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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

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Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield


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Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield : Letters to His Son

'It is about ten days since I got rid of a severe inflam[m]ation-of the throat, which confined me to the house for two weeks. During two or three days, I was not able to speak plainly; & you will easily conceive, that I passed my time very heavily. I endeavoured to read several things: I tried a book of modern Biography "The British Plutarch"; but soon finding it to be a very miserable book, I shut it for good and all. I next opened the "Spectator" - and tho' his ja[u]nty manner but ill accorded with my sulky humours, I toiled thro' a volume & a half, with exemplary patience. Lastly, I had recourse to Lord Chesterfield's "advice to his son"; and I think I never before so distinctly saw the pitiful disposition of this Lord. His directions concerning washing the face & paring the nails are indeed very praiseworthy: and I should be content to see them printed in a large type, and placed in frames above the chimneypieces of boarding-schools - for the purpose of enforcing the duties of cleanliness, upon the rising generation. But the flattery, the dissimulation & paltry cunning that he is perpetually recommending, leave one little room to regret that Chesterfield was not his father. Such was the result of my studies, in my sickness: - a result highly unfavourable to those feelings of prostration before high birth & weight of purse, which (many tell us) it is so eminently the duty of all men to cultivate. Indeed this is not the first time that I have noticed in my mind, a considerable tendency to undervalue the great ones of this world'.

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Thomas Carlyle      Print: Book


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