OR, A NEW OFFICE OF INITIATION, FOR ALL YOUTHS OF THE SUPERIOR CLASS
BEING A SUMMARY OF LORD CHESTERFIELD’S CREED.
I BELIEVE, that this world is the object of my hopes and morals; and that the little prettinesses of life will answer all the ends of human existence.
I believe, that we are to succeed in all things, by the graces of civility and attention; that there is no sin, but against good manners; and that all religion and virtue consist in outward appearance.
I believe, that all women are children, and all men fools; except a few cunning people, who see through the rest, and make their use of them.
I believe, that hypocrisy, fornication, and adultery, are within the lines of morality: that a woman may be honourable when she has lost her honour, and virtuous when she has lost her virtue.
This, and whatever else is necessary to obtain my own ends, and bring me into repute, I resolve to follow; and to avoid all moral offences: such as scratching my head before company, spitting upon the floor, and omitting to pick up a lady’s fan. And in this persuasion I will persevere, without any regard to the resurrection of the body or the life everlasting. Amen.
Quest. Wilt thou be initiated into these principles?
Ans. That is my inclination.
Quest. Wilt thou keep up to the rules of the Chesterfield morality?
Answ. I will, lord Chesterfield being my admonisher.
Then the Officiator shall say,
Name this child.
Answ. A fine gentleman.
Then he shall say,
“I introduce thee to the world, the flesh and the devil, that thou mayest triumph over all awkwardness, and grow up in all politeness; that thou mayest be acceptable to the ladies, celebrated for refined breeding, able to speak French and read Italian, invested with some public supernumerary character in a foreign court, get into parliament (perhaps into the privy council), and that, when thou art dead, the letters written to thy bastards may be published, in seven editions, for the instruction of all sober families.
“Ye are to take care, that this child, when he is of a proper age, be brought to court, to be confirmed.”
Augustus M. Toplady, The Works of Augustus M. Toplady, (London; Edinburgh: William Baynes and Son; H. S. Baynes, 1825), 4:464–465.