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Letters to His Son, 1753-54 by The Earl of Chesterfield

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This etext was produced by David Widger

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



on the Fine Art of becoming a


and a



LONDON, New Years' Day, 1753

MY DEAR FRIEND: It is now above a fortnight since I have received a
letter from you. I hope, however, that you are well, but engrossed by
the business of Lord Albemarle's 'bureau' in the mornings, and by
business of a genteeler nature in the evenings; for I willingly give up
my own satisfaction to your improvement, either in business or manners.

Here have been lately imported from Paris two gentlemen, who, I find,
were much acquainted with you there Comte Zinzendorf, and Monsieur
Clairant the Academician. The former is a very pretty man, well-bred,
and with a great deal of useful knowledge; for those two things are very
consistent. I examined him about you, thinking him a competent judge.
He told me, 'que vous parliez l'Allemand comme un Allemand; que vous
saviez le droit public de l'empire parfaitement bien; que vous aviez le
gout sur, et des connoissances fort etendues'. I told him that I knew
all this very well; but that I wanted to know whether you had l'air, les
manieres, les attentions, en fin le brillant d'un honnete homme': his
answer was, 'Mais oui en verite, c'est fort bien'. This, you see, is but
cold in comparison of what I do wish, and of what you ought to wish.
Your friend Clairant interposed, and said, 'Mais je vous assure qu'il est
fort poli'; to which I answered, 'Je le crois bien, vis-a-vis des Lapons
vos amis; je vous recuse pour juge, jusqu'a ce que vous ayez ete
delaponne, au moins dix ans, parmi les honnetes gens'. These testimonies
in your favor are such as perhaps you are satisfied with, and think
sufficient; but I am not; they are only the cold depositions of
disinterested and unconcerned witnesses, upon a strict examination.
When, upon a trial, a man calls witnesses to his character, and that
those witnesses only say that they never heard, nor do not know any ill
of him, it intimates at best a neutral and insignificant, though innocent
character. Now I want, and you ought to endeavor, that 'les agremens,
les graces, les attentions', etc., should be a distinguishing part of your
character, and specified of you by people unasked. I wish to hear people
say of you, 'Ah qu'il est aimable! Quelles manieres, quelles graces,
quel art de Claire'! Nature, thank God, has given you all the powers
necessary; and if she has not yet, I hope in God she will give you the
will of exerting them.

I have lately read with great pleasure Voltaire's two little histories of
'Les Croisades', and 'l'Esprit Humain'; which I recommend to your
perusal, if you have not already read them. They are bound up with a
most poor performance called 'Micromegas', which is said to be Voltaire's
too, but I cannot believe it, it is so very unworthy of him; it consists
only of thoughts stolen from Swift, but miserably mangled and disfigured.
But his history of the 'Croisades' shows, in a very short and strong
light, the most immoral and wicked scheme that was ever contrived by
knaves, and executed by madmen and fools, against humanity. There is a
strange but never-failing relation between honest madmen and skillful
knaves; and whenever one meets with collected numbers of the former, one
may be very sure that they are secretly directed by the latter. The
popes, who have generally been both the ablest and the greatest knaves in
Europe, wanted all the power and money of the East; for they had all that
was in Europe already. The times and the minds favored their design, for
they were dark and uniformed; and Peter the Hermit, at once a knave and a
madman, was a fine papal tool for so wild and wicked an undertaking.
I wish we had good histories of every part of Europe, and indeed of the
world, written upon the plan of Voltaire's 'de l'Esprit Humain'; for, I
own, I am provoked at the contempt which most historians show for
humanity in general: one would think by them that the whole human species
consisted but of about a hundred and fifty people, called and dignified
(commonly very undeservedly too) by the titles of emperors, kings, popes,
generals, and ministers.

I have never seen in any of the newspapers any mention of the affairs of
the Cevennes, or Grenoble, which you gave me an account of some time ago;
and the Duke de Mirepoix pretends, at least, to know nothing of either.
Were they false reports? or does the French court choose to stifle them?
I hope that they are both true, because I am very willing that the cares
of the French government should be employed and confined to themselves.

Your friend, the Electress Palatine, has sent me six wild boars' heads,
and other 'pieces de sa chasse', in return for the fans, which she
approved of extremely. This present was signified to me by one Mr.
Harold, who wrote me a letter in very indifferent English; I suppose he
is a Dane who has been in England.

Mr. Harte came to town yesterday, and dined with me to-day. We talked
you over; and I can assure you, that though a parson, and no member
'du beau monde', he thinks all the most shining accomplishments of it
full as necessary for you as I do. His expression was, THAT IS ALL THAT

This is the day when people reciprocally offer and receive the kindest
and the warmest wishes, though, in general, without meaning them on one
side, or believing them on the other. They are formed by the head, in
compliance with custom, though disavowed by the heart, in consequence of
nature. His wishes upon this occasion are the best that are the best
turned; you do not, I am sure, doubt the truth of mine, and therefore I
will express them with a Quaker-like simplicity. May this new year be a
very new one indeed to you; may you put off the old, and put on the new
man! but I mean the outward, not the, inward man. With this alteration,
I might justly sum up all my wishes for you in these words:

Dii tibi dent annos, de to nam caetera sumes.

This minute, I receive your letter of the 26th past, which gives me a
very disagreeable reason for your late silence. By the symptoms which
you mention of your illness, I both hope and believe that it was wholly
owing to your own want of care. You are rather inclined to be fat, you
have naturally a good stomach, and you eat at the best tables; which must
of course make you plethoric: and upon my word you will be very subject
to these accidents, if you will not, from time to time, when you find
yourself full, heated, or your head aching, take some little, easy,
preventative purge, that would not confine you; such as chewing a little
rhubarb when you go to bed at night; or some senna tea in the morning.
You do very well to live extremely low, for some time; and I could wish,
though I do not expect it, that you would take one gentle vomit; for
those giddinesses and swimmings in the head always proceed from some
foulness of the stomach. However, upon the whole, I am very glad that
your old complaint has not mixed itself with this, which I am fully
convinced arises simply from your own negligence. Adieu.

I am sorry for Monsieur Kurze, upon his sister's account.


LONDON, January 15, 1753

MY DEAR FRIEND: I never think my time so well employed, as when I think
it employed to your advantage. You have long had the greatest share of
it; you now engross it. The moment is now decisive; the piece is going
to be exhibited to the public; the mere out lines and the general
coloring are not sufficient to attract the eyes and to secure applause;
but the last finishing, artful, and delicate strokes are necessary.
Skillful judges will discern and acknowledge their merit; the ignorant
will, without knowing why, feel their power. In that view, I have thrown
together, for your perusal, some maxims; or, to speak more properly,
observations on men and things; for I have no merit as to the invention:
I am no system monger; and, instead of giving way to my imagination,
I have only consulted my memory; and my conclusions are all drawn from
facts, not from fancy. Most maxim mongers have preferred the prettiness
to the justness of a thought, and the turn to the truth; but I have
refused myself to everything that my own experience did not justify and
confirm. I wish you would consider them seriously, and separately, and
recur to them again 'pro re nata' in similar cases. Young men are as apt
to think themselves wise enough, as drunken men are to think themselves
sober enough. They look upon spirit to be a much better thing than
experience; which they call coldness. They are but half mistaken; for
though spirit, without experience, is dangerous, experience, without
spirit, is languid and defective. Their union, which is very rare, is
perfection; you may join them, if you please; for all my experience is at
your service; and I do not desire one grain of your spirit in return.
Use them both, and let them reciprocally animate and check each other.
I mean here, by the spirit of youth, only the vivacity and presumption of
youth, which hinder them from seeing the difficulties or dangers of an
undertaking, but I do not mean what the silly vulgar call spirit, by
which they are captious, jealous of their rank, suspicious of being
undervalued, and tart (as they call it) in their repartees, upon the
slightest occasions. This is an evil, and a very silly spirit, which
should be driven out, and transferred to an herd of swine. This is not
the spirit of a man of fashion, who has kept good company. People of an
ordinary, low education, when they happen to fail into good company,
imagine themselves the only object of its attention; if the company
whispers, it is, to be sure, concerning them; if they laugh, it is at
them; and if anything ambiguous, that by the most forced interpretation
can be applied to them, happens to be said, they are convinced that it
was meant at them; upon which they grow out of countenance first, and
then angry. This mistake is very well ridiculed in the "Stratagem,"
CONSUMEDLY. A well-bred man seldom thinks, but never seems to think
himself slighted, undervalued, or laughed at in company, unless where it
is so plainly marked out, that his honor obliges him to resent it in a
proper manner; 'mais les honnetes gens ne se boudent jamais'. I will
admit that it is very difficult to command one's self enough, to behave
with ease, frankness, and good-breeding toward those, who one knows
dislike, slight, and injure one, as far as they can, without personal
consequences; but I assert that it is absolutely necessary to do it: you
must embrace the man you hate, if you cannot be justified in knocking him
down; for otherwise you avow the injury which you cannot revenge.
A prudent cuckold (and there are many such at Paris) pockets his horns
when he cannot gore with them; and will not add to the triumph of his
maker by only butting with them ineffectually. A seeming ignorance is
very often a most necessary part of worldly knowledge. It is, for
instance, commonly advisable to seem ignorant of what people offer to
tell you; and when they say, Have you not heard of such a thing? to
answer No, and to let them go on; though you know it already. Some have
a pleasure in telling it, because they think that they tell it well;
others have a pride in it, as being the sagacious discoverers; and many
have a vanity in showing that they have been, though very undeservedly,
trusted; all these would be disappointed, and consequently displeased,
if you said Yes. Seem always ignorant (unless to one's most intimate
friend) of all matters of private scandal and defamation, though you
should hear them a thousand times; for the parties affected always look
upon the receiver to be almost as bad as the thief: and, whenever they
become the topic of conversation seem to be a skeptic, though you are
really a serious believer; and always take the extenuating part. But all
this seeming ignorance should be joined to thorough and extensive private
informations: and, indeed, it is the best method of procuring them; for
most people have such a vanity in showing a superiority over others,
though but for a moment, and in the merest trifles, that they will tell
you what they should not, rather than not show that they can tell what
you did not know; besides that such seeming ignorance will make you pass
for incurious and consequently undesigning. However, fish for facts,
and take pains to be well informed of everything that passes; but fish
judiciously, and not always, nor indeed often, in the shape of direct
questions, which always put people upon their guard, and, often repeated,
grow tiresome. But sometimes take the things that you would know for
granted; upon which somebody will, kindly and officiously, set you right:
sometimes say that you have heard so and so; and at other times seem to
know more than you do, in order to know all that you want; but avoid
direct questioning as much as you can. All these necessary arts of the
world require constant attention, presence of mind, and coolness.
Achilles, though invulnerable, never went to battle but completely armed.
Courts are to be the theatres of your wars, where you should be always as
completely armed, and even with the addition of a heel-piece. The least
inattention, the least DISTRACTION, may prove fatal. I would fain see
you what pedants call 'omnis homo', and what Pope much better calls ALL-
ACCOMPLISHED: you have the means in your power; add the will; and you may
bring it about. The vulgar have a coarse saying, of SPOILING A SHIP FOR
A HALFPENNY WORTH OF TAR; prevent the application by providing the tar:
it is very easily to be had in comparison with what you have already got.

