The Absentee eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 301 pages of information about The Absentee.
eagerness of attention, and pleased by our hero’s manners and conversation; so that, to their mutual satisfaction, they spent much of their time together whilst they were at this hotel; and, meeting frequently in society in Dublin, their acquaintance every day increased and grew into intimacy—­an intimacy which was highly advantageous to Lord Colambre’s views of obtaining a just idea of the state of manners in Ireland.  Sir James Brooke had at different periods been quartered in various parts of the country—­had resided long enough in each to become familiar with the people, and had varied his residence sufficiently to form comparisons between different counties, their habits, and characteristics.  Hence he had it in his power to direct the attention of our young observer at once to the points most worthy of his examination, and to save him from the common error of travellers—­the deducing general conclusions from a few particular cases, or arguing from exceptions as if they were rules.  Lord Colambre, from his family connexions, had of course immediate introduction into the best society in Dublin, or rather into all the good society of Dublin.  In Dublin there is positively good company, and positively bad; but not, as in London, many degrees of comparison:  not innumerable luminaries of the polite world, moving in different orbits of fashion, but all the bright planets of note and name move and revolve in the same narrow limits.  Lord Colambre did not find that either his father’s or his mother’s representations of society in Dublin resembled the reality, which he now beheld.  Lady Clonbrony had, in terms of detestation, described Dublin such as it appeared to her soon after the Union; Lord Clonbrony had painted it with convivial enthusiasm, such as he saw it long and long before the Union, when first he drank claret at the fashionable clubs.  This picture, unchanged in his memory, and unchangeable by his imagination, had remained, and ever would remain, the same.  The hospitality of which the father boasted, the son found in all its warmth, but meliorated and refined; less convivial, more social; the fashion of hospitality had improved.  To make the stranger eat or drink to excess, to set before him old wine and old plate, was no longer the sum of good breeding.  The guest now escaped the pomp of grand entertainments; was allowed to enjoy ease and conversation, and to taste some of that feast of reason and that flow of soul so often talked of, and so seldom enjoyed.  Lord Colambre found a spirit of improvement, a desire for knowledge, and a taste for science and literature, in most companies, particularly among gentlemen belonging to the Irish bar; nor did he in Dublin society see any of that confusion of ranks or predominance of vulgarity of which his mother had complained.  Lady Clonbrony had assured him that, the last time she had been at the drawing-room at the Castle, a lady, whom she afterwards found to be a grocer’s wife, had turned angrily when her ladyship had accidentally trodden on her train, and had exclaimed with a strong brogue, ’I’ll thank you, ma’am, for the rest of my tail.’

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The Absentee from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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