Context: The Earl of Chesterfield had high hopes for his illegitimate son's rising above his birth and becoming an eminent man whose talents would be so great that his base birth would be overlooked. Motivated by the desire to see his son get ahead in the world, the earl wrote a long series of letters to him. These letters constitute both a book of manners and a manual on how to succeed in life. One element of the man of affairs lacking in the son's make-up was grace, and this element the earl tirelessly emphasized. And so he begins the letter of March 9, 1746, by conjuring him to sacrifice to the Graces, as grace leads to women's hearts. The earl constantly counselled his son to cultivate the wives of prominent men, as they are usually extremely helpful, when well disposed, in aiding the rise of an aspiring young man.
Dear Boy: I must from time to time, remind you of what I have often recommended to you, and of what you cannot attend to too much; SACRIFICE TO THE GRACES. The different effects of the same things, said or done, when accompanied or abandoned by them, is almost inconceivable. They prepare the way to the heart; and the heart has such an influence over the understanding, that it is worth while to engage it in our interest. It is the whole of women, who are guided by nothing else: and it has much to say, even with men, and the ablest men too, that it commonly triumphs in every struggle with the understanding. . . .