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The Entire PG Edition of Chesterfield's Letters to His Son by The Earl of Chesterfield

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MY DEAR FRIEND: Whereabouts are you in Ariosto? Or have you gone through
that most ingenious contexture of truth and lies, of serious and
extravagant, of knights-errant, magicians, and all that various matter
which he announces in the beginning of his poem:

Le Donne, I Cavalier, l'arme, gli amori,
Le cortesie, l'audaci impreso io canto.

I am by no means sure that Homer had superior invention, or excelled more
in description than Ariosto. What can be more seducing and voluptuous,
than the description of Alcina's person and palace? What more
ingeniously extravagant, than the search made in the moon for Orlando's
lost wits, and the account of other people's that were found there? The
whole is worth your attention, not only as an ingenious poem, but as the
source of all modern tales, novels, fables, and romances; as Ovid's
"Metamorphoses;" was of the ancient ones; besides, that when you have
read this work, nothing will be difficult to you in the Italian language.
You will read Tasso's 'Gierusalemme', and the 'Decamerone di Boccacio',
with great facility afterward; and when you have read those three
authors, you will, in my opinion, have read all the works of invention
that are worth reading in that language; though the Italians would be
very angry at me for saying so.

A gentleman should know those which I call classical works, in every
language; such as Boileau, Corneille, Racine, Moliere, etc., in French;
Milton, Dryden, Pope, Swift, etc., in English; and the three authors
above mentioned in Italian; whether you have any such in German I am not
quite sure, nor, indeed, am I inquisitive. These sort of books adorn the
mind, improve the fancy, are frequently alluded to by, and are often the
subjects of conversations of the best companies. As you have languages
to read, and memory to retain them, the knowledge of them is very well
worth the little pains it will cost you, and will enable you to shine in
company. It is not pedantic to quote and allude to them, which it would
be with regard to the ancients.

Among the many advantages which you have had in your education, I do not
consider your knowledge of several languages as the least. You need not
trust to translations; you can go to the source; you can both converse
and negotiate with people of all nations, upon equal terms; which is by
no means the case of a man, who converses or negotiates in a language
which those with whom he hath to do know much better than himself. In
business, a great deal may depend upon the force and extent of one word;
and, in conversation, a moderate thought may gain, or a good one lose, by
the propriety or impropriety, the elegance or inelegance of one single
word. As therefore you now know four modern languages well, I would have
you study (and, by the way, it will be very little trouble to you) to
know them correctly, accurately, and delicately. Read some little books
that treat of them, and ask questions concerning their delicacies, of
those who are able to answer you. As, for instance, should I say in
French, 'la lettre que je vous ai ECRIT', or, 'la lettre que je vous ai
ECRITE'? in which, I think, the French differ among themselves. There
is a short French grammar by the Port Royal, and another by Pere Bufiier,
both which are worth your reading; as is also a little book called 'Les
Synonymes Francois. There are books of that kind upon the Italian
language, into some of which I would advise you to dip; possibly the
German language may have something of the same sort, and since you
already speak it, the more properly you speak it the better; one would,
I think, as far as possible, do all one does correctly and elegantly.
It is extremely engaging to people of every nation, to meet with a
foreigner who hath taken pains enough to speak their language correctly;
it flatters that local and national pride and prejudice of which
everybody hath some share.

Francis's "Eugenia," which I will send you, pleased most people of good
taste here; the boxes were crowded till the sixth night, when the pit and
gallery were totally deserted, and it was dropped. Distress, without
death, was not sufficient to affect a true British audience, so long
accustomed to daggers, racks, and bowls of poison: contrary to Horace's
rule, they desire to see Medea murder her children upon the stage. The
sentiments were too delicate to move them; and their hearts are to be
taken by storm, not by parley.

Have you got the things, which were taken from you at Calais, restored?
and, among them, the little packet which my sister gave you for Sir
Charles Hotham? In this case, have you forwarded it to him? If you have
not had an opportunity, you will have one soon; which I desire you will
not omit; it is by Monsieur d'Aillion, whom you will see in a few days at
Paris, in his way to Geneva, where Sir Charles now is, and will remain
some time. Adieu:


LONDON, March 5, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: As I have received no letter from you by the usual post,
I am uneasy upon account of your health; for, had you been well, I am
sure you would have written, according to your engagement and my
requisition. You have not the least notion of any care of your health;
but though I would not have you be a valetudinarian, I must tell you that
the best and most robust health requires some degree of attention to
preserve. Young fellows, thinking they have so much health and time
before them, are very apt to neglect or lavish both, and beggar
themselves before they are aware: whereas a prudent economy in both would
make them rich indeed; and so far from breaking in upon their pleasures,
would improve, and almost perpetuate them. Be you wiser, and, before it
is too late, manage both with care and frugality; and lay out neither,
but upon good interest and security.

I will now confine myself to the employment of your time, which, though I
have often touched upon formerly, is a subject that, from its importance,
will bear repetition. You have it is true, a great deal of time before
you; but, in this period of your life, one hour usefully employed may be
worth more than four-and-twenty hereafter; a minute is precious to you
now, whole days may possibly not be so forty years hence. Whatever time
you allow, or can snatch for serious reading (I say snatch, because
company and the knowledge of the world is now your chief object), employ
it in the reading of some one book, and that a good one, till you have
finished it: and do not distract your mind with various matters at the
same time. In this light I would recommend to you to read 'tout de
suite' Grotius 'de Jure Belli et Pacis', translated by Barbeyrac, and
Puffendorff's 'Jus Gentium', translated by the same hand. For accidental
quarters of hours, read works of invention, wit and humor, of the best,
and not of trivial authors, either ancient or modern.

Whatever business you have, do it the first moment you can; never by
halves, but finish it without interruption, if possible. Business must
not be sauntered and trifled with; and you must not say to it, as Felix
did to Paul, "At a more convenient season I will speak to thee."
The most convenient season for business is the first; but study and
business in some measure point out their own times to a man of sense;
time is much oftener squandered away in the wrong choice and improper
methods of amusement and pleasures.

Many people think that they are in pleasures, provided they are neither
in study nor in business. Nothing like it; they are doing nothing, and
might just as well be asleep. They contract habitudes from laziness, and
they only frequent those places where they are free from all restraints
and attentions. Be upon your guard against this idle profusion of time;
and let every place you go to be either the scene of quick and lively
pleasures, or the school of your own improvements; let every company you
go into either gratify your senses, extend your knowledge, or refine your
manners. Have some decent object of gallantry in view at some places;
frequent others, where people of wit and taste assemble; get into others,
where people of superior rank and dignity command respect and attention
from the rest of the company; but pray frequent no neutral places, from
mere idleness and indolence. Nothing forms a young man so much as being
used to keep respectable and superior company, where a constant regard
and attention is necessary. It is true, this is at first a disagreeable
state of restraint; but it soon grows habitual, and consequently easy;
and you are amply paid for it, by the improvement you make, and the
credit it gives you. What you said some time ago was very true,
concerning 'le Palais Royal'; to one of your age the situation is
disagreeable enough: you cannot expect to be much taken notice of;
but all that time you can take notice of others; observe their manners,
decipher their characters, and insensibly you will become one of the

All this I went through myself, when I was of your age. I have sat hours
in company without being taken the least notice of; but then I took
notice of them, and learned in their company how to behave myself better
in the next, till by degrees I became part of the best companies myself.
But I took great care not to lavish away my time in those companies where
there were neither quick pleasures nor useful improvements to be

Sloth, indolence, and 'mollesse' are pernicious and unbecoming a young
fellow; let them be your 'ressource' forty years hence at soonest.
Determine, at all events, and however disagreeable it may to you in some
respects, and for some time, to keep the most distinguished and
fashionable company of the place you are at, either for their rank, or
for their learning, or 'le bel esprit et le gout'. This gives you
credentials to the best companies, wherever you go afterward. Pray,
therefore, no indolence, no laziness; but employ every minute in your
life in active pleasures, or useful employments. Address yourself to
some woman of fashion and beauty, wherever you are, and try how far that
will go. If the place be not secured beforehand, and garrisoned, nine
times in ten you will take it. By attentions and respect you may always
get into the highest company: and by some admiration and applause,
whether merited or not, you may be sure of being welcome among 'les
savans et les beaux esprits'. There are but these three sorts of company
for a young fellow; there being neither pleasure nor profit in any other.

