gentleman, I talked Ovid. I was
convinced that none but the ancients had common sense; that the classics
contained everything that was either necessary, useful, or ornamental to
men; and I was not without thoughts of wearing the 'toga virilis' of the
Romans, instead of the vulgar and illiberal dress of the moderns. With
these excellent notions I went first to The Hague, where, by the help of
several letters of recommendation, I was soon introduced into all the
best company; and where I very soon discovered that I was totally
mistaken in almost every one notion I had entertained. Fortunately, I
had a strong desire to please (the mixed result of good-nature and a
vanity by no means blamable), and was sensible that I had nothing but the
desire. I therefore resolved, if possible, to acquire the means, too. I
studied attentively and minutely the dress, the air, the manner, the
address, and the turn of conversation of all those whom I found to be the
people in fashion, and most generally allowed to please. I imitated them
as well as I could; if I heard that one man was reckoned remarkably
genteel, I carefully watched his dress, motions and attitudes, and formed
my own upon them. When I heard of another, whose conversation was
agreeable and engaging, I listened and attended to the turn of it. I
addressed myself, though 'de tres mauvaise grace', to all the most
fashionable fine ladies; confessed, and laughed with them at my own
awkwardness and rawness, recommending myself as an object for them to try
their skill in forming. By these means, and with a passionate desire of
pleasing everybody, I came by degrees to please some; and, I can assure
you, that what little figure I have made in the world, has been much more
owing to that passionate desire of pleasing universally than to any
intrinsic merit or sound knowledge I might ever have been master of. My
passion for pleasing was so strong (and I am very glad it was so), that I
own to you fairly, I wished to make every woman I saw in love with me,
and every man I met with admire me. Without this passion for the object,
I should never have been so attentive to the means; and I own I cannot
conceive how it is possible for any man of good-nature and good sense to
be without this passion. Does not good-nature incline us to please all
those we converse with, of whatever rank or station they may be? And
does not good sense and common observation, show of what infinite use it
is to please? Oh! but one may please by the good qualities of the heart,
and the knowledge of the head, without that fashionable air, address and
manner, which is mere tinsel. I deny it. A man may be esteemed and
respected, but I defy him to please without them. Moreover, at your age,
I would not have contented myself with barely pleasing; I wanted to shine
and to distinguish myself in the world as a man of fashion and gallantry,
as well as business. And that ambition or vanity, call it what you
please, was a right one; it hurt nobody, and made me exert whatever
talents I had. It is the spring of a thousand right and good things.

I was talking you over the other day with one very much your friend, and
who had often been with you, both at Paris and in Italy. Among the
innumerable questions which you may be sure I asked him concerning you, I
happened to mention your dress (for, to say the truth, it was the only
thing of which I thought him a competent judge) upon which he said that
you dressed tolerably well at Paris; but that in Italy you dressed so
ill, that he used to joke with you upon it, and even to tear your
clothes. Now, I must tell you, that at your age it is as ridiculous not
to be very well dressed, as at my age it would be if I were to wear a
white feather and red-heeled shoes. Dress is one of various ingredients
that contribute to the art of pleasing; it pleases the eyes at least, and
more especially of women. Address yourself to the senses, if you would
please; dazzle the eyes, soothe and flatter the ears of mankind; engage
their hearts, and let their reason do its worst against you. 'Suaviter
in modo' is the great secret. Whenever you find yourself engaged
insensibly, in favor of anybody of no superior merit nor distinguished
talents, examine, and see what it is that has made those impressions upon
you: and you will find it to be that 'douceur', that gentleness of
manners, that air and address, which I have so often recommended to you;
and from thence draw this obvious conclusion, that what pleases you in
them, will please others in you; for we are all made of the same clay,
though some of the lumps are a little finer, and some a little coarser;
but in general, the surest way to judge of others, is to examine and
analyze one's self thoroughly. When we meet I will assist you in that
analysis, in which every man wants some assistance against his own
self-love. Adieu.


