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beau monde ; in which, as I was determined to shine, I took what are commonly called the genteel vices to be necessary. I had heard them reckoned so, and without farther inquiry, I believed it; or, at least, should have been ashamed to have denied it, for fear of exposing myself to the ridicule of those whom I considered as the models of fine gentlemen. But I am now neither ashamed nor afraid to assert, that those genteel vices, as they are falsely called, are only so many blemishes in the character of even a man of the world, and what is called a fine gentleman, and degrade him in the opinions of those very people, to whom he hopes to recommend himself by them. Nay, this prejudice often extends so far, that I have known people pretend to vices they had not, instead of carefully concealing those they had.
Use and assert your own reason; reflect, examine, and analyse every thing, in order to form a sound and mature judgment; let no 8tos epa impose upon your understanding, mislead your actions, or dictate your conversation. Be early, what, if you are not, you will, when too late, wish you had been. Consult your reason betimes: I do not say, that it will always prove an unerring guide; for human reason is not infallible: but it will prove the least erring guide that you can follow. Books and conversation may 'assist it; but adopt neither, blindly and implicitly; try both by that best rule, which God has given to direct us, Reason. Of all the troubles do not decline, as many people do, that of thinking. The herd of mankind can hardly be said to think; their notions are almost all adoptive; and, in general, I believe it is better that it should be so; as such common prejudices contribute more to order and quiet, than their own separate reasonings would do, uncultivated and unimproved as they are. We have many of those useful prejudices in this country, which I should be very sorry to see removed. The
good Protestant conviction, that the Pope is both Antichrist, and the Whore of Babylon, is a more effectual preservative, in this country, against Popery, than all the solid and unanswerable arguments of Chillingworth.
The idle story of the Pretender's having been introduced in a warmingpan, into the Queen's bed, though as destitute of all probability as of all foundation, has been much more prejudicial to the cause of Jacobitism, than all that Mr. Locke and others have written, to show the unreasonableness and absurdity of the doctrines of indefeasible hereditary right, and unlimited passive obedience. And that silly, sanguine notion, which is firmly entertained here, that one Englishman can beat three Frenchmen, encourages, and has sometimes enabled one Englishman, in reality, to beat two.
A Frenchman ventures his life with alacrity pour l'honneur du Roi; were you to change the object, which he has been taught to have in view, and tell him that it was pour le bien de la Patrie, he would .very probably run away. Such
local prejudices prevail with the herd of mankind; and do not impose upon cultivated, informed, and reflecting minds: but then there are notions equally false, though not so glaringly absurd, which are entertained by people of superior and improved understandings, merely for want of the necessary pains to investigate, the proper attention to examine, and the penetration requisite to determine the truth. Those are the prejudices which I would have you guard against, by a manly exertion and attention of your reasoning faculty. To mention one instance, of a thousand that I could give you—It is a general prejudice, and has been propagated for these sixteen hundred years, that Arts and Sciences cannot flourish under an absolute government; and that Genius must necessarily be cramped where Freedom is restrained. This sounds plausible, but is false in fact. Mechanic arts, as Agriculture, Manufactures, &c. will indeed be discouraged, where the profits and property are, from the nature of the government, insecure. But why the despotism of a government should cramp the genius of a Mathematician, an Astronomer, a Poet, or an Orator, I confess I never could discover. It may indeed deprive the Poet, or the Orator, of the liberty of treating of certain subjects in the manner they would wish; but it leaves them subjects enough to exert genius upon, if they have it. Can an author with reason complain, that he is cramped and shackled, if he is not at liberty to publish blasphemy, bawdry, or sedition ? all which are equally prohibited in the freest governments, if they are wise and well regulated ones. This is the present general complaint of the French authors; but, indeed, chiefly of the bad ones. No wonder, say they, that England produces so many great geniuses; people there may think as they please, and publish what they think. Very true; but who hinders them from thinking as they please? If, indeed, they think in a manner destructive of all religion, morality, or good manners, or to the disturbance of the State; an absolute government will certainly more effectually prohibit them from, or punish them for publishing such thoughts, than a free one could do. But how does that cramp the genius of an epic, dramatic, or lyric Poet? Or how does it corrupt the eloquence of an Orator, in the Pulpit or at the Bar? The number of good French authors, such as Corneille, Racine, Moliere, Boileau, and La Fontaine, who seemed to dispute it with the Augustan age, flourished under the despotism of Lewis XIV.; and the celebrated authors of the Augustan age did not shine, till after the fetters were riveted upon the Roman people, by that cruel and worthless Emperor. The revival of letters was not owing, either, to any free government, but to the encouragement and protection of Leo X. and Francis I.; the one as absolute a Pope, and the other as despotic a Prince, as ever reigned. Do not mistake, and imagine, that while I am only exposing a prejudice, I am speaking in favour of arbitrary power; which from my soul I abhor, and look upon as a gross and criminal violation of the natural rights of mankind. Adieu.
London, February the 28th, 0. S. 1749. I was very much pleased with the account that you gave me of your reception at Berlin; but I was still better pleased with the account which Mr. Harte sent me of your manner of receiving that reception; for he says you behaved yourself to those crowned heads, with all the respect and modesty due to them; but, at the same time, without being any more embarrassed, than if you had been conversing with your equals. This easy respect is the perfection of good breeding, which nothing but superior good sense, or a long usage of the world, can produce; and as, in your case, it could not be the latter, it is a pleasing indication to me of the former.
You will now, in the course of a few months, have been rubbed at three of the considerable Courts of Europe; Berlin, Dresden, and Vienna; so that I hope you will arrive at Turin tolerably smooth, and fit for the last polish. There you may get the best; there being no Court, I know of, that forms more well bred and agreeable people. Remember, now,
that good breeding, genteel carriage, address, and even dress (to a certain degree) are become serious objects, and deserve a part of your attention.
The day, if well employed, is long enough for them all. One half of it bestowed upon your studies, and your exercises, will finish your mind and your body; the remaining part of it, spent in good company, will form your manners, and complete your character. What would I not give, to have you read Demosthenes critically in the morning, and understand him better than any body; at noon, behave yourself better than any person at Court; and, in the evenings, trifle more agreeably than any body in mixed companies ? All this you may compass
if you please; you have the means, you have the
opportunities. Employ them, for God's sake, while you may, and make yourself that all accomplished man, that I wish to have you. It entirely depends upon these two years; they are the decisive ones.
I send you here enclosed, a letter of recommendation to Monsieur Capello, at Venice, which you will deliver him immediately upon your arrival, accompanying it with compliments from me to him, and Madame; both whom you have seen here. He will, I am sure, be both very civil and very useful to you there, as he will also be afterwards at Rome, where he is appointed to go Ambassador. By the way, wherever you are, I would advise you to frequent, as much as you can, the Venetian Ministers; who are always better informed of the Courts they reside at, than any other Minister: the strict and regular accounts, which they are obliged to give to their own government, making them very diligent and inquisitive.
You will stay at Venice as long as the Carnival lasts; for though I am impatient to have you at Turin, yet I would wish you to see thoroughly all that is to be seen at so singular a place as Venice,