Philip Stanhope (4th Earl of Chesterfield)
Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, was a statesman and man of letters who visited Bath regularly for a period of thirty years, living at 3A and 4 Pierrepont Street. He came to the city primarily for health reasons; the waters, he hoped, would assuage his gout and dispel the vapours. But he enjoyed himself, too—gambling, strolling along the parades, and attending the balls at the old Assembly Rooms. On one of these latter occasions he witnessed a haughty couple, both members of the nobility, gravely dancing a minuet; and later told a friend: ‘They looked as if they were hired to do it, and were doubtful of being paid’.
For many years he wrote regularly to his natural son, Philip Stanhope, giving him paternal advice on manners, duty and deportment. The letters—several of them addressed from Bath—are written in elegant, intimate style that perfectly reflects the social atmosphere of the eighteenth century; since they were collected and published, they have been widely recognised as Chesterfield’s major literary work. Dr Johnson, however, thought otherwise; they were, he said, disgraceful and ‘taught the morals of a whore, and the manners of a dancing master’. They can nevertheless, still be read with a great deal of enjoyment.