- Chesterfield Overcoat
- A chesterfield coat is a velvet-collared, single-breasted overcoat with concealed buttons reaching to the knees. The coat was designed by an Earl of Chesterfield. But which earl? There were at least five. A Chesterfield also gave his name to an overstuffed sofa and to a popular brand of cigarettes.Philip Dormer Stanhope (1694-1773), the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, was the more prominent of the earls and probably the one for whom the foregoing items were named. Stanhope was an English writer and statesman whose name beeame a symbol of elegant manners and good breeding. But he is chiefly remembered for the Letters to his son written for his illegitimate son Philip Stanhope, published in 1774, a year after the earl's death. The work offered advice on affairs, courtly etiquette, and women.Dr. Samuel Johnson, who thoroughly disliked the earl because he refused to become a patron of Johnson's Dictionary, described the Letters as "teaching the morals of a whore and the manners of a dancing master." When Chesterfield wrote favorably on the Dictionary, Johnson retorted: "Is not a patron, my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and when he has reached ground encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it." Charles Dickens caricatured Chesterfield as Sir John Chester in Barnaby Rudge (1871). The opinions of these two popular writers contributed to Chesterfield's image as a cynical man of the world and a courtier. Careful readers of Chesterfield's letters, nevertheless, consider these opinions unjustified. Johnson's diatribe was not well-received by the literati. The Letters contains homely counsel written in a witty and epigrammatical style. Among his quotations are "No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination; never put off till tomorrow what you can do today" and "Advice is seldom welcome; and those who want it the most always like it the least."
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.