« PreviousContinue »
them; and if you can frequent them, their acquaintance will furnish you the means of pleafing every body else.'
In Letter LXXIV, we find another remark or two on the works of Voltaire, which we shall extract, as being properly fupplemental to the foregoing letter:
I have lately read, with great pleasure, Voltaire's two little hiftories of les Croisades, and l'Esprit humain; which I recommend to your perufal, if you have not already read them. They are bound up with a most poor performance, called Micromegas, which is faid to be Voltaire's too; but I cannot believe it, it is fo very unworthy of him it confifts only of thoughts ftolen from Swift, but miferably mangled and disfigured. But his History of the Croisades shows, in a very short and strong light, the most immoral and wicked scheme, that was ever contrived by knaves, and executed by madmen and fools, against humanity. There is a strange, but never-failing relation, between honeft madmen and skilful knaves; and wherever one meets with collected numbers of the former, one may be very fure that they are fecretly directed by the latter. The Popes, who have generally been both the ableft and the greatest knaves in Europe, wanted all the power and money of the Eaft for they had all that was in Europe already. The times and the minds favoured their design, for they were dark and uninformed; and Peter the Hermit, at once a knave and a madman, was a fine papal tool for fo wild and wicked an undertaking. I wish we had good hiftories of every part of Europe, and indeed of the world, written upon the plan of Voltaire's de l' Efprit bumain; for, I own, I am provoked at the contempt which moft hiftorians fhow for humanity in general; one would think by them, that the whole human fpecies confifted but of about a hundred and fifty people, called and dignified (commonly very undefervedly too) by the titles of Emperors, Kings, Popes, Generals, and Minifters.'
The series of Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his fon, is closed by No. CXCVII. of the prefent volume. The last is dated Oct. 17, 1768; foon after which a period was put to the paternal folicitude, expectations, and wifhes of the noble Writer, by the death of Mr. Stanhope *,-the fole object of all. Nine letters to the widow of his above fon, and one to her two fons, Charles and Philip Stanhope, are added to the above-mentioned feries. To there are fubjoined the following mifcellaneous pieces, viz.
1. Some Account of the Government of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces. This piece is the more valuable, as the particulars which it contains are founded in his Lordship's perfonal acquaintance with the fubject.
II. Maxims. Of these maxims, his Lordship himself thus fpeaks, in one of his letters to his fon:
I have thrown together the inclofed obfervations on men and things; for I have no merit as to the invention; I am no fyftem
Mr. Stanhope died on the 16th of November following,
monger; and, instead of giving way to my imagination, I have only confulted my memory; and my conclufions are all drawn from facts, not from fancy. Moft maxim-mongers have preferred the prettiness to the juftness of a thought, and the turn to the truth; but I have refused myself to every thing that my own experience did not justify and confirm. I wish you would confider them seriously, and separately, and recur to them again pro re nata in fimilar cafes. Young men are as apt to think themselves wife enough, as drunken men are to think themselves fober enough. They look upon spirit to be a much better thing than experience; which they call coldnets. They are but half mistaken; for though fpirit, without experience, is dangerous, experience, without fpirit, is languid and defective. Their union, which is very rare, is perfection: you may join them, if you please; for all my experience is at your fervice.'
A fample or two of the fruits of Lord C.'s experience may not be unacceptable to the curious reader:
As Kings are begotten and born like other men, it is to be prefumed that they are of the human fpecies; and, perhaps, had they the fame education, they might prove like other men. But, flattered from their cradles, their hearts are corrupted, and their heads are turned, fo that they feem to be a fpecies by themselves. No King ever said to himself, Homo fum, nihil humani a me alienum puto. Flattery cannot be too ftrong for them; drunk with it from their infancy, like old drinkers, they require drams.
They perfer a perfonal attachment to a public fervice, and reward it better. They are vain and weak enough to look upon it as a free-will offering to their merit, and not as a burnt facrifice to their power.
A difference of opinion, though in the mereft trifles, alienates little minds, especially of high rank. It is full as easy to commend as to blame a great man's cook, or his taylor: it is horter too; and the objects are no more worth difputing about, than the people are worth difputing with. It is impoffible to inform, but very easy to displease them.
