"Do As You Would Be Done By"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In Lord Chesterfield's letters to his illegitimate son there is a constant emphasizing of the rules by which a young man rises in the world. Due attention is directed to intelligence and ability, but the most important quality a young man can have, according to the earl, is the ability to please. He therefore begins the letter of October 16, 1747, by telling his son to pay constant attention to pleasing; he says that the best way to do so is by observing the Golden Rule. He begins the letter thus:

Dear Boy: The art of pleasing is a very necessary one to possess; but a very difficult one to acquire. It can hardly be reduced to rules; and your own good sense and observation will teach you more of it than I can. Do as you would be done by, is the surest method that I know of pleasing. Observe carefully what pleases you in others, and probably the same thing in you will please others. If you are pleased with the complaisance and attention of others to your humors, your tastes, or your weaknesses, depend upon it the same complaisance and attention, on your part to theirs, will equally please them. Take the tone of the company that you are in, and do not pretend to give it; be serious, gay, or even trifling, as you find the present humor of the company; this is an attention due from every individual to the majority. . . .