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

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If to your merit and knowledge you add the art of pleasing, you may very
probably come in time to be Secretary of State; but, take my word for it,
twice your merit and knowledge, without the art of pleasing, would, at
most, raise you to the IMPORTANT POST of Resident at Hamburgh or
Ratisbon. I need not tell you now, for I often have, and your own
discernment must have told you, of what numberless little ingredients
that art of pleasing is compounded, and how the want of the least of them
lowers the whole; but the principal ingredient is, undoubtedly, 'la
douceur dans le manieres': nothing will give you this more than keeping
company with your superiors. Madame Lambert tells her son, Let your
connections be with people above you; by that means you will acquire a
habit of respect and politeness. With one's equals, one is apt to become
negligent, and the mind grows torpid. She advises him, too, to frequent
those people, and to see their inside; In order to judge of men, one must
be intimately connected; thus you see them without, a veil, and with
their mere every-day merit. A happy expression! It was for this reason
that I have so often advised you to establish and domesticate yourself,
wherever you can, in good houses of people above you, that you may see
their EVERY-DAY character, manners, habits, etc. One must see people
undressed to judge truly of their shape; when they are dressed to go
abroad, their clothes are contrived to conceal, or at least palliate the
defects of it: as full-bottomed wigs were contrived for the Duke of
Burgundy, to conceal his hump back. Happy those who have no faults to
disguise, nor weaknesses to conceal! there are few, if any such; but
unhappy those who know little enough of the world to judge by outward
appearances. Courts are the best keys to characters; there every passion
is busy, every art exerted, every character analyzed; jealousy, ever
watchful, not only discovers, but exposes, the mysteries of the trade, so
that even bystanders 'y apprennent a deviner'. There too the great art
of pleasing is practiced, taught, and learned with all its graces and
delicacies. It is the first thing needful there: It is the absolutely
necessary harbinger of merit and talents, let them be ever so great.
There is no advancing a step without it. Let misanthropes and would-be
philosophers declaim as much as they please against the vices, the
simulation, and dissimulation of courts; those invectives are always the
result of ignorance, ill-humor, or envy. Let them show me a cottage,
where there are not the same vices of which they accuse courts; with this
difference only, that in a cottage they appear in their native deformity,
and that in courts, manners and good-breeding make them less shocking,
and blunt their edge. No, be convinced that the good-breeding, the
'tournure, la douceur dans les manieres', which alone are to be acquired
at courts, are not the showish trifles only which some people call or
think them; they are a solid good; they prevent a great deal of real
mischief; they create, adorn, and strengthen friendships; they keep
hatred within bounds; they promote good-humor and good-will in families,
where the want of good-breeding and gentleness of manners is commonly the
original cause of discord. Get then, before it is too late, a habit of
these 'mitiores virtutes': practice them upon every, the least occasion,
that they may be easy and familiar to you upon the greatest; for they
lose a great degree of their merit if they seem labored, and only called
in upon extraordinary occasions. I tell you truly, this is now the only
doubtful part of your character with me; and it is for that reason that I
dwell upon it so much, and inculcate it so often. I shall soon see
whether this doubt of mine is founded; or rather I hope I shall soon see
that it is not.

This moment I receive your letter of the 9th N. S. I am sorry to find
that you have had, though ever so slight a return of your Carniolan
disorder; and I hope your conclusion will prove a true one, and that this
will be the last. I will send the mohairs by the first opportunity. As
for the pictures, I am already so full, that I am resolved not to buy one
more, unless by great accident I should meet with something surprisingly
good, and as surprisingly cheap.

I should have thought that Lord -------, at his age, and with his parts
and address, need not have been reduced to keep an opera w---e, in such a
place as Paris, where so many women of fashion generously serve as
volunteers. I am still more sorry that he is in love with her; for that
will take him out of good company, and sink him into bad; such as
fiddlers, pipers, and 'id genus omne'; most unedifying and unbecoming
company for a man of fashion!

Lady Chesterfield makes you a thousand compliments. Adieu, my dear


GREENWICH, June 10, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: Your ladies were so slow in giving their specific orders,
that the mohairs, of which you at last sent me the patterns, were all
sold. However, to prevent further delays (for ladies are apt to be very
impatient, when at last they know their own minds), I have taken the
quantities desired of three mohairs which come nearest to the description
you sent me some time ago, in Madame Monconseil's own hand; and I will
send them to Calais by the first opportunity. In giving 'la petite Blot'
her piece, you have a fine occasion of saying fine things, if so

Lady Hervey, who is your puff and panegyrist, writes me word that she saw
you lately dance at a ball, and that you dance very genteelly. I am
extremely glad to hear it; for (by the maxim, that 'omne majus continet
in se minus'), if you dance genteelly, I presume you walk, sit, and stand
genteelly too; things which are much more easy, though much more
necessary, than dancing well. I have known many very genteel people, who
could not dance well; but I never knew anybody dance very well, who was
not genteel in other things. You will probably often have occasion to
stand in circles, at the levees of princes and ministers, when it is very
necessary 'de payer de sa personne, et d'etre bien plante', with your
feet not too near nor too distant from each other. More people stand and
walk, than sit genteelly. Awkward, ill-bred people, being ashamed,
commonly sit bolt upright and stiff; others, too negligent and easy,
'se vautrent dans leur fauteuil', which is ungraceful and ill-bred,
unless where the familiarity is extreme; but a man of fashion makes
himself easy, and appears so by leaning gracefully instead of lolling
supinely; and by varying those easy attitudes instead of that stiff
immobility of a bashful booby. You cannot conceive, nor can I express,
how advantageous a good air, genteel motions, and engaging address are,
not only among women, but among men, and even in the course of business;
they fascinate the affections, they steal a preference, they play about
the heart till they engage it. I know a man, and so do you, who, without
a grain of merit, knowledge, or talents, has raised himself millions of
degrees above his level, simply by a good air and engaging manners;
insomuch that the very Prince who raised him so high, calls him, 'mon
aimable vaut-rien';--[The Marichal de Richelieu.]--but of this do not
open your lips, 'pour cause'. I give you this secret as the strongest
proof imaginable of the efficacy of air, address, 'tournure, et tout ces
Petits riens'.

Your other puff and panegyrist, Mr. Harte, is gone to Windsor in his way
to Cornwall, in order to be back soon enough to meet you here: I really
believe he is as impatient for that moment as I am, 'et c'est tout dire':
but, however, notwithstanding my impatience, if by chance you should then
be in a situation, that leaving Paris would cost your heart too many
pangs, I allow you to put off your journey, and to tell me, as Festus did
that I eventually sacrifice my sentiments to yours, and this in a very
uncommon object of paternal complaisance. Provided always, and be it
understood (as they say in acts of Parliament), that 'quae te cumque
domat Venus, non erubescendis adurit ignibus'. If your heart will let
you come, bring with you only your valet de chambre, Christian, and your
own footman; not your valet de place, whom you may dismiss for the time,
as also your coach; but you had best keep on your lodgings, the
intermediate expense of which will be but inconsiderable, and you will
want them to leave your books and baggage in. Bring only the clothes you
travel in, one suit of black, for the mourning for the Prince will not be
quite out by that time, and one suit of your fine clothes, two or three
of your laced shirts, and the rest plain ones; of other things, as bags,
feathers, etc., as you think proper. Bring no books, unless two or three
for your' amusement upon the road; for we must apply simply to English,
in which you are certainly no 'puriste'; and I will supply you
sufficiently with the proper English authors. I shall probably keep you
here till about the middle of October, and certainly not longer; it being
absolutely necessary for you to pass the next winter at Paris; so that;
should any fine eyes shed tears for your departure, you may dry them by
the promise of your return in two months.

Have you got a master for geometry? If the weather is very hot, you may
leave your riding at the 'manege' till you return to Paris, unless you
think the exercise does you more good than the heat can do you harm; but
I desire you will not leave off Marcel for one moment; your fencing
likewise, if you have a mind, may subside for the summer; but you will do
well to resume it in the winter and to be adroit at it, but by no means
for offense, only for defense in case of necessity. Good night. Yours.

P. S. I forgot to give you one commission, when you come here; which is,
not to fail bringing the GRACES along with you.


GREENWICH, June 13, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: 'Les bienseances'--[This single word implies decorum,
good-breeding, and propriety]--are a most necessary part of the
knowledge of the world. They consist in the relations of persons,
things, time, and place; good sense points them out, good company
perfects them ( supposing always an attention and a desire to please),
and good policy recommends them.

Were you to converse with a king, you ought to be as easy and
unembarrassed as with your own valet de chambre; but yet, every look,
word and action, should imply the utmost respect. What would be proper
and well-bred with others, much your superiors, would be absurd and ill-
bred with one so very much so. You must wait till you are spoken to; you
must receive, not give, the subject of conversation; and you must even
take care that the given subject of such conversation do not lead you
into any impropriety. The art would be to carry it, if possible, to some
indirect flattery; such as commending those virtues in some other person,
in which that prince either thinks he does, or at least would be thought
by others to excel. Almost the same precautions are necessary to be used
with ministers, generals, etc., who expect to be treated with very near
the same respect as their masters, and commonly deserve it better. There
is, however, this difference, that one may begin the conversation with
them, if on their side it should happen to drop, provided one does not
carry it to any subject upon which it is improper either for them to
speak, or be spoken to. In these two cases, certain attitudes and
actions would be extremely absurd, because too easy, and consequently
disrespectful. As, for instance, if you were to put your arms across in
your bosom, twirl your snuff-box, trample with your feet, scratch your
head, etc., it would be shockingly ill-bred in that company; and, indeed,
not extremely well-bred in any other. The great difficulty in those
cases, though a very surmountable one by attention and custom, is to join
perfect inward ease with perfect outward respect.

In mixed companies with your equals (for in mixed companies all people
are to a certain degree equal), greater ease and liberty are allowed; but
they too have their bounds within 'bienseance'. There is a social
respect necessary: you may start your own subject of conversation with
modesty, taking great care, however, 'de ne jamais parler de cordes.
dans la maison d'un pendu.--[Never to mention a rope in the family of a
man who has been hanged]--Your words, gestures, and attitudes, have a
greater degree of latitude, though by no means an unbounded one. You may
have your hands in your pockets, take snuff, sit, stand, or occasionally
walk, as you like; but I believe you would not think it very 'bienseant'
to whistle, put on your hat, loosen your garters or your buckles, lie
down upon a couch, or go to bed, and welter in an easychair. These are
negligences and freedoms which one can only take when quite alone; they
are injurious to superiors, shocking and offensive to equals, brutal and
insulting to inferiors. That easiness of carriage and behavior, which is
exceedingly engaging, widely differs from negligence and inattention, and
by no means implies that one may do whatever one pleases; it only means
that one is not to be stiff, formal, embarrassed, disconcerted, and
ashamed, like country bumpkins, and, people who have never been in good
company; but it requires great attention to, and a scrupulous observation
of 'les bienseances': whatever one ought to do, is to be done with ease
and unconcern; whatever is improper must not be done at all. In mixed
companies also, different ages and sexes are to be differently addressed.
You would not talk of your pleasures to men of a certain age, gravity,
and dignity; they justly expect from young people a degree of deference
and regard. You should be full as easy with them as with people of your
own years: but your manner must be different; more respect must be
implied; and it is not amiss to insinuate that from them you expect to
learn. It flatters and comforts age for not being able to take a part in
the joy and titter of youth. To women you should always address yourself
with great outward respect and attention, whatever you feel inwardly;
their sex is by long prescription entitled to it; and it is among the
duties of 'bienseance'; at the same time that respect is very properly
and very agreeably mixed with a degree of 'enjouement', if you have it;
but then, that badinage must either directly or indirectly tend to their
praise, and even not be liable to a malicious construction to their
disadvantage. But here, too, great attention must be had to the
difference of age, rank, and situation. A 'marechale' of fifty must not
be played with like a young coquette of fifteen; respect and serious
'enjouement', if I may couple those two words, must be used with the
former, and mere 'badinage, zeste meme d'un peu de polissonerie', is
pardonable with the latter.

Another important point of 'les bienseances', seldom enough attended to,
is, not to run your own present humor and disposition indiscriminately
against everybody, but to observe, conform to, and adopt them. For
example, if you happened to be in high good humor and a flow of spirits,
would you go and sing a 'pont neuf',--[a ballad]--or cut a caper, to la
Marechale de Coigny, the Pope's nuncio, or Abbe Sallier, or to any person
of natural gravity and melancholy, or who at that time should be in
grief? I believe not; as, on the other hand, I suppose, that if you were
in low spirits or real grief, you would not choose to bewail your
situation with 'la petite Blot'. If you cannot command your present
humor and disposition, single out those to converse with, who happen to
be in the humor the nearest to your own.

Loud laughter is extremely inconsistent with 'les bienseances', as it is
only the illiberal and noisy testimony of the joy of the mob at some very
silly thing. A gentleman is often seen, but very seldom heard to laugh.
Nothing is more contrary to 'les bienseances' than horse-play, or 'jeux
de main' of any kind whatever, and has often very serious, sometimes very
fatal consequences. Romping, struggling, throwing things at one
another's head, are the becoming pleasantries of the mob, but degrade a
gentleman: 'giuoco di mano, giuoco di villano', is a very true saying,
among the few true sayings of the Italians.

Peremptoriness and decision in young people is 'contraire aux
bienseances', and they should seldom seem to assert, and always use some
softening mitigating expression; such as, 's'il m'est permis de le dire,
je croirais plutot, si j'ose m'expliquer', which soften the manner,
without giving up or even weakening the thing. People of more age and
experience expect, and are entitled to, that degree of deference.

There is a 'bienseance' also with regard to people of the lowest degree:
a gentleman observes it with his footman--even with the beggar in the
street. He considers them as objects of compassion, not of insult; he
speaks to neither 'd'un ton brusque', but corrects the one coolly, and
refuses the other with humanity. There is one occasion in the world in
which 'le ton brusque' is becoming a gentleman. In short, 'les
bienseances' are another word for MANNERS, and extend to every part of
life. They are propriety; the Graces should attend, in order to complete
them; the Graces enable us to do, genteelly and pleasingly, what 'les
bienseances' require to be done at all. The latter are an obligation
upon every man; the former are an infinite advantage and ornament to any
man. May you unite both!

Though you dance well, do not think that you dance well enough, and
consequently not endeavor to dance still better. And though you should
be told that you are genteel, still aim at being genteeler. If Marcel
should, do not you be satisfied. Go on, court the Graces all your
lifetime; you will find no better friends at court: they will speak in
your favor, to the hearts of princes, ministers, and mistresses.

Now that all tumultuous passions and quick sensations have subsided with
me, and that I have no tormenting cares nor boisterous pleasures to
agitate me, my greatest joy is to consider the fair prospect you have
before you, and to hope and believe you will enjoy it. You are already
in the world, at an age when others have hardly heard of it. Your
character is hitherto not only unblemished in its mortal part, but even
unsullied by any low, dirty, and ungentleman-like vice; and will, I hope,
continue so. Your knowledge is sound, extensive and avowed, especially
in everything relative to your destination. With such materials to begin
with, what then is wanting! Not fortune, as you have found by
experience. You have had, and shall have, fortune sufficient to assist
your merit and your industry; and if I can help it, you never shall have
enough to make you negligent of either. You have, too, 'mens sana in
corpore sano', the greatest blessing of all. All, therefore, that you
want is as much in your power to acquire, as to eat your breakfast when
set before you; it is only that knowledge of the world, that elegance of
manners, that universal politeness, and those graces which keeping good
company, and seeing variety of places and characters, must inevitably,
with the least attention on your part, give you. Your foreign
destination leads to the greatest things, and your parliamentary
situation will facilitate your progress. Consider, then, this pleasing
prospect as attentively for yourself as I consider it for you. Labor on
your part to realize it, as I will on mine to assist, and enable you to
do it. 'Nullum numen abest, si sit prudentia'.

Adieu, my dear child! I count the days till I have the pleasure of
seeing you; I shall soon count the hours, and at last the minutes, with
increasing impatience.

P. S. The mohairs are this day gone from hence for Calais, recommended
to the care of Madame Morel, and directed, as desired, to the
Comptroller-general. The three pieces come to six hundred and eighty
French livres.


GREENWICH, June 20, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: So very few people, especially young travelers, see what
they see, or hear what they hear, that though I really believe it may be
unnecessary with you, yet there can be no harm in reminding you, from
time to time, to see what you see, and to hear what you hear; that is,
to see and hear as you should do. Frivolous, futile people, who make at
least three parts in four of mankind, only desire to see and hear what
their frivolous and futile precursors have seen and heard: as St.
Peter's, the Pope, and High Mass, at Rome; Notre Dame, Versailles, the
French King, and the French Comedy, in France. A man of parts sees and
hears very differently from these gentlemen, and a great deal more.
He examines and informs himself thoroughly of everything he sees or
hears; and, more particularly, as it is relative to his own profession or
destination. Your destination is political; the object, therefore, of
your inquiries and observations should be the political interior of
things; the forms of government, laws, regulations, customs, trade,
manufactures, etc., of the several nations of Europe. This knowledge is
much better acquired by conversation with sensible and well-informed
people, than by books, the best of which upon these subjects are always
imperfect. For example, there are "Present States" of France, as there
are of England; but they are always defective, being published by people
uninformed, who only copy one another; they are, however, worth looking
into because they point out objects for inquiry, which otherwise might
possibly never have occurred to one's mind; but an hour's conversation
with a sensible president or 'conseiller' will let you more into the true
state of the parliament of Paris, than all the books in France. In the
same manner, the 'Almanack Militaire' is worth your having; but two or
three conversations with officers will inform you much better of their
military regulations. People have, commonly, a partiality for their own
professions, love to talk of them, and are even flattered by being
consulted upon the subject; when, therefore, you are with any of those
military gentlemen (and you can hardly be in any company without some),
ask them military questions, inquire into their methods of discipline,
quartering, and clothing their men; inform yourself of their pay, their
perquisites, 'lours montres, lours etapes', etc. Do the same as to the
marine, and make yourself particularly master of that detail; which has,
and always will have, a great relation to the affairs of England; and, in
proportion as you get good informations, take minutes of them in writing.

The regulations of trade and commerce in France are excellent, as appears
but too plainly for us, by the great increase of both, within these
thirty years; for not to mention their extensive commerce in both the
East and West Indies, they have got the whole trade of the Levant from
us; and now supply all the foreign markets with their sugars, to the ruin
almost of our sugar colonies, as Jamaica, Barbadoes, and the Leeward
Islands. Get, therefore, what informations you can of these matters

Inquire too into their church matters; for which the present disputes
between the court and the clergy give you fair and frequent
opportunities. Know the particular rights of the Gallican church, in
opposition to the pretensions of the See of Rome. I need not recommend
ecclesiastical history to you, since I hear that you study 'Du Pin' very

You cannot imagine how much this solid and useful knowledge of other
countries will distinguish you in your own (where, to say the truth, it
is very little known or cultivated), besides the great use it is of in
all foreign negotiations; not to mention that it enables a man to shine
in all companies. When kings and princes have any knowledge, it is of
this sort, and more particularly; and therefore it is the usual topic of
their levee conversations, in which it will qualify you to bear a
considerable part; it brings you more acquainted with them; and they are
pleased to have people talk to them on a subject in which they think to

There is a sort of chit-chat, or SMALL TALK, which is the general run of
conversation at courts, and in most mixed companies. It is a sort of
middling conversation, neither silly nor edifying; but, however, very
necessary for you to become master of. It turns upon the public events
of Europe, and then is at its best; very often upon the number, the
goodness or badness, the discipline, or the clothing of the troops of
different princes; sometimes upon the families, the marriages, the
relations of princes, and considerable people; and sometimes 'sur le bon
chere', the magnificence of public entertainments, balls, masquerades,
etc. I would wish you to be able to talk upon all these things better,
and with more knowledge than other people; insomuch that upon those
occasions, you should be applied to, and that people should say, I DARE

Second-rate knowledge and middling talents carry a man further at courts,
and in the busy part of the world, than superior knowledge and shining
parts. Tacitus very justly accounts for a man's having always kept in
favor and enjoyed the best employments under the tyrannical reigns of
three or four of the very worst emperors, by saying that it was not
'propter aliquam eximiam artem, sed quia par negotiis neque supra erat'.
Discretion is the great article; all these things are to be learned, and
only learned by keeping a great deal of the best company. Frequent those
good houses where you have already a footing, and wriggle yourself
somehow or other into every other. Haunt the courts particularly in
order to get that ROUTINE.

This moment I receive yours of the 18th N. S. You will have had some
time ago my final answers concerning the pictures; and, by my last, an
account that the mohairs were gone to Madame Morel, at Calais, with the
proper directions.

I am sorry that your two sons-in-law [?? D.W.], the Princes B----, are
such boobies; however, as they have the honor of being so nearly related
to you, I will show them what civilities I can.

I confess you have not time for long absences from Paris, at present,
because of your various masters, all which I would have you apply to
closely while you are now in that capital; but when you return thither,
after the visit you intend me the honor of, I do not propose your having
any master at all, except Marcel, once or twice a week. And then the
courts will, I hope, be no longer strange countries to you; for I would
have you run down frequently to Versailles and St. Cloud, for three or
four days at a time. You know the Abbe de la Ville, who will present you
to others, so that you will soon be 'faufile' with the rest of the court.
Court is the soil in which you are to grow and flourish; you ought to be
well acquainted with the nature of it; like all other soil, it is in some
places deeper, in others lighter, but always capable of great improvement
by cultivation and experience.

You say that you want some hints for a letter to Lady Chesterfield; more
use and knowledge of the world will teach you occasionally to write and
talk genteelly, 'sup des riens', which I can tell you is a very useful
part upon worldly knowledge; for in some companies, it would be imprudent
to talk of anything else; and with very many people it is impossible to
talk of anything else; they would not understand you. Adieu.


LONDON, June 24, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: Air, address, manners, and graces are of such infinite
advantage to whoever has them, and so peculiarly and essentially
necessary for you, that now, as the time of our meeting draws near,
I tremble for fear I should not find you possessed of them; and, to tell
you the truth, I doubt you are not yet sufficiently convinced for their
importance. There is, for instance, your intimate friend, Mr. H-----,
who with great merit, deep knowledge, and a thousand good qualities,
will never make a figure in the world while he lives. Why? Merely for
want of those external and showish accomplishments, which he began the
world too late to acquire; and which, with his studious and philosophical
turn, I believe he thinks are not worth his attention. He may, very
probably, make a figure in the republic of letters, but he had ten
thousand times better make a figure as a man of the world and of business
in the republic of the United Provinces, which, take my word for it, he
never will.

As I open myself, without the least reserve, whenever I think that my
doing so can be of any use to you, I will give you a short account of
myself. When I first came into the world, which was at the age you are
of now, so that, by the way, you have got the start of me in that
important article by two or three years at least,--at nineteen I left the
University of Cambridge, where I was an absolute pedant; when I talked my
best, I quoted Horace; when I aimed at being facetious, I quoted Martial;
and when I had a mind to be a fine gentleman, I talked Ovid. I was
convinced that none but the ancients had common sense; that the classics
contained everything that was either necessary, useful, or ornamental to
men; and I was not without thoughts of wearing the 'toga virilis' of the
Romans, instead of the vulgar and illiberal dress of the moderns. With
these excellent notions I went first to The Hague, where, by the help of
several letters of recommendation, I was soon introduced into all the
best company; and where I very soon discovered that I was totally
mistaken in almost every one notion I had entertained. Fortunately, I
had a strong desire to please (the mixed result of good-nature and a
vanity by no means blamable), and was sensible that I had nothing but the
desire. I therefore resolved, if possible, to acquire the means, too. I
studied attentively and minutely the dress, the air, the manner, the
address, and the turn of conversation of all those whom I found to be the
people in fashion, and most generally allowed to please. I imitated them
as well as I could; if I heard that one man was reckoned remarkably
genteel, I carefully watched his dress, motions and attitudes, and formed
my own upon them. When I heard of another, whose conversation was
agreeable and engaging, I listened and attended to the turn of it. I
addressed myself, though 'de tres mauvaise grace', to all the most
fashionable fine ladies; confessed, and laughed with them at my own
awkwardness and rawness, recommending myself as an object for them to try
their skill in forming. By these means, and with a passionate desire of
pleasing everybody, I came by degrees to please some; and, I can assure
you, that what little figure I have made in the world, has been much more
owing to that passionate desire of pleasing universally than to any
intrinsic merit or sound knowledge I might ever have been master of. My
passion for pleasing was so strong (and I am very glad it was so), that I
own to you fairly, I wished to make every woman I saw in love with me,
and every man I met with admire me. Without this passion for the object,
I should never have been so attentive to the means; and I own I cannot
conceive how it is possible for any man of good-nature and good sense to
be without this passion. Does not good-nature incline us to please all
those we converse with, of whatever rank or station they may be? And
does not good sense and common observation, show of what infinite use it
is to please? Oh! but one may please by the good qualities of the heart,
and the knowledge of the head, without that fashionable air, address and
manner, which is mere tinsel. I deny it. A man may be esteemed and
respected, but I defy him to please without them. Moreover, at your age,
I would not have contented myself with barely pleasing; I wanted to shine
and to distinguish myself in the world as a man of fashion and gallantry,
as well as business. And that ambition or vanity, call it what you
please, was a right one; it hurt nobody, and made me exert whatever
talents I had. It is the spring of a thousand right and good things.

I was talking you over the other day with one very much your friend, and
who had often been with you, both at Paris and in Italy. Among the
innumerable questions which you may be sure I asked him concerning you, I
happened to mention your dress (for, to say the truth, it was the only
thing of which I thought him a competent judge) upon which he said that
you dressed tolerably well at Paris; but that in Italy you dressed so
ill, that he used to joke with you upon it, and even to tear your
clothes. Now, I must tell you, that at your age it is as ridiculous not
to be very well dressed, as at my age it would be if I were to wear a
white feather and red-heeled shoes. Dress is one of various ingredients
that contribute to the art of pleasing; it pleases the eyes at least, and
more especially of women. Address yourself to the senses, if you would
please; dazzle the eyes, soothe and flatter the ears of mankind; engage
their hearts, and let their reason do its worst against you. 'Suaviter
in modo' is the great secret. Whenever you find yourself engaged
insensibly, in favor of anybody of no superior merit nor distinguished
talents, examine, and see what it is that has made those impressions upon
you: and you will find it to be that 'douceur', that gentleness of
manners, that air and address, which I have so often recommended to you;
and from thence draw this obvious conclusion, that what pleases you in
them, will please others in you; for we are all made of the same clay,
though some of the lumps are a little finer, and some a little coarser;
but in general, the surest way to judge of others, is to examine and
analyze one's self thoroughly. When we meet I will assist you in that
analysis, in which every man wants some assistance against his own
self-love. Adieu.


GREENWICH, June 30, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Pray give the inclosed to our friend the Abbe; it is to
congratulate him upon his 'Canonicat', which I am really very glad of,
and I hope it will fatten him up to Boileau's 'Chanoine'; at present he
is as meagre as an apostle or a prophet. By the way, has he ever
introduced you to la Duchesse d'Aiguillon? If he has not, make him
present you; and if he has, frequent her, and make her many compliments
from me. She has uncommon, sense and knowledge for a woman, and her
house is the resort of one set of 'les beaux esprits. It is a
satisfaction and a sort of credit to be acquainted with those gentlemen;
and it puts a young fellow in fashion. 'A propos des beaux esprits', you
have 'les entries' at Lady Sandwich's; who, old as she was, when I saw
her last, had the strongest parts of any woman I ever knew in my life?
If you are not acquainted with her, either the Duchesse d'Aiguillon or
Lady Hervey can, and I dare say will; introduce you. I can assure you,
it is very well worth your while, both upon her own account, and for the
sake of the people of wit and learning who frequent her. In such
companies there is always something to be learned as well as manners; the
conversation turns upon something above trifles; some point of
literature, criticism, history, etc., is discussed with ingenuity and
good manners; for I must do the French people of learning justice; they
are not bears, as most of ours are: they are gentlemen.

Our Abbe writes me word that you were gone to Compiegne: I am very glad
of it; other courts must form you for your own. He tells me too, that
you have left off riding at the 'manege'; I have no objection to that, it
takes up a great deal of the morning; and if you have got a genteel and
firm seat on horseback, it is enough for you, now that tilts and
tournaments are laid aside. I suppose you have hunted at Compiegne. The
King's hunting there, I am told, is a fine sight. The French manner of
hunting is gentlemanlike; ours is only for bumpkins and boobies. The
poor beasts are here pursued and run down by much greater beasts than
themselves, and the true British fox-hunter is most undoubtedly a species
appropriated and peculiar to this country, which no other part of the
globe produces.

I hope you apply the time you have saved from the riding-house to useful
more than to learned purposes; for I can assure you they are very
different things. I would have you allow but one hour a-day for Greek;
and that more to keep what you have than to increase it: by Greek, I mean
useful Greek books, such as Demosthenes, Thucydides, etc., and not the
poets, with whom you are already enough acquainted. Your Latin will take
care of itself. Whatever more time you may have for reading, pray bestow
it upon those books which are immediately relative to your destination;
such as modern history, in the modern languages, memoirs, anecdotes,
letters, negotiations, etc. Collect also, if you can, authentically, the
present state of all the courts and countries in Europe, the characters
of the kings and princes, their wives, their ministers, and their w----s;
their several views, connections, and interests; the state of their
FINANCES, their military force, their trade, manufactures, and commerce.
That is the useful, the necessary knowledge for you, and indeed for every
gentleman. But with all this, remember, that living books are much
better than dead ones; and throw away no time (for it is thrown away)
with the latter, which you can employ well with the former; for books
must now be your only amusement, but, by no means your business. I had
much rather that you were passionately in love with some determined
coquette of condition (who would lead you a dance, fashion, supple, and
polish you), than that you knew all Plato and Aristotle by heart: an hour
at Versailles, Compiegne, or St. Cloud, is now worth more to you than
three hours in your closet, with the best books that ever were written.

I hear the dispute between the court and the clergy is made up amicably,
both parties have yielded something; the king being afraid of losing more
of his soul, and the clergy more of their revenue. Those gentlemen are
very skillful in making the most of the vices and the weaknesses of the
laity. I hope you have read and informed yourself fully of everything
relative to that affair; it is a very important question, in which the
priesthood of every country in Europe is highly concerned. If you would
be thoroughly convinced that their tithes are of divine institution, and
their property the property of God himself, not to be touched by any
power on earth, read Fra Paolo De Beneficiis, an excellent and short
book; for which, and some other treaties against the court of Rome, he
was stilettoed; which made him say afterward, upon seeing an anonymous
book written against him by order of the Pope, 'Conosco bene to stile

The parliament of Paris, and the states of Languedoc, will, I believe,
hardly scramble off; having only reason and justice, but no terrors on
their side. Those are political and constitutional questions that well
deserve your attention and inquiries. I hope you are thoroughly master
of them. It is also worth your while to collect and keep all the pieces
written upon those subjects.

I hope you have been thanked by your ladies, at least, if not paid in
money, for the mohairs, which I sent by a courier to Paris, some time
ago, instead of sending them to Madame Morel, at Calais, as I told you I
should. Do they like them; and do they like you the better for getting
them? 'Le petite Blot devroit au moins payer de sa personne'. As for
Madame de Polignac, I believe you will very willingly hold her excused
from personal payment.

Before you return to England, pray go again to Orli, for two or three
days, and also to St. Cloud, in order to secure a good reception there at
your return. Ask the Marquis de Matignon too, if he has any orders for
you in England, or any letters or packets for Lord Bolingbroke. Adieu!
Go on and prosper.


GREENWICH, July 8, O. S. 1751.

MY DEAR FRIEND: The last mail brought me your letter of the 3d July,
N. S. I am glad that you are so well with Colonel Yorke, as to be let
into secret correspondences. Lord Albemarle's reserve to you is, I
believe, more owing to his secretary than to himself; for you seem to be
much in favor with him; and possibly too HE HAS NO VERY SECRET LETTERS to
communicate. However, take care not to discover the least dissatisfaction
upon this score: make the proper acknowledgments to Colonel Yorke, for
what he does show you; but let neither Lord Albemarle nor his people
perceive the least coldness on your part, upon account of what they do
not show you. It is very often necessary, not to manifest all one feels.
Make your court to, and connect yourself as much as possible with Colonel
Yorke; he may be of great use to you hereafter; and when you take leave,
not only offer to bring over any letters or packets, by way of security;
but even ask, as a favor, to be the carrier of a letter from him to his
father, the Chancellor. 'A propos' of your coming here; I confess that I
am weakly impatient for it, and think a few days worth getting; I would,
therefore, instead of the 25th of next month, N. S., which was the day
that I some time ago appointed for your leaving Paris, have you set out
on Friday the 20th of August, N. S.; in consequence of which you will be
at Calais some time on the Sunday following, and probably at Dover within
four-and-twenty hours afterward. If you land in the morning, you may, in
a postchaise, get to Sittingborne that day; if you come on shore in the
evening, you can only get to Canterbury, where you will be better lodged
than at Dover. I will not have you travel in the night, nor fatigue and
overheat yourself by running on fourscore miles the moment you land.
You will come straight to Blackheath, where I shall be ready to meet you,
and which is directly upon the Dover road to London; and we will go to
town together, after you have rested yourself a day or two here. All the
other directions, which I gave you in my former letter, hold still the
same. But, notwithstanding this regulation, should you have any
particular reasons for leaving Paris two or three days sooner or later,
than the above mentioned, 'vous etes maitre'. Make all your arrangements
at Paris for about a six weeks stay in England at farthest.

I had a letter the other day from Lord Huntingdon, of which one-half at
least was your panegyric; it was extremely welcome to me from so good a
hand. Cultivate that friendship; it will do you honor and give you
strength. Connections, in our mixed parliamentary government, are of
great use.

I send you here inclosed the particular price of each of the mohairs;
but I do not suppose that you will receive a shilling for anyone of them.
However, if any of your ladies should take an odd fancy to pay, the
shortest way, in the course of business, is for you to keep the money,
and to take so much less from Sir John Lambert in your next draught upon

I am very sorry to hear that Lady Hervey is ill. Paris does not seem to
agree with her; she used to have great health here. 'A propos' of her;
remember, when you are with me, not to mention her but when you and I are
quite alone, for reasons which I will tell you when we meet: but this is
only between you and me; and I desire that you will not so much as hint
it to her, or to anybody else.