GREENWICH, June 30, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Pray give the inclosed to our friend the Abbe; it is to
congratulate him upon his 'Canonicat', which I am really very glad of,
and I hope it will fatten him up to Boileau's 'Chanoine'; at present he
is as meagre as an apostle or a prophet. By the way, has he ever
introduced you to la Duchesse d'Aiguillon? If he has not, make him
present you; and if he has, frequent her, and make her many compliments
from me. She has uncommon, sense and knowledge for a woman, and her
house is the resort of one set of 'les beaux esprits. It is a
satisfaction and a sort of credit to be acquainted with those gentlemen;
and it puts a young fellow in fashion. 'A propos des beaux esprits', you
have 'les entries' at Lady Sandwich's; who, old as she was, when I saw
her last, had the strongest parts of any woman I ever knew in my life?
If you are not acquainted with her, either the Duchesse d'Aiguillon or
Lady Hervey can, and I dare say will; introduce you. I can assure you,
it is very well worth your while, both upon her own account, and for the
sake of the people of wit and learning who frequent her. In such
companies there is always something to be learned as well as manners; the
conversation turns upon something above trifles; some point of
literature, criticism, history, etc., is discussed with ingenuity and
good manners; for I must do the French people of learning justice; they
are not bears, as most of ours are: they are gentlemen.

Our Abbe writes me word that you were gone to Compiegne: I am very glad
of it; other courts must form you for your own. He tells me too, that
you have left off riding at the 'manege'; I have no objection to that, it
takes up a great deal of the morning; and if you have got a genteel and
firm seat on horseback, it is enough for you, now that tilts and
tournaments are laid aside. I suppose you have hunted at Compiegne. The
King's hunting there, I am told, is a fine sight. The French manner of
hunting is gentlemanlike; ours is only for bumpkins and boobies. The
poor beasts are here pursued and run down by much greater beasts than
themselves, and the true British fox-hunter is most undoubtedly a species
appropriated and peculiar to this country, which no other part of the
globe produces.

I hope you apply the time you have saved from the riding-house to useful
more than to learned purposes; for I can assure you they are very
different things. I would have you allow but one hour a-day for Greek;
and that more to keep what you have than to increase it: by Greek, I mean
useful Greek books, such as Demosthenes, Thucydides, etc., and not the
poets, with whom you are already enough acquainted. Your Latin will take
care of itself. Whatever more time you may have for reading, pray bestow
it upon those books which are immediately relative to your destination;
such as modern history, in the modern languages, memoirs, anecdotes,
letters, negotiations, etc. Collect also, if you can, authentically, the
present state of all the courts and countries in Europe, the characters
of the kings and princes, their wives, their ministers, and their w----s;
their several views, connections, and interests; the state of their
FINANCES, their military force, their trade, manufactures, and commerce.
That is the useful, the necessary knowledge for you, and indeed for every
gentleman. But with all this, remember, that living books are much
better than dead ones; and throw away no time (for it is thrown away)
with the latter, which you can employ well with the former; for books
must now be your only amusement, but, by no means your business. I had
much rather that you were passionately in love with some determined
coquette of condition (who would lead you a dance, fashion, supple, and
polish you), than that you knew all Plato and Aristotle by heart: an hour
at Versailles, Compiegne, or St. Cloud, is now worth more to you than
three hours in your closet, with the best books that ever were written.

I hear the dispute between the court and the clergy is made up amicably,
both parties have yielded something; the king being afraid of losing more
of his soul, and the clergy more of their revenue. Those gentlemen are
very skillful in making the most of the vices and the weaknesses of the
laity. I hope you have read and informed yourself fully of everything
relative to that affair; it is a very important question, in which the
priesthood of every country in Europe is highly concerned. If you would
be thoroughly convinced that their tithes are of divine institution, and
their property the property of God himself, not to be touched by any
power on earth, read Fra Paolo De Beneficiis, an excellent and short
book; for which, and some other treaties against the court of Rome, he
was stilettoed; which made him say afterward, upon seeing an anonymous
book written against him by order of the Pope, 'Conosco bene to stile

The parliament of Paris, and the states of Languedoc, will, I believe,
hardly scramble off; having only reason and justice, but no terrors on
their side. Those are political and constitutional questions that well
deserve your attention and inquiries. I hope you are thoroughly master
of them. It is also worth your while to collect and keep all the pieces
written upon those subjects.

