Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1750 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 121 pages of information about Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1750.

        Would you engage the lovely fair? 
        With gentlest manners treat her;
        With tender looks and graceful air,
        In softest accents greet her.

        Verse were but vain, the Muses fail,
        Without the Graces’ aid;
        The God of Verse could not prevail
        To stop the flying maid.

        Attention by attentions gain,
        And merit care by cares;
        So shall the nymph reward your pain;
        And Venus crown your prayers. 
                    Probatum est.

A man’s address and manner weigh much more with them than his beauty; and, without them, the Abbati and Monsignori will get the better of you.  This address and manner should be exceedingly respectful, but at the same time easy and unembarrassed.  Your chit-chat or ‘entregent’ with them neither can, nor ought to be very solid; but you should take care to turn and dress up your trifles prettily, and make them every now and then convey indirectly some little piece of flattery.  A fan, a riband, or a head-dress, are great materials for gallant dissertations, to one who has got ‘le ton leger et aimable de la bonne compagnie’.  At all events, a man had better talk too much to women, than too little; they take silence for dullness, unless where they think that the passion they have inspired occasions it; and in that case they adopt the notion, that

          Silence in love betrays more woe
          Than words, though ne’er so witty;
          The beggar that is dumb, we know,
          Deserves a double pity.

‘A propos’ of this subject:  what progress do you make in that language, in which Charles the Fifth said that he would choose to speak to his mistress?  Have you got all the tender diminutives, in ‘etta, ina’, and ‘ettina’, which, I presume, he alluded to?  You already possess, and, I hope, take care not to forget, that language which he reserved for his horse.  You are absolutely master, too, of that language in which he said he would converse with men; French.  But, in every language, pray attend carefully to the choice of your words, and to the turn of your expression.  Indeed, it is a point of very great consequence.  To be heard with success, you must be heard with pleasure:  words are the dress of thoughts; which should no more be presented in rags, tatters, and dirt, than your person should.  By the way, do you mind your person and your dress sufficiently?  Do you take great care of your teeth?  Pray have them put in order by the best operator at Rome.  Are you be-laced, bepowdered, and be-feathered, as other young fellows are, and should be?  At your age, ’il faut du brillant, et meme un peu de fracas, mais point de mediocre; il faut un air vif, aise et noble.  Avec les hommes, un maintien respectueux et en meme tems respectable; avec les femmes, un caquet leger, enjoue, et badin, mais toujours fort poli’.

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Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1750 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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