I have seen innumerable proofs of this politeness—a politeness so little understood, or at least so little practised, among the English, that mistakes perfectly ludicrous, and which could not have failed to set my compatriots in a titter, if not in a roar, have not produced the movement of a single risible muscle, and yet the French are more prone to gaiety than are the English.
Mr. D—— and Mr. T—— dined here yesterday. The former, mild, gentlemanlike, and unostentatious, seems to forget what so many would, if similarly situated, remember with arrogance, namely, that he is immensely rich; an obliviousness that, in my opinion, greatly enhances his other merits.
Mr. T—— is little changed since I last saw him, and is well-informed, clover, and agreeable,—but his own too-evident consciousness of possessing these recommendations prevents other people from according him due merit for them.
In society, one who believes himself clever must become a hypocrite, and so conceal all knowledge of his self-complacency, if he wishes to avoid being unpopular; for woe be to him who lets the world see he thinks highly of himself, however his abilities may justify his self-approval!
The sight of Mr. T—— recalled his amiable and excellent mother to my memory. I never esteemed any woman more highly, or enjoyed the society of any other person more than hers. How many pleasant hours have I passed with her! I so well remember John Kemble fancying that if I went through a course of reading Shakspeare with his sister Mrs. T——, I should make, as he said, a fine actress; and we were to get up private theatricals at Mountjoy Forest.
In compliance with the request of Lord Blessington, I studied Shakspeare with this amiable and gifted woman for many months, which cemented a friendship between us that ended but with her life. Her method of reading was admirable; for to the grandeur of her sister Mrs. Siddons, she united a tenderness and softness, in which that great actress was said to be deficient. I never open any of the plays of Shakspeare which I studied with her without thinking I hear her voice, and I like them better for the association.
To great personal attractions, which even to the last she retained enough of to give a notion of what her beauty must have been in her youth, Mrs. T—— added a charm of manners, a cultivation of mind, and a goodness of heart seldom surpassed; and, in all the relations of life, her conduct was most praiseworthy. Even now, though six years have elapsed since her death, the recollection of it brings tears to my eyes. Good and gentle woman, may your virtues on earth find their reward in Heaven!
I passed last evening at Madame Craufurd’s, where I met Lady Charlotte Lindsay and the Misses Berry. How perfectly they answered to the description given of them by Sir William Gell; who, though exceedingly attached to all three, has not, as far as one interview permitted me to judge, overrated their agreeability! Sir William Gell has read me many letters from these ladies, replete with talent, of which their conversation reminded me.