My uneasiness with regard to your health is this moment removed by your
letter of the 8th N. S., which, by what accident I do not know, I did not
receive before.

I long to read Voltaire's 'Rome Sauvee', which, by the very faults that
your SEVERE critics find with it, I am sure I shall like; for I will at
an any time give up a good deal of regularity for a great deal of
brillant; and for the brillant surely nobody is equal to Voltaire.
Catiline's conspiracy is an unhappy subject for a tragedy; it is too
single, and gives no opportunity to the poet to excite any of the tender
passions; the whole is one intended act of horror, Crebillon was sensible
of this defect, and to create another interest, most absurdly made
Catiline in love with Cicero's daughter, and her with him.

I am very glad that you went to Versailles, and dined with Monsieur de
St. Contest. That is company to learn 'les bonnes manieres' in; and it
seems you had 'les bonnes morceaux' into the bargain. Though you were no
part of the King of France's conversation with the foreign ministers, and
probably not much entertained with it, do you think that it is not very
useful to you to hear it, and to observe the turn and manners of people
of that sort? It is extremely useful to know it well. The same in the
next rank of people, such as ministers of state, etc., in whose company,
though you cannot yet, at your age, bear a part, and consequently be
diverted, you will observe and learn, what hereafter it may be necessary
for you to act.

Tell Sir John Lambert that I have this day fixed Mr. Spencer's having his
credit upon him; Mr. Hoare had also recommended him. I believe Mr.
Spencer will set out next month for some place in France, but not Paris.
I am sure he wants a great deal of France, for at present he is most
entirely English: and you know very well what I think of that. And so we
bid you heartily good-night.


LONDON, March 16, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: How do you go on with the most useful and most necessary
of all studies, the study of the world? Do you find that you gain
knowledge? And does your daily experience at once extend and demonstrate
your improvement? You will possibly ask me how you can judge of that
yourself. I will tell you a sure way of knowing. Examine yourself, and
see whether your notions of the world are changed, by experience, from
what they were two years ago in theory; for that alone is one favorable
symptom of improvement. At that age (I remember it in myself) every
notion that one forms is erroneous; one hath seen few models, and those
none of the best, to form one's self upon. One thinks that everything is
to be carried by spirit and vigor; that art is meanness, and that
versatility and complaisance are the refuge of pusilanimity and weakness.
This most mistaken opinion gives an indelicacy, a 'brusquerie', and a
roughness to the manners. Fools, who can never be undeceived, retain
them as long as they live: reflection, with a little experience, makes
men of sense shake them off soon. When they come to be a little better
acquainted with themselves, and with their own species, they discover
plain right reason is, nine times in ten, the fettered and shackled
attendant of the triumph of the heart and the passions; and,
consequently, they address themselves nine times in ten to the conqueror,
not to the conquered: and conquerors, you know, must be applied to in the
gentlest, the most engaging, and the most insinuating manner. Have you
found out that every woman is infallibly to be gained by every sort of
flattery, and every man by one sort or other? Have you discovered what
variety of little things affect the heart, and how surely they
collectively gain it? If you have, you have made some progress. I would
try a man's knowledge of the world, as I would a schoolboy's knowledge of
Horace: not by making him construe 'Maecenas atavis edite regibus', which
he could do in the first form; but by examining him as to the delicacy
and 'curiosa felicitas' of that poet. A man requires very little
knowledge and experience of the world, to understand glaring, high-
colored, and decided characters; they are but few, and they strike at
first: but to distinguish the almost imperceptible shades, and the nice
gradations of virtue and vice, sense and folly, strength and weakness (of
which characters are commonly composed), demands some experience, great
observation, and minute attention. In the same cases, most people do the
same things, but with this material difference, upon which the success
commonly turns: A man who hath studied the world knows when to time, and
where to place them; he hath analyzed the characters he applies to, and
adapted his address and his arguments to them: but a man, of what is
called plain good sense, who hath only reasoned by himself, and not acted
with mankind, mistimes, misplaces, runs precipitately and bluntly at the
mark, and falls upon his nose in the way. In the common manners of
social life, every man of common sense hath the rudiments, the A B C of
civility; he means not to offend, and even wishes to please: and, if he
hath any real merit, will be received and tolerated in good company.
But that is far from being enough; for, though he may be received, he
will never be desired; though he does not offend, he will never be loved;
but, like some little, insignificant, neutral power, surrounded by great
ones, he will neither be feared nor courted by any; but, by turns,
invaded by all, whenever it is their interest. A most contemptible
situation! Whereas, a man who hath carefully attended to, and
experienced, the various workings of the heart, and the artifices of the
head; and who, by one shade, can trace the progression of the whole
color; who can, at the proper times, employ all the several means of
persuading the understanding, and engaging the heart, may and will have
enemies; but will and must have friends: he may be opposed, but he will
be supported too; his talents may excite the jealousy of some, but his
engaging arts will make him beloved by many more; he will be
considerable; he will be considered. Many different qualifications must
conspire to form such a man, and to make him at once respectable and
amiable; the least must be joined to the greatest; the latter would be
unavailing without the former; and the former would be futile and
frivolous, without the latter. Learning is acquired by reading books;
but the much more necessary learning, the knowledge of the world, is only
to be acquired by reading men, and studying all the various editions of
them. Many words in every language are generally thought to be
synonymous; but those who study the language attentively will find, that
there is no such thing; they will discover some little difference, some
distinction between all those words that are vulgarly called synonymous;
one hath always more energy, extent, or delicacy, than another. It is
the same with men; all are in general, and yet no two in particular,
exactly alike. Those who have not accurately studied, perpetually
mistake them; they do not discern the shades and gradations that
distinguish characters seemingly alike. Company, various company, is the
only school for this knowledge. You ought to be, by this time, at least
in the third form of that school, from whence the rise to the uppermost
is easy and quick; but then you must have application and vivacity; and
you must not only bear with, but even seek restraint in most companies,
instead of stagnating in one or two only, where indolence and love of
ease may be indulged.

In the plan which I gave you in my last,--[That letter is missing.]--
for your future motions, I forgot to tell you; that, if a king of the
Romans should be chosen this year, you shall certainly be at that
election; and as, upon those occasions, all strangers are excluded from
the place of the election, except such as belong to some ambassador,
I have already eventually secured you a place in the suite of the King's
Electoral Ambassador, who will be sent upon that account to Frankfort,
or wherever else the election may be. This will not only secure you a
sight of the show, but a knowledge of the whole thing; which is likely to
be a contested one, from the opposition of some of the electors, and the
protests of some of the princes of the empire. That election, if there
is one, will, in my opinion, be a memorable era in the history of the
empire; pens at least, if not swords, will be drawn; and ink, if not
blood, will be plentifully shed by the contending parties in that
dispute. During the fray, you may securely plunder, and add to your
present stock of knowledge of the 'jus publicum imperii'. The court of
France hath, I am told, appointed le President Ogier, a man of great
abilities, to go immediately to Ratisbon, 'pour y souffler la discorde'.
It must be owned that France hath always profited skillfully of its
having guaranteed the treaty of Munster; which hath given it a constant
pretense to thrust itself into the affairs of the empire. When France
got Alsace yielded by treaty, it was very willing to have held it as a
fief of the empire; but the empire was then wiser. Every power should be
very careful not to give the least pretense to a neighboring power to
meddle with the affairs of its interior. Sweden hath already felt the
effects of the Czarina's calling herself Guarantee of its present form of
government, in consequence of the treaty of Neustadt, confirmed afterward
by that of Abo; though, in truth, that guarantee was rather a provision
against Russia's attempting to alter the then new established form of
government in Sweden, than any right given to Russia to hinder the Swedes
from establishing what form of government they pleased. Read them both,
if you can get them. Adieu.