If old Kurzay goes to the valley of Jehoshaphat, I cannot help it; it
will be an ease to our friend Madame Montconseil, who I believe maintains
her, and a little will not satisfy her in any way.

Remember to bring your mother some little presents; they need not be of
value, but only marks of your affection and duty for one who has always
been tenderly fond of you. You may bring Lady Chesterfield a little
Martin snuffbox of about five Louis; and you need bring over no other
presents; you and I not wanting 'les petits presens pour entretenir

Since I wrote what goes before, I have talked you over minutely with Lord
Albemarle, who told me, that he could very sincerely commend you upon
every article but one; but upon that one you were often joked, both by
him and others. I desired to know what that was; he laughed and told me
it was the article of dress, in which you were exceedingly negligent.
Though he laughed, I can assure you that it is no laughing matter for
you; and you will possibly be surprised when I assert (but, upon my word,
it is literally true), that to be very well dressed is of much more
importance to you, than all the Greek you know will, be of these thirty
years. Remember that the world is now your only business; and that you
must adopt its customs and manners, be they silly or be they not. To
neglect your dress, is an affront to all the women you keep company with;
as it implies that you do not think them worth that attention which
everybody else doth; they mind dress, and you will never please them if
you neglect yours; and if you do not please the women, you will not
please half the men you otherwise might. It is the women who put a young
fellow in fashion even with the men. A young fellow ought to have a
certain fund of coquetry; which should make him try all the means of
pleasing, as much as any coquette in Europe can do. Old as I am, and
little thinking of women, God knows, I am very far from being negligent
of my dress; and why? From conformity to custom, and out of decency to
men, who expect that degree of complaisance. I do not, indeed, wear
feathers and red heels, which would ill suit my age; but I take care to
have my clothes well made, my wig well combed and powdered, my linen and
person extremely clean. I even allow my footman forty shillings a year
extraordinary, that they may be spruce and neat. Your figure especially,
which from its stature cannot be very majestic and interesting, should be
the more attended to in point of dress as it cannot be 'imposante', it
should be 'gentile, aimable, bien mise'. It will not admit of negligence
and carelessness.

I believe Mr. Hayes thinks that you have slighted him a little of late,
since you have got into so much other company. I do not by any means
blame you for not frequenting his house so much as you did at first,
before you had got into so many other houses more entertaining and more
instructing than his; on the contrary, you do very well; but, however,
as he was extremely civil to you, take care to be so to him, and make up
in manner what you omit in matter. See him, dine with him before you
come away, and ask his commands for England.

Your triangular seal is done, and I have given it to an English
gentleman, who sets out in a week for Paris, and who will deliver it to
Sir John Lambert for you.

I cannot conclude this letter without returning again to the showish, the
ornamental, the shining parts of your character; which, if you neglect,
upon my word you will render the solid ones absolutely useless; nay, such
is the present turn of the world, that some valuable qualities are even
ridiculous, if not accompanied by the genteeler accomplishments.
Plainness, simplicity, and quakerism, either in dress or manners, will by
no means do; they must both be laced and embroidered; speaking, or
writing sense, without elegance and turn, will be very little persuasive;
and the best figure in the world, without air and address, will be very
ineffectual. Some pedants may have told you that sound sense and
learning stand in, need of no ornaments; and, to support that assertion,
elegantly quote the vulgar proverb, that GOOD WINE NEEDS NO BUSH; but
surely the little experience you have already had of the world must have
convinced you that the contrary of that assertion is true. All those
accomplishments are now in your power; think of them, and of them only.
I hope you frequent La Foire St. Laurent, which I see is now open; you
will improve more by going there with your mistress, than by staying at
home and reading Euclid with your geometry master. Adieu. 'Divertissez-
vous, il n'y a rien de tel'.


GREENWICH, July 15, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: As this is the last, or last letter but one, that I
think I shall write before I have the pleasure of seeing you here, it may
not be amiss to prepare you a little for our interview, and for the time
we shall pass together. Before kings and princes meet, ministers on each
side adjust the important points of precedence, arm chairs, right hand
and left, etc., so that they know previously what they are to expect,
what they have to trust to; and it is right they should; for they
commonly envy or hate, but most certainly distrust each other. We shall
meet upon very different terms; we want no such preliminaries: you know
my tenderness, I know your affection. My only object, therefore, is to
make your short stay with me as useful as I can to you; and yours, I
hope, is to co-operate with me. Whether, by making it wholesome, I shall
make it pleasant to you, I am not sure. Emetics and cathartics I shall
not administer, because I am sure you do not want them; but for
alteratives you must expect a great many; and I can tell you that I have
a number of NOSTRUMS, which I shall communicate to nobody but yourself.
To speak without a metaphor, I shall endeavor to assist your youth with
all the experience that I have purchased, at the price of seven and fifty
years. In order to this, frequent reproofs, corrections, and admonitions
will be necessary; but then, I promise you, that they shall be in a
gentle, friendly, and secret manner; they shall not put you out of
countenance in company, nor out of humor when we are alone. I do not
expect that, at nineteen, you should have that knowledge of the world,
those manners, that dexterity, which few people have at nine-and-twenty.
But I will endeavor to give them you; and I am sure you will endeavor to
learn them, as far as your youth, my experience, and the time we shall
pass together, will allow. You may have many inaccuracies (and to be
sure you have, for who has not at your age?) which few people will tell
you of, and some nobody can tell you of but myself. You may possibly
have others, too, which eyes less interested, and less vigilant than
mine, do not discover; all those you shall hear of from one whose
tenderness for you will excite his curiosity and sharpen his penetration.
The smallest inattention or error in manners, the minutest inelegance of
diction, the least awkwardness in your dress and carriage, will not
escape my observation, nor pass without amicable correction. Two, the
most intimate friends in the world, can freely tell each other their
faults, and even their crimes, but cannot possibly tell each other of
certain little weaknesses; awkwardnesses, and blindnesses of self-love;
to authorize that unreserved freedom, the relation between us is
absolutely necessary. For example, I had a very worthy friend, with whom
I was intimate enough to tell him his faults; he had but few; I told him
of them; he took it kindly of me, and corrected them. But then, he had
some weaknesses that I could never tell him of directly, and which he was
so little sensible of himself, that hints of them were lost upon him.
He had a scrag neck, of about a yard long; notwithstanding which, bags
being in fashion, truly he would wear one to his wig, and did so; but
never behind him, for, upon every motion of his head, his bag came
forward over one shoulder or the other. He took it into his head too,
that he must occasionally dance minuets, because other people did; and he
did so, not only extremely ill, but so awkward, so disjointed, slim, so
meagre, was his figure, that had he danced as well as ever Marcel did, it
would have been ridiculous in him to have danced at all. I hinted these
things to him as plainly as friendship would allow, and to no purpose;
but to have told him the whole, so as to cure him, I must have been his
father, which, thank God, I am not. As fathers commonly go, it is seldom
a misfortune to be fatherless; and, considering the general run of sons,
as seldom a misfortune to be childless. You and I form, I believe, an
exception to that rule; for, I am persuaded that we would neither of us
change our relation, were it in our power. You will, I both hope and
believe, be not only the comfort, but the pride of my age; and, I am
sure, I will be the support, the friend, the guide of your youth. Trust
me without reserve; I will advise you without private interest, or secret
envy. Mr. Harte will do so too; but still there may be some little
things proper for you to know, and necessary for you to correct, which
even his friendship would not let him tell you of so freely as I should;
and some, of which he may not possibly be so good a judge of as I am, not
having lived so much in the great world.

One principal topic of our conversation will be, not only the purity but
the elegance of the English language; in both which you are very
deficient. Another will be the constitution of this country, of which,
I believe, you know less than of most other countries in Europe.
Manners, attentions, and address, will also be the frequent subjects of
our lectures; and whatever I know of that important and necessary art,
the art of pleasing. I will unreservedly communicate to you. Dress too
(which, as things are, I can logically prove, requires some attention)
will not always escape our notice. Thus, my lectures will be more
various, and in some respects more useful than Professor Mascow's, and
therefore, I can tell you, that I expect to be paid for them; but, as
possibly you would not care to part with your ready money, and as I do
not think that it would be quite handsome in me to accept it, I will
compound for the payment, and take it in attention and practice.

Pray remember to part with all your friends, acquaintances, and
mistresses, if you have any at Paris, in such a manner as may make them
not only willing but impatient to see you there again. Assure them of
your desire of returning to them; and do it in a manner that they may
think you in earnest, that is 'avec onction et une espece
d'attendrissement'. All people say, pretty near the same things upon
those occasions; it is the manner only that makes the difference; and
that difference is great. Avoid, however, as much as you can, charging
yourself with commissions, in your return from hence to Paris; I know, by
experience, that they are exceedingly troublesome, commonly expensive,
and very seldom satisfactory at last, to the persons who gave them; some
you cannot refuse, to people to whom you are obliged, and would oblige in
your turn; but as to common fiddle-faddle commissions, you may excuse
yourself from them with truth, by saying that you are to return to Paris
through Flanders, and see all those great towns; which I intend you shall
do, and stay a week or ten days at Brussels. Adieu! A good journey to
you, if this is my last; if not, I can repeat again what I shall wish


LONDON, December 19, O. S. 1751--[Note the date, which indicates that
the sojourn with the author has ended.]

MY DEAR FRIEND: You are now entered upon a scene of business, where I
hope you will one day make a figure. Use does a great deal, but care and
attention must be joined to it. The first thing necessary in writing
letters of business, is extreme clearness and perspicuity; every
paragraph should be so clear and unambiguous, that the dullest fellow in
the world may not be able to mistake it, nor obliged to read it twice in
order to understand it. This necessary clearness implies a correctness,
without excluding an elegance of style. Tropes, figures, antitheses,
epigrams, etc., would be as misplaced and as impertinent in letters of
business, as they are sometimes (if judiciously used) proper and pleasing
in familiar letters, upon common and trite subjects. In business, an
elegant simplicity, the result of care, not of labor, is required.
Business must be well, not affectedly dressed; but by no means
negligently. Let your first attention be to clearness, and read every
paragraph after you have written it, in the critical view of discovering
whether it is possible that any one man can mistake the true sense of it:
and correct it accordingly.

Our pronouns and relatives often create obscurity or ambiguity; be
therefore exceedingly attentive to them, and take care to mark out with
precision their particular relations. For example, Mr. Johnson
acquainted me that he had seen Mr. Smith, who had promised him to speak
to Mr. Clarke, to return him (Mr. Johnson) those papers, which he (Mr.
Smith) had left some time ago with him (Mr. Clarke): it is better to
repeat a name, though unnecessarily, ten times, than to have the person
mistaken once. WHO, you know, is singly relative to persons, and cannot
be applied to things; WHICH and THAT are chiefly relative to things, but
not absolutely exclusive of persons; for one may say, the man THAT robbed
or killed such-a-one; but it is better to say, the man WHO robbed or
killed. One never says, the man or the woman WHICH. WHICH and THAT,
though chiefly relative to things, cannot be always used indifferently as
to things, and the 'euoovca' must sometimes determine their, place. For
instance, the letter WHICH I received from you, WHICH you referred to in
your last, WHICH came by Lord Albemarle's messenger WHICH I showed to
such-a-one; I would change it thus--The letter THAT I received from you;
WHICH you referred to in your last, THAT came by Lord Albemarle's
messenger, and WHICH I showed to such-a-one.

Business does not exclude (as possibly you wish it did) the usual terms
of politeness and good-breeding; but, on the contrary, strictly requires
minister abroad, who writes to the minister at home, writes to his
superior; possibly to his patron, or at least to one who he desires
should be so.