The reputation of generofity is to be purchafed pretty cheap; it does not depend fo much upon a man's general expence, as it does upon his giving handsomely where it is proper to give at all. A man, for instance, who fhould give a fervant four fhillings, would pafs for covetous, while he who gave him a crown, would be reckoned generous: fo that the difference of thofe two oppofite characters, turns upon one fhilling. A man's character, in that particular, depends a great deal upon the report of his own fervants; a mere trifle above common wages, makes their report favourable.
Take care always to form your establishment fo much within your income, as to leave a fufficient fund for unexpected contingencies, and a prudent liberality. There is hardly a year, in any man's life, in which a small fum of ready money may not be employed to great advantage.' III. Political Maxims of the Cardinal de Retz, in his Memoirs ; with Lord Chefterfield's Remarks,
IV. Confiderations on the Repeal of the LIMITATION relative to Foreigners, in the ACT OF SETTLEMENT.
V. Axioms in Trade.
VI. To the KING's Moft Excellent MAJESTY. The humble Petition of Philip Earl of Chesterfield, Knight of the Moft Noble Order of the Garter.
An excellent piece of pleasantry.
VII. Fragments, of Letters to his Son.
VIII. Three Letters, to different Perfons.
IX. An elegant poetical Compliment to Lord C. from Mr. Jerningham.
X. Lord C.'s Letter to Mr. Jerningham, in acknowledgment of the aforementioned Compliment.
XI. Three other Letters.
Interfperfed through the letters to Mr. Stanhope, are many anecdotes and characteristic sketches of eminent perfons, his Lordship's cotemporaries; among which we find the names of, firft,
This Nobleman's good fortune and progrefs in the great world, are inftanced as proofs of what may be done by addrefs, manners, and graces only.
What do you think,' fays Lord C. made our friend Lord Al-m-le, colonel of a regiment of guards, governor of Virginia, groom of the stole, and embaffador to Paris; amounting in all to fixteen or feventeen thousand pounds a year? Was it his birth? No; a Dutch gentleman only. Was it his eftate? No, he had none. Was it his learning, his parts, his political abilities and application? You can anfwer thefe queftions as eafily, and as foon, as I can afk them. What was it then? Many people wondered, but I do not; for I know, and will tell you. It was his air, his addrefs, his manners, and his graces. He pleased, and by pleafing became a favourite; and by becoming a favourite became all that he has been fince. Show me any one inftance, where intrinfic worth and merit, unaffifted by exterior accomplishments, have raised any man fo high.'
In the fame letter is the following character of a person of high rank in a neighbouring kingdom.
You know the Duc de Richelieu, now Maréchal Cordon bleu, Gentilhomme de la Chambre, twice embassador, &c. By what means? Not by the purity of his character, the depth of his knowledge, or any uncommon penetration and fagacity. Women alone formed and raifed him. The Dutchefs of Burgundy took a fancy to him, and had him before he was fixteen years old; this put him in fashion among the beau monde: and the late Regent's eldest daughter, now Madame de Modene, took him next, and was near marrying him. Thefe early connections with women of the firft diftinction, gave him thofe manners, graces, and address, which you see he has; and which, I can affure you, are all that he has; for, ftrip him of them, and
he will be one of the pooreft men in Europe. Man nor woman cannot refift an engaging exterior; it will please, it will make its way.'
Duke of NEWCASTLE.
In a letter addreffed to Mr. Stanhope, then at Hanover, in 1752, Lord C. thus advises his fon to get into the good graces of the Duke, then at the fame place:
Direct your principal battery, at Hanover, at the D of N's: there are many very weak places in that citadel; where, with a very little kill, you cannot fail making a great impreffion. Ask for his orders, in every thing you do: talk Auftrian and Antigallican to him; and, as foon as you are upon a foot of talking cafily to him, tell him en badinant, that his fkill and fuccefs in thirty or forty elections in England, leave you no reason to doubt of his carrying his election for Frankfort; and that you look upon the Archduke as his Member for the Empire. In his hours of feftivity and compotation, drop, that he puts you in mind of what Sir William Temple fays of the Penfionary de Wit; who, at that time, governed half Europe; that he appeared at balls, affemblies, and public places, as if he had nothing elfe to do, or to think of. When he talks to you upon foreign affairs, which he will often do, fay, that you really cannot prefume to give any opinion of your own upon thofe matters, looking upon yourfelf, at prefent, only as a poftfcript to the corps diplomatique; but that, if his Grace will be pleafed to make you an additional volume to it, though but in duodecimo, you will do your beft, that he fhall neither be afhamed nor repent of it. He loves to have a favourite, and to open him felf to that favourite: he has now no fuch person with him; the place is vacant, and if you have dexterity you may fill it. In one thing alone, do not humour him; I mean drinking; for as I believe you have never yet been drunk, you do not yourself know how you can bear your wine, and what a little too much of it may make you do or fay: you might poffibly kick down all you had done before.'
