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´╗┐Title: Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1748
Author: Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of, 1694-1773
Language: English
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               LETTERS TO HIS SON

           By the EARL OF CHESTERFIELD

          on the Fine Art of becoming a

                MAN OF THE WORLD

                   and a


January 2, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I am edified with the allotment of your time at Leipsig; which
is so well employed from morning till night, that a fool would say you
had none left for yourself; whereas, I am sure you have sense enough to
know, that such a right use of your time is having it all to yourself;
nay, it is even more, for it is laying it out to immense interest, which,
in a very few years, will amount to a prodigious capital.

Though twelve of your fourteen 'Commensaux' may not be the liveliest
people in the world, and may want (as I easily conceive that they do) 'le
ton de la bonne campagnie, et les graces', which I wish you, yet pray
take care not to express any contempt, or throw out any ridicule; which I
can assure you, is not more contrary to good manners than to good sense:
but endeavor rather to get all the good you can out of them; and
something or other is to be got out of everybody. They will, at least,
improve you in the German language; and, as they come from different
countries, you may put them upon subjects, concerning which they must
necessarily be able to give you some useful informations, let them be
ever so dull or disagreeable in general: they will know something, at
least, of the laws, customs, government, and considerable families of
their respective countries; all which are better known than not, and
consequently worth inquiring into. There is hardly any body good for
every thing, and there is scarcely any body who is absolutely good for
nothing. A good chemist will extract some spirit or other out of every
substance; and a man of parts will, by his dexterity and management,
elicit something worth knowing out of every being he converses with.

As you have been introduced to the Duchess of Courland, pray go there as
often as ever your more necessary occupations will allow you. I am told
she is extremely well bred, and has parts. Now, though I would not
recommend to you, to go into women's company in search of solid
knowledge, or judgment, yet it has its use in other respects; for it
certainly polishes the manners, and gives 'une certaine tournure', which
is very necessary in the course of the world; and which Englishmen have
generally less of than any people in the world.

I cannot say that your suppers are luxurious, but you must own they are
solid; and a quart of soup, and two pounds of potatoes, will enable you
to pass the night without great impatience for your breakfast next
morning. One part of your supper (the potatoes) is the constant diet of
my old friends and countrymen,--[Lord Chesterfield, from the time he was
appointed Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, 1775, used always to call the Irish
his countrymen.]--the Irish, who are the healthiest and the strongest
bodies of men that I know in Europe.

As I believe that many of my letters to you and to Mr. Harte have
miscarried, as well as some of yours and his to me; particularly one of
his from Leipsig, to which he refers in a subsequent one, and which I
never received; I would have you, for the future, acknowledge the dates
of all the letters which either of you shall receive from me; and I will
do the same on my part.

That which I received by the last mail, from you, was of the 25th
November, N. S.; the mail before that brought me yours, of which I have
forgot the date, but which inclosed one to Lady Chesterfield: she will
answer it soon, and, in the mean time, thanks you for it.

My disorder was only a very great cold, of which I am entirely recovered.
You shall not complain for want of accounts from Mr. Grevenkop, who will
frequently write you whatever passes here, in the German language and
character; which will improve you in both. Adieu.


LONDON, January 15, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I willingly accept the new-year's gift which you promise me for
next year; and the more valuable you make it, the more thankful I shall
be. That depends entirely upon you; and therefore I hope to be presented,
every year, with a new edition of you, more correct than the former, and
considerably enlarged and amended.

Since you do not care to be an assessor of the imperial chamber, and that
you desire an establishment in England; what do you think of being Greek
Professor at one of our universities? It is a very pretty sinecure, and
requires very little knowledge (much less than, I hope, you have already)
of that language. If you do not approve of this, I am at a loss to know
what else to propose to you; and therefore desire that you will inform me
what sort of destination you propose for yourself; for it is now time to
fix it, and to take our measures accordingly. Mr. Harte tells me that you
set up for a----------; if so, I presume it is in the view of succeeding
me in my office;--[A secretary of state.]--which I will very willingly
resign to you, whenever you shall call upon me for it. But, if you intend
to be the--------, or the-----------, there are some trifling
circumstances upon which you should previously take your resolution. The
first of which is, to be fit for it: and then, in order to be so, make
yourself master of ancient and, modern history, and languages. To know
perfectly the constitution, and form of government of every nation; the
growth and the decline of ancient and modern empires; and to trace out
and reflect upon the causes of both. To know the strength, the riches,
and the commerce of every country. These little things, trifling as they
may seem, are yet very necessary for a politician to know; and which
therefore, I presume, you will condescend to apply yourself to. There are
some additional qualifications necessary, in the practical part of
business, which may deserve some consideration in your leisure moments;
such as, an absolute command of your temper, so as not to be provoked to
passion, upon any account; patience, to hear frivolous, impertinent, and
unreasonable applications; with address enough to refuse, without
offending, or, by your manner of granting, to double the obligation;
dexterity enough to conceal a truth without telling a lie; sagacity
enough to read other people's countenances; and serenity enough not to
let them discover anything by yours; a seeming frankness with a real
reserve. These are the rudiments of a politician; the world must be your

Three mails are now due from Holland; so that I have no letters from you
to acknowledge. I therefore conclude with recommending myself to your
favor and protection when you succeed. Yours.


LONDON, January 29, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I find, by Mr. Harte's last letter, that many of my letters to
you and him, have been frozen up on their way to Leipsig; the thaw has, I
suppose, by this time, set them at liberty to pursue their journey to
you, and you will receive a glut of them at once. Hudibras alludes, in
this verse,

        "Like words congealed in northern air,"

to a vulgar notion, that in Greenland words were frozen in their
utterance; and that upon a thaw, a very mixed conversation was heard in
the air, of all those words set at liberty. This conversation was, I
presume, too various and extensive to be much attended to: and may not
that be the case of half a dozen of my long letters, when you receive
them all at once? I think that I can, eventually, answer that question,
thus: If you consider my letters in their true light, as conveying to you
the advice of a friend, who sincerely wishes your happiness, and desires
to promote your pleasure, you will both read and attend to them; but, if
you consider them in their opposite, and very false light, as the
dictates of a morose and sermonizing father, I am sure they will be not
only unattended to, but unread. Which is the case, you can best tell me.
Advice is seldom welcome; and those who want it the most always like it
the least. I hope that your want of experience, of which you must be
conscious, will convince you, that you want advice; and that your good
sense will incline you to follow it.

Tell me how you pass your leisure hours at Leipsig; I know you have not
many; and I have too good an opinion of you to think, that, at this age,
you would desire more. Have you assemblies, or public spectacles? and of
what kind are they? Whatever they are, see them all; seeing everything,
is the only way not to admire anything too much.

If you ever take up little tale-books, to amuse you by snatches, I will
recommend two French books, which I have already mentioned; they will
entertain you, and not without some use to your mind and your manners.
One is, 'La Maniere de bien penser dans les Ouvrages d'Esprit', written
by Pere Bouhours; I believe you read it once in England, with Monsieur
Coderc; but I think that you will do well to read it again, as I know of
no book that will form your taste better. The other is, 'L'Art de plaire
dans la Conversation', by the Abbe de Bellegarde, and is by no means
useless, though I will not pretend to say, that the art of pleasing can
be reduced to a receipt; if it could, I am sure that receipt would be
worth purchasing at any price. Good sense, and good nature, are the
principal ingredients; and your own observation, and the good advice of
others, must give the right color and taste to it. Adieu! I shall always
love you as you shall deserve.


LONDON, February 9, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: You will receive this letter, not from a Secretary of State but
from a private man; for whom, at his time of life, quiet was as fit, and
as necessary, as labor and activity are for you at your age, and for many
years yet to come. I resigned the seals, last Saturday, to the King; who
parted with me most graciously, and (I may add, for he said so himself)
with regret. As I retire from hurry to quiet, and to enjoy, at my ease,
the comforts of private and social life, you will easily imagine that I
have no thoughts of opposition, or meddling with business. 'Otium cum
dignitate' is my object. The former I now enjoy; and I hope that my
conduct and character entitle me to some share of the latter. In short, I
am now happy: and I found that I could not be so in my former public

As I like your correspondence better than that of all the kings, princes,
and ministers, in Europe, I shall now have leisure to carry it on more
regularly. My letters to you will be written, I am sure, by me, and, I
hope, read by you, with pleasure; which, I believe, seldom happens,
reciprocally, to letters written from and to a secretary's office.

Do not apprehend that my retirement from business may be a hindrance to
your advancement in it, at a proper time: on the contrary, it will
promote it; for, having nothing to ask for myself, I shall have the
better title to ask for you. But you have still a surer way than this of
rising, and which is wholly in your own power. Make yourself necessary;
which, with your natural parts, you may, by application, do. We are in
general, in England, ignorant of foreign affairs: and of the interests,
views, pretensions, and policy of other courts. That part of knowledge
never enters into our thoughts, nor makes part of our education; for
which reason, we have fewer proper subjects for foreign commissions, than
any other country in Europe; and, when foreign affairs happen to be
debated in Parliament, it is incredible with how much ignorance. The
harvest of foreign affairs being then so great, and the laborers so few,
if you make yourself master of them, you will make yourself necessary;
first as a foreign, and then as a domestic minister for that department.

I am extremely well pleased with the account which you give me of the
allotment of your time. Do but go on so, for two years longer, and I will
ask no more of you. Your labors will be their own reward; but if you
desire any other, that I can add, you may depend upon it.

I am glad that you perceive the indecency and turpitude of those of your
'Commensaux', who disgrace and foul themselves with dirty w----s and
scoundrel gamesters. And the light in which, I am sure, you see all
reasonable and decent people consider them, will be a good warning to
you. Adieu.


LONDON, February 13, O. S. 1748

DEAR BOY: your last letter gave me a very satisfactory account of your
manner of employing your time at Leipsig. Go on so but for two years
more, and, I promise you, that you will outgo all the people of your age
and time. I thank you for your explanation of the 'Schriftsassen', and
'Amptsassen'; and pray let me know the meaning of the 'Landsassen'. I am
very willing that you should take a Saxon servant, who speaks nothing but
German, which will be a sure way of keeping up your German, after you
leave Germany. But then, I would neither have that man, nor him whom you
have already, put out of livery; which makes them both impertinent and
useless. I am sure, that as soon as you shall have taken the other
servant, your present man will press extremely to be out of livery, and
valet de chambre; which is as much as to say, that he will curl your hair
and shave you, but not condescend to do anything else. I therefore advise
you, never to have a servant out of livery; and, though you may not
always think proper to carry the servant who dresses you abroad in the
rain and dirt, behind a coach or before a chair, yet keep it in your
power to do so, if you please, by keeping him in livery.

I have seen Monsieur and Madame Flemming, who gave me a very good account
of you, and of your manners, which to tell you the plain truth, were what
I doubted of the most. She told me, that you were easy, and not ashamed:
which is a great deal for an Englishman at your age.

I set out for Bath to-morrow, for a month; only to be better than well,
and enjoy, in, quiet, the liberty which I have acquired by the
resignation of the seals. You shall hear from me more at large from
thence; and now good night to you.


BATH, February 18, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: The first use that I made of my liberty was to come here, where
I arrived yesterday. My health, though not fundamentally bad yet, for
want of proper attention of late, wanted some repairs, which these waters
never fail giving it. I shall drink them a month, and return to London,
there to enjoy the comforts of social life, instead of groaning under the
load of business. I have given the description of the life that I propose
to lead for the future, in this motto, which I have put up in the frize
of my library in my new house:--

     Nunc veterum libris, nunc somno, et inertibus horis
     Ducere sollicitae jucunda oblivia vitas.

I must observe to you upon this occasion, that the uninterrupted
satisfaction which I expect to find in that library, will be chiefly
owing to my having employed some part of my life well at your age. I wish
I had employed it better, and my satisfaction would now be complete; but,
however, I planted while young, that degree of knowledge which is now my
refuge and my shelter. Make your plantations still more extensive; they
will more than pay you for your trouble. I do not regret the time that I
passed in pleasures; they were seasonable; they were the pleasures of
youth, and I enjoyed them while young. If I had not, I should probably
have overvalued them now, as we are very apt to do what we do not know;
but, knowing them as I do, I know their real value, and how much they are
generally overrated. Nor do I regret the time that I have passed in
business, for the same reason; those who see only the outside of it,
imagine it has hidden charms, which they pant after; and nothing but
acquaintance can undeceive them. I, who have been behind the scenes, both
of pleasure and business, and have seen all the springs and pullies of
those decorations which astonish and dazzle the audience, retire, not
only without regret, but with contentment and satisfaction. But what I
do, and ever shall regret, is the time which, while young, I lost in mere
idleness, and in doing nothing. This is the common effect of the
inconsideracy of youth, against which I beg you will be most carefully
upon your guard. The value of moments, when cast up, is immense, if well
employed; if thrown away, their loss is irrecoverable. Every moment may
be put to some use, and that with much more pleasure, than if unemployed.
Do not imagine, that by the employment of time, I mean an uninterrupted
application to serious studies. No; pleasures are, at proper times, both
as necessary and as useful; they fashion and form you for the world; they
teach you characters, and show you the human heart in its unguarded
minutes. But then remember to make that use of them. I have known many
people, from laziness of mind, go through both pleasure and business with
equal inattention; neither enjoying the one, nor doing the other;
thinking themselves men of pleasure, because they were mingled with those
who were, and men of business, because they had business to do, though
they did not do it. Whatever you do, do it to the purpose; do it
thoroughly, not superficially. 'Approfondissez': go to the bottom of
things. Any thing half done or half known, is, in my mind, neither done
nor known at all. Nay worse, it often misleads. There is hardly any place
or any company, where you may not gain knowledge, if you please; almost
everybody knows some one thing, and is glad to talk upon that one thing.
Seek and you will find, in this world as well as in the next. See
everything; inquire into everything; and you may excuse your curiosity,
and the questions you ask which otherwise might be thought impertinent,
by your manner of asking them; for most things depend a great deal upon
the manner. As, for example, I AM AFRAID THAT I AM VERY TROUBLESOME WITH
that kind.

Now that you are in a Lutheran country, go to their churches, and observe
the manner of their public worship; attend to their ceremonies, and
inquire the meaning and intention of everyone of them. And, as you will
soon understand German well enough, attend to their sermons, and observe
their manner of preaching. Inform yourself of their church government:
whether it resides in the sovereign, or in consistories and synods.
Whence arises the maintenance of their clergy; whether from tithes, as in
England, or from voluntary contributions, or from pensions from the
state. Do the same thing when you are in Roman Catholic countries; go to
their churches, see all their ceremonies: ask the meaning of them, get
the terms explained to you. As, for instance, Prime, Tierce, Sexte,
Nones, Matins, Angelus, High Mass, Vespers, Complines, etc. Inform
yourself of their several religious orders, their founders, their rules,
their vows, their habits, their revenues, etc. But, when you frequent
places of public worship, as I would have you go to all the different
ones you meet with, remember, that however erroneous, they are none of
them objects of laughter and ridicule. Honest error is to be pitied, not
ridiculed. The object of all the public worships in the world is the
same; it is that great eternal Being who created everything. The
different manners of worship are by no means subjects of ridicule. Each
sect thinks its own is the best; and I know no infallible judge in this
world, to decide which is the best. Make the same inquiries, wherever you
are, concerning the revenues, the military establishment, the trade, the
commerce, and the police of every country. And you would do well to keep
a blank paper book, which the Germans call an ALBUM; and there, instead
of desiring, as they do, every fool they meet with to scribble something,
write down all these things as soon as they come to your knowledge from
good authorities.

I had almost forgotten one thing, which I would recommend as an object
for your curiosity and information, that is, the administration of
justice; which, as it is always carried on in open court, you may, and I
would have you, go and see it with attention and inquiry.

I have now but one anxiety left, which is concerning you. I would have
you be, what I know nobody is--perfect. As that is impossible, I would
have you as near perfection as possible. I know nobody in a fairer way
toward it than yourself, if you please. Never were so much pains taken
for anybody's education as for yours; and never had anybody those
opportunities of knowledge and improvement which you, have had, and still
have, I hope, I wish, I doubt, and fear alternately. This only I am sure
of, that you will prove either the greatest pain or the greatest pleasure
of, Yours.


BATH, February 22, O. S. 1748.

DEAR Boy: Every excellency, and every virtue, has its kindred vice or
weakness; and if carried beyond certain bounds, sinks into one or the
other. Generosity often runs into profusion, economy into avarice,
courage into rashness, caution into timidity, and so on:--insomuch that,
I believe, there is more judgment required, for the proper conduct of our
virtues, than for avoiding their opposite vices. Vice, in its true light,
is so deformed, that it shocks us at first sight, and would hardly ever
seduce us, if it did not, at first, wear the mask of some virtue. But
virtue is, in itself, so beautiful, that it charms us at first sight;
engages us more and more upon further acquaintance; and, as with other
beauties, we think excess impossible; it is here that judgment is
necessary, to moderate and direct the effects of an excellent cause. I
shall apply this reasoning, at present, not to any particular virtue, but
to an excellency, which, for want of judgment, is often the cause of
ridiculous and blamable effects; I mean, great learning; which, if not
accompanied with sound judgment, frequently carries us into error, pride,
and pedantry. As, I hope, you will possess that excellency in its utmost
extent, and yet without its too common failings, the hints, which my
experience can suggest, may probably not be useless to you.

Some learned men, proud of their knowledge, only speak to decide, and
give judgment without appeal; the consequence of which is, that mankind,
provoked by the insult, and injured by the oppression, revolt; and, in
order to shake off the tyranny, even call the lawful authority in
question. The more you know, the modester you should be: and (by the bye)
that modesty is the surest way of gratifying your vanity. Even where you
are sure, seem rather doubtful; represent, but do not pronounce, and, if
you would convince others, seem open to conviction yourself.

Others, to show their learning, or often from the prejudices of a school
education, where they hear of nothing else, are always talking of the
ancients, as something more than men, and of the moderns, as something
less. They are never without a classic or two in their pockets; they
stick to the old good sense; they read none of the modern trash; and will
show you, plainly, that no improvement has been made, in any one art or
science, these last seventeen hundred years. I would by no means have you
disown your acquaintance with the ancients: but still less would I have
you brag of an exclusive intimacy with them. Speak of the moderns without
contempt, and of the ancients without idolatry; judge them all by their
merits, but not by their ages; and if you happen to have an Elzevir
classic in your pocket neither show it nor mention it.

Some great scholars, most absurdly, draw all their maxims, both for
public and private life, from what they call parallel cases in the
ancient authors; without considering, that, in the first place, there
never were, since the creation of the world, two cases exactly parallel;
and, in the next place, that there never was a case stated, or even
known, by any historian, with every one of its circumstances; which,
however, ought to be known, in order to be reasoned from. Reason upon the
case itself, and the several circumstances that attend it, and act
accordingly; but not from the authority of ancient poets, or historians.
Take into your consideration, if you please, cases seemingly analogous;
but take them as helps only, not as guides. We are really so prejudiced
by our education, that, as the ancients deified their heroes, we deify
their madmen; of which, with all due regard for antiquity, I take
Leonidas and Curtius to have been two distinguished ones. And yet a solid
pedant would, in a speech in parliament, relative to a tax of two pence
in the pound upon some community or other, quote those two heroes, as
examples of what we ought to do and suffer for our country. I have known
these absurdities carried so far by people of injudicious learning, that
I should not be surprised, if some of them were to propose, while we are
at war with the Gauls, that a number of geese should be kept in the
Tower, upon account of the infinite advantage which Rome received IN A
PARALLEL CASE, from a certain number of geese in the Capitol. This way of
reasoning, and this way of speaking, will always form a poor politician,
and a puerile declaimer.

There is another species of learned men, who, though less dogmatical and
supercilious, are not less impertinent. These are the communicative and
shining pedants, who adorn their conversation, even with women, by happy
quotations of Greek and Latin; and who have contracted such a familiarity
with the Greek and Roman authors, that they, call them by certain names
or epithets denoting intimacy. As OLD Homer; that SLY ROGUE Horace; MARO,
instead of Virgil; and Naso, Instead of Ovid. These are often imitated by
coxcombs, who have no learning at all; but who have got some names and
some scraps of ancient authors by heart, which they improperly and
impertinently retail in all companies, in hopes of passing for scholars.
If, therefore, you would avoid the accusation of pedantry on one hand, or
the suspicion of ignorance on the other, abstain from learned
ostentation. Speak the language of the company that you are in; speak it
purely, and unlarded with any other. Never seem wiser, nor more learned,
than the people you are with. Wear your learning, like your watch, in a
private pocket: and do not pull it out and strike it; merely to show that
you have one. If you are asked what o'clock it is, tell it; but do not
proclaim it hourly and unasked, like the watchman.

Upon the whole, remember that learning (I mean Greek and Roman learning)
is a most useful and necessary ornament, which it is shameful not to be
master of; but, at the same time most carefully avoid those errors and
abuses which I have mentioned, and which too often attend it. Remember,
too, that great modern knowledge is still more necessary than ancient;
and that you had better know perfectly the present, than the old state of
Europe; though I would have you well acquainted with both.

I have this moment received your letter of the 17th, N. S. Though, I
confess, there is no great variety in your present manner of life, yet
materials can never be wanting for a letter; you see, you hear, or you
read something new every day; a short account of which, with your own
reflections thereupon, will make out a letter very well. But, since you
desire a subject, pray send me an account of the Lutheran establishment
in Germany; their religious tenets, their church government, the
maintenance, authority, and titles of their clergy.

'Vittorio Siri', complete, is a very scarce and very dear book here; but
I do not want it. If your own library grows too voluminous, you will not
know what to do with it, when you leave Leipsig. Your best way will be,
when you go away from thence, to send to England, by Hamburg, all the
books that you do not absolutely want.



BATH, March 1, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: By Mr. Harte's letter to Mr. Grevenkop, of the 21st February,
N. S., I find that you had been a great while without receiving any
letters from me; but by this time, I daresay you think you have received
enough, and possibly more than you have read; for I am not only a
frequent, but a prolix correspondent.

Mr. Harte says, in that letter, that he looks upon Professor Mascow to be
one of the ablest men in Europe, in treaty and political knowledge. I am
extremely glad of it; for that is what I would have you particularly
apply to, and make yourself perfect master of. The treaty part you must
chiefly acquire by reading the treaties themselves, and the histories and
memoirs relative to them; not but that inquiries and conversations upon
those treaties will help you greatly, and imprint them better in your
mind. In this course of reading, do not perplex yourself, at first, by
the multitude of insignificant treaties which are to be found in the
Corps Diplomatique; but stick to the material ones, which altered the
state of Europe, and made a new arrangement among the great powers; such
as the treaties of Munster, Nimeguen, Ryswick, and Utrecht.

But there is one part of political knowledge, which is only to be had by
inquiry and conversation; that is, the present state of every power in
Europe, with regard to the three important points, of strength, revenue,
and commerce. You will, therefore, do well, while you are in Germany, to
inform yourself carefully of the military force, the revenues, and the
commerce of every prince and state of the empire; and to write down those
informations in a little book, for that particular purpose. To give you a
specimen of what I mean:--


   The revenue is about L500,000 a year.

   The military establishment, in time of war, may be about 25,000 men;
   but that is the utmost.

   The trade is chiefly linens, exported from Stade.

   There are coarse woolen manufactures for home-consumption.

   The mines of Hartz produce about L100,000 in silver, annually.

Such informations you may very easily get, by proper inquiries, of every
state in Germany if you will but prefer useful to frivolous

There are many princes in Germany, who keep very few or no troops, unless
upon the approach of danger, or for the sake of profit, by letting them
out for subsidies, to great powers: In that case, you will inform
yourself what number of troops they could raise, either for their own
defense, or furnish to other powers for subsidies.

There is very little trouble, and an infinite use, in acquiring of this
knowledge. It seems to me even to be a more entertaining subject to talk
upon, than 'la pluie et le beau tens'.

Though I am sensible that these things cannot be known with the utmost
exactness, at least by you yet, you may, however, get so near the truth,
that the difference will be very immaterial.

Pray let me know if the Roman Catholic worship is tolerated in Saxony,
anywhere but at Court; and if public mass-houses are allowed anywhere
else in the electorate. Are the regular Romish clergy allowed; and have
they any convents?

