Are there any military orders in Saxony, and what? Is the White Eagle a Saxon or a Polish order? Upon what occasion, and when was it founded? What number of knights?
Adieu! God bless you; and may you turn out what I wish!
DEAR BOY: I must from time to time, remind you of what I have often recommended to you, and of what you cannot attend to too much; SACRIFICE TO THE GRACES. The different effects of the same things, said or done, when accompanied or abandoned by them, is almost inconceivable. They prepare the way to the heart; and the heart has such an influence over the understanding, that it is worth while to engage it in our interest. It is the whole of women, who are guided by nothing else: and it has so much to say, even with men, and the ablest men too, that it commonly triumphs in every struggle with the understanding. Monsieur de Rochefoucault, in his "Maxims," says, that 'l'esprit est souvent la dupe du coeur.' If he had said, instead of 'souvent, tresque toujours', I fear he would have been nearer the truth. This being the case, aim at the heart. Intrinsic merit alone will not do; it will gain you the general esteem of all; but not the particular affection, that is, the heart of any. To engage the affections of any particular person, you must, over and above your general merit, have some particular merit to that person by services done, or offered; by expressions of regard and esteem; by complaisance, attentions, etc., for him. And the graceful manner of doing all these things opens the way to the heart, and facilitates, or rather insures, their effects. From your own observation, reflect what a disagreeable impression an awkward address, a slovenly figure, an ungraceful manner of speaking, whether stuttering, muttering, monotony, or drawling, an unattentive behavior, etc., make upon you, at first sight, in a stranger, and how they prejudice you against him, though for aught you know, he may have great intrinsic sense and merit. And reflect, on the other hand, how much the opposites of all these things prepossess you, at first sight, in favor of those who enjoy them. You wish to find all good qualities in them, and are in some degree disappointed if you do not. A thousand little things, not separately to be defined, conspire to form these graces, this je ne sais quoi, that always please. A pretty person, genteel motions, a proper degree of dress, an harmonious voice, something open and cheerful in the countenance, but without laughing; a distinct and properly varied manner of speaking: All these things, and many others, are necessary ingredients in the composition of the pleasing je ne sais quoi, which everybody feels, though nobody can describe. Observe carefully, then, what displeases or pleases you in others, and be persuaded, that in general; the same things will please or displease them in you. Having mentioned laughing, I must particularly warn you against it: and I could heartily wish, that you may often be seen to smile, but never heard to laugh while you live. Frequent and loud laughter is the characteristic of folly and in manners; it is the manner in which the mob express their silly joy at silly things; and they call it being merry. In my mind, there is nothing so illiberal, and so ill-bred, as audible laughter. True wit, or sense, never yet made anybody laugh; they are above it: They please the mind, and give a cheerfulness to the countenance. But it is low buffoonery, or silly accidents, that always excite laughter; and that is what people of sense and breeding should show themselves above. A man's going to sit down, in the supposition that he has a chair behind him, and falling down upon his breech for want of one, sets a whole company a laughing, when all the wit in the world would not do it; a plain proof, in my mind, how low and unbecoming a thing laughter is: not to mention the disagreeable noise that it makes, and the shocking distortion of the face that it occasions. Laughter is easily restrained, by a very little reflection; but as it is generally connected with the idea of gaiety, people do not enough attend to its absurdity. I am neither of a melancholy nor a cynical disposition, and am as willing and as apt to be pleased as anybody; but I am sure that, since I have had the full use of my reason, nobody has ever heard me laugh. Many people, at first, from awkwardness and 'mauvaise honte', have got a very disagreeable and silly trick of laughing whenever they speak; and I know a man of very good parts, Mr. Waller, who cannot say the commonest thing without laughing; which makes those, who do not know him, take him at first for a natural fool. This, and many other very disagreeable habits, are owing to mauvaise honte at their first setting out in the world. They are ashamed in company, and so disconcerted, that they do not know what they do, and try a thousand tricks to keep themselves in countenance; which tricks afterward grow habitual to them. Some put their fingers in their nose, others scratch their heads, others twirl their hats; in short, every awkward, ill-bred body has his trick. But the frequency does not justify the thing, and all these vulgar habits and awkwardnesses, though not criminal indeed, are most carefully to be guarded against, as they are great bars in the way of the art of pleasing. Remember, that to please is almost to prevail, or at least a necessary previous step to it. You, who have your fortune to make, should more particularly study this art. You had not, I must tell you, when you left England, 'les manieres prevenantes'; and I must confess they are not very common in England; but I hope that your good sense will make you acquire them abroad. If you desire to make yourself considerable in the world (as, if you have any spirit, you do), it must be entirely your own doing; for I may very possibly be out of the world at the time you come into it. Your own rank and fortune will not assist you; your merit and your manners can alone raise you to figure and fortune. I have laid the foundations of them, by the education which I have given you; but you must build the superstructure yourself.
I must now apply to you for some informations, which I dare say you can, and which I desire you will give me.
Can the Elector of Saxony put any of his subjects to death for high treason, without bringing them first to their trial in some public court of justice?
Can he, by his own authority, confine any subject in prison as long as he pleases, without trial?
Can he banish any subject out of his dominions by his own authority?
Can he lay any tax whatsoever upon his subjects, without the consent of the states of Saxony? and what are those states? how are they elected? what orders do they consist of? Do the clergy make part of them? and when, and how often do they meet?