LONDON, April 73, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: I receive this moment your letter of the 19th, N. S.,
with the inclosed pieces relative to the present dispute between the
King and the parliament. I shall return them by Lord Huntingdon, whom
you will soon see at Paris, and who will likewise carry you the piece,
which I forgot in making up the packet I sent you by the Spanish
Ambassador. The representation of the parliament is very well drawn,
'suaviter in modo, fortiter in re'. They tell the King very
respectfully, that, in a certain case, WHICH THEY SHOULD THINK IT
CRIMINAL To SUPPOSE, they would not obey him. This hath a tendency to
what we call here revolution principles. I do not know what the Lord's
anointed, his vicegerent upon earth, divinely appointed by him, and
accountable to none but him for his actions, will either think or do,
upon these symptoms of reason and good sense, which seem to be breaking
out all over France: but this I foresee, that, before the end of this
century, the trade of both king and priest will not be half so good a one
as it has been. Du Clos, in his "Reflections," hath observed, and very
truly, 'qu'il y a un germe de raison qui commence a se developper en
France';--a developpement that must prove fatal to Regal and Papal
pretensions. Prudence may, in many cases, recommend an occasional
submission to either; but when that ignorance, upon which an implicit
faith in both could only be founded, is once removed, God's Vicegerent,
and Christ's Vicar, will only be obeyed and believed, as far as what the
one orders, and the other says, is conformable to reason and to truth.

I am very glad (to use a vulgar expression) that You MAKE AS IF YOU WERE
NOT WELL, though you really are; I am sure it is the likeliest way to
keep so. Pray leave off entirely your greasy, heavy pastry, fat creams,
and indigestible dumplings; and then you need not confine yourself to
white meats, which I do not take to be one jot wholesomer than beef,
mutton, and partridge.

Voltaire sent me, from Berlin, his 'History du Siecle de Louis XIV. It
came at a very proper time; Lord Bolingbroke had just taught me how
history should be read; Voltaire shows me how it should be written.
I am sensible that it will meet with almost as many critics as readers.
Voltaire must be criticised; besides, every man's favorite is attacked:
for every prejudice is exposed, and our prejudices are our mistresses;
reason is at best our wife, very often heard indeed, but seldom minded.
It is the history of the human understanding, written by a man of parts,
for the use of men of parts. Weak minds will not like it, even though
they do not understand it; which is commonly the measure of their
admiration. Dull ones will want those minute and uninteresting details
with which most other histories are encumbered. He tells me all I want
to know, and nothing more. His reflections are short, just, and produce
others in his readers. Free from religious, philosophical, political and
national prejudices, beyond any historian I ever met with, he relates all
those matters as truly and as impartially, as certain regards, which must
always be to some degree observed, will allow him; for one sees plainly
that he often says much less than he would say, if he might. He hath
made me much better acquainted with the times of Lewis XIV., than the
innumerable volumes which I had read could do; and hath suggested this
reflection to me, which I have never made before--His vanity, not his
knowledge, made him encourage all, and introduce many arts and sciences
in his country. He opened in a manner the human understanding in France,
and brought it to its utmost perfection; his age equalled in all, and
greatly exceeded in many things (pardon me, Pedants!) the Augustan. This
was great and rapid; but still it might be done, by the encouragement,
the applause, and the rewards of a vain, liberal, and magnificent prince.
What is much more surprising is, that he stopped the operations of the
human mind just where he pleased; and seemed to say, "Thus far shalt thou
go, and no farther." For, a bigot to his religion, and jealous of his
power, free and rational thoughts upon either, never entered into a
French head during his reign; and the greatest geniuses that ever any age
produced, never entertained a doubt of the divine right of Kings, or the
infallibility of the Church. Poets, Orators, and Philosophers, ignorant
of their natural rights, cherished their chains; and blind, active faith
triumphed, in those great minds, over silent and passive reason. The
reverse of this seems now to be the case in France: reason opens itself;
fancy and invention fade and decline.

I will send you a copy of this history by Lord Huntingdon, as I think it
very probable that it is not allowed to be published and sold at Paris.
Pray read it more than once, and with attention, particularly the second
volume, which contains short, but very clear accounts of many very
interesting things, which are talked of by everybody, though fairly.
understood by very few. There are two very puerile affectations which I
wish this book had been free from; the one is, the total subversion of
all the old established French orthography; the other is, the not making
use of any one capital letter throughout the whole book, except at the
beginning of a paragraph. It offends my eyes to see rome, paris, france,
Caesar, I henry the fourth, etc., begin with small letters; and I do not
conceive that there can be any reason for doing it, half so strong as the
reason of long usage is to the contrary. This is an affectation below
Voltaire; who, I am not ashamed to say, that I admire and delight in, as
an author, equally in prose and in verse.

I had a letter a few days ago from Monsieur du Boccage, in which he says,
'Monsieur Stanhope s'est jete dans la politique, et je crois qu'il y
reussira': You do very well, it is your destination; but remember that,
to succeed in great things, one must first learn to please in little
ones. Engaging manners and address must prepare the way for superior
knowledge and abilities to act with effect. The late Duke of
Marlborough's manners and address prevailed with the first king of
Prussia, to let his troops remain in the army of the Allies, when neither
their representations, nor his own share in the common cause could do it.
The Duke of Marlborough had no new matter to urge to him; but had a
manner, which he could not, nor did not, resist. Voltaire, among a
thousand little delicate strokes of that kind, says of the Duke de la
Feuillade, 'qu'il etoit l'homme le plus brillant et le plus aimable du
royaume; et quoique gendre du General et Ministre, il avoit pour lui la
faveur publique'. Various little circumstances of that sort will often
make a man of great real merit be hated, if he hath not address and
manners to make him be loved. Consider all your own circumstances
seriously; and you will find that, of all arts, the art of pleasing is
the most necessary for you to study and possess. A silly tyrant said,
'oderint modo timeant'; a wise man would have said, 'modo ament nihil
timendum est mihi'. Judge from your own daily experience, of the
efficacy of that pleasing 'je ne sais quoi', when you feel, as you and
everybody certainly does, that in men it is more engaging than knowledge,
in women than beauty.

I long to see Lord and Lady ------- (who are not yet arrived), because
they have lately seen you; and I always fancy, that I can fish out
something new concerning you, from those who have seen you last: not that
I shall much rely upon their accounts, because I distrust the judgment of
Lord and Lady -------, in those matters about which I am most
inquisitive. They have ruined their own son by what they called and
thought loving him. They have made him believe that the world was made
for him, not he for the world; and unless he stays abroad a great while,
and falls into very good company, he will expect, what he will never
find, the attentions and complaisance from others, which he has hitherto
been used to from Papa and Mamma. This, I fear, is too much the case of
Mr.; who, I doubt, will be run through the body, and be near dying,
before he knows how to live. However you may turn out, you can never
make me any of these reproaches. I indulged no silly, womanish fondness
for you; instead of inflicting my tenderness upon you, I have taken all
possible methods to make you deserve it; and thank God you do; at least,
I know but one article, in which you are different from what I could wish
you; and you very well know what that is I want: That I and all the world
should like you, as well as I love you. Adieu.


