Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1749

Author: Philip Dormer Stanhope

Letter LXXV

LONDON, July 20, O. S. 1749.

DEAR BOY: I wrote to Mr. Harte last Monday, the 17th, O. S., in answer to his letter of the 20th June, N. S., which I had received but the day before, after an interval of eight posts; during which I did not know whether you or he existed, and indeed I began to think that you did not. By that letter you ought at this time to be at Venice; where I hope you are arrived in perfect health, after the baths of Tiefler, in case you have made use of them. I hope they are not hot baths, if your lungs are still tender.

Your friend, the Comte d’Einsiedlen, is arrived here: he has been at my door, and I have been at his; but we have not yet met. He will dine with me some day this week. Comte Lascaris inquires after you very frequently, and with great affection; pray answer the letter which I forwarded to you a great while ago from him. You may inclose your answer to me, and I will take care to give it him. Those attentions ought never to be omitted; they cost little, and please a great deal; but the neglect of them offends more than you can yet imagine. Great merit, or great failings, will make you be respected or despised; but trifles, little attentions, mere nothings, either done, or neglected, will make you either liked or disliked, in the general run of the world. Examine yourself why you like such and such people, and dislike such and such others; and you will find, that those different sentiments proceed from very slight causes. Moral virtues are the foundation of society in general, and of friendship in particular; but attentions, manners, and graces, both adorn and strengthen them. My heart is so set upon your pleasing, and consequently succeeding in the world, that possibly I have already (and probably shall again) repeat the same things over and over to you. However, to err, if I do err, on the surer side, I shall continue to communicate to you those observations upon the world which long experience has enabled me to make, and which I have generally found to hold true. Your youth and talents, armed with my experience, may go a great way; and that armor is very much at your service, if you please to wear it. I premise that it is not my imagination, but my memory, that gives you these rules: I am not writing pretty; but useful reflections. A man of sense soon discovers, because he carefully observes, where, and how long, he is welcome; and takes care to leave the company, at least as soon as he is wished out of it. Fools never perceive where they are either ill-timed or illplaced.

I am this moment agreeably stopped, in the course of my reflections, by the arrival of Mr. Harte’s letter of the 13th July, N. S., to Mr. Grevenkop, with one inclosed for your Mamma. I find by it that many of his and your letters to me must have miscarried; for he says that I have had regular accounts of you: whereas all those accounts have been only his letter of the 6th and yours of the 7th June, N. S.; his of the 20th June, N. S., to me; and now his of the 13th July, N. S., to Mr. Grevenkop. However, since you are so well, as Mr. Harte says you are, all is well. I am extremely glad that you have no complaint upon your lungs; but I desire that you will think you have, for three or four months to come. Keep in a course of asses’ or goats’ milk, for one is as good as the other, and possibly ,the latter is the best; and let your common food be as pectoral as you can conveniently make it. Pray tell Mr. Harte that, according to his desire, I have wrote a letter of thanks to Mr. Firmian. I hope you write to him too, from time to time. The letters of recommendation of a man of his merit and learning will, to be sure, be of great use to you among the learned world in Italy; that is, provided you take care to keep up to the character he gives you in them; otherwise they will only add to your disgrace.

Consider that you have lost a good deal of time by your illness; fetch it up now that you are well. At present you should be a good economist of your moments, of which company and sights will claim a considerable share; so that those which remain for study must be not only attentively, but greedily employed. But indeed I do not suspect you of one single moment’s idleness in the whole day. Idleness is only the refuge of weak minds, and the holiday of fools. I do not call good company and liberal pleasures, idleness; far from it: I recommend to you a good share of both.

I send you here inclosed a letter for Cardinal Alexander Albani, which you will give him, as soon as you get to Rome, and before you deliver any others; the Purple expects that preference; go next to the Duc de Nivernois, to whom you are recommended by several people at Paris, as well as by myself. Then you may carry your other letters occasionally.

Remember to pry narrowly into every part of the government of Venice: inform yourself of the history of that republic, especially of its most remarkable eras; such as the Ligue de eambray, in 1509, by which it had like to have been destroyed; and the conspiracy formed by the Marquis de Bedmar, the Spanish Ambassador, to subject it to the Crown of Spain. The famous disputes between that republic and the Pope are worth your knowledge; and the writings of the celebrated and learned Fra Paolo di Sarpi, upon that occasion, worth your reading. It was once the greatest commercial power in Europe, and in the 14th and 15th centuries made a considerable figure; but at present its commerce is decayed, and its riches consequently decreased; and, far from meddling now with the affairs of the Continent, it owes its security to its neutrality and inefficiency; and that security will last no longer than till one of the great Powers in Europe engrosses the rest of Italy; an event which this century possibly may, but which the next probably will see.

Your friend Comte d’Ensiedlen and his governor, have been with me this moment, and delivered me your letter from Berlin, of February the 28th, N. S. I like them both so well that I am glad you did; and still gladder to hear what they say of you. Go on, and continue to deserve the praises of those who deserve praises themselves. Adieu.

I break open this letter to acknowledge yours of the 30th June, N. S., which I have but this instant received, though thirteen days antecedent in date to Mr. Harte’s last. I never in my life heard of bathing four hours a day; and I am impatient to hear of your safe arrival at Venice, after so extraordinary an operation.


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Chicago: Philip Dormer Stanhope, "Letter LXXV," Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1749, trans. Paul, Eden, 1865-1944, and Paul, Cedar in Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1749 Original Sources, accessed August 19, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PBQ2MLGDADWRDBY.

MLA: Stanhope, Philip Dormer. "Letter LXXV." Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1749, translted by Paul, Eden, 1865-1944, and Paul, Cedar, in Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1749, Original Sources. 19 Aug. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PBQ2MLGDADWRDBY.

Harvard: Stanhope, PD, 'Letter LXXV' in Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1749, trans. . cited in , Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, 1749. Original Sources, retrieved 19 August 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PBQ2MLGDADWRDBY.