Are there any military orders in Saxony, and what? Is the White Eagle a
Saxon or a Polish order? Upon what occasion, and when was it founded?
What number of knights?

Adieu! God bless you; and may you turn out what I wish!


BATH, March 9, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I must from time to time, remind you of what I have often
recommended to you, and of what you cannot attend to too much; SACRIFICE
TO THE GRACES. The different effects of the same things, said or done,
when accompanied or abandoned by them, is almost inconceivable. They
prepare the way to the heart; and the heart has such an influence over
the understanding, that it is worth while to engage it in our interest.
It is the whole of women, who are guided by nothing else: and it has so
much to say, even with men, and the ablest men too, that it commonly
triumphs in every struggle with the understanding. Monsieur de
Rochefoucault, in his "Maxims," says, that 'l'esprit est souvent la dupe
du coeur.' If he had said, instead of 'souvent, tresque toujours', I fear
he would have been nearer the truth. This being the case, aim at the
heart. Intrinsic merit alone will not do; it will gain you the general
esteem of all; but not the particular affection, that is, the heart of
any. To engage the affections of any particular person, you must, over
and above your general merit, have some particular merit to that person
by services done, or offered; by expressions of regard and esteem; by
complaisance, attentions, etc., for him. And the graceful manner of doing
all these things opens the way to the heart, and facilitates, or rather
insures, their effects. From your own observation, reflect what a
disagreeable impression an awkward address, a slovenly figure, an
ungraceful manner of speaking, whether stuttering, muttering, monotony,
or drawling, an unattentive behavior, etc., make upon you, at first
sight, in a stranger, and how they prejudice you against him, though for
aught you know, he may have great intrinsic sense and merit. And reflect,
on the other hand, how much the opposites of all these things prepossess
you, at first sight, in favor of those who enjoy them. You wish to find
all good qualities in them, and are in some degree disappointed if you do
not. A thousand little things, not separately to be defined, conspire to
form these graces, this je ne sais quoi, that always please. A pretty
person, genteel motions, a proper degree of dress, an harmonious voice,
something open and cheerful in the countenance, but without laughing; a
distinct and properly varied manner of speaking: All these things, and
many others, are necessary ingredients in the composition of the pleasing
je ne sais quoi, which everybody feels, though nobody can describe.
Observe carefully, then, what displeases or pleases you in others, and be
persuaded, that in general; the same things will please or displease them
in you. Having mentioned laughing, I must particularly warn you against
it: and I could heartily wish, that you may often be seen to smile, but
never heard to laugh while you live. Frequent and loud laughter is the
characteristic of folly and in manners; it is the manner in which the mob
express their silly joy at silly things; and they call it being merry. In
my mind, there is nothing so illiberal, and so ill-bred, as audible
laughter. True wit, or sense, never yet made anybody laugh; they are
above it: They please the mind, and give a cheerfulness to the
countenance. But it is low buffoonery, or silly accidents, that always
excite laughter; and that is what people of sense and breeding should
show themselves above. A man's going to sit down, in the supposition that
he has a chair behind him, and falling down upon his breech for want of
one, sets a whole company a laughing, when all the wit in the world would
not do it; a plain proof, in my mind, how low and unbecoming a thing
laughter is: not to mention the disagreeable noise that it makes, and the
shocking distortion of the face that it occasions. Laughter is easily
restrained, by a very little reflection; but as it is generally connected
with the idea of gaiety, people do not enough attend to its absurdity. I
am neither of a melancholy nor a cynical disposition, and am as willing
and as apt to be pleased as anybody; but I am sure that, since I have had
the full use of my reason, nobody has ever heard me laugh. Many people,
at first, from awkwardness and 'mauvaise honte', have got a very
disagreeable and silly trick of laughing whenever they speak; and I know
a man of very good parts, Mr. Waller, who cannot say the commonest thing
without laughing; which makes those, who do not know him, take him at
first for a natural fool. This, and many other very disagreeable habits,
are owing to mauvaise honte at their first setting out in the world. They
are ashamed in company, and so disconcerted, that they do not know what
they do, and try a thousand tricks to keep themselves in countenance;
which tricks afterward grow habitual to them. Some put their fingers in
their nose, others scratch their heads, others twirl their hats; in
short, every awkward, ill-bred body has his trick. But the frequency does
not justify the thing, and all these vulgar habits and awkwardnesses,
though not criminal indeed, are most carefully to be guarded against, as
they are great bars in the way of the art of pleasing. Remember, that to
please is almost to prevail, or at least a necessary previous step to it.
You, who have your fortune to make, should more particularly study this
art. You had not, I must tell you, when you left England, 'les manieres
prevenantes'; and I must confess they are not very common in England; but
I hope that your good sense will make you acquire them abroad. If you
desire to make yourself considerable in the world (as, if you have any
spirit, you do), it must be entirely your own doing; for I may very
possibly be out of the world at the time you come into it. Your own rank
and fortune will not assist you; your merit and your manners can alone
raise you to figure and fortune. I have laid the foundations of them, by
the education which I have given you; but you must build the
superstructure yourself.

I must now apply to you for some informations, which I dare say you can,
and which I desire you will give me.

Can the Elector of Saxony put any of his subjects to death for high
treason, without bringing them first to their trial in some public court
of justice?

Can he, by his own authority, confine any subject in prison as long as he
pleases, without trial?

Can he banish any subject out of his dominions by his own authority?

Can he lay any tax whatsoever upon his subjects, without the consent of
the states of Saxony? and what are those states? how are they elected?
what orders do they consist of? Do the clergy make part of them? and
when, and how often do they meet?

If two subjects of the elector's are at law, for an estate situated in
the electorate, in what court must this suit be tried? and will the
decision of that court be final, or does there lie an appeal to the
imperial chamber at Wetzlaer?

What do you call the two chief courts, or two chief magistrates, of civil
and criminal justice?

What is the common revenue of the electorate, one year with another?

What number of troops does the elector now maintain? and what is the
greatest number that the electorate is able to maintain?

I do not expect to have all these questions answered at once; but you
will answer them, in proportion as you get the necessary and authentic

You are, you see, my German oracle; and I consult you with so much faith,
that you need not, like the oracles of old, return ambiguous answers;
especially as you have this advantage over them, too, that I only consult
you about past end present, but not about what is to come.

I wish you a good Easter-fair at Leipsig. See, with attention all the
shops, drolls, tumblers, rope-dancers, and 'hoc genus omne': but inform
yourself more particularly of the several parts of trade there. Adieu.


LONDON, March 25, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I am in great joy at the written and the verbal accounts which
I have received lately of you.

The former, from Mr. Harte; the latter, from Mr. Trevanion, who is
arrived here: they conspire to convince me that you employ your time well
at Leipsig. I am glad to find you consult your own interest and your own
pleasure so much; for the knowledge which you will acquire in these two
years is equally necessary for both. I am likewise particularly pleased
to find that you turn yourself to that sort of knowledge which is more
peculiarly necessary for your destination: for Mr. Harte tells me you
have read, with attention, Caillieres, Pequet, and Richelieu's "Letters."
The "Memoirs" of the Cardinal de Retz will both entertain and instruct
you; they relate to a very interesting period of the French history, the
ministry of Cardinal Mazarin, during the minority of Lewis XIV. The
characters of all the considerable people of that time are drawn, in a
short, strong, and masterly manner; and the political reflections, which
are most of them printed in italics, are the justest that ever I met
with: they are not the labored reflections of a systematical closet
politician, who, without the least experience of business, sits at home
and writes maxims; but they are the reflections which a great and able
man formed from long experience and practice in great business. They are
true conclusions, drawn from facts, not from speculations.

As modern history is particularly your business, I will give you some
rules to direct your study of it. It begins, properly with Charlemagne,
in the year 800. But as, in those times of ignorance, the priests and
monks were almost the only people that could or did write, we have
scarcely any histories of those times but such as they have been pleased
to give us, which are compounds of ignorance, superstition, and party
zeal. So that a general notion of what is rather supposed, than really
known to be, the history of the five or six following centuries, seems to
be sufficient; and much time would be but ill employed in a minute
attention to those legends. But reserve your utmost care, and most
diligent inquiries, from the fifteenth century, and downward. Then
learning began to revive, and credible histories to be written; Europe
began to take the form, which, to some degree, it still retains: at least
the foundations of the present great powers of Europe were then laid.
Lewis the Eleventh made France, in truth, a monarchy, or, as he used to
say himself, 'la mit hors de Page'. Before his time, there were
independent provinces in France, as the Duchy of Brittany, etc., whose
princes tore it to pieces, and kept it in constant domestic confusion.
Lewis the Eleventh reduced all these petty states, by fraud, force, or
marriage; for he scrupled no means to obtain his ends.

About that time, Ferdinand King of Aragon, and Isabella his wife, Queen
of Castile, united the whole Spanish monarchy, and drove the Moors out of
Spain, who had till then kept position of Granada. About that time, too,
the house of Austria laid the great foundations of its subsequent power;
first, by the marriage of Maximilian with the heiress of Burgundy; and
then, by the marriage of his son Philip, Archduke of Austria, with Jane,
the daughter of Isabella, Queen of Spain, and heiress of that whole
kingdom, and of the West Indies. By the first of these marriages, the
house of Austria acquired the seventeen provinces, and by the latter,
Spain and America; all which centered in the person of Charles the Fifth,
son of the above-mentioned Archduke Philip, the son of Maximilian. It was
upon account of these two marriages, that the following Latin distich was

        Bella gerant alii, Tu felix Austria nube;
        Nam qua, Mars aliis; dat tibi regna Venus.

This immense power, which the Emperor Charles the Fifth found himself
possessed of, gave him a desire for universal power (for people never
desire all till they have gotten a great deal), and alarmed France; this
sowed the seeds of that jealousy and enmity, which have flourished ever
since between those two great powers. Afterward the House of Austria was
weakened by the division made by Charles the Fifth of his dominions,
between his son, Philip the Second of Spain, and his brother Ferdinand;
and has ever since been dwindling to the weak condition in which it now
is. This is a most interesting part of the history of Europe, of which it
is absolutely necessary that you should be exactly and minutely informed.

There are in the history of most countries, certain very remarkable eras,
which deserve more particular inquiry and attention than the common run
of history. Such is the revolt of the Seventeen Provinces, in the reign
of Philip the Second of Spain, which ended in forming the present
republic of the Seven United Provinces, whose independency was first
allowed by Spain at the treaty of Munster. Such was the extraordinary
revolution of Portugal, in the year 1640, in favor of the present House
of Braganza. Such is the famous revolution of Sweden, when Christian the
Second of Denmark, who was also king of Sweden, was driven out by
Gustavus Vasa. And such also is that memorable era in Denmark, of 1660;
when the states of that kingdom made a voluntary surrender of all their
rights and liberties to the Crown, and changed that free state into the
most absolute monarchy now in Europe. The Acta Regis, upon that occasion,
are worth your perusing. These remarkable periods of modern history
deserve your particular attention, and most of them have been treated
singly by good historians, which are worth your reading. The revolutions
of Sweden, and of Portugal, are most admirably well written by L'Abbe de
Vertot; they are short, and will not take twelve hours' reading. There is
another book which very well deserves your looking into, but not worth
your buying at present, because it is not portable; if you can borrow or
hire it, you should; and that is, 'L' Histoire des Traits de Paix, in two
volumes, folio, which make part of the 'Corps Diplomatique'. You will
there find a short and clear history, and the substance of every treaty
made in Europe, during the last century, from the treaty of Vervins.
Three parts in four of this book are not worth your reading, as they
relate to treaties of very little importance; but if you select the most
considerable ones, read them with attention, and take some notes, it will
be of great use to you. Attend chiefly to those in which the great powers
of Europe are the parties; such as the treaty of the Pyrenees, between
France and Spain; the treaties of Nimeguen and Ryswick; but, above all,
the treaty of Munster should be most circumstantially and minutely known
to you, as almost every treaty made since has some reference to it. For
this, Pere Bougeant is the best book you can read, as it takes in the
thirty years' war, which preceded that treaty. The treaty itself, which
is made a perpetual law of the empire, comes in the course of your
lectures upon the 'Jus Publicum Imperii'.

In order to furnish you with materials for a letter, and at the same time
to inform both you and myself of what it is right that we should know,
pray answer me the following questions:

How many companies are there in the Saxon regiments of foot? How many men
in each company?

How many troops in the regiments of horse and dragoons; and how many men
in each?

What number of commissioned and non-commissioned officers in a company of
foot, or in a troop of horse or dragoons? N. B. Noncommissioned officers
are all those below ensigns and cornets.

What is the daily pay of a Saxon foot soldier, dragoon, and trooper?

What are the several ranks of the 'Etat Major-general'? N. B. The Etat
Major-general is everything above colonel. The Austrians have no
brigadiers, and the French have no major-generals in their Etat Major.
What have the Saxons? Adieu!


LONDON, March 27, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: This little packet will be delivered to you by one Monsieur
Duval, who is going to the fair at Leipsig. He is a jeweler, originally
of Geneva, but who has been settled here these eight or ten years, and a
very sensible fellow: pray do be very civil to him.

As I advised you, some time ago, to inform yourself of the civil and
military establishments of as many of the kingdoms and states of Europe,
as you should either be in yourself, or be able to get authentic accounts
of, I send you here a little book, in which, upon the article of Hanover,
I have pointed out the short method of putting down these informations,
by way of helping your memory. The book being lettered, you can
immediately turn to whatever article you want; and, by adding interleaves
to each letter, may extend your minutes to what particulars you please.
You may get such books made anywhere; and appropriate each, if you
please, to a particular object. I have myself found great utility in this
method. If I had known what to have sent you by this opportunity I would
have done it. The French say, 'Que les petits presens entretiennent
l'amite et que les grande l'augmentent'; but I could not recollect that
you wanted anything, or at least anything that you cannot get as well at
Leipsig as here. Do but continue to deserve, and, I assure you, that you
shall never want anything I can give.

Do not apprehend that my being out of employment may be any prejudice to
you. Many things will happen before you can be fit for business; and when
you are fit, whatever my situation may be, it will always be in my power
to help you in your first steps; afterward you must help yourself by your
own abilities. Make yourself necessary, and, instead of soliciting, you
will be solicited. The thorough knowledge of foreign affairs, the
interests, the views, and the manners of the several courts in Europe,
are not the common growth of this country. It is in your power to acquire
them; you have all the means. Adieu!  Yours.



LONDON, April 1, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I have not received any letter, either from you or from Mr.
Harte, these three posts, which I impute wholly to accidents between this
place and Leipsig; and they are distant enough to admit of many. I always
take it for granted that you are well, when I do not hear to the
contrary; besides, as I have often told you, I am much more anxious about
your doing well, than about your being well; and, when you do not write,
I will suppose that you are doing something more useful. Your health will
continue, while your temperance continues; and at your age nature takes
sufficient care of the body, provided she is left to herself, and that
intemperance on one hand, or medicines on the other, do not break in upon
her. But it is by no means so with the mind, which, at your age
particularly, requires great and constant care, and some physic. Every
quarter of an hour, well or ill employed, will do it essential and
lasting good or harm. It requires also a great deal of exercise, to bring
it to a state of health and vigor. Observe the difference there is
between minds cultivated, and minds uncultivated, and you will, I am
sure, think that you cannot take too much pains, nor employ too much of
your time in the culture of your own. A drayman is probably born with as
good organs as Milton, Locke, or Newton; but, by culture, they are as
much more above him as he is above his horse. Sometimes, indeed,
extraordinary geniuses have broken out by the force of nature, without
the assistance of education; but those instances are too rare for anybody
to trust to; and even they would make a much greater figure, if they had
the advantage of education into the bargain. If Shakespeare's genius had
been cultivated, those beauties, which we so justly admire in him, would
have been undisgraced by those extravagancies, and that nonsense, with
which they are frequently accompanied. People are, in general, what they
are made, by education and company, from fifteen to five-and-twenty;
consider well, therefore, the importance of your next eight or nine
years; your whole depends upon them. I will tell you sincerely, my hopes
and my fears concerning you. I think you will be a good scholar; and that
you will acquire a considerable stock of knowledge of various kinds; but
I fear that you neglect what are called little, though, in truth, they
are very material things; I mean, a gentleness of manners, an engaging
address, and an insinuating behavior; they are real and solid advantages,
and none but those who do not know the world, treat them as trifles. I am
told that you speak very quick, and not distinctly; this is a most
ungraceful and disagreeable trick, which you know I have told you of a
thousand times; pray attend carefully to the correction of it. An
agreeable and, distinct manner of speaking adds greatly to the matter;
and I have known many a very good speech unregarded, upon account of the
disagreeable manner in which it has been delivered, and many an
indifferent one applauded, from the contrary reason. Adieu!


LONDON, April 15, O. S. 1748

DEAR BOY: Though I have no letters from you to acknowledge since my last
to you, I will not let three posts go from hence without a letter from
me. My affection always prompts me to write to you; and I am encouraged
to do it, by the hopes that my letters are not quite useless. You will
probably receive this in the midst of the diversions of Leipsig fair; at
which, Mr. Harte tells me, that you are to shine in fine clothes, among
fine folks. I am very glad of it, as it is time that you should begin to
be formed to the manners of the world in higher life. Courts are the best
schools for that sort of learning. You are beginning now with the outside
of a court; and there is not a more gaudy one than that of Saxony. Attend
to it, and make your observations upon the turn and manners of it, that
you may hereafter compare it with other courts which you will see; And,
though you are not yet able to be informed, or to judge of the political
conduct and maxims of that court, yet you may remark the forms, the
ceremonies, and the exterior state of it. At least see everything that
you can see, and know everything that you can know of it, by asking
questions. See likewise everything at the fair, from operas and plays,
down to the Savoyard's raree-shows.

Everything is worth seeing once; and the more one sees, the less one
either wonders or admires.

Make my compliments to Mr. Harte, and tell him that I have just now
received his letter, for which I thank him. I am called away, and my
letter is therefore very much shortened. Adieu.

I am impatient to receive your answers to the many questions that I have
asked you.


LONDON, April 26, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I am extremely pleased with your continuation of the history of
the Reformation; which is one of those important eras that deserves your
utmost attention, and of which you cannot be too minutely informed. You
have, doubtless, considered the causes of that great event, and observed
that disappointment and resentment had a much greater share in it, than a
religious zeal or an abhorrence of the errors and abuses of popery.

Luther, an Augustine monk, enraged that his order, and consequently
himself, had not the exclusive privilege of selling indulgences, but that
the Dominicans were let into a share of that profitable but infamous
trade, turns reformer, and exclaims against the abuses, the corruption,
and the idolatry, of the church of Rome; which were certainly gross
enough for him to have seen long before, but which he had at least
acquiesced in, till what he called the rights, that is, the profit, of
his order came to be touched. It is true, the church of Rome furnished
him ample matter for complaint and reformation, and he laid hold of it

This seems to me the true cause of that great and necessary, work; but
whatever the cause was, the effect was good; and the Reformation spread
itself by its own truth and fitness; was conscientiously received by
great numbers in Germany, and other countries; and was soon afterward
mixed up with the politics of princes; and, as it always happens in
religious disputes, became the specious covering of injustice and

Under the pretense of crushing heresy, as it was called, the House of
Austria meant to extend and establish its power in the empire; as, on the
other hand, many Protestant princes, under the pretense of extirpating
idolatry, or at least of securing toleration, meant only to enlarge their
own dominions or privileges. These views respectively, among the chiefs
on both sides, much more than true religious motives, continued what were
called the religious wars in Germany, almost uninterruptedly, till the
affairs of the two religions were finally settled by the treaty of

Were most historical events traced up to their true causes, I fear we
should not find them much more noble or disinterested than Luther's
disappointed avarice; and therefore I look with some contempt upon those
refining and sagacious historians, who ascribe all, even the most common
events, to some deep political cause; whereas mankind is made up of
inconsistencies, and no man acts invariably up to his predominant
character. The wisest man sometimes acts weakly, and the weakest
sometimes wisely. Our jarring passions, our variable humors, nay, our
greater or lesser degree of health and spirits, produce such
contradictions in our conduct, that, I believe, those are the oftenest
mistaken, who ascribe our actions to the most seemingly obvious motives;
and I am convinced, that a light supper, a good night's sleep, and a fine
morning, have sometimes made a hero of the same man, who, by an
indigestion, a restless night, and rainy morning, would, have proved a
coward. Our best conjectures, therefore, as to the true springs of
actions, are but very uncertain; and the actions themselves are all that
we must pretend to know from history. That Caesar was murdered by
twenty-three conspirators, I make no doubt: but I very much doubt that
their love of liberty, and of their country, was their sole, or even
principal motive; and I dare say that, if the truth were known, we should
find that many other motives at least concurred, even in the great Brutus
himself; such as pride, envy, personal pique, and disappointment. Nay, I
cannot help carrying my Pyrrhonism still further, and extending it often
to historical facts themselves, at least to most of the circumstances
with which they are related; and every day's experience confirms me in
this historical incredulity. Do we ever hear the most recent fact related
exactly in the same way, by the several people who were at the same time
eyewitnesses of it? No. One mistakes, another misrepresents, and others
warp it a little to their own, turn of mind, or private views. A man who
has been concerned in a transaction will not write it fairly; and a man
who has not, cannot. But notwithstanding all this uncertainty, history is
not the less necessary to be known, as the best histories are taken for
granted, and are the frequent subjects both of conversation and writing.
Though I am convinced that Caesar's ghost never appeared to Brutus, yet I
should be much ashamed to be ignorant of that fact, as related by the
historians of those times. Thus the Pagan theology is universally
received as matter for writing and conversation, though believed now by
nobody; and we talk of Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, etc., as gods, though we
know, that if they ever existed at all, it was only as mere mortal men.
This historical Pyrrhonism, then, proves nothing against the study and
knowledge of history; which, of all other studies, is the most necessary
for a man who is to live in the world. It only points out to us, not to
be too decisive and peremptory; and to be cautious how we draw inferences
for our own practice from remote facts, partially or ignorantly related;
of which we can, at best, but imperfectly guess, and certainly not know
the real motives. The testimonies of ancient history must necessarily be
weaker than those of modern, as all testimony grows weaker and weaker, as
it is more and more remote from us. I would therefore advise you to study
ancient history, in general, as other people, do; that is, not to be
ignorant of any or those facts which are universally received, upon the
faith of the best historians; and whether true or false, you have them as
other people have them. But modern history, I mean particularly that of
the last three centuries, is what I would have you apply to with the
greatest attention and exactness. There the probability of coming at the
truth is much greater, as the testimonies are much more recent; besides,
anecdotes, memoirs, and original letters, often come to the aid of modern
history. The best memoirs that I know of are those of Cardinal de Retz,
which I have once before recommended to you; and which I advise you to
read more than once, with attention. There are many political maxims in
these memoirs, most of which are printed in italics; pray attend to, and
remember them. I never read them but my own experience confirms the truth
of them. Many of them seem trifling to people who are not used to
business; but those who are, feel the truth of them.

It is time to put an end to this long rambling letter; in which if any
one thing can be of use to you, it will more than pay the trouble I have
taken to write it. Adieu! Yours.


LONDON, May 10, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I reckon that this letter will find you just returned from
Dresden, where you have made your first court caravanne. What inclination
for courts this taste of them may have given you, I cannot tell; but this
I think myself sure of, from your good sense, that in leaving Dresden,
you have left dissipation too; and have resumed at Leipsig that
application which, if you like courts, can alone enable you to make a
good figure at them. A mere courtier, without parts or knowledge, is the
most frivolous and contemptible of all beings; as, on the other hand, a
man of parts and knowledge, who acquires the easy and noble manners of a
court, is the most perfect. It is a trite, commonplace observation, that
courts are the seats of falsehood and dissimulation. That, like many, I
might say most, commonplace observations, is false. Falsehood and
dissimulation are certainly to be found at courts; but where are they not
to be found? Cottages have them, as well as courts; only with worse
manners. A couple of neighboring farmers in a village will contrive and
practice as many tricks, to over-reach each other at the next market, or
to supplant each other in the favor, of the squire, as any two courtiers
can do to supplant each other in the favor of their prince.

Whatever poets may write, or fools believe, of rural innocence and truth,
and of the perfidy of courts, this is most undoubtedly true that
shepherds and ministers are both men; their nature and passions the same,
the modes of them only different.