The fine Mrs. Pitt, who it seems saw you often at Paris, speaking of you
the other day, said, in French, for she speaks little English, . . .
whether it is that you did not pay the homage due to her beauty, or that
it did not strike you as it does others, I cannot determine; but I hope
she had some other reason than truth for saying it. I will suppose that
you did not care a pin for her; but, however, she surely deserved a
degree of propitiatory adoration from you, which I am afraid you
neglected. Had I been in your case, I should have endeavored, at least,
to have supplanted Mr. Mackay in his office of nocturnal reader to her.
I played at cards, two days ago, with your friend Mrs. Fitzgerald, and
her most sublime mother, Mrs. Seagrave; they both inquired after you; and
Mrs. Fitzgerald said, she hoped you went on with your dancing; I said,
Yes, and that you assured me, you had made such considerable improvements
in it, that you had now learned to stand still, and even upright. Your
'virtuosa', la Signora Vestri, sung here the other day, with great
applause: I presume you are INTIMATELY acquainted with her merit. Good
night to you, whoever you pass it with.

I have this moment received a packet, sealed with your seal, though not
directed by your hand, for Lady Hervey. No letter from you! Are you not


LONDON, May 27, O. S. 1753.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this day been tired, jaded, nay, tormented, by
the company of a most worthy, sensible, and learned man, a near relation
of mine, who dined and passed the evening with me. This seems a paradox,
but is a plain truth; he has no knowledge of the world, no manners, no
address; far from talking without book, as is commonly said of people who
talk sillily, he only talks by book; which in general conversation is ten
times worse. He has formed in his own closet from books, certain systems
of everything, argues tenaciously upon those principles, and is both
surprised and angry at whatever deviates from them. His theories are
good, but, unfortunately, are all impracticable. Why? because he has
only read and not conversed. He is acquainted with books, and an
absolute stranger to men. Laboring with his matter, he is delivered of
it with pangs; he hesitates, stops in his utterance, and always expresses
himself inelegantly. His actions are all ungraceful; so that, with all
his merit and knowledge, I would rather converse six hours with the most
frivolous tittle-tattle woman who knew something of the world, than with
him. The preposterous notions of a systematical man who does not know
the world, tire the patience of a man who does. It would be endless to
correct his mistakes, nor would he take it kindly: for he has considered
everything deliberately, and is very sure that he is in the right.
Impropriety is a characteristic, and a never-failing one, of these
people. Regardless, because ignorant, of customs and manners, they
violate them every moment. They often shock, though they never mean to
offend: never attending either to the general character, or the
particular distinguishing circumstances of the people to whom, or before
whom they talk; whereas the knowledge of the world teaches one, that the
very same things which are exceedingly right and proper in one company,
time and place, are exceedingly absurd in others. In short, a man who
has great knowledge, from experience and observation, of the characters,
customs, and manners of mankind, is a being as different from, and as
superior to, a man of mere book and systematical knowledge, as a well-
managed horse is to an ass. Study, therefore, cultivate, and frequent
men and women; not only in their outward, and consequently, guarded, but
in their interior, domestic, and consequently less disguised, characters
and manners. Take your notions of things, as by observation and
experience you find they really are, and not as you read that they are or
should be; for they never are quite what they should be. For this
purpose do not content yourself with general and common acquaintance;
but wherever you can, establish yourself, with a kind of domestic
familiarity, in good houses. For instance, go again to Orli, for two or
three days, and so at two or three 'reprises'. Go and stay two or three
days at a time at Versailles, and improve and extend the acquaintance you
have there. Be at home at St. Cloud; and, whenever any private person of
fashion invites you to, pass a few days at his country-house, accept of
the invitation. This will necessarily give you a versatility of mind,
and a facility to adopt various manners and customs; for everybody
desires to please those in whose house they are; and people are only to
be pleased in their own way. Nothing is more engaging than a cheerful
and easy conformity to people's particular manners, habits, and even
weaknesses; nothing (to use a vulgar expression) should come amiss to a
young fellow. He should be, for good purposes, what Alcibiades was
commonly for bad ones, a Proteus, assuming with ease, and wearing with
cheerfulness, any shape. Heat, cold, luxury, abstinence, gravity,
gayety, ceremony, easiness, learning, trifling, business, and pleasure,
are modes which he should be able to take, lay aside, or change
occasionally, with as much ease as he would take or lay aside his hat.
All this is only to be acquired by use and knowledge of the world,
by keeping a great deal of company, analyzing every character,
and insinuating yourself into the familiarity of various acquaintance.
A right, a generous ambition to make a figure in the world, necessarily
gives the desire of pleasing; the desire of pleasing points out, to a
great degree, the means of doing it; and the art of pleasing is, in
truth, the art of rising, of distinguishing one's self, of making a
figure and a fortune in the world. But without pleasing, without the
graces, as I have told you a thousand times, 'ogni fatica e vana'. You
are now but nineteen, an age at which most of your countrymen are
illiberally getting drunk in port, at the university. You have greatly
got the start of them in learning; and if you can equally get the start
of them in the knowledge and manners of the world, you may be very sure
of outrunning them in court and parliament, as you set out much earlier
than they. They generally begin but to see the world at one-and-twenty;
you will by that age have seen all Europe. They set out upon their
travels unlicked cubs: and in their travels they only lick one another,
for they seldom go into any other company. They know nothing but the
English world, and the worst part of that too, and generally very little
of any but the English language; and they come home, at three or four-
and-twenty, refined and polished (as is said in one of Congreve's plays)
like Dutch skippers from a whale-fishing. The care which has been taken
of you, and (to do you justice) the care that you have taken of yourself,
has left you, at the age of nineteen only, nothing to acquire but the
knowledge of the world, manners, address, and those exterior
accomplishments. But they are great and necessary acquisitions, to those
who have sense enough to know their true value; and your getting them
before you are one-and-twenty, and before you enter upon the active and
shining scene of life, will give you such an advantage over all your
contemporaries, that they cannot overtake you: they must be distanced.
You may probably be placed about a young prince, who will probably be a
young king. There all the various arts of pleasing, the engaging
address, the versatility of manners, the brillant, the graces, will
outweigh, and yet outrun all solid knowledge and unpolished merit. Oil
yourself, therefore, and be both supple and shining, for that race, if
you would be first, or early at the goal. Ladies will most probably too
have something to say there; and those who are best with them will
probably be best SOMEWHERE ELSE. Labor this great point, my dear child,
indefatigably; attend to the very smallest parts, the minutest graces,
the most trifling circumstances, that can possibly concur in forming the
shining character of a complete gentleman, 'un galant homme, un homme de
cour', a man of business and pleasure; 'estime des hommes, recherche des
femmes, aime de tout le monde'. In this view, observe the shining part
of every man of fashion, who is liked and esteemed; attend to, and
imitate that particular accomplishment for which you hear him chiefly
celebrated and distinguished: then collect those various parts, and make
yourself a mosiac of the whole. No one body possesses everything, and
almost everybody possesses some one thing worthy of imitation: only
choose your models well; and in order to do so, choose by your ear more
than by your eye. The best model is always that which is most
universally allowed to be the best, though in strictness it may possibly
not be so. We must take most things as they are, we cannot make them
what we would, nor often what they should be; and where moral duties are
not concerned, it is more prudent to follow than to attempt to lead.


BATH, October 3, 1753

MY DEAR FRIEND: You have set out well at The Hague; you are in love with
Madame Munter, which I am very glad of: you are in the fine company
there, and I hope one of it: for it is not enough, at your age, to be
merely in good company; but you should, by your address and attentions,
make that good company think you one of them. There is a tribute due to
beauty, even independently of further views; which tribute I hope you
paid with alacrity to Madame Munter and Madame Degenfeldt: depend upon
it, they expected it, and were offended in proportion as that tribute
seemed either unwillingly or scantily paid. I believe my friend
Kreuningen admits nobody now to his table, for fear of their
communicating the plague to him, or at least the bite of a mad dog.
Pray profit of the entrees libres that the French Ambassador has given
you; frequent him, and SPEAK to him. I think you will not do amiss to
call upon Mr. Burrish, at Aix-la-Chapelle, since it is so little out of
your way; and you will do still better, if you would, which I know you
will not, drink those waters for five or six days only, to scour your
stomach and bowels a little; I am sure it would do you a great deal of
good Mr. Burrish can, doubtless, give you the best letters to Munich;
and he will naturally give you some to Comte Preysing, or Comte Sinsheim,
and such sort of grave people; but I could wish that you would ask him
for some to young fellows of pleasure, or fashionable coquettes, that,
you may be 'dans l'honnete debauche de Munich'. A propos of your future
motions; I leave you in a great measure the master of them, so shall only
suggest my thoughts to you upon that subject.

You have three electoral courts in view, Bonn, Munich, and Manheim.
I would advise you to see two of them rather cursorily, and fix your
tabernacle at the third, whichever that may be, for a considerable time.
For instance, should you choose (as I fancy you will), to make Manheim the
place of your residence, stay only ten or twelve days at Bonn, and as
long at Munich, and then go and fix at Manheim; and so, vice versa, if
you should like Bonn or Munich better than you think you would Manheim,
make that the place of your residence, and only visit the other two.
It is certain that no man can be much pleased himself, or please others
much, in any place where he is only a bird of passage for eight or ten
days; neither party thinking it worth while to make an acquaintance,
still less to form any connection, for so short a time; but when months
are the case, a man may domesticate himself pretty well, and very soon
not be looked upon as a stranger. This is the real utility of traveling,
when, by contracting a familiarity at any place, you get into the inside
of it, and see it in its undress. That is the only way of knowing the
customs, the manners, and all the little characteristical peculiarities
that distinguish one place from another; but then this familiarity is not
to be brought about by cold, formal visits of half an hour: no; you must
show a willingness, a desire, an impatience of forming connections, 'il
faut s'y preter, et y mettre du liant, du desir de plaire. Whatever you
do approve, you must be lavish in your praises of; and you must learn to
commend what you do not approve of, if it is approved of there. You are
not much given to praise, I know; but it is because you do not yet know
how extremely people are engaged by a seeming sanction to their own
opinions, prejudices, and weaknesses, even in the merest trifles. Our
self-love is mortified when we think our opinions, and even our tastes,
customs, and dresses, either arraigned or condemned; as on the contrary,
it is tickled and flattered by approbation. I will give you a remarkable
instance of this kind. The famous Earl of Shaftesbury, in the flagitious
reign of Charles the Second, while he was Chancellor, had a mind to be a
favorite, as well as a minister of the King; in order, therefore, to
please his Majesty, whose prevailing passion was women, my Lord kept a
w----e, whom he had no occasion for, and made no manner of use of. The
King soon heard of it, and asked him if it was true; he owned it was;
but that, though he kept that one woman, he had several others besides,
for he loved variety. A few days afterward, the King, at his public
levee, saw Lord Shaftesbury at some distance, and said in the circle,
"One would not think that that little, weak man is the greatest whore-
master in England; but I can assure you that he is." Upon Lord
Shaftesbury's coming into the circle, there was a general smile; the King
said, "This is concerning you, my Lord."--"Me, sir?" answered the
Chancellor, with some surprise. "Yes, you," answered the King; "for I
had just said that you were the greatest whore-master in England! Is it
not true?"--"Of a SUBJECT, Sir," replied Lord Shaftesbury, "perhaps I am."
It is the same in everything; we think a difference of opinion, of
conduct, of manners, a tacit reproach, at least, upon our own; we must
therefore use ourselves to a ready conformity to whatever is neither
criminal nor dishonorable. Whoever differs from any general custom, is
supposed both to think, and proclaim himself wiser than the rest of the
world: which the rest of the world cannot bear, especially in a young
man. A young fellow is always forgiven and often applauded, when he
carries a fashion to an excess; but never if he stops short of it. The
first is ascribed to youth and fire; but the latter is imputed to an
affectation of singularity or superiority. At your age, one is allowed
to 'outrer' fashion, dress, vivacity, gallantry, etc., but by no means to
be behindhand in any one of them. And one may apply to youth in this
case, 'Si non errasset, fecerat ille minus'. Adieu.


