페이지 이미지
PDF

other people's. He dresses as well, and in the same manner, as the people of sense and fashion in the place where he is. If he dresses better, as he thinks, that he is more than they, he is a fop; if he dresses worse, he is unpardonably negligent: but, of the two, I would rather have a young fellow too much than too little dressed; the excess on that side will wear off, with a little age and reflection; but, if he is negligent at twenty, he will be a sloven at forty, and stink at fifty years old. Dress yourself fine, where others are fine; and plain where others are plain; but take care, always, that your clothes are well made, and fit you; for, otherwise they will give you a very awkward air. When you are once well dressed for the day, think no more of it afterwards; and without any stiffness for fear of discomposing that dress, let all your motions be as easy and natural as if you had no clothes on at all. So much for dress, which I maintain to be a thing of consequence in the polite world.

As to manners, good-breeding, and the graces, I have so often entertained you upon these important subjects, that I can add nothing to what I have formerly said. Your own good sense will suggest to you the substance of them; and observation, experience, and good company, the several modes of them. Your great vivacity, which I hear of from many people will be no hindrance to your pleasing in good company; on the contrary, will be of use to you, if tempered by good-breeding, and accompanied by the graces. But, then, I suppose your vivacity to be a vivacity of parts, and not a constitutional restlessness: for, the most disagreeable composition that I know in the world, is that of strong animal spirits with a cold genius. Such a fellow is troublesomely active, frivolously busy, foolishly lively; talks much, with little meaning, and laughs more, with less reason; whereas, in my opinion, a warm and lively genius, with a cool constitution, is the perfection of human 11:uture.

Do what you will at Berlin, provided you do but do something all day long. All I desire of you is, that you will never slattern away one minute in idleness and in doing nothing. When you are not in company, learn what either books, masters, or Mr. Harte, can teach you; and, when you are in oompany, learn (what company only can teach you) the characters and manners of mankind. I really ask your pardon for giving you this advice; because, if you are a rational creature, and a thinking being, as I suppose, and verily believe you are, it must be unnecessary, and to a certain degree, injurious. If I did not know, by experience, that some men pass their whole time in doing nothing, I should not think it possible for any being, superior to Monsieur Descartes' automatons, to squander away in absolute idleness one single minute of that small portion of time which is allotted us in this world.

I send you, my dear child, (and you will not doubt) very sincerely, the wishes of the season. May you deserve a great number of happy new years! and, if you deserve, may you have them. Many new years, indeed, you may see, but happy ones you cannot see without deserving them. These, virtue, honour, and knowledge, alone can merit, alone can procure. Dii tibi dent annos I de te nam captera sumes, was a pretty piece of poetical flattery where it was said; I hope that, in time, it may be no flattery when said to you. But I assure you, that, whenever I cannot apply the latter part of the line to you with truth, I shall neither say, think, nor wish, the former.—Adieu !

V.

My dear friend, I have sent you so many preparatory letters for Paris, that this, which will meet you there, shall only be a

summary of them all. You have hitherto had more liberty than any body of your age ever had; |*| I must do you the justice to own, that you have made a better use of it than most people of your age would have done: but then, though you had not a jailer, you had a friend with you. At Paris, you will not only be unconfined, but unassisted. Your own good sense must be your own guide; I have great confidence in it, and am convinced that I shall receive just such accounts of your conduct at Paris as I could wish. Enjoy the innocent pleasures of youth; you cannot do better: but refine and dignify them like a man of parts: let them raise and not sink, let them adorn and not vilify, your character: let them, in short, be the pleasures of a gentleman, and taken with your equals at least, but rather with your superiors, and those chiefly French. Inquire into the character of the several academicians, before you form a connection with any of them; and be most upon your guard against those who make the most court to you. You cannot study too much in the academy; but you may study usefully there, if you are an economist of your time, and bestow only upon good books those quarters and halves of hours which occur to every body in the course of almost every day, and which, at the year's end, amount to a very considerable sum of time. Let Greek, without fail, share some part of every day: I do not mean the Greek poets, the catches of Anacreon, or the tender complaints of Theocritus, or even the porter-like language of Homer's heroes; of whom all smatterers in Greek know a little, quote often, and talk of always; but I mean Plato, Aristotle, Demostbenes, and Thucydides, whom none but adepts know. It is Greek that must distinguish you in the learned world: Latin will not. And Greek must be sought to be retained; for, it never occurs like Latin. When you read history, or other books of amusement, let every language you are master of have its turn; so that you may not only retain, but improve in every one. I also desire that you will converse in German and Italian, with all the Germans and the Italians with whom you

