Chesterfield, Letters written by the late Right Honourable Philip Dormer Stanhop…

Chesterfield, Letters written by the late Right Honourable Philip Dormer Stanhop

Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of. Letters written by the late Right Honourable Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, to his son, Philip Stanhope, Esq.; Late Envoy Extraordinary at the Court of Dresden: together with other several pieces on various subjects. Published by Mrs. Eugenia Stanhope, from the originals now in her Possession The Third Edition. In Four Volumes (complete set). London, J. Dodsley in Pall-Mall, 1774. Octavo. Collation: Volume I: Engraved frontispiece of Stanhope, XVI, 352 pages / Volume II: (2), 355 pages / Volume III: (2), 376 pages / Volume IV: (2), 364 pages. (Collation complete). Hardcover / Original full calf with gilt lettering on original spinelabels. Very good condition with only minor signs of external wear. Smaller dampstain to lower first and last two pages of two volumes only. The bindings a little shaky but holding. Provenance: From the library of Robert Doyne, with his Exlibris – bookplate to the front pastedown of all four volumes. While he died already in 1733 and these books were published in 1774, it is very likely that the bookplates were still applied by his librarian or family / Sir Robert Doyne (1651-1733) was member of the Irish House of Commons for New Ross from 1692 to 1695, and later a distinguished judge who served as Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer from 1695 to 1703 and Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas from 1703 to 1714. In the latter year like all the senior judges in Ireland appointed under Queen Anne he was removed by the new administration; while allegations of corruption were made, the removal seems to have been a simple matter of politics. Although the Irish House of Commons passed a resolution that he had acted corruptly no further action seems to have been taken against him and he lived in peaceful retirement for many years. (Wikipedia)

Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield KG PC (22 September 1694 – 24 March 1773) was a British statesman, and a man of letters, and wit. He was born in London to Philip Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Chesterfield, and Lady Elizabeth Savile, and known as Lord Stanhope until the death of his father, in 1726. Educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he subsequently embarked on the Grand Tour of the Continent, to complete his education as a nobleman, by exposure to the cultural legacies of Classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to become acquainted with his aristocratic counterparts and the polite society of Continental Europe.

In the course of his post-graduate tour of Europe, the death of Queen Anne (r. 1702–1707) and the accession of King George I (r. 1714–1727) opened a political career for Stanhope, and he returned to England. In the British political spectrum he was a Whig and entered government service, as a courtier to the King, through the mentorship of his relative, James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope, the King’s favourite minister, who procured his appointment as Lord of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales.


He was a selfish, calculating and contemptuous man, not naturally generous, and he practised dissimulation ’til it became part of his nature; despite brilliant talents and admirable training, the life of Chesterfield cannot be pronounced a success.[5] His social anxiety and the pains he took to become an orator already had been noticed. Horace Walpole said that he, who had heard the great orators of the time, preferred a speech of Chesterfield to that of any other orator; yet the contemporary opinion was that the Earl of Chesterfield’s eloquence did not compare with that of Prime Minister Pitt (the Elder). In that regard, James Boswell reported that the poet Samuel Johnson pointedly said about the nobleman Chesterfield, “This man I thought had been a Lord among wits; but I find he is only a wit among Lords!″

As a politician and statesman, his fame rests upon his short, but brilliant, administration of Ireland as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1745-1746). As a courtier, the unrefined Robert Walpole worsted him at the King’s court. Despite being a protector of men of letters, Chesterfield’s want of heart and head in the quarrel over the dedication to A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), inspired the poet Johnson to rewrite the line “Toil, envy, Want, the Patron and the Jayl” (The Vanity of Human Wishes [1749], line 160) in a letter bemoaning the conflicts of personality inherent to the patron-artist relation; Johnson rebuked Chesterfield: “is not a Patron, My Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling in the water and when he has reached ground encumbers him with help?” Moreover, on publication of the book Letters to His Son (1774), Chesterfield’s advisory correspondence with his natural son, Philip Stanhope, Johnson said that “they teach the morals of a whore, and the manners of a dancing-master” as means for getting on in the world as a gentleman.

Letters to His Son

The impoverished widow of Chesterfield’s illegitimate son, Eugenia Stanhope, was the first to publish the book Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman (1774), which comprises a thirty-year correspondence in more than four hundred letters; begun in the 1737–38 period and continued until the death of his correspondent, Philip Stanhope, in 1768. Chesterfield wrote the greatest volume of letters in the eight-year period 1746–54; and, to refine his son’s command of languages, he wrote him letters in French, English, and Latin, mostly instructive communications about geography, history, and classical literature; Chesterfield’s later letters, addressed to Philip Stanhope, diplomat, are about politics.

As a handbook for worldly success in the 18th century, the Letters to His Son give perceptive and nuanced advice for how a gentleman should interpret the social codes that are manners; thus, on 9 March 1748, Chesterfield advises Philip, against coarseness of demeanour:

“I would heartily wish that you may often be seen to smile, but never heard to laugh, while you live. Frequent and loud laughter is the characteristic of folly and ill-manners; it is the manner in which the mob express their silly joy at silly things; and they call it ‘being merry’. In my mind, there is nothing so illiberal, and so ill-bred, as audible laughter. I am neither of a melancholy nor a cynical disposition, and am as willing and as apt to be pleased as anybody; but I am sure that since I have had the full use of my reason nobody has ever heard me laugh.”

Despite having been an accomplished essayist and epigrammatist in his time, his literary reputation, as a narrative writer, derives from Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman (1774) and Letters to His Godson (1890), books of private correspondence and paternal and avuncular advice, which were not meant for publication. (Wikipedia)

  • Category: Varia
  • Language: English
  • Inventory Number: 28387AB

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Chesterfield, Letters written by the late Right Honourable Philip Dormer Stanhope
Chesterfield, Letters written by the late Right Honourable Philip Dormer Stanhop
Chesterfield, Letters written by the late Right Honourable Philip Dormer Stanhop
Chesterfield, Letters written by the late Right Honourable Philip Dormer Stanhop