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

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hear; and learn, if you can, the WHY and the WHEREFORE. Inquire into the
meaning and the objects of the innumerable processions, which you will
see at Rome at this time. Assist at all the ceremonies, and know the
reason, or at least the pretenses of them, and however absurd they may
be, see and speak of them with great decency. Of all things, I beg of
you not to herd with your own countrymen, but to be always either with
the Romans, or with the foreign ministers residing at Rome. You are sent
abroad to see the manners and characters, and learn the languages of
foreign countries; and not to converse with English, in English; which
would defeat all those ends. Among your graver company, I recommend (as
I have done before) the Jesuits to you; whose learning and address will
both please and improve you; inform yourself, as much as you can, of the
history, policy, and practice of that society, from the time of its
founder, Ignatius of Loyola, who was himself a madman. If you would know
their morality, you will find it fully and admirably stated in 'Les
Lettres d'un Provincial', by the famous Monsieur Pascal; and it is a book
very well worth your reading. Few people see what they see, or hear what
they hear; that is, they see and hear so inattentively and superficially,
that they are very little the better for what they do see and hear.
This, I dare say, neither is, nor will be your case. You will
understand, reflect upon, and consequently retain, what you see and hear.
You have still two years good, but no more, to form your character in the
world decisively; for, within two months after your arrival in England,
it will be finally and irrevocably determined, one way or another, in the
opinion of the public. Devote, therefore, these two years to the pursuit
of perfection; which ought to be everybody's object, though in some
particulars unattainable; those who strive and labor the most, will come
the nearest to it. But, above all things, aim at it in the two important
arts of speaking and pleasing; without them all your other talents are
maimed and crippled. They are the wings upon which you must soar above
other people; without them you will only crawl with the dull mass of
mankind. Prepossess by your air, address, and manners; persuade by your
tongue; and you will easily execute what your head has contrived. I
desire that you will send me very minute accounts from Rome, not of what
you see, but, of who you see; of your pleasures and entertainments. Tell
me what companies you frequent most, and how you are received.


LONDON, December 19, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: The knowledge of mankind is a very use ful knowledge for
everybody; a most necessary one for you, who are destined to an active,
public life. You will have to do with all sorts of characters; you
should, therefore, know them thoroughly, in order to manage them ably.
This knowledge is not to be gotten systematically; you must acquire it
yourself by your own observation and sagacity; I will give you such hints
as I think may be useful land-marks in your intended progress.

I have often told you (and it is most true) that, with regard to mankind,
we must not draw general conclusions from certain particular principles,
though, in the main, true ones. We must not suppose that, because a man
is a rational animal, he will therefore always act rationally; or,
because he has such or such a predominant passion, that he will act
invariably and consequentially in the pursuit of it. No. We are
complicated machines: and though we have one main-spring, that gives
motion to the whole, we have an infinity of little wheels, which, in
their turns, retard, precipitate, and sometimes stop that motion. Let us
exemplify. I will suppose ambition to be (as it commonly is) the
predominant passion of a minister of state; and I will suppose that
minister to be an able one. Will he, therefore, invariably pursue the
object of that predominant passion? May I be sure that he will do so and
so, because he ought? Nothing less. Sickness or low spirits, may damp
this predominant passion; humor and peevishness may triumph over it;
inferior passions may, at times, surprise it and prevail. Is this
ambitious statesman amorous? Indiscreet and unguarded confidences, made
in tender moments, to his wife or his mistress, may defeat all his
schemes. Is he avaricious? Some great lucrative object, suddenly
presenting itself, may unravel all the work of his ambition. Is he
passionate? Contradiction and provocation (sometimes, it may be, too,
artfully intended) may extort rash and inconsiderate expressions, or
actions destructive of his main object. Is he vain, and open to
flattery? An artful, flattering favorite may mislead him; and even
laziness may, at certain moments, make him neglect or omit the necessary
steps to that height at which he wants to arrive. Seek first, then, for
the predominant passion of the character which you mean to engage and
influence, and address yourself to it; but without defying or despising
the inferior passions; get them in your interest too, for now and then
they will have their turns. In many cases, you may not have it in your
power to contribute to the gratification of the prevailing passion; then
take the next best to your aid. There are many avenues to every man; and
when you cannot get at him through the great one, try the serpentine
ones, and you will arrive at last.

There are two inconsistent passions, which, however, frequently accompany
each other, like man and wife; and which, like man and wife too, are
commonly clogs upon each other. I mean ambition and avarice: the latter
is often the true cause of the former, and then is the predominant
passion. It seems to have been so in Cardinal Mazarin, who did anything,
submitted to anything, and forgave anything, for the sake of plunder.
He loved and courted power, like a usurer, because it carried profit
along with it. Whoever should have formed his opinion, or taken his
measures, singly, from the ambitious part of Cardinal Mazarin's
character, would have found himself often mistaken. Some who had found
this out, made their fortunes by letting him cheat them at play. On the
contrary, Cardinal Richelieu's prevailing passion seems to have been
ambition, and his immense riches only the natural consequences of that
ambition gratified; and yet, I make no doubt, but that ambition had now
and then its turn with the former, and avarice with the latter.
Richelieu (by the way) is so strong a proof of the inconsistency of human
nature, that I cannot help observing to you, that while he absolutely
governed both his king and his country, and was, in a great degree, the
arbiter of the fate of all Europe, he was more jealous of the great
reputation of Corneille than of the power of Spain; and more flattered
with being thought (what he was not) the best poet, than with being
thought (what he certainly was) the greatest statesman in Europe; and
affairs stood still while he was concerting the criticism upon the Cid.
Could one think this possible, if one did not know it to be true? Though
men are all of one composition, the several ingredients are so
differently proportioned in each individual, that no two are exactly
alike; and no one at all times like himself. The ablest man will
sometimes do weak things; the proudest man, mean things; the honestest
man, ill things; and the wickedest man, good ones. Study individuals
then, and if you take (as you ought to do,) their outlines from their
prevailing passion, suspend your last finishing strokes till you have
attended to, and discovered the operations of their inferior passions,
appetites, and humors. A man's general character may be that of the
honestest man of the world: do not dispute it; you might be thought
envious or ill-natured; but, at the same time, do not take this probity
upon trust to such a degree as to put your life, fortune, or reputation
in his power. This honest man may happen to be your rival in power, in
interest, or in love; three passions that often put honesty to most
severe trials, in which it is too often cast; but first analyze this
honest man yourself; and then only you will be able to judge how far you
may, or may not, with safety trust him.

Women are much more like each other than men: they have, in truth, but
two passions, vanity and love; these are their universal characteristics.
An Agrippina may sacrifice them to ambition, or a Messalina to lust; but
those instances are rare; and, in general, all they say, and all they do,
tends to the gratification of their vanity or their love. He who
flatters them most, pleases them best; and they are the most in love with
him, who they think is the most in love with them. No adulation is too
strong for them; no assiduity too great; no simulation of passion too
gross; as, on the other hand, the least word or action that can possibly
be construed into a slight or contempt, is unpardonable, and never
forgotten. Men are in this respect tender too, and will sooner forgive
an injury than an insult. Some men are more captious than others; some
are always wrongheaded; but every man living has such a share of vanity,
as to be hurt by marks of slight and contempt. Every man does not
pretend to be a poet, a mathematician, or a statesman, and considered as
such; but every man pretends to common sense, and to fill his place in
the world with common decency; and, consequently, does not easily forgive
those negligences, inattentions and slights which seem to call in
question, or utterly deny him both these pretensions.

Suspect, in general, those who remarkably affect any one virtue; who
raise it above all others, and who, in a manner, intimate that they
possess it exclusively. I say suspect them, for they are commonly
impostors; but do not be sure that they are always so; for I have
sometimes known saints really religious, blusterers really brave,
reformers of manners really honest, and prudes really chaste. Pry into
the recesses of their hearts yourself, as far as you are able, and never
implicitly adopt a character upon common fame; which, though generally
right as to the great outlines of characters, is always wrong in some

Be upon your guard against those who upon very slight acquaintance,
obtrude their unasked and unmerited friendship and confidence upon you;
for they probably cram you with them only for their own eating; but, at
the same time, do not roughly reject them upon that general supposition.
Examine further, and see whether those unexpected offers flow from a warm
heart and a silly head, or from a designing head and a cold heart; for
knavery and folly have often the same symptoms. In the first case, there
is no danger in accepting them, 'valeant quantum valere possunt'. In the
latter case, it may be useful to seem to accept them, and artfully to
turn the battery upon him who raised it.

There is an incontinency of friendship among young fellows, who are
associated by their mutual pleasures only, which has, very frequently,
bad consequences. A parcel of warm hearts and inexperienced heads,
heated by convivial mirth, and possibly a little too much wine, vow, and
really mean at the time, eternal friendships to each other, and
indiscreetly pour out their whole souls in common, and without the least
reserve. These confidences are as indiscreetly repealed as they were
made; for new pleasures and new places soon dissolve this ill-cemented
connection; and then very ill uses are made of these rash confidences.
Bear your part, however, in young companies; nay, excel, if you can, in
all the social and convivial joy and festivity that become youth. Trust
them with your love tales, if you please; but keep your serious views
secret. Trust those only to some tried friend, more experienced than
yourself, and who, being in a different walk of life from you, is not
likely to become your rival; for I would not advise you to depend so much
upon the heroic virtue of mankind, as to hope or believe that your
competitor will ever be your friend, as to the object of that

These are reserves and cautions very necessary to have, but very
imprudent to show; the 'volto sciolto' should accompany them. Adieu.


DEAR BOY: Great talents and great virtues (if you should have them) will
procure you the respect and the admiration of mankind; but it is the
lesser talents, the 'leniores virtutes', which must procure you their
love and affection. The former, unassisted and unadorned by the latter,
will extort praise; but will, at the same time, excite both fear and
envy; two sentiments absolutely incompatible with love and affection.

Caesar had all the great vices, and Cato all the great virtues, that men
could have. But Caesar had the 'leniores virtutes' which Cato wanted,
and which made him beloved, even by his enemies, and gained him the
hearts of mankind, in spite of their reason: while Cato was not even
beloved by his friends, notwithstanding the esteem and respect which they
could not refuse to his virtues; and I am apt to think, that if Caesar
had wanted, and Cato possessed, those 'leniores virtutes', the former
would not have attempted (at least with success), and the latter could
have protected, the liberties of Rome. Mr. Addison, in his "Cato," says
of Caesar (and I believe with truth),

"Curse on his virtues, they've undone his country."

By which he means those lesser, but engaging virtues of gentleness,
affability, complaisance, and good humor. The knowledge of a scholar,
the courage of a hero, and the virtue of a Stoic, will be admired; but if
the knowledge be accompanied with arrogance, the courage with ferocity,
and the virtue with inflexible severity, the man will never be loved.
The heroism of Charles XII. of Sweden (if his brutal courage deserves
that name) was universally admired, but the man nowhere beloved. Whereas
Henry IV. of France, who had full as much courage, and was much longer
engaged in wars, was generally beloved upon account of his lesser and
social virtues. We are all so formed, that our understandings are
generally the DUPES of our hearts, that is, of our passions; and the
surest way to the former is through the latter, which must be engaged by
the 'leniores virtutes' alone, and the manner of exerting them. The
insolent civility of a proud man is (for example) if possible, more
shocking than his rudeness could be; because he shows you by his manner
that he thinks it mere condescension in him; and that his goodness alone
bestows upon you what you have no pretense to claim. He intimates his
protection, instead of his friendship, by a gracious nod, instead of a
usual bow; and rather signifies his consent that you may, than his
invitation that you should sit, walk, eat, or drink with him.