Having mentioned commonplace observations, I will particularly caution
you against either using, believing, or approving them. They are the
common topics of witlings and coxcombs; those, who really have wit, have
the utmost contempt for them, and scorn even to laugh at the pert things
that those would-be wits say upon such subjects.

Religion is one of their favorite topics; it is all priest-craft; and an
invention contrived and carried on by priests of all religions, for their
own power and profit; from this absurd and false principle flow the
commonplace, insipid jokes, and insults upon the clergy. With these
people, every priest, of every religion, is either a public or a
concealed unbeliever, drunkard, and whoremaster; whereas, I conceive,
that priests are extremely like other men, and neither the better nor the
worse for wearing a gown or a surplice: but if they are different from
other people, probably it is rather on the side of religion and morality,
or, at least, decency, from their education and manner of life.

Another common topic for false wit, and cool raillery, is matrimony.
Every man and his wife hate each other cordially, whatever they may
pretend, in public, to the contrary. The husband certainly wishes his
wife at the devil, and the wife certainly cuckolds her husband. Whereas,
I presume, that men and their wives neither love nor hate each other the
more, upon account of the form of matrimony which has been said over
them. The cohabitation, indeed, which is the consequence of matrimony,
makes them either love or hate more, accordingly as they respectively
deserve it; but that would be exactly the same between any man and woman
who lived together without being married.

These and many other commonplace reflections upon nations or professions
in general (which are at least as often false as true), are the poor
refuge of people who have neither wit nor invention of their own, but
endeavor to shine in company by second-hand finery. I always put these
pert jackanapes out of countenance, by looking extremely grave, when they
expect that I should laugh at their pleasantries; and by saying WELL, AND
SO, as if they had not done, and that the sting were still to come. This
disconcerts them, as they have no resources in themselves, and have but
one set of jokes to live upon. Men of parts are not reduced to these
shifts, and have the utmost contempt for them, they find proper subjects
enough for either useful or lively conversations; they can be witty
without satire or commonplace, and serious without being dull. The
frequentation of courts checks this petulancy of manners; the
good-breeding and circumspection which are necessary, and only to be
learned there, correct those pertnesses. I do not doubt but that you are
improved in your manners by the short visit which you have made at
Dresden; and the other courts, which I intend that you shall be better
acquainted with, will gradually smooth you up to the highest polish. In
courts, a versatility of genius and softness of manners are absolutely
necessary; which some people mistake for abject flattery, and having no
opinion of one's own; whereas it is only the decent and genteel manner of
maintaining your own opinion, and possibly of bringing other people to
it. The manner of doing things is often more important than the things
themselves; and the very same thing may become either pleasing or
offensive, by the manner of saying or doing it. 'Materiam superabat
opus', is often said of works of sculpture; where though the materials
were valuable, as silver, gold, etc., the workmanship was still more so.
This holds true, applied to manners; which adorn whatever knowledge or
parts people may have; and even make a greater impression upon nine in
ten of mankind, than the intrinsic value of the materials. On the other
hand, remember, that what Horace says of good writing is justly
applicable to those who would make a good figure in courts, and
distinguish themselves in the shining parts of life; 'Sapere est
principium et fons'. A man who, without a good fund of knowledge and
parts, adopts a court life, makes the most ridiculous figure imaginable.
He is a machine, little superior to the court clock; and, as this points
out the hours, he points out the frivolous employment of them. He is, at
most, a comment upon the clock; and according to the hours that it
strikes, tells you now it is levee, now dinner, now supper time, etc. The
end which I propose by your education, and which (IF YOU PLEASE) I shall
certainly attain, is to unite in you all the knowledge of a scholar with
the manners of a courtier; and to join, what is seldom joined by any of
my countrymen, books and the world. They are commonly twenty years old
before they have spoken to anybody above their schoolmaster, and the
fellows of their college. If they happen to have learning, it is only
Greek and Latin, but not one word of modern history, or modern languages.
Thus prepared, they go abroad, as they call it; but, in truth, they stay
at home all that while; for being very awkward, confoundedly ashamed, and
not speaking the languages, they go into no foreign company, at least
none good; but dine and sup with one another only at the tavern. Such
examples, I am sure, you will not imitate, but even carefully avoid. You
will always take care to keep the best company in the place where you
are, which is the only use of traveling: and (by the way) the pleasures
of a gentleman are only to be found in the best company; for that not
which low company, most falsely and impudently, call pleasure, is only
the sensuality of a swine.

I ask hard and uninterrupted study from you but one year more; after
that, you shall have every day more and more time for your amusements. A
few hours each day will then be sufficient for application, and the
others cannot be better employed than in the pleasures of good company.


LONDON, May 31, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I received yesterday your letter of the 16th, N. S., and have,
in consequence of it, written this day to Sir Charles Williams, to thank
him for all the civilities he has shown you. Your first setting out at
court has, I find, been very favorable; and his Polish Majesty has
distinguished you. I hope you received that mark of distinction with
respect and with steadiness, which is the proper behavior of a man of
fashion. People of a low, obscure education cannot stand the rays of
greatness; they are frightened out of their wits when kings and great men
speak to them; they are awkward, ashamed, and do not know what nor how to
answer; whereas, 'les honnetes gens' are not dazzled by superior rank:
they know, and pay all the respect that is due to it; but they do it
without being disconcerted; and can converse just as easily with a king
as with any one of his subjects. That is the great advantage of being
introduced young into good company, and being used early to converse with
one's superiors. How many men have I seen here, who, after having had the
full benefit of an English education, first at school, and then at the
university, when they have been presented to the king, did not know
whether they stood upon their heads or their heels! If the king spoke to
them, they were annihilated; they trembled, endeavored to put their hands
in their pockets, and missed them; let their hats fall, and were ashamed
to take them up; and in short, put themselves in every attitude but the
right, that is, the easy and natural one. The characteristic of a
well-bred man, is to converse with his inferiors without insolence, and
with his superiors with respect and ease. He talks to kings without
concern; he trifles with women of the first condition with familiarity,
gayety, but respect; and converses with his equals, whether he is
acquainted with them or not, upon general common topics, that are not,
however, quite frivolous, without the least concern of mind or
awkwardness of body: neither of which can appear to advantage, but when
they are perfectly easy.

The tea-things, which Sir Charles Williams has given you, I would have
you make a present of to your Mamma, and send them to her by Duval when
he returns. You owe her not only duty, but likewise great obligations for
her care and tenderness; and, consequently, cannot take too many
opportunities of showing your gratitude.

I am impatient to receive your account of Dresden, and likewise your
answers to the many questions that I asked you.

Adieu for this time, and God bless you!


LONDON, May 27, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: This and the two next years make so important a period of your
life, that I cannot help repeating to you my exhortations, my commands,
and (what I hope will be still more prevailing with you than either) my
earnest entreaties, to employ them well. Every moment that you now lose,
is so much character and advantage lost; as, on the other hand, every
moment that you now employ usefully, is so much time wisely laid out, at
most prodigious interest. These two years must lay the foundations of all
the knowledge that you will ever have; you may build upon them afterward
as much as you please, but it will be too late to lay any new ones. Let
me beg of you, therefore, to grudge no labor nor pains to acquire, in
time, that stock of knowledge, without which you never can rise, but must
make a very insignificant figure in the world. Consider your own
situation; you have not the advantage of rank or fortune to bear you up;
I shall, very probably, be out of the world before you can properly be
said to be in it. What then will you have to rely on but your own merit?
That alone must raise you, and that alone will raise you, if you have but
enough of it. I have often heard and read of oppressed and unrewarded
merit, but I have oftener (I might say always) seen great merit make its
way, and meet with its reward, to a certain degree at least, in spite of
all difficulties. By merit, I mean the moral virtues, knowledge, and
manners; as to the moral virtues, I say nothing to you; they speak best
for themselves, nor can I suspect that they want any recommendation with
you; I will therefore only assure you, that without them you will be most

As to knowledge, I have often told you, and I am persuaded you are
thoroughly convinced, how absolutely necessary it is to you, whatever
your destination may be. But as knowledge has a most extensive meaning,
and as the life of man is not long enough to acquire, nor his mind
capable of entertaining and digesting, all parts of knowledge, I will
point out those to which you should particularly apply, and which, by
application, you may make yourself perfect master of. Classical
knowledge, that is, Greek and Latin, is absolutely necessary for
everybody; because everybody has agreed to think and to call it so. And
the word ILLITERATE, in its common acceptation, means a man who is
ignorant of those two languages. You are by this time, I hope, pretty
near master of both, so that a small part of the day dedicated to them,
for two years more, will make you perfect in that study. Rhetoric, logic,
a little geometry, and a general notion of astronomy, must, in their
turns, have their hours too; not that I desire you should be deep in any
one of these; but it is fit you should know something of them all. The
knowledge more particularly useful and necessary for you, considering
your destination, consists of modern languages, modern history,
chronology, and geography, the laws of nations, and the 'jus publicum
Imperii'. You must absolutely speak all the modern Languages, as purely
and correctly as the natives of the respective countries: for whoever
does not speak a language perfectly and easily, will never appear to
advantage in conversation, nor treat with others in it upon equal terms.
As for French, you have it very well already; and must necessarily, from
the universal usage of that language, know it better and better every
day: so that I am in no pain about that: German, I suppose, you know
pretty well by this time, and will be quite master of it before you leave
Leipsig: at least, I am sure you may. Italian and Spanish will come in
their turns, and, indeed, they are both so easy, to one who knows Latin
and French, that neither of them will cost you much time or trouble.
Modern history, by which I mean particularly the history of the last
three centuries, should be the object of your greatest and constant
attention, especially those parts of it which relate more immediately to
the great powers of Europe. This study you will carefully connect with
chronology and geography; that is, you will remark and retain the dates
of every important event; and always read with the map by you, in which
you will constantly look for every place mentioned: this is the only way
of retaining geography; for, though it is soon learned by the lump, yet,
when only so learned, it is still sooner forgot.

Manners, though the last, and it may be the least ingredient of real
merit, are, however, very far from being useless in its composition; they
adorn, and give an additional force and luster to both virtue and
knowledge. They prepare and smooth the way for the progress of both; and
are, I fear, with the bulk of mankind, more engaging than either.
Remember, then, the infinite advantage of manners; cultivate and improve
your own to the utmost good sense will suggest the great rules to you,
good company will do the rest. Thus you see how much you have to do; and
how little time to do it in: for when you are thrown out into the world,
as in a couple of years you must be, the unavoidable dissipation of
company, and the necessary avocations of some kind of business or other,
will leave you no time to undertake new branches of knowledge: you may,
indeed, by a prudent allotment of your time, reserve some to complete and
finish the building; but you will never find enough to lay new
foundations. I have such an opinion of your understanding, that I am
convinced you are sensible of these truths; and that, however hard and
laborious your present uninterrupted application may seem to you, you
will rather increase than lessen it. For God's sake, my dear boy, do not
squander away one moment of your time, for every moment may be now most
usefully employed. Your future fortune, character, and figure in the
world, entirely depend upon your use or abuse of the two next years. If
you do but employ them well, what may you not reasonably expect to be, in
time? And if you do not, what may I not reasonably fear you will be? You
are the only one I ever knew, of this country, whose education was, from
the beginning, calculated for the department of foreign affairs; in
consequence of which, if you will invariably pursue, and diligently
qualify yourself for that object, you may make yourself absolutely
necessary to the government, and, after having received orders as a
minister abroad, send orders, in your turn, as Secretary of State at
home. Most of our ministers abroad have taken up that department
occasionally, without having ever thought of foreign affairs before; many
of them, without speaking any one foreign language; and all of them
without manners which are absolutely necessary toward being well
received, and making a figure at foreign courts. They do the business
accordingly, that is, very ill: they never get into the secrets of these
courts, for want of insinuation and address: they do not guess at their
views, for want of knowing their interests: and, at last, finding
themselves very unfit for, soon grow weary of their commissions, and are
impatient to return home, where they are but too justly laid aside and
neglected. Every moment's conversation may, if you please, be of use to
you; in this view, every public event, which is the common topic of
conversation, gives you an opportunity of getting some information. For
example, the preliminaries of peace, lately concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle,
will be the common subject of most conversations; in which you will take
care to ask the proper questions: as, what is the meaning of the Assiento
contract for negroes, between England and Spain; what the annual ship;
when stipulated; upon what account suspended, etc. You will likewise
inform yourself about Guastalla, now given to Don Philip, together with
Parma and Placentia; who they belonged to before; what claim or
pretensions Don Philip had to them; what they are worth; in short,
everything concerning them. The cessions made by the Queen of Hungary to
the King of Sardinia, are, by these preliminaries, confirmed and secured
to him: you will inquire, therefore, what they are, and what they are
worth. This is the kind of knowledge which you should be most thoroughly
master of, and in which conversation will help you almost as much as
books: but both are best. There are histories of every considerable
treaty, from that of Westphalia to that of Utrecht, inclusively; all
which I would advise you to read. Pore Bougeant's, of the treaty of
Westphalia, is an excellent one; those of Nimeguen, Ryswick, and Utrecht,
are not so well written; but are, however, very useful. 'L'Histoire des
Traites de Paix', in two volumes, folio, which I recommended to you some
time ago, is a book that you should often consult, when you hear mention
made of any treaty concluded in the seventeenth century.

Upon the whole, if you have a mind to be considerable, and to shine
hereafter, you must labor hard now. No quickness of parts, no vivacity,
will do long, or go far, without a solid fund of knowledge; and that fund
of knowledge will amply repay all the pains that you can take in
acquiring it. Reflect seriously, within yourself, upon all this, and ask
yourself whether I can have any view, but your interest, in all that I
recommend to you. It is the result of my experience, and flows from that
tenderness and affection with which, while you deserve them, I shall be,

Make my compliments to Mr. Harte, and tell him that I have received his
letter of the 24th, N. S.


LONDON, May 31, O. S. 1748

DEAR BOY: I have received, with great satisfaction, your letter of the
28th N. S., from Dresden: it finishes your short but clear account of the
Reformation which is one of those interesting periods of modern history,
that can not be too much studied nor too minutely known by you. There are
many great events in history, which, when once they are over, leave
things in the situation in which they found them. As, for instance, the
late war; which, excepting the establishment in Italy for Don Philip,
leave things pretty much in state quo; a mutual restitution of all
acquisitions being stipulated by the preliminaries of the peace. Such
events undoubtedly deserve your notice, but yet not so minutely as those,
which are not only important in themselves, but equally (or it may be
more) important by their consequences too: of this latter sort were the
progress of the Christian religion in Europe; the Invasion of the Goths;
the division of the Roman empire into Western and Eastern; the
establishment and rapid progress of Mahometanism; and, lastly, the
Reformation; all which events produced the greatest changes in the
affairs of Europe, and to one or other of which, the present situation of
all the parts of it is to be traced up.

Next to these, are those events which more immediately effect particular
states and kingdoms, and which are reckoned entirely local, though their
influence may, and indeed very often does, indirectly, extend itself
further, such as civil wars and revolutions, from which a total change in
the form of government frequently flows. The civil wars in England, in
the reign of King Charles I., produced an entire change of the government
here, from a limited monarchy to a commonwealth, at first, and afterward
to absolute power, usurped by Cromwell, under the pretense of protection,
and the title of Protector.

The Revolution in 1688, instead of changing, preserved one form of
government; which King James II. intended to subvert, and establish
absolute power in the Crown.

These are the two great epochs in our English history, which I recommend
to your particular attention.

The league formed by the House of Guise, and fomented by the artifices of
Spain, is a most material part of the history of France. The foundation
of it was laid in the reign of Henry II., but the superstructure was
carried on through the successive reigns of Francis II., Charles IX. and
Henry III., till at last it was crushed, partly, by the arms, but more by
the apostasy of Henry IV.

In Germany, great events have been frequent, by which the imperial
dignity has always either gotten or lost; and so it they have affected
the constitution of the empire. The House of Austria kept that dignity to
itself for near two hundred years, during which time it was always
attempting extend its power, by encroaching upon the rights and
privileges of the other states of the empire; till at the end of the
bellum tricennale, the treaty of Munster, of which France is guarantee,
fixed the respective claims.

Italy has been constantly torn to pieces, from the time of the Goths, by
the Popes and the Anti-popes, severally supported by other great powers
of Europe, more as their interests than as their religion led them; by
the pretensions also of France, and the House of Austria, upon Naples,
Sicily, and the Milanese; not to mention the various lesser causes of
squabbles there, for the little states, such as Ferrara, Parma,
Montserrat, etc.

The Popes, till lately, have always taken a considerable part, and had
great influence in the affairs of Europe; their excommunications, bulls,
and indulgences, stood instead of armies in the time of ignorance and
bigotry; but now that mankind is better informed, the spiritual authority
of the Pope is not only less regarded, but even despised by the Catholic
princes themselves; and his Holiness is actually little more than Bishop
of Rome, with large temporalities, which he is not likely to keep longer
than till the other greater powers in Italy shall find their conveniency
in taking them from him. Among the modern Popes, Leo the Tenth, Alexander
the Sixth, and Sextus Quintus, deserve your particular notice; the first,
among other things, for his own learning and taste, and for his
encouragement of the reviving arts and sciences in Italy. Under his
protection, the Greek and Latin classics were most excellently translated
into Italian; painting flourished and arrived at its perfection; and
sculpture came so near the ancients, that the works of his time, both in
marble and bronze, are now called Antico-Moderno.

Alexander the Sixth, together with his natural son Caesar Borgia, was
famous for his wickedness, in which he, and his son too, surpassed all
imagination. Their lives are well worth your reading. They were poisoned
themselves by the poisoned wine which they had prepared for others; the
father died of it, but Caesar recovered.

Sixtus the Fifth was the son of a swineherd, and raised himself to the
popedom by his abilities: he was a great knave, but an able and singular

Here is history enough for to-day: you shall have some more soon. Adieu.


LONDON, June 21, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: Your very bad enunciation runs so much in my head, and gives me
such real concern, that it will be the subject of this, and, I believe,
of many more letters. I congratulate both you and myself, that, was
informed of it (as I hope) in time to prevent it: and shall ever think
myself, as hereafter you will, I am sure think yourself, infinitely
obliged to Sir Charles Williams for informing me of it. Good God! if this
ungraceful and disagreeable manner of speaking had, either by your
negligence or mine, become habitual to you, as in a couple of years more
it would have been, what a figure would you have made in company, or in a
public assembly? Who would have liked you in the one or attended you; in
the other? Read what Cicero and Quintilian say of enunciation, and see
what a stress they lay upon the gracefulness of it; nay, Cicero goes
further, and even maintains, that a good figure is necessary for an
orator; and particularly that he must not be vastus, that is, overgrown
and clumsy. He shows by it that he knew mankind well, and knew the powers
of an agreeable figure and a graceful, manner. Men, as well as women, are
much oftener led by their hearts than by their understandings. The way to
the heart is through the senses; please their eyes and their ears and the
work is half done. I have frequently known a man's fortune decided for
ever by his first address. If it is pleasing, people are hurried
involuntarily into a persuasion that he has a merit, which possibly he
has not; as, on the other hand, if it is ungraceful, they are immediately
prejudiced against him, and unwilling to allow him the merit which it may
be he has. Nor is this sentiment so unjust and unreasonable as at first
it may seem; for if a man has parts, he must know of what infinite
consequence it is to him to have a graceful manner of speaking, and a
genteel and pleasing address; he will cultivate and improve them to the
utmost. Your figure is a good one; you have no natural defect in the
organs of speech; your address may be engaging, and your manner of
speaking graceful, if you will; so that if you are not so, neither I nor
the world can ascribe it to anything but your want of parts. What is the
constant and just observation as to all actors upon the stage? Is it not,
that those who have the best sense, always speak the best, though they
may happen not to have the best voices? They will speak plainly,
distinctly, and with the proper emphasis, be their voices ever so bad.
Had Roscius spoken QUICK, THICK, and UNGRACEFULLY, I will answer for it,
that Cicero would not have thought him worth the oration which he made in
his favor. Words were given us to communicate our ideas by: and there
must be something inconceivably absurd in uttering them in such a manner
as that either people cannot understand them, or will not desire to
understand them. I tell you, truly and sincerely, that I shall judge of
your parts by your speaking gracefully or ungracefully. If you have
parts, you will never be at rest till you have brought yourself to a
habit of speaking most gracefully; for I aver, that it is in your power
--You will desire Mr. Harte, that you may read aloud to him every day;
and that he will interrupt and correct you every time that you read too
fast, do not observe the proper stops, or lay a wrong emphasis. You will
take care to open your teeth when you speak; to articulate every word
distinctly; and to beg of Mr. Harte, Mr. Eliot, or whomsoever you speak
to, to remind and stop you, if you ever fall into the rapid and
unintelligible mutter. You will even read aloud to yourself, and time
your utterance to your own ear; and read at first much slower than you
need to do, in order to correct yourself of that shameful trick of
speaking faster than you ought. In short, if you think right, you will
make it your business; your study, and your pleasure to speak well.
Therefore, what I have said in this, and in my last, is more than
sufficient, if you have sense; and ten times more would not be
sufficient, if you have not; so here I rest it.

Next to graceful speaking, a genteel carriage, and a graceful manner of
presenting yourself, are extremely necessary, for they are extremely
engaging: and carelessness in these points is much more unpardonable in a
young fellow than affectation. It shows an offensive indifference about
pleasing. I am told by one here, who has seen you lately, that you are
awkward in your motions, and negligent of your person: I am sorry for
both; and so will you be, when it will be too late, if you continue so
some time longer. Awkwardness of carriage is very alienating; and a total
negligence of dress and air is an impertinent insult upon custom and
fashion. You remember Mr.------very well, I am sure, and you must
consequently remember his, extreme awkwardness: which, I can assure you,
has been a great clog to his parts and merit, that have, with much
difficulty, but barely counterbalanced it at last. Many, to whom I have
formerly commended him, have answered me, that they were sure he could
not have parts, because he was so awkward: so much are people, as I
observed to you before, taken by the eye. Women have great influence as
to a man's fashionable character; and an awkward man will never have
their votes; which, by the way, are very numerous, and much oftener
counted than weighed. You should therefore give some attention to your
dress, and the gracefulness of your motions. I believe, indeed, that you
have no perfect model for either at Leipsig, to form yourself upon; but,
however, do not get a habit of neglecting either; and attend properly to
both, when you go to courts, where they are very necessary, and where you
will have good masters and good models for both. Your exercises of
riding, fencing, and dancing, will civilize and fashion your body and
your limbs, and give you, if you will but take it, 'l'air d'un honnete

I will now conclude with suggesting one reflection to you; which is, that
you should be sensible of your good fortune, in having one who interests
himself enough in you, to inquire into your faults, in order to inform
you of them. Nobody but myself would be so solicitous, either to know or
correct them; so that you might consequently be ignorant of them
yourself; for our own self-love draws a thick veil between us and our
faults. But when you hear yours from me, you may be sure that you hear
them from one who for your sake only desires to correct them; from one
whom you cannot suspect of any, partiality but in your favor; and from
one who heartily wishes that his care of you, as a father, may, in a
little time, render every care unnecessary but that of a friend. Adieu.

P. S. I condole with you for the untimely and violent death of the
tuneful Matzel.


LONDON, July 1, O. S. 1748.

DEAR Boy: I am extremely well pleased with the course of studies which
Mr. Harte informs me you are now in, and with the degree of application
which he assures me you have to them. It is your interest to do so, as
the advantage will be all your own. My affection for you makes me both
wish and endeavor that you may turn out well; and, according as you do
turn out, I shall either be proud or ashamed of you. But as to mere
interest, in the common acceptation of that word, it would be mine that
you should turn out ill; for you may depend upon it, that whatever you
have from me shall be most exactly proportioned to your desert. Deserve a
great deal, and you shall have a great deal; deserve a little, and you
shall have but a little; and be good for nothing at all, and, I assure
you, you shall have nothing at all.