LONDON, April 30, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: 'Avoir du monde' is, in my opinion, a very just and happy
expression for having address, manners, and for knowing how to behave
properly in all companies; and it implies very truly that a man who hath
not those accomplishments is not of the world. Without them, the best
parts are inefficient, civility is absurd, and freedom offensive. A
learned parson, rusting in his cell, at Oxford or Cambridge, will season
admirably well upon the nature of man; will profoundly analyze the head,
the heart, the reason, the will, the passions, the senses, the
sentiments, and all those subdivisions of we know not what; and yet,
unfortunately, he knows nothing of man, for he hath not lived with him;
and is ignorant of all the various modes, habits, prejudices, and tastes,
that always influence and often determine him. He views man as he does
colors in Sir Isaac Newton's prism, where only the capital ones are seen;
but an experienced dyer knows all their various shades and gradations,
together with the result of their several mixtures. Few men are of one
plain, decided color; most are mixed, shaded, and blended; and vary as
much, from different situations, as changeable silks do form different
lights. The man 'qui a du monde' knows all this from his own experience
and observation: the conceited, cloistered philosopher knows nothing of
it from his own theory; his practice is absurd and improper, and he acts
as awkwardly as a man would dance, who had never seen others dance, nor
learned of a dancing-master; but who had only studied the notes by which
dances are now pricked down as well as tunes. Observe and imitate, then,
the address, the arts, and the manners of those 'qui ont du monde': see
by what methods they first make, and afterward improve impressions in
their favor. Those impressions are much oftener owing to little causes
than to intrinsic merit; which is less volatile, and hath not so sudden
an effect. Strong minds have undoubtedly an ascendant over weak ones, as
Galigai Marachale d'Ancre very justly observed, when, to the disgrace and
reproach of those times, she was executed for having governed Mary of
Medicis by the arts of witchcraft and magic. But then ascendant is to be
gained by degrees, and by those arts only which experience and the
knowledge of the world teaches; for few are mean enough to be bullied,
though most are weak enough to be bubbled. I have often seen people of
superior, governed by people of much inferior parts, without knowing or
even suspecting that they were so governed. This can only happen when
those people of inferior parts have more worldly dexterity and
experience, than those they govern. They see the weak and unguarded
part, and apply to it they take it, and all the rest follows. Would you
gain either men or women, and every man of sense desires to gain both,
'il faut du monde'. You have had more opportunities than ever any man
had, at your age, of acquiring 'ce monde'. You have been in the best
companies of most countries, at an age when others have hardly been in
any company at all. You are master of all those languages, which John
Trott seldom speaks at all, and never well; consequently you need be a
stranger nowhere. This is the way, and the only way, of having
'du monde', but if you have it not, and have still any coarse rusticity
about you, may not one apply to you the 'rusticus expectat' of Horace?

This knowledge of the world teaches us more particularly two things,
both which are of infinite consequence, and to neither of which nature
inclines us; I mean, the command of our temper, and of our countenance.
A man who has no 'monde' is inflamed with anger, or annihilated with
shame, at every disagreeable incident: the one makes him act and talk
like a madman, the other makes him look like a fool. But a man who has
'du monde', seems not to understand what he cannot or ought not to
resent. If he makes a slip himself, he recovers it by his coolness,
instead of plunging deeper by his confusion like a stumbling horse.
He is firm, but gentle; and practices that most excellent maxim,
'suaviter in modo, fortiter in re'. The other is the 'volto sciolto a
pensieri stretti'. People unused to the world have babbling
countenances; and are unskillful enough to show what they have sense
enough not to tell. In the course of the world, a man must very often
put on an easy, frank countenance, upon very disagreeable occasions; he
must seem pleased when he is very much otherwise; he must be able to
accost and receive with smiles, those whom he would much rather meet with
swords. In courts he must not turn himself inside out. All this may,
nay must be done, without falsehood and treachery; for it must go no
further than politeness and manners, and must stop short of assurances
and professions of simulated friendship. Good manners, to those one does
not love, are no more a breach of truth, than "your humble servant" at
the bottom of a challenge is; they are universally agreed upon and
understood, to be things of course. They are necessary guards of the
decency and peace of society; they must only act defensively; and then
not with arms poisoned by perfidy. Truth, but not the whole truth, must
be the invariable principle of every man, who hath either religion,
honor, or prudence. Those who violate it may be cunning, but they are
not able. Lies and perfidy are the refuge of fools and cowards. Adieu!

P. S. I must recommend to you again, to take your leave of all your
French acquaintance, in such a manner as may make them regret your
departure, and wish to see and welcome you at Paris again, where you may
possibly return before it is very long. This must not be done in a cold,
civil manner, but with at least seeming warmth, sentiment, and concern.
Acknowledge the obligations you have to them for the kindness they have
shown you during your stay at Paris: assure them that wherever you are,
you will remember them with gratitude; wish for opportunities of giving
them proofs of your 'plus tendre et respectueux souvenir; beg of them in
case your good fortune should carry them to any part of the world where
you could be of any the least use to them, that they would employ you
without reserve. Say all this, and a great deal more, emphatically and
pathetically; for you know 'si vis me flere'. This can do you no harm,
if you never return to Paris; but if you do, as probably you may, it will
be of infinite use to you. Remember too, not to omit going to every
house where you have ever been once, to take leave and recommend yourself
to their remembrance. The reputation which you leave at one place, where
you have been, will circulate, and you will meet with it at twenty places
where you are to go. That is a labor never quite lost.

This letter will show you, that the accident which happened to me
yesterday, and of which Mr. Grevenkop gives you account, hath had no bad
consequences. My escape was a great one.


LONDON, May 11, O. S. 1752.

DEAR FRIEND: I break my word by writing this letter; but I break it on
the allowable side, by doing more than I promised. I have pleasure in
writing to you; and you may possibly have some profit in reading what I
write; either of the motives were sufficient for me, both for you I
cannot withstand. By your last I calculate that you will leave Paris
upon this day se'nnight; upon that supposition, this letter may still
find you there.

Colonel Perry arrived here two or three days ago, and sent me a book from
you; Cassandra abridged. I am sure it cannot be too much abridged. The
spirit of that most voluminous work, fairly extracted, may be contained
in the smallest duodecimo; and it is most astonishing, that there ever
could have been people idle enough to write or read such endless heaps of
the same stuff. It was, however, the occupation of thousands in the last
century, and is still the private, though disavowed, amusement of young
girls, and sentimental ladies. A lovesick girl finds, in the captain
with whom she is in love, all the courage and all the graces of the
tender and accomplished Oroondates: and many a grown-up, sentimental
lady, talks delicate Clelia to the hero, whom she would engage to eternal
love, or laments with her that love is not eternal.

"Ah! qu'il est doux d'aimer, si Pon aimoit toujours!
Mais helas! il'n'est point d'eternelles amours."

It is, however, very well to have read one of those extravagant works
(of all which La Calprenede's are the best), because it is well to be
able to talk, with some degree of knowledge, upon all those subjects that
other people talk sometimes upon: and I would by no means have anything,
that is known to others, be totally unknown to you. It is a great
advantage for any man, to be able to talk or to hear, neither ignorantly
nor absurdly, upon any subject; for I have known people, who have not
said one word, hear ignorantly and absurdly; it has appeared in their
inattentive and unmeaning faces.

This, I think, is as little likely to happen to you as to anybody of your
age: and if you will but add a versatility and easy conformity of
manners, I know no company in which you are likely to be de trop.