I hope you have been thanked by your ladies, at least, if not paid in
money, for the mohairs, which I sent by a courier to Paris, some time
ago, instead of sending them to Madame Morel, at Calais, as I told you I
should. Do they like them; and do they like you the better for getting
them? 'Le petite Blot devroit au moins payer de sa personne'. As for
Madame de Polignac, I believe you will very willingly hold her excused
from personal payment.

Before you return to England, pray go again to Orli, for two or three
days, and also to St. Cloud, in order to secure a good reception there at
your return. Ask the Marquis de Matignon too, if he has any orders for
you in England, or any letters or packets for Lord Bolingbroke. Adieu!
Go on and prosper.


GREENWICH, July 8, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: The last mail brought me your letter of the 3d July,
N. S. I am glad that you are so well with Colonel Yorke, as to be let
into secret correspondences. Lord Albemarle's reserve to you is, I
believe, more owing to his secretary than to himself; for you seem to be
much in favor with him; and possibly too HE HAS NO VERY SECRET LETTERS to
communicate. However, take care not to discover the least dissatisfaction
upon this score: make the proper acknowledgments to Colonel Yorke, for
what he does show you; but let neither Lord Albemarle nor his people
perceive the least coldness on your part, upon account of what they do
not show you. It is very often necessary, not to manifest all one feels.
Make your court to, and connect yourself as much as possible with Colonel
Yorke; he may be of great use to you hereafter; and when you take leave,
not only offer to bring over any letters or packets, by way of security;
but even ask, as a favor, to be the carrier of a letter from him to his
father, the Chancellor. 'A propos' of your coming here; I confess that I
am weakly impatient for it, and think a few days worth getting; I would,
therefore, instead of the 25th of next month, N. S., which was the day
that I some time ago appointed for your leaving Paris, have you set out
on Friday the 20th of August, N. S.; in consequence of which you will be
at Calais some time on the Sunday following, and probably at Dover within
four-and-twenty hours afterward. If you land in the morning, you may, in
a postchaise, get to Sittingborne that day; if you come on shore in the
evening, you can only get to Canterbury, where you will be better lodged
than at Dover. I will not have you travel in the night, nor fatigue and
overheat yourself by running on fourscore miles the moment you land.
You will come straight to Blackheath, where I shall be ready to meet you,
and which is directly upon the Dover road to London; and we will go to
town together, after you have rested yourself a day or two here. All the
other directions, which I gave you in my former letter, hold still the
same. But, notwithstanding this regulation, should you have any
particular reasons for leaving Paris two or three days sooner or later,
than the above mentioned, 'vous etes maitre'. Make all your arrangements
at Paris for about a six weeks stay in England at farthest.

I had a letter the other day from Lord Huntingdon, of which one-half at
least was your panegyric; it was extremely welcome to me from so good a
hand. Cultivate that friendship; it will do you honor and give you
strength. Connections, in our mixed parliamentary government, are of
great use.

I send you here inclosed the particular price of each of the mohairs;
but I do not suppose that you will receive a shilling for anyone of them.
However, if any of your ladies should take an odd fancy to pay, the
shortest way, in the course of business, is for you to keep the money,
and to take so much less from Sir John Lambert in your next draught upon

I am very sorry to hear that Lady Hervey is ill. Paris does not seem to
agree with her; she used to have great health here. 'A propos' of her;
remember, when you are with me, not to mention her but when you and I are
quite alone, for reasons which I will tell you when we meet: but this is
only between you and me; and I desire that you will not so much as hint
it to her, or to anybody else.

If old Kurzay goes to the valley of Jehoshaphat, I cannot help it; it
will be an ease to our friend Madame Montconseil, who I believe maintains
her, and a little will not satisfy her in any way.

Remember to bring your mother some little presents; they need not be of
value, but only marks of your affection and duty for one who has always
been tenderly fond of you. You may bring Lady Chesterfield a little
Martin snuffbox of about five Louis; and you need bring over no other
presents; you and I not wanting 'les petits presens pour entretenir

