Letters to His Son "Take Care Of The Pence; For The Pounds Will Take Care Of Themselves"

Philip DormerStanhope, Lord Chesterfield

"Take Care Of The Pence; For The Pounds Will Take Care Of Themselves"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Lord Chesterfield, in a letter to his son, dated November 6, 1747, complains at the boy's tendency to be tardy in answering his earlier missives. Lord Chesterfield chides the boy by quoting from Jonathan Swift's account of Laputan philosophers who were ". . . so wrapped up and absorbed in their abstruse speculations that they would have forgotten all the common and necessary duties of life, if they had not been reminded of them by persons who flapped them. . . ." In typical fatherly fashion, but with incisive wit and in his most attractive manner, Lord Chesterfield notes: "I do not indeed suspect you of being absorbed in abstruse speculations; but, with great submission to you, may I not suspect that levity, inattention, and too little thinking, require a flapper. . . . If my letters should happen to get to you when you are . . . doing nothing, or when you are gaping by the window, may they not be very proper flaps, to put you in mind that you might employ your time much better?" Then, adds Lord Chesterfield:

I knew once a very covetous fellow, who used frequently to say "Take care of the pence; for the pounds will take care of themselves." . . . I recommend to you to take care of the minutes; for the hours will take care of themselves.