BATH, October 19, 1753

MY DEAR FRIEND: Of all the various ingredients that compose the useful
and necessary art of pleasing, no one is so effectual and engaging as
that gentleness, that 'douceur' of countenance and manner, to which you
are no stranger, though (God knows why) a sworn enemy. Other people take
great pains to conceal or disguise their natural imperfections; some by
the make of their clothes and other arts, endeavor to conceal the defects
of their shape; women, who unfortunately have natural bad complexions,
lay on good ones; and both men and women upon whom unkind nature has
inflicted a surliness and ferocity of countenance, do at least all they
can, though often without success, to soften and mitigate it; they affect
'douceur', and aim at smiles, though often in the attempt, like the Devil
in Milton, they GRIN HORRIBLY A GHASTLY SMILE. But you are the only
person I ever knew in the whole course of my life, who not only disdain,
but absolutely reject and disguise a great advantage that nature has
kindly granted. You easily guess I mean COUNTENANCE; for she has given
you a very pleasing one; but you beg to be excused, you will not accept
it; but on the contrary, take singular pains to put on the most
'funeste', forbidding, and unpleasing one that can possibly be imagined.
This one would think impossible; but you know it to be true. If you
imagine that it gives you a manly, thoughtful, and decisive air, as some,
though very few of your countrymen do, you are most exceedingly mistaken;
for it is at best the air of a German corporal, part of whose exercise is
to look fierce, and to 'blasemeer-op'. You will say, perhaps, What, am I
always to be studying my countenance, in order to wear this 'douceur'? I
answer, No; do it but for a fortnight, and you never will have occasion
to think of it more. Take but half the pains to recover the countenance
that nature gave you, that you must have taken to disguise and deform it
as you have, and the business will be done. Accustom your eyes to a
certain softness, of which they are very capable, and your face to
smiles, which become it more than most faces I know. Give all your
motions, too, an air of 'douceur', which is directly the reverse of their
present celerity and rapidity. I wish you would adopt a little of 'l'air
du Couvent' (you very well know what I mean) to a certain degree; it has
something extremely engaging; there is a mixture of benevolence,
affection, and unction in it; it is frequently really sincere, but is
almost always thought so, and consequently pleasing. Will you call this
trouble? It will not be half an hour's trouble to you in a week's time.
But suppose it be, pray tell me, why did you give yourself the trouble of
learning to dance so well as you do? It is neither a religious, moral,
or civil duty. You must own, that you did it then singly to please, and
you were, in the right on't. Why do you wear fine clothes, and curl your
hair? Both are troublesome; lank locks, and plain flimsy rags are much
easier. This then you also do in order to please, and you do very right.
But then, for God's sake, reason and act consequentially; and endeavor to
please in other things too, still more essential; and without which the
trouble you have taken in those is wholly thrown away. You show your
dancing, perhaps six times a year, at most; but you show your countenance
and your common motions every day, and all day. Which then, I appeal to
yourself, ought you to think of the most, and care to render easy,
graceful, and engaging? Douceur of countenance and gesture can alone
make them so. You are by no means ill-natured; and would you then most
unjustly be reckoned so? Yet your common countenance intimates, and
would make anybody who did not know you, believe it. 'A propos' of this,
I must tell you what was said the other day to a fine lady whom you know,
who is very good-natured in truth, but whose common countenance implies
ill-nature, even to brutality. It was Miss H----n, Lady M--y's niece,
whom you have seen both at Blackheath and at Lady Hervey's. Lady M--y
was saying to me that you had a very engaging countenance when you had a
mind to it, but that you had not always that mind; upon which Miss H----n
said, that she liked your countenance best, when it was as glum as her
own. Why then, replied Lady M--y, you two should marry; for while you
both wear your worst countenances, nobody else will venture upon either
of you; and they call her now Mrs. Stanhope. To complete this 'douceur'
of countenance and motions, which I so earnestly recommend to you, you
should carry it also to your expressions and manner of thinking, 'mettez
y toujours de l'affectueux de l'onction'; take the gentle, the favorable,
the indulgent side of most questions. I own that the manly and sublime
John Trott, your countryman, seldom does; but, to show his spirit and
decision, takes the rough and harsh side, which he generally adorns with
an oath, to seem more formidable. This he only thinks fine; for to do
John justice, he is commonly as good-natured as anybody. These are among
the many little things which you have not, and I have, lived long enough
in the world to know of what infinite consequence they are in the course
of life. Reason then, I repeat it again, within yourself,
CONSEQUENTIALLY; and let not the pains you have taken, and still take,
to please in some things be a 'pure perte', by your negligence of, and
inattention to others of much less trouble, and much more consequence.

I have been of late much engaged, or rather bewildered, in Oriental
history, particularly that of the Jews, since the destruction of their
temple, and their dispersion by Titus; but the confusion and uncertainty
of the whole, and the monstrous extravagances and falsehoods of the
greatest part of it, disgusted me extremely. Their Talmud, their
Mischna, their Targums, and other traditions and writings of their
Rabbins and Doctors, who were most of them Cabalists, are really more
extravagant and absurd, if possible, than all that you have read in Comte
de Gabalis; and indeed most of his stuff is taken from them. Take this
sample of their nonsense, which is transmitted in the writings of one of
their most considerable Rabbins: "One Abas Saul, a man of ten feet high,
was digging a grave, and happened to find the eye of Goliah, in which he
thought proper to bury himself, and so he did, all but his head, which
the Giant's eye was unfortunately not quite deep enough to receive."
This, I assure you, is the most modest lie of ten thousand. I have also
read the Turkish history which, excepting the religious part, is not
fabulous, though very possibly not true. For the Turks, having no notion
of letters and being, even by their religion, forbid the use of them,
except for reading and transcribing the Koran, they have no historians of
their own, nor any authentic records nor memorials for other historians
to work upon; so that what histories we have of that country are written
by foreigners; as Platina, Sir Paul Rycaut, Prince Cantimer, etc., or
else snatches only of particular and short periods, by some who happened
to reside there at those times; such as Busbequius, whom I have just
finished. I like him, as far as he goes, much the best of any of them:
but then his account is, properly, only an account of his own Embassy,
from the Emperor Charles the Fifth to Solyman the Magnificent. However,
there he gives, episodically, the best account I know of the customs and
manners of the Turks, and of the nature of that government, which is a
most extraordinary one. For, despotic as it always seems, and sometimes
is, it is in truth a military republic, and the real power resides in the
Janissaries; who sometimes order their Sultan to strangle his Vizir, and
sometimes the Vizir to depose or strangle his Sultan, according as they
happen to be angry at the one or the other. I own I am glad that the
capital strangler should, in his turn, be STRANGLE-ABLE, and now and then
strangled; for I know of no brute so fierce, nor no criminal so guilty,
as the creature called a Sovereign, whether King, Sultan, or Sophy, who
thinks himself, either by divine or human right, vested with an absolute
power of destroying his fellow-creatures; or who, without inquiring into
his right, lawlessly exerts that power. The most excusable of all those
human monsters are the Turks, whose religion teaches them inevitable
fatalism. A propos of the Turks, my Loyola, I pretend, is superior to
your Sultan. Perhaps you think this impossible, and wonder who this
Loyola is. Know then, that I have had a Barbet brought me from France,
so exactly like the Sultan that he has been mistaken for him several
times; only his snout is shorter, and his ears longer than the Sultan's.
He has also the acquired knowledge of the Sultan; and I am apt to think
that he studied under the same master at Paris. His habit and his white
band show him to be an ecclesiastic; and his begging, which he does very
earnestly, proves him to be of a mendicant order; which, added to his
flattery and insinuation, make him supposed to be a Jesuit, and have
acquired him the name of Loyola. I must not omit too, that when he
breaks wind he smells exactly like the Sultan.

I do not yet hear one jot the better for all my bathings and pumpings,
though I have been here already full half my time; I consequently go very
little into company, being very little fit for any. I hope you keep
company enough for us both; you will get more by that, than I shall by
all my reading. I read simply to amuse myself and fill up my time, of
which I have too much; but you have two much better reasons for going
into company, pleasure and profit. May you find a great deal of both in
a great deal of company! Adieu.


LONDON, November 20, 1753

MY DEAR FRIEND: Two mails are now due from Holland, so that I have no
letter from you to acknowledge; but that, you know, by long experience,
does not hinder my writing to you. I always receive your letters with
pleasure; but I mean, and endeavor, that you should receive mine with
some profit; preferring always your advantage to my own pleasure.

If you find yourself well settled and naturalized at Manheim, stay there
some time, and do not leave a certain for an uncertain good; but if you
think you shall be as well, or better established at Munich, go there as
soon as you please; and if disappointed, you can always return to Manheim
I mentioned, in a former letter, your passing the Carnival at Berlin,
which I think may be both useful and pleasing to you; however, do as you
will; but let me know what you resolve: That King and that country have,
and will have, so great a share in the affairs of Europe, that they are
well worth being thoroughly known.

Whether, where you are now, or ever may be hereafter, you speak French,
German, or English most, I earnestly recommend to you a particular
attention to the propriety and elegance of your style; employ the best
words you can find in the language, avoid cacophony, and make your
periods as harmonious as you can. I need not, I am sure, tell you what
you must often have felt, how much the elegance of diction adorns the
best thoughts, and palliates the worst. In the House of Commons it is
almost everything; and, indeed, in every assembly, whether public or
private. Words, which are the dress of thoughts, deserve surely more
care than clothes, which are only the dress of the person, and which,
however, ought to have their share of attention. If you attend to your
style in any one language, it will give you a habit of attending to it in
every other; and if once you speak either French or German very
elegantly, you will afterward speak much the better English for it.
I repeat it to you again, for at least the thousandth time, exert your
whole attention now in acquiring the ornamental parts of character.
People know very little of the world, and talk nonsense, when they talk
of plainness and solidity unadorned: they will do in nothing; mankind has
been long out of a state of nature, and the golden age of native
simplicity will never return. Whether for the better or the worse, no
matter; but we are refined; and plain manners, plain dress, and plain
diction, would as little do in life, as acorns, herbage, and the water of
the neighboring spring, would do at table. Some people are just come,
who interrupt me in the middle of my sermon; so good-night.


LONDON, November 26, 1753

DEAR FRIEND: Fine doings at Manheim! If one may give credit to the
weekly histories of Monsieur Roderigue, the finest writer among the
moderns; not only 'des chasses brillantes et nombreuses des operas ou les
acteurs se surpassent les jours des Saints de L. L. A. A. E. E.
serenissimes celebres; en grand gala'; but to crown the whole, Monsieur
Zuchmantel is happily arrived, and Monsieur Wartenslebeu hourly expected.
I hope that you are 'pars magna' of all these delights; though, as Noll
Bluff says, in the "Old Bachelor," THAT RASCALLY GAZETTEER TAKES NO MORE
think that he might at least have taken notice that in these rejoicings
you appeared with a rejoicing, and not a gloomy countenance; and you
distinguished yourself in that numerous and shining company, by your air,
dress, address, and attentions. If this was the case, as I will both
hope and suppose it was, I will, if you require it, have him written to,
to do you justice in his next 'supplement'. Seriously, I am very glad
that you are whirled in that 'tourbillon' of pleasures; they smooth,
polish, and rub off rough corners: perhaps too, you have some particular
COLLISION, which is still more effectual.