The costive liberality of a purse-proud man insults the distresses it
sometimes relieves; he takes care to make you feel your own misfortunes,
and the difference between your situation and his; both which he
insinuates to be justly merited: yours, by your folly; his, by his
wisdom. The arrogant pedant does not communicate, but promulgates his
knowledge. He does not give it you, but he inflicts it upon you; and is
(if possible) more desirous to show you your own ignorance than his own
learning. Such manners as these, not only in the particular instances
which I have mentioned, but likewise in all others, shock and revolt that
little pride and vanity which every man has in his heart; and obliterate
in us the obligation for the favor conferred, by reminding us of the
motive which produced, and the manner which accompanied it.

These faults point out their opposite perfections, and your own good
sense will naturally suggest them to you.

But besides these lesser virtues, there are what may be called the lesser
talents, or accomplishments, which are of great use to adorn and
recommend all the greater; and the more so, as all people are judges of
the one, and but few are of the other. Everybody feels the impression,
which an engaging address, an agreeable manner of speaking, and an easy
politeness, makes upon them; and they prepare the way for the favorable
reception of their betters. Adieu.


LONDON, December 26, O. S. 1749.

MY DEAR FRIEND: The new year is the season in which custom seems more
particularly to authorize civil and harmless lies, under the name of
compliments. People reciprocally profess wishes which they seldom form;
and concern, which they seldom feel. This is not the case between you
and me, where truth leaves no room for compliments.

'Dii tibi dent annos, de to nam caetera sumes', was said formerly to one
by a man who certainly did not think it. With the variation of one word
only, I will with great truth say it to you. I will make the first part
conditional by changing, in the second, the 'nam' into 'si'. May you
live as long as you are fit to live, but no longer! or may you rather die
before you cease to be fit to live, than after! My true tenderness for
you makes me think more of the manner than of the length of your life,
and forbids me to wish it prolonged, by a single day, that should bring
guilt, reproach, and shame upon you. I have not malice enough in my
nature, to wish that to my greatest enemy. You are the principal object
of all my cares, the only object of all my hopes; I have now reason to
believe, that you will reward the former, and answer the latter; in that
case, may you live long, for you must live happy; 'de te nam caetera
sumes'. Conscious virtue is the only solid foundation of all happiness;
for riches, power, rank, or whatever, in the common acceptation of the
word, is supposed to constitute happiness, will never quiet, much less
cure, the inward pangs of guilt. To that main wish, I will add those of
the good old nurse of Horace, in his epistle to Tibullus: 'Sapere', you
have it in a good degree already. 'Et fari ut possit quae sentiat'.
Have you that? More, much more is meant by it, than common speech or
mere articulation. I fear that still remains to be wished for, and I
earnestly wish it to you. 'Gratia and Fama' will inevitably accompany
the above-mentioned qualifications. The 'Valetudo' is the only one that
is not in your own power; Heaven alone can grant it you, and may it do so
abundantly! As for the 'mundus victus, non deficiente crumena', do you
deserve, and I will provide them.

It is with the greatest pleasure that I consider the fair prospect which
you have before you. You have seen, read, and learned more, at your age,
than most young fellows have done at two or three-and-twenty. Your
destination is a shining one, and leads to rank, fortune, and
distinction. Your education has been calculated for it; and, to do you
justice, that education has not been thrown away upon you. You want but
two things, which do not want conjuration, but only care, to acquire:
eloquence and manners; that is, the graces of speech, and the graces of
behavior. You may have them; they are as much in your power as powdering
your hair is; and will you let the want of them obscure (as it certainly
will do) that shining prospect which presents itself to you. I am sure
you will not. They are the sharp end, the point of the nail that you are
driving, which must make way first for the larger and more solid parts to
enter. Supposing your moral character as pure, and your knowledge as
sound, as I really believe them both to be; you want nothing for that
perfection, which I have so constantly wished you, and taken so much
pains to give you, but eloquence and politeness. A man who is not born
with a poetical genius, can never be a poet, or at best an extremely bad
one; but every man, who can speak at all, can speak elegantly and
correctly if he pleases, by attending to the best authors and orators;
and, indeed, I would advise those who do not speak elegantly, not to
speak at all; for I am sure they will get more by their silence than by
their speech. As for politeness: whoever keeps good company, and is not
polite, must have formed a resolution, and take some pains not to be so;
otherwise he would naturally and insensibly take the air, the address,
and the turn of those he converses with. You will, probably, in the
course of this year, see as great a variety of good company in the
several capitals you will be at, as in any one year of your life; and
consequently must (I should hope) catch some of their manners, almost
whether you will or not; but, as I dare say you will endeavor to do it,
I am convinced you will succeed, and that I shall have pleasure of
finding you, at your return here, one of the best-bred men in Europe.

I imagine, that when you receive my letters, and come to those parts of
them which relate to eloquence and politeness, you say, or at least
think, What, will he never have done upon those two subjects? Has he not
said all he can say upon them? Why the same thing over and over again?
If you do think or say so, it must proceed from your not yet knowing the
infinite importance of these two accomplishments, which I cannot
recommend to you too often, nor inculcate too strongly. But if, on the
contrary, you are convinced of the utility, or rather the necessity of
those two accomplishments, and are determined to acquire them, my
repeated admonitions are only unnecessary; and I grudge no trouble which
can possibly be of the least use to you.

I flatter myself, that your stay at Rome will go a great way toward
answering all my views: I am sure it will, if you employ your time, and
your whole time, as you should. Your first morning hours, I would have
you devote to your graver studies with Mr. Harte; the middle part of the
day I would have employed in seeing things; and the evenings in seeing
people. You are not, I hope, of a lazy, inactive turn, in either body or
mind; and, in that case, the day is full long enough for everything;
especially at Rome, where it is not the fashion, as it is here and at
Paris, to embezzle at least half of it at table. But if, by accident,
two or three hours are sometimes wanting for some useful purpose, borrow
them from your sleep. Six, or at most seven hours sleep is, for a
constancy, as much as you or anybody can want; more is only laziness and
dozing; and is, I am persuaded, both unwholesome and stupefying. If, by
chance, your business, or your pleasures, should keep you up till four or
five o'clock in the morning, I would advise you, however, to rise exactly
at your usual time, that you may not lose the precious morning hours; and
that the want of sleep may force you to go to bed earlier the next night.
This is what I was advised to do when very young, by a very wise man; and
what, I assure you, I always did in the most dissipated part of my life.
I have very often gone to bed at six in the morning and rose,
notwithstanding, at eight; by which means I got many hours in the morning
that my companions lost; and the want of sleep obliged me to keep good
hours the next, or at least the third night. To this method I owe the
greatest part of my reading: for, from twenty to forty, I should
certainly have read very little, if I had not been up while my
acquaintances were in bed. Know the true value of time; snatch, seize,
and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no
procrastination; never put off till to-morrow what you can do today.
That was the rule of the famous and unfortunate Pensionary De Witt; who,
by strictly following it, found time, not only to do the whole business
of the republic, but to pass his evenings at assemblies and suppers, as
if he had had nothing else to do or think of.

Adieu, my dear friend, for such I shall call you, and as such I shall,
for the future, live with you; for I disclaim all titles which imply an
authority, that I am persuaded you will never give me occasion to

'Multos et felices', most sincerely, to Mr. Harte.


A joker is near akin to a buffoon
Ablest man will sometimes do weak things
Above trifles, he is never vehement and eager about them
Advise those who do not speak elegantly, not to speak
Always does more than he says
Always some favorite word for the time being
Arrogant pedant
Ascribing the greatest actions to the most trifling causes
Assign the deepest motives for the most trifling actions
Attend to the objects of your expenses, but not to the sums
Attention to the inside of books
Awkward address, ungraceful attitudes and actions
Being in the power of every man to hurt him
Can hardly be said to see what they see
Cardinal Mazarin
Cardinal Richelieu
Complaisance due to the custom of the place
Conjectures supply the defect of unattainable knowledge
Connive at knaves, and tolerate fools
Deep learning is generally tainted with pedantry
Deepest learning, without good-breeding, is unwelcome
Desirous of pleasing
Dictate to them while you seem to be directed by them
Dissimulation is only to hide our own cards
Do not become a virtuoso of small wares
Does not give it you, but he inflicts it upon you
Endeavors to please and oblige our fellow-creatures
Every man pretends to common sense
Every numerous assembly is a mob
Eyes and the ears are the only roads to the heart
Few dare dissent from an established opinion
Few things which people in general know less, than how to love
Flattering people behind their backs
Fools never perceive where they are either ill-timed
Friendship upon very slight acquaintance
Frivolous curiosity about trifles
Frivolous, idle people, whose time hangs upon their own hands
Gain the heart, or you gain nothing
General conclusions from certain particular principles
Good manners
Haste and hurry are very different things
Herd of mankind can hardly be said to think
Human nature is always the same
Hurt those they love by a mistaken indulgence
Idleness is only the refuge of weak minds
If I don't mind his orders he won't mind my draughts
Inattentive, absent; and distrait
Incontinency of friendship among young fellows
Indiscriminate familiarity
Insist upon your neither piping nor fiddling yourself
Insolent civility
It is not sufficient to deserve well; one must please well too
Know the true value of time
Known people pretend to vices they had not
Knows what things are little, and what not
Learn, if you can, the WHY and the WHEREFORE
Leave the company, at least as soon as he is wished out of it
Led, much oftener by little things than by great ones
Little failings and weaknesses
Love with him, who they think is the most in love with them
Mastery of one's temper
May you live as long as you are fit to live, but no longer!
May you rather die before you cease to be fit to live
Moderation with your enemies
Most people have ears, but few have judgment; tickle those ears
Never implicitly adopt a character upon common fame
Never would know anything that he had not a mind to know
No man is distrait with the man he fears, or the woman he loves
Nothing in courts is exactly as it appears to be
Our understandings are generally the DUPES of our hearts
People will repay, and with interest too, inattention
Perfection of everything that is worth doing at all
Public speaking
Quietly cherished error, instead of seeking for truth
Reciprocally profess wishes which they seldom form
Reserve with your friends
Six, or at most seven hours sleep
Sooner forgive an injury than an insult
There are many avenues to every man
Those who remarkably affect any one virtue
Three passions that often put honesty to most severe trials
To great caution, you can join seeming frankness and openness
Trifling parts, with their little jargon
Truth leaves no room for compliments
We have many of those useful prejudices in this country
Whatever pleases you most in others
World is taken by the outside of things




on the Fine Art of becoming a


and a



LONDON, January 8, O. S. 1750

DEAR BOY: I have seldom or never written to you upon the subject of
religion and morality; your own reason, I am persuaded, has given you
true notions of both; they speak best for themselves; but if they wanted
assistance, you have Mr. Harte at hand, both for precept and example; to
your own reason, therefore, and to Mr. Harte, shall I refer you for the
reality of both, and confine myself in this letter to the decency, the
utility, and the necessity of scrupulously preserving the appearances of
both. When I say the appearances of religion, I do not mean that you
should talk or act like a missionary or an enthusiast, nor that you
should take up a controversial cudgel against whoever attacks the sect
you are of; this would be both useless and unbecoming your age; but I
mean that you should by no means seem to approve, encourage, or applaud,
those libertine notions, which strike at religions equally, and which are
the poor threadbare topics of halfwits and minute philosophers. Even
those who are silly enough to laugh at their jokes, are still wise enough
to distrust and detest their characters; for putting moral virtues at the
highest, and religion at the lowest, religion must still be allowed to be
a collateral security, at least, to virtue, and every prudent man will
sooner trust to two securities than to one. Whenever, therefore, you
happen to be in company with those pretended 'Esprits forts', or with
thoughtless libertines, who laugh at all religion to show their wit, or
disclaim it, to complete their riot, let no word or look of yours
intimate the least approbation; on the contrary, let a silent gravity
express your dislike: but enter not into the subject and decline such
unprofitable and indecent controversies. Depend upon this truth, that
every man is the worse looked upon, and the less trusted for being
thought to have no religion; in spite of all the pompous and specious
epithets he may assume, of 'Esprit fort', freethinker, or moral
philosopher; and a wise atheist (if such a thing there is) would, for his
own interest and character in this world, pretend to some religion.

