Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

LETTER WRITING.–The best models * that you can form yourself upon, are Cicero, Cardinal d'Ossat, Madame Sevigné, and Comte Bussy Rabutin. Cicero's epistles to Atticus and to his familiar friends are the best examples that you can imitate, in the friendly and the familiar style. The simplicity and clearness of Cardinal d'Ossat's letters show how letters of business ought to be written; no affected turns, no attempt at wit, obscure or perplex his matter ; which is always plainly and clearly stated, as business always should be. For gay and amusing letters, for enjouement and badinage, there are none that equal Comte Bussy's and Madame Sevigné's. They are so natural, they seem to be the extempore conversations of two people of wit, rather than letters; which are commonly studied, though they ought not to be so. I would advise you to let that book be one in your itinerant library. [July 20, 1747.]

PERSONAL CLEANLINESS.—As you must attend to your manners, so you must not neglect your person ; but take care to be very clean, well dressed, and genteel; to have no disagree

* Chesterfield had inclosed in a letter from Mr. Stanhope's mamma one from his own sister, thanking the boy for some Arquebusade water. His lordship sent a rough copy of a polite answer to this note.

age. Do you consider

able attitudes, nor awkward tricks; which many people use themselves to, and then cannot leave them off. Do you take care to keep your teeth very clean, by washing them constantly every morning, and after every meal? This is very necessary, both to preserve your teeth a great while, and to save you a great deal of pain. Mine bave plagued me long, and are now falling out, merely for want of care when I was of your


dress well, and not too well? Do

your air and manner of presenting yourself, enough, and not too much ? neither negligent nor stiff. All these things deserve a degree of care, a second-rate attention; they give an additional lustre to real merit. My Lord Bacon says that a pleasing figure is a perpetual letter of recommendation. It is certainly an agreeable forerunner of merit, and smooths the

way for it. [July 30, 1747.]

TRUTH.-Every man seeks for truth ; but God only knows who has found it. It is, therefore, as unjust to persecute as it is absurd to ridicule people for those several opinions which they cannot help entertaining upon the conviction of their reason. [Same date.]

LYING.—I really know nothing more criminal, more mean, and more ridiculous than

lying. It is the production either of malice, cowardice, or vanity; and generally misses of its aim in every one of these views ; for lies are always detected, sooner or later. If I tell a malicious lie, in order to affect any man's fortune or character, I may indeed injure him for some time; but I shall be sure to be the greatest sufferer myself at last; for as soon as ever I am detected (and detected I most certainly shall be), I am blasted for the infamous attempt; and whatever is said afterwards, to the disadvantage of that person, however true, passes for calumny. If I lie, or equivocate, for it is the same thing, in order to excuse myself for something that I have said or done, and to avoid the danger or the shame that I apprehend from it, I discover at once my fear, as well as my falsehood; and only increase instead of avoiding the danger and the shame; I show myself to be the lowest and the meanest of mankind, and am sure to be always treated as such. Fear, instead of avoiding, invites danger; for concealed cowards will insult known

If one has had the misfortune to be in the wrong, there is something noble in frankly owning it; it is the only way of atoning for it, and the only way of being forgiven. Equivocating, evading, shuffling, in order to remove a present danger or inconveniency, is something so mean, and betrays so much fear, that whoever practises them always deserves to be, and often will be, kicked. There is another sort of lies, inoffensive enough in themselves, but wonderfully ridiculous ; I mean those lies which a mistaken vanity suggests, that defeat the very end for which they are calculated, and terminate in the humiliation and confusion of their author, who is sure to be detected. These are chiefly narrative and historical lies, all intended to do infinite honor to their author. He is always the hero of his own romances; he has been in dangers from which nobody but himself ever escaped; he has seen with his own eyes whatever other people have heard or read of; he has had more bonnes fortunes than ever he knew women; and ridden more miles post, in one day, than ever courier went in two. He is soon discovered, and as soon becomes the object of universal contempt and ridicule. Remember, then, as long as you live, that nothing but strict truth can carry you through the world, with either your conscience or your honor unwounded. It is not only your duty, but your interest; as a proof of which you may always observe that the greatest fools are the greatest liars. For my own part, I judge of every man's truth by his degree of understanding. (Sept. 21, 1747.]


PERCEPTION OF CHARACTER.-Search, therefore, with the greatest care into the characters of all those whom you converse with ; endeavor to discover their predominant passions, their prevailing weaknesses, their vanities, their follies, and their humors; with all the right and wrong, wise and silly springs of human actions, which make such inconsistent and whimsical beings of us rational creatures. A moderate share of penetration, with great attention, will infallibly make these necessary discoveries. This is the true knowledge of the world ; and the world is a country which nobody ever yet knew by description ; one must travel through it one's self to be acquainted with it. The scholar, who in the dust of his closet talks or writes of the world, knows no more of it than that orator did of war, who judiciously endeavored to instruct Hannibal in it. Courts and camps are the only places to learn the world in. [Oct. 2, 1747.]

GOOD BREEDING.—Civility, which is a disposition to accommodate and oblige others, is essentially the same in every country ; but good breeding, as it is called, which is the manner of exerting that disposition, is different in almost every country, and merely local; and every man of sense imitates and conforms to

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »