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Letters to His Son, 1752 by The Earl of Chesterfield

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LONDON, June 26, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: As I have reason to fear, from your M last letter of the
18th, N. S., from Manheim, that all, or at least most of my letters to
you, since you left Paris, have miscarried; I think it requisite, at all
events, to repeat in this the necessary parts of those several letters,
as far as they relate to your future motions.

I suppose that this will either find you, or be but a few days before you
at Bonn, where it is directed; and I suppose too, that you have fixed
your time for going from thence to Hanover. If things TURN OUT WELL AT
HANOVER, as in my opinion they will, 'Chi sta bene non si muova', stay
there till a week or ten days before the King sets out for England; but,
should THEY TURN OUT ILL, which I cannot imagine, stay, however, a month,
that your departure may not seem a step of discontent or peevishness; the
very suspicion of which is by all means to be avoided. Whenever you
leave Hanover, be it sooner or be it later, where would you go? 'Lei
Padrone', and I give you your choice: would you pass the months of
November and December at Brunswick, Cassel, etc.? Would you choose
to go for a couple of months to Ratisbon, where you would be very
well recommended to, and treated by the King's Electoral Minister, the
Baron de Behr, and where you would improve your 'Jus publicum'? or would
you rather go directly to Berlin, and stay there till the end of the
Carnival? Two or three months at Berlin are, considering all
circumstances, necessary for you; and the Carnival months are the best;
'pour le reste decidez en dernier ressort, et sans appel comme d'abus'.
Let me know your decree, when you have formed it. Your good or ill
success at Hanover will have a very great influence upon your subsequent
character, figure, and fortune in the world; therefore I confess that I
am more anxious about it, than ever bride was on her wedding night, when
wishes, hopes, fears, and doubts, tumultuously agitate, please, and
terrify her. It is your first crisis: the character which you will
acquire there will, more or less, be that which will abide by you for the
rest of your life. You will be tried and judged there, not as a boy, but
as a man; and from that moment there is no appeal for character; it is
fixed. To form that character advantageously, you have three objects
particularly to attend to: your character as a man of morality, truth,
and honor; your knowledge in the objects of your destination, as a man of
business; and your engaging and insinuating address, air and manners, as
a courtier; the sure and only steps to favor.

Merit at courts, without favor, will do little or nothing; favor, without
merit, will do a good deal; but favor and merit together will do
everything. Favor at courts depends upon so many, such trifling, such
unexpected, and unforeseen events, that a good courtier must attend to
every circumstance, however little, that either does, or can happen; he
must have no absences, no DISTRACTIONS; he must not say, "I did not mind
it; who would have thought it?" He ought both to have minded, and to
have thought it. A chamber-maid has sometimes caused revolutions in
courts which have produced others in kingdoms. Were I to make my way to
favor in a court, I would neither willfully, nor by negligence, give a
dog or a cat there reason to dislike me. Two 'pies grieches', well
instructed, you know, made the fortune of De Luines with Lewis XIII.
Every step a man makes at court requires as much attention and
circumspection, as those which were made formerly between hot plowshares,
in the Ordeal, or fiery trials; which, in those times of ignorance and
superstition, were looked upon as demonstrations of innocence or guilt.
Direct your principal battery, at Hanover, at the D of N 's: there are
many very weak places in that citadel; where, with a very little skill,
you cannot fail making a great impression. Ask for his orders in
everything you do; talk Austrian and Anti-gallican to him; and, as soon
as you are upon a foot of talking easily to him, tell him 'en badinant',
that his skill and success in thirty or forty elections in England leave
you no reason to doubt of his carrying his election for Frankfort; and
that you look upon the Archduke as his Member for the Empire. In his
hours of festivity and compotation, drop that he puts you in mind of what
Sir William Temple says of the Pensionary De Witt,--who at that time
governed half Europe,--that he appeared at balls, assemblies, and public
places, as if he had nothing else to do or to think of. When he talks to
you upon foreign affairs, which he will often do, say that you really
cannot presume to give any opinion of your own upon those matters,
looking upon yourself at present only as a postscript to the corps
diplomatique; but that, if his Grace will be pleased to make you an
additional volume to it, though but in duodecimo, you will do your best
that he shall neither be ashamed nor repent of it. He loves to have a
favorite, and to open himself to that favorite. He has now no such
person with him; the place is vacant, and if you have dexterity you may
fill it. In one thing alone do not humor him; I mean drinking; for, as I
believe, you have never yet been drunk, you do not yourself know how you
can bear your wine, and what a little too much of it may make you do or
say; you might possibly kick down all you had done before.

You do not love gaming, and I thank God for it; but at Hanover I would
have you show, and profess a particular dislike to play, so as to decline
it upon all occasions, unless where one may be wanted to make a fourth at
whist or quadrille; and then take care to declare it the result of your
complaisance, not of your inclinations. Without such precaution you may
very possibly be suspected, though unjustly, of loving play, upon account
of my former passion for it; and such a suspicion would do you a great
deal of hurt, especially with the King, who detests gaming. I must end
this abruptly. God bless you!


MY DEAR FRIEND: Versatility as a courtier may be almost decisive to you
hereafter; that is, it may conduce to, or retard your preferment in your
own destination. The first reputation goes a great way; and if you fix a
good one at Hanover, it will operate also to your advantage in England.
The trade of a courtier is as much a trade as that of a shoemaker; and he
who applies himself the most, will work the best: the only difficulty is
to distinguish (what I am sure you have sense enough to distinguish)
between the right and proper qualifications and their kindred faults; for
there is but a line between every perfection and its neighboring
imperfection. As, for example, you must be extremely well-bred and
polite, but without the troublesome forms and stiffness of ceremony. You
must be respectful and assenting, but without being servile and abject.
You must be frank, but without indiscretion; and close, without being
costive. You must keep up dignity of character, without the least pride
of birth or rank. You must be gay within all the bounds of decency and
respect; and grave without the affectation of wisdom, which does not
become the age of twenty. You must be essentially secret, without being
dark and mysterious. You must be firm, and even bold, but with great
seeming modesty.

With these qualifications, which, by the way, are all in your own power,
I will answer for your success, not only at Hanover, but at any court in
Europe. And I am not sorry that you begin your apprenticeship at a
little one; because you must be more circumspect, and more upon your
guard there, than at a great one, where every little thing is not known
nor reported.

When you write to me, or to anybody else, from thence, take care that
your letters contain commendations of all that you see and hear there;
for they will most of them be opened and read; but, as frequent couriers
will come from Hanover to England, you may sometimes write to me without
reserve; and put your letters into a very little box, which you may send
safely by some of them.

I must not omit mentioning to you, that at the Duke of Newcastle's table,
where you will frequently dine, there is a great deal of drinking; be
upon your guard against it, both upon account of your health, which would
not bear it, and of the consequences of your being flustered and heated
with wine: it might engage you in scrapes and frolics, which the King
(who is a very sober man himself) detests. On the other hand, you should
not seem too grave and too wise to drink like the rest of the company;
therefore use art: mix water with your wine; do not drink all that is in
the glass; and if detected, and pressed to drink more do not cry out
sobriety; but say that you have lately been out of order, that you are
subject to inflammatory complaints, and that you must beg to be excused
for the present. A young fellow ought to be wiser than he should seem to
be; and an old fellow ought to seem wise whether he really' be so or not.

During your stay at Hanover I would have you make two or three excursions
to parts of that Electorate: the Hartz, where the silver mines are;
Gottingen, for the University; Stade, for what commerce there is. You
should also go to Zell. In short, see everything that is to be seen
there, and inform yourself well of all the details of that country. Go
to Hamburg for three or four days, and know the constitution of that
little Hanseatic Republic, and inform yourself well of the nature of the
King of Denmark's pretensions to it.

If all things turn out right for you at Hanover, I would have you make it
your head-quarters, till about a week or ten days before the King leaves
it; and then go to Brunswick, which, though a little, is a very polite,
pretty court. You may stay there a fortnight or three weeks, as you like
it; and from thence go to Cassel, and stay there till you go to Berlin;
where I would have you be by Christmas. At Hanover you will very easily
get good letters of recommendation to Brunswick and to Cassel. You do
not want any to Berlin; however, I will send you one for Voltaire.
'A propos' of Berlin, be very reserved and cautious while at Hanover, as
to that King and that country; both which are detested, because feared by
everybody there, from his Majesty down to the meanest peasant; but,
however, they both extremely deserve your utmost attention and you will
see the arts and wisdom of government better in that country, now, than
in any other in Europe. You may stay three months at Berlin, if you like
it, as I believe you will; and after that I hope we shall meet there

Of all the places in the world (I repeat it once more), establish a good
reputation at Hanover, 'et faites vous valoir la, autant qu'il est
possible, par le brillant, les manieres, et les graces'. Indeed it is of
the greatest importance to you, and will make any future application to
the King in your behalf very easy. He is more taken by those little
things, than any man, or even woman, that I ever knew in my life: and I
do not wonder at him. In short, exert to the utmost all your means and
powers to please: and remember that he who pleases the most, will rise
the soonest and the highest. Try but once the pleasure and advantage of
pleasing, and I will answer that you will never more neglect the means.

I send you herewith two letters, the one to Monsieur Munchausen, the
other to Monsieur Schweigeldt, an old friend of mine, and a very sensible
knowing man. They will both I am sure, be extremely civil to you, and
carry you into the best company; and then it is your business to please
that company. I never was more anxious about any period of your life,
than I am about this, your Hanover expedition, it being of so much more
consequence to you than any other. If I hear from thence, that you are
liked and loved there, for your air, your manners, and address, as well
as esteemed for your knowledge, I shall be the happiest man in the world.
Judge then what I must be, if it happens otherwise. Adieu.