Solid knowledge, as I have often told you, is the first and great
foundation of your future fortune and character; for I never mention to
you the two much greater points of Religion and Morality, because I
cannot possibly suspect you as to either of them. This solid knowledge
you are in a fair way of acquiring; you may, if you please; and I will
add, that nobody ever had the means of acquiring it more in their power
than you have. But remember, that manners must adorn knowledge, and
smooth its way through the world. Like a great rough diamond, it may do
very well in a closet by way of curiosity, and also for its intrinsic
value; but it will never be worn or shine if it is not polished. It is
upon this article, I confess, that I suspect you the most, which makes me
recur to it so often; for I fear that you are apt to show too little
attention to everybody, and too much contempt to many. Be convinced, that
there are no persons so insignificant and inconsiderable, but may, some
time or other, have it in their power to be of use to you; which they
certainly will not, if you have once shown them contempt. Wrongs are
often forgiven; but contempt never is. Our pride remembers it forever. It
implies a discovery of weaknesses, which we are much more careful to
conceal than crimes. Many a man will confess his crimes to a common
friend, but I never knew a man who would tell his silly weaknesses to his
most intimate one--as many a friend will tell us our faults without
reserve, who will not so much as hint at our follies; that discovery is
too mortifying to our self-love, either to tell another, or to be told of
one's self. You must, therefore, never expect to hear of your weaknesses,
or your follies, from anybody but me; those I will take pains to
discover, and whenever I do, shall tell you of them.

Next to manners are exterior graces of person and address, which adorn
manners, as manners adorn knowledge. To say that they please, engage, and
charm, as they most indisputably do, is saying that one should do
everything possible to acquire them. The graceful manner of speaking is,
particularly, what I shall always holloa in your ears, as Hotspur
holloaed MORTIMER to Henry IV., and, like him too, I have aimed to have a
starling taught to say, SPEAK DISTINCTLY AND GRACEFULLY, and send him
you, to replace your loss of the unfortunate Matzel, who, by the way, I
am told, spoke his language very distinctly and gracefully.

As by this time you must be able to write German tolerably well, I desire
that you will not fail to write a German letter, in the German character,
once every fortnight, to Mr. Grevenkop: which will make it more familiar
to you, and enable me to judge how you improve in it.

Do not forget to answer me the questions, which I asked you a great while
ago, in relation to the constitution of Saxony; and also the meaning of
the words 'Landsassii and Amptsassii'.

I hope you do not forget to inquire into the affairs of trade and
commerce, nor to get the best accounts you can of the commodities and
manufactures, exports and imports of the several countries where you may
be, and their gross value.

I would likewise have you attend to the respective coins, gold, silver,
copper, etc., and their value, compared with our coin's; for which
purpose I would advise you to put up, in a separate piece of paper, one
piece of every kind, wherever you shall be, writing upon it the name and
the value. Such a collection will be curious enough in itself; and that
sort of knowledge will be very useful to you in your way of business,
where the different value of money often comes in question.

I am doing to Cheltenham to-morrow, less for my health; which is pretty
good, than for the dissipation and amusement of the journey. I shall stay
about a fortnight.

L'Abbe Mably's 'Droit de l'Europe', which Mr. Harte is so kind as to send
me, is worth your reading. Adieu.


CHELTENHAM, July 6, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: Your school-fellow, Lord Pulteney,--[Only child of the Right
Hon. William Pulteney, Earl of Bath. He died before his father.]--set out
last week for Holland, and will, I believe, be at Leipsig soon after this
letter: you will take care to be extremely civil to him, and to do him
any service that you can while you stay there; let him know that I wrote
to you to do so. As being older, he should know more than you; in that
case, take pains to get up to him; but if he does not, take care not to
let him feel his inferiority. He will find it out of himself without your
endeavors; and that cannot be helped: but nothing is more insulting, more
mortifying and less forgiven, than avowedly to take pains to make a man
feel a mortifying inferiority in knowledge, rank, fortune, etc. In the
two last articles, it is unjust, they not being in his power: and in the
first it is both ill-bred and ill-natured. Good-breeding, and
good-nature, do incline us rather to raise and help people up to
ourselves, than to mortify and depress them, and, in truth, our own
private interest concurs in it, as it is making ourselves so many
friends, instead of so many enemies. The constant practice of what the
French call 'les Attentions', is a most necessary ingredient in the art
of pleasing; they flatter the self-love of those to whom they are shown;
they engage, they captivate, more than things of much greater importance.
The duties of social life every man is obliged to discharge; but these
attentions are voluntary acts, the free-will offerings of good-breeding
and good nature; they are received, remembered, and returned as such.
Women, particularly, have a right to them; and any omission in that
respect is downright ill-breeding.

Do you employ your whole time in the most useful manner? I do not mean,
do you study all day long? nor do I require it. But I mean, do you make
the most of the respective allotments of your time? While you study, is
it with attention? When you divert yourself, is it with spirit? Your
diversions may, if you please, employ some part of your time very
usefully. It depends entirely upon the nature of them. If they are futile
and frivolous it is time worse than lost, for they will give you an habit
of futility. All gaming, field-sports, and such sort of amusements, where
neither the understanding nor the senses have the least share, I look
upon as frivolous, and as the resources of little minds, who either do
not think, or do not love to think. But the pleasures of a man of parts
either flatter the senses or improve the mind; I hope at least, that
there is not one minute of the day in which you do nothing at all.
Inaction at your age is unpardonable.

Tell me what Greek and Latin books you can now read with ease. Can you
open Demosthenes at a venture, and understand him? Can you get through an
"Oration" of Cicero, or a "Satire" of Horace, without difficulty? What
German books do you read, to make yourself master of that language? And
what French books do you read for your amusement? Pray give me a
particular and true account of all this; for I am not indifferent as to
any one thing that relates to you. As, for example, I hope you take great
care to keep your whole person, particularly your mouth, very clean;
common decency requires it, besides that great cleanliness is very
conducive to health. But if you do not keep your mouth excessively clean,
by washing it carefully every morning, and after every meal, it will not
only be apt to smell, which is very disgusting and indecent, but your
teeth will decay and ache, which is both a great loss and a great pain. A
spruceness of dress is also very proper and becoming at your age; as the
negligence of it implies an indifference about pleasing, which does not
become a young fellow. To do whatever you do at all to the utmost
perfection, ought to be your aim at this time of your life; if you can
reach perfection, so much the better; but at least, by attempting it, you
will get much nearer than if you never attempted it at all.

Adieu! SPEAK GRACEFULLY AND DISTINCTLY if you intend to converse ever
with, Yours.

P. S. As I was making up my letter, I received yours of the 6th, O. S. I
like your dissertation upon Preliminary Articles and Truces. Your
definitions of both are true. Those are matters which I would have you be
master of; they belong to your future department, But remember too, that
they are matters upon which you will much oftener have occasion to speak
than to write; and that, consequently, it is full as necessary to speak
gracefully and distinctly upon them as to write clearly and elegantly. I
find no authority among the ancients, nor indeed among the moderns, for
indistinct and unintelligible utterance. The Oracles indeed meant to be
obscure; but then it was by the ambiguity of the expression, and not by
the inarticulation of the words. For if people had not thought, at least,
they understood them, they would neither have frequented nor presented
them as they did. There was likewise among the ancients, and is still
among the moderns, a sort of people called Ventriloqui, who speak from
their bellies, on make the voice seem to come from some other part of the
room than that where they are. But these Ventriloqui speak very
distinctly and intelligibly. The only thing, then, that I can find like a
precedent for your way of speaking (and I would willingly help you to one
if I could) is the modern art 'de persifler', practiced with great
success by the 'Petits maitres' at Paris. This noble art consists in
picking out some grave, serious man, who neither understands nor expects,
raillery, and talking to him very quick, and inarticulate sounds; while
the man, who thinks that he did not hear well; or attend sufficiently,
says, 'Monsieur? or 'Plait-il'? a hundred times; which affords matter of
much mirth to those ingenious gentlemen. Whether you would follow, this
precedent, I submit to you.

Have you carried no English or French comedies of tragedies with you to
Leipsig? If you have, I insist upon your reciting some passages of them
every day to Mr. Harte in the most distinct and graceful manner, as if
you were acting them upon a stage.

The first part of my letter is more than an answer to your questions
concerning Lord Pulteney.


LONDON, July, 20, O. S. 1748

DEAR BOY: There are two sorts of understandings; one of which hinders a
man from ever being considerable, and the other commonly makes him
ridiculous; I mean the lazy mind, and the trifling, frivolous mind:
Yours, I hope, is neither. The lazy mind will not take the trouble of
going to the bottom of anything; but, discouraged by the first
difficulties (and everything worth knowing or having is attained with
some), stops short, contents, itself with easy, and consequently
superficial knowledge, and prefers a great degree of ignorance to a small
degree of trouble. These people either think, or represent most things as
impossible; whereas, few things are so to industry and activity. But
difficulties seem to them, impossibilities, or at least they pretend to
think them so--by way of excuse for their laziness. An hour's attention
to the same subject is too laborious for them; they take everything in
the light in which it first presents itself; never consider, it in all
its different views; and, in short, never think it through. The
consequence of this is that when they come to speak upon these subjects,
before people who have considered them with attention; they only discover
their own ignorance and laziness, and lay themselves open to answers that
put them in confusion. Do not then be discouraged by the first
difficulties, but 'contra audentior ito'; and resolve to go to the bottom
of all those things which every gentleman ought to know well. Those arts
or sciences which are peculiar to certain professions, need not be deeply
known by those who are not intended for those professions. As, for
instance; fortification and navigation; of both which, a superficial and
general knowledge, such as the common course of conversation, with a very
little inquiry on your part, will give you, is sufficient. Though, by the
way, a little more knowledge of fortification may be of some use to you;
as the events of war, in sieges, make many of the terms, of that science
occur frequently in common conversation; and one would be sorry to say,
like the Marquis de Mascarille in Moliere's 'Precieuses Ridicules', when
he hears of 'une demie lune, Ma foi! c'etoit bien une lune toute
entiere'. But those things which every gentleman, independently of
profession, should know, he ought to know well, and dive into all the
depth of them. Such are languages, history, and geography ancient and
modern, philosophy, rational logic; rhetoric; and, for you particularly,
the constitutions and the civil and military state of every country in
Europe: This, I confess; is a pretty large circle of knowledge, attended
with some difficulties, and requiring some trouble; which, however; an
active and industrious mind will overcome; and be amply repaid. The
trifling and frivolous mind is always busied, but to little purpose; it
takes little objects for great ones, and throws away upon trifles that
time and attention which only important things deserve. Knick-knacks;
butterflies; shells, insects, etc., are the subjects of their most
serious researches. They contemplate the dress, not the characters of the
company they keep. They attend more to the decorations of a play than the
sense of it; and to the ceremonies of a court more than to its politics.
Such an employment of time is an absolute loss of it. You have now, at
most, three years to employ either well or ill; for, as I have often told
you, you will be all your life what you shall be three years hence. For
God's sake then reflect. Will you throw this time away either in
laziness, or in trifles? Or will you not rather employ every moment of it
in a manner that must so soon reward you with so much pleasure, figure,
and character? I cannot, I will not doubt of your choice. Read only
useful books; and never quit a subject till you are thoroughly master of
it, but read and inquire on till then. When you are in company, bring the
conversation to some useful subject, but 'a portee' of that company.
Points of history, matters of literature, the customs of particular
countries, the several orders of knighthood, as Teutonic, Maltese, etc.,
are surely better subjects of conversation, than the weather, dress, or
fiddle-faddle stories, that carry no information along with them. The
characters of kings and great men are only to be learned in conversation;
for they are never fairly written during their lives. This, therefore, is
an entertaining and instructive subject of conversation, and will
likewise give you an opportunity of observing how very differently
characters are given, from the different passions and views of those who
give them. Never be ashamed nor afraid of asking questions: for if they
lead to information, and if you accompany them with some excuse, you will
never be reckoned an impertinent or rude questioner. All those things, in
the common course of life, depend entirely upon the manner; and, in that
respect, the vulgar saying is true, 'That one man can better steal a
horse, than another look over the hedge.' There are few things that may
not be said, in some manner or other; either in a seeming confidence, or
a genteel irony, or introduced with wit; and one great part of the
knowledge of the world consists in knowing when and where to make use of
these different manners. The graces of the person, the countenance, and
the way of speaking, contribute so much to this, that I am convinced, the
very same thing, said by a genteel person in an engaging way, and
GRACEFULLY and distinctly spoken, would please, which would shock, if
MUTTERED out by an awkward figure, with a sullen, serious countenance.
The poets always represent Venus as attended by the three Graces, to
intimate that even beauty will not do without: I think they should have
given Minerva three also; for without them, I am sure learning is very
unattractive. Invoke them, then, DISTINCTLY, to accompany all your words
and motions. Adieu.

P. S. Since I wrote what goes before, I have received your letter, OF NO
DATE, with the inclosed state of the Prussian forces: of which, I hope,
you have kept a copy; this you should lay in a 'portefeuille', and add to
it all the military establishments that you can get of other states and
kingdoms: the Saxon establishment you may, doubtless, easily find. By the
way, do not forget to send me answers to the questions which I sent you
some time ago, concerning both the civil and the ecclesiastical affairs
of Saxony.

Do not mistake me, and think I only mean that you should speak elegantly
with regard to style, and the purity of language; but I mean, that you
should deliver and pronounce what you say gracefully and distinctly; for
which purpose I will have you frequently read very loud, to Mr. Harte,
recite parts of orations, and speak passages of plays; for, without a
graceful and pleasing enunciation, all your elegancy of style, in
speaking, is not worth one farthing.

I am very glad that Mr. Lyttelton approves of my new house, and
particularly of my CANONICAL--[James Brydges, duke of Chandos, built a
most magnificent and elegant house at CANNONS, about eight miles from
London. It was superbly furnished with fine pictures, statues, etc.,
which, after his death, were sold, by auction. Lord Chesterfield
purchased the hall-pillars, the floor; and staircase with double flights;
which are now in Chesterfield House, London.]--pillars. My bust of Cicero
is a very fine one, and well preserved; it will have the best place in my
library, unless at your return you bring me over as good a modern head of
your own, which I should like still better. I can tell you, that I shall
examine it as attentively as ever antiquary did an old one.

Make my compliments to Mr. Harte, at whose recovery I rejoice.


LONDON, August 2, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: Duval the jeweler, is arrived, and was with me three or four
days ago. You will easily imagine that I asked him a few questions
concerning you; and I will give you the satisfaction of knowing that,
upon the whole, I was very well pleased with the account he gave me. But,
though he seemed to be much in your interest, yet he fairly owned to me
that your utterance was rapid, thick, and ungraceful. I can add nothing
to what I have already said upon this subject; but I can and do repeat
the absolute necessity of speaking distinctly and gracefully, or else of
not speaking at all, and having recourse to signs. He tells me that you
are pretty fat for one of your age: this you should attend to in a proper
way; for if, while very young; you should grow fat, it would be
troublesome, unwholesome, and ungraceful; you should therefore, when you
have time, take very strong exercise, and in your diet avoid fattening
things. All malt liquors fatten, or at least bloat; and I hope you do not
deal much in them.  I look upon wine and water to be, in every respect;
much wholesomer.

Duval says there is a great deal of very good company at Madame
Valentin's and at another lady's, I think one Madame Ponce's, at Leipsig.
Do you ever go to either of those houses, at leisure times? It would not,
in my mind, be amiss if you did, and would give you a habit of
ATTENTIONS; they are a tribute which all women expect; and which all men,
who would be well received by them; must pay. And, whatever the mind may
be, manners at least are certainly improved by the company of women of

I have formerly told you, that you should inform yourself of the several
orders, whether military or religious, of the respective countries where
you may be. The Teutonic Order is the great Order of Germany, of which I
send you inclosed a short account. It may serve to suggest questions to
you for more particular inquiries as to the present state of it, of which
you ought to be minutely informed. The knights, at present, make vows, of
which they observe none, except it be that of not marrying; and their
only object now is, to arrive, by seniority, at the Commanderies in their
respective provinces; which are, many of them, very lucrative. The Order
of Malta is, by a very few years, prior to the Teutonic, and owes its
foundation to the same causes. These' knights were first called Knights
Hospitaliers of St. John of Jerusalem, then Knights of Rhodes; and in
the year 1530, Knights of Malta, the Emperor Charles V. having granted
them that island, upon condition of their defending his island of Sicily
against the Turks, which they effectually did. L'Abbe de Vertot has
written the history of Malta, but it is the least valuable of all his
works; and moreover, too long for you to read. But there is a short
history, of all the military orders whatsoever, which I would advise you
to get, as there is also of all the religious orders; both which are
worth your having and consulting, whenever you meet with any of them in
your way; as, you will very frequently in Catholic countries. For my own
part, I find that I remember things much better, when I recur, to my
books for them, upon some particular occasion, than by reading them 'tout
de suite'. As, for example, if I were to read the history of all the
military or religious orders, regularly one after another, the latter
puts the former out of my head; but when I read the history of any one,
upon account, of its having been the object of conversation or dispute, I
remember it much better. It is the same in geography, where, looking for
any particular place in the map, upon some particular account, fixes it
in one's memory forever. I hope you have worn out your maps by frequent,
use of that sort. Adieu.


In the ages of ignorance, which is always the mother of superstition, it
was thought not only just, but meritorious, to propagate religion by fire
and sword, and to take away the lives and properties of unbelievers.
This enthusiasm produced the several crusades, in the 11th, 12th, and
following centuries, the object of which was, to recover the Holy Land
out of, the hands of the Infidels, who, by the way, were the lawful
possessors. Many honest enthusiasts engaged in those crusades, from a
mistaken principle of religion, and from the pardons granted by the Popes
for all the sins of those pious adventurers; but many more knaves adopted
these holy wars, in hopes of conquest and plunder. After Godfrey of
Bouillon, at the head of these knaves and fools, had taken Jerusalem, in
the year 1099, Christians of various nations remained in that city; among
the rest, one good honest German, that took particular care of his
countrymen who came thither in pilgrimages. He built a house for their
reception, and an hospital dedicated to the Virgin. This little
establishment soon became a great one, by the enthusiasm of many
considerable people who engaged in it, in order to drive the Saracens out
of the Holy Land. This society then began to take its first form; and its
members were called Marian Teutonic Knights. Marian, from their chapel
sacred to the Virgin Mary; Teutonic, from the German, or Teuton, who was
the author of it, and Knights from the wars which they were to carry on
against the Infidels.

These knights behaved themselves so bravely, at first; that Duke
Frederick of Swabia, who was general of the German army in the Holy Land,
sent, in the year 1191, to the Emperor Henry VI. and Pope Celestine III.
to desire that this brave and charitable fraternity might be incorporated
into a regular order of knighthood; which was accordingly done, and rules
and a particular habit were given them. Forty knights, all of noble
families, were at first created by the King of Jerusalem and other
princes then in the army. The first grand master of this order was Henry
Wallpot, of a noble family upon the Rhine. This order soon began to
operate in Europe; drove all the Pagans out of Prussia, and took
possession of it. Soon after, they got Livonia and Courland, and invaded
even Russia, where they introduced the Christian religion. In 1510, they
elected Albert, Marquis of Bradenburg, for their grand master, who,
turning Protestant, soon afterward took Prussia from the order, and kept
it for himself, with the consent of Sigismund, King of Poland, of whom it
was to hold. He then quitted his grand mastership and made himself
hereditary Duke of that country, which is thence called Ducal Prussia.
This order now consists of twelve provinces; viz., Alsatia, Austria,
Coblentz, and Etsch, which are the four under the Prussian jurisdiction;
Franconia, Hesse, Biessen, Westphalia, Lorraine, Thuringia, Saxony, and
Utrecht, which eight are of the German jurisdiction. The Dutch now
possess all that the order had in Utrecht. Every one of the provinces
have their particular Commanderies; and the most ancient of these
Commandeurs is called the Commandeur Provincial. These twelve Commandeurs
are all subordinate to the Grand Master of Germany as their chief, and
have the right of electing the grand master. The elector of Cologne is at
present 'Grand Maitre'.

This order, founded by mistaken Christian zeal, upon the anti-Christian
principles of violence and persecution, soon grew strong by the weakness
and ignorance of the time; acquired unjustly great possessions, of which
they justly lost the greatest part by their ambition and cruelty, which
made them feared and hated by all their neighbors.

I have this moment received your letter of the 4th, N. S., and have only
time to tell you that I can by no means agree to your cutting off your
hair. I am very sure that your headaches cannot proceed from thence. And
as for the pimples upon your head, they are only owing to the heat of the
season, and consequently will not last long. But your own hair is, at
your age, such an ornament, and a wig, however well made, such a
disguise, that I will upon no account whatsoever have you cut off your
hair. Nature did not give it to you for nothing, still less to cause you
the headache. Mr. Eliot's hair grew so ill and bushy, that he was in the
right to cut it off. But you have not the same reason.


LONDON, August 23, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: Your friend, Mr. Eliot, has dined with me twice since I
returned here, and I can say with truth that while I had the seals, I
never examined or sifted a state prisoner with so much care and curiosity
as I did him. Nay, I did more; for, contrary to the laws of this country,
I gave him in some manner, the QUESTION ordinary and extraordinary; and I
have infinite pleasure in telling you that the rack which I put him to,
did not extort from him one single word that was not such as I wished to
hear of you. I heartily congratulate you upon such an advantageous
testimony, from so creditable a witness. 'Laudati a laudato viro', is one
of the greatest pleasures and honors a rational being can have; may you
long continue to deserve it! Your aversion to drinking and your dislike
to gaming, which Mr. Eliot assures me are both very strong, give me, the
greatest joy imaginable, for your sake: as the former would ruin both
your constitution and understanding, and the latter your fortune and
character. Mr. Harte wrote me word some time ago, and Mr. Eliot confirms
it now, that you employ your pin money in a very different manner, from
that in which pin money is commonly lavished: not in gew-gaws and
baubles, but in buying good and useful books. This is an excellent
symptom, and gives me very good hopes. Go on thus, my dear boy, but for
these next two years, and I ask no more. You must then make such a figure
and such a fortune in the world as I wish you, and as I have taken all
these pains to enable you to do. After that time I allow you to be as
idle as ever you please; because I am sure that you will not then please
to be so at all. The ignorant and the weak are only idle; but those who
have once acquired a good stock of knowledge, always desire to increase
it. Knowledge is like power in this respect, that those who have the
most, are most desirous of having more. It does not clog, by possession,
but increases desire; which is the case of very few pleasures.

Upon receiving this congratulatory letter, and reading your own praises,
I am sure that it must naturally occur to you, how great a share of them
you owe to Mr. Harte's care and attention; and, consequently, that your
regard and affection for him must increase, if there be room for it, in
proportion as you reap, which you do daily, the fruits of his labors.

I must not, however, conceal from you that there was one article in which
your own witness, Mr. Eliot, faltered; for, upon my questioning him home
as to your manner of speaking, he could not say that your utterance was
either distinct or graceful. I have already said so much to you upon this
point that I can add nothing. I will therefore only repeat this truth,
which is, that if you will not speak distinctly and graceful, nobody will
desire to hear you. I am glad to learn that Abbe Mably's 'Droit Public de
l'Europe' makes a part of your evening amusements. It is a very useful
book, and gives a clear deduction of the affairs of Europe, from the
treaty of Munster to this time.  Pray read it with attention, and with
the proper maps; always recurring to them for the several countries or
towns yielded, taken, or restored. Pyre Bougeant's third volume will give
you the best idea of the treaty of Munster, and open to you the several
views of the belligerent' and contracting parties, and there never were
greater than at that time. The House of Austria, in the war immediately
preceding that treaty, intended to make itself absolute in the empire,
and to overthrow the rights of the respective states of it. The view of
France was to weaken and dismember the House of Austria to such a degree,
as that it should no longer be a counterbalance to that of Bourbon.
Sweden wanted possessions on the continent of Germany, not only to supply
the necessities of its own poor and barren country, but likewise to hold
the balance in the empire between the House of Austria and the States.
The House of Brandenburg wanted to aggrandize itself by pilfering in the
fire; changed sides occasionally, and made a good bargain at last; for I
think it got, at the peace, nine or ten bishoprics secularized. So that
we may date, from the treaty of Munster, the decline of the House of
Austria, the great power of the House of Bourbon, and the aggrandizement
of that of Bradenburg: which, I am much mistaken, if it stops where it is

Make my compliments to Lord Pulteney, to whom I would have you be not
only attentive, but useful, by setting him (in case he wants it) a good
example of application and temperance. I begin to believe that, as I
shall be proud of you, others will be proud too of imitating you: Those
expectations of mine seem now so well grounded, that my disappointment,
and consequently my anger, will be so much the greater if they fail; but
as things stand now, I am most affectionately and tenderly, Yours.