Your moral character must be not only pure, but, like Caesar's wife,
unsuspected. The least speck or blemish upon it is fatal. Nothing
degrades and vilifies more, for it excites and unites detestation and
contempt. There are, however, wretches in the world profligate enough to
explode all notions of moral good and evil; to maintain that they are
merely local, and depend entirely upon the customs and fashions of
different countries; nay, there are still, if possible, more
unaccountable wretches; I mean those who affect to preach and propagate
such absurd and infamous notions without believing them themselves.
These are the devil's hypocrites. Avoid, as much as possible, the
company of such people; who reflect a degree of discredit and infamy upon
all who converse with them. But as you may, sometimes, by accident, fall
into such company, take great care that no complaisance, no good-humor,
no warmth of festal mirth, ever make you seem even to acquiesce, much
less to approve or applaud, such infamous doctrines. On the other hand,
do not debate nor enter into serious argument upon a subject so much
below it: but content yourself with telling these APOSTLES that you know
they are not, serious; that you have a much better opinion of them than
they would have you have; and that, you are very sure, they would not
practice the doctrine they preach. But put your private mark upon them,
and shun them forever afterward.

There is nothing so delicate as your moral character, and nothing which
it is your interest so much to preserve pure. Should you be suspected of
injustice, malignity, perfidy, lying, etc., all the parts and knowledge
in the world will never procure you esteem, friendship, or respect.
A strange concurrence of circumstances has sometimes raised very bad men
to high stations, but they have been raised like criminals to a pillory,
where their persons and their crimes, by being more conspicuous, are only
the more known, the more detested, and the more pelted and insulted.
If, in any case whatsoever, affectation and ostentation are pardonable,
it is in the case of morality; though even there, I would not advise you
to a pharisaical pomp of virtue. But I will recommend to you a most
scrupulous tenderness for your moral character, and the utmost care not
to say or do the least thing that may ever so slightly taint it. Show
yourself, upon all occasions, the advocate, the friend, but not the bully
of virtue. Colonel Chartres, whom you have certainly heard of (who was,
I believe, the most notorious blasted rascal in the world, and who had,
by all sorts of crimes, amassed immense wealth), was so sensible of the
disadvantage of a bad character, that I heard him once say, in his
impudent, profligate manner, that though he would not give one farthing
for virtue, he would give ten thousand pounds for a character; because he
should get a hundred thousand pounds by it; whereas, he was so blasted,
that he had no longer an opportunity of cheating people. Is it possible,
then, that an honest man can neglect what a wise rogue would purchase so

There is one of the vices above mentioned, into which people of good
education, and, in the main, of good principles, sometimes fall, from
mistaken notions of skill, dexterity, and self-defense, I mean lying;
though it is inseparably attended with more infamy and loss than any
other. The prudence and necessity of often concealing the truth,
insensibly seduces people to violate it. It is the only art of mean
capacities, and the only refuge of mean spirits. Whereas, concealing the
truth, upon proper occasions, is as prudent and as innocent, as telling a
lie, upon any occasion, is infamous and foolish. I will state you a case
in your own department. Suppose you are employed at a foreign court, and
that the minister of that court is absurd or impertinent enough to ask
you what your instructions are? will you tell him a lie, which as soon as
found out (and found out it certainly will be) must destroy your credit,
blast your character, and render you useless there? No. Will you tell
him the truth then, and betray your trust? As certainly, No. But you
will answer with firmness, That you are surprised at such a question,
that you are persuaded he does not expect an answer to it; but that, at
all events, he certainly will not have one. Such an answer will give him
confidence in you; he will conceive an opinion of your veracity, of which
opinion you may afterward make very honest and fair advantages. But if,
in negotiations, you are looked upon as a liar and a trickster, no
confidence will be placed in you, nothing will be communicated to you,
and you will be in the situation of a man who has been burned in the
cheek; and who, from that mark, cannot afterward get an honest livelihood
if he would, but must continue a thief.

Lord Bacon, very justly, makes a distinction between simulation and
dissimulation; and allows the latter rather than the former; but still
observes, that they are the weaker sort of politicians who have recourse
to either. A man who has strength of mind and strength of parts, wants
neither of them. Certainly (says he) the ablest men that ever were, have
all had an openness and frankness of dealing, and a name of certainty and
veracity; but then, they were like horses well managed; for they could
tell, passing well, when to stop or turn; and at such times, when they
thought the case indeed required some dissimulation, if then they used
it, it came to pass that the former opinion spread abroad of their good
faith and clearness of dealing, made them almost invisible.

There are people who indulge themselves in a sort of lying, which they
reckon innocent, and which in one sense is so; for it hurts nobody but
themselves. This sort of lying is the spurious offspring of vanity,
begotten upon folly: these people deal in the marvelous; they have seen
some things that never existed; they have seen other things which they
never really saw, though they did exist, only because they were thought
worth seeing. Has anything remarkable been said or done in any place,
or in any company? they immediately present and declare themselves eye or
ear witnesses of it. They have done feats themselves, unattempted, or at
least unperformed by others. They are always the heroes of their own
fables; and think that they gain consideration, or at least present
attention, by it. Whereas, in truth, all that they get is ridicule and
contempt, not without a good degree of distrust; for one must naturally
conclude, that he who will tell any lie from idle vanity, will not
scruple telling a greater for interest. Had I really seen anything so
very extraordinary as to be almost incredible I would keep it to myself,
rather than by telling it give anybody room to doubt, for one minute, of
my veracity. It is most certain, that the reputation of chastity is not
so necessary for a women, as that of veracity is for a man; and with
reason; for it is possible for a woman to be virtuous, though not
strictly chaste, but it is not possible for a man to be virtuous without
strict veracity. The slips of the poor women are sometimes mere bodily
frailties; but a lie in a man is a vice of the mind and of the heart.
For God's sake be scrupulously jealous of the purity of your moral
character; keep it immaculate, unblemished, unsullied; and it will be
unsuspected. Defamation and calumny never attack, where there is no weak
place; they magnify, but they do not create.

There is a very great difference between the purity of character, which I
so earnestly recommend to you, and the stoical gravity and austerity of
character, which I do by no means recommend to you. At your, age,
I would no more wish you to be a Cato than a Clodius. Be, and be
reckoned, a man of pleasure as well as a man of business. Enjoy this
happy and giddy time of your life; shine in the pleasures, and in the
company of people of your own age. This is all to be done, and indeed
only can be done, without the least taint to the purity of your moral
character; for those mistaken young fellows, who think to shine by an
impious or immoral licentiousness, shine only from their stinking, like
corrupted flesh, in the dark. Without this purity, you can have no
dignity of character; and without dignity of character it is impossible
to rise in the world. You must be respectable, if you will be respected.
I have known people slattern away their character, without really
polluting it; the consequence of which has been, that they have become
innocently contemptible; their merit has been dimmed, their pretensions
unregarded, and all their views defeated. Character must be kept bright,
as well as clean. Content yourself with mediocrity in nothing. In
purity of character and in politeness of manners labor to excel all, if
you wish to equal many. Adieu.


LONDON, January 11, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: Yesterday I received a letter from Mr. Harte, of the 31st
December, N. S., which I will answer soon; and for which I desire you to
return him my thanks now. He tells me two things that give me great
satisfaction: one is that there are very few English at Rome; the other
is, that you frequent the best foreign companies. This last is a very
good symptom; for a man of sense is never desirous to frequent those
companies, where he is not desirous to please, or where he finds that he
displeases; it will not be expected in those companies, that, at your
age, you should have the 'Garbo', the 'Disinvoltura', and the
'Leggiadria' of a man of five-and-twenty, who has been long used to keep
the best companies; and therefore do not be discouraged, and think
yourself either slighted or laughed at, because you see others, older and
more used to the world, easier, more familiar, and consequently rather
better received in those companies than yourself. In time your turn will
come; and if you do but show an inclination, a desire to please, though
you should be embarrassed or even err in the means, which must
necessarily happen to you at first, yet the will (to use a vulgar
expression) will be taken for the deed; and people, instead of laughing
at you, will be glad to instruct you. Good sense can only give you the
great outlines of good-breeding; but observation and usage can alone give
you the delicate touches, and the fine coloring. You will naturally
endeavor to show the utmost respect to people of certain ranks and
characters, and consequently you will show it; but the proper, the
delicate manner of showing that respect, nothing but observation and time
can give.

I remember that when, with all the awkwardness and rust of Cambridge
about me, I was first introduced into good company, I was frightened out
of my wits. I was determined to be, what I thought, civil; I made fine
low bows, and placed myself below everybody; but when I was spoken to,
or attempted to speak myself, 'obstupui, steteruntque comae, et vox
faucibus haesit'. If I saw people whisper, I was sure it was at me; and
I thought myself the sole object of either the ridicule or the censure of
the whole company, who, God knows, did not trouble their heads about me.
In this way I suffered, for some time, like a criminal at the bar; and
should certainly have renounced all polite company forever, if I had not
been so convinced of the absolute necessity of forming my manners upon
those of the best companies, that I determined to persevere and suffer
anything, or everything, rather than not compass that point. Insensibly
it grew easier to me; and I began not to bow so ridiculously low, and to
answer questions without great hesitation or stammering: if, now and
then, some charitable people, seeing my embarrassment, and being
'desoevre' themselves, came and spoke to me, I considered them as angels
sent to comfort me, and that gave me a little courage. I got more soon
afterward, and was intrepid enough to go up to a fine woman, and tell her
that I thought it a warm day; she answered me, very civilly, that she
thought so too; upon which the conversation ceased, on my part, for some
time, till she, good-naturedly resuming it, spoke to me thus: "I see your
embarrassment, and I am sure that the few words you said to me cost you a
great deal; but do not be discouraged for that reason, and avoid good
company. We see that you desire to please, and that is the main point;
you want only the manner, and you think that you want it still more than
you do. You must go through your noviciate before you can profess good-
breeding: and, if you will be my novice, I will present you my
acquaintance as such."

You will easily imagine how much this speech pleased me, and how
awkwardly I answered it; I hemmed once or twice (for it gave me a bur in
my throat) before I could tell her that I was very much obliged to her;
that it was true, that I had a great deal of reason to distrust my own
behavior, not being used to fine company; and that I should be proud of
being her novice, and receiving her instructions.

As soon as I had fumbled out this answer, she called up three or four
people to her, and said: Savez-vous (for she was a foreigner, and I was
abroad) que j'ai entrepris ce jeune homme, et qu'il le faut rassurer?
Pour moi, je crois en avoir fait---- [Do you know that I have undertaken
this young man, and he must be encouraged? As for me, I think I have
made a conquest of him; for he just now ventured to tell me, although
tremblingly, that it is warm. You will assist me in polishing him. He
must necessarily have a passion for somebody; if he does not think me
worthy of being the object, he will seek out some other. However, my
novice, do not disgrace yourself by frequenting opera girls and
actresses; who will not require of you sentiments and politeness, but
will be your ruin in every respect. I repeat it to you, my, friend, if
you should get into low, mean company, you will be undone. Those
creatures will destroy your fortune and your health, corrupt your morals,
and you will never acquire the style of good company.]

