Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694- 1773) was a British statesman and a man of letters. His relative James Stanhope, the king's favorite minister, procured for him the place of gentleman of the bedchamber to the Prince of Wales. In spite of his brilliant talents and of the admirable training he received, his life, on the whole, cannot be pronounced a success. Short as it was, Chesterfield's Irish administration was of great service to his country, and is unquestionably that part of his political life which does him most honor. Chesterfield was selfish, calculating and contemptuous; he was not naturally generous, and he practised dissimulation until it became part of his nature. As a politician and statesman, his fame rests on his short but brilliant administration of Ireland. As an author he was a clever essayist and epigrammatist. But he stands or fails by the Letters to his Son (1774) and the Letters to his Godson (1890). The Letters are brilliantly written, full of elegant wisdom, of keen wit, of admirable portrait-painting, of exquisite observation and deduction.
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