Letters of business will not only admit of, but be the better for CERTAIN
GRACES--but then, they must be scattered with a sparing and skillful
hand; they must fit their place exactly. They must decently adorn
without encumbering, and modestly shine without glaring. But as this is
the, utmost degree of perfection in letters of business, I would not
advise you to attempt those embellishments, till you have first laid your
foundation well.

Cardinal d'Ossat's letters are the true letters of business; those of
Monsieur d'Avaux are excellent; Sir William Temple's are very pleasing,
but, I fear, too affected. Carefully avoid all Greek or Latin
quotations; and bring no precedents from the VIRTUOUS SPARTANS, THE
pedants. No flourishes, no declamation. But (I repeat it again) there
is an elegant simplicity and dignity of style absolutely necessary for
good letters of business; attend to that carefully. Let your periods be
harmonious, without seeming to be labored; and let them not be too long,
for that always occasions a degree of obscurity. I should not mention
correct orthography, but that you very often fail in that particular,
which will bring ridicule upon you; for no man is allowed to spell ill.
I wish too that your handwriting were much better; and I cannot conceive
why it is not, since every man may certainly write whatever hand he
pleases. Neatness in folding up, sealing, and directing your packets, is
by no means to be neglected; though, I dare say, you think it is. But
there is something in the exterior, even of a packet, that may please or
displease; and consequently worth some attention.

You say that your time is very well employed; and so it is, though as yet
only in the outlines, and first ROUTINE of business. They are previously
necessary to be known; they smooth the way for parts and dexterity.
Business requires no conjuration nor supernatural talents, as people
unacquainted with it are apt to think. Method, diligence, and
discretion, will carry a man, of good strong common sense, much higher
than the finest parts, without them, can do. 'Par negotiis, neque
supra', is the true character of a man of business; but then it implies
ready attention and no ABSENCES, and a flexibility and versatility of
attention from one object to another, without being engrossed by anyone.

Be upon your guard against the pedantry and affectation of business which
young people are apt to fall into, from the pride of being concerned in
it young. They look thoughtful, complain of the weight of business,
throw out mysterious hints, and seem big with secrets which they do not
know. Do you, on the contrary, never talk of business but to those with
whom you are to transact it; and learn to seem vacuus and idle, when you
have the most business. Of all things, the 'volte sciollo', and the
'pensieri stretti', are necessary. Adieu.


LONDON, December 30, O. S. 1751

MY DEAR FRIEND: The parliaments are the courts of justice of France, and
are what our courts of justice in Westminster-Hall are here. They used
anciently to follow the court, and administer justice in presence of the
King. Philip le Bel first fixed it at Paris, by an edict of 1302. It
consisted then of but one chambre, which was called 'la Chambre des
Prelats', most of the members being ecclesiastics; but the multiplicity
of business made it by degrees necessary to create several other
chambres. It consists now of seven chambres:

'La Grande Chambre', which is the highest court of justice, and to which
appeals lie from the others.

'Les cinq Chambres des Enquetes', which are like our Common Pleas, and
Court of Exchequer.

'La Tournelle', which is the court for criminal justice, and answers to
our Old Bailey and King's Bench.

There are in all twelve parliaments in France:
1. Paris
2. Toulouse
3. Grenoble
4. Bourdeaux
5. Dijon
6. Rouen
7. Aix en Provence
8. Rennes en Bretagne
9. Pau en Navarre
10. Metz
11. Dole en Franche Comte
12. Douay

There are three 'Conseils Souverains', which may almost be called
parliaments; they are those of:

Perpignan Arras Alsace

For further particulars of the French parliaments, read 'Bernard de la
Rochefavin des Parlemens de France', and other authors, who have treated
that subject constitutionally. But what will be still better, converse
upon it with people of sense and knowledge, who will inform you of the
particular objects of the several chambres, and the businesses of the
respective members, as, 'les Presidens, les Presidens a Mortier' (these
last so called from their black velvet caps laced with gold), 'les
Maitres tres des Requetes, les Greffiers, le Procureur General, les
Avocats Generaux, les Conseillers', etc. The great point in dispute is
concerning the powers of the parliament of Paris in matters of state, and
relatively to the Crown. They pretend to the powers of the States-
General of France when they used to be assembled (which, I think, they
have not been since the reign of Lewis the Thirteenth, in the year 1615).
The Crown denies those pretensions, and considers them only as courts of
justice. Mezeray seems to be on the side of the parliament in this
question, which is very well worth your inquiry. But, be that as it
will, the parliament of Paris is certainly a very respectable body, and
much regarded by the whole kingdom. The edicts of the Crown, especially
those for levying money on the subjects, ought to be registered in
parliament; I do not say to have their effect, for the Crown would take
good care of that; but to have a decent appearance, and to procure a
willing acquiescence in the nation. And the Crown itself, absolute as it
is, does not love that strong opposition, and those admirable
remonstrances, which it sometimes meets with from the parliaments.
Many of those detached pieces are very well worth your collecting;
and I remember, a year or two ago, a remonstrance of the parliament of
Douay, upon the subject, as I think, of the 'Vingtieme', which was in my
mind one of the finest and most moving compositions I ever read.
They owned themselves, indeed, to be slaves, and showed their chains:
but humbly begged of his Majesty to make them a little lighter, and less

THE STATES OF FRANCE were general assemblies of the three states or
orders of the kingdom; the Clergy, the Nobility, and the 'Tiers Etat',
that is, the people. They used to be called together by the King, upon
the most important affairs of state, like our Lords and Commons in
parliament, and our Clergy in convocation. Our parliament is our states,
and the French parliaments are only their courts of justice.
The Nobility consisted of all those of noble extraction, whether
belonging to the SWORD or to the ROBE, excepting such as were chosen
(which sometimes happened) by the Tiers Etat as their deputies to the
States-General. The Tiers Etat was exactly our House of Commons, that
is, the people, represented by deputies of their own choosing. Those who
had the most considerable places, 'dans la robe', assisted at those
assemblies, as commissioners on the part of the Crown. The States met,
for the first time that I can find (I mean by the name of 'les etats'),
in the reign of Pharamond, 424, when they confirmed the Salic law. From
that time they have been very frequently assembled, sometimes upon
important occasions, as making war and peace, reforming abuses, etc.; at
other times, upon seemingly trifling ones, as coronations, marriages,
etc. Francis the First assembled them, in 1526, to declare null and void
his famous treaty of Madrid, signed and sworn to by him during his
captivity there. They grew troublesome to the kings and to their
ministers, and were but seldom called after the power of the Crown grew
strong; and they have never been heard of since the year 1615. Richelieu
came and shackled the nation, and Mazarin and Lewis the Fourteenth
riveted the shackles.

There still subsist in some provinces in France, which are called 'pais
d etats', an humble local imitation, or rather mimicry, of the great
'etats', as in Languedoc, Bretagne, etc. They meet, they speak, they
grumble, and finally submit to whatever the King orders.

Independently of the intrinsic utility of this kind of knowledge to every
man of business, it is a shame for any man to be ignorant of it,
especially relatively to any country he has been long in. Adieu.


A favor may make an enemy, and an injury may make a friend
Affectation of business
Applauded often, without approving
At the first impulse of passion, be silent till you can be soft
Avoid cacophony, and, what is very near as bad, monotony
Be silent till you can be soft
Being intelligible is now no longer the fashion
Better refuse a favor gracefully, than to grant it clumsily
Business must be well, not affectedly dressed
Business now is to shine, not to weigh
But stoops to conquer, and but kneels to rise
Cease to love when you cease to be agreeable
Chit-chat, useful to keep off improper and too serious subjects
Committing acts of hostility upon the Graces
Concealed what learning I had
Consciousness of merit makes a man of sense more modest
Disagreeable things may be done so agreeably as almost to oblige
Disputes with heat
Dr Fell
Easy without negligence
Elegance in one language will reproduce itself in all
Every man knows that he understands religion and politics
Every numerous assembly is MOB
Everybody is good for something
Expresses himself with more fire than elegance
Frank without indiscretion
Full-bottomed wigs were contrived for his humpback
Gentleness of manners, with firmness of mind
German, who has taken into his head that he understands French
Grow wiser when it is too late
Habitual eloquence
Hand of a school-boy
Hardened to the wants and distresses of mankind
Have you learned to carve?
If free from the guilt, be free from the suspicion, too
Inclined to be fat, but I hope you will decline it
Indolently say that they cannot do
Information implies our previous ignorance; it must be sweetened
Information is, in a certain degree, mortifying
Insinuates himself only into the esteem of fools
It is a real inconvenience to anybody to be fat
Know, yourself and others
Knowing how much you have, and how little you want
Last beautiful varnish, which raises the colors
Learn to keep your own secrets
Loved without being despised, and feared without being hated
Man of sense may be in haste, but can never be in a hurry
Mangles what he means to carve
Mazarin and Lewis the Fourteenth riveted the shackles
Meditation and reflection
Mere reason and good sense is never to be talked to a mob
Mistimes or misplaces everything
Mitigating, engaging words do by no means weaken your argument
MOB: Understanding they have collectively none
Often necessary, not to manifest all one feels
One must often yield, in order to prevail
Only because she will not, and not because she cannot
Our frivolous dissertations upon the weather, or upon whist
Outward air of modesty to all he does
Richelieu came and shackled the nation
Rochefoucault, who, I am afraid, paints man very exactly
See what you see, and to hear what you hear
Seems to have no opinion of his own
Seldom a misfortune to be childless
She has uncommon, sense and knowledge for a woman
Speaking to himself in the glass
Style is the dress of thoughts
Success turns much more upon manner than matter
Take characters, as they do most things, upon trust
They thought I informed, because I pleased them
Unaffected silence upon that subject is the only true medium
Unintelligible to his readers, and sometimes to himself
Use palliatives when you contradict
We love to be pleased better than to be informed
Woman like her, who has always pleased, and often been pleased
Women are the only refiners of the merit of men
Yielded commonly without conviction



on the Fine Art of becoming a


and a



LONDON, January 2, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Laziness of mind, or inattention, are as great enemies to
knowledge as incapacity; for, in truth, what difference is there between
a man who will not, and a man who cannot be informed? This difference
only, that the former is justly to be blamed, the latter to be pitied.
And yet how many there are, very capable of receiving knowledge, who from
laziness, inattention, and incuriousness, will not so much as ask for it,
much less take the least pains to acquire it!

Our young English travelers generally distinguish themselves by a
voluntary privation of all that useful knowledge for which they are sent
abroad; and yet, at that age, the most useful knowledge is the most easy
to be acquired; conversation being the book, and the best book in which
it is contained. The drudgery of dry grammatical learning is over, and
the fruits of it are mixed with, and adorned by, the flowers of
conversation. How many of our young men have been a year at Rome, and as
long at Paris, without knowing the meaning and institution of the
Conclave in the former, and of the parliament in the latter? and this
merely for want of asking the first people they met with in those several
places, who could at least have given them some general notions of those

You will, I hope, be wiser, and omit no opportunity (for opportunities
present themselves every hour of the day) of acquainting yourself with
all those political and constitutional particulars of the kingdom and
government of France. For instance, when you hear people mention le
Chancelier, or 'le Garde de Sceaux', is it any great trouble for you to
ask, or for others to tell you, what is the nature, the powers, the
objects, and the profits of those two employments, either when joined
together, as they often are, or when separate, as they are at present?
When you hear of a gouverneur, a lieutenant du Roi, a commandant, and an
intendant of the same province, is, it not natural, is it not becoming,
is it not necessary, for a stranger to inquire into their respective
rights and privileges? And yet, I dare say, there are very few
Englishmen who know the difference between the civil department of the
Intendant, and the military powers of the others. When you hear (as I am
persuaded you must) every day of the 'Vingtieme', which is one in twenty,
and consequently five per cent., inquire upon what that tax is laid,
whether upon lands, money, merchandise, or upon all three; how levied,
and what it is supposed to produce. When you find in books: (as you will
sometimes) allusion to particular laws and customs, do not rest till you
have traced them up to their source. To give you two examples: you will
meet in some French comedies, 'Cri', or 'Clameur de Haro'; ask what it
means, and you will be told that it is a term of the law in Normandy, and
means citing, arresting, or obliging any person to appear in the courts
of justice, either upon a civil or a criminal account; and that it is
derived from 'a Raoul', which Raoul was anciently Duke of Normandy, and a
prince eminent for his justice; insomuch, that when any injustice was
committed, the cry immediately was, 'Venez, a Raoul, a Raoul', which
words are now corrupted and jumbled into 'haro'. Another, 'Le vol du
Chapon, that is, a certain district of ground immediately contiguous to
the mansion-seat of a family, and answers to what we call in English
DEMESNES. It is in France computed at about 1,600 feet round the house,
that being supposed to be the extent of the capon's flight from 'la basse
cour'. This little district must go along with the mansion-seat, however
the rest of the estate may be divided.

