Of Manner and Matter – Lord Chesterfield

I suspect, that you have taken it into your head, in most cases, that the matter is all, and the manner little or nothing. If you have, undeceive yourself, and be convinced that, in everything, the manner is full as important as the matter. If you speak the sense of an angel, in bad words and with a disagreeable utterance, nobody will hear you twice, who can help it. If you write epistles as well as Cicero, but in a very bad hand, and very ill-spelled, whoever receives will laugh at them; and if you had the figure of Adonis, with an awkward air and motions, it will disgust instead of pleasing. Study manner, therefore, in everything, if you would be anything. My principal inquiries of my friends at Paris, concerning you, will be relative to  your manner of doing whatever you do. I shall not inquire whether you understand Demosthenes, Tacitus, or the Jus Publicum Imperii; but I shall inquire, whether your utterance is pleasing, your style not only pure, but elegant, your manners noble and easy, your air and address engaging: in short, whether you are a gentleman, a man of fashion and fit to keep good company, or not; for, till I am satisfied in these particulars, you and I must by no means meet; I could not possibly stand it. It is in your power to become all this at Paris, if you please.

Source: Letters to His Son by the Earl of Chesterfield, p.355-356

One Response to "Of Manner and Matter – Lord Chesterfield"

  1. Twig   May 20, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Today is ‘ Everybody Draw Mohammad’s Day’ in Facebook. I kinda felt sad for two reasons
    1) First, most of the images are very distasteful considering the generally accepted tenants of Morality. (No, I’m not universalizing morality, but there are still – like wrong accusations and pornographic descriptions of a person)

    2) Second, the most important of all, Why do the Muslims get hyper over the images of Mohammad? It’s so childish. It’s like you give a doll to a child and the child gets sentimental and even if you touch it later, she will cry – for no reason.(a terrible example, but i hope you get the point).

    Of course, the most important one being people not using their brains(sadly, Muslims occupy a lot of % in this and literally believe what is written in a stupid book around 14 years ago – like we all are going to hell, for criticizing Islam).

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    It’s hard to reason with any one who believes in a God, be it Allah, Ram or the Virgin’s son, that the notion of God in an extremely unjust world is silly.

    All religions are dogmatic, considering those outside the fold to be heretics.

    Islam is determined to convert the world to its path and take the world back into the middle ages. We hope they don’t succeed. Even if they do, it’s unlikely for the next 100 years.

    With Islam, religion occupies too big a part in the lives of people, largely through indoctrination from childhood.

    To make matters worse, we have provocative remarks from the Christian Right including the current Nazi Pope.

    Fortunately, Hindus and Christians are not that dogmatic, given more to enjoyment of worldly pleasures of this world not the one in the sky.

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