The company laughed at this lecture, and I was stunned with it. I did
not know whether she was serious or in jest. By turns I was pleased,
ashamed, encouraged, and dejected. But when I found afterward, that both
she, and those to whom she had presented me, countenanced and protected
me in company, I gradually got more assurance, and began not to be
ashamed of endeavoring to be civil. I copied the best masters, at first
servilely, afterward more freely, and at last I joined habit and

All this will happen to you, if you persevere in the desire of pleasing
and shining as a man of the world; that part of your character is the
only one about which I have at present the least doubt. I cannot
entertain the least suspicion of your moral character; your learned
character is out of question. Your polite character is now the only
remaining object that gives me the least anxiety; and you are now in the
right way of finishing it. Your constant collision with good company
will, of course, smooth and polish you. I could wish that you would say,
to the five or six men or women with whom you are the most acquainted,
that you are sensible that, from youth and inexperience, you must make
many mistakes in good-breeding; that you beg of them to correct you,
without reserve, wherever they see you fail; and that you shall take such
admonition as the strongest proofs of their friendship. Such a
confession and application will be very engaging to those to whom you
make them. They will tell others of them, who will be pleased with that
disposition, and, in a friendly manner, tell you of any little slip or
error. The Duke de Nivernois--[At that time Ambassador from the Court
of France to Rome.]--would, I am sure, be charmed, if you dropped such a
thing to him; adding, that you loved to address yourself always to the
best masters. Observe also the different modes of good-breeding of
several nations, and conform yourself to them respectively. Use an easy
civility with the French, more ceremony with the Italians, and still more
with the Germans; but let it be without embarrassment and with ease.
Bring it by use to be habitual to you; for, if it seems unwilling and
forced; it will never please. 'Omnis Aristippum decuit color, et res'.
Acquire an easiness and versatility of manners, as well as of mind; and,
like the chameleon, take the hue of the company you are with.

There is a sort of veteran women of condition, who having lived always in
the 'grande monde', and having possibly had some gallantries, together
with the experience of five-and-twenty, or thirty years, form a young
fellow better than all the rules that can be given him. These women,
being past their bloom, are extremely flattered by the least attention
from a young fellow; and they will point out to him those manners and
ATTENTIONS that pleased and engaged them, when they were in the pride of
their youth and beauty. Wherever you go, make some of those women your
friends; which a very little matter will do. Ask their advice, tell them
your doubts or difficulties as to your behavior; but take great care not
to drop one word of their experience; for experience implies age; and the
suspicion of age, no woman, let her be ever so old, ever forgives. I
long for your picture, which Mr. Harte tells me is now drawing. I want
to see your countenance, your air, and even your dress; the better they
all three are, the better I am not wise enough to despise any one of
them. Your dress, at least, is in your own power, and I hope that you
mind it to a proper degree. Yours, Adieu.


LONDON, January 18, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: I consider the solid part of your little edifice as so
near being finished and completed, that my only remaining care is about
the embellishments; and that must now be your principal care too. Adorn
yourself with all those graces and accomplishments, which, without
solidity, are frivolous; but without which solidity is, to a great
degree, useless. Take one man, with a very moderate degree of knowledge,
but with a pleasing figure, a prepossessing address, graceful in all that
he says and does, polite, 'liant', and, in short, adorned with all the
lesser talents: and take another man, with sound sense and profound
knowledge, but without the above-mentioned advantages; the former will
not only get the better of the latter, in every pursuit of every KIND,
but in truth there will be no sort of competition between them. But can
every man acquire these advantages? I say, Yes, if he please, suppose he
is in a situation and in circumstances to frequent good company.
Attention, observation, and imitation, will most infallibly do it.

When you see a man whose first 'abord' strikes you, prepossesses you in
his favor, and makes you entertain a good opinion of him, you do not know
why, analyze that 'abord', and examine, within yourself, the several
parts that composed it; and you will generally find it to be the result,
the happy assemblage of modesty unembarrassed, respect without timidity,
a genteel, but unaffected attitude of body and limbs, an open, cheerful,
but unsmirking countenance, and a dress, by no means negligent, and yet
not foppish. Copy him, then, not servilely, but as some of the greatest
masters of painting have copied others; insomuch that their copies have
been equal to the originals, both as to beauty and freedom. When you see
a man who is universally allowed to shine as an agreeable, well-bred man,
and a fine gentleman (as, for example, the Duke de Nivernois), attend to
him, watch him carefully; observe in what manner he addresses himself to
his superiors, how he lives with his equals, and how he treats his
inferiors. Mind his turn of conversation in the several situations of
morning visits, the table, and the evening amusements. Imitate, without
mimicking him; and be his duplicate, but not his ape. You will find that
he takes care never to say or do any thing that can be construed into a
slight, or a negligence; or that can, in any degree, mortify people's
vanity and self-love; on the contrary, you will perceive that he makes
people pleased with him, by making them first pleased with themselves: he
shows respect, regard, esteem and attention, where they are severally
proper: he sows them with care, and he reaps them in plenty.

These amiable accomplishments are all to be acquired by use and
imitation; for we are, in truth, more than half what we are by imitation.
The great point is, to choose good models and to study them with care.
People insensibly contract, not only the air, the manners, and the vices,
of those with whom they commonly converse, but their virtues too, and
even their way of thinking. This is so true, that I have known very
plain understandings catch a certain degree of wit, by constantly
conversing with those who had a great deal. Persist, therefore, in
keeping the best company, and you will insensibly become like them; but
if you add attention and observation, you will very soon become one of
them. The inevitable contagion of company shows you the necessity of
keeping the best, and avoiding all other; for in everyone, something will
stick. You have hitherto, I confess, had very few opportunities of
keeping polite company. Westminster school is, undoubtedly, the seat of
illiberal manners and brutal behavior. Leipsig, I suppose, is not the
seat of refined and elegant manners. Venice, I believe, has done
something; Rome, I hope, will do a great deal more; and Paris will, I
dare say, do all that you want; always supposing that you frequent the
best companies, and in the intention of improving and forming yourself;
for without that intention nothing will do.

I here subjoin a list of all those necessary, ornamental accomplishments
(without which, no man living can either please, or rise in the world)
which hitherto I fear you want, and which only require your care and
attention to possess.

To speak elegantly, whatever language you speak in; without which nobody
will hear you with pleasure, and consequently you will speak to very
little purpose.

An agreeable and distinct elocution; without which nobody will hear you
with patience: this everybody may acquire, who is not born with some
imperfection in the organs of speech. You are not; and therefore it is
wholly in your power. You need take much less pains for it than
Demosthenes did.

A distinguished politeness of manners and address; which common sense,
observation, good company, and imitation, will infallibly give you if you
will accept it.

A genteel carriage and graceful motions, with the air of a man of
fashion: a good dancing-master, with some care on your part, and some
imitation of those who excel, will soon bring this about.

To be extremely clean in your person, and perfectly well dressed,
according to the fashion, be that what it will: Your negligence of your
dress while you were a schoolboy was pardonable, but would not be so now.

Upon the whole, take it for granted, that without these accomplishments,
all you know, and all you can do, will avail you very little. Adieu.


LONDON, January 25, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: It is so long since I have heard from you, that I suppose
Rome engrosses every moment of your time; and if it engrosses it in the
manner I could wish, I willingly give up my share of it. I would rather
'prodesse quam conspici'. Put out your time, but to good interest; and I
do not desire to borrow much of it. Your studies, the respectable
remains of antiquity, and your evening amusements cannot, and indeed
ought not, to leave you much time to write. You will, probably, never
see Rome again; and therefore you ought to see it well now; by seeing it
well, I do not mean only the buildings, statues, and paintings, though
they undoubtedly deserve your attention: but I mean seeing into the
constitution and government of it. But these things certainly occur to
your own common sense.

How go, your pleasures at Rome? Are you in fashion there? that is, do
you live with the people who are?--the only way of being so yourself, in
time. Are you domestic enough in any considerable house to be called 'le
petit Stanhope'? Has any woman of fashion and good-breeding taken the
trouble of abusing and laughing at you amicably to your face? Have you
found a good 'decrotteuse'. For those are the steps by which you must
rise to politeness. I do not presume to ask if you have any attachment,
because I believe you will not make me your confident; but this I will
say, eventually, that if you have one, 'il faut bien payer d'attentions
et de petits soin', if you would have your sacrifice propitiously
received. Women are not so much taken by beauty as men are, but prefer
those men who show them the most attention.

Would you engage the lovely fair?
With gentlest manners treat her;
With tender looks and graceful air,
In softest accents greet her.

Verse were but vain, the Muses fail,
Without the Graces' aid;
The God of Verse could not prevail
To stop the flying maid.

Attention by attentions gain,
And merit care by cares;
So shall the nymph reward your pain;
And Venus crown your prayers.
Probatum est.

A man's address and manner weigh much more with them than his beauty;
and, without them, the Abbati and Monsignori will get the better of you.
This address and manner should be exceedingly respectful, but at the same
time easy and unembarrassed. Your chit-chat or 'entregent' with them
neither can, nor ought to be very solid; but you should take care to turn
and dress up your trifles prettily, and make them every now and then
convey indirectly some little piece of flattery. A fan, a riband, or a
head-dress, are great materials for gallant dissertations, to one who has
got 'le ton leger et aimable de la bonne compagnie'. At all events, a
man had better talk too much to women, than too little; they take silence
for dullness, unless where they think that the passion they have inspired
occasions it; and in that case they adopt the notion, that

Silence in love betrays more woe
Than words, though ne'er so witty;
The beggar that is dumb, we know,
Deserves a double pity.

'A propos' of this subject: what progress do you make in that language,
in which Charles the Fifth said that he would choose to speak to his
mistress? Have you got all the tender diminutives, in 'etta, ina', and
'ettina', which, I presume, he alluded to? You already possess, and, I
hope, take care not to forget, that language which he reserved for his
horse. You are absolutely master, too, of that language in which he said
he would converse with men; French. But, in every language, pray attend
carefully to the choice of your words, and to the turn of your
expression. Indeed, it is a point of very great consequence. To be
heard with success, you must be heard with pleasure: words are the dress
of thoughts; which should no more be presented in rags, tatters, and
dirt, than your person should. By the way, do you mind your person and
your dress sufficiently? Do you take great care of your teeth? Pray
have them put in order by the best operator at Rome. Are you be-laced,
bepowdered, and be-feathered, as other young fellows are, and should be?
At your age, 'il faut du brillant, et meme un peu de fracas, mais point
de mediocre; il faut un air vif, aise et noble. Avec les hommes, un
maintien respectueux et en meme tems respectable; avec les femmes, un
caquet leger, enjoue, et badin, mais toujours fort poli'.

To give you an opportunity of exerting your talents, I send you, here
inclosed, a letter of recommendation from Monsieur Villettes to Madame de
Simonetti at Milan; a woman of the first fashion and consideration there;
and I shall in my next send you another from the same person to Madame
Clerici, at the same place. As these two ladies' houses are the resort
of all the people of fashion at Milan, those two recommendations will
introduce you to them all. Let me know, in due time, if you have
received these two letters, that I may have them renewed, in case of

Adieu, my dear friend! Study hard; divert yourself heartily; distinguish
carefully between the pleasures of a man of fashion, and the vices of a
scoundrel; pursue the former, and abhor the latter, like a man of sense.


