Quotation by Philip Dormer Stanhope Chesterfield, 4th Earl

Keep your hands clean and pure from the infamous vice of corruption, a vice so infamous that it degrades even the other vices that may accompany it. Accept no present whatever; let your character in that respect be transparent and without the least speck, for as avarice is the vilest and dirtiest vice in private, corruption is so in public life.
Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (1694–1773), British statesman, man of letters. Letter, undated, Chesterfield's Letters to his Son and Others, p. 306, London, Dent (1796) p. 306.

The letter was written to his godson Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl (1755-1815), a distant relative of Chesterfield's, who eventually became his heir and successor. It included instructions that it be delivered to the godson after Chesterfield's death. The godson's diplomatic career proved to be undistinguished. Though not particularly corrupt, as British ambassador to Madrid from 1784 to 1786, he was widely criticized for shirking his duties. Once again, as with his illegitimate son, Chesterfield's advice appears to have been something of a failure.
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