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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 Pa-
gans 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 Commander les ;
and the most ancient of these Commandeurs is called the



97

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 Mattre.

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.



LETTER XLVII

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 QJJESTION ordinary and ex-
traordinary ; 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. Laudari a laudato
7



98 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S

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 ac-
quired 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 Abb6 Mably's Droit Public de
F Europe makes a part of your evening amusements. It is



LETTERS TO HIS SON 99

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. Pere Bougeant's third
volume will give you the best idea of the treaty of Mun-
ster, 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 imme-
diately preceding that treaty, intended to make itself abso-
lute 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 Bour-
bon, and the aggrandizement of that of Bradenburg: which,
I am much mistaken, if it stops where it is now.

Make my compliments to Lord Pulteney, to whom I
would have you be not only attentive, but useful, by set-
ting him (in case he wants it) a good example of applica-
tion 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.



ioo LORD CHESTERFIELD'S



LETTER XLVIII

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, with-
out 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



Quern 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 opin-
ion 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. Con-
sider 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 regu-
lar 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 Vel-
leius Paterculus (for the sake of saying a pretty thing) says



LETTERS TO HIS SON 101

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 esi 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
ha've 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
SOLKNESS, 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 com-
pose 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 mari-
time powers to defend as they could. The King of Sar-
dinia's real object was Savona and all the Riviera di
Ponente ; for which reason he concurred so lamely in the



102 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S

invasion of Provence, where the Qjueen of Hungary, like-
wise, 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. Sup-
pose, 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, dis-
turbances 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 counter-
balance 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;



LETTERS TO HIS SON 103

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 aai
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.
Memoir es pour ser-vir & V Histoire du ijtime Sticle, 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 Memoir es 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" Av-
ranche, in one little volume octavo, is worth your perusal,
as commerce is a very considerable part of political knowl-
edge. 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.



104 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S



LETTER XLIX

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 dili-
gently, 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 Ger-
many, 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 be-
fore 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 informa-
tions ; which I desire you will enter in your little book.



LETTERS TO HIS SON 105

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 at-
tentions will therefore be more necessary. Pleasing in com-
pany is the only way of being pleased in it yourself.
Sense and knowledge are the first and necessary founda-
tions 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 inat-
tentive 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 pry, as far as you can,
into both their hearts and their heads. Seek for their par-
ticular 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 in-
gredients in our general composition, as reason, will, pas-
sions, and appetites; yet the different proportions and
combinations of them in each individual, produce that in-
finite 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



io6 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S

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 Roche-
foucault, and Les Caracftres de la Bruybre: 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 blam-
able 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 Roche foucault's book as a very ill-natured
one, is this, On trouve dans le malheur de son meilleur ami,
quelque chose qui ne dfylait -pas. And why not? Why
may I not feel a very tender and real concern for the mis-
fortune 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 him-
self 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



LETTERS TO HIS SON 107

will reciprocally help you to discover the beauties and the
blemishes.

As women are a considerable, or at least a pretty numer-
ous part of company; and as their suffrages go a great
way toward establishing a man's character in the fashion-
able 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 contro-
verted, their age increased, or their supposed understandings
depreciated, instantly kindles their little passions, and over-
turns 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



Online LibraryPhilip Dormer Stanhope ChesterfieldLetters to his son (Volume 1) → online text (page 10 of 38)