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"When Lady Blessington left London, she did not forget the necessities of several of her poor dependents, who received regular aid from her after her arrival, and while she resided in Paris. She found time, despite her literary labours, her anxieties, and the claims which she permitted society to make upon her time, not only to do acts of kindness now and then for those in whom she felt an interest, but to give what seemed perpetual thought to their well-doing: and she never missed an opportunity of doing a gracious act or saying a gracious word. My acquaintance with Lady Blessington was merely a literary one, commencing when, at my husband's suggestion, she published much about Lord Byron in the pages of the 'New Monthly Magazine,' which at that time he edited. That acquaintance continuing till her death, I wrote regularly for her Annuals, and she contributed to those under our care.
“I have no means of knowing whether what the world said of this beautiful woman was true or false, but I am sure God intended her to be good, and there was a deep-seated good intent in whatever she did that came under
my observation. “ Her sympathies were quick and cordial, and independent of worldliness; her taste in art and literature womanly and refined ; I
say ' womanly,' because she had a perfectly feminine appreciation of whatever was delicate and beautiful; there was great satisfaction in writing for her whatever she required ; labours became pleasures, from the importance she attached to every little attention paid to requests, which, as an editor, she had a right to command. Her manners were singularly simple and graceful; it was to me an intense delight to look at beauty, which though I never saw in its full bloom, was charming in its autumn time; and the Irish accent, and soft sweet Irish laugh, used to make my heart beat with the pleasures of memory. I always left her with an intense sense of enjoyment, and a perfect disbelief in every thing I ever heard to her discredit. Her conversation was not witty nor wise, but it was in good tune and good taste, mingled with a great deal of humour, which escaped every thing bordering on vulgarity. It was surprising how a tale of distress, or a touching anecdote, would at once suffuse her clear intelligent eyes with tears, and her beautiful mouth would break into smiles and dimples at even the echo of wit or jest.
« The influence she exercised over her circle was unbounded, and it became a pleasure of the most exquisite kind to give her pleasure.
“I think it ought to be remembered to her honour, that with all her foreign associations and habits, she never wrote a line that might not be placed on the book-shelves of any English lady.
“ Yours sincerely,
“A. M. Hall."
From Mr. Hall I have received the following account of an act of kindness and beneficence of Lady Blessington, which fell under his own observation.
“I once chanced to encounter a young man of good education and some literary taste, who with his wife and two children were in
a state of absolute want. After some thought as to what had best be done for him, I suggested a situation in the Post Office as a letter-carrier. He seized at the idea ; but being better aware than I was, of the difficulty of obtaining it, expressed himself to that effect.
“I wrote to Lady Blessington, telling her the young man's story, and asking if she could get him the appointment: next day I received a letter from her, enclosing one from the secretary, regretting his utter inability to meet her wishes, such appointments, although so comparatively insignificant, resting with the Postmaster-General. I handed this communication to the young man, who was by no means disappointed, for he had not hoped for success. What was my surprise and his delight, however, when the very next day there came to me another letter from Lady Blessington, enclosing one from the Postmaster-General, conferring the appointment on the young man. This appointment I believe he still holds-at least, he did so a year or two ago.
“ S. C. Hall."
Lady Blessington was quick to discover talent or worth of any kind in others, sure to appreciate merit, and generous in her sentiments, and ardent in the expression of approbation in regard to it.
She was by no means indiscriminate in her praise; one of
the class whose judgment is to be distrusted on account of the lavish bestowal of encomium :-“Défiez vous de ces gens qui sont à tout le monde et ne sont à personne. Nor, on the other hand, did she belong to that most despicable of all cliques, the sneering, depreciatory would-be aristocratic clique, of small intellectual celebrities in literature and art, whose members are niggards in acknowledgment of all worth and merit, which do not emanate from their own little circle of pretentious cleverness.