This versatility is more particularly necessary for you at this time,
now that you are going to so many different places: for, though the
manners and customs of the several courts of Germany are in general the
same, yet everyone has its particular characteristic; some peculiarity or
other, which distinguishes it from the next. This you should carefully
attend to, and immediately adopt. Nothing flatters people more, nor
makes strangers so welcome, as such an occasional conformity. I do not
mean by this, that you should mimic the air and stiffness of every
awkward German court; no, by no means; but I mean that you should only
cheerfully comply, and fall in with certain local habits, such as
ceremonies, diet, turn of conversation, etc. People who are lately come
from Paris, and who have been a good while there, are generally
suspected, and especially in Germany, of having a degree of contempt for
every other place. Take great care that nothing of this kind appear, at
least outwardly, in your behavior; but commend whatever deserves any
degree of commendation, without comparing it with what you may have left,
much better of the same kind, at Paris. As for instance, the German
kitchen is, without doubt, execrable, and the French delicious; however,
never commend the French kitchen at a German table; but eat of what you
can find tolerable there, and commend it, without comparing it to
anything better. I have known many British Yahoos, who though while they
were at Paris conformed to no one French custom, as soon as they got
anywhere else, talked of nothing but what they did, saw, and eat at
Paris. The freedom of the French is not to be used indiscriminately at
all the courts in Germany, though their easiness may, and ought; but
that, too, at some places more than others. The courts of Manheim and
Bonn, I take to be a little more unbarbarized than some others; that of
Mayence, an ecclesiastical one, as well as that of Treves (neither of
which is much frequented by foreigners), retains, I conceive, a great
deal of the Goth and Vandal still. There, more reserve and ceremony are
necessary; and not a word of the French. At Berlin, you cannot be too
French. Hanover, Brunswick, Cassel, etc., are of the mixed kind, 'un peu
decrottes, mais pas assez'.

Another thing, which I most earnestly recommend to you, not only in
Germany, but in every part of the world where you may ever be, is not
only real, but seeming attention, to whoever you speak to, or to whoever
speaks to you. There is nothing so brutally shocking, nor so little
forgiven, as a seeming inattention to the person who is speaking to you:
and I have known many a man knocked down, for (in my opinion) a much
lighter provocation, than that shocking inattention which I mean. I have
seen many people, who, while you are speaking to them, instead of looking
at, and attending to you, fix their eyes upon the ceiling or some other
part of the room, look out of the window, play with a dog, twirl their
snuff-box, or pick their nose. Nothing discovers a little, futile,
frivolous mind more than this, and nothing is so offensively ill-bred;
it is an explicit declaration on your part, that every the most trifling
object, deserves your attention more than all that can be said by the
person who is speaking to you. Judge of the sentiments of hatred and
resentment, which such treatment must excite in every breast where any
degree of self-love dwells; and I am sure I never yet met with that
breast where there was not a great deal: I repeat it again and again
(for it is highly necessary for you to remember it), that sort of vanity
and self-love is inseparable from human nature, whatever may be its rank
or condition; even your footmen will sooner forget and forgive a beating,
than any manifest mark of slight and contempt. Be therefore, I beg of
you, not only really, but seemingly and manifestly attentive to whoever
speaks to you; nay, more, take their 'ton', and tune yourself to their
unison. Be serious with the serious, gay with the gay, and trifle with
the triflers. In assuming these various shapes, endeavor to make each of
them seem to sit easy upon you, and even to appear to be your own natural
one. This is the true and useful versatility, of which a thorough
knowledge of the world at once teaches the utility and the means of

I am very sure, at least I hope, that you will never make use of a silly
expression, which is the favorite expression, and the absurd excuse of
all fools and blockheads; I CANNOT DO SUCH A THING; a thing by no means
either morally or physically impossible. I CANNOT attend long together
to the same thing, says one fool; that is, he is such a fool that he will
not. I remember a very awkward fellow, who did not know what to do with
his sword, and who always took it off before dinner, saying that he could
not possibly dine with his sword on; upon which I could not help telling
him, that I really believed he could without any probable danger either
to himself or others. It is a shame and an absurdity, for any man to say
that he cannot do all those things, which are commonly done by all the
rest of mankind.

Another thing that I must earnestly warn you against is laziness; by
which more people have lost the fruit of their travels than, perhaps, by
any other thing. Pray be always in motion. Early in the morning go and
see things; and the rest of the day go and see people. If you stay but a
week at a place, and that an insignificant one, see, however, all that is
to be seen there; know as many people, and get into as many houses, as
ever you can.

I recommend to you likewise, though probably you have thought of it
yourself, to carry in your pocket a map of Germany, in which the
postroads are marked; and also some short book of travels through
Germany. The former will help to imprint in your memory situations and
distances; and the latter will point out many things for you to see, that
might otherwise possibly escape you, and which, though they may be in
themselves of little consequence, you would regret not having seen, after
having been at the places where they were.

Thus warned and provided for your journey, God speed you; 'Felix
faustumque sit! Adieu.


LONDON, May 27, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: I send you the inclosed original from a friend of ours,
with my own commentaries upon the text; a text which I have so often
paraphrased, and commented upon already, that I believe I can hardly say
anything new upon it; but, however, I cannot give it over till I am
better convinced, than I yet am, that you feel all the utility, the
importance, and the necessity of it; nay, not only feel, but practice it.
Your panegyrist allows you, what most fathers would be more than
satisified with, in a son, and chides me for not contenting myself with
'l'essentiellement bon'; but I, who have been in no one respect like
other fathers, cannot neither, like them, content myself with
'l'essentiellement bon'; because I know that it will not do your business
in the world, while you want 'quelques couches de vernis'. Few fathers
care much for their sons, or, at least, most of them care more for their
money: and, consequently, content themselves with giving them, at the
cheapest rate, the common run of education: that is, a school till
eighteen; the university till twenty; and a couple of years riding post
through the several towns of Europe; impatient till their boobies come
home to be married, and, as they call it, settled. Of those who really
love their sons, few know how to do it. Some spoil them by fondling them
while they are young, and then quarrel with them when they are grown up,
for having been spoiled; some love them like mothers, and attend only to
the bodily health and strength of the hopes of their family, solemnize
his birthday, and rejoice, like the subjects of the Great Mogul, at the
increase of his bulk; while others, minding, as they think, only
essentials, take pains and pleasure to see in their heir, all their
favorite weaknesses and imperfections. I hope and believe that I have
kept clear of all of these errors in the education which I have given
you. No weaknesses of my own have warped it, no parsimony has starved
it, no rigor has deformed it. Sound and extensive learning was the
foundation which I meant to lay--I have laid it; but that alone, I knew,
would by no means be sufficient: the ornamental, the showish, the
pleasing superstructure was to be begun. In that view, I threw you into
the great world, entirely your own master, at an age when others either
guzzle at the university, or are sent abroad in servitude to some
awkward, pedantic Scotch governor. This was to put you in the way, and
the only way of acquiring those manners, that address, and those graces,
which exclusively distinguish people of fashion; and without which all
moral virtues, and all acquired learning, are of no sort of use in the
courts and 'le beau monde': on the contrary, I am not sure if they are
not an hindrance. They are feared and disliked in those places, as too
severe, if not smoothed and introduced by the graces; but of these
graces, of this necessary 'beau vernis', it seems there are still
'quelque couches qui manquent'. Now, pray let me ask you, coolly and
seriously, 'pourquoi ces couches manquent-elles'? For you may as easily
take them, as you may wear more or less powder in your hair, more or less
lace upon your coat. I can therefore account for your wanting them no
other way in the world, than from your not being yet convinced of their
full value. You have heard some English bucks say, "Damn these finical
outlandish airs, give me a manly, resolute manner. They make a rout with
their graces, and talk like a parcel of dancing-masters, and dress like a
parcel of fops: one good Englishman will beat three of them." But let
your own observation undeceive you of these prejudices. I will give you
one instance only, instead of an hundred that I could give you, of a very
shining fortune and figure, raised upon no other foundation whatsoever,
than that of address, manners, and graces. Between you and me (for this
example must go no further), what do you think made our friend, Lord
A ----e, Colonel of a regiment of guards, Governor of Virginia, Groom of
the Stole, and Ambassador to Paris; amounting in all to sixteen or
seventeen thousand pounds a year? Was it his birth? No, a Dutch
gentleman only. Was it his estate? No, he had none. Was it his
learning, his parts, his political abilities and application? You can
answer these questions as easily, and as soon, as I can ask them. What
was it then? Many people wondered, but I do not; for I know, and will
tell you. It was his air, his address, his manners, and his graces.
He pleased, and by pleasing he became a favorite; and by becoming a
favorite became all that he has been since. Show me any one instance,
where intrinsic worth and merit, unassisted by exterior accomplishments,
have raised any man so high. You know the Due de Richelieu, now
'Marechal, Cordon bleu, Gentilhomme de la Chambre', twice Ambassador,
etc. By what means? Not by the purity of his character, the depth of
his knowledge, or any uncommon penetration and sagacity. Women alone
formed and raised him. The Duchess of Burgundy took a fancy to him, and
had him before he was sixteen years old; this put him in fashion among
the beau monde: and the late Regent's oldest daughter, now Madame de
Modene, took him next, and was near marrying him. These early
connections with women of the first distinction gave him those manners,
graces, and address, which you see he has; and which, I can assure you,
are all that he has; for, strip him of them, and he will be one of the
poorest men in Europe. Man or woman cannot resist an engaging exterior;
it will please, it will make its way. You want, it seems, but 'quelques
couches'; for God's sake, lose no time in getting them; and now you have
gone so far, complete the work. Think of nothing else till that work is
finished; unwearied application will bring about anything: and surely
your application can never be so well employed as upon that object, which
is absolutely necessary to facilitate all others. With your knowledge
and parts, if adorned by manners and graces, what may you not hope one
day to be? But without them, you will be in the situation of a man who
should be very fleet of one leg but very lame of the other. He could not
run; the lame leg would check and clog the well one, which would be very
near useless.

