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et font une République très-puissante, et très considérable. *
Translation.-I am informed, sir, that you are about to travel, and that you will start with Holland. Therefore I have thought it my duty to wish you a pleasant journey and favorable winds. You will, I am sure, be so good as to acquaint me with your arrival at the Hague; and afterwards, if in your travels you should observe any thing curious, will you let me know.
Holland, where you are going, is by far the finest and richest of the seven united provinces, which together form the Republic. The other provinces are Guelderland, Zealand, Friesland, Utrecht, Groningen, and Overyssel ; these seven provinces form what is called the StatesGeneral of the United Provinces, etc.t
TRUE DECENCY.-One of the most important points of life is decency; which is to do what is proper, and where it is proper; for many things are proper at one time, and in one place, that are extremely improper in another; for example, it is very proper and decent that you should play some part of the day; but you must feel that it would be very improper and indecent if you were to fly your kite, or play at nine-pins while you are with Mr. Maittaire. * It is very proper and decent to dance well; but then you must dance only at balls and places of entertainment; for you would be reckoned a fool if you were to dance at church or at a funeral. I hope, by these examples, you understand the meaning of the word decency, which in French is bienséance ; in Latin, decorum ; and in Greek, a pérov. Cicero says of it, Sic hoc decorum quod elucet in vitâ, movet approbationem earum quibuscum vivatur, ordine et constantiâ, et moderatione dictorum omnium atque factorum : by which you see how necessary decency is to gain the approbation of mankind. And, as I am sure you desire to gain Mr. Maittaire's approbation, without which you will never have mine, I dare say you will mind and give attention to whatever he says to you, and behave yourself seriously and decently while you are with him; afterwards play, run, and jump as much as ever you please. [July 24, 1739.]
*This first letter will form a key to Chesterfield's character. It is partly badinage, and yet contains the elements of his lordship's idea. He has already begun to teach “Mr. Stanhope," and addresses as Monsieur a child of the mature age of five years. We have purposely omitted other letters, some in Latin, Phillipo Stanhope, adhuc puerulo, which contain merely historical and geographical information fit for a little schoolboy.
| Lord Chesterfield was, as will be afterwards seen, particularly anxious that his son should imbibe political, geographical, and historical knowledge, hence these de tails to a child of five,
THE ART OF SPEAKING.—You cannot but be convinced that a man who speaks and writes with elegance and grace; who makes choice of good words, and adorns and embellishes the subject upon which he either speaks or writes, will persuade better, and succeed more easily in obtaining what he wishes, than a man who does not explain himself clearly ; speaks his language ill ; or makes use of low and vulgar expressions; and who has neither grace nor elegance in any thing that he says. Now it is by rhetoric that the art of speaking eloquently is taught; and, though I cannot think of grounding you in it as yet, I would wish however to give you an idea of it suitable to your age.*
The first thing you should attend to is, to speak whatever language you do speak, in its greatest purity, and according to the rules of grammar; for we must never offend against grammar, nor make use of words which are not really words. This is not all ; for not to speak ill, is not sufficient; we must speak well; and the best method of attaining to that, is to read the best authors with attention; and to
* In a previous letter, which has been lost, Chesterfield has been teaching rhetoric to a boy of about seven years old, for, referring to it, he says : "En vérité je crois que vous êtes le premier garçon à qui, avant l'âge de huit ans, on ait jamais parlé des figures de la rhétorique, comme j'ai fait dans ma dernière,
observe how people of fashion speak, and those who express themselves best; for shopkeepers, common people, footmen, and maid-servants all speak ill. [Bath, Oct. 17, 1739.]
ORATORY.—The business of oratory is to persuade people ; and you easily feel that to please people is a great step towards persuading them. You must then, consequently, be sensible how advantageous it is for a man, who speaks in public, whether it be in Parliament, in the pulpit, or at the bar (that is, in the courts of law), to please his hearers so much as to gain their attention ; which he can never do without the help of oratory. It is not enough to speak the language he speaks in its utmost purity, and according to the rules of grammar; but he must speak it elegantly; that is, he must choose the best and most expressive words, and put them in the best order. He should likewise adorn what he says by proper metaphors, similes, and other figures of rhetoric; and he should enliven it, if he can, by quick and sprightly turns of wit.—[November, 1739.]
THE FOLLY OF IGNORANCE.-An ignorant man is insignificant and contemptible ; nobody cares for his company, and he can just be said to live, and that is all. There is a very pretty French epigram upon the death of such an ignorant, insignificant fellow, the sting of which is, that all that can be said of him is, that he was once alive, and that he is now dead. This is the epigram, which you may get by heart :
“ Colas est mort de maladie,
Tu veux que j'en pleure le sort,
Colas vivoit, Colas est mort.”
Take care not to deserve the name of Colas,* which I shall certainly give you, if you do not learn well. [No date.]
Philippus Chesterfield parvulo suo Philippo
Stanhope, S. P. D. PERGRATA mihi fuit epistola tua, quam nuper accepi, eleganter enim scripta erat, et polliceris te summam operam daturum, ut veras laudes meritò adipisci possis. Sed ut planè dicam ; valde suspicor te, in ea scribenda, optimum et eruditissimum adjutorem habuisse ; quo duce et auspice, nec elegantia, nec doctrina, nec quicquid prorsus est dignum sapiente bonoque, unquam tibi deesse poterit.
Illum ergo ut quam diligenter colas, te etiam atque etiam rogo ; et quo magis eum omni officio, amore, et
* We learn by a subsequent reference that the little fellow wished not to be called Colas, but Polyglot, from knowing already three or four languages.