LONDON, July 21, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: By my calculation this letter may probably arrive at
Hanover three or four days before you; and as I am sure of its arriving
there safe, it shall contain the most material points that I have
mentioned in my several letters to you since you left Paris, as if you
had received but few of them, which may very probably be the case.

As for your stay at Hanover, it must not IN ALL EVENTS be less than a
month; but if things turn out to Your SATISFACTION, it may be just as
long as you please. From thence you may go wherever you like; for I have
so good an opinion of your judgment, that I think you will combine and
weigh all circumstances, and choose the properest places. Would you
saunter at some of the small courts, as Brunswick, Cassel, etc., till the
Carnival at Berlin? You are master. Would you pass a couple of months
at Ratisbon, which might not be ill employed? 'A la bonne heure'. Would
you go to Brussels, stay a month or two there with Dayrolles, and from
thence to Mr. Yorke, at The Hague? With all my heart. Or, lastly, would
you go to Copenhagen and Stockholm? 'Lei e anche Padrone': choose
entirely for yourself, without any further instructions from me; only let
me know your determination in time, that I may settle your credit, in
case you go to places where at present you have none. Your object should
be to see the 'mores multorum hominum et urbes'; begin and end it where
you please.

By what you have already seen of the German courts, I am sure you must
have observed that they are much more nice and scrupulous, in points of
ceremony, respect and attention, than the greater courts of France and
England. You will, therefore, I am persuaded, attend to the minutest
circumstances of address and behavior, particularly during your stay at
Hanover, which (I will repeat it, though I have said it often to you
already) is the most important preliminary period of your whole life.
Nobody in the world is more exact, in all points of good-breeding, than
the King; and it is the part of every man's character, that he informs
himself of first. The least negligence, or the slightest inattention,
reported to him, may do you infinite prejudice: as their contraries would

If Lord Albemarle (as I believe he did) trusted you with the secret
affairs of his department, let the Duke of Newcastle know that he did so;
which will be an inducement to him to trust you too, and possibly to
employ you in affairs of consequence. Tell him that, though you are
young, you know the importance of secrecy in business, and can keep a
secret; that I have always inculcated this doctrine into you, and have,
moreover, strictly forbidden you ever to communicate, even to me, any
matters of a secret nature, which you may happen to be trusted with in
the course of business.

As for business, I think I can trust you to yourself; but I wish I could
say as much for you with regard to those exterior accomplishments,
which are absolutely necessary to smooth and shorten the way to it. Half
the business is done, when one has gained the heart and the affections of
those with whom one is to transact it. Air and address must begin,
manners and attention must finish that work. I will let you into one
secret concerning myself; which is, that I owe much more of the success
which I have had in the world to my manners, than to any superior degree
of merit or knowledge. I desired to please, and I neglected none of the
means. This, I can assure you, without any false modesty, is the truth:
You have more knowledge than I had at your age, but then I had much more
attention and good-breeding than you. Call it vanity, if you please, and
possibly it was so; but my great object was to make every man I met with
like me, and every woman love me. I often succeeded; but why? By taking
great pains, for otherwise I never should: my figure by no means entitled
me to it; and I had certainly an up-hill game; whereas your countenance
would help you, if you made the most of it, and proscribed for ever the
guilty, gloomy, and funereal part of it. Dress, address, and air, would
become your best countenance, and make your little figure pass very well.

If you have time to read at Hanover, pray let the books you read be all
relative to the history and constitution of that country; which I would
have you know as correctly as any Hanoverian in the whole Electorate.
Inform yourself of the powers of the States, and of the nature and extent
of the several judicatures; the particular articles of trade and commerce
of Bremen, Harburg, and Stade; the details and value of the mines of the
Hartz. Two or three short books will give you the outlines of all these
things; and conversation turned upon those subjects will do the rest, and
better than books can.

Remember of all things to speak nothing but German there; make it (to
express myself pedantically) your vernacular language; seem to prefer it
to any other; call it your favorite language, and study to speak it with
purity and elegance, if it has any. This will not only make you perfect
in it, but will please, and make your court there better than anything.
A propos of languages: Did you improve your Italian while you were at
Paris, or did you forget it? Had you a master there? and what Italian
books did you read with him? If you are master of Italian, I would have
you afterward, by the first convenient opportunity, learn Spanish, which
you may very easily, and in a very little time do; you will then, in the
course of your foreign business, never be obliged to employ, pay, or
trust any translator for any European language.

As I love to provide eventually for everything that can possibly happen,
I will suppose the worst that can befall you at Hanover. In that case I
would have you go immediately to the Duke of Newcastle, and beg his
Grace's advice, or rather orders, what you should do; adding, that his
advice will always be orders to you. You will tell him that though you
are exceedingly mortified, you are much less so than you should otherwise
be, from the consideration that being utterly unknown to his M-----,
his objection could not be personal to you, and could only arise from
circumstances which it was not in your power either to prevent or remedy;
that if his Grace thought that your continuing any longer there would be
disagreeable, you entreated him to tell you so; and that upon the whole,
you referred yourself entirely to him, whose orders you should most
scrupulously obey. But this precaution, I dare say, is 'ex abundanti',
and will prove unnecessary; however, it is always right to be prepared
for all events, the worst as well as the best; it prevents hurry and
surprise, two dangerous, situations in business; for I know no one thing
so useful, so necessary in all business, as great coolness, steadiness,
and sangfroid: they give an incredible advantage over whoever one has to
do with.

I have received your letter of the 15th, N. S., from Mayence, where I
find that you have diverted yourself much better than I expected. I am
very well acquainted with Comte Cobentzel's character, both of parts and
business. He could have given you letters to Bonn, having formerly
resided there himself. You will not be so agreeably ELECTRIFIED where
this letter will find you, as you were both at Manheim and Mayence; but
I hope you may meet with a second German Mrs. F-----d, who may make you
forget the two former ones, and practice your German. Such transient
passions will do you no harm; but, on the contrary, a great deal of good;
they will refine your manners and quicken your attention; they give a
young fellow 'du brillant', and bring him into fashion; which last is a
great article at setting out in the world.

I have wrote, about a month ago, to Lord Albemarle, to thank him for all
his kindnesses to you; but pray have you done as much? Those are the
necessary attentions which should never be omitted, especially in the
beginning of life, when a character is to be established.

That ready wit; which you so partially allow me, and so justly Sir
Charles Williams, may create many admirers; but, take my word for it,
it makes few friends. It shines and dazzles like the noon-day sun, but,
like that too, is very apt to scorch; and therefore is always feared.
The milder morning and evening light and heat of that planet soothe and
calm our minds. Good sense, complaisance, gentleness of manners,
attentions and graces are the only things that truly engage, and durably
keep the heart at long run. Never seek for wit; if it presents itself,
well and good; but, even in that case, let your judgment interpose; and
take care that it be not at the expense of anybody. Pope says very

"There are whom heaven has blest with store of wit;
Yet want as much again to govern it."

And in another place, I doubt with too much truth:

"For wit and judgment ever are at strife
Though meant each other's aid, like man and wife."

The Germans are very seldom troubled with any extraordinary ebullitions
or effervescenses of wit, and it is not prudent to try it upon them;
whoever does, 'ofendet solido'.

Remember to write me very minute accounts of all your transactions at
Hanover, for they excite both my impatience and anxiety. Adieu!


LONDON, August 4, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: I am extremely concerned at the return of your old
asthmatic complaint, of which your letter from Cassel of the 28th July,
N. S., in forms me. I believe it is chiefly owing to your own
negligence; for, notwithstanding the season of the year, and the heat and
agitation of traveling, I dare swear you have not taken one single dose
of gentle, cooling physic, since that which I made you take at Bath.
I hope you are now better, and in better hands. I mean in Dr. Hugo's at
Hanover: he is certainly a very skillful physician, and therefore I
desire that you will inform him most minutely of your own case, from your
first attack in Carniola, to this last at Marpurgh; and not only follow
his prescriptions exactly at present, but take his directions, with
regard to the regimen that he would have you observe to prevent the
returns of this complaint; and, in case of any returns, the immediate
applications, whether external or internal, that he would have you make
use of. Consider, it is very worth your while to submit at present to
any course of medicine or diet, to any restraint or confinement, for a
time, in order to get rid, once for all, of so troublesome and painful a
distemper; the returns of which would equally break in upon your business
or your pleasures. Notwithstanding all this, which is plain sense and
reason, I much fear that, as soon as ever you are got out of your present
distress, you will take no preventive care, by a proper course of
medicines and regimen; but, like most people of your age, think it
impossible that you ever should be ill again. However, if you will not
be wise for your own sake, I desire you will be so for mine, and most
scrupulously observe Dr. Hugo's present and future directions.