Schannat's "History of the Palatinate" was, I find, written originally in
German, in which language I suppose it is that you have read it; but,
as I must humbly content myself with the French translation, Vaillant has
sent for it for me from Holland, so that I have not yet read it. While
you are in the Palatinate, you do very well to read everything relative
to it; you will do still better if you make that reading the foundation
of your inquiries into the more minute circumstances and anecdotes of
that country, whenever you are in company with informed and knowing

The Ministers here, intimidated on the absurd and groundless clamors of
the mob, have, very weakly in my mind, repealed, this session, the bill
which they had passed in the last for rendering Jews capable of being
naturalized by subsequent acts of parliament. The clamorers triumph, and
will doubtless make further demands, which, if not granted, this piece of
complaisance will soon be forgotten. Nothing is truer in politics, than
this reflection of the Cardinal de Retz, 'Que le peuple craint toujours
quand on ne le craint pas'; and consequently they grow unreasonable and
insolent, when they find that they are feared. Wise and honest governors
will never, if they can help it, give the people just cause to complain;
but then, on the other hand, they will firmly withstand groundless
clamor. Besides that this noise against the Jew bill proceeds from that
narrow mobspirit of INTOLERATION in religious, and inhospitality in civil
matters; both which all wise governments should oppose.

The confusion in France increases daily, as, no doubt, you are informed
where you are. There is an answer of the clergy to the remonstrances of
the parliament, lately published, which was sent me by the last post from
France, and which I would have sent you, inclosed in this, were it not
too bulky. Very probably you may see it at Manheim, from the French
Minister: it is very well worth your reading, being most artfully and
plausibly written, though founded upon false principles; the 'jus
divinum' of the clergy, and consequently their supremacy in all matters
of faith and doctrine are asserted; both which I absolutely deny. Were
those two points allowed the clergy of any country whatsoever, they must
necessarily govern that country absolutely; everything being, directly or
indirectly, relative to faith or doctrine; and whoever is supposed to
have the power of saving and damning souls to all eternity (which power
the clergy pretend to), will be much more considered, and better obeyed,
than any civil power that forms no pretensions beyond this world.
Whereas, in truth, the clergy in every country are, like all other
subjects, dependent upon the supreme legislative power, and are appointed
by that power under whatever restrictions and limitations it pleases, to
keep up decency and decorum in the church, just as constables are to keep
peace in the parish. This Fra Paolo has clearly proved, even upon their
own principles of the Old and New Testament, in his book 'de Beneficiis',
which I recommend to you to read with attention; it is short. Adieu.


LONDON, December 25, 1753

MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday again I received two letters at once from you,
the one of the 7th, the other of the 15th, from Manheim.

You never had in your life so good a reason for not writing, either to me
or to anybody else, as your sore finger lately furnished you. I believe
it was painful, and I am glad it is cured; but a sore finger, however
painful, is a much less evil than laziness, of either body or mind, and
attended by fewer ill consequences.

I am very glad to hear that you were distinguished at the court of
Manheim from the rest of your countrymen and fellow-travelers: it is a
sign that you had better manners and address than they; for take it for
granted, the best-bred people will always be the best received wherever
they go. Good manners are the settled medium of social, as specie is of
commercial life; returns are equally expected for both; and people will
no more advance their civility to a bear, than their money to a bankrupt.
I really both hope and believe, that the German courts will do you a
great deal of good; their ceremony and restraint being the proper
correctives and antidotes for your negligence and inattention. I believe
they would not greatly relish your weltering in your own laziness, and an
easy chair; nor take it very kindly, if, when they spoke to you or you to
them, you looked another way, as much as to say, kiss my b----h. As they
give, so they require attention; and, by the way, take this maxim for an
undoubted truth, That no young man can possibly improve in any company,
for which he has not respect enough to be under some degree of restraint.

I dare not trust to Meyssonier's report of his Rhenish, his Burgundy not
having answered either his account or my expectations. I doubt, as a
wine merchant, he is the 'perfidus caupo', whatever he may be as a
banker. I shall therefore venture upon none of his wine; but delay
making my provision of Old Hock, till I go abroad myself next spring: as
I told you in the utmost secrecy, in my last, that I intend to do; and
then probably I may taste some that I like, and go upon sure ground.
There is commonly very good, both at Aix-la-Chapelle and Liege, where I
formerly got some excellent, which I carried with me to Spa, where I
drank no other wine.

As my letters to you frequently miscarry, I will repeat in this that part
of my last which related to your future motions. Whenever you shall be
tired of Berlin, go to Dresden; where Sir Charles Williams will be, who
will receive you with open arms. He dined with me to-day, and sets out
for Dresden in about six weeks. He spoke of you with great kindness and
impatience to see you again. He will trust and employ you in business
(and he is now in the whole secret of importance) till we fix our place
to meet in: which probably will be Spa. Wherever you are, inform
yourself minutely of, and attend particularly to the affairs of France;
they grow serious, and in my opinion will grow more and more so every
day. The King is despised and I do not wonder at it; but he has brought
it about to be hated at the same time, which seldom happens to the same
man. His ministers are known to be as disunited as incapable; he
hesitates between the Church and the parliaments, like the ass in the
fable, that starved between two hampers of hay: too much in love with his
mistress to part with her, and too much afraid of his soul to enjoy her;
jealous of the parliaments, who would support his authority; and a
devoted bigot to the Church, that would destroy it. The people are poor,
consequently discontented; those who have religion, are divided in their
notions of it; which is saying that they hate one another. The clergy
never do forgive; much less will they forgive the parliament; the
parliament never will forgive them. The army must, without doubt, take,
in their own minds at last, different parts in all these disputes, which
upon occasion would break out. Armies, though always the supporters and
tools of absolute power for the time being, are always the destroyers of
it, too, by frequently changing the hands in which they think proper to
lodge it. This was the case of the Praetorian bands, who deposed and
murdered the monsters they had raised to oppress mankind. The
Janissaries in turkey, and the regiments of guards in Russia, do the same
now. The French nation reasons freely, which they never did before, upon
matters of religion and government, and begin to be 'sprejiudicati'; the
officers do so too; in short, all the symptoms, which I have ever met
with in history previous to great changes and revolutions in government,
now exist, and daily increase, in France. I am glad of it; the rest of
Europe will be the quieter, and have time to recover. England, I am
sure, wants rest, for it wants men and money; the Republic of the United
Provinces wants both still more; the other Powers cannot well dance, when
neither France, nor the maritime powers, can, as they used to do, pay the
piper. The first squabble in Europe, that I foresee, will be about the
Crown of Poland, should the present King die: and therefore I wish his
Majesty a long life and a merry Christmas. So much for foreign politics;
but 'a propos' of them, pray take care, while you are in those parts of
Germany, to inform yourself correctly of all the details, discussions,
and agreements, which the several wars, confiscations, bans, and
treaties, occasioned between the Bavarian and Palatine Electorates; they
are interesting and curious.

I shall not, upon the occasion of the approaching new year, repeat to you
the wishes which I continue to form for you; you know them all already,
and you know that it is absolutely in your power to satisfy most of them.
Among many other wishes, this is my most earnest one: That you would
open the new year with a most solemn and devout sacrifice to the Graces;
who never reject those that supplicate them with fervor; without them,
let me tell you, that your friend Dame Fortune will stand you in little
stead; may they all be your friends! Adieu.


LONDON, January 15, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have this moment received your letter of the 26th past
from Munich. Since you are got so well out of the distress and dangers
of your journey from Manheim, I am glad that you were in them:

"Condisce i diletti
Memorie di pene,
Ne sa che sia bene
Chi mal non soffri."

They were but little samples of the much greater distress and dangers
which you must expect to meet within your great, and I hope, long journey
through life. In some parts of it, flowers are scattered, with
profusion, the road is smooth, and the prospect pleasant: but in others
(and I fear the greater number) the road is rugged, beset with thorns and
briars, and cut by torrents. Gather the flowers in your way; but, at the
same time, guard against the briars that are either mixed with them, or
that most certainly succeed them.

I thank you for your wild boar; who, now he is dead, I assure him, 'se
laissera bien manger malgre qu'il en ait'; though I am not so sure that I
should have had that personal valor which so successfully distinguished
you in single combat with him, which made him bite the dust like Homer's
heroes, and, to conclude my period sublimely, put him into that PICKLE,
from which I propose eating him. At the same time that I applaud your
valor, I must do justice to your modesty; which candidly admits that you
were not overmatched, and that your adversary was about your own age and
size. A Maracassin, being under a year old, would have been below your
indignation. 'Bete de compagne', being under two years old, was still,
in my opinion, below your glory; but I guess that your enemy was 'un
Ragot', that is, from two to three years old; an age and size which,
between man and boar, answer pretty well to yours.

If accidents of bad roads or waters do not detain you at Munich, I do not
fancy that pleasures will: and I rather believe you will seek for, and
find them, at the Carnival at Berlin; in which supposition, I eventually
direct this letter to your banker there. While you are at Berlin (I
earnestly recommend it to you again and again) pray CARE to see, hear,
know, and mind, everything there. THE ABLEST PRINCE IN EUROPE is surely
an object that deserves attention; and the least thing that he does, like
the smallest sketches of the greatest painters, has its value, and a
considerable one too.

Read with care the Code Frederick, and inform yourself of the good
effects of it in those parts of, his dominions where it has taken place,
and where it has banished the former chicanes, quirks, and quibbles of
the old law. Do not think any detail too minute or trifling for your
inquiry and observation. I wish that you could find one hour's leisure
every day, to read some good Italian author, and to converse in that
language with our worthy friend Signor Angelo Cori; it would both refresh
and improve your Italian, which, of the many languages you know, I take
to be that in which you are the least perfect; but of which, too, you
already know enough to make yourself master of, with very little trouble,
whenever you please.

Live, dwell, and grow at the several courts there; use them so much to
your face, that they may not look upon you as a stranger. Observe, and
take their 'ton', even to their affectations and follies; for such there
are, and perhaps should be, at all courts. Stay, in all events, at
Berlin, till I inform you of Sir Charles Williams's arrival at Dresden;
where I suppose you would not care to be before him, and where you may go
as soon after him as ever you please. Your time there will neither be
unprofitably nor disagreeably spent; he will introduce you into all the
best company, though he can introduce you to none so good as his own. He
has of late applied himself very seriously to foreign affairs, especially
those of Saxony and Poland; he knows them perfectly well, and will tell
you what he knows. He always expresses, and I have good reason to
believe very sincerely, great kindness and affection for you.

The works of the late Lord Bolingbroke are just published, and have
plunged me into philosophical studies; which hitherto I have not been
much used to, or delighted with; convinced of the futility of those
researches; but I have read his "Philosophical Essay" upon the extent of
human knowledge, which, by the way, makes two large quartos and a half.
He there shows very clearly, and with most splendid eloquence, what the
human mind can and cannot do; that our understandings are wisely
calculated for our place in this planet, and for the link which we form
in the universal chain of things; but that they are by no means capable
of that degree of knowledge, which our curiosity makes us search after,
and which our vanity makes us often believe we arrive at. I shall not
recommend to you the reading of that work; but, when you return hither,
I shall recommend to your frequent and diligent perusal all his tracts
that are relative to our history and constitution; upon which he throws
lights, and scatters graces, which no other writer has ever done.