Since I wrote what goes before, I have talked you over minutely with Lord
Albemarle, who told me, that he could very sincerely commend you upon
every article but one; but upon that one you were often joked, both by
him and others. I desired to know what that was; he laughed and told me
it was the article of dress, in which you were exceedingly negligent.
Though he laughed, I can assure you that it is no laughing matter for
you; and you will possibly be surprised when I assert (but, upon my word,
it is literally true), that to be very well dressed is of much more
importance to you, than all the Greek you know will, be of these thirty
years. Remember that the world is now your only business; and that you
must adopt its customs and manners, be they silly or be they not. To
neglect your dress, is an affront to all the women you keep company with;
as it implies that you do not think them worth that attention which
everybody else doth; they mind dress, and you will never please them if
you neglect yours; and if you do not please the women, you will not
please half the men you otherwise might. It is the women who put a young
fellow in fashion even with the men. A young fellow ought to have a
certain fund of coquetry; which should make him try all the means of
pleasing, as much as any coquette in Europe can do. Old as I am, and
little thinking of women, God knows, I am very far from being negligent
of my dress; and why? From conformity to custom, and out of decency to
men, who expect that degree of complaisance. I do not, indeed, wear
feathers and red heels, which would ill suit my age; but I take care to
have my clothes well made, my wig well combed and powdered, my linen and
person extremely clean. I even allow my footman forty shillings a year
extraordinary, that they may be spruce and neat. Your figure especially,
which from its stature cannot be very majestic and interesting, should be
the more attended to in point of dress as it cannot be 'imposante', it
should be 'gentile, aimable, bien mise'. It will not admit of negligence
and carelessness.

I believe Mr. Hayes thinks that you have slighted him a little of late,
since you have got into so much other company. I do not by any means
blame you for not frequenting his house so much as you did at first,
before you had got into so many other houses more entertaining and more
instructing than his; on the contrary, you do very well; but, however,
as he was extremely civil to you, take care to be so to him, and make up
in manner what you omit in matter. See him, dine with him before you
come away, and ask his commands for England.

Your triangular seal is done, and I have given it to an English
gentleman, who sets out in a week for Paris, and who will deliver it to
Sir John Lambert for you.

I cannot conclude this letter without returning again to the showish, the
ornamental, the shining parts of your character; which, if you neglect,
upon my word you will render the solid ones absolutely useless; nay, such
is the present turn of the world, that some valuable qualities are even
ridiculous, if not accompanied by the genteeler accomplishments.
Plainness, simplicity, and quakerism, either in dress or manners, will by
no means do; they must both be laced and embroidered; speaking, or
writing sense, without elegance and turn, will be very little persuasive;
and the best figure in the world, without air and address, will be very
ineffectual. Some pedants may have told you that sound sense and
learning stand in, need of no ornaments; and, to support that assertion,
elegantly quote the vulgar proverb, that GOOD WINE NEEDS NO BUSH; but
surely the little experience you have already had of the world must have
convinced you that the contrary of that assertion is true. All those
accomplishments are now in your power; think of them, and of them only.
I hope you frequent La Foire St. Laurent, which I see is now open; you
will improve more by going there with your mistress, than by staying at
home and reading Euclid with your geometry master. Adieu. 'Divertissez-
vous, il n'y a rien de tel'.


