Quotes by Lord Chesterfield

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The Earls of Chesterfield were an aristocratic family from Derbyshire, England. Their ancestral seat is Bretby Hall at Bretby, Derbyshire, and their family name is "Stanhope". Upon the death of the thirteenth Earl, the title became extinct, as no more male descendants of the first Earl were living.

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I am convinced that a light supper, a good night's sleep, and a fine morning, have sometimes made a hero of the same man, who, by an indigestion, a restless night, and rainy morning, would have proved a coward.

Whoever is admitted or sought for, in company, upon any other account than that of his merit and manners, is never respected there, but only made use of. We will have such-a-one, for he sings prettily; we will invite such-a-one to a ball, for he dances well; we will have such-a-one at supper, for he is always joking and laughing; we will ask another because he plays deep at all games, or because he can drink a great deal. These are all vilifying distinctions, mortifying preferences, and exclude all ideas of esteem and regard. Whoever is had (as it is called) in company for the sake of any one thing singly, is singly that thing, and will never be considered in any other light; consequently never respected, let his merits be what they will.
Great merit, or great failings, will make you respected or despised; but trifles, little attentions, mere nothings, either done or neglected, will make you either liked or disliked in the general run of the world.
A constant smirk upon the face, and a whiffing activity of the body, are strong indications of futility.
Horse-play, romping, frequent and loud fits of laughter, jokes, and indiscriminate familiarity, will sink both merit and knowledge into a degree of contempt. They compose at most a merry fellow; and a merry fellow was never yet a respectable man.
Wrongs are often forgiven, but contempt never is. Our pride remembers it forever. It implies a discovery of weakness, which we are more careful to conceal than a crime. Many a man will confess his crimes to a friend; but I never knew a man that would tell his silly weaknesses to his most intimate one.
Women who are either indisputably beautiful, or indisputably ugly, are best flattered upon the score of their understandings; but those who are in a state of mediocrity are best flattered upon their beauty, or at least their graces: for every woman who is not absolutely ugly, thinks herself handsome.
Firmness of purpose is one of the most necessary sinews of character, and one of the best instruments of success. Without it genius wastes its efforts in a maze of inconsistencies.
As fathers commonly go, it is seldom a misfortune to be fatherless; and considering the general run of sons, as seldom a misfortune to be childless.
When a person is in fashion, all they do is right.
There is a sort of veteran woman of condition, who, having lived always in the grand monde, and having possibly had some gallantries, together with the experience of five and twenty or thirty years, form a young fellow better than all the rules that can be given him. Wherever you go, make some of those women your friends; which a very little matter will do. Ask their advice, tell them your doubts or difficulties as to your behavior; but take great care not to drop one word of their experience; for experience implies age, and the suspicion of age, no woman, let her be ever so old, ever forgives.
Our own self-love draws a thick veil between us and our faults.
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.
Any affectation whatsoever in dress implies, in my mind, a flaw in the understanding.
The only solid and lasting peace between a man and his wife is, doubtless, a separation.
Custom has made dancing sometimes necessary for a young man; therefore mind it while you learn it, that you may learn to do it well, and not be ridiculous, though in a ridiculous act.
Take the tone of the company you are in.
For my own part, I would rather be in company with a dead man than with an absent one; for if the dead man gives me no pleasure, at least he shows me no contempt; whereas the absent one, silently indeed, but very plainly, tells me that he does not think me worth his attention.
Character must be kept bright as well as clean.
Be your character what it will, it will be known; and nobody will take it upon your word.
No man tastes pleasures truly, who does not earn them by previous business; and few people do business well, who do nothing else.
Men will not believe because they will not broaden their minds.
Most maxim-mongers have preferred the prettiness to the justness of a thought, and the turn to the truth; but I have refused myself to everything that my own experience did not justify and confirm.
To have frequent recourse to narrative betrays great want of imagination.
The scholar without good breeding is a nitpicker; the philosopher a cynic; the soldier a brute and everyone else disagreeable.
The heart never grows better by age; I fear rather worse, always harder. A young liar will be an old one, and a young knave will only be a greater knave as he grows older.
In matters of religion and matrimony I never give any advice; because I will not have anybody's torments in this world or the next laid to my charge.
A wise man will live as much within his wit as within his income.
The more one works, the more willing one is to work.