Reading, which was always a pleasure to me, in the time even of my
greatest dissipation, is now become my only refuge; and, I fear, I
indulge it too much at the expense of my eyes. But what can I do?
I must do something; I cannot bear absolute idleness; my ears grow every
day more useless to me, my eyes consequently more necessary; I will not
hoard them like a miser, but will rather risk the loss, than not enjoy
the use of them.

Pray let me know all the particulars, not only of your reception at
Munich, but also at Berlin; at the latter, I believe, it will be a good
one; for his Prussian Majesty knows, that I have long been AN ADMIRER AND


LONDON, February 1, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received, yesterday, yours of the 12th, from Munich; in
consequence of which, I direct this to you there, though I directed my
three last to Berlin, where I suppose you will find them at your arrival.
Since you are not only domesticated, but 'niche' at Munich, you are much
in the right to stay there. It is not by seeing places that one knows
them, but by familiar and daily conversations with the people of fashion.
I would not care to be in the place of that prodigy of beauty, whom you
are to drive 'dans la course de Traineaux'; and I am apt to think you are
much more likely to break her bones, than she is, though ever so cruel,
to break your heart. Nay, I am not sure but that, according to all the
rules of gallantry, you are obliged to overturn her on purpose; in the
first place, for the chance of seeing her backside; in the next, for the
sake of the contrition and concern which it would give you an opportunity
of showing; and, lastly, upon account of all the 'gentillesses et
epigrammes', which it would naturally suggest. Voiture has made several
stanzas upon an accident of that kind, which happened to a lady of his
acquaintance. There is a great deal of wit in them, rather too much;
for, according to the taste of those times, they are full of what the
Italians call 'concetti spiritosissimi'; the Spaniards 'agudeze'; and we,
affectation and quaintness. I hope you have endeavored to suit your
'Traineau' to the character of the fair-one whom it is to contain. If
she is of an irascible, impetuous disposition (as fine women can
sometimes be), you will doubtless place her in the body of a lion, a
tiger, a dragon, or some tremendous beast of prey and fury; if she is a
sublime and stately beauty, which I think more probable (for
unquestionably she is 'hogh gebohrne'), you will, I suppose, provide a
magnificent swan or proud peacock for her reception; but if she is all
tenderness and softness, you have, to be sure, taken care amorous doves
and wanton sparrows should seem to flutter round her. Proper mottos, I
take it for granted, that you have eventually prepared; but if not, you
may find a great many ready-made ones in 'Les Entretiens d'Ariste et
d'Eugene, sur les Devises', written by Pere Bouhours, and worth your
reading at any time. I will not say to you, upon this occasion, like the
father in Ovid,

"Parce, puer, stimulis, et fortius utere loris."

On the contrary, drive on briskly; it is not the chariot of the sun that
you drive, but you carry the sun in your chariot; consequently, the
faster it goes, the less it will be likely to scorch or consume. This is
Spanish enough, I am sure.

If this finds you still at Munich, pray make many compliments from me to
Mr. Burrish, to whom I am very much obliged for all his kindness to you;
it is true, that while I had power I endeavored to serve him; but it is
as true too, that I served many others more, who have neither returned
nor remembered those services.

I have been very ill this last fortnight, of your old Carniolian
complaint, the 'arthritis vaga'; luckily, it did not fall upon my breast,
but seized on my right arm; there it fixed its seat of empire; but, as in
all tyrannical governments, the remotest parts felt their share of its
severity. Last post I was not able to hold a pen long enough to write to
you, and therefore desired Mr. Grevenkop to do it for me; but that letter
was directed to Berlin. My pain is now much abated, though I have still
some fine remains of it in my shoulder, where I fear it will tease me a
great while. I must be careful to take Horace's advice, and consider
well, 'Quid valeant humeri, quid ferre recusent'.

Lady Chesterfield bids me make you her compliments, and assure you that
the music will be much more welcome to her with you, than without you.

In some of my last letters, which were directed to, and will, I suppose,
wait for you at Berlin, I complimented you, and with justice, upon your
great improvement of late in the epistolary way, both with regard to the
style and the turn of your letters; your four or five last to me have
been very good ones, and one that you wrote to Mr. Harte, upon the new
year, was so pretty a one, and he was so much and so justly pleased with
it, that he sent it me from Windsor the instant he had read it. This
talent (and a most necessary one it is in the course of life) is to be
acquired by resolving, and taking pains to acquire it; and, indeed, so is
every talent except poetry, which is undoubtedly a gift. Think,
therefore, night and day, of the turn, the purity, the correctness, the
perspicuity, and the elegance of whatever you speak or write; take my
word for it, your labor will not be in vain, but greatly rewarded by tho
harvest of praise and success which it will bring you. Delicacy of turn,
and elegance of style, are ornaments as necessary to common sense, as
attentions, address, and fashionable manners, are to common civility;
both may subsist without them, but then, without being of the least use
to the owner. The figure of a man is exactly the same in dirty rags, or
in the finest and best chosen clothes; but in which of the two he is the
most likely to please, and to be received in good company, I leave to you
to determine.

Both my arm and my paper hint to me, to bid you good-night.


LONDON, February 12, 1754.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I take my aim, and let off this letter at you at Berlin;
I should be sorry it missed you, because I believe you will read it with
as much pleasure as I write it. It is to inform you, that, after some
difficulties and dangers, your seat in the new parliament is at last
absolutely secured, and that without opposition, or the least necessity
of your personal trouble or appearance. This success, I must further
inform you, is in a great degree owing to Mr. Eliot's friendship to us
both; for he brings you in with himself at his surest borough. As it was
impossible to act with more zeal and friendship than Mr. Eliot has acted
in this whole affair, I desire that you will, by the very next post,
write him a letter of thanks, warm and young thanks, not old and cold
ones. You may inclose it in yours to me, and, I will send it to him, for
he is now in Cornwall.

Thus, sure of being a senator, I dare say you do not propose to be one of
the 'pedarii senatores, et pedibus ire in sententiam; for, as the House
of Commons is the theatre where you must make your fortune and figure in
the world, you must resolve to be an actor, and not a 'persona muta',
which is just equivalent to a candle snuffer upon other theatres.
Whoever does not shine there, is obscure, insignificant and contemptible;
and you cannot conceive how easy it is for a man of half your sense and
knowledge to shine there if he pleases. The receipt to make a speaker,
and an applauded one too, is short and easy.--Take of common sense
'quantum sufcit', add a little application to the rules and orders of the
House, throw obvious thoughts in a new light, and make up the whole with
a large quantity of purity, correctness, and elegance of style. Take it
for granted, that by far the greatest part of mankind do neither analyze
nor search to the bottom; they are incapable of penetrating deeper than
the surface. All have senses to be gratified, very few have reason to be
applied to. Graceful utterance and action please their eyes, elegant
diction tickles their ears; but strong reason would be thrown away upon
them. I am not only persuaded by theory, but convinced by my experience,
that (supposing a certain degree of common sense) what is called a good
speaker is as much a mechanic as a good shoemaker; and that the two
trades are equally to be learned by the same degree of application.
Therefore, for God's sake, let this trade be the principal object of your
thoughts; never lose sight of it. Attend minutely to your style,
whatever language you speak or write in; seek for the best words, and
think of the best turns. Whenever you doubt of the propriety or elegance
of any word, search the dictionary or some good author for it, or inquire
of somebody, who is master of that language; and, in a little time,
propriety and elegance of diction will become so habitual to you, that
they will cost you no more trouble. As I have laid this down to be
mechanical and attainable by whoever will take the necessary pains, there
will be no great vanity in my saying, that I saw the importance of the
object so early, and attended to it so young, that it would now cost me
more trouble to speak or write ungrammatically, vulgarly, and
inelegantly, than ever it did to avoid doing so. The late Lord
Bolingbroke, without the least trouble, talked all day long, full as
elegantly as he wrote. Why? Not by a peculiar gift from heaven; but,
as he has often told me himself, by an early and constant attention to
his style. The present Solicitor-General, Murray,--[Created Lord
Mansfield in the year 1756.]--has less law than many lawyers, but has
more practice than any; merely upon account of his eloquence, of which he
has a never-failing stream. I remember so long ago as when I was at
Cambridge, whenever I read pieces of eloquence (and indeed they were my
chief study) whether ancient or modern, I used to write down the shining
passages, and then translate them, as well and as elegantly as ever I
could; if Latin or French, into English; if English, into French. This,
which I practiced for some years, not only improved and formed my style,
but imprinted in my mind and memory the best thoughts of the best
authors. The trouble was little, but the advantage I have experienced
was great. While you are abroad, you can neither have time nor
opportunity to read pieces of English or parliamentary eloquence,
as I hope you will carefully do when you return; but, in the meantime,
whenever pieces of French eloquence come in your way, such as the
speeches of persons received into the Academy, 'orasions funebres',
representations of the several parliaments to the King, etc., read them
in that view, in that spirit; observe the harmony, the turn and elegance
of the style; examine in what you think it might have been better; and
consider in what, had you written it yourself; you might have done worse.
Compare the different manners of expressing the same thoughts in
different authors; and observe how differently the same things appear in
different dresses. Vulgar, coarse, and ill-chosen words, will deform and
degrade the best thoughts as much as rags and dirt will the best figure.
In short, you now know your object; pursue it steadily, and have no
digressions that are not relative to, and connected with, the main
action. Your success in parliament will effectually remove all OTHER
OBJECTIONS; either a foreign or a domestic destination will no longer be
refused you, if you make your way to it through Westminster.

I think I may now say, that I am quite recovered from my late illness,
strength and spirits excepted, which are not yet restored. Aix-la-
Chapelle and Spa will, I believe, answer all my purposes.

I long to hear an account of your reception at Berlin, which I fancy will
be a most gracious one. Adieu.


LONDON, February 15, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: I can now with great truth apply your own motto to you,
'Nullum numen abest, si sit Prudentia'. You are sure of being, as early
as your age will permit, a member of that House; which is the only road
to figure and fortune in this country. Those, indeed, who are bred up
to, and distinguish themselves in particular professions, as the army,
the navy, and the law, may, by their own merit, raise themselves to a
certain degree; but you may observe too, that they never get to the top,
without the assistance of parliamentary talents and influence. The means
of distinguishing yourself in parliament are, as I told you in my last,
much more easily attained than I believe you imagine. Close attendance
to the business of the House will soon give you the parliamentary
routine; and strict attention to your style will soon make you, not only
a speaker, but a good one. The vulgar look upon a man, who is reckoned a
fine speaker, as a phenomenon, a supernatural being, and endowed with
some peculiar gift of heaven; they stare at him, if he walks in the Park,
and cry, THAT IS HE. You will, I am sure, view him in a juster light,
and 'nulla formidine'. You will consider him only as a man of good
sense, who adorns common thoughts with the graces of elocution, and the
elegance of style. The miracle will then cease; and you will be
convinced, that with the same application, and attention to the same
objects, you may most certainly equal, and perhaps surpass, this prodigy.
Sir W---- Y-------, with not a quarter of your parts, and not a
thousandth part of your knowledge, has, by a glibness of tongue simply,
raised him successively to the best employments of the kingdom; he has
been Lord of the Admiralty, Lord of the Treasury, Secretary at War, and
is now Vice-Treasurer of Ireland; and all this with a most sullied, not
to say blasted character. Represent the thing to yourself, as it really
is, easily attainable, and you will find it so. Have but ambition enough
passionately to desire the object, and spirit enough to use the means,
and I will be answerable for your success. When I was younger than you
are, I resolved within myself that I would in all events be a speaker in
parliament, and a good one too, if I could. I consequently never lost
sight of that object, and never neglected any of the means that I thought
led to it. I succeeded to a certain degree; and, I assure you, with
great ease, and without superior talents. Young people are very apt to
overrate both men and things, from not being enough acquainted with them.
In proportion as you come to know them better, you will value them less.
You will find that reason, which always ought to direct mankind, seldom
does; but that passions and weaknesses commonly usurp its seat, and rule
in its stead. You will find that the ablest have their weak sides too,
and are only comparatively able, with regard to the still weaker herd:
having fewer weaknesses themselves, they are able to avail themselves of
the innumerable ones of the generality of mankind: being more masters of
themselves, they become more easily masters of others. They address
themselves to their weaknesses, their senses, their passions; never to
their reason; and consequently seldom fail of success. But then analyze
those great, those governing, and, as the vulgar imagine, those perfect
characters, and you will find the great Brutus a thief in Macedonia, the
great Cardinal Richelieu a jealous poetaster, and the great Duke of
Marlborough a miser. Till you come to know mankind by your own
experience, I know no thing, nor no man, that can in the meantime bring
you so well acquainted with them as le Duc de la Rochefoucault: his
little book of "Maxims," which I would advise you to look into, for some
moments at least, every day of your life, is, I fear, too like, and too
exact a picture of human nature.