LONDON, August 30, O. S. 1748

DEAR BOY: Your reflections upon the conduct of France, from the treaty of
Munster to this time, are very just; and I am very glad to find, by them,
that you not only read, but that you think and reflect upon what you
read. Many great readers load their memories, without exercising their
judgments; and make lumber-rooms of their heads instead of furnishing
them usefully; facts are heaped upon facts without order or distinction,
and may justly be said to compose that

        '-----Rudis indigestaque moles
        Quem dixere chaos'.

Go on, then, in the way of reading that you are in; take nothing for
granted, upon the bare authority of the author; but weigh and consider,
in your own mind, the probability of the facts and the justness of the
reflections. Consult different authors upon the same facts, and form your
opinion upon the greater or lesser degree of probability arising from the
whole, which, in my mind, is the utmost stretch of historical faith;
certainty (I fear) not being to be found. When a historian pretends to
give you the causes and motives of events, compare those causes and
motives with the characters and interests of the parties concerned, and
judge for yourself whether they correspond or not. Consider whether you
cannot assign others more probable; and in that examination, do not
despise some very mean and trifling causes of the actions of great men;
for so various and inconsistent is human nature, so strong and changeable
are our passions, so fluctuating are our wills, and so much are our minds
influenced by the accidents of our bodies that every man is more the man
of the day, than a regular consequential character. The best have
something bad, and something little; the worst have something good, and
sometimes something great; for I do not believe what Velleius Paterculus
(for the sake of saying a pretty thing) says of Scipio, 'Qui nihil non
laudandum aut fecit, aut dixit, aut sensit'. As for the reflections of
historians, with which they think it necessary to interlard their
histories, or at least to conclude their chapters (and which, in the
French histories, are always introduced with a 'tant il est vrai', and in
the English, SO TRUE IT IS), do not adopt them implicitly upon the credit
of the author, but analyze them yourself, and judge whether they are true
or not.

But to return to the politics of France, from which I have digressed. You
have certainly made one further reflection, of an advantage which France
has, over and above its abilities in the cabinet and the skill of its
negotiators, which is (if I may use the expression) its SOLENESS,
continuity of riches and power within itself, and the nature of its
government. Near twenty millions of people, and the ordinary revenue of
above thirteen millions sterling a year, are at the absolute disposal of
the Crown. This is what no other power in Europe can say; so that
different powers must now unite to make a balance against France; which
union, though formed upon the principle of their common interest, can
never be so intimate as to compose a machine so compact and simple as
that of one great kingdom, directed by one will, and moved by one
interest. The Allied Powers (as we have constantly seen) have, besides
the common and declared object of their alliance, some separate and
concealed view to which they often sacrifice the general one; which makes
them, either directly or indirectly, pull different ways. Thus, the
design upon Toulon failed in the year 1706, only from the secret view of
the House of Austria upon Naples: which made the Court of Vienna,
notwithstanding the representations of the other allies to the contrary,
send to Naples the 12,000 men that would have done the business at
Toulon. In this last war too, the same causes had the same effects: the
Queen of Hungary in secret thought of nothing but recovering of Silesia,
and what she had lost in Italy; and, therefore, never sent half that
quota which she promised, and we paid for, into Flanders; but left that
country to the maritime powers to defend as they could. The King of
Sardinia's real object was Savona and all the Riviera di Ponente; for
which reason he concurred so lamely in the invasion of Provence, where
the Queen of Hungary, likewise, did not send one-third of the force
stipulated, engrossed as she was by her oblique views upon the plunder of
Genoa, and the recovery of Naples. Insomuch that the expedition into
Provence, which would have distressed France to the greatest degree, and
have caused a great detachment from their army in Flanders, failed
shamefully, for want of every one thing necessary for its success.
Suppose, therefore, any four or five powers who, all together, shall be
equal, or even a little superior, in riches and strength to that one
power against which they are united; the advantage will still be greatly
on the side of that single power, because it is but one. The power and
riches of Charles V. were, in themselves, certainly superior to those of
Frances I., and yet, upon the whole, he was not an overmatch for him.
Charles V.'s dominions, great as they were, were scattered and remote
from each other; their constitutions different; wherever he did not
reside, disturbances arose; whereas the compactness of France made up the
difference in the strength. This obvious reflection convinced me of the
absurdity of the treaty of Hanover, in 1725, between France and England,
to which the Dutch afterward acceded; for it was made upon the
apprehensions, either real or pretended, that the marriage of Don Carlos
with the eldest archduchess, now Queen of Hungary, was settled in the
treaty of Vienna, of the same year, between Spain and the late Emperor
Charles VI., which marriage, those consummate politicians said would
revive in Europe the exorbitant power of Charles V. I am sure, I heartily
wish it had; as, in that case, there had been, what there certainly is
not now, one power in Europe to counterbalance that of France; and then
the maritime powers would, in reality, have held the balance of Europe in
their hands. Even supposing that the Austrian power would then have been
an overmatch for that of France (which, by the way, is not clear), the
weight of the maritime powers, then thrown into the scale of France,
would infallibly have made the balance at least even. In which case too,
the moderate efforts of the maritime powers on the side of France would
have been sufficient; whereas now, they are obliged to exhaust and beggar
themselves; and that too ineffectually, in hopes to support the
shattered; beggared, and insufficient House of Austria.

This has been a long political dissertation; but I am informed that
political subjects are your favorite ones; which I am glad of,
considering your destination. You do well to get your materials all
ready, before you begin your work. As you buy and (I am told) read books
of this kind, I will point out two or three for your purchase and
perusal; I am not sure that I have not mentioned them before, but that is
no matter, if you have not got them. 'Memoires pour servir a l'Histoire
du 17ieme Siecle', is a most useful book for you to recur to for all the
facts and chronology of that country: it is in four volumes octavo, and
very correct and exact. If I do not mistake, I have formerly recommended
to you, 'Les Memoires du Cardinal de Retz'; however, if you have not yet
read them, pray do, and with the attention which they deserve. You will
there find the best account of a very interesting period of the minority
of Lewis XIV. The characters are drawn short, but in a strong and
masterly manner; and the political reflections are the only just and
practical ones that I ever saw in print: they are well worth your
transcribing. 'Le Commerce des Anciens, par Monsieur Huet. Eveque
d'Avranche', in one little volume octavo, is worth your perusal, as
commerce is a very considerable part of political knowledge. I need not,
I am sure, suggest to you, when you read the course of commerce, either
of the ancients or of the moderns, to follow it upon your map; for there
is no other way of remembering geography correctly, but by looking
perpetually in the map for the places one reads of, even though one knows
before, pretty near, where they are.

Adieu! As all the accounts which I receive of you grow better and better,
so I grow more and more affectionately, Yours.


LONDON, September 5, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I have received yours, with the inclosed German letter to Mr.
Gravenkop, which he assures me is extremely well written, considering the
little time that you have applied yourself to that language. As you have
now got over the most difficult part, pray go on diligently, and make
yourself absolutely master of the rest. Whoever does not entirely possess
a language, will never appear to advantage, or even equal to himself,
either in speaking or writing it. His ideas are fettered, and seem
imperfect or confused, if he is not master of all the words and phrases
necessary to express them. I therefore desire, that you will not fail
writing a German letter once every fortnight to Mr. Gravenkop; which will
make the writing of that language familiar to you; and moreover, when you
shall have left Germany and be arrived at Turin, I shall require you to
write even to me in German; that you may not forget with ease what you
have with difficulty learned. I likewise desire, that while you are in
Germany, you will take all opportunities of conversing in German, which
is the only way of knowing that, or any other language, accurately. You
will also desire your German master to teach you the proper titles and
superscriptions to be used to people of all ranks; which is a point so
material, in Germany, that I have known many a letter returned unopened,
because one title in twenty has been omitted in the direction.

St. Thomas's day now draws near, when you are to leave Saxony and go to
Berlin; and I take it for granted, that if anything is yet wanting to
complete your knowledge of the state of that electorate, you will not
fail to procure it before you go away. I do not mean, as you will easily
believe, the number of churches, parishes, or towns; but I mean the
constitution, the revenues, the troops, and the trade of that electorate.
A few questions, sensibly asked, of sensible people, will produce you the
necessary informations; which I desire you will enter in your little
book, Berlin will be entirely a new scene to you, and I look upon it, in
a manner, as your first step into the great world; take care that step be
not a false one, and that you do not stumble at the threshold. You will
there be in more company than you have yet been; manners and attentions
will therefore be more necessary. Pleasing in company is the only way of
being pleased in it yourself. Sense and knowledge are the first and
necessary foundations for pleasing in company; but they will by no means
do alone, and they will never be perfectly welcome if they are not
accompanied with manners and attentions. You will best acquire these by
frequenting the companies of people of fashion; but then you must resolve
to acquire them, in those companies, by proper care and observation; for
I have known people, who, though they have frequented good company all
their lifetime, have done it in so inattentive and unobserving a manner,
as to be never the better for it, and to remain as disagreeable, as
awkward, and as vulgar, as if they had never seen any person of fashion.
When you go into good company (by good company is meant the people of the
first fashion of the place) observe carefully their turn, their manners,
their address; and conform your own to them. But this is not all neither;
go deeper still; observe their characters, and pray, as far as you can,
into both their hearts and their heads. Seek for their particular merit,
their predominant passion, or their prevailing weakness; and you will
then know what to bait your hook with to catch them. Man is a composition
of so many, and such various ingredients, that it requires both time and
care to analyze him: for though we have all the same ingredients in our
general composition, as reason, will, passions, and appetites; yet the
different proportions and combinations of them in each individual,
produce that infinite variety of characters, which, in some particular or
other, distinguishes every individual from another. Reason ought to
direct the whole, but seldom does. And he who addresses himself singly to
another man's reason, without endeavoring to engage his heart in his
interest also, is no more likely to succeed, than a man who should apply
only to a king's nominal minister, and neglect his favorite. I will
recommend to your attentive perusal, now that you are going into the
world, two books, which will let you as much into the characters of men,
as books can do. I mean, 'Les Reflections Morales de Monsieur de la
Rochefoucault, and Les Caracteres de la Bruyere': but remember, at the
same time, that I only recommend them to you as the best general maps to
assist you in your journey, and not as marking out every particular
turning and winding that you will meet with. There your own sagacity and
observation must come to their aid. La Rochefoucault, is, I know, blamed,
but I think without reason, for deriving all our actions from the source
of self-love. For my own part, I see a great deal of truth, and no harm
at all, in that opinion. It is certain that we seek our own happiness in
everything we do; and it is as certain, that we can only find it in doing
well, and in conforming all our actions to the rule of right reason,
which is the great law of nature. It is only a mistaken self-love that is
a blamable motive, when we take the immediate and indiscriminate
gratification of a passion, or appetite, for real happiness. But am I
blamable if I do a good action, upon account of the happiness which that
honest consciousness will give me? Surely not. On the contrary, that
pleasing consciousness is a proof of my virtue. The reflection which is
the most censured in Monsieur de la Rochefoucault's book as a very
ill-natured one, is this, 'On trouve dans le malheur de son meilleur ami,
quelque chose qui ne des plait pas'. And why not? Why may I not feel a
very tender and real concern for the misfortune of my friend, and yet at
the same time feel a pleasing consciousness at having discharged my duty
to him, by comforting and assisting him to the utmost of my power in that
misfortune? Give me but virtuous actions, and I will not quibble and
chicane about the motives. And I will give anybody their choice of these
two truths, which amount to the same thing: He who loves himself best is
the honestest man; or, The honestest man loves himself best.

The characters of La Bruyere are pictures from the life; most of them
finely drawn, and highly colored. Furnish your mind with them first, and
when you meet with their likeness, as you will every day, they will
strike you the more. You will compare every feature with the original;
and both will reciprocally help you to discover the beauties and the

As women are a considerable, or, at least a pretty numerous part of
company; and as their suffrages go a great way toward establishing a
man's character in the fashionable part of the world (which is of great
importance to the fortune and figure he proposes to make in it), it is
necessary to please them. I will therefore, upon this subject, let you
into certain Arcana that will be very useful for you to know, but which
you must, with the utmost care, conceal and never seem to know. Women,
then, are only children of a larger growth; they have an entertaining
tattle, and sometimes wit; but for solid reasoning, good sense, I never
knew in my life one that had it, or who reasoned or acted consequentially
for four-and-twenty hours together. Some little passion or humor always
breaks upon their best resolutions. Their beauty neglected or
controverted, their age increased, or their supposed understandings
depreciated, instantly kindles their little passions, and overturns any
system of consequential conduct, that in their most reasonable moments
they might have been capable of forming. A man of sense only trifles with
them, plays with them, humors and flatters them, as he does with a
sprightly forward child; but he neither consults them about, nor trusts
them with serious matters; though he often makes them believe that he
does both; which is the thing in the world that they are proud of; for
they love mightily to be dabbling in business (which by the way they
always spoil); and being justly distrustful that men in general look upon
them in a trifling light, they almost adore that man who talks more
seriously to them, and who seems to consult and trust them; I say, who
seems; for weak men really do, but wise ones only seem to do it. No
flattery is either too high or too low for them. They will greedily
swallow the highest, and gratefully accept of the lowest; and you may
safely flatter any woman from her understanding down to the exquisite
taste of her fan. Women who are either indisputably beautiful, or
indisputably ugly, are best flattered, upon the score of their
understandings; but those who are in a state of mediocrity, are best
flattered upon their beauty, or at least their graces; for every woman
who is not absolutely ugly thinks herself handsome; but not hearing often
that she is so, is the more grateful and the more obliged to the few who
tell her so; whereas a decided and conscious beauty looks upon every
tribute paid to her beauty only as her due; but wants to shine, and to be
considered on the side of her understanding; and a woman who is ugly
enough to know that she is so, knows that she has nothing left for it but
her understanding, which is consequently and probably (in more senses
than one) her weak side. But these are secrets which you must keep
inviolably, if you would not, like Orpheus, be torn to pieces by the
whole sex; on the contrary, a man who thinks of living in the great
world, must be gallant, polite, and attentive to please the women. They
have, from the weakness of men, more or less influence in all courts;
they absolutely stamp every man's character in the beau monde, and make
it either current, or cry it down, and stop it in payments. It is,
therefore; absolutely necessary to manage, please, and flatter them and
never to discover the least marks of contempt, which is what they never
forgive; but in this they are not singular, for it is the same with men;
who will much sooner forgive an injustice than an insult. Every man is
not ambitious, or courteous, or passionate; but every man has pride
enough in his composition to feel and resent the least slight and
contempt. Remember, therefore, most carefully to conceal your contempt,
however just, wherever you would not make an implacable enemy. Men are
much more unwilling to have their weaknesses and their imperfections
known than their crimes; and if you hint to a man that you think him
silly, ignorant, or even ill-bred, or awkward, he will hate you more and
longer, than if you tell him plainly, that you think him a rogue. Never
yield to that temptation, which to most young men is very strong; of
exposing other people's weaknesses and infirmities, for the sake either
of diverting the company, or showing your own superiority. You may get
the laugh on your side by it for the present; but you will make enemies
by it forever; and even those who laugh with you then, will, upon
reflection, fear; and consequently hate you; besides that it is
ill-natured, and a good heart desires rather to conceal than expose other
people's weaknesses or misfortunes. If you have wit, use it to please,
and not to hurt: you may shine, like the sun in the temperate zones,
without scorching. Here it is wished for; under the Line it is dreaded.

These are some of the hints which my long experience in the great world
enables me to give you; and which, if you attend to them, may prove
useful to you in your journey through it. I wish it may be a prosperous
one; at least, I am sure that it must be your own fault if it is not.

Make my compliments to Mr. Harte, who, I am very sorry to hear, is not
well. I hope by this time he is recovered. Adieu!


LONDON, September 13, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I have more than once recommended to you the "Memoirs" of the
Cardinal de Retz, and to attend particularly to the political reflections
interspersed in that excellent work. I will now preach a little upon two
or three of those texts.

In the disturbances at Paris, Monsieur de Beaufort, who was a very
popular, though a very weak man, was the Cardinal's tool with the

Proud of his popularity, he was always for assembling the people of Paris
together, thinking that he made a great figure at the head of them. The
Cardinal, who was factious enough, was wise enough at the same time to
avoid gathering the people together, except when there was occasion, and
when he had something particular for them to do. However, he could not
always check Monsieur de Beaufort; who having assembled them once very
unnecessarily, and without any determined object, they ran riot, would
not be kept within bounds by their leaders, and did their cause a great
deal of harm: upon which the Cardinal observes most judiciously, 'Que
Monsieur de Beaufort me savoit pas, que qui assemble le peuple, l'emeut'.
It is certain, that great numbers of people met together, animate each
other, and will do something, either good or bad, but oftener bad; and
the respective individuals, who were separately very quiet, when met
together in numbers, grow tumultuous as a body, and ripe for any mischief
that may be pointed out to them by the leaders; and, if their leaders
have no business for them, they will find some for themselves. The
demagogues, or leaders of popular factions, should therefore be very
careful not to assemble the people unnecessarily, and without a settled
and well-considered object. Besides that, by making those popular
assemblies too frequent, they make them likewise too familiar, and
consequently less respected by their enemies. Observe any meetings of
people, and you will always find their eagerness and impetuosity rise or
fall in proportion to their numbers: when the numbers are very great, all
sense and reason seem to subside, and one sudden frenzy to seize on all,
even the coolest of them.

Another very just observation of the Cardinal's is, That, the things
which happen in our own times, and which we see ourselves, do not
surprise us near so much as the things which we read of in times past,
though not in the least more extraordinary; and adds, that he is
persuaded that when Caligula made his horse a Consul, the people of Rome,
at that time, were not greatly surprised at it, having necessarily been
in some degree prepared for it, by an insensible gradation of
extravagances from the same quarter. This is so true that we read every
day, with astonishment, things which we see every day without surprise.
We wonder at the intrepidity of a Leonidas, a Codrus, and a Curtius; and
are not the least surprised to hear of a sea-captain, who has blown up
his ship, his crew, and himself, that they might not fall into the hands
of the enemies of his country. I cannot help reading of Porsenna and
Regulus, with surprise and reverence, and yet I remember that I saw,
without either, the execution of Shepherd,--[James Shepherd, a
coach-painter's apprentice, was executed at Tyburn for high treason,
March 17, 1718, in the reign of George I.]--a boy of eighteen years old,
who intended to shoot the late king, and who would have been pardoned, if
he would have expressed the least sorrow for his intended crime; but, on
the contrary, he declared that if he was pardoned he would attempt it
again; that he thought it a duty which he owed to his country, and that
he died with pleasure for having endeavored to perform it. Reason equals
Shepherd to Regulus; but prejudice, and the recency of the fact, make
Shepherd a common malefactor and Regulus a hero.

Examine carefully, and reconsider all your notions of things; analyze
them, and discover their component parts, and see if habit and prejudice
are not the principal ones; weigh the matter upon which you are to form
your opinion, in the equal and impartial scales of reason. It is not to
be conceived how many people, capable of reasoning, if they would, live
and die in a thousand errors, from laziness; they will rather adopt the
prejudices of others, than give themselves the trouble of forming
opinions of their own. They say things, at first, because other people
have said them, and then they persist in them, because they have said
them themselves.

The last observation that I shall now mention of the Cardinal's is, "That
a secret is more easily kept by a good many people, than one commonly
imagines." By this he means a secret of importance, among people
interested in the keeping of it. And it is certain that people of
business know the importance of secrecy, and will observe it, where they
are concerned in the event. To go and tell any friend, wife, or mistress,
any secret with which they have nothing to do, is discovering to them
such an unretentive weakness, as must convince them that you will tell it
to twenty others, and consequently that they may reveal it without the
risk of being discovered. But a secret properly communicated only to
those who are to be concerned in the thing in question, will probably be
kept by them though they should be a good many. Little secrets are
commonly told again, but great ones are generally kept. Adieu!


LONDON, September 20, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I wait with impatience for your accurate history of the
'Chevaliers Forte Epees', which you promised me in your last, and which I
take to be the forerunner of a larger work that you intend to give the
public, containing a general account of all the religious and military
orders of Europe. Seriously, you will do well to have a general notion of
all those orders, ancient and modern; both as they are frequently the
subjects of conversation, and as they are more or less interwoven with
the histories of those times. Witness the Teutonic Order, which, as soon
as it gained strength, began its unjust depredations in Germany, and
acquired such considerable possessions there; and the Order of Malta
also, which continues to this day its piracies upon the Infidels. Besides
one can go into no company in Germany, without running against Monsieur
le Chevalier, or Monsieur le Commandeur de l' Ordre Teutonique. It is the
same in all the other parts of Europe with regard to the Order of Malta,
where you never go into company without meeting two or three Chevaliers
or Commandeurs, who talk of their 'Preuves', their 'Langues', their
'Caravanes', etc., of all which things I am sure you would not willingly
be ignorant. On the other hand, I do not mean that you should have a
profound and minute knowledge of these matters, which are of a nature
that a general knowledge of them is fully sufficient. I would not
recommend you to read Abbe Vertot's "History of the Order of Malta," in
four quarto volumes; that would be employing a great deal of good time
very ill. But I would have you know the foundations, the objects, the
INSIGNIA, and the short general history of them all.

As for the ancient religious military orders, which were chiefly founded
in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, such as Malta, the Teutonic, the
Knights Templars, etc., the injustice and the wickedness of those
establishments cannot, I am sure, have escaped your observation. Their
pious object was, to take away by force other people's property, and to
massacre the proprietors themselves if they refused to give up that
property, and adopt the opinions of these invaders. What right or
pretense had these confederated Christians of Europe to the Holy Land?
Let them produce their grant of it in the Bible. Will they say, that the
Saracens had possessed themselves of it by force, and that, consequently,
they had the same right? Is it lawful then to steal goods because they
were stolen before? Surely not. The truth is, that the wickedness of
many, and the weakness of more, in those ages of ignorance and
superstition, concurred to form those flagitious conspiracies against the
lives and properties of unoffending people. The Pope sanctified the
villany, and annexed the pardon of sins to the perpetration of it. This
gave rise to the Crusaders, and carried such swarms of people from Europe
to the conquests of the Holy Land. Peter the Hermit, an active and
ambitious priest, by his indefatigable pains, was the immediate author of
the first crusade; kings, princes, all professions and characters united,
from different motives, in this great undertaking, as every sentiment,
except true religion and morality, invited to it. The ambitious hoped for
kingdoms; the greedy and the necessitous for plunder; and some were
enthusiasts enough to hope for salvation, by the destruction of a
considerable number of their fellow creatures, who had done them no
injury. I cannot omit, upon this occasion, telling you that the Eastern
emperors at Constantinople (who, as Christians, were obliged at least to
seem to favor these expeditions), seeing the immense numbers of the
'Croisez', and fearing that the Western Empire might have some mind to
the Eastern Empire too, if it succeeded against the Infidels, as
'l'appetit vient en mangeant'; these Eastern emperors, very honestly,
poisoned the waters where the 'Croisez' were to pass, and so destroyed
infinite numbers of them.

