Philip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, was one of the most renowned British politicians and diplomats of the 18th century. He was also a renowned wit and author. In 1748, he wrote a letter to his son which is now considered a classic of English prose. The letter offers shrewd and timeless advice on how to be successful in life.
One of Chesterfield’s main points is that success depends on appearances as much as reality. He says that one must always put on a good show, even if it means hiding one’s true feelings or intentions. He also advises his son to be polite and respectful towards others, no matter who they are or what they may have done.
While some of Chesterfield’s advice may seem dated or even cynical, much of it is still relevant today. His insights into human nature and the importance of image are as insightful as ever. Lord Chesterfield’s letter to his son is a timeless classic that is well worth reading.
Take, for example, when Chesterfield begins his letter by stating, “I know how unwelcome advice is generally” (Chesterfield 3-4). In other words, Chesterfield knows that his son will read the letter with prejudice and so resorts to reverse psychology. This establishing of his position because it forces Phillip Stanhope to feel guilty and acknowledge his prejudice in reading the message will almost certainly succeed in prompting Chesterfield’s son to want to disprove his father and read the missive thoroughly.
Lord Chesterfield, in his letter to his son Phillip Stanhope, employs a variety of rhetorical devices to achieve his objective of getting his son to read the letter carefully. Take, for example, in the beginning of the letter Chesterfield writes “I know how unwelcome advice generally is” (Chesterfield 3-4), or in other words Chesterfield is already aware his son will read the letter with a prejudice therefore resorts to using reverse psychology.
This establishing of his position, because it requires Phillip Stanhope to feel guilty, and admit his prejudice to reading the letter, is a tactic that will likely succeed in getting Chesterfield’s son to want to prove his father wrong and proceed to reading the letter diligently.
Lord Chesterfield cleverly weaves in his own experiences throughout the letter as a way to make his advice more relatable and digestible for Phillip Stanhope. He writes “I am now going to give you some account of myself, when I was about your age” (Chesterfield 6), which serves two purposes. Firstly, it let’s Phillip Stanhope know that his father was once in his shoes and had to learn the same lessons, so he should be open to what Chesterfield has to say. Secondly, it grounds the advice in reality by making it personal instead of just coming off as lectures.
The multi-faceted Lord Chesterfield also uses flattery throughout the letter as a way to make his son more receptive to the advice. For instance, he writes “You have many excellent qualities, which I hope you will never change” (Chesterfield 9), and later on “I am very sensible of your good sense” (Chesterfield 17). This type of compliment is disarming for Phillip Stanhope and gets him to let down his guard so that he is more likely to listen to what Lord Chesterfield has to say.
Lord Chesterfield employs a variety of rhetorical devices in order to get his son Phillip Stanhope to read the letter carefully. He starts off by acknowledging that his son will be prejudiced against the letter, and then goes on to use his own experiences and flattery as a way to make his son more receptive to the advice. These devices are effective in getting Lord Chesterfield’s message across and likely succeed in getting Phillip Stanhope to read the letter carefully.
Furthermore, Philip Stanhope is lured by Chesterfield’s ruse because he continues to read the letter meticulously and Chesterfield writes “I flatter myself that your reason young as it is,” a clear disinterest in his opinion’, a technique all parents enjoy using on their children; Chesterfield pretending to care about his son’s view when he doesn’t.
Lord Chesterfield effectively uses reverse psychology in order to get Philip Stanhope to comply with his wishes. Interestingly, Lord Chesterfield also tries to appeal to Philip Stanhope’s vanity in the letter by writing “the great and good will be civil to you, and all the world will envy you” (Chesterfield 21), hoping that Philip Stanhope will become more interested in pleasing others because of the prospect of admiration.
This line from Lord Chesterfield also foreshadows the idea that Lord Chesterfield expects his son to one day become a politician. Lord Chesterfield is successful in getting Philip Stanhope to agree with him, but does not seem very interested in developing a father-son relationship with his son.
In the end, Lord Chesterfield’s letter is more of a lesson in manipulation than anything else. Lord Chesterfield is successful in getting Philip Stanhope to agree with him, but does not seem very interested in developing a father-son relationship with his son. In the end, Lord Chesterfield’s letter is more of a lesson in manipulation than anything else.
Lord Chesterfield’s letter is a perfect example of how to use reverse psychology and appeal to someone’s vanity in order to get them to do what you want. While Lord Chesterfield may not have been the best father, he was certainly skilled at getting people to do what he wanted.
In the center of the letter, Chesterfield warns his son against depending on him in order to emphasize the need of a good reputation. Take, for example, Chesterfield’s statement “I do not therefore so much as hint your dependence on me” (Chesterfield 30-32), which means “You rely on me and will be nothing without me to help you.” This threat to Philip Stanhope’s dependency on his father, which will make him anxious, is a technique that is likely to succeed in getting Philip Stanhope to acknowledge his reliance on his father.
The Lord Chesterfield Letter to His Son is a letter written by Lord Chesterfield to his son, Philip Stanhope. The letter was written in order to help Philip Stanhope prepare for the real world and the challenges that come with it.
In the letter, Lord Chesterfield stresses the importance of having a good reputation and being respected by others. He also warns his son about the dangers of dependency and how it can hinder one’s ability to be successful in life. Ultimately, Lord Chesterfield’s main goal is to help his son become a successful and well-respected individual in the world.