converse at all. This will be a very agreeable and flattering thing to them, and a very useful one to you. Pray apply yourself diligently to your exercises; for, though the doing them well is not supremely meritorious, the doing them ill is illiberal, vulgar, and ridiculous. I send you the inclosed letter of recommendation to Marquis Matignon, which I would have you deliver to him as soon as you can. You will, I am sure, feel the good effects of his warm friendship for me and Lord Bolingbroke, who has also written to him upon your subject. By that, and by the other letters which I have sent you, you will be at once so thoroughly introduced into the best French company, that you must take some pains if you will keep bad; but that is what I do not suspect you of. You have, I am sure, too much right ambition, to prefer low and disgraceful company to that of your superiors, both in rank and age. Your character, and consequently your fortune, absolutely depends upon the company you keep, and the turn you take at Paris. I do not, in the least, mean a grave turn; on the contrary, a gay, a sprightly, but at the same time, an elegant and liberal one. Keep carefully out of all scrapes and quarrels. They lower a character extremely, and are particularly dangerous in France, where a man is dishonoured by not resenting an affront, and utterly ruined by resenting it. The young Frenchmen are hasty, giddy, petulant, and extremely national. Forbear from any national jokes or reflections, which are always improper, and commonly unjust. The colder northern nations generally look upon France as a whistling, singing, dancing, frivolous nation: this notion is very far from being a true one, though many petits maitres, by their behaviour, seem to justify it: but those very petits maîtres, when mellowed by age and experience, very often turn out able men. The number of great generals and statesmen, as well as authors, that France has produced, is an undeniable proof that it is not that frivolous, unthinking, empty nation, that northern prejudices suppose it.— Seem to like and approve of every thing at first, and I promise you that you will like and approve of many things afterwards. I expect that you will write to me constantly, once every week, which I desire may be every Thursday; and that your letters may inform me of

your personal transactions; not of what you see, but of whom you see, and what you do.

Be your own monitor, now that you will have no other. As to enunciation, I must repeat it to you again and again, that there is no one thing so necessary; and all other talents, without that, are absolutely useless, except in your own closet.

LADY MARY WORT LEY MONTAGUE.

ADY MONTAGUE, the eldest daughter of the Duke

of Kingston, was born in 1690. She received a sound education in Latin, Greek and French, and married Mr. Edward Wortley Montague in 1712. In 1716 she accompanied him to Constantinople, upon his being appointed ambassador to the Porte. Her letters, written while she was in the East, are very interesting ; she describes with great accuracy the manners and customs of the inhabitants of that part of Europe. In 1718 she returned to England, and lived at Twickenham, where she quarrelled with Pope, with whom she had formerly

J E 7'7"EA’.S.
To the Countess of
Vienna, Sept. 8, 0. S. 1716.

I am now, my dear sister, safely arrived at Vienna, and, I thank God, have not at all suffered in my health, nor, what is dearer to me, in that of my child, by all our fatigues. We travelled by water from Ratisbon, a journey perfectly agreeable, down the Danube, in one of those little vessels that they very properly call wooden houses, having in them all the conveniencies of a palace, stoves in the chambers, kitchens, etc. They are rowed by twelve men each, and with such incredible swiftness, that in the same day you have the pleasure of a vast variety of prospects, and within the space of a few hours you have the pleasure of seeing a populous city adorned with magnificent palaces, and the most romantic solitudes, which appear distant from the commerce of mankind, the banks of the Danube being charmingly diversified with woods, rocks, mountains covered with vines, fields of corn, large cities, and ruins of ancient castles. I saw the great towns of Passau and

been on very good terms. In 1739 she left England again on account of her health, and travelled in Italy. Her letters written at this time are also full of charms. She returned to England in 1761, on the death of her husband, and died herself the following year. Although wit and talent are visible in all her letters, yet her masculine mind tends, from time to time, to make her rather unfeminine: but as model letters those of Lady Montague will always hold a first place in the annals of English literature. They were first published in 1805, and occupy five volumes.

[blocks in formation]

though many of them very well deserve observation, being truly magnificent. They are all built of fine white stone, and are excessively high. For as the town is too little for the number of the people that desire to live in it, the builders seem to have projected to repair that misfortune, by clapping one town on the top of another, most of the houses being of five, and some of them six stories. You may easily imagine that, the streets being so narrow, the rooms are extremely dark, and what is an inconveniency much more intolerable in my opinion, there is no house has so few as five or six families in it. The apartments of the greatest ladies, or even of the ministers of state, are divided, but by a partition, from that of a tailor or shoemaker; and I know nobody that has above two floors in any house, one for their own use, and one higher for their servants. Those that have houses of their own let out the rest of them to whoever will take them, and thus the great stairs (which are all of stone) are as common and as dirty as the street. 'Tis true, when you have once travelled through them, nothing can be more surprisingly magnificent than the apartments. They are commonly a suit of eight or ten large rooms, all inlaid, the doors and windows richly carved and gilt, and the furniture such as is seldom seen in the palaces of sovereign princes in other countries. Their apartments are adorned with hangings of the finest tapestry of Brussels, prodigious large looking-glasses in silver-frames, fine japan tables, beds, chairs, canopies, and window-curtains of the richest Genoa damask or velvet, almost covered with gold lace or embroidery. All this is made gay by pictures and vast jars of japan china, and large lustres of rock crystal. I have already had the honour of being invited to dinner by several of the first people of quality, and I must do them the justice to say, the good taste and magnificence of their tables very well answer to that of their furniture. I have been more than once entertained with different dishes of meat, all served in silver, and well dressed, the desert proportionable, served in the finest china. But the variety and richness of their wines is what appears the most surprising. The constant way is to lay a list of their names upon the plates of the guests along with the napkins, and I have counted several times to the number of eighteen different sorts, all exquisite in their kinds. I was yesterday at count Schoonbrun, the vicechancellor's garden, where I was invited to dinner. I must own I never saw a place so perfectly delightful as the faubourg of Vienna. It is very large, and almost wholly composed of delicious palaces. If the emperor found it proper to permit the gates of the