I own, it seems to degrade it; but yet my experience does not convince me
that it degrades it unjustly.

Now, to bring all this home to my first point. All these considerations
should not only invite you to attempt to make a figure in parliament, but
encourage you to hope that you shall succeed. To govern mankind, one
must not overrate them: and to please an audience, as a speaker, one must
not overvalue it. When I first came into the House of Commons, I
respected that assembly as a venerable one; and felt a certain awe upon
me, but, upon better acquaintance, that awe soon vanished; and I
discovered, that, of the five hundred and sixty, not above thirty could
understand reason, and that all the rest were 'peuple'; that those thirty
only required plain common sense, dressed up in good language; and that
all the others only required flowing and harmonious periods, whether they
conveyed any meaning or not; having ears to hear, but not sense enough to
judge. These considerations made me speak with little concern the first
time, with less the second, and with none at all the third. I gave
myself no further trouble about anything, except my elocution, and my
style; presuming, without much vanity, that I had common sense sufficient
not to talk nonsense. Fix these three truths strongly in your mind:
First, that it is absolutely necessary for you to speak in parliament;
secondly, that it only requires a little human attention, and no
supernatural gifts; and, thirdly, that you have all the reason in the
world to think that you shall speak well. When we meet, this shall be
the principal subject of our conversations; and, if you will follow my
advice, I will answer for your success.

Now from great things to little ones; the transition is to me easy,
because nothing seems little to me that can be of any use to you. I hope
you take great care of your mouth and teeth, and that you clean them well
every morning with a sponge and tepid water, with a few drops of
arquebusade water dropped into it; besides washing your mouth carefully
after every meal, I do insist upon your never using those sticks, or any
hard substance whatsoever, which always rub away the gums, and destroy
the varnish of the teeth. I speak this from woeful experience; for my
negligence of my teeth, when I was younger than you are, made them bad;
and afterward, my desire to have them look better, made me use sticks,
irons, etc., which totally destroyed them; so that I have not now above
six or seven left. I lost one this morning, which suggested this advice
to you.

I have received the tremendous wild boar, which your still more
tremendous arm slew in the immense deserts of the Palatinate; but have
not yet tasted of it, as it is hitherto above my low regimen. The late
King of Prussia, whenever he killed any number of wild boars, used to
oblige the Jews to buy them, at a high price, though they could eat none
of them; so they defrayed the expense of his hunting. His son has juster
rules of government, as the Code Frederick plainly shows.

I hope, that, by this time, you are as well 'ancre' at Berlin as you was
at Munich; but, if not, you are sure of being so at Dresden. Adieu.


LONDON, February 26, 1754.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received your letters of the 4th, from Munich,
and of the 11th from Ratisbon; but I have not received that of the 31st
January, to which you refer in the former. It is to this negligence and
uncertainty of the post, that you owe your accidents between Munich and
Ratisbon: for, had you received my letters regularly, you would have
received one from me before you left Munich, in which I advised you to
stay, since you were so well there. But, at all events, you were in the
wrong to set out from Munich in such weather and such roads; since you
could never imagine that I had set my heart so much upon your going to
Berlin, as to venture your being buried in the snow for it. Upon the
whole, considering all you are very well off. You do very well, in my
mind, to return to Munich, or at least to keep within the circle of
Munich, Ratisbon, and Manheim, till the weather and the roads are good:
stay at each or any of those places as long as ever you please; for I am
extremely indifferent about your going to Berlin.

As to our meeting, I will tell you my plan, and you may form your own
accordingly. I propose setting out from hence the last week in April,
then drinking the Aix-la-Chapelle waters for a week, and from thence
being at Spa about the 15th of May, where I shall stay two months at
most, and then return straight to England. As I both hope and believe
that there will be no mortal at Spa during my residence there, the
fashionable season not beginning till the middle of July, I would by no
means have you come there at first, to be locked up with me and some few
Capucins, for two months, in that miserable hole; but I would advise you
to stay where you like best, till about the first week in July, and then
to come and pick me up at Spa, or meet me upon the road at Liege or
Brussels. As for the intermediate time, should you be weary of Manheim
and Munich, you may, if you please, go to Dresden, to Sir Charles
Williams, who will be there before that time; or you may come for a month
or six weeks to The Hague; or, in short, go or stay wherever you like
best. So much for your motions.

As you have sent for all the letters directed to you at Berlin, you will
receive from thence volumes of mine, among which you will easily perceive
that some were calculated for a supposed perusal previous to your opening
them. I will not repeat anything contained in them, excepting that I
desire you will send me a warm and cordial letter of thanks for Mr.
Eliot; who has, in the most friendly manner imaginable, fixed you at his
own borough of Liskeard, where you will be elected jointly with him,
without the least opposition or difficulty. I will forward that letter
to him into Cornwall, where he now is.

Now that you are to be soon a man of business, I heartily wish that you
would immediately begin to be a man of method; nothing contributing more
to facilitate and dispatch business, than method and order. Have order
and method in your accounts, in your reading, in the allotment of your
time; in short, in everything. You cannot conceive how much time you
will save by it, nor how much better everything you do will be done. The
Duke of Marlborough did by no means spend, but he slatterned himself into
that immense debt, which is not yet near paid off. The hurry and
confusion of the Duke of Newcastle do not proceed from his business, but
from his want of method in it. Sir Robert Walpole, who had ten times the
business to do, was never seen in a hurry, because he always did it with
method. The head of a man who has business, and no method nor order, is
properly that 'rudis indigestaque moles quam dixere chaos'. As you must
be conscious that you are extremely negligent and slatternly, I hope you
will resolve not to be so for the future. Prevail with yourself, only to
observe good method and order for one fortnight; and I will venture to
assure you that you will never neglect them afterward, you will find such
conveniency and advantage arising from them. Method is the great
advantage that lawyers have over other people, in speaking in parliament;
for, as they must necessarily observe it in their pleadings in the courts
of justice, it becomes habitual to them everywhere else. Without making
you a compliment, I can tell you with pleasure, that order, method, and
more activity of mind, are all that you want, to make, some day or other,
a considerable figure in business. You have more useful knowledge, more
discernment of characters, and much more discretion, than is common at
your age; much more, I am sure, than I had at that age. Experience you
cannot yet have, and therefore trust in the meantime to mine. I am an
old traveler; am well acquainted with all the bye as well as the great
roads; I cannot misguide you from ignorance, and you are very sure I
shall not from design.

I can assure you, that you will have no opportunity of subscribing
yourself my Excellency's, etc. Retirement and quiet were my choice some
years ago, while I had all my senses, and health and spirits enough to
carry on business; but now that I have lost my hearing, and that I find
my constitution declining daily, they are become my necessary and only
refuge. I know myself (no common piece of knowledge, let me tell you),
I know what I can, what I cannot, and consequently what I ought to do.
I ought not, and therefore will not, return to business when I am much
less fit for it than I was when I quitted it. Still less will I go to
Ireland, where, from my deafness and infirmities, I must necessarily make
a different figure from that which I once made there. My pride would be
too much mortified by that difference. The two important senses of
seeing and hearing should not only be good, but quick, in business; and
the business of a Lord-lieutenant of Ireland (if he will do it himself)
requires both those senses in the highest perfection. It was the Duke of
Dorset's not doing the business himself, but giving it up to favorites,
that has occasioned all this confusion in Ireland; and it was my doing
the whole myself, without either Favorite, Minister, or Mistress, that
made my administration so smooth and quiet. I remember, when I named the
late Mr. Liddel for my Secretary, everybody was much surprised at it;
and some of my friends represented to me, that he was no man of business,
but only a very genteel, pretty young fellow; I assured them, and with
truth, that that was the very reason why I chose him; for that I was
resolved to do all the business myself, and without even the suspicion of
having a minister; which the Lord-lieutenant's Secretary, if he is a man
of business, is always supposed, and commonly with reason, to be.
Moreover, I look upon myself now to be emeritus in business, in which I
have been near forty years together; I give it up to you: apply yourself
to it, as I have done, for forty years, and then I consent to your
leaving it for a philosophical retirement among your friends and your
books. Statesmen and beauties are very rarely sensible of the gradations
of their decay; and, too often sanguinely hoping to shine on in their
meridian, often set with contempt and ridicule. I retired in time, 'uti
conviva satur'; or, as Pope says still better, ERE TITTERING YOUTH SHALL
SHOVE YOU FROM THE STAGE. My only remaining ambition is to be the
counsellor and minister of your rising ambition. Let me see my own youth
revived in you; let me be your Mentor, and, with your parts and
knowledge, I promise you, you shall go far. You must bring, on your
part, activity and attention; and I will point out to you the proper
objects for them. I own I fear but one thing for you, and that is what
one has generally the least reason to fear from one of your age; I mean
your laziness; which, if you indulge, will make you stagnate in a
contemptible obscurity all your life. It will hinder you from doing
anything that will deserve to be written, or from writing anything that
may deserve to be read; and yet one or other of those two objects should
be at least aimed at by every rational being.

I look upon indolence as a sort of SUICIDE; for the man is effectually
destroyed, though the appetites of the brute may survive. Business by no
means forbids pleasures; on the contrary, they reciprocally season each
other; and I will venture to affirm, that no man enjoys either in
perfection, that does not join both. They whet the desire for each
other. Use yourself, therefore, in time to be alert and diligent in your
little concerns; never procrastinate, never put off till to-morrow what
you can do to-day; and never do two things at a time; pursue your object,
be it what it will, steadily and indefatigably; and let any difficulties
(if surmountable) rather animate than slacken your endeavors.
Perseverance has surprising effects.

I wish you would use yourself to translate, every day, only three or four
lines, from any book, in any language, into the correctest and most
elegant English that you can think of; you cannot imagine how it will
insensibly form your style, and give you an habitual elegance; it would
not take you up a quarter of an hour in a day. This letter is so long,
that it will hardly leave you that quarter of an hour, the day you
receive it. So good-night.