Hanover, where I take it for granted you are, is at present the seat and
centre of foreign negotiations; there are ministers from almost every
court in Europe; and you have a fine opportunity of displaying with
modesty, in conversation, your knowledge of the matters now in agitation.
The chief I take to be the Election of the King of the Romans, which,
though I despair of, heartily wish were brought about for two reasons.
The first is, that I think it may prevent a war upon the death of the
present Emperor, who, though young and healthy, may possibly die, as
young and healthy people often do. The other is, the very reason that
makes some powers oppose it, and others dislike it, who do not openly
oppose it; I mean, that it may tend to make the imperial dignity
hereditary in the House of Austria; which I heartily wish, together with
a very great increase of power in the empire: till when, Germany will
never be anything near a match for France. Cardinal Richelieu showed his
superior abilities in nothing more, than in thinking no pains or expense
too great to break the power of the House of Austria in the empire.
Ferdinand had certainly made himself absolute, and the empire
consequently formidable to France, if that Cardinal had not piously
adopted the Protestant cause, and put the empire, by the treaty of
Westphalia, in pretty much the same disjointed situation in which France
itself was before Lewis the Eleventh; when princes of the blood, at the
head of provinces, and Dukes of Brittany, etc., always opposed, and often
gave laws to the crown. Nothing but making the empire hereditary in the
House of Austria, can give it that strength and efficiency, which I wish
it had, for the sake of the balance of power. For, while the princes of
the empire are so independent of the emperor, so divided among
themselves, and so open to the corruption of the best bidders, it is
ridiculous to expect that Germany ever will, or can act as a compact and
well-united body against France. But as this notion of mine would as
little please SOME OF OUR FRIENDS, as many of our enemies, I would not
advise you, though you should be of the same opinion, to declare yourself
too freely so. Could the Elector Palatine be satisfied, which I confess
will be difficult, considering the nature of his pretensions, the
tenaciousness and haughtiness of the court of Vienna (and our inability
to do, as we have too often done, their work for them); I say, if the
Elector Palatine could be engaged to give his vote, I should think it
would be right to proceed to the election with a clear majority of five
votes; and leave the King of Prussia and the Elector of Cologne, to
protest and remonstrate as much as ever they please. The former is too
wise, and the latter too weak in every respect, to act in consequence of
these protests. The distracted situation of France, with its
ecclesiastical and parliamentary quarrels, not to mention the illness and
possibly the death of the Dauphin, will make the King of Prussia, who is
certainly no Frenchman in his heart, very cautious how he acts as one.
The Elector of Saxony will be influenced by the King of Poland, who must
be determined by Russia, considering his views upon Poland, which, by the
by, I hope he will never obtain; I mean, as to making that crown
hereditary in his family. As for his sons having it by the precarious
tenure of election, by which his father now holds it, 'a la bonne heure'.
But, should Poland have a good government under hereditary kings, there
would be a new devil raised in Europe, that I do not know who could lay.
I am sure I would not raise him, though on my own side for the present.

I do not know how I came to trouble my head so much about politics today,
which has been so very free from them for some years: I suppose it was
because I knew that I was writing to the most consummate politician of
this, and his age. If I err, you will set me right; 'si quid novisti
rectius istis, candidus imperti', etc.

I am excessively impatient for your next letter, which I expect by the
first post from Hanover, to remove my anxiety, as I hope it will, not
only with regard to your health, but likewise to OTHER THINGS; in the
meantime in the language of a pedant, but with the tenderness of a
parent, 'jubeo te bene valere'.

Lady Chesterfield makes you many compliments, and is much concerned at
your indisposition.



LONDON, August 27, O. S. 1752.

SIR: As a most convincing proof how infinitely I am interested in
everything which concerns Mr. Stanhope, who will have the honor of
presenting you this letter, I take the liberty of introducing him to you.
He has read a great deal, he has seen a great deal; whether or not he has
made a proper use of that knowledge, is what I do not know: he is only
twenty years of age. He was at Berlin some years ago, and therefore he
returns thither; for at present people are attracted toward the north by
the same motives which but lately drew them to the south.

Permit me, Sir, to return you thanks for the pleasure and instruction I
have received from your 'History of Lewis XIV'. I have as yet read it
but four times, because I wish to forget it a little before I read it a
fifth; but I find that impossible: I shall therefore only wait till you
give us the augmentation which you promised; let me entreat you not to
defer it long. I thought myself pretty conversant in the history of the
reign of Lewis XIV., by means of those innumerable histories, memoirs,
anecdotes, etc., which I had read relative to that period of time. You
have convinced me that I was mistaken, and had upon that subject very
confused ideas in many respects, and very false ones in others. Above
all, I cannot but acknowledge the obligation we have to you, Sir, for the
light which you have thrown upon the follies and outrages of the
different sects; the weapons you employ against those madmen, or those
impostors, are the only suitable ones; to make use of any others would be
imitating them: they must be attacked by ridicule, and, punished with
contempt. 'A propos' of those fanatics; I send you here inclosed a piece
upon that subject, written by the late Dean Swift: I believe you will not
dislike it. You will easily guess why it never was printed: it is
authentic, and I have the original in his own handwriting. His Jupiter,
at the Day of judgment, treats them much as you do, and as they deserve
to be treated.

Give me leave, Sir, to tell you freely, that I am embarrassed upon your
account, as I cannot determine what it is that I wish from you. When I
read your last history, I am desirous that you should always write
history; but when I read your 'Rome Sauvee' (although ill-printed and
disfigured), yet I then wish you never to deviate from poetry; however,
I confess that there still remains one history worthy of your pen, and of
which your pen alone is worthy. You have long ago given us the history
of the greatest and most outrageous madman (I ask your pardon if I cannot
say the greatest hero) of Europe; you have given us latterly the history
of the greatest king; give us now the history of the greatest and most
virtuous man in Europe; I should think it degrading to call him king.
To you this cannot be difficult, he is always before your eyes: your
poetical invention is not necessary to his glory, as that may safely rely
upon your historical candor. The first duty of an historian is the only
one he need require from his, 'Ne quid falsi dicere audeat, ne quid veri
non audeat'. Adieu, Sir! I find that I must admire you every day more
and more; but I also know that nothing ever can add to the esteem and
attachment with which I am actually, your most humble and most obedient


LONDON, September 19, 1752,

MY DEAR FRIEND: Since you have been at Hanover, your correspondence has
been both unfrequent and laconic. You made indeed one great effort in
folio on the 18th, with a postscript of the 22d August, N. S., and since
that, 'vous avez rate in quarto'. On the 3lst August, N. S., you give me
no informations of what I want chiefly to know; which is, what Dr. Hugo
(whom I charged you to consult) said of your asthmatic complaint, and
what he prescribed you to prevent the returns of it; and also what is the
company that, you keep there, who has been kind and civil to you, and who

You say that you go constantly to the parade; and you do very well; for
though you are not of that trade, yet military matters make so great a
part both of conversation and negotiation, that it is very proper not to
be ignorant of them. I hope you mind more than the mere exercise of the
troops you see; and that you inform yourself at the same time, of the
more material details; such as their pay, and the difference of it when
in and out of quarters; what is furnished them by the country when in
quarters, and what is allowed them of ammunition, bread, etc., when in
the field; the number of men and officers in the several troops and
companies, together with the non-commissioned officers, as 'caporals,
frey-caporals, anspessades', sergeants, quarter-masters, etc.; the
clothing how frequent, how good, and how furnished; whether by the
colonel, as here in England, from what we call the OFF-RECKONINGS, that
is, deductions from the men's pay, or by commissaries appointed by the
government for that purpose, as in France and Holland. By these
inquiries you will be able to talk military with military men, who, in
every country in Europe, except England, make at least half of all the
best companies. Your attending the parades has also another good effect,
which is, that it brings you, of course, acquainted with the officers,
who, when of a certain rank and service, are generally very polite, well-
bred people, 'et du bon ton'. They have commonly seen a great deal of
the world, and of courts; and nothing else can form a gentleman, let
people say what they will of sense and learning; with both which a man
may contrive to be a very disagreeable companion. I dare say, there are
very few captains of foot, who are not much better company than ever
Descartes or Sir Isaac Newton were. I honor and respect such superior
geniuses; but I desire to converse with people of this world, who bring
into company their share, at least, of cheerfulness, good-breeding, and
knowledge of mankind. In common life, one much oftener wants small
money, and silver, than gold. Give me a man who has ready cash about him
for present expenses; sixpences, shillings, half-crowns, and crowns,
which circulate easily: but a man who has only an ingot of gold about
him, is much above common purposes, and his riches are not handy nor
convenient. Have as much gold as you please in one pocket, but take care
always to keep change in the other; for you will much oftener have
occasion for a shilling than for a guinea. In this the French must be
allowed to excel all people in the world: they have 'un certain
entregent, un enjouement, un aimable legerete dans la conversation, une
politesse aisee et naturelle, qui paroit ne leur rien couter', which give
society all its charms. I am sorry to add, but it is too true, that the
English and the Dutch are the farthest from this, of all the people in
the world; I do by no means except even the Swiss.

Though you do not think proper to inform me, I know from other hands that
you were to go to the Gohr with a Comte Schullemburg, for eight or ten
days only, to see the reviews. I know also that you had a blister upon
your arm, which did you a great deal of good. I know too, you have
contracted a great friendship with Lord Essex, and that you two were
inseparable at Hanover. All these things I would rather have known from
you than from others; and they are the sort of things that I am the most
desirous of knowing, as they are more immediately relative to yourself.

I am very sorry for the Duchess of Newcastle's illness, full as much upon
your as upon her account, as it has hindered you from being so much known
to the Duke as I could have wished; use and habit going a great way with
him, as indeed they do with most people. I have known many people
patronized, pushed up, and preferred by those who could have given no
other reason for it, than that they were used to them. We must never
seek for motives by deep reasoning, but we must find them out by careful
observation and attention, no matter what they should be, but the point
is, what they are. Trace them up, step by step, from the character of
the person. I have known 'de par le monde', as Brantome says, great
effects from causes too little ever to have been suspected. Some things
must be known, and can never be guessed.

God knows where this letter will find you, or follow you; not at Hanover,
I suppose; but wherever it does, may it find you in health and pleasure!


LONDON, September 22, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: The day after the date of my last, I received your letter
of the 8th. I approve extremely of your intended progress, and am very
glad that you go to the Gohr with Comte Schullemburg. I would have you
see everything with your own eyes, and hear everything with your own
ears: for I know, by very long experience, that it is very unsafe to
trust to other people's. Vanity and interest cause many
misrepresentations, and folly causes many more. Few people have parts
enough to relate exactly and judiciously: and those who have, for some
reason or other, never fail to sink, or to add some circumstances.