From my original plan for your education, I meant to make you 'un homme
universel'; what depends on me is executed, the little that remains
undone depends singly upon you. Do not then disappoint, when you can so
easily gratify me. It is your own interest which I am pressing you to
pursue, and it is the only return that I desire for all the care and
affection of, Yours.


LONDON, May 31, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: The world is the book, and the only one to which, at
present, I would have you apply yourself; and the thorough knowledge of
it will be of more use to you, than all the books that ever were read.
Lay aside the best book whenever you can go into the best company; and
depend upon it, you change for the better. However, as the most
tumultuous life, whether of business or pleasure, leaves some vacant
moments every day, in which a book is the refuge of a rational being,
I mean now to point out to you the method of employing those moments
(which will and ought to be but few) in the most advantageous manner.
Throw away none of your time upon those trivial, futile books, published
by idle or necessitous authors, for the amusement of idle and ignorant
readers; such sort of books swarm and buzz about one every day; flap them
away, they have no sting. 'Certum pete finem', have some one object for
those leisure moments, and pursue that object invariably till you have
attained it; and then take some other. For instance, considering your
destination, I would advise you to single out the most remarkable and
interesting eras of modern history, and confine all your reading to that
ERA. If you pitch upon the Treaty of Munster (and that is the proper
period to begin with, in the course which I am now recommending), do not
interrupt it by dipping and deviating into other books, unrelative to it;
but consult only the most authentic histories, letters, memoirs, and
negotiations, relative to that great transaction; reading and comparing
them, with all that caution and distrust which Lord Bolingbroke
recommends to you, in a better manner, and in better words than I can.
The next period worth your particular knowledge, is the Treaty of the
Pyrenees: which was calculated to lay, and in effect did lay, the
succession of the House of Bourbon to the crown of Spain. Pursue that in
the same manner, singling, out of the millions of volumes written upon
that occasion, the two or three most authentic ones, and particularly
letters, which are the best authorities in matters of negotiation. Next
come the Treaties of Nimeguen and Ryswick, postscripts in, a manner to
those of Munster and the Pyrenees. Those two transactions have had great
light thrown upon them by the publication of many authentic and original
letters and pieces. The concessions made at the Treaty of Ryswick, by
the then triumphant Lewis the Fourteenth, astonished all those who viewed
things only superficially; but, I should think, must have been easily
accounted for by those who knew the state of the kingdom of Spain, as
well as of the health of its King, Charles the Second, at that time.
The interval between the conclusion of the peace of Ryswick, and the
breaking out of the great war in 1702, though a short, is a most
interesting one. Every week of it almost produced some great event.
Two partition treaties, the death of the King of Spain, his unexpected
will, and the acceptance of it by Lewis the Fourteenth, in violation of
the second treaty of partition, just signed and ratified by him. Philip
the Fifth quietly and cheerfully received in Spain, and acknowledged as
King of it, by most of those powers, who afterward joined in an alliance
to dethrone him. I cannot help making this observation upon that
occasion: That character has often more to do in great transactions,
than prudence and sound policy; for Lewis the Fourteenth gratified his
personal pride, by giving a Bourbon King to Spain, at the expense of the
true interest of France; which would have acquired much more solid and
permanent strength by the addition of Naples, Sicily, and Lorraine, upon
the footing of the second partition treaty; and I think it was fortunate
for Europe that he preferred the will. It is true, he might hope to
influence his Bourbon posterity in Spain; he knew too well how weak the
ties of blood are among men, and how much weaker still they are among
princes. The Memoirs of Count Harrach, and of Las Torres, give a good
deal of light into the transactions of the Court of Spain, previous to
the death of that weak King; and the Letters of the Marachal d'Harcourt,
then the French Ambassador in Spain, of which I have authentic copies in
manuscript, from the year 1698 to 1701, have cleared up that whole affair
to me. I keep that book for you. It appears by those letters, that the
impudent conduct of the House of Austria, with regard to the King and
Queen of Spain, and Madame Berlips, her favorite, together with the
knowledge of the partition treaty, which incensed all Spain, were the
true and only reasons of the will, in favor of the Duke of Anjou.
Cardinal Portocarrero, nor any of the Grandees, were bribed by France,
as was generally reported and believed at that time; which confirms
Voltaire's anecdote upon that subject. Then opens a new scene and a new
century; Lewis the Fourteenth's good fortune forsakes him, till the Duke
of Marlborough and Prince Eugene make him amends for all the mischief
they had done him, by making the allies refuse the terms of peace offered
by him at Gertruydenberg. How the disadvantageous peace of Utrecht was
afterward brought on, you have lately read; and you cannot inform
yourself too minutely of all those circumstances, that treaty 'being the
freshest source from whence the late transactions of Europe have flowed.
The alterations that have since happened, whether by wars or treaties,
are so recent, that all the written accounts are to be helped out,
proved, or contradicted, by the oral ones of almost every informed
person, of a certain age or rank in life. For the facts, dates, and
original pieces of this century, you will find them in Lamberti, till the
year 1715, and after that time in Rousset's 'Recueil'.