The later orders of knighthood, such as the Garter in England; the
Elephant in Denmark; the Golden Fleece in Burgundy; the St. Esprit, St.
Michel, St. Louis, and St. Lazare, in France etc., are of a very
different nature and were either the invitations to, or the rewards of;
brave actions in fair war; and are now rather the decorations of the
favor of the prince, than the proofs of the merit of the subject.
However, they are worth your inquiries to a certain degree, and
conversation will give you frequent opportunities for them. Wherever you
are, I would advise you to inquire into the respective orders of that
country, and to write down a short account of them. For example, while
you are in Saxony, get an account of l'Aigle Blanc and of what other
orders there may be, either Polish or Saxon; and, when you shall be at
Berlin, inform yourself of three orders, l'Aigle Noir, la Generosite et
le Vrai Merite, which are the only ones that I know of there. But
whenever you meet with straggling ribands and stars, as you will with a
thousand in Germany, do not fail to inquire what they are, and to take a
minute of them in your memorandum book; for it is a sort of knowledge
that costs little to acquire, and yet it is of some use. Young people
have frequently an incuriousness about them, arising either from
laziness, or a contempt of the object, which deprives them of several
such little parts of knowledge, that they afterward wish they had
acquired. If you will put conversation to profit, great knowledge may be
gained by it; and is it not better (since it is full as easy) to turn it
upon useful than upon useless subjects? People always talk best upon what
they know most, and it is both pleasing them and improving one's self, to
put them upon that subject. With people of a particular profession, or of
a distinguished eminency in any branch of learning, one is not at a loss;
but with those, whether men or women, who properly constitute what is
called the beau monde, one must not choose deep subjects, nor hope to get
any knowledge above that of orders, ranks, families, and court anecdotes;
which are therefore the proper (and not altogether useless) subjects of
that kind of conversation. Women, especially, are to be talked to as
below men and above children. If you talk to them too deep, you only
confound them, and lose your own labor; if you talk to them too
frivolously, they perceive and resent the contempt. The proper tone for
them is, what the French call the 'Entregent', and is, in truth, the
polite jargon of good company. Thus, if you are a good chemist, you may
extract something out of everything.

A propos of the beau monde, I must again and again recommend the Graces
to you: There is no doing without them in that world; and, to make a good
figure in that world, is a great step toward making one in the world of
business, particularly that part of it for which you are destined. An
ungraceful manner of speaking, awkward motions, and a disagreeable
address, are great clogs to the ablest man of business, as the opposite
qualifications are of infinite advantage to him. I am told there is a
very good dancing-master at Leipsig. I would have you dance a minuet very
well, not so much for the sake of the minuet itself (though that, if
danced at all, ought to be danced, well), as that it will give you a
habitual genteel carriage and manner of presenting yourself.

Since I am upon little things, I must mention another, which, though
little enough in itself, yet as it occurs at, least once in every day,
deserves some attention; I mean Carving. Do you use yourself to carve
ADROITLY and genteelly, without hacking half an hour across a bone;
without bespattering the company with the sauce; and without overturning
the glasses into your neighbor's pockets? These awkwardnesses are
extremely disagreeable; and, if often repeated, bring ridicule. They are
very easily avoided by a little attention and use.

How trifling soever these things may seem, or really be in themselves,
they are no longer so when above half the world thinks them otherwise.
And, as I would have you 'omnibus ornatum--excellere rebus', I think
nothing above or below my pointing out to you, or your excelling in. You
have the means of doing it, and time before you to make use of them. Take
my word for it, I ask nothing now but what you will, twenty years hence,
most heartily wish that you had done. Attention to all these things, for
the next two or three years, will save you infinite trouble and endless
regrets hereafter. May you, in the whole course of your life, have no
reason for any one just regret! Adieu.

Your Dresden china is arrived, and I have sent it to your Mamma.


LONDON, September 27, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I have received your Latin "Lecture upon War," which though it
is not exactly the same Latin that Caesar, Cicero, Horace, Virgil, and
Ovid spoke, is, however, as good Latin as the erudite Germans speak or
write. I have always observed that the most learned people, that is,
those who have read the most Latin, write the worst; and that
distinguishes the Latin of gentleman scholar from that of a pedant. A
gentleman has, probably, read no other Latin than that of the Augustan
age; and therefore can write no other, whereas the pedant has read much
more bad Latin than good, and consequently writes so too. He looks upon
the best classical books, as books for school-boys, and consequently
below him; but pores over fragments of obscure authors, treasures up the
obsolete words which he meets with there, and uses them upon all
occasions to show his reading at the expense of his judgment. Plautus is
his favorite author, not for the sake of the wit and the vis comica of
his comedies, but upon account of the many obsolete words, and the cant
of low characters, which are to be met with nowhere else. He will rather
use 'olli' than 'illi', 'optume' than 'optima', and any bad word rather
than any good one, provided he can but prove, that strictly speaking, it
is Latin; that is, that it was written by a Roman. By this rule, I might
now write to you in the language of Chaucer or Spenser, and assert that I
wrote English, because it was English in their days; but I should be a
most affected puppy if I did so, and you would not understand three words
of my letter. All these, and such like affected peculiarities, are the
characteristics of learned coxcombs and pedants, and are carefully
avoided by all men of sense.

I dipped accidentally, the other day, into Pitiscus's preface to his
"Lexicon," where I found a word that puzzled me, and which I did not
remember ever to have met with before. It is the adverb 'praefiscine',
which means, IN A GOOD HOUR; an expression which, by the superstition of
it, appears to be low and vulgar. I looked for it: and at last I found
that it is once or twice made use of in Plautus, upon the strength of
which this learned pedant thrusts it into his preface. Whenever you write
Latin, remember that every word or phrase which you make use of, but
cannot find in Caesar, Cicero, Livy, Horace, Virgil; and Ovid, is bad,
illiberal Latin, though it may have been written by a Roman.

I must now say something as to the matter of the "Lecture," in which I
confess there is one doctrine laid down that surprises me: It is this,
'Quum vero hostis sit lenta citave morte omnia dira nobis minitans
quocunque bellantibus negotium est; parum sane interfuerit quo modo eum
obruere et interficere satagamus, si ferociam exuere cunctetur. Ergo
veneno quoque uti fas est', etc., whereas I cannot conceive that the use
of poison can, upon any account, come within the lawful means of
self-defense. Force may, without doubt, be justly repelled by force, but
not by treachery and fraud; for I do not call the stratagems of war, such
as ambuscades, masked batteries, false attacks, etc., frauds or
treachery: They are mutually to be expected and guarded against; but
poisoned arrows, poisoned waters, or poison administered to your enemy
(which can only be done by treachery), I have always heard, read, and
thought, to be unlawful and infamous means of defense, be your danger
ever so great: But 'si ferociam exuere cunctetur'; must I rather die than
poison this enemy? Yes, certainly, much rather die than do a base or
criminal action; nor can I be sure, beforehand, that this enemy may not,
in the last moment, 'ferociam exuere'. But the public lawyers, now, seem
to me rather to warp the law, in order to authorize, than to check, those
unlawful proceedings of princes and states; which, by being become
common, appear less criminal, though custom can never alter the nature of
good and ill.

Pray let no quibbles of lawyers, no refinements of casuists, break into
the plain notions of right and wrong, which every man's right reason and
plain common sense suggest to him. To do as you would be done by, is the
plain, sure, and undisputed rule of morality and justice. Stick to that;
and be convinced that whatever breaks into it, in any degree, however
speciously it may be turned, and however puzzling it may be to answer it,
is, notwithstanding, false in itself, unjust, and criminal. I do not know
a crime in the world, which is not by the casuists among the Jesuits
(especially the twenty-four collected, I think, by Escobar) allowed, in
some, or many cases, not to be criminal. The principles first laid down
by them are often specious, the reasonings plausible, but the conclusion
always a lie: for it is contrary, to that evident and undeniable rule of
justice which I have mentioned above, of not doing to anyone what you
would not have him do to you. But, however, these refined pieces of
casuistry and sophistry, being very convenient and welcome to people's
passions and appetites, they gladly accept the indulgence, without
desiring to detect the fallacy or the reasoning: and indeed many, I might
say most people, are not able to do it; which makes the publication of
such quibblings and refinements the more pernicious. I am no skillful
casuist nor subtle disputant; and yet I would undertake to justify and
qualify the profession of a highwayman, step by step, and so plausibly,
as to make many ignorant people embrace the profession, as an innocent,
if not even a laudable one; and puzzle people of some degree of
knowledge, to answer me point by point. I have seen a book, entitled
'Quidlibet ex Quolibet', or the art of making anything out of anything;
which is not so difficult as it would seem, if once one quits certain
plain truths, obvious in gross to every understanding, in order to run
after the ingenious refinements of warm imaginations and speculative
reasonings. Doctor Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, a very worthy, ingenious,
and learned man, has written a book, to prove that there is no such thing
as matter, and that nothing exists but in idea: that you and I only fancy
ourselves eating, drinking, and sleeping; you at Leipsig, and I at
London: that we think we have flesh and blood, legs, arms, etc., but that
we are only spirit. His arguments are, strictly speaking, unanswerable;
but yet I am so far from being convinced by them, that I am determined to
go on to eat and drink, and walk and ride, in order to keep that MATTER,
which I so mistakenly imagine my body at present to consist of, in as
good plight as possible. Common sense (which, in truth, very uncommon) is
the best sense I know of: abide by it, it will counsel you best. Read and
hear, for your amusement, ingenious systems, nice questions subtilly
agitated, with all the refinements that warm imaginations suggest; but
consider them only as exercitations for the mind, and turn always to
settle with common sense.

I stumbled, the other day, at a bookseller's, upon "Comte Gabalis," in
two very little volumes, which I had formerly read. I read it over again,
and with fresh astonishment. Most of the extravagances are taken from the
Jewish Rabbins, who broached those wild notions, and delivered them in
the unintelligible jargon which the Caballists and Rosicrucians deal in
to this day. Their number is, I believe, much lessened, but there are
still some; and I myself have known two; who studied and firmly believed
in that mystical nonsense. What extravagancy is not man capable of
entertaining, when once his shackled reason is led in triumph by fancy
and prejudice! The ancient alchemists give very much into this stuff, by
which they thought they should discover the philosopher's stone; and some
of the most celebrated empirics employed it in the pursuit of the
universal medicine. Paracelsus, a bold empiric and wild Caballist,
asserted that he had discovered it, and called it his 'Alkahest'. Why or
wherefore, God knows; only that those madmen call nothing by an
intelligible name. You may easily get this book from The Hague: read it,
for it will both divert and astonish you, and at the same time teach you
'nil admirari'; a very necessary lesson.

Your letters, except when upon a given subject, are exceedingly laconic,
and neither answer my desires nor the purpose of letters; which should be
familiar conversations, between absent friends. As I desire to live with
you upon the footing of an intimate friend, and not of a parent, I could
wish that your letters gave me more particular accounts of yourself, and
of your lesser transactions. When you write to me, suppose yourself
conversing freely with me by the fireside. In that case, you would
naturally mention the incidents of the day; as where you had been, who
you had seen, what you thought of them, etc. Do this in your letters:
acquaint me sometimes with your studies, sometimes with your diversions;
tell me of any new persons and characters that you meet with in company,
and add your own observations upon them: in short, let me see more of you
in your letters. How do you go on with Lord Pulteney, and how does he go
on at Leipsig? Has he learning, has he parts, has he application? Is he
good or ill-natured? In short, What is he? at least, what do you think
him? You may tell me without reserve, for I promise you secrecy. You are
now of an age that I am desirous to begin a confidential correspondence
with you; and as I shall, on my part, write you very freely my opinion
upon men and things, which I should often be very unwilling that anybody
but you and Mr. Harte should see, so, on your part, if you write me
without reserve, you may depend upon my inviolable secrecy. If you have
ever looked into the "Letters" of Madame de Sevigne to her daughter,
Madame de Grignan, you must have observed the ease, freedom, and
friendship of that correspondence; and yet, I hope and I believe, that
they did not love one another better than we do. Tell me what books you
are now reading, either by way of study or amusement; how you pass your
evenings when at home, and where you pass them when abroad. I know that
you go sometimes to Madame Valentin's assembly; What do you do there? Do
you play, or sup, or is it only 'la belle conversation?' Do you mind your
dancing while your dancing-master is with you? As you will be often under
the necessity of dancing a minuet, I would have you dance it very well.
Remember, that the graceful motion of the arms, the giving your hand, and
the putting on and pulling off your hat genteelly, are the material parts
of a gentleman's dancing. But the greatest advantage of dancing well is,
that it necessarily teaches you to present yourself, to sit, stand, and
walk, genteelly; all of which are of real importance to a man of fashion.

I should wish that you were polished before you go to Berlin; where, as
you will be in a great deal of good company, I would have you have the
right manners for it. It is a very considerable article to have 'le ton
de la bonne compagnie', in your destination particularly. The principal
business of a foreign minister is, to get into the secrets, and to know
all 'les allures' of the courts at which he resides; this he can never
bring about but by such a pleasing address, such engaging manners, and
such an insinuating behavior, as may make him sought for, and in some
measure domestic, in the best company and the best families of the place.
He will then, indeed, be well informed of all that passes, either by the
confidences made him, or by the carelessness of people in his company,
who are accustomed to look upon him as one of them, and consequently are
not upon their guard before him. For a minister who only goes to the
court he resides at, in form, to ask an audience of the prince or the
minister upon his last instructions, puts them upon their guard, and will
never know anything more than what they have a mind that he should know.
Here women may be put to some use. A king's mistress, or a minister's
wife or mistress, may give great and useful informations; and are very
apt to do it, being proud to show that they have been trusted. But then,
in this case, the height of that sort of address, which, strikes women,
is requisite; I mean that easy politeness, genteel and graceful address,
and that 'exterieur brilliant' which they cannot withstand. There is a
sort of men so like women, that they are to be taken just in the same
way; I mean those who are commonly called FINE MEN; who swarm at all
courts; who have little reflection, and less knowledge; but, who by their
good breeding, and 'train-tran' of the world, are admitted into all
companies; and, by the imprudence or carelessness of their superiors,
pick up secrets worth knowing, which are easily got out of them by proper
address. Adieu.


BATH, October 12, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I came here three days ago upon account of a disorder in my
stomach, which affected my head and gave me vertigo. I already find
myself something better; and consequently do not doubt but that the
course of these waters will set me quite right. But however and wherever
I am, your welfare, your character, your knowledge, and your morals,
employ my thoughts more than anything that can happen to me, or that I
can fear or hope for myself. I am going off the stage, you are coming
upon it; with me what has been, has been, and reflection now would come
too late; with you everything is to come, even, in some manner,
reflection itself; so that this is the very time when my reflections, the
result of experience, may be of use to you, by supplying the want of
yours. As soon as you leave Leipsig, you will gradually be going into the
great world; where the first impressions that you shall give of yourself
will be of great importance to you; but those which you shall receive
will be decisive, for they always stick. To keep good company, especially
at your first setting out, is the way to receive good impressions. If you
ask me what I mean by good company, I will confess to you that it is
pretty difficult to define; but I will endeavor to make you understand it
as well as I can.

Good company is not what respective sets of company are pleased either to
call or think themselves, but it is that company which all the people of
the place call, and acknowledge to be, good company, notwithstanding some
objections which they may form to some of the individuals who compose it.
It consists chiefly (but by no means without exception) of people of
considerable birth, rank, and character; for people of neither birth nor
rank are frequently, and very justly admitted into it, if distinguished
by any peculiar merit, or eminency in any liberal art or science. Nay, so
motly a thing is good company, that many people, without birth, rank, or
merit, intrude into it by their own forwardness, and others slide into it
by the protection of some considerable person; and some even of
indifferent characters and morals make part of it. But in the main, the
good part preponderates, and people of infamous and blasted characters
are never admitted. In this fashionable good company, the best manners
and the best language of the place are most unquestionably to be learned;
for they establish and give the tone to both, which are therefore called
the language and manners of good company: there being no legal tribunal
to ascertain either.

A company, consisting wholly of people of the first quality, cannot, for
that reason, be called good company, in the common acceptation of the
phrase, unless they are, into the bargain, the fashionable and accredited
company of the place; for people of the very first quality can be as
silly, as ill-bred, and as worthless, as people of the meanest degree. On
the other hand, a company consisting entirely of people of very low
condition, whatever their merit or parts may be, can never be called good
company; and consequently should not be much frequented, though by no
means despised.

A company wholly composed of men of learning, though greatly to be valued
and respected, is not meant by the words GOOD COMPANY; they cannot have
the easy manners and, 'tournure' of the world, as they do not live in it.
If you can bear your part well in such a company, it is extremely right
to be in it sometimes, and you will be but more esteemed in other
companies, for having a place in that. But then do not let it engross
you; for if you do, you will be only considered as one of the 'literati'
by profession; which is not the way either, to shine, or rise in the

The company of professed wits and pests is extremely inviting to most
young men; who if they have wit themselves, are pleased with it, and if
they have none, are sillily proud of being one of it: but it should be
frequented with moderation and judgment, and you should by no means give
yourself up to it. A wit is a very unpopular denomination, as it carries
terror along with it; and people in general are as much afraid of a live
wit, in company, as a woman is of a gun, which she thinks may go off of
itself, and do her a mischief. Their acquaintance is, however, worth
seeking, and their company worth frequenting; but not exclusively of
others, nor to such a degree as to be considered only as one of that
particular set.

But the company, which of all others you should most carefully avoid, is
that low company, which, in every sense of the word, is low indeed; low
in rank, low in parts, low in manners, and low in merit. You will,
perhaps, be surprised that I should think it necessary to warn you
against such company, but yet I do not think it wholly, unnecessary, from
the many instances which I have seen of men of sense and rank,
discredited, verified, and undone, by keeping such company.

Vanity, that source of many of our follies, and of some of our crimes,
has sunk many a man into company, in every light infinitely, below
himself, for the sake of being the first man in it. There he dictates, is
applauded, admired; and, for the sake of being the Coryphceus of that
wretched chorus, disgraces and disqualifies himself soon for any better
company. Depend upon it, you will sink or rise to the level of the
company which you commonly keep: people will judge of you, and not
unreasonably, by that. There is good sense in the Spanish saying, "Tell
me whom you live with, and I will tell you who you are." Make it
therefore your business, wherever you are, to get into that company which
everybody in the place allows to be the best company next to their own;
which is the best definition that I can give you of good company. But
here, too, one caution is very necessary, for want of which many young
men have been ruined, even in good company.

Good company (as I have before observed) is composed of a great variety
of fashionable people, whose characters and morals are very different,
though their manners are pretty much the same. When a young man, new in
the world, first gets into that company, he very rightly determines to
conform to, and imitate it. But then he too often, and fatally, mistakes
the objects of his imitation. He has often heard that absurd term of
genteel and fashionable vices. He there sees some people who shine, and
who in general are admired and esteemed; and observes that these people
are whoremasters, drunkards, or gamesters, upon which he adopts their
vices, mistaking their defects for their perfections, and thinking that
they owe their fashions and their luster to those genteel vices. Whereas
it is exactly the reverse; for these people have acquired their
reputation by their parts, their learning, their good-breeding, and other
real accomplishments: and are only blemished and lowered, in the opinions
of all reasonable people, and of their own, in time, by these genteel and
fashionable vices. A whoremaster, in a flux, or without a nose, is a very
genteel person, indeed, and well worthy of imitation. A drunkard,
vomiting up at night the wine of the day, and stupefied by the headache
all the next, is, doubtless, a fine model to copy from. And a gamester,
tearing his hair, and blaspheming, for having lost more than he had in
the world, is surely a most amiable character. No; these are alloys, and
great ones too, which can never adorn any character, but will always
debase the best. To prove this, suppose any man, without parts and some
other good qualities, to be merely a whoremaster, a drunkard, or a
gamester; how will he be looked upon by all sorts of people? Why, as a
most contemptible and vicious animal. Therefore it is plain, that in
these mixed characters, the good part only makes people forgive, but not
approve, the bad.

I will hope and believe that you will have no vices; but if,
unfortunately, you should have any, at least I beg of you to be content
with your own, and to adopt no other body's.

The adoption of vice has, I am convinced, ruined ten times more young men
than natural inclinations.

As I make no difficulty of confessing my past errors, where I think the
confession may be of use to you, I will own that when I first went to the
university, I drank and smoked, notwithstanding the aversion I had to
wine and tobacco, only because I thought it genteel, and that it made me
look like a man. When I went abroad, I first went to The Hague, where
gaming was much in fashion, and where I observed that many people of
shining rank and character gamed too. I was then young enough, and silly
enough, to believe that gaming was one of their accomplishments; and, as
I aimed at perfection, I adopted gaming as a necessary step to it. Thus I
acquired by error the habit of a vice which, far from adorning my
character, has, I am conscious, been a great blemish in it.

Imitate then, with discernment and judgment, the real perfections of the
good company into which you may get; copy their politeness, their
carriage, their address, and the easy and well-bred turn of their
conversation; but remember that, let them shine ever so bright, their
vices, if they have any, are so many spots which you would no more
imitate, than you would make an artificial wart upon your face, because
some very handsome man had the misfortune to have a natural one upon his:
but, on the contrary, think how much handsomer he would have been without

Having thus confessed some of my 'egaremens', I will now show you a
little of my right side. I always endeavored to get into the best company
wherever I was, and commonly succeeded. There I pleased to some degree by
showing a desire to please. I took care never to be absent or 'distrait';
but on the contrary, attended to everything that was said, done, or even
looked, in company; I never failed in the minutest attentions and was
never 'journalier'. These things, and not my 'egaremens', made me
fashionable. Adieu! This letter is full long enough.


BATH, October 19, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: Having in my last pointed out what sort of company you should
keep, I will now give you some rules for your conduct in it; rules which
my own experience and observation enable me to lay down, and communicate
to you, with some degree of confidence. I have often given you hints of
this kind before, but then it has been by snatches; I will now be more
regular and methodical. I shall say nothing with regard to your bodily
carriage and address, but leave them to the care of your dancing-master,
and to your own attention to the best models; remember, however, that
they are of consequence.

Talk often, but never long: in that case, if you do not please, at least
you are sure not to tire your hearers. Pay your own reckoning, but do not
treat the whole company; this being one of the very few cases in which
people do not care to be treated, everyone being fully convinced that he
has wherewithal to pay.

Tell stories very seldom, and absolutely never but where they are very
apt and very short. Omit every circumstance that is not material, and
beware of digressions. To have frequent recourse to narrative betrays
great want of imagination.

Never hold anybody by the button or the hand, in order to be heard out;
for, if people are not willing to hear you, you had much better hold your
tongue than them.

Most long talkers single out some one unfortunate man in company
(commonly him whom they observe to be the most silent, or their next
neighbor) to whisper, or at least in a half voice, to convey a continuity
of words to. This is excessively ill-bred, and in some degree a fraud;
conversation-stock being a joint and common property. But, on the other
hand, if one of these unmerciful talkers lays hold of you, hear him with
patience (and at least seeming attention), if he is worth obliging; for
nothing will oblige him more than a patient hearing, as nothing would
hurt him more than either to leave him in the midst of his discourse, or
to discover your impatience under your affliction.

Take, rather than give, the tone of the company you are in. If you have
parts, you will show them, more or less, upon every subject; and if you
have not, you had better talk sillily upon a subject of other people's
than of your own choosing.

Avoid as much as you can, in mixed companies, argumentative, polemical
conversations; which, though they should not, yet certainly do, indispose
for a time the contending parties toward each other; and, if the
controversy grows warm and noisy, endeavor to put an end to it by some
genteel levity or joke. I quieted such a conversation-hubbub once, by
representing to them that, though I was persuaded none there present
would repeat, out of company, what passed in it, yet I could not answer
for the discretion of the passengers in the street, who must necessarily
hear all that was said.

Above all things, and upon all occasions, avoid speaking of yourself, if
it be possible. Such is the natural pride and vanity of our hearts, that
it perpetually breaks out, even in people of the best parts, in all the
various modes and figures of the egotism.

Some, abruptly, speak advantageously of themselves, without either
pretense or provocation. They are impudent. Others proceed more artfully,
as they imagine; and forge accusations against themselves, complain of
calumnies which they never heard, in order to justify themselves, by
exhibiting a catalogue of their many virtues. They acknowledge it may,
indeed, seem odd that they should talk in that manner of themselves; it
is what they do not like, and what they never would have done; no; no
tortures should ever have forced it from them, if they had, not been thus
unjustly and monstrously accused. But, in these cases; justice is surely
due to one's self, as well as to others; and when our character is
attacked, we may say in our own justification, what otherwise we never
would have said. This thin veil of Modesty drawn before Vanity, is much
too transparent to conceal it, even from very moderate discernment.

Others go more modestly and more slyly still (as they think) to work; but
in my mind still more ridiculously. They confess themselves (not without
some degree of shame and confusion) into all the Cardinal Virtues, by
first degrading them into weaknesses and then owning their misfortune in
being made up of those weaknesses. They cannot see people suffer without
sympathizing with, and endeavoring to help them. They cannot see people
want, without relieving them, though truly their own circumstances cannot
very well afford it. They cannot help speaking truth, though they know
all the imprudence of it. In short, they know that, with all these
weaknesses, they are not fit to live in the world, much less to thrive in
it. But they are now too old to change, and must rub on as well as they
can. This sounds too ridiculous and 'outre', almost, for the stage; and
yet, take my word for it, you will frequently meet with it upon the
common stage of the world. And here I will observe, by the bye, that you
will often meet with characters in nature so extravagant, that a discreet
dramatist would not venture to set them upon the stage in their true and
high coloring.