The reception which you have met with at Hanover, I look upon as an omen
of your being well received everywhere else; for to tell you the truth,
it was the place that I distrusted the most in that particular. But
there is a certain conduct, there are certaines 'manieres' that will,
and must get the better of all difficulties of that kind; it is to
acquire them that you still continue abroad, and go from court to court;
they are personal, local, and temporal; they are modes which vary, and
owe their existence to accidents, whim, and humor; all the sense and
reason in the world would never point them out; nothing but experience,
observation, and what is called knowledge of the world, can possibly
teach them. For example, it is respectful to bow to the King of England,
it is disrespectful to bow to the King of France; it is the rule to
courtesy to the Emperor; and the prostration of the whole body is
required by eastern monarchs. These are established ceremonies, and must
be complied with: but why thev were established, I defy sense and reason
to tell us. It is the same among all ranks, where certain customs are
received, and must necessarily be complied with, though by no means the
result of sense and reason. As for instance, the very absurd, though
almost universal custom of drinking people's healths. Can there be
anything in the world less relative to any other man's health, than my
drinking a glass of wine? Common sense certainly never pointed it out;
but yet common sense tells me I must conform to it. Good sense bids one
be civil and endeavor to please; though nothing but experience and
observation can teach one the means, properly adapted to time, place, and
persons. This knowledge is the true object of a gentleman's traveling,
if he travels as he ought to do. By frequenting good company in every
country, he himself becomes of every country; he is no longer an
Englishman, a Frenchman, or an Italian; but he is an European; he adopts,
respectively, the best manners of every country; and is a Frenchman at
Paris, an Italian at Rome, an Englishman at London.

This advantage, I must confess, very seldom accrues to my countrymen from
their traveling; as they have neither the desire nor the means of getting
into good company abroad; for, in the first place, they are confoundedly
bashful; and, in the next place, they either speak no foreign language at
all, or if they do, it is barbarously. You possess all the advantages
that they want; you know the languages in perfection, and have constantly
kept the best company in the places where you have been; so that you
ought to be an European. Your canvas is solid and strong, your outlines
are good; but remember that you still want the beautiful coloring of
Titian, and the delicate, graceful touches of Guido. Now is your time to
get them. There is, in all good company, a fashionable air, countenance,
manner, and phraseology, which can only be acquired by being in good
company, and very attentive to all that passes there. When you dine or
sup at any well-bred man's house, observe carefully how he does the
honors of his table to the different guests. Attend to the compliments
of congratulation or condolence that you hear a well-bred man make to his
superiors, to his equals, and to his inferiors; watch even his
countenance and his tone of voice, for they all conspire in the main
point of pleasing. There is a certain distinguishing diction of a man of
fashion; he will not content himself with saying, like John Trott, to a
new-married man, Sir, I wish you much joy; or to a man who lost his son,
Sir, I am sorry for your loss; and both with a countenance equally
unmoved; but he will say in effect the same thing in a more elegant and
less trivial manner, and with a countenance adapted to the occasion. He
will advance with warmth, vivacity, and a cheerful countenance, to the
new-married man, and embracing him, perhaps say to him, "If you do
justice to my attachment to you, you will judge of the joy that I feel
upon this occasion, better than I can express it," etc.; to the other in
affliction, he will advance slowly, with a grave composure of
countenance, in a more deliberate manner, and with a lower voice, perhaps
say, "I hope you do me the justice to be convinced that I feel whatever
you feel, and shall ever be affected where you are concerned."

Your 'abord', I must tell you, was too cold and uniform; I hope it is now
mended. It should be respectfully open and cheerful with your superiors,
warm and animated with your equals, hearty and free with your inferiors.
There is a fashionable kind of SMALL TALK which you should get; which,
trifling as it is, is of use in mixed companies, and at table, especially
in your foreign department; where it keeps off certain serious subjects,
that might create disputes, or at least coldness for a time. Upon such
occasions it is not amiss to know how to parley cuisine, and to be able
to dissert upon the growth and flavor of wines. These, it is true, are
very little things; but they are little things that occur very often, and
therefore should be said 'avec gentillesse et grace'. I am sure they
must fall often in your way; pray take care to catch them. There is a
certain language of conversation, a fashionable diction, of which every
gentleman ought to be perfectly master, in whatever language he speaks.
The French attend to it carefully, and with great reason; and their
language, which is a language of phrases, helps them out exceedingly.
That delicacy of diction is characteristical of a man of fashion and good

I could write folios upon this subject, and not exhaust it; but I think,
and hope, that to you I need not. You have heard and seen enough to be
convinced of the truth and importance of what I have been so long
inculcating into you upon these points. How happy am I, and how happy
are you, my dear child, that these Titian tints, and Guido graces, are
all that you want to complete my hopes and your own character! But then,
on the other hand, what a drawback would it be to that happiness, if you
should never acquire them? I remember, when I was of age, though I had
not near so good an education as you have, or seen a quarter so much of
the world, I observed those masterly touches and irresistible graces in
others, and saw the necessity of acquiring them myself; but then an
awkward 'mauvaise honte', of which I had brought a great deal with me
from Cambridge, made me ashamed to attempt it, especially if any of my
countrymen and particular acquaintances were by. This was extremely
absurd in me: for, without attempting, I could never succeed. But at
last, insensibly, by frequenting a great deal of good company, and
imitating those whom I saw that everybody liked, I formed myself, 'tant
bien que mal'. For God's sake, let this last fine varnish, so necessary
to give lustre to the whole piece, be the sole and single object now of
your utmost attention. Berlin may contribute a great deal to it if you
please; there are all the ingredients that compose it.

'A Propos' of Berlin, while you are there, take care to seem ignorant of
all political matters between the two courts; such as the affairs of Ost
Frise, and Saxe Lawemburg, etc., and enter into no conversations upon
those points; but, however, be as well at court as you possibly can;
live at it, and make one of it. Should General Keith offer you
civilities, do not decline them; but return them, however, without being
'enfant de la maison chez lui': say 'des chores flatteuses' of the Royal
Family, and especially of his Prussian Majesty, to those who are the most
like to repeat them. In short, make yourself well there, without making
yourself ill SOMEWHERE ELSE. Make compliments from me to Algarotti, and
converse with him in Italian.

I go next week to the Bath, for a deafness, which I have been plagued
with these four or five months; and which I am assured that pumping my
head will remove. This deafness, I own, has tried my patience; as it has
cut me off from society, at an age when I had no pleasures but those
left. In the meantime, I have, by reading and writing, made my eyes
supply the defect of my ears. Madame H-----, I suppose, entertained both
yours alike; however, I am very glad that you were well with her; for she
is a good 'proneuse', and puffs are very useful to a young fellow at his
entrance into the world.

If you should meet with Lord Pembroke again, anywhere, make him many
compliments from me; and tell him that I should have written to him, but
that I knew how troublesome an old correspondent must be to a young one.
He is much commended in the accounts from Hanover.

You will stay at Berlin just as long as you like it, and no longer; and
from thence you are absolutely master of your own motions, either to The
Hague, or to Brussels; but I think that you had better go to The Hague
first, because that from thence Brussels will be in your way to Calais,
which is a much better passage to England than from Helvoetsluys. The
two courts of The Hague and Brussels are worth your seeing; and you will
see them both to advantage, by means of Colonel Yorke and Dayrolles.
Adieu. Here is enough for this time.


LONDON, September 26, 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: As you chiefly employ, or rather wholly engross my
thoughts, I see every day, with increasing pleasure, the fair prospect
which you have before you. I had two views in your education; they draw
nearer and nearer, and I have now very little reason to distrust your
answering them fully. Those two were, parliamentary and foreign affairs.
In consequence of those views, I took care, first, to give you a
sufficient stock of sound learning, and next, an early knowledge of the
world. Without making a figure in parliament, no man can make any in
this country; and eloquence alone enables a man to make a figure in
parliament, unless, it be a very mean and contemptible one, which those
make there who silently vote, and who do 'pedibus ire in sententiam'.
Foreign affairs, when skillfully managed, and supported by a
parliamentary reputation, lead to whatever is most considerable in this
country. You have the languages necessary for that purpose, with a
sufficient fund of historical and treaty knowledge; that is to say, you
have the matter ready, and only want the manner. Your objects being thus
fixed, I recommend to you to have them constantly in your thoughts, and
to direct your reading, your actions, and your words, to those views.
Most people think only 'ex re nata', and few 'ex professo': I would have
you do both, but begin with the latter. I explain myself: Lay down
certain principles, and reason and act consequently from them. As, for
example, say to yourself, I will make a figure in parliament, and in
order to do that, I must not only speak, but speak very well. Speaking
mere common sense will by no means do; and I must speak not only
correctly but elegantly; and not only elegantly but eloquently. In order
to do this, I will first take pains to get an habitual, but unaffected,
purity, correctness and elegance of style in my common conversation;
I will seek for the best words, and take care to reject improper,
inexpressive, and vulgar ones. I will read the greatest masters of
oratory, both ancient and modern, and I will read them singly in that
view. I will study Demosthenes and Cicero, not to discover an old
Athenian or Roman custom, nor to puzzle myself with the value of talents,
mines, drachms, and sesterces, like the learned blockheads in us; but to
observe their choice of words, their harmony of diction, their method,
their distribution, their exordia, to engage the favor and attention of
their audience; and their perorations, to enforce what they have said,
and to leave a strong impression upon the passions. Nor will I be pedant
enough to neglect the modern; for I will likewise study Atterbury,
Dryden, Pope, and Bolingbroke; nay, I will read everything that I do read
in that intention, and never cease improving and refining my style upon
the best models, till at last I become a model of eloquence myself,
which, by care, it is in every man's power to be. If you set out upon
this principle, and keep it constantly in your mind, every company you go
into, and every book you read, will contribute to your improvement,
either by showing you what to imitate, or what to avoid. Are .you to
give an account of anything to a mixed company? or are you to endeavor
to persuade either man or woman? This principle, fixed in your mind,
will make you carefully attend to the choice of your words, and to the
clearness and harmony of your diction.