I do not mean that you should plod hours together in researches of this
kind: no, you may employ your time more usefully: but I mean, that you
should make the most of the moments you do employ, by method, and the
pursuit of one single object at a time; nor should I call it a digression
from that object, if when you meet with clashing and jarring pretensions
of different princes to the same thing, you had immediately recourse to
other books, in which those several pretensions were clearly stated; on
the contrary, that is the only way of remembering those contested rights
and claims: for, were a man to read 'tout de suite', Schwederus's
'Theatrum Pretensionum', he would only be confounded by the variety, and
remember none of them; whereas, by examining them occasionally, as they
happen to occur, either in the course of your historical reading, or as
they are agitated in your own times, you will retain them, by connecting
them with those historical facts which occasioned your inquiry. For
example, had you read, in the course of two or three folios of
Pretensions, those, among others, of the two Kings of England and Prussia
to Oost Frise, it is impossible, that you should have remembered them;
but now, that they are become the debated object at the Diet at Ratisbon,
and the topic of all political conversations, if you consult both books
and persons concerning them, and inform yourself thoroughly, you will
never forget them as long as you live. You will hear a great deal of
them ow one side, at Hanover, and as much on the other side, afterward,
at Berlin: hear both sides, and form your own opinion; but dispute with

Letters from foreign ministers to their courts, and from their courts to
them, are, if genuine, the best and most authentic records you can read,
as far as they go. Cardinal d'Ossat's, President Jeanin's, D'Estrade's,
Sir William Temple's, will not only inform your mind, but form your
style; which, in letters of business, should be very plain and simple,
but, at the same time, exceedingly clear, correct, and pure.

All that I have said may be reduced to these two or three plain
principles: 1st, That you should now read very little, but converse a
great deal; 2d, To read no useless, unprofitable books; and 3d, That
those which you do read, may all tend to a certain object, and be
relative to, and consequential of each other. In this method, half an
hour's reading every day will carry you a great way. People seldom know
how to employ their time to the best advantage till they have too little
left to employ; but if, at your age, in the beginning of life, people
would but consider the value of it, and put every moment to interest,
it is incredible what an additional fund of knowledge and pleasure such
an economy would bring in. I look back with regret upon that large sum
of time, which, in my youth, I lavished away idly, without either
improvement or pleasure. Take warning betimes, and enjoy every moment;
pleasures do not commonly last so long as life, and therefore should not
be neglected; and the longest life is too short for knowledge,
consequently every moment is precious.

I am surprised at having received no letter from you since you left
Paris. I still direct this to Strasburgh, as I did my two last. I shall
direct my next to the post house at Mayence, unless I receive, in the
meantime, contrary instructions from you. Adieu. Remember les
attentions: they must be your passports into good company.


LONDON, June, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Very few celebrated negotiators have been eminent for
their learning. The most famous French negotiators (and I know no nation
that can boast of abler) have been military men, as Monsieur d'Harcourt,
Comte d'Estrades, Marechal d'Uxelles, and others. The late Duke of
Marlborough, who was at least as able a negotiator as a general, was
exceedingly ignorant of books, but extremely knowing in men, whereas the
learned Grotius appeared, both in Sweden and in France, to be a very
bungling minister. This is, in my opinion, very easily to be accounted
for. A man of very deep learning must have employed the greatest part of
his time in books; and a skillful negotiator must necessarily have
employed much the greater part of his time with man. The sound scholar,
when dragged out of his dusty closet into business, acts by book, and
deals with men as he has read of them; not as he has known them by
experience: he follows Spartan and Roman precedents, in what he falsely
imagines to be similar cases; whereas two cases never were, since the
beginning of the world, exactly alike; and he would be capable, where he
thought spirit and vigor necessary, to draw a circle round the persons he
treated with, and to insist upon a categorical answer before they went
out of it, because he had read, in the Roman history, that once upon a
time some Roman ambassador, did so. No; a certain degree of learning may
help, but no degree of learning will ever make a skillful minister
whereas a great knowledge of the world, of the characters, passions, and
habits of mankind, has, without one grain of learning, made a thousand.
Military men have seldom much knowledge of books; their education does
not allow it; but what makes great amends for that want is, that they
generally know a great deal of the world; they are thrown into it young;
they see variety of nations and characters; and they soon find, that to
rise, which is the aim of them all, they must first please: these
concurrent causes almost always give them manners and politeness. In
consequence of which, you see them always distinguished at courts, and
favored by the women. I could wish that you had been of an age to have
made a campaign or two as a volunteer. It would have given you an
attention, a versatility, and an alertness; all which I doubt you want;
and a great want it is.

A foreign minister has not great business to transact every day; so that
his knowledge and his skill in negotiating are not frequently put to the
trial; but he has that to do every day, and every hour of the day, which
is necessary to prepare and smooth the way for his business; that is, to
insinuate himself by his manners, not only into the houses, but into the
confidence of the most considerable people of that place; to contribute
to their pleasures, and insensibly not to be looked upon as a stranger
himself. A skillful minister may very possibly be doing his master's
business full as well, in doing the honors gracefully and genteelly of a
ball or a supper, as if he were laboriously writing a protocol in his
closet. The Marechal d'Harcourt, by his magnificence, his manners, and
his politeness, blunted the edge of the long aversion which the Spaniards
had to the French. The court and the grandees were personally fond, of
him, and frequented his house; and were at least insensibly brought to
prefer a French to a German yoke; which I am convinced would never have
happened, had Comte d'Harrach been Marechal d'Harcourt, or the Marechal
d'Harcourt Comte d'Harrach. The Comte d'Estrades had, by 'ses manieres
polies et liantes', formed such connections, and gained such an interest
in the republic of the United Provinces, that Monsieur De Witt, the then
Pensionary of Holland, often applied to him to use his interest with his
friend, both in Holland and the other provinces, whenever he (De Witt)
had a difficult point which he wanted to carry. This was certainly not
brought about by his knowledge of books, but of men: dancing, fencing,
and riding, with a little military architecture, were no doubt the top of
his education; and if he knew that 'collegium' in Latin signified college
in French, it must have been by accident. But he knew what was more
useful: from thirteen years old he had been in the great world, and had
read men and women so long, that he could then read them at sight.

Talking the other day, upon this and other subjects, all relative to you,
with one who knows and loves you very well, and expressing my anxiety and
wishes that your exterior accomplishments, as a man of fashion, might
adorn, and at least equal your intrinsic merit as a man of sense and
honor, the person interrupted me, and said: Set your heart at rest; that
never will or can happen. It is not in character; that gentleness, that
'douceur', those attentions which you wish him to have, are not in his
nature; and do what you will, nay, let him do what he will, he can never
acquire them. Nature may be a little disguised and altered by care; but
can by no means whatsoever be totally forced and changed. I denied this
principle to a certain degree; but admitting, however, that in many
respects our nature was not to be changed; and asserting, at the same
time, that in others it might by care be very much altered and improved,
so as in truth to be changed; that I took those exterior accomplishments,
which we had been talking of, to be mere modes, and absolutely depending
upon the will, and upon custom; and that, therefore, I was convinced that
your good sense, which must show you the importance of them, would make
you resolve at all events to acquire them, even in spite of nature, if
nature be in the case. Our dispute, which lasted a great while, ended as
Voltaire observes that disputes in England are apt to do, in a wager of
fifty guineas; which I myself am to decide upon honor, and of which this
is a faithful copy. If you think I shall win it, you may go my halves if
you please; declare yourself in time. This I declare, that I would most
cheerfully give a thousand guineas to win those fifty; you may secure
them me if you please.

I grow very impatient for your future letters from the several courts of
Manheim, Bonn, Hanover, etc. And I desire that your letters may be to
me, what I do not desire they should be to anybody else, I mean full of
yourself. Let the egotism, a figure which upon all other occasions I
detest, be your only one to me. Trifles that concern you are not trifles
to me; and my knowledge of them may possibly be useful to you. Adieu.
'Les graces, les graces, les graces'.


LONDON, June 23, O. S. 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: I direct this letter to Mayence, where I think it is
likely to meet you, supposing, as I do, that you stayed three weeks at
Manheim, after the date of your last from thence; but should you have
stayed longer at Manheim, to which I have no objection, it will wait for
you at Mayence. Mayence will not, I believe, have charms to detain you
above a week; so that I reckon you will be at Bonn at the end of July,
N. S. There you may stay just as little or as long as you please, and
then proceed to Hanover.