GREENWICH, July 15, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: As this is the last, or last letter but one, that I
think I shall write before I have the pleasure of seeing you here, it may
not be amiss to prepare you a little for our interview, and for the time
we shall pass together. Before kings and princes meet, ministers on each
side adjust the important points of precedence, arm chairs, right hand
and left, etc., so that they know previously what they are to expect,
what they have to trust to; and it is right they should; for they
commonly envy or hate, but most certainly distrust each other. We shall
meet upon very different terms; we want no such preliminaries: you know
my tenderness, I know your affection. My only object, therefore, is to
make your short stay with me as useful as I can to you; and yours, I
hope, is to co-operate with me. Whether, by making it wholesome, I shall
make it pleasant to you, I am not sure. Emetics and cathartics I shall
not administer, because I am sure you do not want them; but for
alteratives you must expect a great many; and I can tell you that I have
a number of NOSTRUMS, which I shall communicate to nobody but yourself.
To speak without a metaphor, I shall endeavor to assist your youth with
all the experience that I have purchased, at the price of seven and fifty
years. In order to this, frequent reproofs, corrections, and admonitions
will be necessary; but then, I promise you, that they shall be in a
gentle, friendly, and secret manner; they shall not put you out of
countenance in company, nor out of humor when we are alone. I do not
expect that, at nineteen, you should have that knowledge of the world,
those manners, that dexterity, which few people have at nine-and-twenty.
But I will endeavor to give them you; and I am sure you will endeavor to
learn them, as far as your youth, my experience, and the time we shall
pass together, will allow. You may have many inaccuracies (and to be
sure you have, for who has not at your age?) which few people will tell
you of, and some nobody can tell you of but myself. You may possibly
have others, too, which eyes less interested, and less vigilant than
mine, do not discover; all those you shall hear of from one whose
tenderness for you will excite his curiosity and sharpen his penetration.
The smallest inattention or error in manners, the minutest inelegance of
diction, the least awkwardness in your dress and carriage, will not
escape my observation, nor pass without amicable correction. Two, the
most intimate friends in the world, can freely tell each other their
faults, and even their crimes, but cannot possibly tell each other of
certain little weaknesses; awkwardnesses, and blindnesses of self-love;
to authorize that unreserved freedom, the relation between us is
absolutely necessary. For example, I had a very worthy friend, with whom
I was intimate enough to tell him his faults; he had but few; I told him
of them; he took it kindly of me, and corrected them. But then, he had
some weaknesses that I could never tell him of directly, and which he was
so little sensible of himself, that hints of them were lost upon him.
He had a scrag neck, of about a yard long; notwithstanding which, bags
being in fashion, truly he would wear one to his wig, and did so; but
never behind him, for, upon every motion of his head, his bag came
forward over one shoulder or the other. He took it into his head too,
that he must occasionally dance minuets, because other people did; and he
did so, not only extremely ill, but so awkward, so disjointed, slim, so
meagre, was his figure, that had he danced as well as ever Marcel did, it
would have been ridiculous in him to have danced at all. I hinted these
things to him as plainly as friendship would allow, and to no purpose;
but to have told him the whole, so as to cure him, I must have been his
father, which, thank God, I am not. As fathers commonly go, it is seldom
a misfortune to be fatherless; and, considering the general run of sons,
as seldom a misfortune to be childless. You and I form, I believe, an
exception to that rule; for, I am persuaded that we would neither of us
change our relation, were it in our power. You will, I both hope and
believe, be not only the comfort, but the pride of my age; and, I am
sure, I will be the support, the friend, the guide of your youth. Trust
me without reserve; I will advise you without private interest, or secret
envy. Mr. Harte will do so too; but still there may be some little
things proper for you to know, and necessary for you to correct, which
even his friendship would not let him tell you of so freely as I should;
and some, of which he may not possibly be so good a judge of as I am, not
having lived so much in the great world.

One principal topic of our conversation will be, not only the purity but
the elegance of the English language; in both which you are very
deficient. Another will be the constitution of this country, of which,
I believe, you know less than of most other countries in Europe.
Manners, attentions, and address, will also be the frequent subjects of
our lectures; and whatever I know of that important and necessary art,
the art of pleasing. I will unreservedly communicate to you. Dress too
(which, as things are, I can logically prove, requires some attention)
will not always escape our notice. Thus, my lectures will be more
various, and in some respects more useful than Professor Mascow's, and
therefore, I can tell you, that I expect to be paid for them; but, as
possibly you would not care to part with your ready money, and as I do
not think that it would be quite handsome in me to accept it, I will
compound for the payment, and take it in attention and practice.

Pray remember to part with all your friends, acquaintances, and
mistresses, if you have any at Paris, in such a manner as may make them
not only willing but impatient to see you there again. Assure them of
your desire of returning to them; and do it in a manner that they may
think you in earnest, that is 'avec onction et une espece
d'attendrissement'. All people say, pretty near the same things upon
those occasions; it is the manner only that makes the difference; and
that difference is great. Avoid, however, as much as you can, charging
yourself with commissions, in your return from hence to Paris; I know, by
experience, that they are exceedingly troublesome, commonly expensive,
and very seldom satisfactory at last, to the persons who gave them; some
you cannot refuse, to people to whom you are obliged, and would oblige in
your turn; but as to common fiddle-faddle commissions, you may excuse
yourself from them with truth, by saying that you are to return to Paris
through Flanders, and see all those great towns; which I intend you shall
do, and stay a week or ten days at Brussels. Adieu! A good journey to
you, if this is my last; if not, I can repeat again what I shall wish


LONDON, December 19, O. S. 1751--[Note the date, which indicates that
the sojourn with the author has ended.]