town to be laid open, that the faubourgs

might be joined to it, he would have

one of the largest and best built cities

in Europe. Count Schoonbrun's villa is one of the most magnificent; the furniture all rich brocades, so well fancied and fitted up, nothing can look more gay and splendid; not to speak of a gallery full of rarities of coral, mother of pearl, and throughout the whole house a profusion of gilding, carving, fine paintings, the most beautiful porcelain, statues of alabaster and ivory, and vast orange and lemon trees in gilt pots. The dinner was perfectly fine and well ordered, and made still more agreeable by the good humour of the count. I have not yet been at court, being forced to stay for my gown, without which there is no waiting on the empress; though I am not without great impatience to see a beauty that has been the admiration of so many different nations. When I have had that honour, I will not fail to let you know my real thoughts, always taking a particular pleasure in communicating them to my dear sister.

To Lady X-.
Vienna, October 1, 0. S. 1716.

You desire me, madam, to send you some account of the customs here, and at the same time a description of Vienna. I am always willing to obey your commands, but you must upon this occasion take the will for the deed. If I should undertake to tell you all the particulars in which the manners here differ from ours, I must write a whole quire of the dullest stuff that ever was read, or printed without being read. Their dress agrees with the French or English in no one article. They have many fashions peculiar to themselves; they think it indecent for a widow ever to wear green or rose colour, but all the other gayest colours at her own discretion. The assemblies here are the only regular diversion, the operas being always at court, and commonly on some particular occasion. Madam Rabutin has the assembly constantly every night at her house, and the other ladies, whenever they have a mind to display the magnificence of their apart

ments, or oblige a friend by complimenting them on the day of their saint, they declare that, on such a day, the assembly shall be at their house in honour of the feast of the Count or Countess—such-a-one. These days are called days of gala, and all the friends or relations of the lady whose saint it is, are obliged to appear in their best clothes and all their jewels. The mistress of the house takes no particular notice of any body, nor returns any body's visit; and whoever pleases may go without the formality of being pre: sented. The company are entertained with ice in several forms, winter and summer; afterwards they divide into several parties of ombre, piquet, or conversation, all games of hazard being forbidden. I saw toother day the gala for count Altheim, the emperor's favourite, and never in my life saw so many fine clothes ill fancied. They embroider the richest gold stuffs, and provided they can make their clothes expensive enough, that is all the taste they show in them. On other days the general dress is a scarf, and what you please under it. But now I am speaking of Vienna, I am sure you expect I should say something of the convents: they are of all sorts and sizes; but I am best pleased with that of St. Lawrence, where the ease and neatness they seem to live with, appears to be much more edifying than those stricter orders, where perpetual penance and nastiness must breed discontent and wretchedness. The nuns are all of quality. I think there are to the number of fifty. They have each of them a little cell perfectly clean, the walls of which are covered with pictures more or less fine, according to their quality. A long stone gallery runs by all of them, furnished with the pictures of exemplary sisters; the chapel is extremely neat, and richly adorned. Nothing can be more becoming than the dress of these nuns. It is a white robe, the sleeves of which are turned up with fine white calico, and their head-dress the same, excepting

a small veil of black crape that falls behind. They have a lower sort of serving-nuns that wait on them as their chamber-maids. They receive all visits of women, and play at ombre in their chambers with permission of their abbess, which is very easy to be obtained. I never saw an old woman so goodnatured; she is near fourscore, and yet shews very little signs of decay, being still lively and cheerful. She caressed me as if I had been her daughter, giving me some pretty things of her own work, and sweetmeats in abundance. The grate is not of the most rigid; it is not very hard to put a head through. The young count of Salamis came to the grate, while I was there, and the abbess gave him her hand to kiss. But I was surprised to find here the only beautiful young woman I have seen at Vienna, and, not only beautiful, but genteel, witty and agreeable, of a great family, and who had been the admiration of the town. I could not forbear shewing my surprise at seeing a nun like her. She made me a thousand obliging compliments, and desired me to come often. “It would be an infinite pleasure to me,’ said she sighing, “but I avoid, with the greatest care, seeing any of my former acquaintances; and, whenever they come to our convent, I lock myself in my cell.’ I observed tears come into her eyes, which touched me extremely, and I began to talk to her in that strain of tender pity she inspired me with. .............................

To Mr.Vienna, October 10, O. S. 1716. I deserve not all the reproaches you make me. If I have been some time without answering your letter, it is not that I don't know how many thanks are due to you for it, or that I am stupid enough to prefer any amusements to the pleasure of hearing from you; but after the professions of esteem you have so obligingly made me, I cannot help delaying, as long as I can, shewing you that you are mistaken. If you

« 이전계속 »