As clever people cannot elevate the mass with which they herd to their own level, they are apt to sink to theirs; and persons with talents that might have served for nobler purposes are suffered to degenerate into diseurs de bons mots and raconteurs de societe, content with the paltry distinction of being considered amusing. How many such have I encountered, satisfied with being pigmies, who might have grown to be giants, but who were consoled by the reflection that in that world in which their sole aim is to shine, pigmies are more tolerated than giants, as people prefer looking down to looking up!
Lord Allen and Sir Andrew Barnard dined here yesterday. They appear to enter into the gaiety of Paris with great zest, go the round of the theatres, dine at all the celebrated restaurateurs, mix enough in the beau monde to be enabled to observe the difference between the Parisian and London one, and will, at the expiration of the term assigned to their sejour here, return to England well satisfied with their trip and with themselves.
Lord A—— has tasted all the nouveaux plats a la mode, for at Paris new dishes are as frequently invented as new bonnets or caps; and the proficiency in the culinary art which he has acquired will render him an oracle at his clubs, until the more recent arrival of some other epicurean from the French capital deposes his brief sovereignty.
But it is not in the culinary art alone that Lord Allen evinces his good taste, for no one is a better judge of all that constitutes the agremens of life, or more au fait of the [* omitted word?] of contributing to them.
Sir A. B——, as devoted as ever to music, has heard all the new, and finds that the old, like old friends, loses nothing by comparison. It is pleasant to see that the advance of years impairs not the taste for a refined and innocent pleasure.
Mr. Rogers and Mr. Luttrell spent last evening here. The minds of both teem with reflection, and their conversation is a high intellectual treat to me. There is a repose in the society of clever and refined Englishmen to be met with in no other: the absence of all attempts to shine, or at least of the evidence of such attempts; the mildness of the manners; the low voices, the freedom from any flattery, except the most delicate and acceptable of all to a fastidious person, namely, that implied by the subjects of conversation chosen, and the interest yielded to them;—yes, these peculiarities have a great charm for me, and Mr. Rogers and Mr. Luttrell possess them in an eminent degree.
The mercurial temperaments of the French preclude them from this calmness of manner and mildness of speech. More obsequiously polite and attentive to women, the exuberance of their animal spirits often hurries them into a gaiety evinced by brilliant sallies and clever observations. They shine, but they let the desire to do so be too evident to admit of that quietude that forms one of the most agreeable, as well as distinguishing, attributes of the conversation of a refined and highly-intellectual Englishman.