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[62] She now lives with her uncle, Mr. Charles Sheridan, who is a bachelor. We had a small company,—old Edward Ellice; Fonblanque, whose writings you so much admire; Hayward; Phipps, the brother of the Marquis Normanby; Lady Seymour, the sister of Mrs. Norton, and Lady Graham, the wife of Sir John Graham; and Mrs. Phipps. All of these are very clever people. Ellice is the person whose influence is said, more than that of all other men, to keep the present ministry in power. Fonblanque1 is harsh looking, rough in voice and manner, but talks with the same knowledge and sententious brilliancy with which he writes. But the women were by far more remarkable than the men. I unhesitatingly say that they were the four most beautiful, clever, and accomplished women I have ever seen together. The beauty of Mrs. Norton has never been exaggerated. It is brilliant and refined. Her countenance is lighted by eyes of the intensest brightness, and her features are of the greatest regularity. There is something tropical in her look; it is so intensely bright and burning, with large dark eyes, dark hair, and Italian complexion. And her conversation is so pleasant and powerful without being masculine, or rather it is masculine without being mannish; there is the grace and ease of the woman with a strength and skill of which any man might well be proud. Mrs. Norton is about twenty-eight years old, and is, I believe, a grossly slandered woman. She has been a woman of fashion, and has received many attentions which doubtless she would have declined had she been brought up under the advice of a mother; but which we may not wonder she did not decline, circumstanced as she was. It will be enough for you, and I doubt not you will be happy to hear it of so remarkable and beautiful a woman, that I believe her entirely innocent of the grave charges that have been brought against her. I count her one of the brightest intellects I have ever met. I whisper in your ear what is not to be published abroad, that she is the unaided author of a tract which has just been published on the ‘Infant Custody Bill,’ and purports to be by ‘Pearce Stevenson, Esq.,’ a nom de guerre. I think it is one of the most remarkable things from the pen of a woman. The world here does not suspect her, but supposes that the tract is the production of some grave barrister. It is one of the best discussions of a legislative matter I have ever read. I should have thought Mrs. Norton the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, if her sister, Lady Seymour,2 had not been present. I think that Lady Seymour is generally considered the more beautiful. Her style of beauty is unlike Mrs. Norton's; her features are smaller, and her countenance lighter and more English. In any other drawing-room she would have been deemed quite clever and accomplished, but Mrs. Norton's claims to these last characteristics are so pre-eminent as

1 Albany W. Fonblanque, 1797-1872; an early contributor to the ‘Westminster Review,’ editor of the ‘Examiner,’—a weekly newspaper,—from 1822 to 1846, and appointed, in 1852, director of the Statistical Department of the Board of Trade. Greville thought him ‘a very agreeable man.’ ‘Memoirs,’ Chap. XXXI., March 13, 1836.

2 Jane Georgiana, youngest daughter of Thomas Sheridan, was married, in 1830, to Edward Adolphus,—Lord Seymour,—who became Duke of Somerset on his father's death, in 1855.

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