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That Countess D'Orsay had also incurred some debts, and required a sum of £10,000, or thereabouts, to discharge the same; that Charles John Gardiner had incurred some debts, secured by judgments on the Tyrone estates, amounting to £10,000; and that Countess D'Orsay had entered into an agreement to purchase all the interests and claims of the several parties to whom bequests were made, and debts were due, and that to pay off said incumbrances and liabilities, a sum of £120,500, applicable to the purchase of Count D'Orsay's annuities, and some other purposes, would be required. By a subsequent agreement the latter sum was raised to £180,000, “ and such other sums as might be found necessary,” among other objects for securing to Count D'Orsay, within a period of ten years, a sum of £42,000.

Eventually, by two orders of the Court of Chancery, one of the 6th February, 1845, and another the 13th February, 1846, it was decreed, the trustees, when the sanction of an act should be procured, would be empowered to make sales of several estates to the amount of £350,000, to pay off all incumbrances and claims.

The act for the sale of the Blessington estates was passed in 1846. Its provisions have been duly carried into execution. Of the vast estates of the Mountjoys there remains a small remnant of landed property in Tyrone, to be still disposed of.

Lord Blessington by his will put an end to the wealth, honour, and territorial greatness of the ancient race of the Mountjoys.

Thus passes away the glory of “ the English Pale” in Ireland.

150

CHAPTER VII.

CONVERSATIONAL POWERS OF DISTINGUISHED PERSONS

SEAMORE PLACE AND GORE HOUSE LITERARY CIRCLES

RIVAL SALONS OF HOLLAND HOUSE, AND REUNIONS AT
THE COUNTESS OF CHARLEVILLE'S RESIDENCE OF LADY
BLESSINGTON AT SEAMORE PLACE FROM 1832 to 1836,
AND AT GORE HOUSE, KENSINGTON GORE, FROM 1836
TO APRIL, 1849.

ABOUT twenty years ago there were three circles of fashionable society in London, wherein the intellectual celebrities of the time did chiefly congregate. Three very remarkable women presided over them ; the Countess of Blessington, the Countess of Charleville, and Lady Holland. The qualities, mental and personal, of the ladies, differed very much: but their tastes concurred in one particular; each of them sought to make society in her house as agreeable as possible, to bring together as much ability, wit, and intellectual acquirements, as could be assembled and associated advantageously--and endeavoured, in her circle, to make men of letters, art, or science, who had been previously unacquainted, or estranged, or disposed to stand aloof from their fellows, think kindly and favourably of one another. I am not quite sure, however, that a very kindly feeling towards each other prevailed among the rival queens of London literary society.

The power and influence of Lady Blessington's intellectual qualities consisted chiefly in her conversational talents. It would be difficult to point out any particular excellence, and

to say that one constituted the peculiar charm of her conversation.

It was something of frankness and archness, without the least mixture of ill nature, in everything she said, of enjouement in every thought she uttered, of fullness of confidence in the outspeaking of her sentiments, and the apparent absence of every arriere pensée in her mind, while she laughed out unpremeditated ideas, and bon mots spontaneously elicited, in such joyous tones, that it might be said she seldom talked without a smile-at least on her lips; it was something of felicity in her mode of expression, and freedom in it from all

reserve, superadded to the effect produced by singular loveliness of face, expressiveness of look and gesture, and gracefulness of form and manner, that constituted the peculiar charm of the conversation of Lady Blessington.

She seldom spoke at any length, never bored her hearers with disquisitions, nor dogmatized on any subject, and very rarely played the learned lady in her discourse. She conversed with all around her in "a give and take” mode of interchange of sentiments, that reminded one of Luttrell's description of the talk of his hero, Charles, in “Advice to Julia :"

“Seldom embarrassed, never slow,

His maxim always 'touch and go ;'
From
grave
to gay,

he ran with ease,
Secure alike, in both to please."

She expressed her opinions in short, smart, and telling sentences ; brilliant things were thrown off with the utmost ease; one bon mot followed another, without pause or effort, for a minute or two, and then, while her wit and humour were producing their desired effect, she would take care, by an apt word or gesture, provocative of mirth and communicativeness

, to draw out the persons who were best fitted to shine in

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company, and leave no intelligence, however humble, without affording it an opportunity and an encouragement to make some display, even in a single trite remark, or telling observation, in the course of conversation.

How well Lady Blessington understood the excellencies and art of brilliant and effective conversation, may be noticed in the following observation :

“The conversation of Lamartine," says Lady Blessington, “is lively and brilliant. He is, I am persuaded, as amiable as he is clever, with great sensibility, which is indicated in his countenance, as well as it is proved in his works ; he possesses sufficient tact to conceal, in general society, every attribute peculiar to the poetical temperament, and to appear only as a well-informed, well-bred, sensible man of the world. This tact is probably the result of his diplomatic career, which, compelling a constant friction with society, has induced the adoption of its usages.

We are told that "books which make one think," are most valued by people of high intelligence; but conversation which makes one think, I do not imagine was the description of discourse which would tell best in the salons, even of Gore House, when it was most frequented by eminent literary men, artists, and state politicians. Conversation, which makes one laugh, which tickles the imagination, which drives rapidly

, pleasantly, and lightly over the mind, and makes no deep impression on the road of the understanding—which produces oblivion of passing cares, and amuses for the time being—is the enjoyment in reality that is sought in what is called the brilliant circles of literature and of art-à-la-mode :

“Where—while men sneered, or quizzed, or flirted,

The world-half angry, was diverted.” How does the conversation of such circles tally with the taste for reading referred to in the following passage ?

* The Idler in Italy, Par, ed. p. 372, 1839.

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“I, for my own part,” says Archdeacon Hare, “ have ever gained the most profit, and the most pleasure also, from the books which have made me think the most; and when the difficulties have once been overcome, these are the books which have struck the deepest root, not only in my memory and understanding, but likewise in my affections. If you would fertilize the mind, the plough must be driven over and through it. The gliding of wheels is easier and rapider, but only makes it harder and more barren. Above all, in the present age of light reading, that is, of reading hastily, , thoughtlessly, indiscriminately, unfruitfully, when most books are forgotten as soon as they are finished, and very many sooner, it is well if something heavier is cast now and then into the midst of the literary public. This may scare and repel the weak, it will arouse and attract the stronger, and increase their strength by making them exert it.

In the sweat of the brow is the mind as well as the body to eat its bread. Are writers, then, to be studiously difficult, and to tie knots for the mere purpose of compelling their readers to untie them? Not so. Let them follow the bent of their own minds. Let their style be the faithful mirror of their thoughts. Some minds are too rapid and vehement, and redundant, to flow along in lucid transparence; some have to break over rocks, and to force their way through obstacles which would have dammed them in. Tacitus could not write like Cæsar. Niebuhr could not write like Goldsmith."*

Goldsmith's conversation, however, was not calculated to make men in society either think or laugh much.

“Mr. Fox,” we are told, in a recent biography, “ declared that he learnt more from conversation than all the books he had ever read. It often happens, indeed, that a short remark in conversation contains the essence of a quarto volume." + * Guesses at Truth.

† Moore's Memoirs.

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