LONDON, March 8, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: A great and unexpected event has lately happened in our
ministerial world. Mr. Pelham died last Monday of a fever and
mortification, occasioned by a general corruption of his whole mass of
blood, which had broke out into sores in his back. I regret him as an
old acquaintance, a pretty near relation, and a private man, with whom I
have lived many years in a social and friendly way. He meant well to the
public; and was incorrupt in a post where corruption is commonly
contagious. If he was no shining, enterprising minister, he was a safe
one, which I like better. Very shining ministers, like the sun, are apt
to scorch when they shine the brightest: in our constitution, I prefer
the milder light of a less glaring minister. His successor is not yet,
at least publicly, 'designatus'. You will easily suppose that many are
very willing, and very few able, to fill that post. Various persons are
talked of, by different people, for it, according as their interest
prompts them to wish, or their ignorance to conjecture. Mr. Fox is the
most talked of; he is strongly supported by the Duke of Cumberland. Mr.
Legge, the Solicitor-General, and Dr. Lee, are likewise all spoken of,
upon the foot of the Duke of Newcastle's, and the Chancellor's interest.
Should it be any one of the last three, I think no great alterations will
ensue; but should Mr. Fox prevail, it would, in my opinion, soon produce
changes by no means favorable to the Duke of Newcastle. In the meantime,
the wild conjectures of volunteer politicians, and the ridiculous
importance which, upon these occasions, blockheads always endeavor to
give themselves, by grave looks, significant shrugs, and insignificant
whispers, are very entertaining to a bystander, as, thank God, I now am.
One KNOWS SOMETHING, but is not yet at liberty to tell it; another has
heard something from a very good hand; a third congratulates himself upon
a certain degree of intimacy, which he has long had with everyone of the
candidates, though perhaps he has never spoken twice to anyone of them.
In short, in these sort of intervals, vanity, interest, and absurdity,
always display themselves in the most ridiculous light. One who has been
so long behind the scenes as I have is much more diverted with the
entertainment, than those can be who only see it from the pit and boxes.
I know the whole machinery of the interior, and can laugh the better at
the silly wonder and wild conjectures of the uninformed spectators.
This accident, I think, cannot in the least affect your election, which
is finally settled with your friend Mr. Eliot. For, let who will
prevail, I presume, he will consider me enough, not to overturn an
arrangement of that sort, in which he cannot possibly be personally
interested. So pray go on with your parliamentary preparations. Have
that object always in your view, and pursue it with attention.

I take it for granted that your late residence in Germany has made you as
perfect and correct in German, as you were before in French, at least it
is worth your while to be so; because it is worth every man's while to be
perfectly master of whatever language he may ever have occasion to speak.
A man is not himself, in a language which he does not thoroughly possess;
his thoughts are degraded, when inelegantly or imperfectly expressed; he
is cramped and confined, and consequently can never appear to advantage.
Examine and analyze those thoughts that strike you the most, either in
conversation or in books; and you will find that they owe at least half
their merit to the turn and expression of them. There is nothing truer
than that old saying, 'Nihil dictum quod non prins dictum'. It is only
the manner of saying or writing it that makes it appear new. Convince
yourself that manner is almost everything, in everything; and study it

I am this moment informed, and I believe truly, that Mr. Fox--[Henry
Fox, created Lord Holland, Baron of Foxley, in the year 1763]--is to
succeed Mr. Pelham as First Commissioner of the Treasury and Chancellor
of the Exchequer; and your friend, Mr. Yorke, of The Hague, to succeed
Mr. Fox as Secretary at War. I am not sorry for this promotion of Mr.
Fox, as I have always been upon civil terms with him, and found him ready
to do me any little services. He is frank and gentleman-like in his
manner: and, to a certain degree, I really believe will be your friend
upon my account; if you can afterward make him yours, upon your own, 'tan
mieux'. I have nothing more to say now but Adieu.


LONDON, March 15, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: We are here in the midst of a second winter; the cold is
more severe, and the snow deeper, than they were in the first.
I presume, your weather in Germany is not much more gentle and,
therefore, I hope that you are quietly and warmly fixed at some good
town: and will not risk a second burial in the snow, after your late
fortunate resurrection out of it. Your letters, I suppose, have not been
able to make their way through the ice; for I have received none from you
since that of the 12th of February, from Ratisbon. I am the more uneasy
at this state of ignorance, because I fear that you may have found some
subsequent inconveniences from your overturn, which you might not be
aware of at first.

The curtain of the political theatre was partly drawn up the day before
yesterday, and exhibited a scene which the public in general did not
expect; the Duke of Newcastle was declared First Lord Commissioner of the
Treasury, Mr. Fox Secretary of State in his room, and Mr. Henry Legge
Chancellor of the Exchequer: The employments of Treasurer of the Navy,
and Secretary at War, supposed to be vacant by the promotion of Mr. Fox
and Mr. Legge, were to be kept 'in petto' till the dissolution of this
parliament, which will probably be next week, to avoid the expense and
trouble of unnecessary re-elections; but it was generally supposed that
Colonel Yorke, of The Hague, was to succeed Mr. Fox; and George
Greenville, Mr. Legge. This scheme, had it taken place, you are, I
believe aware, was more a temporary expedient, for securing the elections
of the new parliament, and forming it, at its first meeting, to the
interests and the inclinations of the Duke of Newcastle and the
Chancellor, than a plan of administration either intended or wished to be
permanent. This scheme was disturbed yesterday: Mr. Fox, who had
sullenly accepted the seals the day before, more sullenly refused them
yesterday. His object was to be First Commissioner of the Treasury, and
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and consequently to have a share in the
election of the new parliament, and a much greater in the management of
it when chosen. This necessary consequence of his view defeated it; and
the Duke of Newcastle and the Chancellor chose to kick him upstairs into
the Secretaryship of State, rather than trust him with either the
election or the management of the new parliament. In this, considering
their respective situations, they certainly acted wisely; but whether Mr.
Fox has done so, or not, in refusing the seals, is a point which I cannot
determine. If he is, as I presume he is, animated with revenge, and I
believe would not be over scrupulous in the means of gratifying it, I
should have thought he could have done it better, as Secretary of State,
with constant admission into the closet, than as a private man at the
head of an opposition. But I see all these things at too great a
distance to be able to judge soundly of them. The true springs and
motives of political measures are confined within a very narrow circle,
and known to a very few; the good reasons alleged are seldom the true
ones: The public commonly judges, or rather guesses, wrong, and I am now
one of that public. I therefore recommend to you a prudent Pyrrhonism in
all matters of state, until you become one of the wheels of them
yourself, and consequently acquainted with the general motion, at least,
of the others; for as to all the minute and secret springs, that
contribute more or less to the whole machine, no man living ever knows
them all, not even he who has the principal direction of it. As in the
human body, there are innumerable little vessels and glands that have a
good deal to do, and yet escape the knowledge of the most skillful
anatomist; he will know more, indeed, than those who only see the
exterior of our bodies, but he will never know all. This bustle, and
these changes at court, far from having disturbed the quiet and security
of your election, have, if possible, rather confirmed them; for the Duke
of Newcastle (I must do him justice) has, in, the kindest manner
imaginable to you, wrote a letter to Mr. Eliot, to recommend to him the
utmost care of your election.

Though the plan of administration is thus unsettled, mine, for my travels
this summer, is finally settled; and I now communicate it to you that you
may form your own upon it. I propose being at Spa on the 10th or 12th of
May, and staying there till the 10th of July. As there will be no mortal
there during my stay, it would be both unpleasant and unprofitable to you
to be shut up tete-a-fete with me the whole time; I should therefore
think it best for you not to come to me there till the last week in June.
In the meantime, I suppose, that by the middle of April, you will think
that you have had enough of Manheim, Munich, or Ratisbon, and that
district. Where would you choose to go then? For I leave you absolutely
your choice. Would you go to Dresden for a month or six weeks? That is
a good deal out of your way, and I am not sure that Sir Charles will be
there by that time. Or would you rather take Bonn in your way, and pass
the time till we meet at The Hague? From Manheim you may have a great
many good letters of recommendation to the court of Bonn; which court,
and it's Elector, in one light or another, are worth your seeing.

From thence, your journey to The Hague will be but a short one; and you
would arrive there at that season of the year when The Hague is, in my
mind, the most agreeable, smiling scene in Europe; and from The Hague you
would have but three very easy days journey to me at Spa. Do as you
like; for, as I told you before, 'Ella e assolutamente padrone'. But
lest you should answer that you desire to be determined by me, I will
eventually tell you my opinion. I am rather inclined to the latter plan;
I mean that of your coming to Bonn, staying there according as you like
it, and then passing the remainder of your time, that is May and June, at
The Hague. Our connection and transactions with the, Republic of the
United Provinces are such, that you cannot be too well acquainted with
that constitution, and with those people. You have established good
acquaintances there, and you have been 'fetoie' round by the foreign
ministers; so that you will be there 'en pais connu'. Moreover, you have
not seen the Stadtholder, the 'Gouvernante', nor the court there, which
'a bon compte' should be seen. Upon the whole, then, you cannot, in my
opinion, pass the months of May and June more agreeably, or more
usefully, than at The Hague. But, however, if you have any other, plan
that you like better, pursue it: Only let me know what you intend to do,
and I shall most cheerfully agree to it.

The parliament will be dissolved in about ten days, and the writs for the
election of the new one issued out immediately afterward; so that, by the
end of next month, you may depend upon being 'Membre de la chambre
basse'; a title that sounds high in foreign countries, and perhaps higher
than it deserves. I hope you will add a better title to it in your own,
I mean that of a good speaker in parliament: you have, I am sure, all,
the materials necessary for it, if you will but put them together and
adorn them. I spoke in parliament the first month I was in it, and a
month before I was of age; and from the day I was elected, till the day
that I spoke. I am sure I thought nor dreamed of nothing but speaking.
The first time, to say the truth, I spoke very indifferently as to the
matter; but it passed tolerably, in favor of the spirit with which I
uttered it, and the words in which I had dressed it. I improved by
degrees, till at last it did tolerably well. The House, it must be
owned, is always extremely indulgent to the two or three first attempts
of a young speaker; and if they find any degree of common sense in what
he says, they make great allowances for his inexperience, and for the
concern which they suppose him to be under. I experienced that
indulgence; for had I not been a young member, I should certainly have
been, as I own I deserved, reprimanded by the House for some strong and
indiscreet things that I said. Adieu! It is indeed high time.