LONDON, February 5, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: Very few people are good economists of their fortune,
and still fewer of their time; and yet of the two, the latter is the most
precious. I heartily wish you to be a good economist of both: and you
are now of an age to begin to think seriously of those two important
articles. Young people are apt to think that they have so much time
before them, that they may squander what they please of it, and yet have
enough left; as very great fortunes have frequently seduced people to a
ruinous profusion. Fatal mistakes, always repented of, but always too
late! Old Mr. Lowndes, the famous Secretary of the Treasury in the
reigns of King William, Queen Anne, and King George the First, used to
To this maxim, which he not only preached but practiced, his two
at this time owe the very considerable fortunes that he left them.

This holds equally true as to time; and I most earnestly recommend to you
the care of those minutes and quarters of hours, in the course of the
day, which people think too short to deserve their attention; and yet, if
summed up at the end of the year, would amount to a very considerable
portion of time. For example: you are to be at such a place at twelve,
by appointment; you go out at eleven, to make two or three visits first;
those persons are not at home, instead of sauntering away that
intermediate time at a coffeehouse, and possibly alone, return home,
write a letter, beforehand, for the ensuing post, or take up a good book,
I do not mean Descartes, Malebranche, Locke, or Newton, by way of
dipping; but some book of rational amusement and detached pieces, as
Horace, Boileau, Waller, La Bruyere, etc. This will be so much time
saved, and by no means ill employed. Many people lose a great deal of
time by reading: for they read frivolous and idle books, such as the
absurd romances of the two last centuries; where characters, that never
existed, are insipidly displayed, and sentiments that were never felt,
pompously described: the Oriental ravings and extravagances of the
"Arabian Nights," and Mogul tales; or, the new flimsy brochures that now
swarm in France, of fairy tales, 'Reflections sur le coeur et l'esprit,
metaphysique de l'amour, analyse des beaux sentimens', and such sort of
idle frivolous stuff, that nourishes and improves the mind just as much
as whipped cream would the body. Stick to the best established books in
every language; the celebrated poets, historians, orators, or
philosophers. By these means (to use a city metaphor) you will make
fifty PER CENT. Of that time, of which others do not make above three or
four, or probably nothing at all.

Many people lose a great deal of their time by laziness; they loll and
yawn in a great chair, tell themselves that they have not time to begin
anything then, and that it will do as well another time. This is a most
unfortunate disposition, and the greatest obstruction to both knowledge
and business. At your age, you have no right nor claim to laziness; I
have, if I please, being emeritus. You are but just listed in the world,
and must be active, diligent, indefatigable. If ever you propose
commanding with dignity, you must serve up to it with diligence. Never
put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.

Dispatch is the soul of business; and nothing contributes more to
dispatch than method. Lay down a method for everything, and stick to it
inviolably, as far as unexpected incidents may allow. Fix one certain
hour and day in the week for your accounts, and keep them together in
their proper order; by which means they will require very little time,
and you can never be much cheated. Whatever letters and papers you keep,
docket and tie them up in their respective classes, so that you may
instantly have recourse to any one. Lay down a method also for your
reading, for which you allot a certain share of your mornings; let it be
in a consistent and consecutive course, and not in that desultory and
unmethodical manner, in which many people read scraps of different
authors, upon different subjects. Keep a useful and short commonplace
book of what you read, to help your memory only, and not for pedantic
quotations. Never read history without having maps and a chronological
book, or tables, lying by you, and constantly recurred to; without which
history is only a confused heap of facts. One method more I recommend to
you, by which I have found great benefit, even in the most dissipated
part of my life; that is, to rise early, and at the same hour every
morning, how late soever you may have sat up the night before. This
secures you an hour or two, at least, of reading or reflection before the
common interruptions of the morning begin; and it will save your
constitution, by forcing you to go to bed early, at least one night in

You will say, it may be, as many young people would, that all this order
and method is very troublesome, only fit for dull people, and a
disagreeable restraint upon the noble spirit and fire of youth. I deny
it; and assert, on the contrary, that it will procure you both more time
and more taste for your pleasures; and, so far from being troublesome to
you, that after you have pursued it a month, it would be troublesome to
you to lay it aside. Business whets the appetite, and gives a taste to
pleasure, as exercise does to food; and business can never be done
without method; it raises the spirits for pleasures; and a SPECTACLE, a
ball, an assembly, will much more sensibly affect a man who has employed,
than a man who has lost, the preceding part of the day; nay, I will
venture to say, that a fine lady will seem to have more charms to a man
of study or business, than to a saunterer. The same listlessness runs
through his whole conduct, and he is as insipid in his pleasures, as
inefficient in everything else.

I hope you earn your pleasures, and consequently taste them; for, by the
way, I know a great many men, who call themselves men of pleasure, but
who, in truth, have none. They adopt other people's indiscriminately,
but without any taste of their own. I have known them often inflict
excesses upon themselves because they thought them genteel; though they
sat as awkwardly upon them as other people's clothes would have done.
Have no pleasures but your own, and then you will shine in them. What
are yours? Give me a short history of them. 'Tenez-vous votre coin a
table, et dans les bonnes compagnies? y brillez-vous du cote de la
politesse, de d'enjouement, du badinage? Etes-vous galant? Filex-vous
le parfait amour? Est-il question de flechir par vos soins et par vos
attentions les rigueurs de quelque fiere Princesse'? You may safely
trust me; for though I am a severe censor of vice and folly, I am a
friend and advocate for pleasures, and will contribute all in my power to

There is a certain dignity to be kept up in pleasures, as well as in
business. In love, a man may lose his heart with dignity; but if he
loses his nose, he loses his character into the bargain. At table, a man
may with decency have a distinguishing palate; but indiscriminate
voraciousness degrades him to a glutton. A man may play with decency;
but if he games, he is disgraced. Vivacity and wit make a man shine in
company; but trite jokes and loud laughter reduce him to a buffoon. [see
Mark Twain's identical advice in his 'Speeches' D.W.] Every virtue,
they say, has its kindred vice; every pleasure, I am sure, has its
neighboring disgrace. Mark carefully, therefore, the line that separates
them, and rather stop a yard short, than step an inch beyond it.

I wish to God that you had as much pleasure in following my advice, as I
have in giving it you! and you may the more easily have it, as I give you
none that is inconsistent with your pleasure. In all that I say to you,
it is your interest alone that I consider: trust to my experience; you
know you may to my affection. Adieu.

I have received no letter yet from you or Mr. Harte.


LONDON, February 8, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: You have, by this time, I hope and believe, made such a
progress in the Italian language, that you can read it with ease; I mean,
the easy books in it; and indeed, in that, as well as in every other
language, the easiest books are generally the best; for, whatever author
is obscure and difficult in his own language, certainly does not think
clearly. This is, in my opinion, the case of a celebrated Italian
author; to whom the Italians, from the admiration they have of him, have
given the epithet of il divino; I mean Dante. Though I formerly knew
Italian extremely well, I could never understand him; for which reason I
had done with him, fully convinced that he was not worth the pains
necessary to understand him.

The good Italian authors are, in my mind, but few; I mean, authors of
invention; for there are, undoubtedly, very good historians and excellent
translators. The two poets worth your reading, and, I was going to say,
the only two, are Tasso and Ariosto. Tasso's 'Gierusalemme Liberata' is
altogether unquestionably a fine poem, though--it has some low, and many
false thoughts in it: and Boileau very justly makes it the mark of a bad
taste, to compare 'le Clinquant Tasse a l' Or de Virgile'. The image,
with which he adorns the introduction of his epic poem, is low and
disgusting; it is that of a froward, sick, puking child, who is deceived
into a dose of necessary physic by 'du bon-bon'. These verses are these:

"Cosi all'egro fanciul porgiamo aspersi
Di soavi licor gli orli del vaso:
Succhi amari ingannato intanto ei beve,
E dall' inganno suo vita riceve."

However, the poem, with all its faults about it, may justly be called a
fine one.

If fancy, imagination, invention, description, etc., constitute a poet,
Ariosto is, unquestionably, a great one. His "Orlando," it is true, is a
medley of lies and truths--sacred and profane--wars, loves, enchantments,
giants, madheroes, and adventurous damsels, but then, he gives it you
very fairly for what it is, and does not pretend to put it upon you for
the true 'epopee', or epic poem. He says:

"Le Donne, i Cavalier, l'arme, gli amori
Le cortesie, l'audaci imprese, io canto."

The connections of his stories are admirable, his reflections just, his
sneers and ironies incomparable, and his painting excellent. When
Angelica, after having wandered over half the world alone with Orlando,
pretends, notwithstanding,

"--- ch'el fior virginal cosi avea salvo,
Come selo porto dal matern' alvo."

The author adds, very gravely,--

"Forse era ver, ma non pero credibile
A chi del senso suo fosse Signore."

Astolpho's being carried to the moon by St. John, in order to look for
Orlando's lost wits, at the end of the 34th book, and the many lost
things that he finds there, is a most happy extravagancy, and contains,
at the same time, a great deal of sense. I would advise you to read this
poem with attention. It is, also, the source of half the tales, novels,
and plays, that have been written since.

The 'Pastor Fido' of Guarini is so celebrated, that you should read it;
but in reading it, you will judge of the great propriety of the
characters. A parcel of shepherds and shepherdesses, with the TRUE
PASTORAL' SIMPLICITY, talk metaphysics, epigrams, 'concetti', and
quibbles, by the hour to each other.

The Aminto del Tasso, is much more what it is intended to be, a pastoral:
the shepherds, indeed, have their 'concetti' and their antitheses; but
are not quite so sublime and abstracted as those in Pastor Fido. I think
that you will like it much the best of the two.

Petrarca is, in my mind, a sing-song, love-sick poet; much admired,
however, by the Italians: but an Italian who should think no better of
him than I do, would certainly say that he deserved his 'Laura' better
than his 'Lauro'; and that wretched quibble would be reckoned an
excellent piece of Italian wit.

The Italian prose-writers (of invention I mean) which I would recommend
to your acquaintance, are Machiavello and Boccacio; the former, for the
established reputation which he has acquired, of a consummate politician
(whatever my own private sentiments may be of either his politics or his
morality): the latter, for his great invention, and for his natural and
agreeable manner of telling his stories.

Guicciardini, Bentivoglio, Davila, etc., are excellent historians, and
deserved being read with attention. The nature of history checks, a
little, the flights of Italian imaginations; which, in works of
invention, are very high indeed. Translations curb them still more: and
their translations of the classics are incomparable; particularly the
first ten, translated in the time of Leo the Tenth, and inscribed to him,
under the title of Collana. That original Collana has been lengthened
since; and if I mistake not, consist now of one hundred and ten volumes.

From what I have said, you will easily guess that I meant to put you upon
your guard; and not let your fancy be dazzled and your taste corrupted by
the concetti, the quaintnesses, and false thoughts, which are too much
the characteristics of the Italian and Spanish authors. I think you are
in no great danger, as your taste has been formed upon the best ancient
models, the Greek and Latin authors of the best ages, who indulge
themselves in none of the puerilities I have hinted at. I think I may
say, with truth; that true wit, sound taste, and good sense, are now, as
it were, engrossed by France and England. Your old acquaintances, the
Germans, I fear, are a little below them; and your new acquaintances, the
Italians, are a great deal too much above them. The former, I doubt,
crawl a little; the latter, I am sure, very often fly out of sight.

I recommended to you a good many years ago, and I believe you then read,
La maniere de bien penser dans les ouvrages d'esprit par le Pere
Bouhours; and I think it is very well worth your reading again, now that
you can judge of it better. I do not know any book that contributes more
to form a true taste; and you find there, into the bargain, the most
celebrated passages, both of the ancients and the moderns, which refresh
your memory with what you have formerly read in them separately. It is
followed by a book much of the same size, by the same author, entitled,
'Suite des Pensees ingenieuses'.