I had a letter by the last post from a relation of mine at Hanover,
Mr. Stanhope Aspinwall, who is in the Duke of Newcastle's office, and has
lately been appointed the King's Minister to the Dey of Algiers; a post
which, notwithstanding your views of foreign affairs, I believe you do
not envy him. He tells me in that letter, there are very good lodgings
to be had at one Mrs. Meyers's, the next door to the Duke of Newcastle's,
which he offers to take for you; I have desired him to do it, in case
Mrs. Meyers will wait for you till the latter end of August, or the
beginning of September, N. S., which I suppose is about the time when you
will be at Hanover. You will find this Mr. Aspinwall of great use to you
there. He will exert himself to the utmost to serve you; he has been
twice or thrice at Hanover, and knows all the allures there: he is very
well with the Duke of Newcastle, and will puff you there. Moreover, if
you have a mind to work there as a volunteer in that bureau, he will
assist and inform you. In short, he is a very honest, sensible, and
informed man; 'mais me paye pas beaucoup de sa figure; il abuse meme du
privilege qu'ont les hommes d'etre laids; et il ne sera pas en reste avec
les lions et les leopards qu'il trouvera a Alger'.

As you are entirely master of the time when you will leave Bonn and go to
Hanover, so are you master to stay at Hanover as long as you please, and
to go from thence where you please; provided that at Christmas you are at
Berlin, for the beginning of the Carnival: this I would not have you say
at Hanover, considering the mutual disposition of those two courts; but
when anybody asks you where you are to go next, say that you propose
rambling in Germany, at Brunswick, Cassel, etc., till the next spring;
when you intend to be in Flanders, in your way to England. I take
Berlin, at this time, to be the politest, the most shining, and the most
useful court in Europe for a young fellow to be at: and therefore I would
upon no account not have you there, for at least a couple of months of
the Carnival. If you are as well received, and pass your time as well at
Bonn as I believe you will, I would advise you to remain there till about
the 20th of August, N. S., in four days you will be at Hanover. As for
your stay there, it must be shorter or longer, according to certain
circumstances WHICH YOU KNOW OF; supposing them, at the best, then, stay
within a week or ten days of the King's return to England; but supposing
them at the worst, your stay must not be too short, for reasons which you
also know; no resentment must either appear or be suspected; therefore,
at worst, I think you must remain there a month, and at best, as long as
ever you please. But I am convinced that all will turn out very well for
you there. Everybody is engaged or inclined to help you; the ministers,
English and German, the principal ladies, and most of the foreign
ministers; so that I may apply to you, 'nullum numen abest, si sit
prudentia'. Du Perron will, I believe, be back there from Turin much
about the time you get there: pray be very attentive to him, and connect
yourself with him as much as ever you can; for, besides that he is a very
pretty and well-informed man, he is very much in fashion at Hanover, is
personally very well with the King and certain ladies; so that a visible
intimacy and connection with him will do you credit and service. Pray
cultivate Monsieur Hop, the Dutch minister, who has always been very much
my friend, and will, I am sure, be yours; his manners, it is true, are
not very engaging; he is rough, but he is sincere. It is very useful
sometimes to see the things which one ought to avoid, as it is right to
see very often those which one ought to imitate, and my friend Hop's
manners will frequently point out to you, what yours ought to be by the
rule of contraries.

Congreve points out a sort of critics, to whom he says that we are doubly

"Rules for good writing they with pains indite,
Then show us what is bad, by what they write."

It is certain that Monsieur Hop, with the best heart in the world, and a
thousand good qualities, has a thousand enemies, and hardly a friend;
simply from the roughness of his manners.

N. B. I heartily wish you could have stayed long enough at Manheim to
have been seriously and desperately in love with Madame de Taxis; who,
I suppose, is a proud, insolent, fine lady, and who would consequently
have expected attentions little short of adoration: nothing would do you
more good than such a passion; and I live in hopes that somebody or other
will be able to excite such an one in you; your hour may not yet be come,
but it will come. Love has not been unaptly compared to the smallpox
which most people have sooner or later. Iphigenia had a wonderful effect
upon Cimon; I wish some Hanover Iphigenia may try her skill upon you.

I recommend to you again, though I have already done it twice or thrice,
to speak German, even affectedly, while you are at Hanover; which will
show that you prefer that language, and be of more use to you there with
SOMEBODY, than you can imagine. When you carry my letters to Monsieur
Munchausen and Monsieur Schwiegeldt, address yourself to them in German;
the latter speaks French very well, but the former extremely ill. Show
great attention to Madame, Munchausen's daughter, who is a great
favorite; those little trifles please mothers, and sometimes fathers,
extremely. Observe, and you will find, almost universally, that the
least things either please or displease most; because they necessarily
imply, either a very strong desire of obliging, or an unpardonable
indifference about it. I will give you a ridiculous instance enough of
this truth, from my own experience. When I was Ambassador the first time
in Holland, Comte de Wassenaer and his wife, people of the first rank and
consideration, had a little boy of about three years old, of whom they
were exceedingly fond; in order to make my court to them, I was so too,
and used to take the child often upon my lap, and play with him. One day
his nose was very dirty, upon which I took out my handkerchief and wiped
it for him; this raised a loud laugh, and they called me a very, handy
nurse; but the father and mother were so pleased with it, that to this
day it is an anecdote in the family, and I never receive a letter from
Comte Wassenaer, but he makes me the compliments 'du morveux gue j'ai
mouche autrefois'; who, by the way, I am assured, is now the prettiest
young fellow in Holland. Where one would gain people, remember that
nothing is little. Adieu.


LONDON, June 26, O. S. 1752.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, July 21, O. S. 1752

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, August 4, O. S. 1752

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

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

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

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

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



LONDON, August 27, O. S. 1752.

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

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

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


LONDON, September 19, 1752,

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, September 22, O. S. 1752

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, September 26, 1752

MY DEAR FRIEND: As you chiefly employ, or rather wholly engross my
thoughts, I see every day, with increasing pleasure, the fair prospect
which you have before you. I had two views in your education; they draw
nearer and nearer, and I have now very little reason to distrust your
answering them fully. Those two were, parliamentary and foreign affairs.
In consequence of those views, I took care, first, to give you a
sufficient stock of sound learning, and next, an early knowledge of the
world. Without making a figure in parliament, no man can make any in
this country; and eloquence alone enables a man to make a figure in
parliament, unless, it be a very mean and contemptible one, which those
make there who silently vote, and who do 'pedibus ire in sententiam'.
Foreign affairs, when skillfully managed, and supported by a
parliamentary reputation, lead to whatever is most considerable in this
country. You have the languages necessary for that purpose, with a
sufficient fund of historical and treaty knowledge; that is to say, you
have the matter ready, and only want the manner. Your objects being thus
fixed, I recommend to you to have them constantly in your thoughts, and
to direct your reading, your actions, and your words, to those views.
Most people think only 'ex re nata', and few 'ex professo': I would have
you do both, but begin with the latter. I explain myself: Lay down
certain principles, and reason and act consequently from them. As, for
example, say to yourself, I will make a figure in parliament, and in
order to do that, I must not only speak, but speak very well. Speaking
mere common sense will by no means do; and I must speak not only
correctly but elegantly; and not only elegantly but eloquently. In order
to do this, I will first take pains to get an habitual, but unaffected,
purity, correctness and elegance of style in my common conversation;
I will seek for the best words, and take care to reject improper,
inexpressive, and vulgar ones. I will read the greatest masters of
oratory, both ancient and modern, and I will read them singly in that
view. I will study Demosthenes and Cicero, not to discover an old
Athenian or Roman custom, nor to puzzle myself with the value of talents,
mines, drachms, and sesterces, like the learned blockheads in us; but to

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