MY DEAR FRIEND: You are now entered upon a scene of business, where I
hope you will one day make a figure. Use does a great deal, but care and
attention must be joined to it. The first thing necessary in writing
letters of business, is extreme clearness and perspicuity; every
paragraph should be so clear and unambiguous, that the dullest fellow in
the world may not be able to mistake it, nor obliged to read it twice in
order to understand it. This necessary clearness implies a correctness,
without excluding an elegance of style. Tropes, figures, antitheses,
epigrams, etc., would be as misplaced and as impertinent in letters of
business, as they are sometimes (if judiciously used) proper and pleasing
in familiar letters, upon common and trite subjects. In business, an
elegant simplicity, the result of care, not of labor, is required.
Business must be well, not affectedly dressed; but by no means
negligently. Let your first attention be to clearness, and read every
paragraph after you have written it, in the critical view of discovering
whether it is possible that any one man can mistake the true sense of it:
and correct it accordingly.

Our pronouns and relatives often create obscurity or ambiguity; be
therefore exceedingly attentive to them, and take care to mark out with
precision their particular relations. For example, Mr. Johnson
acquainted me that he had seen Mr. Smith, who had promised him to speak
to Mr. Clarke, to return him (Mr. Johnson) those papers, which he (Mr.
Smith) had left some time ago with him (Mr. Clarke): it is better to
repeat a name, though unnecessarily, ten times, than to have the person
mistaken once. WHO, you know, is singly relative to persons, and cannot
be applied to things; WHICH and THAT are chiefly relative to things, but
not absolutely exclusive of persons; for one may say, the man THAT robbed
or killed such-a-one; but it is better to say, the man WHO robbed or
killed. One never says, the man or the woman WHICH. WHICH and THAT,
though chiefly relative to things, cannot be always used indifferently as
to things, and the 'euoovca' must sometimes determine their, place. For
instance, the letter WHICH I received from you, WHICH you referred to in
your last, WHICH came by Lord Albemarle's messenger WHICH I showed to
such-a-one; I would change it thus--The letter THAT I received from you;
WHICH you referred to in your last, THAT came by Lord Albemarle's
messenger, and WHICH I showed to such-a-one.

Business does not exclude (as possibly you wish it did) the usual terms
of politeness and good-breeding; but, on the contrary, strictly requires
minister abroad, who writes to the minister at home, writes to his
superior; possibly to his patron, or at least to one who he desires
should be so.

Letters of business will not only admit of, but be the better for CERTAIN
GRACES--but then, they must be scattered with a sparing and skillful
hand; they must fit their place exactly. They must decently adorn
without encumbering, and modestly shine without glaring. But as this is
the, utmost degree of perfection in letters of business, I would not
advise you to attempt those embellishments, till you have first laid your
foundation well.

Cardinal d'Ossat's letters are the true letters of business; those of
Monsieur d'Avaux are excellent; Sir William Temple's are very pleasing,
but, I fear, too affected. Carefully avoid all Greek or Latin
quotations; and bring no precedents from the VIRTUOUS SPARTANS, THE
pedants. No flourishes, no declamation. But (I repeat it again) there
is an elegant simplicity and dignity of style absolutely necessary for
good letters of business; attend to that carefully. Let your periods be
harmonious, without seeming to be labored; and let them not be too long,
for that always occasions a degree of obscurity. I should not mention
correct orthography, but that you very often fail in that particular,
which will bring ridicule upon you; for no man is allowed to spell ill.
I wish too that your handwriting were much better; and I cannot conceive
why it is not, since every man may certainly write whatever hand he
pleases. Neatness in folding up, sealing, and directing your packets, is
by no means to be neglected; though, I dare say, you think it is. But
there is something in the exterior, even of a packet, that may please or
displease; and consequently worth some attention.