So much for your parliamentary object; now to the foreign one.

Lay down first those principles which are absolutely necessary to form a
skillful and successful negotiator, and form yourself accordingly. What
are they? First, the clear historical knowledge of past transactions of
that kind. That you have pretty well already, and will have daily more
and more; for, in consequence of that principle, you will read history,
memoirs, anecdotes, etc., in that view chiefly. The other necessary
talents for negotiation are: the great art of pleasing and engaging the
affection and confidence, not only of those with whom you are to
cooperate, but even of those whom you are to oppose: to conceal your own
thoughts and views, and to discover other people's: to engage other
people's confidence by a seeming cheerful frankness and openness, without
going a step too far: to get the personal favor of the king, prince,
ministers, or mistresses of the court to which you are sent: to gain the
absolute command over your temper and your countenance, that no heat may
provoke you to say, nor no change of countenance to betray, what should
be a secret: to familiarize and domesticate yourself in the houses of the
most considerable people of the place, so as to be received there rather
as a friend to the family than as a foreigner. Having these principles
constantly in your thoughts, everything you do and everything you say
will some way or other tend to your main view; and common conversation
will gradually fit you for it. You will get a habit of checking any
rising heat; you will be upon your guard against any indiscreet
expression; you will by degrees get the command of your countenance, so
as not to change it upon any the most sudden accident; and you will,
above all things, labor to acquire the great art of pleasing, without
which nothing is to be done. Company is, in truth, a constant state of
negotiation; and, if you attend to it in that view, will qualify you for
any. By the same means that you make a friend, guard against an enemy,
or gain a mistress; you will make an advantageous treaty, baffle those
who counteract you, and gain the court you are sent to. Make this use of
all the company you keep, and your very pleasures will make you a
successful negotiator. Please all who are worth pleasing; offend none.
Keep your own secret, and get out other people's. Keep your own temper
and artfully warm other people's. Counterwork your rivals, with
diligence and dexterity, but at the same time with the utmost personal
civility to them; and be firm without heat. Messieurs d'Avaux and
Servien did no more than this. I must make one observation, in
confirmation of this assertion; which is, that the most eminent
negotiators have allways been the politest and bestbred men in company;
even what the women call the PRETTIEST MEN. For God's sake, never lose
view of these two your capital objects: bend everything to them, try
everything by their rules, and calculate everything for their purposes.
What is peculiar to these two objects, is, that they require nothing, but
what one's own vanity, interest, and pleasure, would make one do
independently of them. If a man were never to be in business, and always
to lead a private life, would he not desire to please and to persuade?
So that, in your two destinations, your fortune and figure luckily
conspire with your vanity and your pleasures. Nay more; a foreign
minister, I will maintain it, can never be a good man of business if he
is not an agreeable man of pleasure too. Half his business is done by
the help of his pleasures; his views are carried on, and perhaps best and
most unsuspectedly, at balls, suppers, assemblies, and parties of
pleasure; by intrigues with women, and connections insensibly formed with
men, at those unguarded hours of amusement.

These objects now draw very near you, and you have no time to lose in
preparing yourself to meet them. You will be in parliament almost as
soon as your age will allow, and I believe you will have a foreign
department still sooner, and that will be earlier than ever any other
body had one. If you set out well at one-and-twenty, what may you not
reasonably hope to be at one-and-forty? All that I could wish you!


LONDON, September 29, 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: There is nothing so necessary, but at the same time there
is nothing more difficult (I know it by experience) for you young
fellows, than to know how to behave yourselves prudently toward those
whom you do not like. Your passions are warm, and your heads are light;
you hate all those who oppose your views, either of ambition or love; and
a rival, in either, is almost a synonymous term for an enemy. Whenever
you meet such a man, you are awkwardly cold to him, at best; but often
rude, and always desirous to give him some indirect slap. This is
unreasonable; for one man has as good a right to pursue an employment, or
a mistress, as another; but it is, into the bargain, extremely imprudent;
because you commonly defeat your own purpose by it, and while you are
contending with each other, a third often prevails. I grant you that the
situation is irksome; a man cannot help thinking as he thinks, nor
feeling what he feels; and it is a very tender and sore point to be
thwarted and counterworked in one's pursuits at court, or with a
mistress; but prudence and abilities must check the effects, though they
cannot remove the cause. Both the pretenders make themselves
disagreeable to their mistress, when they spoil the company by their
pouting, or their sparring; whereas, if one of them has command enough
over himself (whatever he may feel inwardly) to be cheerful, gay, and
easily and unaffectedly civil to the other, as if there were no manner of
competition between them, the lady will certainly like him the best, and
his rival will be ten times more humbled and discouraged; for he will
look upon such a behavior as a proof of the triumph and security of his
rival, he will grow outrageous with the lady, and the warmth of his
reproaches will probably bring on a quarrel between them. It is the same
in business; where he who can command his temper and his countenance the
best, will always have an infinite advantage over the other. This is
what the French call un 'procede honnete et galant', to PIQUE yourself
upon showing particular civilities to a man, to whom lesser minds would,
in the same case, show dislike, or perhaps rudeness. I will give you an
instance of this in my own case; and pray remember it, whenever you come
to be, as I hope you will, in a like situation.

When I went to The Hague, in 1744, it was to engage the Dutch to come
roundly into the war, and to stipulate their quotas of troops, etc.;
your acquaintance, the Abbe de la Ville, was there on the part of France,
to endeavor to hinder them from coming into the war at all. I was
informed, and very sorry to hear it, that he had abilities, temper, and
industry. We could not visit, our two masters being at war; but the
first time I met him at a third place, I got somebody to present me to
him; and I told him, that though we were to be national enemies, I
flattered myself we might be, however, personal friends, with a good deal
more of the same kind; which he returned in full as polite a manner.
Two days afterward, I went, early in the morning, to solicit the Deputies
of Amsterdam, where I found l'Abbe de la Ville, who had been beforehand
with me; upon which I addressed myself to the Deputies, and said,
smilingly, I am very sorry, Gentlemen, to find my enemy with you; my
knowledge of his capacity is already sufficient to make me fear him; we
are not upon equal terms; but I trust to your own interest against his
talents. If I have not this day had the first word, I shall at least
have the last. They smiled: the Abbe was pleased with the compliment,
and the manner of it, stayed about a quarter of an hour, and then left me
to my Deputies, with whom I continued upon the same tone, though in a
very serious manner, and told them that I was only come to state their
own true interests to them, plainly and simply, without any of those
arts, which it was very necessary for my friend to make use of to deceive
them. I carried my point, and continued my 'procede' with the Abbe; and
by this easy and polite commerce with him, at third places, I often found
means to fish out from him whereabouts he was.

Remember, there are but two 'procedes' in the world for a gentleman and a
man of parts; either extreme politeness or knocking down. If a man
notoriously and designedly insults and affronts you, knock him down; but
if he only injures you, your best revenge is to be extremely civil to him
in your outward behavior, though at the same time you counterwork him,
and return him the compliment, perhaps with interest. This is not
perfidy nor dissimulation; it would be so if you were, at the same time,
to make professions of esteem and friendship to this man; which I by no
means recommend, but on the contrary abhor. But all acts of civility
are, by common consent, understood to be no more than a conformity to
custom, for the quiet and conveniency of society, the 'agremens' of which
are not to be disturbed by private dislikes and jealousies. Only women
and little minds pout and spar for the entertainment of the company, that
always laughs at, and never pities them. For my own part, though I would
by no means give up any point to a competitor, yet I would pique myself
upon showing him rather more civility than to another man. In the first
place, this 'procede' infallibly makes all 'les rieurs' of your side,
which is a considerable party; and in the next place, it certainly
pleases the object of the competition, be it either man or woman; who
never fail to say, upon such an occasion, that THEY MUST OWN YOU HAVE
from the appearances of things, and not from the reality, which few are
able, and still fewer are inclined to fathom: and a man, who will take
care always to be in the right in those things, may afford to be
sometimes a little in the wrong in more essential ones: there is a
willingness, a desire to excuse him. With nine people in ten, good-
breeding passes for good-nature, and they take attentions for good
offices. At courts there will be always coldnesses, dislikes,
jealousies, and hatred, the harvest being but small in proportion to the
number of laborers; but then, as they arise often, they die soon, unless
they are perpetuated by the manner in which they have been carried on,
more than by the matter which occasioned them. The turns and
vicissitudes of courts frequently make friends of enemies, and enemies of
friends; you must labor, therefore, to acquire that great and uncommon
talent of hating with good-breeding and loving with prudence; to make no
quarrel irreconcilable by silly and unnecessary indications of anger; and
no friendship dangerous, in case it breaks, by a wanton, indiscreet, and
unreserved confidence.

Few, (especially young) people know how to love, or how to hate; their
love is an unbounded weakness, fatal to the person they love; their hate
is a hot, rash, and imprudent violence, always fatal to themselves.

Nineteen fathers in twenty, and every mother, who had loved you half as
well as I do, would have ruined you; whereas I always made you feel the
weight of my authority, that you might one day know the force of my love.
Now, I both hope and believe, my advice will have the same weight with
you from choice that my authority had from necessity. My advice is just
eight-and-twenty years older than your own, and consequently, I believe
you think, rather better. As for your tender and pleasurable passions,
manage them yourself; but let me have the direction of all the others.
Your ambition, your figure, and your fortune, will, for some time at
least, be rather safer in my keeping than in your own. Adieu.