To do justice to the best English and French authors, they have not given
into that false taste; they allow no thoughts to be good, that are not
just and founded upon truth. The age of Lewis XIV. was very like the
Augustan; Boileau, Moliere, La Fontaine, Racine, etc., established the
true, and exposed the false taste. The reign of King Charles II.
(meritorious in no other respect) banished false taste out of England,
and proscribed puns, quibbles, acrostics, etc. Since that, false wit has
renewed its attacks, and endeavored to recover its lost empire, both in
England and France; but without success; though, I must say, with more
success in France than in England. Addison, Pope, and Swift, have
vigorously defended the rights of good sense, which is more than can be
said of their contemporary French authors, who have of late had a great
tendency to 'le faux brillant', 'le raffinement, et l'entortillement'.
And Lord Roscommon would be more in the right now, than he was then, in
saying, that,

"The English bullion of one sterling line,
Drawn to French wire, would through whole pages shine."

Lose no time, my dear child, I conjure you, in forming your taste, your
manners, your mind, your everything; you have but two years' time to do
it in; for whatever you are, to a certain degree, at twenty, you will be,
more or less, all the rest of your life. May it be a long and happy one.


LONDON, February 22, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: If the Italian of your letter to Lady Chesterfield was
all your own, I am very well satisfied with the progress which you have
made in that language in so short a time; according to that gradation,
you will, in a very little time more, be master of it. Except at the
French Ambassador's, I believe you hear only Italian spoke; for the
Italians speak very little French, and that little generally very ill.
The French are even with them, and generally speak Italian as ill; for I
never knew a Frenchman in my life who could pronounce the Italian ce, ci,
or ge, gi. Your desire of pleasing the Roman ladies will of course give
you not only the desire, but the means of speaking to them elegantly in
their own language. The Princess Borghese, I am told, speaks French both
ill and unwillingly; and therefore you should make a merit to her of your
application to her language. She is, by a kind of prescription (longer
than she would probably wish), at the head of the 'beau monde' at Rome;
and can, consequently, establish or destroy a young fellow's fashionable
character. If she declares him 'amabile e leggiadro', others will think
him so, or at least those who do not will not dare to say so. There are
in every great town some such women, whose rank, beauty, and fortune have
conspired to place them at the head of the fashion. They have generally
been gallant, but within certain decent bounds. Their gallantries have
taught, both them and their admirers, good-breeding; without which they
could keep up no dignity, but would be vilified by those very gallantries
which put them in vogue. It is with these women, as with ministers and
favorites at court; they decide upon fashion and characters, as these do
of fortunes and preferments. Pay particular court, therefore, wherever
you are, to these female sovereigns of the 'beau monde'; their
recommendation is a passport through all the realms of politeness.
But then, remember that they require minute officious attentions. You
should, if possible, guess at and anticipate all their little fancies and
inclinations; make yourself familiarly and domestically useful to them,
by offering yourself for all their little commissions, and assisting in
doing the honors of their houses, and entering with seeming unction into
all their little grievances, bustles, and views; for they are always
busy. If you are once 'ben ficcato' at the Palazzo Borghese, you twill
soon be in fashion at Rome; and being in fashion will soon fashion you;
for that is what you must now think of very seriously.

I am sorry that there is no good dancing-master at Rome, to form your
exterior air and carriage; which, I doubt, are not yet the genteelest in
the world. But you may, and I hope you will, in the meantime, observe
the air and carriage of those who are reckoned to have the best, and form
your own upon them. Ease, gracefulness, and dignity, compose the air and
address of a man of fashion; which is as unlike the affected attitudes
and motions of a 'petit maitre', as it is to the awkward, negligent,
clumsy, and slouching manner of a booby.

I am extremely pleased with the account Mr. Harte has given me of the
allotment of your time at Rome. Those five hours every morning, which
you employ in serious studies with Mr. Harte, are laid out with great
interest, and will make you rich all the rest of your life. I do not
look upon the subsequent morning hours, which you pass with your
Ciceroni, to be ill-disposed of; there is a kind of connection between
them; and your evening diversions in good company are, in their way, as
useful and necessary. This is the way for you to have both weight and
lustre in the world; and this is the object which I always had in view in
your education.

Adieu, my friend! go on and prosper.

Mr. Grevenkop has just received Mr. Harte's letter of the 19th N. S.


LONDON, March 8, O. S. 1750

Young as you are, I hope you are in haste to live; by living, I mean
living with lustre and honor to yourself, with utility to society; doing
what may deserve to be written, or writing what may deserve to be read; I
should wish both. Those who consider life in that light, will not idly
lavish one moment. The present moments are the only ones we are sure of,
and as such the most valuable; but yours are doubly so at your age; for
the credit, the dignity, the comfort, and the pleasure of all your future
moments, depend upon the use you make of your present ones.

I am extremely satisfied with your present manner of employing your time;
but will you always employ it as well? I am far from meaning always in
the same way; but I mean as well in proportion, in the variation of age
and circumstances. You now, study five hours every morning; I neither
suppose that you will, nor desire that you should do so for the rest of
your life. Both business and pleasure will justly and equally break in
upon those hours. But then, will you always employ the leisure they
leave you in useful studies? If you have but an hour, will you improve
that hour, instead of idling it away? While you have such a friend and
monitor with you as Mr. Harte, I am sure you will. But suppose that
business and situations should, in six or seen months, call Mr. Harte
away from you; tell me truly, what may I expect and depend upon from you,
when left to yourself? May I be sure that you will employ some part of
every day, in adding something to that stock of knowledge which he will
have left you? May I hope that you will allot one hour in the week to
the care of your own affairs, to keep them in that order and method which
every prudent man does? But, above all, may I be convinced that your
pleasures, whatever they may be, will be confined within the circle of
good company, and people of fashion? Those pleasures I recommend to you;
I will promote them I will pay for them; but I will neither pay for, nor
suffer, the unbecoming, disgraceful, and degrading pleasures (they should
not be called pleasures), of low and profligate company. I confess the
pleasures of high life are not always strictly philosophical; and I
believe a Stoic would blame, my indulgence; but I am yet no Stoic, though
turned of five-and-fifty; and I am apt to think that you are rather less
so, at eighteen. The pleasures of the table, among people of the first
fashion, may indeed sometimes, by accident, run into excesses: but they
will never sink into a continued course of gluttony and drunkenness.
The gallantry of high life, though not strictly justifiable, carries,
at least, no external marks of infamy about it. Neither the heart nor
the constitution is corrupted by it; neither nose nor character lost by
it; manners, possibly, improved. Play, in good company, is only play,
and not gaming; not deep, and consequently not dangerous nor
dishonorable. It is only the interacts of other amusements.

This, I am sure, is not talking to you like an old man, though it is
talking to you like an old friend; these are not hard conditions to ask
of you. I am certain you have sense enough to know how reasonable they
are on my part, how advantageous they are on yours: but have you
resolution enough to perform them? Can you withstand the examples,
and the invitations, of the profligate, and their infamous missionaries?
For I have known many a young fellow seduced by a 'mauvaise honte', that
made him ashamed to refuse. These are resolutions which you must form,
and steadily execute for yourself, whenever you lose the friendly care
and assistance of your Mentor. In the meantime, make a greedy use of
him; exhaust him, if you can, of all his knowledge; and get the prophet's
mantle from him, before he is taken away himself.

You seem to like Rome. How do you go on there? Are you got into the
inside of that extraordinary government? Has your Abbate Foggini
discovered many of those mysteries to you? Have you made an acquaintance
with some eminent Jesuits? I know no people in the world more
instructive. You would do very well to take one or two such sort of
people home with you to dinner every day. It would be only a little
'minestra' and 'macaroni' the more; and a three or four hours'
conversation 'de suite' produces a thousand useful informations, which
short meetings and snatches at third places do not admit of; and many of
those gentlemen are by no means unwilling to dine 'gratis'. Whenever you
meet with a man eminent in any way, feed him, and feed upon him at the
same time; it will not only improve you, but give you a reputation of
knowledge, and of loving it in others.

I have been lately informed of an Italian book, which I believe may be of
use to you, and which, I dare say, you may get at Rome, written by one
Alberti, about fourscore or a hundred years ago, a thick quarto. It is
a classical description of Italy; from whence, I am assured, that Mr.
Addison, to save himself trouble, has taken most of his remarks and
classical references. I am told that it is an excellent book for a
traveler in Italy.

What Italian books have you read, or are you reading? Ariosto. I hope,
is one of them. Pray apply yourself diligently to Italian; it is so easy
a language, that speaking it constantly, and reading it often, must, in
six months more, make you perfect master of it: in which case you will
never forget it; for we only forget those things of which we know but

But, above all things, to all that you learn, to all that you say, and to
all that you do, remember to join the Graces. All is imperfect without
them; with them everything is at least tolerable. Nothing could hurt me
more than to find you unattended by them. How cruelly should I be
shocked, if, at our first meeting, you should present yourself to me
without them! Invoke them, and sacrifice to them every moment; they are
always kind, where they are assiduously courted. For God's sake, aim at
perfection in everything: 'Nil actum reputans si quid superesset agendum.
Adieu. Yours most tenderly.


LONDON, March 19, O. S. 1750.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I acknowledge your last letter of the 24th February,
N. S. In return for your earthquake, I can tell you that we have had
here more than our share of earthquakes; for we had two very strong ones
in eight-and-twenty days. They really do too much honor to our cold
climate; in your warm one, they are compensated by favors from the sun,
which we do not enjoy.

I did not think that the present Pope was a sort of man to build seven
modern little chapels at the expense of so respectable a piece of
antiquity as the Coliseum. However, let his Holiness's taste of 'virtu'
be ever so bad, pray get somebody to present you to him before you leave
Rome; and without hesitation kiss his slipper, or whatever else the
etiquette of that Court requires. I would have you see all those
ceremonies; and I presume that you are, by this time, ready enough at
Italian to understand and answer 'il Santo Padre' in that language.
I hope, too, that you have acquired address and usage enough of the world
to be presented to anybody, without embarrassment or disapprobation.
If that is not yet quite perfect, as I cannot suppose it is entirely,
custom will improve it daily, and habit at last complete it. I have for
some time told you, that the great difficulties are pretty well
conquered. You have acquired knowledge, which is the 'principium et
fons'; but you have now a variety of lesser things to attend to, which
collectively make one great and important object. You easily guess that
I mean the graces, the air, address, politeness, and, in short, the whole
'tournure' and 'agremens' of a man of fashion; so many little things
conspire to form that 'tournure', that though separately they seem too
insignificant to mention, yet aggregately they are too material for me
(who think for you down to the very lowest things) to omit. For
instance, do you use yourself to carve, eat and drink genteelly,
and with ease? Do you take care to walk, sit, stand, and present
yourself gracefully? Are you sufficiently upon your guard against
awkward attitudes, and illiberal, ill-bred, and disgusting habits, such
as scratching yourself, putting your fingers in your mouth, nose, and
ears? Tricks always acquired at schools, often too much neglected
afterward; but, however, extremely ill-bred and nauseous. For I do not
conceive that any man has a right to exhibit, in company, any one
excrement more than another. Do you dress well, and think a little of
the brillant in your person? That, too, is necessary, because it is
'prevenant'. Do you aim at easy, engaging, but, at the same time, civil
or respectful manners, according to the company you are in? These, and a
thousand other things, which you will observe in people of fashion better
than I can describe them, are absolutely necessary for every man; but
still more for you, than for almost any man living. The showish, the
shining, the engaging parts of the character of a fine gentleman, should
(considering your destination) be the principal objects, of your present

When you return here, I am apt to think that you will find something
better to do than to run to Mr. Osborne's at Gray's Inn, to pick up
scarce books. Buy good books and read them; the best books are the
commonest, and the last editions are always the best, if the editors are
not blockheads, for they may profit of the former. But take care not to
understand editions and title-pages too well. It always smells of
pedantry, and not always of learning. What curious books I have--they
are indeed but few--shall be at your service. I have some of the old
Collana, and the Machiavel of 1550. Beware of the 'Bibliomanie'.