LONDON, March 26, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received your letter of the 15th from
Manheim, where I find you have been received in the usual gracious
manner; which I hope you return in a GRACEFUL one. As this is a season
of great devotion and solemnity in all Catholic countries, pray inform
yourself of, and constantly attend to, all their silly and pompous church
ceremonies; one ought to know them. I am very glad that you wrote the
letter to Lord ------, which, in every different case that can possibly
be supposed, was, I am sure, both a decent and a prudent step. You will
find it very difficult, whenever we meet, to convince me that you could
have any good reasons for not doing it; for I will, for argument's sake,
suppose, what I cannot in reality believe, that he has both said and done
the worst he could, of and by you; What then? How will you help
yourself? Are you in a situation to hurt him? Certainly not; but he
certainly is in a situation to hurt you. Would you show a sullen,
pouting, impotent resentment? I hope not; leave that silly, unavailing
sort of resentment to women, and men like them, who are always guided by
humor, never by reason and prudence. That pettish, pouting conduct is a
great deal too young, and implies too little knowledge of the world, for
one who has seen so much of it as you have. Let this be one invariable
rule of your conduct,--Never to show the least symptom of resentment
which you cannot to a certain degree gratify; but always to smile, where
you cannot strike. There would be no living in courts, nor indeed in the
world if one could not conceal, and even dissemble, the just causes of
resentment, which one meets with every day in active and busy life.
Whoever cannot master his humor enough, 'pour faire bonne mine a mauvais
jeu', should leave the world, and retire to some hermitage, in an
unfrequented desert. By showing an unavailing and sullen resentment, you
authorize the resentment of those who can hurt you and whom you cannot
hurt; and give them that very pretense, which perhaps they wished for, of
breaking with, and injuring you; whereas the contrary behavior would lay
them under, the restraints of decency at least; and either shackle or
expose their malice. Besides, captiousness, sullenness, and pouting are
most exceedingly illiberal and vulgar. 'Un honnete homme ne les connoit

I am extremely glad to hear that you are soon to have Voltaire at
Manheim: immediately upon his arrival, pray make him a thousand
compliments from me. I admire him most exceedingly; and, whether as an
epic, dramatic, or lyric poet, or prose-writer, I think I justly apply to
him the 'Nil molitur inepte'. I long to read his own correct edition of
'Les Annales de l'Empire', of which the 'Abrege Chronologique de
l'Histoire Universelle', which I have read, is, I suppose, a stolen and
imperfect part; however, imperfect as it is, it has explained to me that
chaos of history, of seven hundred years more clearly than any other book
had done before. You judge very rightly that I love 'le style le r et
fleuri'. I do, and so does everybody who has any parts and taste. It
should, I confess, be more or less 'fleuri', according to the subject;
but at the same time I assert that there is no subject that may not
properly, and which ought not to be adorned, by a certain elegance and
beauty of style. What can be more adorned than Cicero's Philosophical
Works? What more than Plato's? It is their eloquence only that has
preserved and transmitted them down to us through so many centuries;
for the philosophy of them is wretched, and the reasoning part miserable.
But eloquence will always please, and has always pleased. Study it
therefore; make it the object of your thoughts and attention. Use
yourself to relate elegantly; that is a good step toward speaking well in
parliament. Take some political subject, turn it in your thoughts,
consider what may be said both for and against it, then put those
arguments into writing, in the most correct and elegant English you can.
For instance, a standing army, a place bill, etc.; as to the former,
consider, on one side, the dangers arising to a free country from a great
standing military force; on the other side, consider the necessity of a
force to repel force with. Examine whether a standing army, though in
itself an evil, may not, from circumstances, become a necessary evil,
and preventive of greater dangers. As to the latter, consider, how far
places may bias and warp the conduct of men, from the service of their
country, into an unwarrantable complaisance to the court; and, on the
other hand, consider whether they can be supposed to have that effect
upon the conduct of people of probity and property, who are more solidly
interested in the permanent good of their country, than they can be in an
uncertain and precarious employment. Seek for, and answer in your own
mind, all the arguments that can be urged on either side, and write them
down in an elegant style. This will prepare you for debating, and give.
you an habitual eloquence; for I would not give a farthing for a mere
holiday eloquence, displayed once or twice in a session, in a set
declamation, but I want an every-day, ready, and habitual eloquence, to
adorn extempore and debating speeches; to make business not only clear
but agreeable, and to please even those whom you cannot inform, and who
do not desire to be informed. All this you may acquire, and make
habitual to you, with as little trouble as it cost you to dance a minuet
as well as you do. You now dance it mechanically and well without
thinking of it.

I am surprised that you found but one letter for me at Manheim, for you
ought to have found four or five; there are as many lying for you at your
banker's at Berlin, which I wish you had, because I always endeavored to
put something into them, which, I hope, may be of use to you.

When we meet at Spa, next July, we must have a great many serious
conversations; in which I will pour out all my experience of the world,
and which, I hope, you will trust to, more than to your own young notions
of men and things. You will, in time, discover most of them to have been
erroneous; and, if you follow them long, you will perceive your error too
late; but if you will be led by a guide, who, you are sure, does not
mean to mislead you, you will unite two things, seldom united, in the
same person; the vivacity and spirit of youth, with the caution and
experience of age.

Last Saturday, Sir Thomas Robinson, who had been the King's Minister at
Vienna, was declared Secretary of State for the southern department, Lord
Holderness having taken the northern. Sir Thomas accepted it
unwillingly, and, as I hear, with a promise that he shall not keep it
long. Both his health and spirits are bad, two very disqualifying
circumstances for that employment; yours, I hope, will enable you, some
time or other, to go through with it. In all events, aim at it, and if
you fail or fall, let it at least be said of you, 'Magnis tamen excidit
ausis'. Adieu.


LONDON, April 5, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: I received yesterday your letter of the 20th March, from
Manheim, with the inclosed for Mr. Eliot; it was a very proper one, and I
have forwarded it to him by Mr. Harte, who sets out for Cornwall tomorrow

I am very glad that you use yourself to translations; and I do not care
of what, provided you study the correctness and elegance of your style.
The "Life of Sextus Quintus" is the best book of the innumerable books
written by Gregorio Leti, whom the Italians, very justly, call 'Leti caca
libro'. But I would rather that you chose some pieces of oratory for
your translations, whether ancient or modern, Latin or French, which
would give you a more oratorical train of thoughts and turn of
expression. In your letter to me you make use of two words, which though
true and correct English, are, however, from long disuse, become
inelegant, and seem now to be stiff, formal, and in some degree
scriptural; the first is the word NAMELY, which you introduce thus, YOU
SECURED. Instead of NAMELY, I would always use WHICH IS, or THAT IS,
that my-election is secured. The other word is, MINE OWN INCLINATIONS:
this is certainly correct before a subsequent word that begins with a
vowel; but it is too correct, and is now disused as too formal,
notwithstanding the hiatus occasioned by MY OWN. Every language has its
peculiarities; they are established by usage, and whether right or wrong,
they must be complied with. I could instance many very absurd ones in
different languages; but so authorized by the 'jus et norma loquendi',
that they must be submitted to. NAMELY, and TO WIT, are very good words
in themselves, and contribute to clearness more than the relatives which
we now substitute in their room; but, however, they cannot be used,
except in a sermon or some very grave and formal compositions. It is
with language as with manners they are both established by the usage of
people of fashion; it must be imitated, it must be complied with.
Singularity is only pardonable in old age and retirement; I may now be as
singular as I please, but you may not. We will, when we meet, discuss
these and many other points, provided you will give me attention and
credit; without both which it is to no purpose to advise either you or
anybody else.

I want to know your determination, where you intend to (if I may use that
expression) WHILE away your time till the last week in June, when we are
to meet at Spa; I continue rather in the opinion which I mentioned to you
formerly, in favor of The Hague; but however, I have not the least
objection to Dresden, or to any other place that you may like better.
If you prefer the Dutch scheme, you take Treves and Coblentz in your way,
as also Dusseldorp: all which places I think you have not yet seen. At
Manheim you may certainly get good letters of recommendation to the
courts of the two Electors of Treves and Cologne, whom you are yet
unacquainted with; and I should wish you to know them all; for, as I have
often told you, 'olim haec meminisse juvabit'. There is an utility in
having seen what other people have seen, and there is a justifiable pride
in having seen what others have not seen. In the former case, you are
equal to others; in the latter, superior. As your stay abroad will not
now be very long, pray, while it lasts, see everything and everybody you
can, and see them well, with care and attention. It is not to be
conceived of what advantage it is to anybody to have seen more things,
people, and countries, than other people in general have; it gives them a
credit, makes them referred to, and they become the objects of the
attention of the company. They are not out in any part of polite
conversation; they are acquainted with all the places, customs, courts,
and families that are likely to be mentioned; they are, as Monsieur de
Maupertuis justly observes, 'de tous les pays, comme les savans, sont de
tous les tems'. You have, fortunately, both those advantages: the only
remaining point is 'de savoir les faire valoir', for without that one may
as well not have them. Remember that very true maxim of La Bruyere's,
'Qu'on ne vaut dans se monde que ce qu'on veut valoir'. The knowledge of
the world will teach you to what degree you ought to show 'que vous
valez'. One must by no means, on one hand, be indifferent about it; as,
on the other, one must not display it with affectation, and in an
overbearing manner, but, of the two, it is better to show too much than
too little. Adieu.


BATH, November 27, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: I heartily congratulate you upon the loss of your
political maidenhead, of which I have received from others a very good
account. I hear that you were stopped for some time in your career; but
recovered breath, and finished it very well. I am not surprised, nor
indeed concerned, at your accident; for I remember the dreadful feeling
of that situation in myself; and as it must require a most uncommon share
of impudence to be unconcerned upon such an occasion, I am not sure that
I am not rather glad you stopped. You must therefore now think of
hardening yourself by degrees, by using yourself insensibly to the sound
of your own voice, and to the act (trifling as it seems) of rising up and
sitting down. Nothing will contribute so much to this as committee work
of elections at night, and of private bills in the morning. There,
asking short questions, moving for witnesses to be called in, and all
that kind of small ware, will soon fit you to set up for yourself. I am
told that you are much mortified at your accident, but without reason;
pray, let it rather be a spur than a curb to you. Persevere, and, depend
upon it, it will do well at last. When I say persevere, I do not mean
that you should speak every day, nor in every debate. Moreover, I would
not advise you to speak again upon public matters for some time, perhaps
a month or two; but I mean, never lose view of that great object; pursue
it with discretion, but pursue it always. 'Pelotez en attendant partie'.
You know I have always told you that speaking in public was but a knack,
which those who apply to the most will succeed in the best. Two old
members, very good judges, have sent me compliments upon this occasion;
and have assured me that they plainly find it will do; though they
perceived, from that natural confusion you were in, that you neither said
all, nor perhaps what you intended. Upon the whole, you have set out
very well, and have sufficient encouragement to go on. Attend;
therefore, assiduously, and observe carefully all that passes in the
House; for it is only knowledge and experience that can make a debater.
But if you still want comfort, Mrs.------- I hope, will administer it to
you; for, in my opinion she may, if she will, be very comfortable; and
with women, as with speaking in parliament, perseverance will most
certainly prevail sooner or later.

What little I have played for here, I have won; but that is very far from
the considerable sum which you heard of. I play every evening, from
seven till ten, at a crown whist party, merely to save my eyes from
reading or writing for three hours by candle-light. I propose being in
town the week after next, and hope to carry back with me much more health
than I brought down here. Good-night.

[Mr. Stanhope being returned to England, and seeing his father almost
every day, is the occasion of an interruption of two years in their


According as their interest prompts them to wish
Acquainted with books, and an absolute stranger to men
Affectation of singularity or superiority
All have senses to be gratified
Business by no means forbids pleasures
Clamorers triumph
Doing anything that will deserve to be written
Ears to hear, but not sense enough to judge
Good manners are the settled medium of social life
Good reasons alleged are seldom the true ones
Holiday eloquence
I know myself (no common piece of knowledge, let me tell you)
INTOLERATION in religious, and inhospitality in civil matters
Kick him upstairs
King Louis XIV
Look upon indolence as a sort of SUICIDE
Manner is almost everything, in everything
Many are very willing, and very few able
Perseverance has surprising effects
Pettish, pouting conduct is a great deal too young
Reason, which always ought to direct mankind, seldom does
Rendering Jews capable of being naturalized
Singularity is only pardonable in old age
Smile, where you cannot strike
To govern mankind, one must not overrate them
Too like, and too exact a picture of human nature
Vanity, interest, and absurdity, always display
Warm and young thanks, not old and cold ones
Writing anything that may deserve to be read
Young men are as apt to think themselves wise enough
Young people are very apt to overrate both men and things

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