BATH, October 4, 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: I consider you now as at the court of Augustus, where,
if ever the desire of pleasing animated you, it must make you exert all
the means of doing it. You will see there, full as well, I dare say, as
Horace did at Rome, how states are defended by arms, adorned by manners,
and improved by laws. Nay, you have an Horace there as well as an
Augustus; I need not name Voltaire, 'qui nil molitur inept?' as Horace
himself said of another poet. I have lately read over all his works that
are published, though I had read them more than once before. I was
induced to this by his 'Siecle de Louis XIV', which I have yet read but
four times. In reading over all his works, with more attention I suppose
than before, my former admiration of him is, I own, turned into
astonishment. There is no one kind of writing in which he has not
excelled. You are so severe a classic that I question whether you will
allow me to call his 'Henriade' an epic poem, for want of the proper
number of gods, devils, witches and other absurdities, requisite for the
machinery; which machinery is, it seems, necessary to constitute the
'epopee'. But whether you do or not, I will declare (though possibly to
my own shame) that I never read any epic poem with near so much pleasure.
I am grown old, and have possibly lost a great deal of that fire which
formerly made me love fire in others at any rate, and however attended
with smoke; but now I must have all sense, and cannot, for the sake of
five righteous lines, forgive a thousand absurd ones.

In this disposition of mind, judge whether I can read all Homer through
'tout de suite'. I admire its beauties; but, to tell you the truth, when
he slumbers, I sleep. Virgil, I confess, is all sense, and therefore I
like him better than his model; but he is often languid, especially in
his five or six last books, during which I am obliged to take a good deal
of snuff. Besides, I profess myself an ally of Turnus against the pious
AEneas, who, like many 'soi-disant' pious people, does the most flagrant
injustice and violence in order to execute what they impudently call the
will of Heaven. But what will you say, when I tell you truly, that I
cannot possibly read our countryman Milton through? I acknowledge him to
have some most sublime passages, some prodigious flashes of light; but
then you must acknowledge that light is often followed by darkness
visible, to use his own expression. Besides, not having the honor to be
acquainted with any of the parties in this poem, except the Man and the
Woman, the characters and speeches of a dozen or two of angels and of as
many devils, are as much above my reach as my entertainment. Keep this
secret for me: for if it should be known, I should be abused by every
tasteless pedant, and every solid divine in England.

'Whatever I have said to the disadvantage of these three poems, holds
much stronger against Tasso's 'Gierusalemme': it is true he has very fine
and glaring rays of poetry; but then they are only meteors, they dazzle,
then disappear, and are succeeded by false thoughts, poor 'concetti', and
absurd impossibilities; witness the Fish and the Parrot; extravagancies
unworthy of an heroic poem, and would much better have become Ariosto,
who professes 'le coglionerie'.

I have never read the "Lusiade of Camoens," except in prose translation,
consequently I have never read it at all, so shall say nothing of it; but
the Henriade is all sense from the beginning to the end, often adorned by
the justest and liveliest reflections, the most beautiful descriptions,
the noblest images, and the sublimest sentiments; not to mention the
harmony of the verse, in which Voltaire undoubtedly exceeds all the
French poets: should you insist upon an exception in favor of Racine,
I must insist, on my part, that he at least equals him. What hero ever
interested more than Henry the Fourth; who, according to the rules of
epic poetry, carries on one great and long action, and succeeds in it at
last? What descriptions ever excited more horror than those, first of
the Massacre, and then of the Famine at Paris? Was love ever painted
with more truth and 'morbidezza' than in the ninth book? Not better, in
my mind, even in the fourth of Virgil. Upon the whole, with all your
classical rigor, if you will but suppose St. Louis a god, a devil, or a
witch, and that he appears in person, and not in a dream, the Henriade
will be an epic poem, according to the strictest statute laws of the
'epopee'; but in my court of equity it is one as it is.

I could expatiate as much upon all his different works, but that I should
exceed the bounds of a letter and run into a dissertation.
How delightful is his history of that northern brute, the King of Sweden,
for I cannot call him a man; and I should be sorry to have him pass for a
hero, out of regard to those true heroes, such as Julius Caesar, Titus,
Trajan, and the present King of Prussia, who cultivated and encouraged
arts and sciences; whose animal courage was accompanied by the tender and
social sentiments of humanity; and who had more pleasure in improving,
than in destroying their fellow-creatures. What can be more touching,
or more interesting--what more nobly thought, or more happily expressed,
than all his dramatic pieces? What can be more clear and rational than
all his philosophical letters? and whatever was so graceful, and gentle,
as all his little poetical trifles? You are fortunately 'a porte' of
verifying, by your knowledge of the man, all that I have said of his

Monsieur de Maupertius (whom I hope you will get acquainted with) is,
what one rarely meets with, deep in philosophy and, mathematics, and yet
'honnete et aimable homme': Algarotti is young Fontenelle. Such men must
necessarily give you the desire of pleasing them; and if you can frequent
them, their acquaintance will furnish you the means of pleasing everybody

'A propos' of pleasing, your pleasing Mrs. F-----d is expected here in
two or three days; I will do all that I can for you with her: I think you
carried on the romance to the third or fourth volume; I will continue it
to the eleventh; but as for the twelfth and last, you must come and
conclude it yourself. 'Non sum qualis eram'.

Good-night to you, child; for I am going to bed, just at the hour at
which I suppose you are going to live, at Berlin.


BATH, November 11, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: It is a very old and very true maxim, that those kings
reign the most secure and the most absolute, who reign in the hearts of
their people. Their popularity is a better guard than their army, and
the affections of their subjects a better pledge of their obedience than
their fears. This rule is, in proportion, full as true, though upon a
different scale, with regard to private people. A man who possesses that
great art of pleasing universally, and of gaining the affections of those
with whom he converses, possesses a strength which nothing else can give
him: a strength which facilitates and helps his rise; and which, in case
of accidents, breaks his fall. Few people of your age sufficiently
consider this great point of popularity; and when they grow older and
wiser, strive in vain to recover what they have lost by their negligence.
There are three principal causes that hinder them from acquiring this
useful strength: pride, inattention, and 'mauvaise honte'. The first I
will not, I cannot suspect you of; it is too much below your
understanding. You cannot, and I am sure you do not think yourself
superior by nature to the Savoyard who cleans your room, or the footman
who cleans your shoes; but you may rejoice, and with reason, at the
difference that fortune has made in your favor. Enjoy all those
advantages; but without insulting those who are unfortunate enough to
want them, or even doing anything unnecessarily that may remind them of
that want. For my own part, I am more upon my guard as to my behavior to
my servants, and others who are called my inferiors, than I am toward my
equals: for fear of being suspected of that mean and ungenerous sentiment
of desiring to make others feel that difference which fortune has, and
perhaps too, undeservedly, made between us. Young people do not enough
attend to this; and falsely imagine that the imperative mood, and a rough
tone of authority and decision, are indications of spirit and courage.
Inattention is always looked upon, though sometimes unjustly, as the
effect of pride and contempt; and where it is thought so, is never
forgiven. In this article, young people are generally exceedingly to
blame, and offend extremely. Their whole attention is engrossed by their
particular set of acquaintance; and by some few glaring and exalted
objects of rank, beauty, or parts; all the rest they think so little
worth their care, that they neglect even common civility toward them.
I will frankly confess to you, that this was one of my great faults when
I was of your age. Very attentive to please that narrow court circle in
which I stood enchanted, I considered everything else as bourgeois, and
unworthy of common civility; I paid my court assiduously and skillfully
enough to shining and distinguished figures, such as ministers, wits, and
beauties; but then I most absurdly and imprudently neglected, and
consequently offended all others. By this folly I made myself a thousand
enemies of both sexes; who, though I thought them very insignificant,
found means to hurt me essentially where I wanted to recommend myself the
most. I was thought proud, though I was only imprudent. A general easy
civility and attention to the common run of ugly women, and of middling
men, both which I sillily thought, called, and treated, as odd people,
would have made me as many friends, as by the contrary conduct I made
myself enemies. All this too was 'a pure perte'; for I might equally,
and even more successfully, have made my court, when I had particular
views to gratify. I will allow that this task is often very unpleasant,
and that one pays, with some unwillingness, that tribute of attention to
dull and tedious men, and to old and ugly women; but it is the lowest
price of popularity and general applause, which are very well worth
purchasing were they much dearer. I conclude this head with this advice
to you: Gain, by particular assiduity and address, the men and women you
want; and, by an universal civility and attention, please everybody so
far as to have their good word, if not their goodwill; or, at least, as
to secure a partial neutrality.

'Mauvaise honte' not only hinders young people from making, a great many
friends, but makes them a great many enemies. They are ashamed of doing
the thing they know to be right, and would otherwise do, for fear of the
momentary laugh of some fine gentleman or lady, or of some 'mauvais
plaisant'. I have been in this case: and have often wished an obscure
acquaintance at the devil, for meeting and taking notice of me when I was
in what I thought and called fine company. I have returned their notice
shyly, awkwardly, and consequently offensively; for fear of a momentary
joke, not considering, as I ought to have done, that the very people who
would have joked upon me at first, would have esteemed me the more for it
afterward. An example explains a rule best: Suppose you were walking in
the Tuileries with some fine folks, and that you should unexpectedly meet
your old acquaintance, little crooked Grierson; what would you do?
I will tell you what you should do, by telling you what I would now do in
that case myself. I would run up to him, and embrace him; say some kind
of things to him, and then return to my company. There I should be
immediately asked: 'Mais qu'est ce que c'est donc que ce petit Sapajou
que vous avez embrasse si tendrement? Pour cela, l'accolade a ete
charmante'; with a great deal more festivity of that sort. To this I
should answer, without being the least ashamed, but en badinant: O je ne
vous dirai tas qui c'est; c'est un petit ami que je tiens incognito, qui
a son merite, et qui, a force d'etre connu, fait oublier sa figure. Que
me donnerez-vous, et je vous le presenterai'? And then, with a little
more seriousness, I would add: 'Mais d'ailleurs c'est que je ne desavoue
jamais mes connoissances, a cause de leur etat ou de leur figure. Il
faut avoir bien peu de sentimens pour le faire'. This would at once put
an end to that momentary pleasantry, and give them all a better opinion
of me than they had before. Suppose another case, and that some of the
finest ladies 'du bon ton' should come into a room, and find you sitting
by, and talking politely to 'la vieille' Marquise de Bellefonds, the joke
would, for a moment, turn upon that 'tete-a-tete': He bien! avez vous
a la fin fixd la belle Marquise? La partie est-elle faite pour la petite
maison? Le souper sera galant sans doute: Mais ne faistu donc point
scrupule de seduire une jeune et aimable persone comme celle-la'?
To this I should answer: 'La partie n'etoit pas encore tout-a fait liee,
vous nous avez interrompu; mais avec le tems que fait-on? D'ailleurs
moquezvous de mes amours tant qu'il vous plaira, je vous dirai que je
respecte tant les jeunes dames, que je respecte meme les vieilles, pour
l'avoir ete. Apre cela il y a souvent des liaisons entre les vieilles et
les jeunes'. This would at once turn the pleasantry into an esteem for
your good sense and your good-breeding. Pursue steadily, and without
fear or shame, whatever your reason tells you is right, and what you see
is practiced by people of more experience than yourself, and of
established characters of good sense and good-breeding.

