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'.
Pray show great attention, and make your court to Monsieur de la Gueriniere; he is well with Prince Charles and many people of the first distinction at Paris; his commendations will raise your character there, not to mention that his favor will be of use to you in the Academy itself. For the reasons which I mentioned to you in my last, I would have you be interne in the Academy for the first six months; but after that, I promise you that you shall have lodgings of your own 'dans un hotel garni', if in the meantime I hear well of you, and that you frequent, and are esteemed in the best French companies. You want nothing now, thank God, but exterior advantages, that last polish, that 'tournure du monde', and those graces, which are so necessary to adorn, and give efficacy to, the most solid merit. They are only to be acquired in the best companies, and better in the best French companies than in any other. You will not want opportunities, for I shall send you letters that will establish you in the most distinguished companies, not only of the beau monde, but of the beaux esprits, too. Dedicate, therefore, I beg of you, that whole year to your own advantage and final improvement, and do not be diverted from those objects by idle dissipations, low seduction, or bad example. After that year, do whatever you please; I will interfere no longer in your conduct; for I am sure both you and I shall be safe then. Adieu!
MY DEAR FRIEND: Mr. Harte, who in all his letters gives you some dash of panegyric, told me in his last a thing that pleases me extremely; which was that at Rome you had constantly preferred the established Italian assemblies to the English conventicles setup against them by dissenting English ladies. That shows sense, and that you know what you are sent abroad for. It is of much more consequence to know the 'mores multorem hominum' than the 'urbes'. Pray continue this judicious conduct wherever you go, especially at Paris, where, instead of thirty, you will find above three hundred English, herding together and conversing with no one French body.
The life of 'les Milords Anglois' is regularly, or, if you will, irregularly, this. As soon as they rise, which is very late, they breakfast together, to the utter loss of two good morning hours. Then they go by coachfuls to the Palais, the Invalides, and Notre-Dame; from thence to the English coffee-house, where they make up their tavern party for dinner. From dinner, where they drink quick, they adjourn in clusters to the play, where they crowd up the stage, dressed up in very fine clothes, very ill-made by a Scotch or Irish tailor. From the play to the tavern again, where they get very drunk, and where they either quarrel among themselves, or sally forth, commit some riot in the streets, and are taken up by the watch. Those who do not speak French before they go, are sure to learn none there. Their tender vows are addressed to their Irish laundress, unless by chance some itinerant Englishwoman, eloped from her husband, or her creditors, defrauds her of them. Thus they return home, more petulant, but not more informed, than when they left it; and show, as they think, their improvement by affectedly both speaking and dressing in broken French:--
Connect yourself, while you are in France, entirely with the French; improve yourself with the old, divert yourself with the young; conform cheerfully to their customs, even to their little follies, but not to their vices. Do not, however, remonstrate or preach against them, for remonstrances do not suit with your age. In French companies in general you will not find much learning, therefore take care not to brandish yours in their faces. People hate those who make them feel their own inferiority. Conceal all your learning carefully, and reserve it for the company of les Gens d'Eglise, or les Gens de Robe; and even then let them rather extort it from you, than find you over-willing to draw it. Your are then thought, from that seeming unwillingness, to have still more knowledge than it may be you really have, and with the additional merit of modesty into the bargain. A man who talks of, or even hints at, his 'bonnes fortunes', is seldom believed, or, if believed, much blamed; whereas a man who conceals with care is often supposed to have more than he has, and his reputation of discretion gets him others. It is just so with a man of learning; if he affects to show it, it is questioned, and he is reckoned only superficial; but if afterward it appears that he really has it, he is pronounced a pedant. Real merit of any kind, 'ubi est non potest diu celari'; it will be discovered, and nothing can depreciate it but a man's exhibiting it himself. It may not always be rewarded as it ought, but it will always be known. You will in general find the women of the beau monde at Paris more instructed than the men, who are bred up singly for the army, and thrown into it at twelve or thirteen years old; but then that sort of education, which makes them ignorant of books, gives them a great knowledge of the world, an easy address, and polite manners.
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