There is a sentiment of envy discoverable in the constrained reluctant recognition of the intellectual advantages of others in such circles, not confined to low or vulgar people, a sense of something burdensome in the claims to commendation, of other people, which seems to oppress the organs pulmonary, sanguineous and cerebral of that class of small celebrities, be they artists, authors, savans, antiquarians, doctors, or divines, or when merit that has any affinity with the worth supposed or selfestimated of the parties present, is brought to the notice of that clique. There is a "je ne sais quoi” of sneering, selfcomplacent superciliousness : a sense of superiority in their dealings with other's merits, or a conviction of their own inferiority on such occasions that begets an indisposition to let it be perceived that they admit the existence of any ability which is not admired in themselves. The most narrow-minded, the least highly gifted, in such circumstances, are those who ever find it most necessary to be on their guard not to be betrayed into any terms of commendation of an enthusiastic kind, that might lead people to suppose they acknowledged any excellence in others they were incapable of manifesting in their own words or works.
A member of this clique, of a waspish mind, and an aspish tongue, is never more at home in it, than when he is most sneering and depreciatory in his remarks, and churlish of praise in regard to the intellectual advantages of his fellows. He is unaccustomed to think favourably, or to speak well of his absent literary neighbours. He is afraid of affording them a good word; he would be ashamed to be thought easily pleased with his fellow-men-having any bookish tastes; he cannot hear them eulogised without feeling his own merits are overlooked. Or if he does chime in with any current praise, the curt commendation and scanty applause are coupled with a scoff, some ribald jest, or ridiculing look, or gesture, intended to depreciate or to give a ludicrous aspect, to a subject that might possibly turn to the advantage of another, if it had been gravely treated. In fine, it is not in his nature to be just or generous to any man behind his back, who has any kindred tastes or talents with his own.
The subject of this memoir was not of the clique in question, or of their way of dealing with literary competitors—in the acknowledgment of worth or merit in other people of literary pursuits.
La ly Blessington was naturally lively, good-humoured, mirthful, full of drollery, and easily amused. Her perception of the ridiculous was quick and keen.
If there was anything absurd in a subject presented to her, she was sure to seize on it, and to represent the idea to others, in the most ridiculous light possible. This turn of mind was not exhibited in society alone; in private it was equally manifested : one of the class proverbially given to judge severely of those they come most closely into contact with, after a service of fifteen years, thus speaks of the temper and disposition of her former mistress, Lady Blessington :
“Every one knew the cleverness of this literary lady ; but few, very few, knew all the kindness of heart of the generous, affectionate woman, but those who were indebted to her goodness, and those who were constantly about her, as I was; who saw her acts and knew her thoughts and feelings.
“My lady's spirits were naturally good : before she was
overpowered with difficulties, and troubles on account of them, she was very cheerful, droll, and particularly amusing. This was natural to her. Her general health was usually good; she often told me she had never been confined to her bed one whole day in her life. And her spirits would have con.tinued good, but that she got so overwhelmed with care and expenses of all kinds. The calls on her for assistance were from all quarters. Some depended wholly on her (and had a regular pension quarterly paid)— her father and mother, for many years before they died; the education of children of friends fell upon her. Now one had to be fitted out for India ; now another to be provided for. Constant assistance
; had to be given to others—(to the family, in particular, of one poor lady, now dead some years, whom she loved very dearly). She did a great many charities; for instance, she gave very largely to poor literary people, poor artists; some
; thing yearly to old servants; she contributed thus also to Miss Landon's mother ; in fact, to several, too many to mention; -and from some, whom she served, to add to all her other miseries, she met with shameful ingratitude.
“ Labouring night and day at literary work, all her anxiety was to be clear of debt. She was latterly constantly trying to curtail all her expenses in her own establishment, and constantly toiling to get money.
Worried and harassed at not being able to pay bills when they were sent in; at seeing large expenses still going on, and knowing the want of means to meet them, she got no sleep at night. She long wished to give up Gore House, to have a sale of her furniture, and to pay off her debts. She wished this for two years before she left England ; but when the famine in Ireland rendered the payment of her jointure irregular, and every succeeding year more and more so, her difficulties increased, and, at last, H-- and J-- put an execution in the house, which