"There is nothing that honor more strongly recommends to the nobility, than to serve their Prince in a military capacity. And indeed this is their favorite profession, because its dangers, its success, and even its miscarriages, are the road to grandeur. Yet this very law, of its own making, honor chooses to explain; and in case of any affront, it requires or permits us to retire.
"It insists also, that we should be at liberty either to seek or to reject employments; a liberty which it prefers even to an ample fortune.
"Honor, therefore, has its supreme laws, to which education is obliged to conform. The chief of these are, that we are permitted to set a value upon our fortune, but are absolutely forbidden to set any upon our lives.
"The second is, that when we are raised to a post or preferment, we should never do or permit anything which may seem to imply that we look upon ourselves as inferior to the rank we hold.
"The third is, that those things which honor forbids are more rigorously forbidden, when the laws do not concur in the prohibition; and those it commands are more strongly insisted upon, when they happen not to be commanded by law."
Though our government differs considerably from the French, inasmuch as we have fixed laws and constitutional barriers for the security of our liberties and properties, yet the President's observations hold pretty near as true in England as in France. Though monarchies may differ a good deal, kings differ very little. Those who are absolute desire to continue so, and those who are not, endeavor to become so; hence the same maxims and manners almost in all courts: voluptuousness and profusion encouraged, the one to sink the people into indolence, the other into poverty--consequently into dependence. The court is called the world here as well as at Paris; and nothing more is meant by saying that a man knows the world, than that he knows courts. In all courts you must expect to meet with connections without friendship, enmities without hatred, honor without virtue, appearances saved, and realities sacrificed; good manners with bad morals; and all vice and virtues so disguised, that whoever has only reasoned upon both would know neither when he first met them at court. It is well that you should know the map of that country, that when you come to travel in it, you may do it with greater safety.
From all this you will of yourself draw this obvious conclusion: That you are in truth but now going to the great and important school, the world; to which Westminster and Leipsig were only the little preparatory schools, as Marylebone, Windsor, etc., are to them. What you have already acquired will only place you in the second form of this new school, instead of the first. But if you intend, as I suppose you do, to get into the shell, you have very different things to learn from Latin and Greek: and which require much more sagacity and attention than those two dead languages; the language of pure and simple nature; the language of nature variously modified and corrupted by passions, prejudices, and habits; the language of simulation and dissimulation: very hard, but very necessary to decipher. Homer has not half so many, nor so difficult dialects, as the great book of the school you are now going to. Observe, therefore, progressively, and with the greatest attention, what the best scholars in the form immediately above you do, and so on, until you get into the shell yourself. Adieu.
Pray tell Mr. Harte that I have received his letter of the 27th May, N. S., and that I advise him never to take the English newswriters literally, who never yet inserted any one thing quite right. I have both his patent and his mandamus, in both which he is Walter, let the newspapers call him what they please.
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