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Monday, October 01, 2007


(Para compensar o atraso na discussão da tertúlia, Chesterfield trazido das gavetas lá de baixo)

London, May 27, 1753.
My dear friend: I have this day been tired, jaded, nay, tormented, by the company of a most worthy, sensible, and learned man, a near relation of mine, who dined and passed the evening with me. This seems a paradox, but is a plain truth; he has no knowledge of the world, no manners, no address; far from talking without book, as is commonly said of people who talk sillily, he only talks by book; which in general conversation is ten times worse He has formed in his own closet from books, certain systems of everything, argues tenaciously upon those principles, and is both surprised and angry at what­ever deviates from them. His theories are good, but, un­fortunately, are all impracticable. Why? because he has only read and not conversed. He is acquainted with books, and an absolute stranger to men. Laboring with his mat­ter, he is delivered of it with pangs; he hesitates, stops in his utterance, and always expresses himself inelegantly. His actions are all ungraceful; so that, with all his merit and knowledge, I would rather converse six hours with the most frivolous tittle-tattle woman who knew something of the world, than with him. The preposterous notions of a systematical man who does not know the world, tire the patience of a man who does. It would be endless to correct his mistakes, nor would he take it kindly: for he has considered everything deliberately, and is very sure that he is in the right. Impropriety is a characteristic, and a lever-failing one, of these people. Regardless because ignorant, of customs and manners, they violate them every moment. They often shock, though they never mean to offend: never attending either to the general character, or the particular distinguishing circumstances of the people to whom, or before whom they talk; whereas the knowledge of the world teaches one, that the very same things which are exceedingly right and proper in one company, time and place, are exceedingly absurd in others. In short, a man has great knowledge, from experience and observation, of the characters, customs, and manners of mankind, is a being as different from, and as superior to, a man of mere book and systematical knowledge, as a well-managed horse is to an ass…”

Lord Chesterfield, Letter CLXXXVII

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