Read Ariosto and Tasso through, and then you will have read all the Italian poets who in my opinion are worth reading. In all events, when you get to Paris, take a good Italian master to read Italian with you three times a week; not only to keep what you have already, which you would otherwise forget, but also to perfect you in the rest. It is a great pleasure, as well as a great advantage, to be able to speak to people of all nations, and well, in their own language. Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable; however, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer it, than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable. ’Magnis tamen excidit ausis’ is a degree of praise which will always attend a noble and shining temerity, and a much better sign in a young fellow, than ‘serpere humi, tutus nimium timidusque procellae’. For men as well as women:
“---------born to be controlled, Stoop to the forward and the bold.”
A man who sets out in the world with real timidity and diffidence has not an equal chance for it; he will be discouraged, put by, or trampled upon. But to succeed, a man, especially a young one, should have inward firmness, steadiness, and intrepidity, with exterior modesty and seeming diffidence. He must modestly, but resolutely, assert his own rights and privileges. ‘Suaviter in modo’, but ‘fortiter in re’. He should have an apparent frankness and openness, but with inward caution and closeness. All these things will come to you by frequenting and observing good company. And by good company, I mean that sort of company which is called good company by everybody of that place. When all this is over, we shall meet; and then we will talk over, tete-a-tete, the various little finishing strokes which conversation and, acquaintance occasionally suggest, and which cannot be methodically written.
Tell Mr. Harte that I have received his two letters of the 2d and 8th N. S., which, as soon as I have received a third, I will answer. Adieu, my dear! I find you will do.
London, June 5, O. S. 1750
My dear friend: I have received your picture, which I have long waited for with impatience: I wanted to see your countenance from whence I am very apt, as I believe most people are, to form some general opinion of the mind. If the painter has taken you as well as he has done Mr. Harte (for his picture is by far the most like I ever saw in my life), I draw good conclusions from your countenance, which has both spirit and finesse in it. In bulk you are pretty well increased since I saw you; if your height has not increased in proportion, I desire that you will make haste to, complete it. Seriously, I believe that your exercises at Paris will make you shoot up to a good size; your legs, by all accounts, seem to promise it. Dancing excepted, the wholesome part is the best part of those academical exercises. ‘Ils degraissent leur homme’.