A man who sets out in the world with real timidity and diffidence has not an equal chance for it; he will be discouraged, put by, or trampled upon. But to succeed, a man, especially a young one, should have inward firmness, steadiness, and intrepidity, with exterior modesty and SEEMING diffidence. He must modestly, but resolutely, assert his own rights and privileges. 'Suaviter in modo', but 'fortiter in re'. He should have an apparent frankness and openness, but with inward caution and closeness. All these things will come to you by frequenting and observing good company. And by good company, I mean that sort of company which is called good company by everybody of that place. When all this is over, we shall meet; and then we will talk over, tete-a-tete, the various little finishing strokes which conversation and, acquaintance occasionally suggest, and which cannot be methodically written.
Tell Mr. Harte that I have received his two letters of the 2d and 8th N. S., which, as soon as I have received a third, I will answer. Adieu, my dear! I find you will do.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I have received your picture, which I have long waited for with impatience: I wanted to see your countenance from whence I am very apt, as I believe most people are, to form some general opinion of the mind. If the painter has taken you as well as he has done Mr. Harte (for his picture is by far the most like I ever saw in my life), I draw good conclusions from your countenance, which has both spirit and finesse in it. In bulk you are pretty well increased since I saw you; if your height has not increased in proportion, I desire that you will make haste to, complete it. Seriously, I believe that your exercises at Paris will make you shoot up to a good size; your legs, by all accounts, seem to promise it. Dancing excepted, the wholesome part is the best part of those academical exercises. 'Ils degraissent leur homme'.
'A propos' of exercises, I have prepared everything for your reception at Monsieur de la Gueriniere's, and your room, etc., will be ready at your arrival. I am sure you must be sensible how much better it will be for you to be interne in the Academy for the first six or seven months at least, than to be 'en hotel garni', at some distance from it, and obliged to go to it every morning, let the weather be what it will, not to mention the loss of time too; besides, by living and boarding in the Academy, you will make an acquaintance with half the young fellows of fashion at Paris; and in a very little while be looked upon as one of them in all French companies: an advantage that has never yet happened to any one Englishman that I have known. I am sure you do not suppose that the difference of the expense, which is but a trifle, has any weight with me in this resolution. You have the French language so perfectly, and you will acquire the French 'tournure' so soon, that I do not know anybody likely to pass their time so well at Paris as yourself. Our young countrymen have generally too little French, and too bad address, either to present themselves, or be well received in the best French companies; and, as a proof of it, there is no one instance of an Englishman's having ever been suspected of a gallantry with a French woman of condition, though every French woman of condition is more than suspected of having a gallantry. But they take up with the disgraceful and dangerous commerce of prostitutes, actresses, dancing-women, and that sort of trash; though, if they had common address, better achievements would be extremely easy. 'Un arrangement', which is in plain English a gallantry, is, at Paris, as necessary a part of a woman of fashion's establishment, as her house, stable, coach, etc. A young fellow must therefore be a very awkward one, to be reduced to, or of a very singular taste, to prefer drabs and danger to a commerce (in the course of the world not disgraceful) with a woman of health, education, and rank. Nothing sinks a young man into low company, both of women and men, so surely as timidity and diffidence of himself. If he thinks that he shall not, he may depend upon it he will not please. But with proper endeavors to please, and a degree of persuasion that he shall, it is almost certain that he will. How many people does one meet with everywhere, who, with very moderate parts, and very little knowledge, push themselves pretty far, simply by being sanguine, enterprising, and persevering? They will take no denial from man or woman; difficulties do not discourage them; repulsed twice or thrice, they rally, they charge again, and nine times in ten prevail at last. The same means will much sooner, and, more certainly, attain the same ends, with your parts and knowledge. You have a fund to be sanguine upon, and good forces to rally. In business (talents supposed) nothing is more effectual or successful, than a good, though concealed opinion of one's self, a firm resolution, and an unwearied perseverance. None but madmen attempt impossibilities; and whatever is possible, is one way or another to be brought about. If one method fails, try another, and suit your methods to the characters you have to do with. At the treaty of the Pyrenees, which Cardinal Mazarin and Don Louis de Haro concluded, 'dans l'Isle des Faisans', the latter carried some very important points by his constant and cool perseverance.
The Cardinal had all the Italian vivacity and impatience; Don Louis all the Spanish phlegm and tenaciousness. The point which the Cardinal had most at heart was, to hinder the re-establishment of the Prince of Conde, his implacable enemy; but he was in haste to conclude, and impatient to return to Court, where absence is always dangerous. Don Louis observed this, and never failed at every conference to bring the affair of the Prince of Conde upon the tapis. The Cardinal for some time refused even to treat upon it. Don Louis, with the same 'sang froid', as constantly persisted, till he at last prevailed: contrary to the intentions and the interest both of the Cardinal and of his Court. Sense must distinguish between what is impossible, and what is only difficult; and spirit and perseverance will get the better of the latter. Every man is to be had one way or another, and every woman almost any way. I must not omit one thing, which is previously necessary to this, and, indeed, to everything else; which is attention, a flexibility of attention; never to be wholly engrossed by any past or future object, but instantly directed to the present one, be it what it will. An absent man can make but few observations; and those will be disjointed and imperfect ones, as half the circumstance must necessarily escape him. He can pursue nothing steadily, because his absences make him lose his way. They are very disagreeable, and hardly to be tolerated in old age; but in youth they cannot be forgiven. If you find that you have the least tendency to them, pray watch yourself very carefully, and you may prevent them now; but if you let them grow into habit, you will find it very difficult to cure them hereafter, and a worse distemper I do not know.
I heard with great satisfaction the other day, from one who has been lately at Rome, that nobody was better received in the best companies than yourself. The same thing, I dare say, will happen to you at Paris; where they are particularly kind to all strangers, who will be civil to them, and show a desire of pleasing. But they must be flattered a little, not only by words, but by a seeming preference given to their country, their manners, and their customs; which is but a very small price to pay for a very good reception. Were I in Africa, I would pay it to a negro for his goodwill. Adieu.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The President Montesquieu (whom you will be acquainted with at Paris), after having laid down in his book, 'De l'Esprit des Lois', the nature and principles of the three different kinds of government, viz, the democratical, the monarchical, and the despotic, treats of the education necessary for each respective form. His chapter upon the education proper for the monarchical I thought worth transcribing and sending to you. You will observe that the monarchy which he has in his eye is France:--
"In monarchies, the principal branch of education is not taught in colleges or academies. It commences, in some measure, at our setting out in the world; for this is the school of what we call honor, that universal preceptor, which ought everywhere to be our guide.
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