Saturday, October 22, 2011
The Chesterfield Lecture
The talk I was giving was one I’d given before – how I became an historical novelist and it included snippets from my juvenilia – the six novels I wrote between the ages of ten and sixteen. I knew that Lord Chesterfield had also written: his famous letters to his illegitimate son are a mixture of worldly-wise pieces of advice and cynical and witty observations on the world. Surely they could provide me with a quotation to act as an introduction to my talk. After all, I was giving the Annual Chesterfield lecture, I felt I owed him a compliment or two.
What did he have to say on women, I wondered.
He goes on to advise his son: A man of sense only trifles with them, plays with them, humours and flatters them … but he neither consults them about, nor trusts them with, serious matters.
Hm. No, I decided, I would not be paying Lord Chesterfield a graceful compliment. I would give him a courteous but neutral mention and hope that his portrait in the next room didn’t crash to the ground in the middle of my talk in horror at hearing a mere female giving a lecture in his name.
Fortunately, the talk went very well and there were no untoward intimations of
Top: The Ranger’s House, the front entrance: courtesy, The Ranger’s House, http://www.friendsofrangershouse.org.uk/
Centre: dinner: photograph by Elizabeth Hawksley
Bottom: The Gallery, the Ranger’s House: courtesy, The Ranger’s House, www.friendsofrangershouse.org.uk