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LORD CHESTERFIE L D,
Stanhope, Philip Dormer, 4th
HIS LETTERS TO HIS SON, & c.
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED,
AN ORIGINAL LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
FIRST COMPLETE AMERICAN EDITION
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
329 & 331 PEARL STREET,
Born 22d September 1691-Brought up by his grandmother-His emulative spirit at 11 in play and learning-Receives and takes the hint to become an early riser-At 16 puts himself under M. Jouneau for French and the classics - At 18 goes to Cambridge-Society there, and plan of study-Plan for forming his style-Goes on the grand tour The Hague then the place for seeing the world- Benefited by the good society there, except as to gaming-Received at Paris as a Frenchman-Death of Queen Anne.
PHILIP DORMER STANHOPE, Earl of Chesterfield, was born in London, on
the 22d of September 1694. The antiquity of the Stanhopes is 1694. sufficiently known. Their zeal for their country, and fidelity to the
crown, ever since the reign of Edward III, though often tried, could never be shaken; and their eminent services in the most critical times were justly rewarded by places of trust, and marks of distinction. The honour of the peerage was conferred upon this family by King James I, and the title of earl by his son. Our celebrated lord stood the eighteenth in the rank of the English earls.
Lord Chesterfield had three brothers and two sisters. Their mother did not live long enough to rear her family. He was taken care of by his grandmother, Lady Halifax, who was equal to the task, being a woman of wit and understanding, and of great goodness of heart. From his earliest youth he shewed an ardent desire of excelling in whatever he undertook. We are reminded by the following passage of the emulative Byron, whose genius came, a century afterwards, also to illustrate the English peerage: "When I was "at your age (about eleven years old) I should have been ashamed if any "boy of that age had learned his book better, or played at any play better "than I did; and I should not have rested a moment till I had got before "him."
He was very young, when Lord Galway, who, though not a very fortunate general, was a man of uncommon penetration and merit, and who often vi
sited the Marchioness of Halifax, observing in him a strong inclination for a political life, but at the same time an unconquerable taste for pleasure, with some tincture of laziness, gave him the following advice: “If you intend "to be a man of business, you must be an early riser. In the distinguish"ed posts, your parts, rank and fortune will entitle you to fill, you will be "liable to have visitors at every hour of the day, and unless you will rise con"stantly at an early hour, you will never have any leisure to yourself." This admonition, delivered in the most obliging manner, made a considerable im pression upon the mind of our young man, who ever after observed that excellent rule, even when he went to bed late, and was advanced in years.
The study of the French language had been an early part of young Stanhope's education; and when he was about sixteen, Mr Jouneau, a French clergyman, was employed to improve him in the speaking of it, as well as to give him some tincture of classical knowledge, and the first rudiments of history and philosophy. His letters to that worthy man, at the same time that they shew the great progress which he had already made in the French tongue, disclose the natural turn both of his mind and heart. He expresses, in a most lively manner, his regard for his master; and he lost no opportunity of giving him ever after substantial proofs of gratitude and attachment. At the age of eighteen, Mr Stanhope was sent to Cambridge, in order to improve his talents, and form those early connections, which commonly discover a young man's natural propensities, and almost constantly determine his future conduct. He thus early shewed his preference for good society, and a knowledge of its elements. He says, in a letter dated August 22. 1712, "The college where I am is infinitely the best in the university; for it is “the smallest, and it is filled with lawyers, who have lived in the world, and "know how to behave. Whatever may be said to the contrary, there is cer"tainly very little debauchery in this university, especially amongst people "of fashion, for a man must have the inclinations of a porter to endure it "here." In another passage, he specifies his plan of study. His mode of learning Greek seems somewhat after the manner of the royal road to learning. "It is now," says he, " Sir, I have a great deal of business upon my hands; for I spend above an hour every day in studying the civil law, and as "much in philosophy; and next week the blind man begins his lectures up66 on the mathematics; so that I am now fully employed. Would you be"lieve too, that I read Lucian and Xenophon in Greek? which is made easy to me; for I do not take pains to learn all the grammatical rules; "but the gentleman who is with me, and who is himself a living grammar, "teaches me them all as I go along. I reserve time for playing at tennis, "for I wish to have the corpus sanum as well as the mens sana: I think "the one is not good for much without the other. As for anatomy, I shall "not have an opportunity of learning it; for though a poor man has been "hanged, the surgeon who used to perform those operations would not this
"year give any lectures, because it was a man, and then he says the scho "lars will not come."
But in the most important direction, that which was to qualify him as a public speaker and an English patriot, Chesterfield was very assiduous. He says, "When I was at Cambridge, whenever I read pieces of eloquence, (and indeed they were my principal study,) whether ancient or "modern, I used to write down the shining passages, and then translate “them as well and as elegantly as ever I could; if Latin or French into "English; if English into French. This, which I practised for some years, "not only improved and formed my style, but imprinted in my mind and memory the best thoughts of the best authors. The trouble was little, "but the experience I have acquired was great."
Party divisions, at that time, rán extremely high throughout England, and Cambridge was by no means exempt from them. Lord Chesterfield discloses very naturally, and with good humour, his own ideas in the following lines to Mr Jouneau: "Methinks our affairs are in a very bad way; but, 66 as I cannot mend them, I meddle very little with politics: only I take a "pleasure in going sometimes to the coffeehouse to see the pitched battles "that are fought between the heroes of each party with inconceivable bravery, and are usually terminated by the total defeat of a few tea-cups on "both sides." Age and youth have more than one affinity. There is here a good deal of that coolness and discernment at the age of nineteen, which is perceptible in his latest letters. After having passed two years at the university, he was sent, according to the custom of his country, to make the tour of Europe. He was not attended by any governor. He hastily passed through the towns in Flanders, without meeting with any proper objects to improve his understanding or excite his curiosity. He had not yet acquired a taste for pictures; and his mind was, even at that time, as he expressed himself, more turned to persons than to things.
The summer of the year 1714 was more agreeably at least, if not more profitably, spent in Holland, and the greatest part of it at the Hague. He there first began to see the world. The company he found there, and which he thought the best, consisting chiefly of foreigners of different countries, and of different ranks, soon enabled him to throw off the scholar, and to become in some measure a new man. But however indebted he might be for his improvements in good breeding to his new friends, who laughed him out of some of his scholastic habits, he had to regret the habit of gaming which they taught him, and which it cost him many an effort to shake off. Indeed, this clinging vice never altogether left him.
The reception Chesterfield met with at Paris, as described by himself, must have been very flattering to so young a traveller. Still he does not seem to have been flattered quite out of his discriminating faculty. He writes, "I shall not give you my opinion of the French, because I am very "often taken for one, and many a Frenchman has paid me the highest com