Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, was an English statesman and writer born on September 22, 1694, in London, England. He was the eldest son of Philip Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Chesterfield, and Elizabeth Savile.
Chesterfield was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and then went on to travel extensively in Europe. He entered politics in 1715 and became a member of Parliament in 1719, where he distinguished himself as an eloquent speaker and an astute politician. He was later appointed as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and then as Secretary of State for the Northern Department.
Chesterfield is also known for his writings, particularly his letters to his illegitimate son, Philip Stanhope, which were published posthumously under the title “Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman.” These letters contain advice on various topics, including politics, education, and social behavior. They were widely read and admired for their wit, style, and practical wisdom.
Chesterfield died on March 24, 1773, in London, England. He was remembered as a talented statesman and a writer whose letters continue to be read and admired today. His legacy is reflected in the many schools, buildings, and institutions named after him, including the Chesterfield Institute, the Chesterfield County in Virginia, and the town of Chesterfield in Derbyshire, England.
Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it.
If you are not in fashion, you are nobody.
A man’s own good breeding is the best security against other people’s ill manners.
The sure way to be cheated is to think one’s self more cunning than others.
A weak mind is like a microscope, which magnifies trifling things, but cannot receive great ones.
The difference between a man of sense and a fop is that the fop values himself upon his dress; and the man of sense laughs at it, at the same time he knows he must not neglect it.
Virtue knows no indulgence.
The best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.
The greater the man, the less is he opinionative, he depends upon events and circumstances.
Good sense is the foundation of good writing.
To be always intending to make a new and better life but never to find time to set about it is as to put off eating and drinking and sleeping from one day to the next until you’re dead.
An injury is much sooner forgotten than an insult.
There is a time for some things, and a time for all things; a time for great things, and a time for small things.
It is not sufficient to be a man of honor if one is not a man of prudence also.
Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.
Take care not to be severe upon the faults of others; for thou art full of faults thyself.
A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.
Pleasure is a necessary accompaniment of life, but it should not be the main object of it.
We must not let our passions destroy our judgment or overpower our reason.
Distrust interested advice.
The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.
A man who is careful with his actions and words will always make an excellent impression.
Never seem more learned than the people you are with. Wear your learning like a pocket watch and keep it hidden. Do not pull it out to count the hours, but give the time when you are asked.
It is not the quantity but the quality of knowledge which determines the mind’s dignity.
Men, as well as women, are much oftener led by their hearts than by their understandings.
A great talker is a great liar.
Advice is seldom welcome; and those who want it the most always like it the least.
Choose your pleasures for yourself, and do not let them be imposed upon you.
The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.
The less you speak of your greatness, the more the world will give you credit for it.
Every man ought to be inquisitive through every hour of his great adventure down to the day when he shall no longer cast a shadow in the sun. For if he dies without a question in his heart, what excuse is there for his continuance?