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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield (1694–1773)

Gleanings from the Letters to his Son

BE wiser than other people, if you can, but do not tell them so.

Advice is seldom welcome, and those who want it the most always like it the least.

Imitate, with discernment and judgment, the real perfections of the good company into which you may get; copy their politeness, their carriage, their address, and the easy and well-bred turn of their conversation. But remember that, let them shine ever so bright, their vices, if they have any, are so many spots, which you should no more imitate than you would make an artificial wart upon your face, because some very handsome man had the misfortune to have a natural one upon his; but, on the contrary, think how much handsomer he would have been without it.

Many great readers load their memories without exercising their judgments, and make lumber-rooms of their heads instead of furnishing them usefully.

Many young people adopt pleasures for which they have not the least taste, only because they are called by that name. They often mistake so totally, as to imagine that debauchery is pleasure. You must allow that drunkenness, which is equally destructive to body and mind, is a fine pleasure. Gambling, that draws you into a thousand scrapes, leaves you penniless, and gives you the air and manners of an outrageous madman, is another most exquisite pleasure, is it not? As to running after women, the consequences of that vice are only the loss of one’s character, the total destruction of health, and, not infrequently, the being run through the body.

Never hold anybody by the button, or the hand, in order to be heard out; for if people are not willing to hear you, you had much better hold your tongue than them.