I here subjoin a list of all those necessary, ornamental accomplishments (without which, no man living can either please, or rise in the world) which hitherto I fear you want, and which only require your care and attention to possess.
To speak elegantly, whatever language you speak in; without which nobody will hear you with pleasure, and consequently you will speak to very little purpose.
An agreeable and distinct elocution; without which nobody will hear you with patience: this everybody may acquire, who is not born with some imperfection in the organs of speech. You are not; and therefore it is wholly in your power. You need take much less pains for it than Demosthenes did.
A distinguished politeness of manners and address; which common sense, observation, good company, and imitation, will infallibly give you if you will accept it.
A genteel carriage and graceful motions, with the air of a man of fashion: a good dancing-master, with some care on your part, and some imitation of those who excel, will soon bring this about.
To be extremely clean in your person, and perfectly well dressed, according to the fashion, be that what it will: Your negligence of your dress while you were a schoolboy was pardonable, but would not be so now.
Upon the whole, take it for granted, that without these accomplishments, all you know, and all you can do, will avail you very little. Adieu.
London, January 25, O. S. 1750
My dear friend: It is so long since I have heard from you, that I suppose Rome engrosses every moment of your time; and if it engrosses it in the manner I could wish, I willingly give up my share of it. I would rather ‘prodesse quam conspici’. Put out your time, but to good interest; and I do not desire to borrow much of it. Your studies, the respectable remains of antiquity, and your evening amusements cannot, and indeed ought not, to leave you much time to write. You will, probably, never see Rome again; and therefore you ought to see it well now; by seeing it well, I do not mean only the buildings, statues, and paintings, though they undoubtedly deserve your attention: but I mean seeing into the constitution and government of it. But these things certainly occur to your own common sense.
How go, your pleasures at Rome? Are you in fashion there? that is, do you live with the people who are?—the only way of being so yourself, in time. Are you domestic enough in any considerable house to be called ’le petit Stanhope’? Has any woman of fashion and good-breeding taken the trouble of abusing and laughing at you amicably to your face? Have you found a good ‘decrotteuse’. For those are the steps by which you must rise to politeness. I do not presume to ask if you have any attachment, because I believe you will not make me your confident; but this I will say, eventually, that if you have one, ’il faut bien payer d’attentions et de petits soin’, if you would have your sacrifice propitiously received. Women are not so much taken by beauty as men are, but prefer those men who show them the most attention.