Monday, November 13, 2006


This personality may sound new to some of us but I came to know about him through my 12th class English lessons. He lived in 18th century and was the earl of Chesterfield. His name Philip Dormer Stanhope is lesser known. He is very famous for his letters to his son.i am a great admirer of Chesterfield for his language, vocabulary and style of his letters. Above all this, his exact description of how people behave, react and feel in numerous situations of life and advice regarding the same cannot be described in words (or atleast I feel so).I can safely make this statement since I have read quite a bit of him. (3 volumes of his letter collections are a part of BITS library).This blog entry is just to share one good passage from his letters.

Chesterfield on “an absent man”……
“What is commonly called an absent man is commonly either a very weak or a very affected man; but be he which he will, he is, I am sure, a very disagreeable man in company. He fails in all the common offices of civility; he seems not to know those people of today, with whom yesterday he appeared to live in intimacy. He takes no
Part in the general conversation; but, on the contrary, breaks into it from time to time
with some start of his own, as if he awoke from a dream. This is a sure indication,
either of a mind so weak that it is not able to bear above one object at a time; or so
affected, that it would be supposed to be wholly engrossed by, and directed to some very great and important objects. Sir Isaac Newton, Mr.Locke and (it may be ) five or six more
,since the creation of the world ,may have had the right to absence, from that intense thought which the things they were investigating required. But if a young man, and a man of the world, who has no such avocations to plead, will claim and exercise that right of absence in company, his pretended right should, in my mind, be turned into an involuntary absence, by his perpetual exclusion out of the company. However frivolous a company may be, still, while you are among them,do not show them by your inattention, that you think them so; but rather take their tone, and confirm in some degree to their weakness, instead of manifesting your contempt for them.”

This is a small example for his own style of expressing general issues which are easier thought than written down. So Chesterfield stands as testimony for a good guide(both for our life as well as our literary skills!).

No comments:

Post a Comment