I do not mean that you should be a French lawyer; but I would not have
you unacquainted with the general principles of their law, in matters
that occur every day: Such is the nature of their descents, that is, the
inheritance of lands: Do they all go to the eldest son, or are they
equally divided among the children of the deceased? In England, all
lands unsettled descend to the eldest son, as heir-at-law, unless
otherwise disposed of by the father's will, except in the county of Kent,
where a particular custom prevails, called Gavelkind; by which, if the
father dies intestate, all his children divide his lands equally among
them. In Germany, as you know, all lands that, are not fiefs are equally
divided among all the children, which ruins those families; but all male
fiefs of the empire descend unalienably to the next male heir, which
preserves those families. In France, I believe, descents vary in
different provinces.

The nature of marriage contracts deserves inquiry. In England, the
general practice is, the husband takes all the wife's fortune; and in
consideration of it settles upon her a proper pin-money, as it is called;
that is, an annuity during his life, and a jointure after his death. In
France it is not so, particularly at Paris; where 'la communaute des
biens' is established. Any married woman at Paris (IF YOU ARE ACQUAINTED
WITH ONE) can inform you of all these particulars.

These and other things of the same nature, are the useful and rational
objects of the curiosity of a man of sense and business. Could they only
be attained by laborious researches in folio-books, and wormeaten
manuscripts, I should not wonder at a young fellow's being ignorant of
them; but as they are the frequent topics of conversation, and to be
known by a very little degree of curiosity, inquiry and attention, it is
unpardonable not to know them.

Thus I have given you some hints only for your inquiries; 'l'Etat de la
France, l'Almanach Royal', and twenty other such superficial books, will
furnish you with a thousand more. 'Approfondissez.'

How often, and how justly, have I since regretted negligences of this
kind in my youth! And how often have I since been at great trouble to
learn many things which I could then have learned without any! Save
yourself now, then, I beg of you, that regret and trouble hereafter. Ask
questions, and many questions; and leave nothing till you are thoroughly
informed of it. Such pertinent questions are far from being illbred or
troublesome to those of whom you ask them; on the contrary, they are a
tacit compliment to their knowledge; and people have a better opinion of
a young man, when they see him desirous to be informed.

I have by last post received your two letters of the 1st and 5th of
January, N. S. I am very glad that you have been at all the shows at
Versailles: frequent the courts. I can conceive the murmurs of the
French at the poorness of the fireworks, by which they thought their king
of their country degraded; and, in truth, were things always as they
should be, when kings give shows they ought to be magnificent.

I thank you for the 'These de la Sorbonne', which you intend to send me,
and which I am impatient to receive. But pray read it carefully yourself
first; and inform yourself what the Sorbonne is by whom founded, and for
what puraoses.

Since you have time, you have done very well to take an Italian and a
German master; but pray take care to leave yourelf time enough for
company; for it is in company only that you can learn what will be much
more useful to you than either Italian or German; I mean 'la politesse,
les manieres et les graces, without which, as I told you long ago, and I
told you true, 'ogni fatica a vana'. Adieu.

Pray make my compliments to Lady Brown.


LONDON, January 6, O. S. 1752.


I recommended to you, in my last, some inquiries into the constitution of
that famous society the Sorbonne; but as I cannot wholly trust to the
diligence of those inquiries, I will give you here the outlines of that
establishment; which may possibly excite you to inform yourself of
particulars, which you are more 'a portee' to know than I am.

It was founded by Robert de Sorbon, in the year 1256 for sixteen poor
scholars in divinity; four of each nation, of the university of which it
made a part; since that it hath been much extended and enriched,
especially by the liberality and pride of Cardinal Richelieu; who made it
a magnificent building for six-and-thirty doctors of that society to live
in; besides which, there are six professors and schools for divinity.
This society has long been famous for theological knowledge and
exercitations. There unintelligible points are debated with passion,
though they can never be determined by reason. Logical subtilties set
common sense at defiance; and mystical refinements disfigure and disguise
the native beauty and simplicity of true natural religion; wild
imaginations form systems, which weak minds adopt implicitly, and which
sense and reason oppose in vain; their voice is not strong enough to be
heard in schools of divinity. Political views are by no means neglected
in those sacred places; and questions are agitated and decided, according
to the degree of regard, or rather submission, which the Sovereign is
pleased to show the Church. Is the King a slave to the Church, though a
tyrant to the laity? The least resistance to his will shall be declared
damnable. But if he will not acknowledge the superiority of their
spiritual over his temporal, nor even admit their 'imperium in imperio',
which is the least they will compound for, it becomes meritorious not
only to resist, but to depose him. And I suppose that the bold
propositions in the thesis you mention, are a return for the valuation of
'les biens du Clerge'.

I would advise you, by all means, to attend to two or three of their
public disputations, in order to be informed both of the manner and the
substance of those scholastic exercises. Pray remember to go to all
those kind of things. Do not put it off, as one is too apt to do those
things which one knows can be done every day, or any day; for one
afterward repents extremely, when too late, the not having done them.

But there is another (so-called) religious society, of which the minutest
circumstance deserves attention, and furnishes great matter for useful
reflections. You easily guess that I mean the society of 'les R. R. P.
P. Jesuites', established but in the year 1540, by a Bull of Pope Paul
III. Its progress, and I may say its victories, were more rapid than
those of the Romans; for within the same century it governed all Europe;
and, in the next, it extended its influence over the whole world. Its
founder was an abandoned profligate Spanish officer, Ignatius Loyola;
who, in the year 1521, being wounded in the leg at the 'siege of
Pampeluna, went mad from the smart of his wound, the reproaches of his
conscience, and his confinement, during which he read the lives of the
Saints. Consciousness of guilt, a fiery temper, and a wild imagination,
the common ingredients of enthusiasm, made this madman devote himself to
the particular service of the Virgin Mary; whose knight-errant he
declared himself, in the very same form in which the old knight-errants
in romances used to declare themselves the knights and champions of
certain beautiful and incomparable princesses, whom sometimes they had,
but oftener had not, seen. For Dulcinea del Toboso was by no means the
first princess whom her faithful and valorous knight had never seen in
his life. The enthusiast went to the Holy Land, from whence he returned
to Spain, where he began to learn Latin and philosophy at three-and-
thirty years old, so that no doubt but he made great progress in both.
The better to carry on his mad and wicked designs, he chose four
disciples, or rather apostles, all Spaniards, viz, Laynes, Salmeron,
Bobadilla, and Rodriguez. He then composed the rules and constitutions
of his order; which, in the year 1547, was called the order of Jesuits,
from the church of Jesus in Rome, which was given them. Ignatius died in
1556, aged sixty-five, thirty-five years after his conversion, and
sixteen years after the establishment of his society. He was canonized
in the year 1609, and is doubtless now a saint in heaven.

If the religious and moral principles of this society are to be detested,
as they justly are, the wisdom of their political principles is as justly
to be admired. Suspected, collectively as an order, of the greatest
crimes, and convicted of many, they have either escaped punishment, or
triumphed after it; as in France, in the reign of Henry IV. They have,
directly or indirectly, governed the consciences and the councils of all
the Catholic princes in Europe; they almost governed China in the reign
of Cangghi; and they are now actually in possession of the Paraguay in
America, pretending, but paying no obedience to the Crown of Spain.
As a collective body they are detested, even by all the Catholics, not
excepting the clergy, both secular and regular, and yet, as individuals,
they are loved, respected, and they govern wherever they are.

Two things, I believe, contribute to their success. The first, that
passive, implicit, unlimited obedience to their General (who always
resides at Rome), and to the superiors of their several houses, appointed
by him. This obedience is observed by them all to a most astonishing
degree; and, I believe, there is no one society in the world, of which so
many individuals sacrifice their private interest to the general one of
the society itself. The second is the education of youth, which they
have in a manner engrossed; there they give the first, and the first are
the lasting impressions; those impressions are always calculated to be
favorable to the society. I have known many Catholics, educated by the
Jesuits, who, though they detested the society, from reason and
knowledge, have always remained attached to it, from habit and prejudice.
The, Jesuits know, better than any set of people in the world, the
importance of the art of pleasing, and study it more; they become all
things to all men in order to gain, not a few, but many. In Asia,
Africa, and America they become more than half pagans, in order to
convert the pagans to be less than half Christians. In private families
they begin by insinuating themselves as friends, they grow to be
favorites, and they end DIRECTORS. Their manners are not like those of
any other regulars in the world, but gentle, polite, and engaging. They
are all carefully bred up to that particular destination, to which they
seem to have a natural turn; for which reason one sees most Jesuits excel
in some particular thing. They even breed up some for martyrdom in case
of need; as the superior of a Jesuit seminary at Rome told Lord
Bolingbroke. 'E abbiamo anche martiri per il martirio, se bisogna'.

Inform yourself minutely of everything concerning this extraordinary
establishment; go into their houses, get acquainted with individuals,
hear some of them preach. The finest preacher I ever heard in my life is
le Pere Neufville, who, I believe, preaches still at Paris, and is so
much in the best company, that you may easily get personally acquainted
with him.

If you would know their 'morale' read Pascal's 'Lettres Provinciales', in
which it is very truly displayed from their own writings.

Upon the whole, this is certain, that a society of which so little good
is said, and so much ill believed, and that still not only subsists, but
flourishes, must be a very able one. It is always mentioned as a proof
of the superior abilities of the Cardinal Richelieu, that, though hated
by all the nation, and still more by his master, he kept his power in
spite of both.

I would earnestly wish you to do everything now, which I wish, that I had
done at your age, and did not do. Every country has its peculiarities,
which one can be much better informed of during one's residence there,
than by reading all the books in the world afterward. While you are in
Catholic countries, inform yourself of all the forms and ceremonies of
that tawdry church; see their converts both of men and women, know their
several rules and orders, attend their most remarkable ceremonies; have
their terms of art explained to you, their 'tierce, sexte, nones,
matines; vepres, complies'; their 'breviares, rosaires, heures,
chapelets, agnus', etc., things that many people talk of from habit,
though few people know the true meaning of anyone of them. Converse
with, and study the characters of some of those incarcerated enthusiasts.
Frequent some 'parloirs', and see the air and manners of those Recluse,
who are a distinct nation themselves, and like no other.

I dined yesterday with Mrs. F----d, her mother and husband. He is an
athletic Hibernian, handsome in his person, but excessively awkward and
vulgar in his air and manner. She inquired much after you, and, I
thought, with interest. I answered her as a 'Mezzano' should do: 'Et je
pronai votre tendresse, vos soins, et vos soupirs'.

