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.

I send you the inclosed letter of recommendation to Marquis Matignon, which I would have you deliver to him as soon as you can; you will, I am sure, feel the good effects of his warm friendship for me and Lord Bolingbroke, who has also wrote to him upon your subject.  By that, and by the other letters which I have sent you, you will be at once so thoroughly introduced into the best French company, that you must take some pains if you will keep bad; but that is what I do not suspect you of.  You have, I am sure, too much right ambition to prefer low and disgraceful company to that of your superiors, both in rank and age.  Your character, and consequently your fortune, absolutely depends upon the company you keep, and the turn you take at Paris.  I do not in the least mean a grave turn; on the contrary, a gay, a sprightly, but, at the same time, an elegant and liberal one.

Keep carefully out of all scrapes and quarrels.  They lower a character extremely; and are particularly dangerous in France; where a man is dishonored by not resenting an affront, and utterly ruined by resenting it.  The young Frenchmen are hasty, giddy, and petulant; extremely national, and ‘avantageux’.  Forbear from any national jokes or reflections, which are always improper, and commonly unjust.  The colder northern nations generally look upon France as a whistling, singing, dancing, frivolous nation; this notion is very far from being a true one, though many ‘Petits maitres’ by their behavior seem to justify it; but those very ‘petits maltres’, when mellowed by age and experience, very often turn out very able men.  The number of great generals and statesmen, as well as excellent authors, that France has produced, is an undeniable proof, that it is not that frivolous, unthinking, empty nation that northern prejudices suppose it.  Seem to like and approve of everything at first, and I promise you that you will like and approve of many things afterward.

I expect that you will write to me constantly, once every week, which I desire may be every Thursday; and that your letters may inform me of your personal transactions:  not of what you see, but of whom you see, and what you do.

Be your own monitor, now that you will have no other.  As to enunciation, I must repeat it to you again and again, that there is no one thing so necessary:  all other talents, without that, are absolutely useless, except in your own closet.

It sounds ridiculously to bid you study with your dancing-master; and yet I do.  The bodily-carriage and graces are of infinite consequence to everybody, and more particularly to you.

Adieu for this time, my dear child.  Yours tenderly.


London, November 12, O. S. 1750

My dear friend:  You will possibly think, that this letter turns upon strange, little, trifling objects; and you will think right, if you consider them separately; but if you take them aggregately, you will be convinced that as parts, which conspire to form that whole, called the exterior of a man of fashion, they are of importance.  I shall not dwell now upon these personal graces, that liberal air, and that engaging address, which I have so often recommended to you; but descend still lower, to your dress, cleanliness, and care of your person.

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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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