2004 AP question 1

Question 1
(Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts one-third of the total essay section score.)
The passage below is an excerpt from a letter written by the eighteenth-century author Lord Chesterfield to his
young son, who was traveling far from home. Read the passage carefully. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze how
the rhetorical strategies that Chesterfield uses reveal his own values.
Dear Boy, Bath, October 4, 1746
Though I employ so much of my time in writing
to you, I confess I have often my doubts whether
it is to any purpose. I know how unwelcome advice
generally is; I know that those who want it most, like
5 it and follow it least; and I know, too, that the advice
of parents, more particularly, is ascribed to the
moroseness, the imperiousness, or the garrulity of
old age. But then, on the other hand, I flatter myself,
that as your own reason, though too young as yet to
10 suggest much to you of itself, is however, strong
enough to enable you, both to judge of, and receive
plain truths: I flatter myself (I say) that your own
reason, young as it is, must tell you, that I can have no
interest but yours in the advice I give you; and that
15 consequently, you will at least weigh and consider it
well: in which case, some of it will, I hope, have its
effect. Do not think that I mean to dictate as a parent;
I only mean to advise as a friend, and an indulgent
one too: and do not apprehend that I mean to check
20 your pleasures; of which, on the contrary, I only
desire to be the guide, not the censor. Let my
experience supply your want of it, and clear your
way, in the progress of your youth, of those thorns
and briars which scratched and disfigured me in the
25 course of mine. I do not, therefore, so much as hint to
you, how absolutely dependent you are upon me; that
you neither have, nor can have a shilling in the world
but from me; and that, as I have no womanish weakness
for your person, your merit must, and will, be
30 the only measure of my kindness. I say, I do not hint
these things to you, because I am convinced that
you will act right, upon more noble and generous
principles: I mean, for the sake of doing right, and
out of affection and gratitude to me.
35 I have so often recommended to you attention
and application to whatever you learn, that I do not
mention them now as duties; but I point them out to
you as conducive, nay, absolutely necessary to your
pleasures; for can there be a greater pleasure than to
40 be universally allowed to excel those of one’s own
age and manner of life? And, consequently, can there
be anything more mortifying than to be excelled by
them? In this latter case, your shame and regret must
be greater than anybody’s, because everybody knows
45 the uncommon care which has been taken of your
education, and the opportunities you have had of
knowing more than others of your age. I do not
confine the application which I recommend, singly to
the view and emulation of excelling others (though
50 that is a very sensible pleasure and a very warrantable
pride); but I mean likewise to excel in the thing itself;
for, in my mind, one may as well not know a thing at
all, as know it but imperfectly. To know a little of
anything, gives neither satisfaction nor credit; but
55 often brings disgrace or ridicule.
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