In the midst of either your studies or your pleasures, pray never lose view of the object of your destination: I mean the political affairs of Europe. Follow them politically, chronologically, and geographically, through the newspapers, and trace up the facts which you meet with there to their sources: as, for example, consult the treaties Neustadt and Abo, with regard to the disputes, which you read of every day in the public papers, between Russia and Sweden. For the affairs of Italy, which are reported to be the objects of present negotiations, recur to the quadruple alliance of the year 1718, and follow them down through their several variations to the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748; in which (by the bye) you will find the very different tenures by which the Infant Don Philip, your namesake, holds Parma and Placentia. Consult, also, the Emperor Charles the Sixth's Act of Cession of the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, being a point which, upon the death of the present King of Spain, is likely to occasion some disputes; do not lose the thread of these matters; which is carried on with great ease, but if once broken, is resumed with difficulty.
Pray tell Mr. Harte, that I have sent his packet to Baron Firmian by Count Einsiedlen, who is gone from hence this day for Germany, and passes through Vienna in his way to Italy; where he is in hopes of crossing upon you somewhere or other. Adieu, my friend.
MY DEAR FRIEND: You are now, I suppose, at Naples, in a new scene of 'Virtu', examining all the curiosities of Herculaneum, watching the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, and surveying the magnificent churches and public buildings, by which Naples is distinguished.
You have a court there into the bargain, which, I hope, you frequent and attend to. Polite manners, a versatility of mind, a complaisance even to enemies, and the 'volto sciolto', with the 'pensieri stretti', are only to be learned at courts, and must be well learned by whoever would either shine or thrive in them. Though they do not change the nature, they smooth and soften the manners of mankind. Vigilance, dexterity, and flexibility supply the place of natural force; and it is the ablest mind, not the strongest body that prevails there. Monsieur and Madame Fogliani will, I am sure, show you all the politeness of courts; for I know no better bred people than they are. Domesticate yourself there while you stay at Naples, and lay aside the English coldness and formality. You have also a letter to Comte Mahony, whose house I hope you frequent, as it is the resort of the best company. His sister, Madame Bulkeley, is now here; and had I known of your going so soon to Naples, I would have got you, 'ex abundanti', a letter from her to her brother. The conversation of the moderns in the evening is full as necessary for you, as that of the ancients in the morning.
You would do well, while you are at Naples, to read some very short history of that kingdom. It has had great variety of masters, and has occasioned many wars; the general history of which will enable you to ask many proper questions, and to receive useful informations in return. Inquire into the manner and form of that government; for constitution it has none, being an absolute one; but the most absolute governments have certain customs and forms, which are more or less observed by their respective tyrants. In China it is the fashion for the emperors, absolute as they are, to govern with justice and equity; as in the other Oriental monarchies, it is the custom to govern by violence and cruelty. The King of France, as absolute, in fact, as any of them, is by custom only more gentle; for I know of no constitutional bar to his will. England is now, the only monarchy in the world, that can properly be said to have a constitution; for the people's rights and liberties are secured by laws; and I cannot reckon Sweden and Poland to be monarchies, those two kings having little more to say than the Doge of Venice. I do not presume to say anything of the constitution of the empire to you, who are 'jurisperitorum Germanicorum facile princeps'.
When you write to me, which, by the way, you do pretty seldom, tell me rather whom you see, than what you see. Inform me of your evening transactions and acquaintances; where, and how you pass your evenings; what people of learning you have made acquaintance with; and, if you will trust me with so important an affair, what belle passion inflames you. I interest myself most in what personally concerns you most; and this is a very critical year in your life. To talk like a virtuoso, your canvas is, I think, a good one, and RAPHAEL HARTE has drawn the outlines admirably; nothing is now wanting but the coloring of Titian, and the Graces, the 'morbidezza' of Guido; but that is a great deal. You must get them soon, or you will never get them at all. 'Per la lingua Italiana, sono sicuro ch'ella n'e adesso professore, a segno tale ch'io non ardisca dirle altra cosa in quela lingua se non. Addio'.
MY DEAR FRIEND: As your journey to Paris approaches, and as that period will, one way or another, be of infinite consequence to you, my letters will henceforward be principally calculated for that meridian. You will be left there to your own discretion, instead of Mr. Harte's, and you will allow me, I am sure, to distrust a little the discretion of eighteen. You will find in the Academy a number of young fellows much less discreet than yourself. These will all be your acquaintances; but look about you first, and inquire into their respective characters, before you form any connections among them; and, 'caeteris paribus', single out those of the most considerable rank and family. Show them a distinguishing attention; by which means you will get into their respective houses, and keep the best company. All those French young fellows are excessively 'etourdis'; be upon your guard against scrapes and quarrels; have no corporal pleasantries with them, no 'jeux de mains', no 'coups de chambriere', which frequently bring on quarrels. Be as lively as they, if you please, but at the same time be a little wiser than they. As to letters, you will find most of them ignorant; do not reproach them with that ignorance, nor make them feel your superiority. It is not their faults, they are all bred up for the army; but, on the other, hand, do not allow their ignorance and idleness to break in upon those morning hours which you may be able to allot to your serious, studies. No breakfastings with them, which consume a great deal of time; but tell them (not magisterially and sententiously) that you will read two or three hours in the morning, and that for the rest of the day you are very much at their service. Though, by the way, I hope you will keep wiser company in the evenings.