You say that your time is very well employed; and so it is, though as yet
only in the outlines, and first ROUTINE of business. They are previously
necessary to be known; they smooth the way for parts and dexterity.
Business requires no conjuration nor supernatural talents, as people
unacquainted with it are apt to think. Method, diligence, and
discretion, will carry a man, of good strong common sense, much higher
than the finest parts, without them, can do. 'Par negotiis, neque
supra', is the true character of a man of business; but then it implies
ready attention and no ABSENCES, and a flexibility and versatility of
attention from one object to another, without being engrossed by anyone.

Be upon your guard against the pedantry and affectation of business which
young people are apt to fall into, from the pride of being concerned in
it young. They look thoughtful, complain of the weight of business,
throw out mysterious hints, and seem big with secrets which they do not
know. Do you, on the contrary, never talk of business but to those with
whom you are to transact it; and learn to seem vacuus and idle, when you
have the most business. Of all things, the 'volte sciollo', and the
'pensieri stretti', are necessary. Adieu.


LONDON, December 30, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: The parliaments are the courts of justice of France, and
are what our courts of justice in Westminster-Hall are here. They used
anciently to follow the court, and administer justice in presence of the
King. Philip le Bel first fixed it at Paris, by an edict of 1302. It
consisted then of but one chambre, which was called 'la Chambre des
Prelats', most of the members being ecclesiastics; but the multiplicity
of business made it by degrees necessary to create several other
chambres. It consists now of seven chambres:

'La Grande Chambre', which is the highest court of justice, and to which
appeals lie from the others.

'Les cinq Chambres des Enquetes', which are like our Common Pleas, and
Court of Exchequer.

'La Tournelle', which is the court for criminal justice, and answers to
our Old Bailey and King's Bench.

There are in all twelve parliaments in France:
1. Paris
2. Toulouse
3. Grenoble
4. Bourdeaux
5. Dijon
6. Rouen
7. Aix en Provence
8. Rennes en Bretagne
9. Pau en Navarre
10. Metz
11. Dole en Franche Comte
12. Douay

There are three 'Conseils Souverains', which may almost be called
parliaments; they are those of:

Perpignan Arras Alsace

For further particulars of the French parliaments, read 'Bernard de la
Rochefavin des Parlemens de France', and other authors, who have treated
that subject constitutionally. But what will be still better, converse
upon it with people of sense and knowledge, who will inform you of the
particular objects of the several chambres, and the businesses of the
respective members, as, 'les Presidens, les Presidens a Mortier' (these
last so called from their black velvet caps laced with gold), 'les
Maitres tres des Requetes, les Greffiers, le Procureur General, les
Avocats Generaux, les Conseillers', etc. The great point in dispute is
concerning the powers of the parliament of Paris in matters of state, and
relatively to the Crown. They pretend to the powers of the States-
General of France when they used to be assembled (which, I think, they
have not been since the reign of Lewis the Thirteenth, in the year 1615).
The Crown denies those pretensions, and considers them only as courts of
justice. Mezeray seems to be on the side of the parliament in this
question, which is very well worth your inquiry. But, be that as it
will, the parliament of Paris is certainly a very respectable body, and
much regarded by the whole kingdom. The edicts of the Crown, especially
those for levying money on the subjects, ought to be registered in
parliament; I do not say to have their effect, for the Crown would take
good care of that; but to have a decent appearance, and to procure a
willing acquiescence in the nation. And the Crown itself, absolute as it
is, does not love that strong opposition, and those admirable
remonstrances, which it sometimes meets with from the parliaments.
Many of those detached pieces are very well worth your collecting;
and I remember, a year or two ago, a remonstrance of the parliament of
Douay, upon the subject, as I think, of the 'Vingtieme', which was in my
mind one of the finest and most moving compositions I ever read.
They owned themselves, indeed, to be slaves, and showed their chains:
but humbly begged of his Majesty to make them a little lighter, and less