After all this, perhaps you will say, that it is impossible to please
everybody. I grant it; but it does not follow that one should not
therefore endeavor to please as many as one can. Nay, I will go further,
and admit that it is impossible for any man not to have some enemies.
But this truth from long experience I assert, that he who has the most
friends and the fewest enemies, is the strongest; will rise the highest
with the least envy; and fall, if he does fall, the gentlest, and the
most pitied. This is surely an object worth pursuing. Pursue it
according to the rules I have here given you. I will add one observation
more, and two examples to enforce it; and then, as the parsons say,

There is no one creature so obscure, so low, or so poor, who may not, by
the strange and unaccountable changes and vicissitudes of human affairs,
somehow or other, and some time or other, become an useful friend or a
trouble-some enemy, to the greatest and the richest. The late Duke of
Ormond was almost the weakest but at the same time the best-bred, and
most popular man in this kingdom. His education in courts and camps,
joined to an easy, gentle nature, had given him that habitual affability,
those engaging manners, and those mechanical attentions, that almost
supplied the place of every talent he wanted; and he wanted almost every
one. They procured him the love of all men, without the esteem of any.
He was impeached after the death of Queen Anne, only because that, having
been engaged in the same measures with those who were necessarily to be
impeached, his impeachment, for form's sake, became necessary. But he
was impeached without acrimony, and without the lest intention that he
should suffer, notwithstanding the party violence of those times. The
question for his impeachment, in the House of Commons, was carried by
many fewer votes than any other question of impeachment; and Earl
Stanhope, then Mr. Stanhope, and Secretary' of State, who impeached him,
very soon after negotiated and concluded his accommodation with the late
King; to whom he was to have been presented the next day. But the late
Bishop of Rochester, Atterbury, who thought that the Jacobite cause might
suffer by losing the Duke of Ormond, went in all haste, and prevailed
with the poor weak man to run away; assuring him that he was only to be
gulled into a disgraceful submission, and not to be pardoned in
consequence of it. When his subsequent attainder passed, it excited mobs
and disturbances in town. He had not a personal enemy in the world; and
had a thousand friends. All this was simply owing to his natural desire
of pleasing, and to the mechanical means that his education, not his
parts, had given him of doing it. The other instance is the late Duke of
Marlborough, who studied the art of pleasing, because he well knew the
importance of it: he enjoyed and used it more than ever man did. He
gained whoever he had a mind to gain; and he had a mind to gain
everybody, because he knew that everybody was more or less worth gaining.
Though his power, as Minister and General, made him many political and
party enemies, they did not make him one personal one; and the very
people who would gladly have displaced, disgraced, and perhaps attainted
the Duke of Marlborough, at the same time personally loved Mr. Churchill,
even though his private character was blemished by sordid avarice, the
most unamiable of all vices. He had wound up and turned his whole
machine to please and engage. He had an inimitable sweetness and
gentleness in his countenance, a tenderness in his manner of speaking, a
graceful dignity in every motion, and an universal and minute attention
to the least things that could possibly please the least person. This
was all art in him; art of which he well knew and enjoyed the advantages;
for no man ever had more interior ambition, pride, and avarice, than he

Though you have more than most people of your age, you have yet very
little experience and knowledge of the world; now, I wish to inoculate
mine upon you, and thereby prevent both the dangers and the marks of
youth and inexperience. If you receive the matter kindly, and observe my
prescriptions scrupulously, you will secure the future advantages of time
and join them to the present inestimable ones of one-and-twenty.

I most earnestly recommend one thing to you, during your present stay at
Paris. I own it is not the most agreeable; but I affirm it to be the
most useful thing in the world to one of your age; and therefore I do
hope that you will force and constrain yourself to do it. I mean, to
converse frequently, or rather to be in company frequently with both men
and women much your superiors in age and rank. I am very sensible that,
at your age, 'vous y entrez pour peu de chose, et meme souvent pour rien,
et que vous y passerez meme quelques mauvais quart-d'heures'; but no
matter; you will be a solid gainer by it: you will see, hear, and learn
the turn and manners of those people; you will gain premature experience
by it; and it will give you a habit of engaging and respectful
attentions. Versailles, as much as possible, though probably
unentertaining: the Palais Royal often, however dull: foreign ministers
of the first rank, frequently, and women, though old, who are respectable
and respected for their rank or parts; such as Madame de Pusieux, Madame
de Nivernois, Madame d'Aiguillon, Madame Geoffrain, etc. This
'sujetion', if it be one to you, will cost you but very little in these
three or four months that you are yet to pass in Paris, and will bring
you in a great deal; nor will it, nor ought it, to hinder you from being
in a more entertaining company a great part of the day. 'Vous pouvez, si
vous le voulex, tirer un grand parti de ces quatre mois'. May God make
you so, and bless you! Adieu.


BATH, November 16, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Vanity, or to call it by a gentler name, the desire of
admiration and applause, is, perhaps, the most universal principle of
human actions; I do not say that it is the best; and I will own that it
is sometimes the cause of both foolish and criminal effects. But it is
so much oftener the principle of right things, that though they ought to
have a better, yet, considering human nature, that principle is to be
encouraged and cherished, in consideration of its effects. Where that
desire is wanting, we are apt to be indifferent, listless, indolent, and
inert; we do not exert our powers; and we appear to be as much below
ourselves as the vainest man living can desire to appear above what he
really is.

As I have made you my confessor, and do not scruple to confess even my
weaknesses to you, I will fairly own that I had that vanity, that
weakness, if it be one, to a prodigious degree; and, what is more, I
confess it without repentance: nay, I am glad I had it; since, if I have
had the good fortune to please in the world, it is to that powerful and
active principle that I owe it. I began the world, not with a bare
desire, but with an insatiable thirst, a rage of popularity, applause,
and admiration. If this made me do some silly things on one hand, it
made me, on the other hand, do almost all the right things that I did; it
made me attentive and civil to the women I disliked, and to the men I
despised, in hopes of the applause of both: though I neither desired, nor
would I have accepted the favors of the one, nor the friendship of the
other. I always dressed, looked, and talked my best; and, I own, was
overjoyed whenever I perceived, that by all three, or by any one of them,
the company was pleased with me. To men, I talked whatever I thought
would give them the best opinion of my parts and learning; and to women,
what I was sure would please them; flattery, gallantry, and love. And,
moreover, I will own to you, under the secrecy of confession, that my
vanity has very often made me take great pains to make a woman in love
with me, if I could, for whose person I would not have given a pinch of
snuff. In company with men, I always endeavored to outshine, or at
least, if possible, to equal the most shining man in it. This desire
elicited whatever powers I had to gratify it; and where I could not
perhaps shine in the first, enabled me, at least, to shine in a second or
third sphere. By these means I soon grew in fashion; and when a man is
once in fashion, all he does is right. It was infinite pleasure to me to
find my own fashion and popularity. I was sent for to all parties of
pleasure, both of men or women; where, in some measure, I gave the 'ton'.
This gave me the reputation of having had some women of condition; and
that reputation, whether true or false, really got me others. With the
men I was a Proteus, and assumed every shape, in order to please them
all: among the gay, I was the gayest; among the grave, the gravest; and I
never omitted the least attentions of good-breeding, or the least offices
of friendship, that could either please, or attach them to me: and
accordingly I was soon connected with all the men of any fashion or
figure in town.

To this principle of vanity, which philosophers call a mean one, and
which I do not, I owe great part of the figure which I have made in life.
I wish you had as much, but I fear you have too little of it; and you
seem to have a degree of laziness and listlessness about you that makes
you indifferent as to general applause. This is not in character at your
age, and would be barely pardonable in an elderly and philosophical man.
It is a vulgar, ordinary saying, but it is a very true one, that one
should always put the best foot foremost. One should please, shine, and
dazzle, wherever it is possible. At Paris, I am sure you must observe
'que chacun se fait valoir autant qu'il est possible'; and La Bruyere
observes, very justly, qu'on ne vaut dans ce monde que ce qu'on veut
valoir': wherever applause is in question, you will never see a French
man, nor woman, remiss or negligent. Observe the eternal attentions and
politeness that all people have there for one another. 'Ce n'est pas
pour leurs beaux yeux au moins'. No, but for their own sakes, for
commendations and applause. Let me then recommend this principle of
vanity to you; act upon it 'meo periculo'; I promise you it will turn to
your account. Practice all the arts that ever coquette did, to please.
Be alert and indefatigable in making every man admire, and every woman in
love with you. I can tell you too, that nothing will carry you higher in
the world.