In the midst of either your studies or your pleasures, pray never lose
view of the object of your destination: I mean the political affairs of
Europe. Follow them politically, chronologically, and geographically,
through the newspapers, and trace up the facts which you meet with there
to their sources: as, for example, consult the treaties Neustadt and Abo,
with regard to the disputes, which you read of every day in the public
papers, between Russia and Sweden. For the affairs of Italy, which are
reported to be the objects of present negotiations, recur to the
quadruple alliance of the year 1718, and follow them down through their
several variations to the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748; in which (by
the bye) you will find the very different tenures by which the Infant Don
Philip, your namesake, holds Parma and Placentia. Consult, also, the
Emperor Charles the Sixth's Act of Cession of the kingdoms of Naples and
Sicily, being a point which, upon the death of the present King of Spain,
is likely to occasion some disputes; do not lose the thread of these
matters; which is carried on with great ease, but if once broken, is
resumed with difficulty.

Pray tell Mr. Harte, that I have sent his packet to Baron Firmian by
Count Einsiedlen, who is gone from hence this day for Germany, and passes
through Vienna in his way to Italy; where he is in hopes of crossing upon
you somewhere or other. Adieu, my friend.


LONDON, March 29, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: You are now, I suppose, at Naples, in a new scene of
'Virtu', examining all the curiosities of Herculaneum, watching the
eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, and surveying the magnificent churches and
public buildings, by which Naples is distinguished.

You have a court there into the bargain, which, I hope, you frequent and
attend to. Polite manners, a versatility of mind, a complaisance even to
enemies, and the 'volto sciolto', with the 'pensieri stretti', are only
to be learned at courts, and must be well learned by whoever would either
shine or thrive in them. Though they do not change the nature, they
smooth and soften the manners of mankind. Vigilance, dexterity, and
flexibility supply the place of natural force; and it is the ablest mind,
not the strongest body that prevails there. Monsieur and Madame Fogliani
will, I am sure, show you all the politeness of courts; for I know no
better bred people than they are. Domesticate yourself there while you
stay at Naples, and lay aside the English coldness and formality. You
have also a letter to Comte Mahony, whose house I hope you frequent, as
it is the resort of the best company. His sister, Madame Bulkeley, is
now here; and had I known of your going so soon to Naples, I would have
got you, 'ex abundanti', a letter from her to her brother. The
conversation of the moderns in the evening is full as necessary for you,
as that of the ancients in the morning.

You would do well, while you are at Naples, to read some very short
history of that kingdom. It has had great variety of masters, and has
occasioned many wars; the general history of which will enable you to ask
many proper questions, and to receive useful informations in return.
Inquire into the manner and form of that government; for constitution it
has none, being an absolute one; but the most absolute governments have
certain customs and forms, which are more or less observed by their
respective tyrants. In China it is the fashion for the emperors,
absolute as they are, to govern with justice and equity; as in the other
Oriental monarchies, it is the custom to govern by violence and cruelty.
The King of France, as absolute, in fact, as any of them, is by custom
only more gentle; for I know of no constitutional bar to his will.
England is now, the only monarchy in the world, that can properly be said
to have a constitution; for the people's rights and liberties are secured
by laws; and I cannot reckon Sweden and Poland to be monarchies, those
two kings having little more to say than the Doge of Venice. I do not
presume to say anything of the constitution of the empire to you, who are
'jurisperitorum Germanicorum facile princeps'.

When you write to me, which, by the way, you do pretty seldom, tell me
rather whom you see, than what you see. Inform me of your evening
transactions and acquaintances; where, and how you pass your evenings;
what people of learning you have made acquaintance with; and, if you will
trust me with so important an affair, what belle passion inflames you.
I interest myself most in what personally concerns you most; and this is
a very critical year in your life. To talk like a virtuoso, your canvas
is, I think, a good one, and RAPHAEL HARTE has drawn the outlines
admirably; nothing is now wanting but the coloring of Titian, and the
Graces, the 'morbidezza' of Guido; but that is a great deal. You must
get them soon, or you will never get them at all. 'Per la lingua
Italiana, sono sicuro ch'ella n'e adesso professore, a segno tale ch'io
non ardisca dirle altra cosa in quela lingua se non. Addio'.


LONDON, April 26, O. S. 1756.

MY DEAR FRIEND: As your journey to Paris approaches, and as that period
will, one way or another, be of infinite consequence to you, my letters
will henceforward be principally calculated for that meridian. You will
be left there to your own discretion, instead of Mr. Harte's, and you
will allow me, I am sure, to distrust a little the discretion of
eighteen. You will find in the Academy a number of young fellows much
less discreet than yourself. These will all be your acquaintances; but
look about you first, and inquire into their respective characters,
before you form any connections among them; and, 'caeteris paribus',
single out those of the most considerable rank and family. Show them a
distinguishing attention; by which means you will get into their
respective houses, and keep the best company. All those French young
fellows are excessively 'etourdis'; be upon your guard against scrapes
and quarrels; have no corporal pleasantries with them, no 'jeux de
mains', no 'coups de chambriere', which frequently bring on quarrels.
Be as lively as they, if you please, but at the same time be a little
wiser than they. As to letters, you will find most of them ignorant;
do not reproach them with that ignorance, nor make them feel your
superiority. It is not their faults, they are all bred up for the army;
but, on the other, hand, do not allow their ignorance and idleness to
break in upon those morning hours which you may be able to allot to your
serious, studies. No breakfastings with them, which consume a great deal
of time; but tell them (not magisterially and sententiously) that you
will read two or three hours in the morning, and that for the rest of the
day you are very much at their service. Though, by the way, I hope you
will keep wiser company in the evenings.

I must insist upon your never going to what is called the English coffee-
house at Paris, which is the resort of all the scrub English, and also of
the fugitive and attainted Scotch and Irish; party quarrels and drunken
squabbles are very frequent there; and I do not know a more degrading
place in all Paris. Coffee-houses and taverns are by no means creditable
at Paris. Be cautiously upon your guard against the infinite number of
fine-dressed and fine-spoken 'chevaliers d'industrie' and 'avanturiers'
which swarm at Paris: and keep everybody civilly at arm's length, of
whose real character or rank you are not previously informed. Monsieur
le Comte or Monsieur le Chevalier, in a handsome laced coat, 'et tres
bien mis', accosts you at the play, or some other public place; he
conceives at first sight an infinite regard for you: he sees that you are
a stranger of the first distinction; he offers you his services, and
wishes nothing more ardently than to contribute, as far as may be in his
little power, to procure you 'les agremens de Paris'. He is acquainted
with some ladies of condition, 'qui prefrent une petite societe agreable,
et des petits soupers aimables d'honnetes gens, au tumulte et a la
dissipation de Paris'; and he will with the greatest pleasure imaginable
have the honor of introducing you to those ladies of quality. Well, if
you were to accept of this kind offer, and go with him, you would find
'au troisieme; a handsome, painted and p----d strumpet, in a tarnished
silver or gold second-hand robe, playing a sham party at cards for
livres, with three or four sharpers well dressed enough, and dignified by
the titles of Marquis, Comte, and Chevalier. The lady receives you in
the most polite and gracious manner, and with all those 'complimens de
routine' which every French woman has equally. Though she loves
retirement, and shuns 'le grande monde', yet she confesses herself
obliged to the Marquis for having procured her so inestimable, so
accomplished an acquaintance as yourself; but her concern is how to amuse
you: for she never suffers play at her house for above a livre; if you
can amuse yourself with that low play till supper, 'a la bonne heure'.
Accordingly you sit down to that little play, at which the good company
takes care that you shall win fifteen or sixteen livres, which gives them
an opportunity of celebrating both your good luck and your good play.
Supper comes up, and a good one it is, upon the strength of your being
able to pay for it. 'La Marquise en fait les honneurs au mieux, talks
sentiments, 'moeurs et morale', interlarded with 'enjouement', and
accompanied with some oblique ogles, which bid you not despair in time.
After supper, pharaoh, lansquenet, or quinze, happen accidentally to be
mentioned: the Marquise exclaims against it, and vows she will not suffer
it, but is at last prevailed upon by being assured 'que ce ne sera que
pour des riens'. Then the wished-for moment is come, the operation
begins: you are cheated, at best, of all the money in your pocket, and if
you stay late, very probably robbed of your watch and snuff-box, possibly
murdered for greater security. This I can assure you, is not an
exaggerated, but a literal description of what happens every day to some
raw and inexperienced stranger at Paris. Remember to receive all these
civil gentlemen, who take such a fancy to you at first sight, very
coldly, and take care always to be previously engaged, whatever party
they propose to you. You may happen sometimes, in very great and good
companies, to meet with some dexterous gentlemen, who may be very
desirous, and also very sure, to win your money, if they can but engage
you to play with them. Therefore lay it down as an invariable rule never
to play with men, but only with women of fashion, at low play, or with
women and men mixed. But, at the same time, whenever you are asked to
play deeper than you would, do not refuse it gravely and sententiously,
alleging the folly of staking what would be very inconvenient to one to
lose, against what one does not want to win; but parry those invitations
ludicrously, 'et en badinant'. Say that, if you were sure to lose, you
might possibly play, but that as you may as well win, you dread
'l'embarras des richesses', ever since you have seen what an encumbrance
they were to poor Harlequin, and that, therefore, you are determined
never to venture the winning above two louis a-day; this sort of light
trifling way of declining invitations to vice and folly, is more becoming
your age, and at the same time more effectual, than grave philosophical
refusals. A young fellow who seems to have no will of his own, and who
does everything that is asked of him, is called a very good-natured, but
at the same time, is thought a very silly young fellow. Act wisely, upon
solid principles, and from true motives, but keep them to yourself, and
never talk sententiously. When you are invited to drink, say that you
wish you could, but that so little makes you both drunk and sick, 'que le
jeu me vaut pas la chandelle'.

Pray show great attention, and make your court to Monsieur de la
Gueriniere; he is well with Prince Charles and many people of the first
distinction at Paris; his commendations will raise your character there,
not to mention that his favor will be of use to you in the Academy
itself. For the reasons which I mentioned to you in my last, I would
have you be interne in the Academy for the first six months; but after
that, I promise you that you shall have lodgings of your own 'dans un
hotel garni', if in the meantime I hear well of you, and that you
frequent, and are esteemed in the best French companies. You want
nothing now, thank God, but exterior advantages, that last polish, that
'tournure du monde', and those graces, which are so necessary to adorn,
and give efficacy to, the most solid merit. They are only to be acquired
in the best companies, and better in the best French companies than in
any other. You will not want opportunities, for I shall send you letters
that will establish you in the most distinguished companies, not only of
the beau monde, but of the beaux esprits, too. Dedicate, therefore, I
beg of you, that whole year to your own advantage and final improvement,
and do not be diverted from those objects by idle dissipations, low
seduction, or bad example. After that year, do whatever you please; I
will interfere no longer in your conduct; for I am sure both you and I
shall be safe then. Adieu!