This principle of vanity and pride is so strong in human nature that it
descends even to the lowest objects; and one often sees people angling
for praise, where, admitting all they say to be true (which, by the way,
it seldom is), no just praise is to be caught. One man affirms that he
has rode post an hundred miles in six hours; probably it is a lie: but
supposing it to be true, what then? Why he is a very good post-boy, that
is all. Another asserts, and probably not without oaths, that he has
drunk six or eight bottles of wine at a sitting; out of charity, I will
believe him a liar; for, if I do not, I must think him a beast.

Such, and a thousand more, are the follies and extravagances, which
vanity draws people into, and which always defeat their own purpose; and
as Waller says, upon another subject,--

     "Make the wretch the most despised,
     Where most he wishes to be prized."

The only sure way of avoiding these evils, is never to speak of yourself
at all. But when, historically, you are obliged to mention yourself, take
care not to drop one single word that can directly or indirectly be
construed as fishing for applause. Be your character what it will, it
will be known; and nobody will take it upon your own word. Never imagine
that anything you can say yourself will varnish your defects, or add
lustre to your perfections! but, on the contrary, it may, and nine times
in ten, will, make the former more glaring and the latter obscure. If you
are silent upon your own subject, neither envy, indignation, nor
ridicule, will obstruct or allay the applause which you may really
deserve; but if you publish your own panegyric upon any occasion, or in
any shape whatsoever, and however artfully dressed or disguised, they
will all conspire against you, and you will be disappointed of the very
end you aim at.

Take care never to seem dark and mysterious; which is not only a very
unamiable character, but a very suspicious one too; if you seem
mysterious with others, they will be really so with you, and you will
know nothing. The height of abilities is to have 'volto sciolto' and
'pensieri stretti'; that is, a frank, open, and ingenuous exterior, with
a prudent interior; to be upon your own guard, and yet, by a seeming
natural openness, to put people off theirs. Depend upon it nine in ten of
every company you are in will avail themselves of every indiscreet and
unguarded expression of yours, if they can turn it to their own
advantage. A prudent reserve is therefore as necessary as a seeming
openness is prudent. Always look people in the face when you speak to
them: the not doing it is thought to imply conscious guilt; besides that
you lose the advantage of serving by their countenances what impression
your discourse makes upon them. In order to know people's real
sentiments, I trust much more to my eyes than to my ears: for they can
say whatever they have a mind I should hear; but they can seldom help
looking, what they have no intention that I should know.

Neither retail nor receive scandal willingly; defamation of others may
for the present gratify the malignity of the pride of our hearts; cool
reflection will draw very disadvantageous conclusions from such a
disposition; and in the case of scandal, as in that of robbery, the
receiver is always thought, as bad as the thief.

Mimicry, which is the common and favorite amusement of little low minds,
is in the utmost contempt with great ones. It is the lowest and most
illiberal of all buffoonery. Pray, neither practice it yourself, nor
applaud it in others. Besides that the person mimicked is insulted; and,
as I have often observed to you before, an insult is never forgiven.

I need not (I believe) advise you to adapt your conversation to the
people you are conversing with: for I suppose you would not, without this
caution, have talked upon the same subject, and in the same manner, to a
minister of state, a bishop, a philosopher, a captain, and a woman. A man
of the world must, like the chameleon, be able to take every different
hue; which is by no means a criminal or abject, but a necessary
complaisance; for it relates only to manners and not to morals.

One word only as to swearing, and that, I hope and believe, is more than
is necessary. You may sometimes hear some people in good company
interlard their discourse with oaths, by way of embellishment, as they
think, but you must observe, too, that those who do so are never those
who contribute, in any degree, to give that company the denomination of
good company. They are always subalterns, or people of low education; for
that practice, besides that it has no one temptation to plead, is as
silly and as illiberal as it is wicked.

Loud laughter is the mirth of the mob, who are only pleased with silly
things; for true wit or good sense never excited a laugh since the
creation of the world. A man of parts and fashion is therefore only seen
to smile; but never heard to laugh.

But to conclude this long letter; all the above-mentioned rules, however
carefully you may observe them, will lose half their effect, if
unaccompanied by the Graces. Whatever you say, if you say it with a
supercilious, cynical face, or an embarrassed countenance, or a silly,
disconcerted grin, will be ill received. If, into the bargain, YOU MUTTER
received. If your air and address are vulgar, awkward, and gauche, you
may be esteemed indeed, if you have great intrinsic merit; but you will
never, please; and without pleasing you will rise but heavily. Venus,
among the ancients, was synonymous with the Graces, who were always
supposed to accompany her; and Horace tells us that even Youth and
Mercury, the god of Arts and Eloquence, would not do without her:

     'Parum comis sine to Juventas Mercuriusque.'

They are not inexorable Ladies, and may be had if properly, and
diligently pursued. Adieu.


BATH, October 29, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: My anxiety for your success increases in proportion as the time
approaches of your taking your part upon the great stage of the world.
The audience will form their opinion of you upon your first appearance
(making the proper allowance for your inexperience), and so far it will
be final, that, though it may vary as to the degrees, it will never
totally change. This consideration excites that restless attention with
which I am constantly examining how I can best contribute to the
perfection of that character, in which the least spot or blemish would
give me more real concern, than I am now capable of feeling upon any
other account whatsoever.

I have long since done mentioning your great religious and moral duties,
because I could not make your understanding so bad a compliment as to
suppose that you wanted, or could receive, any new instructions upon
those two important points. Mr. Harte, I am sure, has not neglected them;
and, besides, they are so obvious to common sense and reason, that
commentators may (as they often do) perplex, but cannot make them
clearer. My province, therefore, is to supply by my experience your
hitherto inevitable inexperience in the ways of the world. People at your
age are in a state of natural ebriety; and want rails, and 'gardefous',
wherever they go, to hinder them from breaking their necks. This
drunkenness of youth is not only tolerated, but even pleases, if kept
within certain bounds of discretion and decency. These bounds are the
point which it is difficult for the drunken man himself to find out; and
there it is that the experience of a friend may not only serve, but save

Carry with you, and welcome, into company all the gaiety and spirits, but
as little of the giddiness, of youth as you can. The former will charm;
but the latter will often, though innocently, implacably offend. Inform
yourself of the characters and situations of the company, before you give
way to what your imagination may prompt you to say. There are, in all
companies, more wrong beads than right ones, and many more who deserve,
than who like censure. Should you therefore expatiate in the praise of
some virtue, which some in company notoriously want; or declaim against
any vice, which others are notoriously infected with, your reflections,
however general and unapplied, will, by being applicable, be thought
personal and leveled at those people. This consideration points out to
you, sufficiently, not to be suspicious and captious yourself, nor to
suppose that things, because they may be, are therefore meant at you. The
manners of well-bred people secure one from those indirect and mean
attacks; but if, by chance, a flippant woman or a pert coxcomb lets off
anything of that kind, it is much better not to seem to understand, than
to reply to it.

Cautiously avoid talking of either your own or other people's domestic
affairs. Yours are nothing to them but tedious; theirs are nothing to
you. The subject is a tender one: and it is odds but that you touch
somebody or other's sore place: for, in this case, there is no trusting
to specious appearances; which may be, and often are, so contrary to the
real situations of things, between men and their wives, parents and their
children, seeming friends, etc., that, with the best intentions in the
world, one often blunders disagreeably.

Remember that the wit, humor, and jokes, of most mixed companies are
local. They thrive in that particular soil, but will not often bear
transplanting. Every company is differently circumstanced, has its
particular cant and jargon; which may give occasion to wit and mirth
within that circle, but would seem flat and insipid in any other, and
therefore will not bear repeating. Nothing makes a man look sillier than
a pleasantry not relished or not understood; and if he meets with a
profound silence when he expected a general applause, or, what is worse,
if he is desired to explain the bon mot, his awkward and embarrassed
situation is easier imagined' than described. 'A propos' of repeating;
take great care never to repeat (I do not mean here the pleasantries) in
one company what you hear in another. Things, seemingly indifferent, may,
by circulation, have much graver consequences than you would imagine.
Besides, there is a general tacit trust in conversation, by which a man
is obliged not to report anything out of it, though he is not immediately
enjoined to secrecy. A retailer of this kind is sure to draw himself into
a thousand scrapes and discussions, and to be shyly and uncomfortably
received wherever he goes.

You will find, in most good company, some people who only keep their
place there by a contemptible title enough; these are what we call VERY
GOOD-NATURED FELLOWS, and the French, 'bons diables'. The truth is, they
are people without any parts or fancy, and who, having no will of their
own, readily assent to, concur in, and applaud, whatever is said or done
in the company; and adopt, with the same alacrity, the most virtuous or
the most criminal, the wisest or the silliest scheme, that happens to be
entertained by the majority of the company. This foolish, and often
criminal complaisance flows from a foolish cause,--the want of any other
merit. I hope that you will hold your place in company by a nobler
tenure, and that you will hold it (you can bear a quibble, I believe,
yet) 'in capite'. Have a will and an opinion of your own, and adhere to
them steadily; but then do it with good humor, good-breeding, and (if you
have it) with urbanity; for you have not yet heard enough either to
preach or censure.

All other kinds of complaisance are not only blameless, but necessary in
good company. Not to seem to perceive the little weaknesses, and the idle
but innocent affectations of the company, but even to flatter them, in a
certain manner, is not only very allowable, but, in truth, a sort of
polite duty. They will be pleased with you, if you do; and will certainly
not be reformed by you if you do not.

For instance: you will find, in every group of company, two principal
figures, viz., the fine lady and the fine gentleman who absolutely give
the law of wit, language, fashion, and taste, to the rest of that
society. There is always a strict, and often for the time being, a tender
alliance between these two figures. The lady looks upon her empire as
founded upon the divine right of beauty (and full as good a divine right
it is as any king, emperor, or pope, can pretend to); she requires, and
commonly meets with, unlimited passive obedience. And why should she not
meet with it? Her demands go no higher than to have her unquestioned
preeminence in beauty, wit, and fashion, firmly established. Few
sovereigns (by the way) are so reasonable. The fine gentleman's claims of
right are, 'mutatis mutandis', the same; and though, indeed, he is not
always a wit 'de jure', yet, as he is the wit 'de facto' of that company,
he is entitled to a share of your allegiance, and everybody expects at
least as much as they are entitled to, if not something more. Prudence
bids you make your court to these joint sovereigns; and no duty, that I
know of, forbids it. Rebellion here is exceedingly dangerous, and
inevitably punished by banishment, and immediate forfeiture of all your
wit, manners, taste, and fashion; as, on the other hand, a cheerful
submission, not without some flattery, is sure to procure you a strong
recommendation and most effectual pass, throughout all their, and
probably the neighboring, dominions. With a moderate share of sagacity,
you will, before you have been half an hour in their company, easily
discover those two principal figures: both by the deference which you
will observe the whole company pay them, and by that easy, careless, and
serene air, which their consciousness of power gives them. As in this
case, so in all others, aim always at the highest; get always into the
highest company, and address yourself particularly to the highest in it.
The search after the unattainable philosopher's stone has occasioned a
thousand useful discoveries, which otherwise would never have been made.

What the French justly call 'les manieres nobles' are only to be acquired
in the very best companies. They are the distinguishing characteristics
of men of fashion: people of low education never wear them so close, but
that some part or other of the original vulgarism appears. 'Les manieres
nobles' equally forbid insolent contempt, or low envy and jealousy. Low
people, in good circumstances, fine clothes, and equipages, will
insolently show contempt for all those who cannot afford as fine clothes,
as good an equipage, and who have not (as their term is) as much money in
their pockets: on the other hand, they are gnawed with envy, and cannot
help discovering it, of those who surpass them in any of these articles;
which are far from being sure criterions of merit. They are likewise
jealous of being slighted; and, consequently, suspicious and captious;
they are eager and hot about trifles because trifles were, at first,
their affairs of consequence. 'Les manieres nobles' imply exactly the
reverse of all this. Study them early; you cannot make them too habitual
and familiar to you.

Just as I had written what goes before, I received your letter of the
24th, N. S., but I have not received that which you mention for Mr.
Harte. Yours is of the kind that I desire; for I want to see your private
picture, drawn by yourself, at different sittings; for though, as it is
drawn by yourself, I presume you will take the most advantageous
likeness, yet I think that I have skill enough in that kind of painting
to discover the true features, though ever so artfully colored, or thrown
into skillful lights and shades.

By your account of the German play, which I do not know whether I should
call tragedy or comedy, the only shining part of it (since I am in a way
of quibbling) seems to have been the fox's tail. I presume, too, that the
play has had the same fate with the squib, and has gone off no more. I
remember a squib much better applied, when it was made the device of the
colors of a French regiment of grenadiers; it was represented bursting,
with this motto under it: 'Peream dum luceam'.

I like the description of your PIC-NIC; where I take it for granted, that
your cards are only to break the formality of a circle, and your
SYMPOSION intended more to promote conversation than drinking. Such an
AMICABLE COLLISION, as Lord Shaftesbury very prettily calls it, rubs off
and smooths those rough corners which mere nature has given to the
smoothest of us. I hope some part, at least, of the conversation is in
German. 'A propos': tell me do you speak that language correctly, and do
you write it with ease? I have no doubt of your mastering the other
modern languages, which are much easier, and occur much oftener; for
which reason, I desire that you will apply most diligently to German,
while you are in Germany, that you may speak and write that language most

I expect to meet Mr. Eliot in London, in about three weeks, after which
you will soon see him at Leipsig. Adieu.


LONDON, November 18, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: Whatever I see or whatever I hear, my first consideration is,
whether it can in any way be useful to you. As a proof of this, I went
accidentally the other day into a print-shop, where, among many others, I
found one print from a famous design of Carlo Maratti, who died about
thirty years ago, and was the last eminent painter in Europe: the subject
is 'il Studio del Disegno'; or "The School of Drawing." An old man,
supposed to be the master, points to his scholars, who are variously
employed in perspective, geometry, and the observation of the statues of
antiquity. With regard to perspective, of which there are some little
specimens, he has wrote, 'Tanto che basti', that is, "As much as is
sufficient"; with regard to geometry, 'Tanto che basti' again; with
regard to the contemplation of the ancient statues, there is written,
'Non mai a bastanza',--"There never can be enough." But in the clouds, at
the top of the piece, are represented the three Graces, with this just
sentence written over them, 'Senza di noi ogni fatica e vana', that is,
"Without us, all labor is vain." This everybody allows to be true in
painting; but all people do not seem to consider, as I hope you will,
that this truth is full as applicable to every other art or science;
indeed to everything that is to be said or done. I will send you the
print itself by Mr. Eliot, when he returns; and I will advise you to make
the same use of it that the Roman Catholics say they do of the pictures
and images of their saints, which is, only to remind them of those; for
the adoration they disclaim. Nay, I will go further, as the transition
from Popery to Paganism is short and easy, I will classically end
poetically advise you to invoke, and sacrifice to them every day, and all
the day. It must be owned, that the Graces do not seem to be natives of
Great Britain; and, I doubt, the best of us here have more of rough than
polished diamond.

Since barbarism drove them out of Greece and Rome, they seem to have
taken refuge in France, where their temples are numerous, and their
worship the established one. Examine yourself seriously, why such and
such people please and engage you, more than such and such others, of
equal merit; and you will always find that it is because the former have
the Graces and the latter not. I have known many a woman with an exact
shape, and a symmetrical assemblage of beautiful features, please nobody;
while others, with very moderate shapes and features, have charmed
everybody. Why? because Venus will not charm so much, without her
attendant Graces, as they will without her. Among men, how often have I
seen the most solid merit and knowledge neglected, unwelcome, or even
rejected, for want of them! While flimsy parts, little knowledge, and
less merit, introduced by the Graces, have been received, cherished, and
admired. Even virtue, which is moral beauty, wants some of its charms if
unaccompanied by them.

If you ask me how you shall acquire what neither you nor I can define or
ascertain, I can only answer, BY OBSERVATION. Form yourself, with regard
to others, upon what you feel pleases you in them. I can tell you the
importance, the advantage, of having the Graces; but I cannot give them
you: I heartily wish I could, and I certainly would; for I do not know a
better present that I could make you. To show you that a very wise,
philosophical, and retired man thinks upon that subject as I do, who have
always lived in the world, I send you, by Mr. Eliot, the famous Mr.
Locke's book upon education; in which you will end the stress that he
lays upon the Graces, which he calls (and very truly) good-breeding. I
have marked all the parts of that book that are worth your attention; for
as he begins with the child, almost from its birth, the parts relative to
its infancy would be useless to you. Germany is, still less than England,
the seat of the Graces; however, you had as good not say so while you are
there. But the place which you are going to, in a great degree, is; for I
have known as many well-bred, pretty men come from Turin, as from any
part of Europe. The late King Victor Amedee took great pains to form such
of his subjects as were of any consideration, both to business and
manners; the present king, I am told, follows his example: this, however,
is certain, that in all courts and congresses, where there are various
foreign ministers, those of the King of Sardinia are generally the
ablest, the politest, and 'les plus delies'. You will therefore, at
Turin, have very good models to form yourself upon: and remember, that
with regard to the best models, as well as to the antique Greek statues
in the print, 'non mai a bastanza'. Observe every word, look, and motion
of those who are allowed to be the most accomplished persons there.
Observe their natural and careless, but genteel air; their unembarrassed
good-breeding; their unassuming, but yet unprostituted dignity. Mind
their decent mirth, their discreet frankness, and that 'entregent' which,
as much above the frivolous as below the important and the secret, is the
proper medium for conversation in mixed companies. I will observe, by the
bye, that the talent of that light 'entregent' is often of great use to a
foreign minister; not only as it helps him to domesticate himself in many
families, but also as it enables him to put by and parry some subjects of
conversation, which might possibly lay him under difficulties both what
to say and how to look.

Of all the men that ever I knew in my life (and I knew him extremely
well), the late Duke of Marlborough possessed the graces in the highest
degree, not to say engrossed them; and indeed he got the most by them;
for I will venture (contrary to the custom of profound historians, who
always assign deep causes for great events), to ascribe the better half
of the Duke of Marlborough's greatness and riches to those graces. He was
eminently illiterate; wrote bad English and spelled it still worse. He
had no share of what is commonly called PARTS: that is, he had no
brightness, nothing shining in his genius. He had most undoubtedly, an
excellent good plain understanding with sound judgment. But these alone,
would probably have raised him but something higher than they found him;
which was page to King James the Second's queen. There the Graces
protected and promoted him; for while he was an ensign of the Guards, the
Duchess of Cleveland, then favorite mistress to King Charles the Second,
struck by those very Graces, gave him five thousand pounds, with which he
immediately bought an annuity for his life of five hundred pounds a year,
of my grandfather Halifax; which was the foundation of his subsequent
fortune. His figure was beautiful; but his manner was irresistible, by
either man or woman. It was by this engaging, graceful manner, that he
was enabled, during all his war, to connect the various and jarring
powers of the Grand Alliance, and to carry them on to the main object of
the war, notwithstanding their private and separate views, jealousies,
and wrongheadednesses. Whatever court he went to (and he was often
obliged to go himself to some resty and refractory ones), he as
constantly prevailed, and brought them into his measures. The Pensionary
Heinsius, a venerable old minister, grown gray in business, and who had
governed the republic of the United Provinces for more than forty years,
was absolutely governed by the Duke of Marlborough, as that republic
feels to this day. He was always cool; and nobody ever observed the least
variation in his countenance; he could refuse more gracefully than other
people could grant; and those who went away from him the most
dissatisfied as to the substance of their business, were yet personally
charmed with him and, in some degree, comforted by his manner. With all
his gentleness and gracefulness, no man living was more conscious of his
situation, nor maintained his dignity better.

With the share of knowledge which you have already gotten, and with the
much greater which I hope you will soon acquire, what may you not expect
to arrive at, if you join all these graces to it? In your destination
particularly, they are in truth half your business: for, if you once gain
the affections as well as the esteem of the prince or minister of the
court to which you are sent, I will answer for it, that will effectually
do the business of the court that sent you; otherwise it is up-hill work.
Do not mistake, and think that these graces which I so often and so
earnestly recommend to you, should only accompany important transactions,
and be worn only 'les jours de gala'; no, they should, if possible,
accompany every, the least thing you do or say; for, if you neglect them
in little things, they will leave you in great ones. I should, for
instance, be extremely concerned to see you even drink a cup of coffee
ungracefully, and slop yourself with it, by your awkward manner of
holding it; nor should I like to see your coat buttoned, or your shoes
buckled awry. But I should be outrageous, if I heard you mutter your
words unintelligibly, stammer, in your speech, or hesitate, misplace, and
mistake in your narrations; and I should run away from you with greater
rapidity, if possible, than I should now run to embrace you, if I found
you destitute of all those graces which I have set my heart upon their
making you one day, 'omnibus ornatum excellere rebus'.

This subject is inexhaustible, as it extends to everything that is to be
said or done: but I will leave it for the present, as this letter is
already pretty long. Such is my desire, my anxiety for your perfection,
that I never think I have said enough, though you may possibly think that
I have said too much; and though, in truth, if your own good sense is not
sufficient to direct you, in many of these plain points, all that I or
anybody else can say will be insufficient. But where you are concerned, I
am the insatiable man in Horace, who covets still a little corner more to
complete the figure of his field. I dread every little corner that may
deform mine, in which I would have (if possible) no one defect.

I this moment receive yours of the 17th, N. S., and cannot condole with
you upon the secession of your German 'Commensaux'; who both by your and
Mr. Harte's description, seem to be 'des gens d'une amiable absence';
and, if you can replace them by any other German conversation, you will
be a gainer by the bargain. I cannot conceive, if you understand German
well enough to read any German book, how the writing of the German
character can be so difficult and tedious to you, the twenty-four letters
being very soon learned; and I do not expect that you should write yet
with the utmost purity and correctness, as to the language: what I meant
by your writing once a fortnight to Grevenkop, was only to make the
written character familiar to you. However, I will be content with one in
three weeks or so.

I believe you are not likely to see Mr. Eliot again soon, he being still
in Cornwall with his father; who, I hear, is not likely to recover.


LONDON, November 29, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I delayed writing to you till I could give you some account of
the motions of your friend Mr. Eliot; for whom I know you have, and very
justly, the most friendly concern. His father and he came to town
together, in a post-chaise a fortnight ago, the rest of the family
remaining in Cornwall. His father, with difficulty, survived the journey,
and died last Saturday was seven-night. Both concern and decency confined
your friend, till two days ago, when I saw him; he has determined, and I
think very prudently, to go abroad again; but how soon, it is yet
impossible for him to know, as he must necessarily put his own private
affairs in some order first; but I conjecture that he may possibly join
you at Turin; sooner, to be sure, not. I am very sorry that you are
likely to be so long without the company and the example of so valuable a
friend; and therefore I hope that you will make it up to yourself, as
well as you can at this distance, by remembering and following his
example. Imitate that application of his, which has made him know all
thoroughly, and to the bottom. He does not content himself with the
surface of knowledge; but works in the mine for it, knowing that it lies
deep. Pope says, very truly, in his "Essay on Criticism":--

     A little learning is a dangerous thing;
     Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.

I shall send you by a ship that goes to Hamburg next week (and by which
Hawkins sends Mr. Harte some things that he wrote for) all those which I
propose sending you by Mr. Eliot, together with a very little box that I
am desired to forward to Mr. Harte. There will be, likewise, two letters
of recommendation for you to Monsieur Andrie and Comte Algarotti, at
Berlin, which you will take care to deliver to them, as soon as you shall
be rigged and fitted out to appear there. They will introduce you into
the best company, and I depend upon your own good sense for your avoiding
of bad. If you fall into bad and low company there, or anywhere else, you
will be irrecoverably lost; whereas, if you keep good company, and
company above yourself, your character and your fortune will be immovably

I have not time to-day, upon account of the meeting of the parliament, to
make this letter of the usual length; and indeed, after the volumes that
I have written to you, all I can add must be unnecessary. However, I
shall probably, 'ex abundanti', return soon to my former prolixity; and
you will receive more and more last words from, Yours.


