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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield (1694–1773)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
AS the best representative of a creditable type among English noblemen in the reign of George II.,—an accomplished courtier, a diplomatic statesman worthy of reliance on occasions of emergency, a scholar, and a patron of literature,—Philip Dormer Stanhope, fourth earl of Chesterfield, occupied a prominent place in the history of his country for more than forty years. He was the eldest son of Philip, third earl, and was born at London in 1694. Most of his boyhood was spent under the care of his grandmother, the Marchioness of Halifax. When eighteen, he was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, and became “an excellent classical scholar.” The principal events in his public career were his election to Parliament in his twenty-first year; his appointment as Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard in return for a political vote; his selection for special service as Ambassador to The Hague after his succession to the family title; his appointment as Lord High Steward, with the Garter, as a reward for his success in Holland; his expulsion from that position by Horace Walpole for political disobedience in opposing an excise bill; his second successful mission to The Hague; his selection, as a reward, for the responsible post of Viceroy in Ireland, and subsequently his resignation and acceptance of office as Secretary of State, this latter appointment being taken when the Earl had reached his fiftieth year. Chesterfield was first a warm friend, then a bitter enemy of Horace Walpole. He also antagonized George II., but that monarch finally succumbed to diplomatic treatment at his hands and offered his former antagonist a dukedom, which was courteously declined. In his fifty-eighth year, partial deafness caused him to withdraw almost wholly from public affairs. In diplomacy, his successful missions to The Hague made him strong with officials in power. His ability as a statesman was shown to great advantage in a firm yet popular administration of Irish affairs during a critical period in Irish history. As a patron of literature, Dr. Samuel Johnson deemed him a distinct failure, and expressed this opinion forcibly to that effect in his celebrated letter. His literary reputation rests chiefly on letters addressed to his natural son Philip, who died in his thirty-sixth year, greatly to his father’s disappointment, he having looked forward to a great career for the young man. His letters of counsel and advice were to that end; oddly, they left the recipient still shy, awkward, tactless, and immature. These epistles, not intended for public perusal, were subsequently printed in book form.  1
  The Earl of Chesterfield died in 1773. Four years after his death, ‘Miscellaneous Works’ were published in two volumes, also ‘Characters.’ ‘The Art of Pleasing’ and ‘Letters to His Heir’ appeared ten years from the date of his decease, and this was followed, a few months later, by ‘Memoirs of Asiaticus.’  2

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