Chesterfield, Fourth Earl of

Chesterfield, Fourth Earl of


(Philip Dormer Stanhope). Born Sept. 22,1694, in London; died there Mar. 24,1773. English writer and statesman.

Chesterfield attended Cambridge University in 1714 and 1715. In 1715 he became a member of the House of Commons, and in 1726 he entered the House of Lords and headed the opposition to the Whig cabinet of R. Walpole. He was ambassador to Holland from 1728 to 1732, lord lieutenant of Ireland in 1745 and 1746, and secretary of state from 1746 to 1748.

In 1750, Chesterfield began writing essays of manners and satirical essays, which were influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment. He entered the history of English literature as the author of Letters to His Son (published 1774, reprinted several times with additions), which contained an extensive code of admonitions and recommendations in the spirit of the pedagogical ideas of J. Locke. The narrow, practical orientation of the program of upbringing—preparation for high society and a government career—shocked many of Chesterfield’s contemporaries, but Voltaire highly praised the work both as a model of 18th-century epistolary prose and as a sincere human document. Chesterfield was also the author of Maxims and Characters (both published 1777). A number of apocryphal works are attributed to him.


Letters, vols. 1–6. Edited by B. Dobrée. London, 1932.
In Russian translation;
Pis’ma k synu. Maksimy. Kharaktery. Leningrad, 1971.


Coxon, R. Chesterfield and His Critics. London, 1925.
Shellabarger, S. Lord Chesterfield. London, 1935.


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