17. TO HIS SONAs good a refutation of the identitarian creed as any. The individual is not the average. Populations always have a distribution. Focus on the individual, not the average.
Dublin Castle, April 5, 1746
Before it is very long, I am of opinion that you will both think and speak more favourably of women than you do now. You seem to think that from Eve downwards they have done a great deal of mischief. As for that Lady, I give her up to you: but, since her time, history will inform you, that men have done much more mischief in the world than women; and, to say
the truth, I would not advise you to trust either, more than is absolutely necessary.
But this I will advise you to, which is, never to attack whole bodies of any kind; for, besides that all general rules have their exceptions, you unnecessarily make yourself a great number of enemies, by attacking a corps collectively. Among women, as among men, there are good as well as bad; and it may be full as many, or more, good than among men. This rule holds as to lawyers, soldiers, parsons, courtiers, citizens, etc. They are all men, subject to the same passions and sentiments, differing only in the manner, according to their several educations; and it would be as imprudent as unjust to attack any of them by the lump. Individuals forgive sometimes; but bodies and societies never do.
Many young people think it very genteel and witty to abuse the Clergy; in which they are extremely mistaken; since, in my opinion, parsons are very like other men, and neither the better nor the worse for wearing a black gown. All general reflections, upon nations and societies, are the trite, thread-bare jokes of those who set up for wit without having any, and so have recourse to commonplace. Judge of individuals from your own knowledge of them, and not from their sex, profession, or denomination. Though at my return, which I hope will be very soon, I shall not find your feet lengthened, I hope I shall find your head a good deal so, and then I shall not much mind your feet. In two or three months after my return, you and I shall part for some time; you must go to read men as well as books, of all languages and nations. Observation and reflection will then be very necessary for you. We will talk this matter over fully when we meet; which I hope will be in the last week of this month; till when, I have the honour of being
Your most faithful servant.
If only they were teaching Chesterfield rather than identity politics in school today, the world would be a better place.