When you meet with any British returning to their own country, pray send
me by them any little 'brochures, factums, theses', etc., 'qui font du
bruit ou du plaisir a Paris'. Adieu, child.


LONDON, January 23, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Have you seen the new tragedy of Varon,--[Written by the
Vicomte de Grave; and at that time the general topic of conversation at
Paris.]--and what do you think of it? Let me know, for I am determined
to form my taste upon yours. I hear that the situations and incidents
are well brought on, and the catastrophe unexpected and surprising, but
the verses bad. I suppose it is the subject of all conversations at
Paris, where both women and men are judges and critics of all such
performances; such conversations, that both form and improve the taste,
and whet the judgment; are surely preferable to the conversations of our
mixed companies here; which, if they happen to rise above bragg and
whist, infallibly stop short of everything either pleasing or

I take the reason of this to be, that (as women generally give the 'ton'
to the conversation) our English women are not near so well informed and
cultivated as the French; besides that they are naturally more serious
and silent.

I could wish there were a treaty made between the French and English
theatres, in which both parties should make considerable concessions.
The English ought to give up their notorious violations of all the
unities; and all their massacres, racks, dead bodies, and mangled
carcasses, which they so frequently exhibit upon their stage. The French
should engage to have more action and less declamation; and not to cram
and crowd things together, to almost a degree of impossibility, from a
too scrupulous adherence to the unities. The English should restrain the
licentiousness of their poets, and the French enlarge the liberty of
theirs; their poets are the greatest slaves in their country, and that is
a bold word; ours are the most tumultuous subjects in England, and that
is saying a good deal. Under such regulations one might hope to see a
play in which one should not be lulled to sleep by the length of a
monotonical declamation, nor frightened and shocked by the barbarity of
the action. The unity of time extended occasionally to three or four
days, and the unity of place broke into, as far as the same street, or
sometimes the same town; both which, I will affirm, are as probable as
four-and-twenty hours, and the same room.

More indulgence too, in my mind, should be shown, than the French are
willing to allow, to bright thoughts, and to shining images; for though,
I confess, it is not very natural for a hero or a princess to say fine
things in all the violence of grief, love, rage, etc., yet, I can as well
suppose that, as I can that they should talk to themselves for half an
hour; which they must necessarily do, or no tragedy could be carried on,
unless they had recourse to a much greater absurdity, the choruses of the
ancients. Tragedy is of a nature, that one must see it with a degree of
self-deception; we must lend ourselves a little to the delusion; and I am
very willing to carry that complaisance a little farther than the French

Tragedy must be something bigger than life, or it would not affect us.
In nature the most violent passions are silent; in tragedy they must
speak, and speak with dignity too. Hence the necessity of their being
written in verse, and unfortunately for the French, from the weakness of
their language, in rhymes. And for the same reason, Cato the Stoic,
expiring at Utica, rhymes masculine and feminine at Paris; and fetches
his last breath at London, in most harmmonious and correct blank verse.

It is quite otherwise with Comedy, which should be mere common life, and
not one jot bigger. Every character should speak upon the stage, not
only what it would utter in the situation there represented, but in the
same manner in which it would express it. For which reason I cannot
allow rhymes in comedy, unless they were put into the mouth, and came out
of the mouth of a mad poet. But it is impossible to deceive one's self
enough (nor is it the least necessary in comedy) to suppose a dull rogue
of an usurer cheating, or 'gross Jean' blundering in the finest rhymes in
the world.

As for Operas, they are essentially too absurd and extravagant to
mention; I look upon them as a magic scene, contrived to please the eyes
and the ears, at the expense of the understanding; and I consider
singing, rhyming, and chiming heroes, and princesses, and philosophers,
as I do the hills, the trees, the birds, and the beasts, who amicably
joined in one common country dance, to the irresistible turn of Orpheus's
lyre. Whenever I go to an opera, I leave my sense and reason at the door
with my half guinea, and deliver myself up to my eyes and my ears.

Thus I have made you my poetical confession; in which I have acknowledged
as many sins against the established taste in both countries, as a frank
heretic could have owned against the established church in either, but I
am now privileged by my age to taste and think for myself, and not to
care what other people think of me in those respects; an advantage which
youth, among its many advantages, hath not. It must occasionally and
outwardly conform, to a certain degree, to establish tastes, fashions,
and decisions. A young man may, with a becoming modesty, dissent, in
private companies, from public opinions and prejudices: but he must not
attack them with warmth, nor magisterially set up his own sentiments
against them. Endeavor to hear, and know all opinions; receive them with
complaisance; form your own with coolness, and give it with modesty.

I have received a letter from Sir John Lambert, in which he requests me
to use my interest to procure him the remittance of Mr. Spencer's money,
when he goes abroad and also desires to know to whose account he is to
place the postage of my letters. I do not trouble him with a letter in
answer, since you can execute the commission. Pray make my compliments
to him, and assure him that I will do all I can to procure him Mr.
Spencer's business; but that his most effectual way will be by Messrs.
Hoare, who are Mr. Spencer's cashiers, and who will undoubtedly have
their choice upon whom they will give him his credit. As for the postage
of the letters, your purse and mine being pretty near the same, do you
pay it, over and above your next draught.

Your relations, the Princes B-----, will soon be with you at Paris; for
they leave London this week: whenever you converse with them, I desire it
may be in Italian; that language not being yet familiar enough to you.

By our printed papers, there seems to be a sort of compromise between the
King and the parliament, with regard to the affairs of the hospitals, by
taking them out of the hands of the Archbishop of Paris, and placing them
in Monsieur d'Argenson's: if this be true, that compromise, as it is
called, is clearly a victory on the side of the court, and a defeat on
the part of the parliament; for if the parliament had a right, they had
it as much to the exclusion of Monsieur d'Argenson as of the Archbishop.


LONDON, February 6, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Your criticism of Varon is strictly just; but, in truth,
severe. You French critics seek for a fault as eagerly as I do for a
beauty: you consider things in the worst light, to show your skill, at
the expense of your pleasure; I view them in the best, that I may have
more pleasure, though at the expense of my judgment. A 'trompeur
trompeur et demi' is prettily said; and, if you please, you may call
'Varon, un Normand', and 'Sostrate, un Manceau, qui vaut un Normand et
demi'; and, considering the 'denouement' in the light of trick upon
trick, it would undoubtedly be below the dignity of the buskin, and
fitter for the sock.

But let us see if we cannot bring off the author. The great question
upon which all turns, is to discover and ascertain who Cleonice really
is. There are doubts concerning her 'etat'; how shall they be cleared?
Had the truth been extorted from Varon (who alone knew) by the rack, it
would have been a true tragical 'denouement'. But that would probably
not have done with Varon, who is represented as a bold, determined,
wicked, and at that time desperate fellow; for he was in the hands of an
enemy who he knew could not forgive him, with common prudence or safety.
The rack would, therefore, have extorted no truth from him; but he would
have died enjoying the doubts of his enemies, and the confusion that must
necessarily attend those doubts. A stratagem is therefore thought of to
discover what force and terror could not, and the stratagem such as no
king or minister would disdain, to get at an important discovery. If you
call that stratagem a TRICK, you vilify it, and make it comical; but call
that trick a STRATAGEM, or a MEASURE, and you dignify it up to tragedy:
so frequently do ridicule or dignity turn upon one single word. It is
commonly said, and more particularly by Lord Shaftesbury, that ridicule
is the best test of truth; for that it will not stick where it is not
just. I deny it. A truth learned in a certain light, and attacked in
certain words, by men of wit and humor, may, and often doth, become
ridiculous, at least so far that the truth is only remembered and
repeated for the sake of the ridicule. The overturn of Mary of Medicis
into a river, where she was half-drowned, would never have been
remembered if Madame de Vernuel, who saw it, had not said 'la Reine
boit'. Pleasure or malignity often gives ridicule a weight which it does
not deserve. The versification, I must confess, is too much neglected
and too often bad: but, upon the whole, I read the play with pleasure.

If there is but a great deal of wit and character in your new comedy, I
will readily compound for its having little or no plot. I chiefly mind
dialogue and character in comedies. Let dull critics feed upon the
carcasses of plays; give me the taste and the dressing.

I am very glad you went to Versailles to see the ceremony of creating the
Prince de Conde 'Chevalier de l' Ordre'; and I do not doubt but that upon
this occasion you informed yourself thoroughly of the institution and
rules of that order. If you did, you were certainly told it was
instituted by Henry III. immediately after his return, or rather his
flight from Poland; he took the hint of it at Venice, where he had seen
the original manuscript of an order of the 'St. Esprit, ou droit desir',
which had been instituted in 1352, by Louis d'Anjou, King of Jerusalem
and Sicily, and husband to Jane, Queen of Naples, Countess of Provence.
This Order was under the protection of St. Nicholas de Bari, whose image
hung to the collar. Henry III. found the Order of St. Michael
prostituted and degraded, during the civil wars; he therefore joined it
to his new Order of the St. Esprit, and gave them both together; for
which reason every knight of the St. Esprit is now called Chevalier des
Ordres du Roi. The number of the knights hath been different, but is now
fixed to ONE HUNDRED, exclusive of the sovereign. There, are many
officers who wear the riband of this Order, like the other knights; and
what is very singular is, that these officers frequently sell their
employments, but obtain leave to wear the blue riband still, though the
purchasers of those offices wear it also.

As you will have been a great while in France, people will expect that
you should be 'au fait' of all these sort of things relative to that
country. But the history of all the Orders of all countries is well
worth your knowledge; the subject occurs often, and one should not be
ignorant of it, for fear of some such accident as happened to a solid
Dane at Paris, who, upon seeing 'L'Ordre du St. Esprit', said, 'Notre St.
Esprit chez nous c'est un Elephant'. Almost all the princes in Germany
have their Orders too; not dated, indeed, from any important events, or
directed to any great object, but because they will have orders, to show
that they may; as some of them, who have the 'jus cudendae monetae',
borrow ten shillings worth of gold to coin a ducat. However, wherever
you meet with them, inform yourself, and minute down a short account of
them; they take in all the colors of Sir Isaac Newton's prisms. N. B:
When you inquire about them, do not seem to laugh.

I thank you for le Mandement de Monseigneur l'Archeveyue; it is very well
drawn, and becoming an archbishop. But pray do not lose sight of a much
more important object, I mean the political disputes between the King and
the parliament, and the King and the clergy; they seem both to be
patching up; but, however, get the whole clue to them, as far as they
have gone.

I received a letter yesterday from Madame Monconseil, who assures me you
have gained ground 'du cote des maniires', and that she looks upon you to
be 'plus qu'a moitie chemin'. I am very glad to hear this, because, if
you are got above half way of your journey, surely you will finish it,
and not faint in the course. Why do you think I have this affair so
extremely at heart, and why do I repeat it so often? Is it for your
sake, or for mine? You can immediately answer yourself that question;
you certainly have--I cannot possibly have any interest in it. If then
you will allow me, as I believe you may, to be a judge of what is useful
and necessary to you, you must, in consequence, be convinced of the
infinite importance of a point which I take so much pains to inculcate.

I hear that the new Duke of Orleans 'a remercie Monsieur de Melfort, and
I believe, 'pas sans raison', having had obligations to him; 'mais il ne
l'a pas remercie en mari poli', but rather roughly. Il faut que ce soit
un bourru'. I am told, too, that people get bits of his father's rags,
by way of relies; I wish them joy, they will do them a great deal of
good. See from hence what weaknesses human nature is capable of, and
make allowances for such in all your plans and reasonings. Study the
characters of the people you have to do with, and know what they are,
instead of thinking them what they should be; address yourself generally
to the senses, to the heart, and to the weaknesses of mankind, but very
rarely to their reason.

