Monday, December 13, 2010

Behaving Like a Beast

Lord Chesterfield, Letters to His Son, CC (London, November 3, O.S. 1749):
Suppose you and me alone together; I believe you will allow that I have as good a right to unlimited freedom in your company, as either you or I can possibly have in any other; and I am apt to believe too, that you would indulge me in that freedom, as far as anybody would. But notwithstanding this, do you imagine that I should think there were no bounds to that freedom? I assure you, I should not think so; and I take myself to be as much tied down by a certain degree of good manners to you, as by other degrees of them to other people. Were I to show you, by a manifest inattention to what you said to me, that I was thinking of something else the whole time; were I to yawn extremely, snore, or break wind in your company, I should think that I behaved myself to you like a beast, and should not expect that you would care to frequent me.
We may safely conclude, then, that Lord Chesterfield never said to his son, "Pull my finger, dear boy."

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