Philip Dormer Stanhope, Fourth Earl of Chesterfield 1694–1773

  • Ian McGowan
Part of the St. Martin’s Anthologies of English Literature book series (AEL)


Chesterfield, a significant statesman and a friend of Scriblerian writers, is now best remembered as the recipient of Johnson’s letter of defiance (p. 346), and for his letters to his natural son (publ. 1774; other letters to a godson publ. 1890). The letters were private advice to an evidently diffident and stupid boy (b. 1732) on how to behave as a gentleman; the degree of calculation and restraint required makes them a fascinating social document. Despite wide respect, Johnson said that they ‘teach the morals of a whore and the manners of a dancing-master’. At any rate, they are the elegant product of a worldly mind.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc. 1989

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  • Ian McGowan

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