Good-night or good-morrow to you, according to the time you shall receive
this letter from, Yours.


LONDON, February 14, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: In a month's time, I believe I shall have the pleasure of
sending you, and you will have the pleasure of reading, a work of Lord
Bolingbroke's, in two volumes octavo, "Upon the Use of History," in
several letters to Lord Hyde, then Lord Cornbury. It is now put into the
press. It is hard to determine whether this work will instruct or please
most: the most material historical facts, from the great era of the
treaty of Munster, are touched upon, accompanied by the most solid
reflections, and adorned by all that elegance of style which was peculiar
to himself, and in which, if Cicero equals, he certainly does not exceed
him; but every other writer falls short of him. I would advise you
almost to get this book by heart. I think you have a turn to history,
you love it, and have a memory to retain it: this book will teach you the
proper use of it. Some people load their memories indiscriminately with
historical facts, as others do their stomachs with food; and bring out
the one, and bring up the other, entirely crude and undigested. You will
find in Lord Bolingbroke's book an infallible specific against that
epidemical complaint.--[It is important to remember that at this time
Lord Bolingbroke's philosophical works had not appeared; which accounts
for Lord Chesterfield's recommending to his son, in this, as well as in
some foregoing passages, the study of Lord Bolingbroke's writings.]

I remember a gentleman who had read history in this thoughtless and
undistinguishing manner, and who, having traveled, had gone through the
Valtelline. He told me that it was a miserable poor country, and
therefore it was, surely, a great error in Cardinal Richelieu to make
such a rout, and put France to so much expense about it. Had my friend
read history as he ought to have done, he would have known that the great
object of that great minister was to reduce the power of the House of
Austria; and in order to that, to cut off as much as he could the
communication between the several parts of their then extensive
dominions; which reflections would have justified the Cardinal to him,
in the affair of the Valtelline. But it was easier to him to remember
facts, than to combine and reflect.

One observation I hope you will make in reading history; for it is an
obvious and a true one. It is, that more people have made great figures
and great fortunes in courts by their exterior accomplishments, than by
their interior qualifications. Their engaging address, the politeness of
their manners, their air, their turn, hath almost always paved the way
for their superior abilities, if they have such, to exert themselves.
They have been favorites before they have been ministers. In courts, an
universal gentleness and 'douceur dans les manieres' is most absolutely
necessary: an offended fool, or a slighted valet de chambre, may very
possibly do you more hurt at court, than ten men of merit can do you
good. Fools, and low people, are always jealous of their dignity, and
never forget nor forgive what they reckon a slight: on the other hand,
they take civility and a little attention as a favor; remember, and
acknowledge it: this, in my mind, is buying them cheap; and therefore
they are worth buying. The prince himself, who is rarely the shining
genius of his court, esteems you only by hearsay but likes you by his
senses; that is, from your air, your politeness, and your manner of
addressing him, of which alone he is a judge. There is a court garment,
as well as a wedding garment, without which you will not be received.
That garment is the 'volto sciolto'; an imposing air, an elegant
politeness, easy and engaging manners, universal attention, an
insinuating gentleness, and all those 'je ne sais quoi' that compose the

I am this moment disagreeably interrupted by a letter; not from you, as I
expected, but from a friend of yours at Paris, who informs me that you
have a fever which confines you at home. Since you have a fever, I am
glad you have prudence enough in it to stay at home, and take care of
yourself; a little more prudence might probably have prevented it. Your
blood is young, and consequently hot; and you naturally make a great deal
by your good stomach and good digestion; you should, therefore,
necessarily attenuate and cool it, from time to time, by gentle purges,
or by a very low diet, for two or three days together, if you would avoid
fevers. Lord Bacon, who was a very great physician in both senses of the
word, hath this aphorism in his "Essay upon Health," 'Nihil magis ad
Sanitatem tribuit quam crebrae et domesticae purgationes'. By
'domesticae', he means those simple uncompounded purgatives which
everybody can administer to themselves; such as senna-tea, stewed prunes
and senria, chewing a little rhubarb, or dissolving an ounce and a half
of manna in fair water, with the juice of a lemon to make it palatable.
Such gentle and unconfining evacuations would certainly prevent those
feverish attacks to which everybody at your age is subject.

By the way, I do desire, and insist, that whenever, from any
indisposition, you are not able to write to me upon the fixed days, that
Christian shall; and give me a TRUE account how you are. I do not expect
from him the Ciceronian epistolary style; but I will content myself with
the Swiss simplicity and truth.

I hope you extend your acquaintance at Paris, and frequent variety of
companies; the only way of knowing the world; every set of company
differs in some particulars from another; and a man of business must, in
the course of his life, have to do with all sorts. It is a very great
advantage to know the languages of the several countries one travels in;
and different companies may, in some degree, be considered as different
countries; each hath its distinctive language, customs, and manners: know
them all, and you will wonder at none.

Adieu, child. Take care of your health; there are no pleasures without


LONDON, February 20, O. S. 1752.

MY DEAR FRIEND: In all systems whatsoever, whether of religion,
government, morals, etc., perfection is the object always proposed,
though possibly unattainable; hitherto, at least, certainly unattained.
However, those who aim carefully at the mark itself, will unquestionably
come nearer it, than those who from despair, negligence, or indolence,
leave to chance the work of skill. This maxim holds equally true in
common life; those who aim at perfection will come infinitely nearer it
than those desponding or indolent spirits, who foolishly say to
themselves: Nobody is perfect; perfection is unattainable; to attempt it
is chimerical; I shall do as well as others; why then should I give
myself trouble to be what I never can, and what, according to the common
course of things, I need not be, PERFECT?

I am very sure that I need not point out to you the weakness and the
folly of this reasoning, if it deserves the name of reasoning. It would
discourage and put a stop to the exertion of any one of our faculties.
On the contrary, a man of sense and spirit says to himself: Though the
point of perfection may (considering the imperfection of our nature) be
unattainable, my care, my endeavors, my attention, shall not be wanting
to get as near it as I can. I will approach it every day, possibly, I
may arrive at it at last; at least, what I am sure is in my own power,
I will not be distanced. Many fools (speaking of you) say to me: What!
would you have him perfect? I answer: Why not? What hurt would it do
him or me? O, but that is impossible, say they; I reply, I am not sure
of that: perfection in the abstract, I admit to be unattainable, but what
is commonly called perfection in a character I maintain to be attainable,
and not only that, but in every man's power. He hath, continue they, a
good head, a good heart, a good fund of knowledge, which would increase
daily: What would you have more? Why, I would have everything more that
can adorn and complete a character. Will it do his head, his heart, or
his knowledge any harm, to have the utmost delicacy of manners, the most
shining advantages of air and address, the most endearing attentions, and
the most engaging graces? But as he is, say they, he is loved wherever
he is known. I am very glad of it, say I; but I would have him be liked
before he is known, and loved afterward. I would have him, by his first
abord and address, make people wish to know him, and inclined to love
him: he will save a great deal of time by it. Indeed, reply they, you
are too nice, too exact, and lay too much stress upon things that are of
very little consequence. Indeed, rejoin I, you know very little of the
nature of mankind, if you take those things to be of little consequence:
one cannot be too attentive to them; it is they that always engage the
heart, of which the understanding is commonly the bubble. And I would
much rather that he erred in a point of grammar, of history, of
philosophy, etc., than in point of manners and address. But consider,
he is very young; all this will come in time. I hope so; but that time
must be when he is young, or it will never be at all; the right 'pli'
must be taken young, or it will never be easy or seem natural. Come,
come, say they (substituting, as is frequently done, assertion instead of
argument), depend upon it he will do very well: and you have a great deal
of reason to be satisfied with him. I hope and believe he will do well,
but I would have him do better than well. I am very well pleased with
him, but I would be more, I would be proud of him. I would have him have
lustre as well as weight. Did you ever know anybody that reunited all
these talents? Yes, I did; Lord Bolingbroke joined all the politeness,
the manners, and the graces of a courtier, to the solidity of a
statesman, and to the learning of a pedant. He was 'omnis homo'; and
pray what should hinder my boy from being so too, if he 'hath, as I think
he hath, all the other qualifications that you allow him? Nothing can
hinder him, but neglect of or inattention to, those objects which his own
good sense must tell him are, of infinite consequence to him, and which
therefore I will not suppose him capable of either neglecting or

This (to tell you the whole truth) is the result of a controversy that
passed yesterday, between Lady Hervey and myself, upon your subject, and
almost in the very words. I submit the decision of it to yourself; let
your own good sense determine it, and make you act in consequence of that
determination. The receipt to make this composition is short and
infallible; here I give it to you:

Take variety of the best company, wherever you are; be minutely attentive
to every word and action; imitate respectively those whom you observe to
be distinguished and considered for any one accomplishment; then mix all
those several accomplishments together, and serve them up yourself to

I hope your fair, or rather your brown AMERICAN is well. I hear that she
makes very handsome presents, if she is not so herself. I am told there
are people at Paris who expect, from this secret connection, to see in
time a volume of letters, superior to Madame de Graffiny's Peruvian ones;
I lay in my claim to one of the first copies.

Francis's Genie--[Francis's "Eugenia."]--hath been acted twice, with
most universal applause; to-night is his third night, and I am going to
it. I did not think it would have succeeded so well, considering how
long our British audiences have been accustomed to murder, racks, and
poison, in every tragedy; but it affected the heart so much, that it
triumphed over habit and prejudice. All the women cried, and all the men
were moved. The prologue, which is a very good one, was made entirely by
Garrick. The epilogue is old Cibber's; but corrected, though not
enough, by Francis. He will get a great deal of, money by it; and,
consequently, be better able to lend you sixpence, upon any emergency.

The parliament of Paris, I find by the newspapers, has not carried its
point concerning the hospitals, and, though the King hath given up the
Archbishop, yet as he has put them under the management and direction
'du Grand Conseil', the parliament is equally out of the question. This
will naturally put you upon inquiring into the constitution of the 'Grand
Conseil'. You will, doubtless, inform yourself who it is composed of,
what things are 'de son ressort', whether or not there lies an appeal
from thence to any other place; and of all other particulars, that may
give you a clear notion of this assembly. There are also three or four
other Conseils in France, of which you ought to know the constitution and
the objects; I dare say you do know them already; but if you do not, lose
no time in informing yourself. These things, as I have often told you,
are best learned in various French companies: but in no English ones, for
none of our countrymen trouble their heads about them. To use a very
trite image, collect, like the bee, your store from every quarter. In
some companies ('parmi les fermiers generaux nommement') you may, by
proper inquiries, get a general knowledge, at least, of 'les affaires des
finances'. When you are with 'des gens de robe', suck them with regard
to the constitution, and civil government, and 'sic de caeteris'. This
shows you the advantage of keeping a great deal of different French
company; an advantage much superior to any that you can possibly receive
from loitering and sauntering away evenings in any English company at
Paris, not even excepting Lord A------. Love of ease, and fear of
restraint (to both which I doubt you are, for a young fellow, too much
addicted) may invite you among your countrymen: but pray withstand those
mean temptations, 'et prenez sur vous', for the sake of being in those
assemblies, which alone can inform your mind and improve your manners.
You have not now many months to continue at Paris; make the most of them;
get into every house there, if you can; extend acquaintance, know
everything and everybody there; that when you leave it for other places,
you may be 'au fait', and even able to explain whatever you may hear
mentioned concerning it. Adieu.


LONDON, March 2, O. S. 1752.

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