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“Take out the immorality, and it should be put into the hands of every young gentleman."-DR. JOHNSON, May, 1776.
“Viewed as compositions, they appear almost unrivalled for a serious epistolary style; clear, elegant, and terse, never straining at effect, and yet never hurried into carelessness."-LORD MAHON, 1845.
“In point of style, a finished classical work; they contain instructions for the conduct of life that will never be obsolete. Instinct with the most consummate goodsense and knowledge of life and business, and certainly nothing can be more attractive than the style in which they are set before their readers."- Quarterly Review, vol. lxxvi., 1845.
“Lord Chesterfield's letters are, I will venture to say, masterpieces of good taste, good writing, and goodsense.”—JOHN WILSON CROKER, 1846.
HILIP DORMER STANHOPE, Earl of
Chesterfield, 1694-1773, has had the fate of being generally misunderstood. Dr. Johnson, then Mr., a poor scholar but in the prime of life, seems to have mistaken a delay in an interview, and to have abused his lordship very soundly ever afterwards, although on Chesterfield's side there was not wanting a most gracious movement towards reconciliation where no offence had been given. To this misconception we owe one of the finest and manliest letters ever written ; but we cannot overlook the blunder. After this, too, came the condemnation of the celebrated letters—a savage epi. gram, only partially true, and redeemed by the opinion which faces our title. If Mr. Dickens painted—as it has been said he did—Sir John Chester from Lord Chesterfield, he equally mistook the man; and we are sorry to add to this list of those who have followed Johnson's lead, Mrs. Oliphant in her recent admirable “Historical Sketches.”
The simple truth is, that men are to be judged by the places, temper of the times, nay, even the very atmosphere which surrounds them, and Chesterfield lived in a lax, immoral time, when a mistress was as well recognized in polite society as a concubine was in the days of King David. The Cupidon déchainé at the Hague, a beautiful young lady, a governess or dame de compagnie, set her wits against his, and suffered the usual penalty; she fell, and this son to whom these letters are written was the result. But if Chesterfield was not a Christian gentleman, he was in some a gentleman ; Mademoiselle, or, as she was lled, Madame de Bouchet, was always treated with distinguished politeness, and when he died he left her a legacy as some slight recompense for the injury he had done her. He married a lady of blood royal, though crossed by a bar sinister (daughter of George I. and the Duchess of Kendal), and this lady grew very fond of his son Philip, and respectfully greeted the mother. And for this son more than a thousand letters attest the father's affection ; he is placed under the care of an excellent clergyman, he is urged to pay the greatest attention to his mother, to