LONDON, April 30, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: Mr. Harte, who in all his letters gives you some dash of
panegyric, told me in his last a thing that pleases me extremely; which
was that at Rome you had constantly preferred the established Italian
assemblies to the English conventicles setup against them by dissenting
English ladies. That shows sense, and that you know what you are sent
abroad for. It is of much more consequence to know the 'mores multorem
hominum' than the 'urbes'. Pray continue this judicious conduct wherever
you go, especially at Paris, where, instead of thirty, you will find
above three hundred English, herding together and conversing with no one
French body.

The life of 'les Milords Anglois' is regularly, or, if you will,
irregularly, this. As soon as they rise, which is very late, they
breakfast together, to the utter loss of two good morning hours. Then
they go by coachfuls to the Palais, the Invalides, and Notre-Dame; from
thence to the English coffee-house, where they make up their tavern party
for dinner. From dinner, where they drink quick, they adjourn in
clusters to the play, where they crowd up the stage, dressed up in very
fine clothes, very ill-made by a Scotch or Irish tailor. From the play
to the tavern again, where they get very drunk, and where they either
quarrel among themselves, or sally forth, commit some riot in the
streets, and are taken up by the watch. Those who do not speak French
before they go, are sure to learn none there. Their tender vows are
addressed to their Irish laundress, unless by chance some itinerant
Englishwoman, eloped from her husband, or her creditors, defrauds her of
them. Thus they return home, more petulant, but not more informed, than
when they left it; and show, as they think, their improvement by
affectedly both speaking and dressing in broken French:--

"Hunc to Romane caveito."

Connect yourself, while you are in France, entirely with the French;
improve yourself with the old, divert yourself with the young; conform
cheerfully to their customs, even to their little follies, but not to
their vices. Do not, however, remonstrate or preach against them, for
remonstrances do not suit with your age. In French companies in general
you will not find much learning, therefore take care not to brandish
yours in their faces. People hate those who make them feel their own
inferiority. Conceal all your learning carefully, and reserve it for the
company of les Gens d'Eglise, or les Gens de Robe; and even then let them
rather extort it from you, than find you over-willing to draw it. Your
are then thought, from that seeming unwillingness, to have still more
knowledge than it may be you really have, and with the additional merit
of modesty into the bargain. A man who talks of, or even hints at, his
'bonnes fortunes', is seldom believed, or, if believed, much blamed;
whereas a man who conceals with care is often supposed to have more than
he has, and his reputation of discretion gets him others. It is just so
with a man of learning; if he affects to show it, it is questioned, and
he is reckoned only superficial; but if afterward it appears that he
really has it, he is pronounced a pedant. Real merit of any kind, 'ubi
est non potest diu celari'; it will be discovered, and nothing can
depreciate it but a man's exhibiting it himself. It may not always be
rewarded as it ought, but it will always be known. You will in general
find the women of the beau monde at Paris more instructed than the men,
who are bred up singly for the army, and thrown into it at twelve or
thirteen years old; but then that sort of education, which makes them
ignorant of books, gives them a great knowledge of the world, an easy
address, and polite manners.

Fashion is more tyrannical at Paris than in any other place in the world;
it governs even more absolutely than their king, which is saying a great
deal. The least revolt against it is punished by proscription. You must
observe, and conform to all the 'minutiae' of it, if you will be in
fashion there yourself; and if you are not in fashion, you are nobody.
Get, therefore, at all events, into the company of those men and women
'qui donnent le ton'; and though at first you should be admitted upon
that shining theatre only as a 'persona muta', persist, persevere, and
you will soon have a part given you. Take great care never to tell in
one company what you see or hear in another, much less to divert the
present company at the expense of the last; but let discretion and
secrecy be known parts of your character. They will carry you much
further, and much safer than more shining talents. Be upon your guard
against quarrels at Paris; honor is extremely nice there, though the
asserting of it is exceedingly penal. Therefore, 'point de mauvaises
plaisanteries, point de jeux de main, et point de raillerie piquante'.

Paris is the place in the world where, if you please, you may the best
unite the 'utile' and the 'dulce'. Even your pleasures will be your
improvements, if you take them with the people of the place, and in high
life. From what you have hitherto done everywhere else, I have just
reason to believe, that you will do everything that you ought at Paris.
Remember that it is your decisive moment; whatever you do there will be
known to thousands here, and your character there, whatever it is, will
get before you here. You will meet with it at London. May you and I
both have reason to rejoice at that meeting! Adieu.


LONDON, May 8, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: At your age the love of pleasures is extremely natural,
and the enjoyment of them not unbecoming: but the danger, at your age,
is mistaking the object, and setting out wrong in the pursuit. The
character of a man of pleasure dazzles young eyes; they do not see their
way to it distinctly, and fall into vice and profligacy. I remember a
strong instance of this a great many years ago. A young fellow,
determined to shine as a man of pleasure, was at the play called the
"Libertine Destroyed," a translation of 'Le Festin de Pierre' of
Molieire's. He was so struck with what he thought the fine character of
the libertine, that he swore he would be the LIBERTINE DESTROYED. Some
friends asked him, whether he had not better content himself with being
only the libertine, but without being DESTROYED? to which he answered
with great warmth, "No, for that being destroyed was the perfection of
the whole." This, extravagant as it seems in this light, is really the
case of many an unfortunate young fellow, who, captivated by the name of
pleasures, rushes indiscriminately, and without taste, into them all, and
is finally DESTROYED. I am not stoically advising, nor parsonically
preaching to you to be a Stoic at your age; far from it: I am pointing
out to you the paths to pleasures, and am endeavoring only to quicken and
heighten them for you. Enjoy pleasures, but let them be your own, and
then you will taste them; but adopt none; trust to nature for genuine
ones. The pleasures that you would feel you must earn; the man who gives
himself up to all, feels none sensibly. Sardanapalus, I am convinced,
never felt any in his life. Those only who join serious occupations with
pleasures, feel either as they should do. Alcibiades, though addicted to
the most shameful excesses, gave some time to philosophy, and some to
business. Julius Caesar joined business with pleasure so properly, that
they mutually assisted each other; and though he was the husband of all
the wives at Rome, he found time to be one of the best scholars, almost
the best orator, and absolutely the best general there. An uninterrupted
life of pleasures is as insipid as contemptible. Some hours given every
day to serious business must whet both the mind and the senses, to enjoy
those of pleasure. A surfeited glutton, an emaciated sot, and an
enervated rotten whoremaster, never enjoy the pleasures to which they
devote themselves; but they are only so many human sacrifices to false
gods. The pleasures of low life are all of this mistaken, merely
sensual, and disgraceful nature; whereas, those of high life, and in good
company (though possibly in themselves not more moral) are more delicate,
more refined, less dangerous, and less disgraceful; and, in the common
course of things, not reckoned disgraceful at all. In short, pleasure
must not, nay, cannot, be the business of a man of sense and character;
but it may be, and is, his relief, his reward. It is particularly so
with regard to the women; who have the utmost contempt for those men,
that, having no character nor consideration with their own sex,
frivolously pass their whole time in 'ruelles' and at 'toilettes'. They
look upon them as their lumber, and remove them whenever they can get
better furniture. Women choose their favorites more by the ear than by
any other of their senses or even their understandings. The man whom
they hear the most commended by the men, will always be the best received
by them. Such a conquest flatters their vanity, and vanity is their
universal, if not their strongest passion. A distinguished shining
character is irresistible with them; they crowd to, nay, they even
quarrel for the danger in hopes of the triumph. Though, by the way (to
use a vulgar expression), she who conquers only catches a Tartar, and
becomes the slave of her captive. 'Mais c'est la leur affaire'. Divide
your time between useful occupations and elegant pleasures. The morning
seems to belong to study, business, or serious conversations with men of
learning and figure; not that I exclude an occasional hour at a toilette.
From sitting down to dinner, the proper business of the day is pleasure,
unless real business, which must never be postponed for pleasure, happens
accidentally to interfere. In good company, the pleasures of the table
are always carried to a certain point of delicacy and gratification, but
never to excess and riot. Plays, operas, balls, suppers, gay
conversations in polite and cheerful companies, properly conclude the
evenings; not to mention the tender looks that you may direct and the
sighs that you may offer, upon these several occasions, to some
propitious or unpropitious female deity, whose character and manners will
neither disgrace nor corrupt yours. This is the life of a man of real
sense and pleasure; and by this distribution of your time, and choice of
your pleasures, you will be equally qualified for the busy, or the 'beau
monde'. You see I am not rigid, and do not require that you and I should
be of the same age. What I say to you, therefore, should have the more
weight, as coming from a friend, not a father. But low company, and
their low vices, their indecent riots and profligacy, I never will bear
nor forgive.

I have lately received two volumes of treaties, in German and Latin, from
Hawkins, with your orders, under your own hand, to take care of them for
you, which orders I shall most dutifully and punctually obey, and they
wait for you in my library, together with your great collection of rare
books, which your Mamma sent me upon removing from her old house.

I hope you not only keep up, but improve in your German, for it will be
of great use to you when you cone into business; and the more so, as you
will be almost the only Englishman who either can speak or understand it.
Pray speak it constantly to all Germans, wherever you meet them, and you
will meet multitudes of them at Paris. Is Italian now become easy and
familiar to you? Can you speak it with the same fluency that you can
speak German? You cannot conceive what an advantage it will give you in
negotiations to possess Italian, German, and French perfectly, so as to
understand all the force and finesse of those three languages. If two
men of equal talents negotiate together, he who best understands the
language in which the negotiation is carried on, will infallibly get the
better of the other. The signification and force of one single word is
often of great consequence in a treaty, and even in a letter.

Remember the GRACES, for without them 'ogni fatica e vana'. Adieu.


LONDON, May 17, O. S. 1750

MY DEAR FRIEND: Your apprenticeship is near out, and you are soon to set
up for yourself; that approaching moment is a critical one for you, and
an anxious one for me. A tradesman who would succeed in his way, must
begin by establishing a character of integrity and good manners; without
the former, nobody will go to his shop at all; without the latter, nobody
will go there twice. This rule does not exclude the fair arts of trade.
He may sell his goods at the best price he can, within certain bounds.
He may avail himself of the humor, the whims, and the fantastical tastes
of his customers; but what he warrants to be good must be really so, what
he seriously asserts must be true, or his first fraudulent profits will
soon end in a bankruptcy. It is the same in higher life, and in the
great business of the world. A man who does not solidly establish, and
really deserve, a character of truth, probity, good manners, and good
morals, at his first setting out in the world, may impose, and shine like
a meteor for a very short time, but will very soon vanish, and be
extinguished with contempt. People easily pardon, in young men, the
common irregularities of the senses: but they do not forgive the least
vice of the heart. The heart never grows better by age; I fear rather
worse; always harder. A young liar will be an old one; and a young knave
will only be a greater knave as he grows older. But should a bad young
heart, accompanied with a good head (which, by the way, very seldom is
the case), really reform in a more advanced age, from a consciousness of
its folly, as well as of its guilt; such a conversion would only be
thought prudential and political, but never sincere. I hope in God, and
I verily. believe, that you want no moral virtue. But the possession of
all the moral virtues, in 'actu primo', as the logicians call it, is not
sufficient; you must have them in 'actu secundo' too; nay, that is not
sufficient neither--you must have the reputation of them also. Your
character in the world must be built upon that solid foundation, or it
will soon fall, and upon your own head. You cannot, therefore, be too
careful, too nice, too scrupulous, in establishing this character at
first, upon which your whole depends. Let no conversation, no example,
no fashion, no 'bon mot', no silly desire of seeming to be above, what

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