Fathers and Sons: Lord Chesterfield’s “Letters”

In august legal offices, usually in the anteroom, it’s not uncommon to find shelves of old, serious-looking books. And if you happen to look closely at the volumes, you’re in for a treat. The first thing to understand is they have been assembled by an interior designer. This—doubtless costly—aesthetician purchases in bulk from used bookstores, often barging in some dusty shop with commands for “five medium height books in dark green,” “ten in brown, worn, but not too worn,” and so on. These texts are then carefully arranged for the client, and success is only attained when an incoming group of pettifoggers are seen to nod in dumb approval.

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