I have had no letter from you since your arrival at Paris, though you
must have been long enough there to have written me two or three. In
about ten or twelve days I propose leaving this place, and going to
London; I have found considerable benefit by my stay here, but not all
that I want. Make my compliments to Lord Albemarle.


BATH, November 28, 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: Since my last to you, I have read Madame Maintenon's
"Letters"; I am sure they are genuine, and they both entertained and
informed me. They have brought me acquainted with the character of that
able and artful lady; whom I am convinced that I now know much better
than her directeur the Abby de Fenelon (afterward Archbishop of Cambray)
did, when he wrote her the 185th letter; and I know him the better too
for that letter. The Abby, though brimful of the divine love, had a
great mind to be first minister, and cardinal, in order, NO DOUBT, to
have an opportunity of doing the more good. His being 'directeur' at
that time to Madame Maintenon, seemed to be a good step toward those
views. She put herself upon him for a saint, and he was weak enough to
believe it; he, on the other hand, would have put himself upon her for a
saint too, which, I dare say, she did not believe; but both of them knew
that it was necessary for them to appear saints to Lewis the Fourteenth,
who they were very sure was a bigot. It is to be presumed, nay, indeed,
it is plain by that 185th letter that Madame Maintenon had hinted to her
directeur some scruples of conscience, with relation to her commerce with
the King; and which I humbly apprehend to have been only some scruples of
prudence, at once to flatter the bigot character, and increase the
desires of the King. The pious Abbe, frightened out of his wits, lest
the King should impute to the 'directeur' any scruples or difficulties
which he might meet with on the part of the lady, writes her the above-
mentioned letter; in which he not only bids her not tease the King by
advice and exhortations, but to have the utmost submission to his will;
and, that she may not mistake the nature of that submission, he tells her
it is the same that Sarah had for Abraham; to which submission Isaac
perhaps was owing. No bawd could have written a more seducing letter to
an innocent country girl, than the 'directeur' did to his 'penitente';
who I dare say had no occasion for his good advice. Those who would
justify the good 'directeur', alias the pimp, in this affair, must not
attempt to do it by saying that the King and Madame Maintenon were at
that time privately married; that the directeur knew it; and that this
was the meaning of his 'enigme'. That is absolutely impossible; for that
private marriage must have removed all scruples between the parties; nay,
could not have been contracted upon any other principle, since it was
kept private, and consequently prevented no public scandal. It is
therefore extremely evident that Madame Maintenon could not be married to
the King at the time when she scrupled granting, and when the 'directeur'
advised her to grant, those favors which Sarah with so much submission
granted to Abraham: and what the 'directeur' is pleased to call 'le
mystere de Dieu', was most evidently a state of concubinage. The letters
are very well worth your reading; they throw light upon many things of
those times.

I have just received a letter from Sir William Stanhope, from Lyons; in
which he tells me that he saw you at Paris, that he thinks you a little
grown, but that you do not make the most of it, for that you stoop still:
'd'ailleurs' his letter was a panegyric of you.

The young Comte de Schullemburg, the Chambellan whom you knew at Hanover,
is come over with the King, 'et fait aussi vos eloges'.

Though, as I told you in my last, I have done buying pictures, by way of
'virtu', yet there are some portraits of remarkable people that would
tempt me. For instance, if you could by chance pick up at Paris, at a
reasonable price, and undoubted originals (whether heads, half lengths,
or whole lengths, no matter) of Cardinals Richelieu, Mazarin, and Retz,
Monsieur de Turenne, le grand Prince de Condo; Mesdames de Montespan, de
Fontanges, de Montbazon, de Sevigne, de Maintenon, de Chevreuse, de
Longueville, d'Olonne, etc., I should be tempted to purchase them. I am
sensible that they can only be met with, by great accident, at family
sales and auctions, so I only mention the affair to you eventually.

I do not understand, or else I do not remember, what affair you mean in
your last letter; which you think will come to nothing, and for which,
you say, I had once a mind that you should take the road again. Explain
it to me.

I shall go to town in four or five days, and carry back with me a little
more hearing than I brought; but yet, not half enough for common wants.
One wants ready pocket-money much oftener than one wants great sums; and
to use a very odd expression, I want to hear at sight. I love every-day
senses, every-day wit and entertainment; a man who is only good on
holydays is good for very little. Adieu.


Christmas Day, 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: A tyrant with legions at his com mand may say, Oderint
modo timeant; though he is a fool if he says it, and a greater fool if he
thinks it. But a private man who can hurt but few, though he can please
many, must endeavor to be loved, for he cannot be feared in general.
Popularity is his only rational and sure foundation. The good-will, the
affections, the love of the public, can alone raise him to any
considerable height. Should you ask me how he is to acquire them, I will
answer, By desiring them. No man ever deserved, who did not desire them;
and no man both deserved and desired them who had them not, though many
have enjoyed them merely by desiring, and without deserving them. You do
not imagine, I believe, that I mean by this public love the sentimental
love of either lovers or intimate friends; no, that is of another nature,
and confined to a very narrow circle; but I mean that general good-will
which a man may acquire in the world, by the arts of pleasing
respectively exerted according to the rank, the situation, and the turn
of mind of those whom he hath to do with. The pleasing impressions which
he makes upon them will engage their affections and their good wishes,
and even their good offices as far (that is) as they are not inconsistent
with their own interests; for further than that you are not to expect
from three people in the course of your life, even were it extended to
the patriarchal term. Could I revert to the age of twenty, and carry
back with me all the experience that forty years more have taught me, I
can assure you, that I would employ much the greatest part of my time in
engaging the good-will, and in insinuating myself into the predilection
of people in general, instead of directing my endeavors to please (as I
was too apt to do) to the man whom I immediately wanted, or the woman I
wished for, exclusively of all others. For if one happens (and it will
sometimes happen to the ablest man) to fail in his views with that man or
that woman, one is at a loss to know whom to address one's self to next,
having offended in general, by that exclusive and distinguished
particular application. I would secure a general refuge in the good-will
of the multitude, which is a great strength to any man; for both
ministers and mistresses choose popular and fashionable favorites. A man
who solicits a minister, backed by the general good-will and good wishes
of mankind, solicits with great weight and great probability of success;
and a woman is strangely biassed in favor of a man whom she sees in
fashion, and hears everybody speak well of. This useful art of
insinuation consists merely of various little things. A graceful motion,
a significant look, a trifling attention, an obliging word dropped 'a
propos', air, dress, and a thousand other undefinable things, all
severally little ones, joined together, make that happy and inestimable
composition, THE ART OF PLEASING. I have in my life seen many a very
handsome woman who has not pleased me, and many very sensible men who
have disgusted me. Why? only for want of those thousand little means to
please, which those women, conscious of their beauty, and those men of
their sense, have been grossly enough mistaken to neglect. I never was
so much in love in my life, as I was with a woman who was very far from
being handsome; but then she was made up of graces, and had all the arts
of pleasing. The following verses, which I have read in some
congratulatory poem prefixed to some work, I have forgot which, express
what I mean in favor of what pleases preferably to what is generally
called mare solid and instructive:

"I would an author like a mistress try,
Not by a nose, a lip, a cheek, or eye,
But by some nameless power to give me joy."

Lady Chesterfield bids me make you many compliments; she showed me your
letter of recommendation of La Vestres; with which I was very well
pleased: there is a pretty turn in it; I wish you would always speak as
genteelly. I saw another letter from a lady at Paris, in which there was
a high panegyrical paragraph concerning you. I wish it were every word
of it literally true; but, as it comes from a very little, pretty, white
hand, which is suspected, and I hope justly, of great partiality to you:
'il en faut rabattre quelque chose, et meme en le faisant it y aura
toujours d'assez beaux restes'. Adieu.


Art of pleasing is the most necessary
Assenting, but without being servile and abject
Assertion instead of argument
Attacked by ridicule, and, punished with contempt
Bold, but with great seeming modesty
Close, without being costive
Command of our temper, and of our countenance
Company is, in truth, a constant state of negotiation
Consider things in the worst light, to show your skill
Darkness visible
Defended by arms, adorned by manners, and improved by laws
Doing nothing, and might just as well be asleep
Endeavor to hear, and know all opinions
Enjoy all those advantages
Few people know how to love, or how to hate
Fools, who can never be undeceived
Frank, but without indiscretion
Frequently make friends of enemies, and enemies of friends
Grave without the affectation of wisdom
How troublesome an old correspondent must be to a young one
Ignorant of their natural rights, cherished their chains
Infallibly to be gained by every sort of flattery
Judges from the appearances of things, and not from the reality
Keep your own temper and artfully warm other people's
King's popularity is a better guard than their army
Lay aside the best book
Le mystere de Dieu
Lewis XIV
Made him believe that the world was made for him
Make every man I met with like me, and every woman love me
Man or woman cannot resist an engaging exterior
Man who is only good on holydays is good for very little
Never seek for wit; if it presents itself, well and good
Not making use of any one capital letter
Notes by which dances are now pricked down as well as tunes
Old fellow ought to seem wise whether he really' be so or not
Please all who are worth pleasing; offend none
Pleasures do not commonly last so long as life
Polite, but without the troublesome forms and stiffness
Prejudices are our mistresses
Quarrel with them when they are grown up, for being spoiled
Read with caution and distrust
Reason is at best our wife
Ruined their own son by what they called loving him
Secret, without being dark and mysterious
Seeming inattention to the person who is speaking to you
Talent of hating with good-breeding and loving with prudence
The longest life is too short for knowledge
Trifles that concern you are not trifles to me
Truth, but not the whole truth, must be the invariable principle
Useful sometimes to see the things which one ought to avoid
Where one would gain people, remember that nothing is little
Wife, very often heard indeed, but seldom minded
Wit may create many admirers but makes few friends
Work there as a volunteer in that bureau
Young fellow ought to be wiser than he should seem to be

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