LONDON, December 6, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I am at present under very great concern for the loss of a most
affectionate brother, with whom I had always lived in the closest
friendship. My brother John died last Friday night, of a fit of the gout,
which he had had for about a month in his hands and feet, and which fell
at last upon his stomach and head. As he grew, toward the last,
lethargic, his end was not painful to himself. At the distance which you
are at from hence, you need not go into mourning upon this occasion, as
the time of your mourning would be near over, before you could put it on.

By a ship which sails this week for Hamburg, I shall send you those
things which I proposed to have sent you by Mr. Eliot, viz., a little box
from your Mamma; a less box for Mr. Harte; Mr. Locke's book upon
education; the print of Carlo Maratti, which I mentioned to you some time
ago; and two letters of recommendation, one to Monsieur Andrie and the
other to Comte Algarotti, at Berlin. Both those gentlemen will, I am
sure, be as willing as they are able to introduce you into the best
company; and I hope you will not (as many of your countrymen are apt to
do) decline it. It is in the best companies only; that you can learn the
best manners and that 'tournure', and those graces, which I have so often
recommended to you, as the necessary means of making a figure in the

I am most extremely pleased with the account which Mr. Harte gives me of
your progress in Greek, and of your having read Hesiod almost critically.
Upon this subject I suggest but one thing to you, of many that I might
suggest; which is, that you have now got over the difficulties of that
language, and therefore it would be unpardonable not to persevere to your
journey's end, now that all the rest of your way is down hill.

I am also very well pleased to hear that you have such a knowledge of,
and taste for curious books and scarce and valuable tracts. This is a
kind of knowledge which very well becomes a man of sound and solid
learning, but which only exposes a man of slight and superficial reading;
therefore, pray make the substance and matter of such books your first
object, and their title-pages, indexes, letter, and binding, but your
second. It is the characteristic of a man of parts and good judgment to
know, and give that degree of attention that each object deserves.
Whereas little minds mistake little objects for great ones, and lavish
away upon the former that time and attention which only the latter
deserve. To such mistakes we owe the numerous and frivolous tribes of
insect-mongers, shell-mongers, and pursuers and driers of butterflies,
etc. The strong mind distinguishes, not only between the useful and the
useless, but likewise between the useful and the curious. He applies
himself intensely to the former; he only amuses himself with the latter.
Of this little sort of knowledge, which I have just hinted at, you will
find at least as much as you need wish to know, in a superficial but
pretty French book, entitled, 'Spectacle de la Nature'; which will amuse
you while you read it, and give you a sufficient notion of the various
parts of nature. I would advise you to read it, at leisure hours. But
that part of nature, which Mr. Harte tells me you have begun to study
with the Rector magnificus, is of much greater importance, and deserves
much more attention; I mean astronomy. The vast and immense planetary
system, the astonishing order and regularity of those innumerable worlds,
will open a scene to you, which not only deserves your attention as a
matter of curiosity, or rather astonishment; but still more, as it will
give you greater, and consequently juster, ideas of that eternal and
omnipotent Being, who contrived, made, and still preserves that universe,
than all the contemplation of this, comparatively, very little orb, which
we at present inhabit, could possibly give you. Upon this subject,
Monsieur Fontenelle's 'Pluralite des Mondes', which you may read in two
hours' time, will both inform and please you. God bless you! Yours.


LONDON, December 13, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: The last four posts have brought me no letters, either from you
or from Mr. Harte, at which I am uneasy; not as a mamma would be, but as
a father should be: for I do not want your letters as bills of health;
you are young, strong, and healthy, and I am, consequently, in no pain
about that: moreover, were either you or Mr. Harte ill, the other would
doubtless write me word of it. My impatience for yours or Mr. Harte's
letters arises from a very different cause, which is my desire to hear
frequently of the state and progress of your mind. You are now at that
critical period of life when every week ought to produce fruit or flowers
answerable to your culture, which I am sure has not been neglected; and
it is by your letters, and Mr. Harte's accounts of you, that, at this
distance, I can only judge at your gradations to maturity; I desire,
therefore, that one of you two will not fail to write to me once a week.
The sameness of your present way of life, I easily conceive, would not
make out a very interesting letter to an indifferent bystander; but so
deeply concerned as I am in the game you are playing, even the least move
is to me of importance, and helps me to judge of the final event.

As you will be leaving Leipsig pretty soon after you shall have received
this letter, I here send you one inclosed to deliver to Mr. Mascow. It is
to thank him for his attention and civility to you, during your stay with
him: and I take it for granted, that you will not fail making him the
proper compliments at parting; for the good name that we leave behind at
one place often gets before us to another, and is of great use. As Mr.
Mascow is much known and esteemed in the republic of letters, I think it
would be of advantage to you, if you got letters of recommendation from
him to some of the learned men at Berlin. Those testimonials give a
lustre, which is not to be despised; for the most ignorant are forced to
seem, at least, to pay a regard to learning, as the most wicked are to
virtue. Such is their intrinsic worth.

Your friend Duval dined with me the other day, and complained most
grievously that he had not heard from you above a year; I bid him abuse
you for it himself; and advised him to do it in verse, which, if he was
really angry, his indignation would enable him to do. He accordingly
brought me, yesterday, the inclosed reproaches and challenge, which he
desired me to transmit to you. As this is his first essay in English
poetry, the inaccuracies in the rhymes and the numbers are very
excusable. He insists, as you will find, upon being answered in verse;
which I should imagine that you and Mr. HARTE, together, could bring
about; as the late Lady Dorchester used to say, that she and Dr.
Radcliffe, together, could cure a fever. This is however sure, that it
now rests upon you; and no man can say what methods Duval may take, if
you decline his challenge. I am sensible that you are under some
disadvantages in this proffered combat. Your climate, at this time of the
year especially, delights more in the wood fire, than in the poetic fire;
and I conceive the Muses, if there are any at Leipsig, to be rather
shivering than singing; nay, I question whether Apollo is even known
there as god of Verse, or as god of Light: perhaps a little as god of
Physic. These will be fair excuses, if your performance should fall
something short; though I do not apprehend that it will.

While you have been at Leipsig, which is a place of study more than of
pleasure or company, you have had all opportunities of pursuing your
studies uninterruptedly; and have had, I believe, very few temptations to
the contrary. But the case will be quite different at Berlin, where the
splendor and dissipation of a court and the 'beau monde', will present
themselves to you in gaudy shapes, attractive enough to all young people.
Do not think, now, that like an old fellow, I am going to advise you to
reject them, and shut yourself up in your closet: quite the contrary; I
advise you to take your share, and enter into them with spirit and
pleasure; but then I advise you, too, to allot your time so prudently, as
that learning may keep pace with pleasures; there is full time, in the
course of the day, for both, if you do but manage that time right and
like a good economist. The whole morning, if diligently and attentively
devoted to solid studies, will go a great way at the year's end; and the
evenings spent in the pleasures of good company, will go as far in
teaching you a knowledge, not much less necessary than the other, I mean
the knowledge of the world. Between these two necessary studies, that of
books in the morning, and that of the world in the evening, you see that
you will not have one minute to squander or slattern away. Nobody ever
lent themselves more than I did, when I was young, to the pleasures and
dissipation of good company. I even did it too much. But then, I can
assure you, that I always found time for serious studies; and, when I
could find it no other way, I took it out of my sleep, for I resolved
always to rise early in the morning, however late I went to bed at night;
and this resolution I have kept so sacred, that, unless when I have been
confined to my bed by illness, I have not, for more than forty years,
ever been in bed at nine o'clock in the morning but commonly up before

When you are at Berlin, remember to speak German as often as you can, in
company; for everybody there will speak French to you, unless you let
them know that you can speak German, which then they will choose to
speak. Adieu.


LONDON, December 20, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I received last Saturday by three mails, which came in at once,
two letters from Mr. Harte, and yours of the 8th, N. S.

It was I who mistook your meaning, with regard to your German letters,
and not you who expressed it ill. I thought it was the writing of the
German character that took up so much of your time, and therefore I
advised you, by the frequent writing of that character, to make it easy
and familiar to you: But, since it is only the propriety and purity of
the German language which make your writing it so tedious and laborious,
I will tell you I shall not be nice upon that article; and did not expect
that you should yet be master of all the idioms, delicacies, and
peculiarities of that difficult language. That can only come by use,
especially frequent speaking; therefore, when you shall be at Berlin, and
afterward at Turin, where you will meet many Germans, pray take all
opportunities of conversing in German, in order not only to keep what you
have got of that language, but likewise to improve and perfect yourself
in it. As to the characters, you form them very well, and as you yourself
own, better than your English ones; but then let me ask you this
question: Why do you not form your Roman characters better? for I
maintain, that it is in every man's power to write what hand he pleases;
and, consequently, that he ought to write a good one. You form,
particularly, your 'ee' and your 'll' in zigzag, instead of making them
straight, as thus, 'ee', 'll'; a fault very easily mended. You will not,
I believe, be angry with this little criticism, when I tell you, that by
all the accounts I have had of late from Mr. Harte and others, this is
the only criticism that you give me occasion to make. Mr. Harte's last
letter, of the 14th, N. S., particularly, makes me extremely happy, by
assuring me that, in every respect, you do exceedingly well. I am not
afraid, by what I now say, of making you too vain; because I do not think
that a just consciousness and an honest pride of doing well, can be
called vanity; for vanity is either the silly affectation of good
qualities which one has not, or the sillier pride of what does not
deserve commendation in itself. By Mr. Harte's account, you are got very
near the goal of Greek and Latin; and therefore I cannot suppose that, as
your sense increases, your endeavors and your speed will slacken in
finishing the small remains of your course. Consider what lustre and
'eclat' it will give you, when you return here, to be allowed to be the
best scholar, for a gentleman, in England; not to mention the real
pleasure and solid comfort which such knowledge will give you throughout
your whole life. Mr. Harte tells me another thing, which, I own, I did
not expect: it is, that when you read aloud, or repeat parts of plays,
you speak very properly and distinctly. This relieves me from great
uneasiness, which I was under upon account of your former bad
enunciation. Go on, and attend most diligently to this important article.
It is, of all Graces (and they are all necessary), the most necessary

Comte Pertingue, who has been here about a fortnight, far from
disavowing, confirms all that Mr. Harte has said to your advantage. He
thinks that he shall be at Turin much about the time of your arrival
there, and pleases himself with the hopes of being useful to you. Though,
should you get there before him, he says that Comte du Perron, with whom
you are a favorite, will take that care. You see, by this one instance,
and in the course of your life you will see by a million of instances, of
what use a good reputation is, and how swift and advantageous a harbinger
it is, wherever one goes. Upon this point, too, Mr. Harte does you
justice, and tells me that you are desirous of praise from the
praiseworthy. This is a right and generous ambition; and without which, I
fear, few people would deserve praise.

But here let me, as an old stager upon the theatre of the world, suggest
one consideration to you; which is, to extend your desire of praise a
little beyond the strictly praiseworthy; or else you may be apt to
discover too much contempt for at least three parts in five of the world,
who will never forgive it you. In the mass of mankind, I fear, there is
too great a majority of fools and, knaves; who, singly from their number,
must to a certain degree be respected, though they are by no means
respectable. And a man who will show every knave or fool that he thinks
him such, will engage in a most ruinous war, against numbers much
superior to those that he and his allies can bring into the field. Abhor
a knave, and pity a fool in your heart; but let neither of them,
unnecessarily, see that you do so. Some complaisance and attention to
fools is prudent, and not mean; as a silent abhorrence of individual
knaves is often necessary and not criminal.

As you will now soon part with Lord Pulteney, with whom, during your stay
together at Leipsig, I suppose you have formed a connection, I imagine
that you will continue it by letters, which I would advise you to do.
They tell me that he is good-natured, and does not want parts; which are
of themselves two good reasons for keeping it up; but there is also a
third reason, which, in the course of the world, is not to be despised:
His father cannot live long, and will leave him an immense fortune;
which, in all events will make him of some consequence; and, if he has
parts into the bargain, of very great consequence; so that his
friendship, may be extremely well worth your cultivating, especially as
it will not cost you above one letter in one month.

I do not know whether this letter will find you at Leipsig: at least, it
is the last that I shall direct there. My next to either you or Mr.
Harte will be directed to Berlin; but as I do not know to what house or
street there, I suppose it will remain at the posthouse till you send for
it. Upon your arrival at Berlin you will send me your particular
direction; and also, pray be minute in your accounts of your reception
there, by those whom I recommend you to, as well as by those to whom they
present you. Remember, too, that you are going to a polite and literate
court, where the Graces will best introduce you.

Adieu. God bless you, and may you continue to deserve my love, as much as
you now enjoy it!

P. S. Lady Chesterfield bids me tell you, that she decides entirely in
your favor against Mr. Grevenkop, and even against herself; for she does
not think that she could, at this time, write either so good a character
or so good German. Pray write her a German letter upon that subject, in
which you may tell her, that, like the rest of the world, you approve of
her judgment, because it is in your favor; and that you true Germans
cannot allow Danes to be competent judges of your language, etc.


LONDON, December 30, O. S. 1748.

DEAR BOY: I direct this letter to Berlin, where, I suppose, it will
either find you, or at least wait but a very little time for you. I
cannot help being anxious for your success, at this your first appearance
upon the great stage of the world; for, though the spectators are always
candid enough to give great allowances, and to show great indulgence to a
new actor; yet, from the first impressions which he makes upon them, they
are apt to decide, in their own minds, at least, whether he will ever be
a good one, or not. If he seems to understand what he says, by speaking
it properly; if he is attentive to his part, instead of staring
negligently about him; and if, upon the whole, he seems ambitious to
please, they willingly pass over little awkwardnesses and inaccuracies,
which they ascribe to a commendable modesty in a young and inexperienced
actor. They pronounce that he will be a good one in time; and, by the
encouragement which they give him, make him so the sooner. This, I hope,
will be your case: you have sense enough to understand your part; a
constant attention, and ambition to excel in it, with a careful
observation of the best actors, will inevitably qualify you, if not for
the first, at least for considerable parts.

Your dress (as insignificant a thing as dress is in itself) is now become
an object worthy of some attention; for, I confess, I cannot help forming
some opinion of a man's sense and character from his dress; and I believe
most people do as well as myself. Any affectation whatsoever in dress
implies, in my mind, a flaw in the understanding. Most of our young
fellows here display some character or other by their dress; some affect
the tremendous, and wear a great and fiercely cocked hat, an enormous
sword, a short waistcoat and a black cravat; these I should be almost
tempted to swear the peace against, in my own defense, if I were not
convinced that they are but meek asses in lions' skins. Others go in
brown frocks, leather breeches, great oaken cudgels in their hands, their
hats uncocked, and their hair unpowdered; and imitate grooms,
stage-coachmen, and country bumpkins so well in their outsides, that I do
not make the least doubt of their resembling them equally in their
insides. A man of sense carefully avoids any particular character in his
dress; he is accurately clean for his own sake; but all the rest is for
other people's. He dresses as well, and in the same manner, as the people
of sense and fashion of the place where he is. If he dresses better, as
he thinks, that is, more than they, he is a fop; if he dresses worse, he
is unpardonably negligent. But, of the two, I would rather have a young
fellow too much than too little dressed; the excess on that side will
wear off, with a little age and reflection; but if he is negligent at
twenty, he will be a sloven at forty, and stink at fifty years old. Dress
yourself fine, where others are fine; and plain where others are plain;
but take care always that your clothes are well made, and fit you, for
otherwise they will give you a very awkward air. When you are once well
dressed for the day think no more of it afterward; and, without any
stiffness for fear of discomposing that dress, let all your motions be as
easy and natural as if you had no clothes on at all. So much for dress,
which I maintain to be a thing of consequence in the polite world.

As to manners, good-breeding, and the Graces, I have so often entertained
you upon those important subjects, that I can add nothing to what I have
formerly said. Your own good sense will suggest to you the substance of
them; and observation, experience, and good company, the several modes of
them. Your great vivacity, which I hear of from many people, will be no
hindrance to your pleasing in good company: on the contrary, will be of
use to you, if tempered by good-breeding and accompanied by the Graces.
But then, I suppose your vivacity to be a vivacity of parts, and not a
constitutional restlessness; for the most disagreeable composition that I
know in the world, is that of strong animal spirits, with a cold genius.
Such a fellow is troublesomely active, frivolously busy, foolishly
lively; talks much with little meaning, and laughs more, with less reason
whereas, in my opinion, a warm and lively genius with a cool
constitution, is the perfection of human nature.

Do what you will at Berlin, provided you do but do something all day
long. All that I desire of you is, that you will never slattern away one
minute in idleness and in doing of nothing. When you are (not) in company,
learn what either books, masters, or Mr. Harte, can teach you; and when
you are in company, learn (what company can only teach you) the
characters and manners of mankind. I really ask your pardon for giving
you this advice; because, if you are a rational creature and thinking
being, as I suppose, and verily believe you are, it must be unnecessary,
and to a certain degree injurious. If I did not know by experience, that
some men pass their whole time in doing nothing, I should not think it
possible for any being, superior to Monsieur Descartes' automatons, to
squander away, in absolute idleness, one single minute of that small
portion of time which is allotted us in this world.

I have lately seen one Mr. Cranmer, a very sensible merchant, who told me
that he had dined with you, and seen you often at Leipsig. And yesterday
I saw an old footman of mine, whom I made a messenger, who told me that
he had seen you last August. You will easily imagine, that I was not the
less glad to see them because they had seen you; and I examined them both
narrowly, in their respective departments; the former as to your mind,
the latter, as to your body. Mr. Cranmer gave me great satisfaction, not
only by what he told me of himself concerning you, but by what he was
commissioned to tell me from Mr. Mascow. As he speaks German perfectly
himself, I asked him how you spoke it; and he assured me very well for
the time, and that a very little more practice would make you perfectly
master of it. The messenger told me that you were much grown, and, to the
best of his guess, within two inches as tall as I am; that you were
plump, and looked healthy and strong; which was all that I could expect,
or hope, from the sagacity of the person.

I send you, my dear child (and you will not doubt it), very sincerely,
the wishes of the season. May you deserve a great number of happy
New-years; and, if you deserve, may you have them. Many New-years,
indeed, you may see, but happy ones you cannot see without deserving
them. These, virtue, honor, and knowledge, alone can merit, alone can
procure, 'Dii tibi dent annos, de te nam cetera sumes', was a pretty
piece of poetical flattery, where it was said: I hope that, in time, it
may be no flattery when said to you. But I assure you, that wherever I
cannot apply the latter part of the line to you with truth, I shall
neither say, think, or wish the former. Adieu!


A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Above all things,  avoid speaking of yourself
Above the frivolous as below the important and the secret
Abroad but they stay at home all that while
Absolute command of your temper
Abstain from learned ostentation
Absurd term of genteel and fashionable vices
Advice is seldom welcome
Affectation whatsoever in dress
Always look people in the face when you speak to them
Ancients and Moderns
Argumentative, polemical conversations
As willing and as apt to be pleased as anybody
Better not to seem to understand, than to reply
Cannot understand them, or will not desire to understand them
Cardinal de Retz
Cardinal Virtues, by first degrading them into weaknesses
Cautious how we draw inferences
Chameleon, be able to take every different hue
Cheerful in the countenance, but without laughing
Common sense (which, in truth, very uncommon)
Commonplace observations
Consciousness and an honest pride of doing well
Conversation will help you almost as much as books
Conversation-stock being a joint and common property
Converse with his inferiors without insolence
Deriving all our actions from the source of self-love
Deserve a little, and you shall have but a little
Desirous of praise from the praiseworthy
Dexterity enough to conceal a truth without telling a lie
Difficulties seem to them, impossibilities
Distinguish between the useful and the curious
Do as you would be done by
Do what you will but do something all day long
Either do not think, or do not love to think
Equally forbid insolent contempt, or low envy and jealousy
Even where you are sure, seem rather doubtful
Every virtue, has its kindred vice or weakness
Fiddle-faddle stories, that carry no information along with the
Flattery of women
Forge accusations against themselves
Forgive, but not approve, the bad
Frank, open, and ingenuous exterior, with a prudent interior
Gain the affections as well as the esteem
Generosity often runs into profusion
Go to the bottom of things
Good company
Graces: Without us, all labor is vain
Great learning; which, if not accompanied with sound judgment
Great numbers of people met together, animate each other
Habit and prejudice
Half done or half known
Hardly any body good for every thing
Have a will and an opinion of your own, and adhere
Have but one set of jokes to live upon
He will find it out of himself without your endeavors
Heart has such an influence over the understanding
Helps only, not as guides
Honest error is to be pitied, not ridiculed
Honestest man loves himself best
How much you have to do; and how little time to do it in
I hope, I wish, I doubt, and fear alternately
I shall always love you as you shall deserve
If you would convince others, seem open to conviction yourself
Impertinent insult upon custom and fashion
Inaction at your age is unpardonable
Jealous of being slighted
Judge them all by their merits, but not by their ages
Keep good company, and company above yourself
Know their real value, and how much they are generally overrated
Knowledge is like power in this respect
Knowledge of a scholar with the manners of a courtier
Laughing, I must particularly warn you against it
Lazy mind, and the trifling, frivolous mind
Let me see more of you in your letters
Little minds mistake little objects for great ones
Loud laughter is the mirth of the mob
Low buffoonery, or silly accidents, that always excite laughter
Low company, most falsely and impudently, call pleasure
Luther's disappointed avarice
Make yourself necessary
Manner of doing things is often more important
Manners must adorn knowledge
May not forget with ease what you have with difficulty learned
More one sees, the less one either wonders or admires
More you know, the modester you should be
Mortifying inferiority in knowledge, rank, fortune
Most long talkers single out some one unfortunate man in compan
Much sooner forgive an injustice than an insult
Mystical nonsense
Name that we leave behind at one place often gets before us
Neglect them in little things, they will leave you in great
Negligence of it implies an indifference about pleasing
Neither retail nor receive scandal willingly
Never quit a subject till you are thoroughly master of it
Never seem wiser, nor more learned, than the people you are wit
Never slattern away one minute in idleness
Never to speak of yourself at all
Not one minute of the day in which you do nothing at all
Not to admire anything too much
Oftener led by their hearts than by their understandings
Out of livery; which makes them both impertinent and useless
Overvalue what we do not know
Pay your own reckoning, but do not treat the whole company
People angling for praise
People never desire all till they have gotten a great deal
Plain notions of right and wrong
Planted while young, that degree of knowledge now my refuge
Pleased to some degree by showing a desire to please
Pleasing in company is the only way of being pleased in yourself
Pleasure and business with equal inattention
Prefer useful to frivolous conversations
Pride remembers it forever
Prudent reserve
Reason ought to direct the whole, but seldom does
Refuge of people who have neither wit nor invention of their ow
Refuse more gracefully than other people could grant
Represent, but do not pronounce
Rough corners which mere nature has given to the smoothest
Scandal: receiver is always thought, as bad as the thief
Scarcely any body who is absolutely good for nothing
Scrupled no means to obtain his ends
Seeming frankness with a real reserve
Seeming openness is prudent
Self-love draws a thick veil between us and our faults
Serious without being dull
Shepherds and ministers are both men
Some complaisance and attention to fools is prudent, and not me
Some men pass their whole time in doing nothing
Something or other is to be got out of everybody
Take nothing for granted, upon the bare authority of the author
Take, rather than give, the tone of the company you are in
Talk often, but never long
Talk sillily upon a subject of other people's
Talking of either your own or other people's domestic affairs
Tell me whom you live with, and I will tell you who you are
Tell stories very seldom
Tenderness and affection with which, while you deserve them
The best have something bad, and something little
The worst have something good, and sometimes something great
Thin veil of Modesty drawn before Vanity
Thoroughly, not superficially
To know people's real sentiments, I trust much more to my eyes
Unopened, because one title in twenty has been omitted
Value of moments, when cast up, is immense
Vanity, that source of many of our follies
What displeases or pleases you in others
What you feel pleases you in them
When well dressed for the day think no more of it afterward
Will not so much as hint at our follies
Witty without satire or commonplace
Wrongs are often forgiven; but contempt never is
You had much better hold your tongue than them
Your merit and your manners can alone raise you

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