Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ments, as most indispensably requisite to finish the amiable and brilliant part of a complete character.

It would be unnecessary to expatiate on the merits of such a Work, executed by so great a Master. They cannot but be obvious to every person of sense; the more, as nothing of this sort has (I believe) ever been produced in the English language. The candour of the Public, to which these Letters appeal, will determine the amusement and instruction they afford. I fatter myself, they will be read with general satisfaction; as the principal, and by far the greater part of them, were written when the late Earl of Chesterfield was in the full vigour of his mind, and possessed all those qualifications for which he was so justly admired in England, revered in Ireland, and esteemed wherever known.

Celebrated all over Europe for his superior Talents as an Epistolary writer, for the brilliancy of his Wit, and the solidity of his extensive Knowledge, will it be thought too presumptuous to assert, that he exerted all those faculties to their utmost, upon his favourite subject-Education? And that, in order to form the Mind of a darling Son, he even exhausted those powers which he was so universally allowed to possess ?

I do not doubt but those who were much connected with the Author, during that series of years in which he wrote the following Letters,

will be ready to vouch the truth of the above assertion. What I can, and do ascertain is, the Authenticity of this Publication; which comprises not a single line, that is not the late Earl of Chesterfield's.

Some, perhaps, may be of opinion, that the first letters in this collection, intended for the instruction of a child, then under seven years of age, were too trifling to merit publication. They are, however, inserted by the advice of several gentlemen of learning, and real judgment, who considered the whole as absolutely necessary, to form a complete system of education. And, indeed, the Reader will find his Lordship repeatedly telling his Son, that his affection for him makes him look upon no instruction, which may be of service to him, as too trifling or too low; I, therefore, did not think myself authorized to suppress what, to so experienced a man, appeared requisite to the completion of his undertaking. And, upon this point, I may appeal more particularly to those, who, being fathers themselves, know how to value instructions, of which their tenderness and anxiety for their children, will undoubtedly make them feel the necessity. The instructions scattered throughout those Letters, are happily calculated,

“To teach the young idea how to shoot;"

to form and enlighten the infant mind, upon its

first opening, and prepare it to receive the early impressions of learning, and of morality. Of these, many entire letters, and some parts of others, are lost; which, considering the tender years of Mr. Stanhope, at that time, cannot be a matter of surprise, but will always be one of regret. Wherever a complete sense could be made out, I have ventured to give the fragment.

To each of the French letters, throughout the work, an English translation is annexed: in which I have endeavoured to adhere, as much as possible, to the sense of the original : I wish the attempt may have proved successful.

As to those Repetitions, which sometimes occur, that many may esteem Inaccuracies, and think they had been better retrenched : they are so varied, and their significancy thrown into such, and so many different lights, that they could not be altered without mutilating the work. In the course of which, the Reader will also observe his Lordship often expressly declaring, that such repetitions are purposely intended, to inculcate his instructions more forcibly. So good a reason urged by the author for using them, made me think it indispensably requisite not to deviate from the original.

The Letters written from the time that Mr. Stanhope was employed as one of his Majesty's Ministers abroad, although not relative to Education, yet as they continue the series of Lord

Chesterfield's Letters to his Son, and discover his sentiments ou various interesting subjects, of public as well as private concern, it is presumed they cannot fail of being acceptable to the Public. To these are added some few detached pieces, which the Reader will find at the end of the fourth volume* The Originals of those, as well as of all the Letters, are in my possession, in the late Earl of Chesterfield's handwriting, and sealed with his own seal.

I beg leave to add, that if the following work proves of as much utility to the Youth of these Kingdoms, as the Letters were to the person for whose immediate instruction they were written, my utmost wishes will be gratified; and I shall esteem myself happy in reflecting, that, though a Woman, I have had the most real of all satisfactions,—that of being of some use to my Country.

* The Letters were originally printed in four volumes.

LORD CHESTERFIELD'S

LETTERS TO HIS SON.

LETTER I*.

On me dit, Monsieur! que vous vous disposez à voyager, et que vous débutez par la Hollande. De sorte que j'ai crû de mon devoir, de vous souhaiter un bon voyage, et des vents favorables. Vous aurez la bonté, j'espère, de me faire part de votre arrivée à la Haye; et si après cela, dans le cours de vos voyages, vous faites quelques remarques curieuses, vous voudrez bien me les communiquer.

La Hollande, où vous allez, est de beaucoup la plus belle, et la plus riche des Sept Provinces-Unies, qui toutes ensemble, forment la République. Les autres sontcelles de Gueldres, Zélande, Frise, Utrecht, Groningue, et Over-Yssel. Les Sept Provinces composent, ce qu'on appelle les Etats Généraux des Provinces-Unies, et font une République très-puissante, et très-considérable.

Une République, au reste, veut dire un gouvernement tout-à-fait libre, où il n'y a point de Roi. La Haye, où vous irez d'abord, est le plus beau village du monde, car ce n'est pas une ville. La ville d'Amsterdam, censée la capitale des Provinces

* Cette Lettre est un pur badinage, Mr. Stanhope ayant fait un voyage en Hollande à l'âge d'environ cinq ans.

[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »