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

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observe their choice of words, their harmony of diction, their method,
their distribution, their exordia, to engage the favor and attention of
their audience; and their perorations, to enforce what they have said,
and to leave a strong impression upon the passions. Nor will I be pedant
enough to neglect the modern; for I will likewise study Atterbury,
Dryden, Pope, and Bolingbroke; nay, I will read everything that I do read
in that intention, and never cease improving and refining my style upon
the best models, till at last I become a model of eloquence myself,
which, by care, it is in every man's power to be. If you set out upon
this principle, and keep it constantly in your mind, every company you go
into, and every book you read, will contribute to your improvement,
either by showing you what to imitate, or what to avoid. Are .you to
give an account of anything to a mixed company? or are you to endeavor
to persuade either man or woman? This principle, fixed in your mind,
will make you carefully attend to the choice of your words, and to the
clearness and harmony of your diction.

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

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

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


LONDON, September 29, 1752.

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

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

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

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

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


BATH, October 4, 1752

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


BATH, November 11, O. S. 1752

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

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

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

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

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

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


BATH, November 16, O. S. 1752.

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

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

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

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


BATH, November 28, 1752

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

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

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

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

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

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


Christmas Day, 1752

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

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

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


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



on the Fine Art of becoming a


and a



LONDON, New Years' Day, 1753

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dii tibi dent annos, de to nam caetera sumes.

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

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


LONDON, January 15, 1753

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

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

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


LONDON, May 27, O. S. 1753.

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


BATH, October 3, 1753

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

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


BATH, October 19, 1753

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

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

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


LONDON, November 20, 1753

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

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

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


LONDON, November 26, 1753

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

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

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

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


LONDON, December 25, 1753

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, January 15, 1754

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, February 1, 1754

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LONDON, February 12, 1754.

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

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

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

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


LONDON, February 15, 1754

MY DEAR FRIEND: I can now with great truth apply your own motto to you,
'Nullum numen abest, si sit Prudentia'. You are sure of being, as early
as your age will permit, a member of that House; which is the only road
to figure and fortune in this country. Those, indeed, who are bred up
to, and distinguish themselves in particular professions, as the army,
the navy, and the law, may, by their own merit, raise themselves to a
certain degree; but you may observe too, that they never get to the top,
without the assistance of parliamentary talents and influence. The means
of distinguishing yourself in parliament are, as I told you in my last,
much more easily attained than I believe you imagine. Close attendance
to the business of the House will soon give you the parliamentary
routine; and strict attention to your style will soon make you, not only
a speaker, but a good one. The vulgar look upon a man, who is reckoned a
fine speaker, as a phenomenon, a supernatural being, and endowed with
some peculiar gift of heaven; they stare at him, if he walks in the Park,
and cry, THAT IS HE. You will, I am sure, view him in a juster light,
and 'nulla formidine'. You will consider him only as a man of good
sense, who adorns common thoughts with the graces of elocution, and the
elegance of style. The miracle will then cease; and you will be
convinced, that with the same application, and attention to the same
objects, you may most certainly equal, and perhaps surpass, this prodigy.
Sir W---- Y-------, with not a quarter of your parts, and not a
thousandth part of your knowledge, has, by a glibness of tongue simply,
raised him successively to the best employments of the kingdom; he has
been Lord of the Admiralty, Lord of the Treasury, Secretary at War, and
is now Vice-Treasurer of Ireland; and all this with a most sullied, not
to say blasted character. Represent the thing to yourself, as it really

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