THE STATES OF FRANCE were general assemblies of the three states or
orders of the kingdom; the Clergy, the Nobility, and the 'Tiers Etat',
that is, the people. They used to be called together by the King, upon
the most important affairs of state, like our Lords and Commons in
parliament, and our Clergy in convocation. Our parliament is our states,
and the French parliaments are only their courts of justice.
The Nobility consisted of all those of noble extraction, whether
belonging to the SWORD or to the ROBE, excepting such as were chosen
(which sometimes happened) by the Tiers Etat as their deputies to the
States-General. The Tiers Etat was exactly our House of Commons, that
is, the people, represented by deputies of their own choosing. Those who
had the most considerable places, 'dans la robe', assisted at those
assemblies, as commissioners on the part of the Crown. The States met,
for the first time that I can find (I mean by the name of 'les etats'),
in the reign of Pharamond, 424, when they confirmed the Salic law. From
that time they have been very frequently assembled, sometimes upon
important occasions, as making war and peace, reforming abuses, etc.; at
other times, upon seemingly trifling ones, as coronations, marriages,
etc. Francis the First assembled them, in 1526, to declare null and void
his famous treaty of Madrid, signed and sworn to by him during his
captivity there. They grew troublesome to the kings and to their
ministers, and were but seldom called after the power of the Crown grew
strong; and they have never been heard of since the year 1615. Richelieu
came and shackled the nation, and Mazarin and Lewis the Fourteenth
riveted the shackles.

There still subsist in some provinces in France, which are called 'pais
d etats', an humble local imitation, or rather mimicry, of the great
'etats', as in Languedoc, Bretagne, etc. They meet, they speak, they
grumble, and finally submit to whatever the King orders.

Independently of the intrinsic utility of this kind of knowledge to every
man of business, it is a shame for any man to be ignorant of it,
especially relatively to any country he has been long in. Adieu.


A favor may make an enemy, and an injury may make a friend
Affectation of business
Applauded often, without approving
At the first impulse of passion, be silent till you can be soft
Avoid cacophony, and, what is very near as bad, monotony
Be silent till you can be soft
Being intelligible is now no longer the fashion
Better refuse a favor gracefully, than to grant it clumsily
Business must be well, not affectedly dressed
Business now is to shine, not to weigh
But stoops to conquer, and but kneels to rise
Cease to love when you cease to be agreeable
Chit-chat, useful to keep off improper and too serious subjects
Committing acts of hostility upon the Graces
Concealed what learning I had
Consciousness of merit makes a man of sense more modest
Disagreeable things may be done so agreeably as almost to oblige
Disputes with heat
Dr Fell
Easy without negligence
Elegance in one language will reproduce itself in all
Every man knows that he understands religion and politics
Every numerous assembly is MOB
Everybody is good for something
Expresses himself with more fire than elegance
Frank without indiscretion
Full-bottomed wigs were contrived for his humpback
Gentleness of manners, with firmness of mind
German, who has taken into his head that he understands French
Grow wiser when it is too late
Habitual eloquence
Hand of a school-boy
Hardened to the wants and distresses of mankind
Have you learned to carve?
If free from the guilt, be free from the suspicion, too
Inclined to be fat, but I hope you will decline it
Indolently say that they cannot do
Information implies our previous ignorance; it must be sweetened
Information is, in a certain degree, mortifying
Insinuates himself only into the esteem of fools
It is a real inconvenience to anybody to be fat
Know, yourself and others
Knowing how much you have, and how little you want
Last beautiful varnish, which raises the colors
Learn to keep your own secrets
Loved without being despised, and feared without being hated
Man of sense may be in haste, but can never be in a hurry
Mangles what he means to carve
Mazarin and Lewis the Fourteenth riveted the shackles
Meditation and reflection
Mere reason and good sense is never to be talked to a mob
Mistimes or misplaces everything
Mitigating, engaging words do by no means weaken your argument
MOB: Understanding they have collectively none
Often necessary, not to manifest all one feels
One must often yield, in order to prevail
Only because she will not, and not because she cannot
Our frivolous dissertations upon the weather, or upon whist
Outward air of modesty to all he does
Richelieu came and shackled the nation
Rochefoucault, who, I am afraid, paints man very exactly
See what you see, and to hear what you hear
Seems to have no opinion of his own
Seldom a misfortune to be childless
She has uncommon, sense and knowledge for a woman
Speaking to himself in the glass
Style is the dress of thoughts
Success turns much more upon manner than matter
Take characters, as they do most things, upon trust
They thought I informed, because I pleased them
Unaffected silence upon that subject is the only true medium
Unintelligible to his readers, and sometimes to himself
Use palliatives when you contradict
We love to be pleased better than to be informed
Woman like her, who has always pleased, and often been pleased
Women are the only refiners of the merit of men
Yielded commonly without conviction

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