I must insist upon your never going to what is called the English coffee- house at Paris, which is the resort of all the scrub English, and also of the fugitive and attainted Scotch and Irish; party quarrels and drunken squabbles are very frequent there; and I do not know a more degrading place in all Paris. Coffee-houses and taverns are by no means creditable at Paris. Be cautiously upon your guard against the infinite number of fine-dressed and fine-spoken 'chevaliers d'industrie' and 'avanturiers' which swarm at Paris: and keep everybody civilly at arm's length, of whose real character or rank you are not previously informed. Monsieur le Comte or Monsieur le Chevalier, in a handsome laced coat, 'et tres bien mis', accosts you at the play, or some other public place; he conceives at first sight an infinite regard for you: he sees that you are a stranger of the first distinction; he offers you his services, and wishes nothing more ardently than to contribute, as far as may be in his little power, to procure you 'les agremens de Paris'. He is acquainted with some ladies of condition, 'qui prefrent une petite societe agreable, et des petits soupers aimables d'honnetes gens, au tumulte et a la dissipation de Paris'; and he will with the greatest pleasure imaginable have the honor of introducing you to those ladies of quality. Well, if you were to accept of this kind offer, and go with him, you would find 'au troisieme; a handsome, painted and p----d strumpet, in a tarnished silver or gold second-hand robe, playing a sham party at cards for livres, with three or four sharpers well dressed enough, and dignified by the titles of Marquis, Comte, and Chevalier. The lady receives you in the most polite and gracious manner, and with all those 'complimens de routine' which every French woman has equally. Though she loves retirement, and shuns 'le grande monde', yet she confesses herself obliged to the Marquis for having procured her so inestimable, so accomplished an acquaintance as yourself; but her concern is how to amuse you: for she never suffers play at her house for above a livre; if you can amuse yourself with that low play till supper, 'a la bonne heure'. Accordingly you sit down to that little play, at which the good company takes care that you shall win fifteen or sixteen livres, which gives them an opportunity of celebrating both your good luck and your good play. Supper comes up, and a good one it is, upon the strength of your being able to pay for it. 'La Marquise en fait les honneurs au mieux, talks sentiments, 'moeurs et morale', interlarded with 'enjouement', and accompanied with some oblique ogles, which bid you not despair in time. After supper, pharaoh, lansquenet, or quinze, happen accidentally to be mentioned: the Marquise exclaims against it, and vows she will not suffer it, but is at last prevailed upon by being assured 'que ce ne sera que pour des riens'. Then the wished-for moment is come, the operation begins: you are cheated, at best, of all the money in your pocket, and if you stay late, very probably robbed of your watch and snuff-box, possibly murdered for greater security. This I can assure you, is not an exaggerated, but a literal description of what happens every day to some raw and inexperienced stranger at Paris. Remember to receive all these civil gentlemen, who take such a fancy to you at first sight, very coldly, and take care always to be previously engaged, whatever party they propose to you. You may happen sometimes, in very great and good companies, to meet with some dexterous gentlemen, who may be very desirous, and also very sure, to win your money, if they can but engage you to play with them. Therefore lay it down as an invariable rule never to play with men, but only with women of fashion, at low play, or with women and men mixed. But, at the same time, whenever you are asked to play deeper than you would, do not refuse it gravely and sententiously, alleging the folly of staking what would be very inconvenient to one to lose, against what one does not want to win; but parry those invitations ludicrously, 'et en badinant'. Say that, if you were sure to lose, you might possibly play, but that as you may as well win, you dread 'l'embarras des richesses', ever since you have seen what an encumbrance they were to poor Harlequin, and that, therefore, you are determined never to venture the winning above two louis a-day; this sort of light trifling way of declining invitations to vice and folly, is more becoming your age, and at the same time more effectual, than grave philosophical refusals. A young fellow who seems to have no will of his own, and who does everything that is asked of him, is called a very good-natured, but at the same time, is thought a very silly young fellow. Act wisely, upon solid principles, and from true motives, but keep them to yourself, and never talk sententiously. When you are invited to drink, say that you wish you could, but that so little makes you both drunk and sick, 'que le jeu me vaut pas la chandelle'.
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