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Vistos are laid open over barren heaths, and apartments contrived for a coolness very agreeable in Italy, but killing in the north of Britain: thus every woman endeavours to breed her daughter a fine lady, qualifying her for a station in which she will never appear, and at the same time incapacitating her for that retirement, to which she is destined. Learning, if she has a real taste for it, will not only make her contented, but happy in it. No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. She will not want new fashions, nor regret the loss of expensive diversions, or variety of company, if she can be amused with an author, in her closet. To render this amusement complete, she should be permitted to learn the languages. I have heard it lamented that boys lose so many years in mere learning of words: this is no objection to a girl, whose time is not so precious: she cannot advance herself in any profession, and has therefore more hours to spare; and as you say her memory is good, she will be very agreeably employed this way. There are two cautions to be given on this subject: first, not to think herself learned, when she can read Latin, or even Greek. Languages are more properly to be called vehicles of learning than learning itself, as may be observed in many schoolmasters, who, though perhaps critics in grammar, are the most ignorant fellows upon earth. True knowledge consists in knowing things, not words. I would no farther wish her a linguist than to enable her to read books in their originals, that are often corrupted, and are always injured by translations. Two hours application every morning will bring this about much sooner than you can imagine, and she will have leisure enough beside, to run over the English poetry, which is a more important part of a woman's education than it is generally supposed. Many a young damsel has been ruined
by a fine copy of verses, which she would have laughed at if she had known it had been stolen from Mr. Waller. . . . You should encourage your daughter to talk over with you what she reads; and as you are very capable of distinguishing, take care she does not mistake pert folly for wit and humour, or rhyme for poetry, which are the common errors of young people, and have a train of ill consequences. . .
It is a saying of Thucydides, that ignorance is bold, and knowledge reserved. Indeed it is impossible to be far advanced in it, without being more humbled by a conviction of human ignorance, than elated by learning. At the same time I recommend books, I neither exclude work nor drawing. I think it as scandalous for a woman not to know how to use a needle, as for a man not to know how to use a sword. I was once extremely fond of my pencil, and it was a great mortification to me when my father turned off my master, having made a considerable progress for the short time I learnt. My over eagerness in the pursuit of it had brought a weakness in my eyes, that made it necessary to leave off; and all the advantage I got was the improvement of my hand. I see, by hers, that practice will make her a ready writer: she may attain it by serving you for a secretary, when your health or affairs make it troublesome to you to write yourself; and custom will make it an agreeable amusement to her. She cannot have too many for that station of life which will probably be her fate. The ultimate end of your education was to make you a good wife (and I have the comfort to hear that you are one): hers ought to be, to make her happy in a virgin state. I will not say it is happier; but it is undoubtedly safer than any marriage. In a lottery, where there is (at the lowest computation) ten thousand blanks to a prize, it is the most prudent choice, not to venture. I have always been so
thoroughly persuaded of this truth, that, notwithstanding the flattering views I had for you (as I never intended you a sacrifice to my vanity), I thought I owed you the justice to lay before you all the hazards attending matrimony: you may recollect I did so in the strongest manner. Perhaps you may have more success in the instructing your daughter: she has so much company at home, she will not need seeking it abroad, and will more readily take the notions, you think fit to give her. As you were alone in my family, it would have been thought a great cruelty to suffer you no companions of your own age, especially having so many near relations, and I do not wonder their opinions influenced yours. I was not sorry to see you not determined on a single life, knowing it was not your father's intention, and contented myself with endeavouring to make your home so easy that you might not be in haste to leave it.-Letters to the Countess of Bute.
PHILIP DORMER STANHOPE, EARL OF
PHILIP DORMER STANHOPE, one of the most shining characters of his age, was born in 1694. He lost his mother early, and being neglected by his father, was brought up chiefly under the care of his grandmother. He was sent when eighteen years of age to Cambridge, and appears even there to have devoted much attention to the formation of style, of which he afterwards became so great a master. On leaving the university he made the customary tour of Europe. The converse of foreign courts stimulated his taste for the courtesies of polite life and for the attainment of that knowledge of the world which he pursued so stedfastly through later years. The extensive possession of this knowledge became his chief characteristic in after life, and its display is the most noticeable feature of his writings. He entered Parliament as member for St. Germains before he was of age, but took little part in public affairs till after the death of his father in 1726, when he became a member of the Upper House. His first public employment was an embassy to Holland, in 1728, in which he displayed great skill, diplomacy being peculiarly suited to his tastes and talents from his conciliatory temper and manners, his quick insight into character, and his knowledge of foreign languages and history. A second embassy to the same country confirmed his reputation as a statesman. In 1745, at the moment of the Rebellion in Scotland, Chesterfield became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and entered on the most brilliant
and useful part of his career. By impartial justice, by firmness, moderation and clemency, he kept that country tranquil, and his administration deserves the praise due to a humane, liberal, and far-sighted policy.
At the close of 1746 he became Secretary of State, and in 1748 he finally withdrew from official life. In 1751, Chesterfield, with the aid of Lord Macclesfield and of the astronomer Bradley, carried out, in spite of popular prejudice, the Reformation of the Calendar. After this, and till his death, an increasing deafness excluded Lord Chesterfield from taking part in public life. He died in 1773, 'satiated,' as he himself said, 'with the pompous follies of this life.'
Lord Chesterfield left a number of miscellaneous pieces which have been collected from the periodicals in which for the most part they appeared. One such paper from the World is given below, both because of the interest which attaches to the appearance of the great English Dictionary, and also because of the reply, a model of dignified resentment which it provoked from Dr. Johnson, and which will be found among the passages selected from his writings. Johnson had seven years before addressed the plan of the Dictionary to Lord Chesterfield, who had left him unnoticed until the work was on the eve of publication, and its success assured.
As an author, however. says Lord Mahon, Chesterfield's character must stand or fall by the celebrated Letters addressed to his natural son Philip Stanhope. Viewed as compositions, these letters appear almost unrivalled as models for a serious epistolary style; clear, elegant, and terse, never straining at effect, and yet never hurried into carelessness. They have incurred just reprehension on two grounds—that they insist too much on manners and graces instead of on more solid acquirements, and that some of their maxims are repugnant to good morals; even when right in themselves, the maxims laid down seldom rest on higher motives than expediency, reputation, or personal advantage.