In another place, fpeaking of the Duke's want of order, coolnefs, and method, in the dispatch of business, Lord C. obferves, that the hurry and confufion of the Duke of Newcastle do not proceed from his bufinefs, but from his want of method in it.'
Sir Robert Walpole,' adds his Lordship, who had ten times the business to do, was never seen in a hurry, because he always did it with method.' And our noble Author adds this just reflection, the head of a man who has business, and no method nor order, is properly that rudis indigeftaque moles quam dixere chaos.
Sir WILLIAM YOUNG.
This gentleman is brought in to exemplify Lord C.'s doctrine with respect to the power and effect of eloquence.
Sir WY, with not a quarter of your parts, and not a thousandth part of your knowledge, has, by a glibnefs of tongue fingly, raised himself fucceffively to the best employments of the kingdom; he has been Lord of the Admiralty, Lord of the Treasury, Set cretary
cretary at War, and is now Vice-Treasurer of Ireland; and all this, with a moft fullied, not to fay blafted character.' Mr. PELHAM.
March the 8th, 1754.
Mr. Pelham died last Monday, of a fever and mortification; occafioned by a general corruption of his whole mafs of blood, which had broke out into fores in his back. I regret him as an old acquaintance, a pretty near relation, and a private man, with whom I have lived many years in a focial and friendly way. He meaned well to the Public; and was incorrupt in a poft where corruption is commonly contagious. If he was no fhining, enterprizing Minister, he was a fafe one, which I like better. Very fhining Minifters, like the Sun, are apt to fcorch, when they fhine the brightest: in our conftitution, I prefer the milder light of a lefs glaring minister.'
PULTENEY, Lord BATH.
The whole fubject of converfation, at prefent, is the Death and Will of Lord Bath: he has left above twelve hundred thousand pounds in land and money, four hundred thousand pounds in cash, stocks, and mortgages; his own eftate, in land, was improved to fifteen thousand pounds a year, and the Bradford eftate, which he * is as much; both which, at only five-and-twenty years purchase, amount to eight hundred thousand pounds; and all this he has left to his brother, General Pulteney, and in his own difpofal, though he never loved him. The legacies he has left are trifling, for, in truth, he cared for nobody; the words give and bequeath were too fhocking to him to repeat, and fo he left all, in one word, to his brother.'
We have, also, in one of these letters, a flight sketch of the late King of France; and a fhrewd comment on the myfterious conduct of the celebrated Madam Maintenon with these we fhall conclude our extracts from Lord Chesterfield's Letters: LOUIS XV.
attend particularly to the affairs of France; they grow ferious, and, in my opinion, will grow more and more fo every day. The King is defpifed, and I do not wonder at it; but he has brought it about, to be hated at the fame time, which feldom happens to the fame man. His minifters are known to be as difunited as incapable: he hesitates between the Church and the Parliaments, like the afs in the fable, that ftarved between two hampers of hay; too much in love with his mistress to part with her, and too much afraid, for his foul, to enjoy her jealous of the Parliaments, who would fupport his authority; and a devoted bigot to the Church, that would deftroy it. The people are poor, confequently difcontented: thofe who have religion, are divided in their notions of it; which is faying, that they hate one another. The Clergy never do forgive; much lefs will they forgive the Parliament: the Parliament never will forgive them.'
I have read Madame Maintenon's letters; I am fure they are genuine, and they both entertained and informed me. They have brought me acquainted with the character of that able and art