If you have vowed to anybody there one of those eternal passions which I have sometimes known, by great accident, last three months, I can tell you that without great attention, infinite politeness, and engaging air and manners, the omens will be sinister, and the goddess unpropitious. Pray tell me what are the amusements of those assemblies? Are they little commercial play, are they music, are they 'la belle conversation', or are they all three? 'Y file-t-on le parfait amour? Y debite-t-on les beaux sentimens? Ou est-ce yu'on y parle Epigramme? And pray which is your department? 'Tutis depone in auribus'. Whichever it is, endeavor to shine and excel in it. Aim at least at the perfection of everything that is worth doing at all; and you will come nearer it than you would imagine; but those always crawl infinitely short of it whose aim is only mediocrity. Adieu.
P. S. By an uncommon diligence of the post, I have this moment received yours of the 9th, N. S.
LONDON, October 24, O. S. 1749.
DEAR BOY: By my last I only acknowledged, by this I answer, your letter of the 9th October, N. S.
I am very glad that you approved of my letter of September the 12th, O. S., because it is upon that footing that I always propose living with you. I will advise you seriously, as a friend of some experience, and I will converse with you cheerfully as a companion; the authority of a parent shall forever be laid aside; for, wherever it is exerted, it is useless; since, if you have neither sense nor sentiments enough to follow my advice as a friend, your unwilling obedience to my orders as a father will be a very awkward and unavailing one both to yourself and me. Tacitus, speaking of an army that awkwardly and unwillingly obeyed its generals only from the fear of punishment, says, they obeyed indeed, 'Sed ut qua mallent jussa Imperatorum interpretari, quam exequi'. For my own part, I disclaim such obedience.
You think, I find, that you do not understand Italian; but I can tell you, that, like the 'Bourgeois Gentilhomme', who spoke prose without knowing it, you understand a great deal, though you do not know that you do; for whoever understands French and Latin so well as you do, understands at least half the Italian language, and has very little occasion for a dictionary. And for the idioms, the phrases, and the delicacies of it, conversation and a little attention will teach them you, and that soon; therefore, pray speak it in company, right or wrong, 'a tort ou a travers', as soon as ever you have got words enough to ask a common question, or give a common answer. If you can only say 'buon giorno', say it, instead of saying 'bon jour', I mean to every Italian; the answer to it will teach you more words, and insensibly you will be very soon master of that easy language. You are quite right in not neglecting your German for it, and in thinking that it will be of more use to you; it certainly will, in the course of your business; but Italian has its use too, and is an ornament into the bargain; there being many very polite and good authors in that language. The reason you assign for having hitherto met with none of my swarms of Germans in Italy, is a very solid one; and I can easily conceive, that the expense necessary for a traveler must amount to a number of thalers, groschen, and kreutzers, tremendous to a German fortune. However, you will find several at Rome, either ecclesiastics, or in the suite of the Imperial Minister; and more, when you come into the Milanese, among the Queen of Hungary's officers. Besides, you have a Saxon servant, to whom I hope you speak nothing but German.
I have had the most obliging letter in the world from Monsieur Capello, in which he speaks very advantageously of you, and promises you his protection at Rome. I have wrote him an answer by which I hope I have domesticated you at his hotel there; which I advise you to frequent as much as you can. 'Il est vrai qui'il ne paie pas beaucaup de sa figure'; but he has sense and knowledge at bottom, with a great experience of business, having been already Ambassador at Madrid, Vienna, and London. And I am very sure that he will be willing to give you any informations, in that way, that he can.
Madame was a capricious, whimsical, fine lady, till the smallpox, which she got here, by lessening her beauty, lessened her humors too; but, as I presume it did not change her sex, I trust to that for her having such a share of them left, as may contribute to smooth and polish you. She, doubtless, still thinks that she has beauty enough remaining to entitle her to the attentions always paid to beauty; and she has certainly rank enough to require respect. Those are the sort of women who polish a young man the most, and who give him that habit of complaisance, and that flexibility and versatility of manners which prove of great use to him with men, and in the course of business.