previous next

[279]

Mrs. Fletcher is the most powerful lady in conversation in Edinburgh, and has a Whig coterie of her own, as Mrs. Grant has a Tory one. She is the lady in Edinburgh by way of eminence, and her conversation is more sought than that of anybody there.1 I have heard Sir James Mackintosh and Brougham speak of it with enthusiasm, and regret that she does not live in London, where they might hear her every day. She is, indeed, an extraordinary person. She converses with fluency, and with an energy and confidence that would seem masculine, if she did not yield so gently and gracefully, and did not seem to seek always to become a listener; and she has an elegance and finish in the construction of her sentences which is uncommon even in practised speakers, and which I have hardly found in a lady before; and yet it is apparent it is done without effort. . . . . One of her daughters, Mrs. Taylor, is one of the sweetest, most beautiful, and most interesting creatures I ever beheld. Another, Miss Fletcher, will, I think, be as remarkable as her mother. This was, therefore, a delightful house to visit, and during the latter part of the time I was in Edinburgh I went there often.

Playfair is a most interesting man of seventy. I would rather be like him, in general temper, manners, and disposition, than like anybody of that age I know. To say nothing of the amount of his culture and the elegance of his mind, which does not seem to grow dim with age,. . . . he has a childlike simplicity of manner, a modesty which will bring a blush on his cheek like that of a boy of fifteen, and an open enthusiasm for all good knowledge, as great as if he were beginning life instead of closing it. . . . . I passed two or three afternoons with him. His conversation was always without effort or pretension, and yet full of knowledge, elegant, and producing a charming effect. I think he came nearer to my notion of the character of Mr. H., as Mackenzie has drawn the better parts of it, than anybody I ever met.

I breakfasted with Mackenzie one morning at Lady Cumming's. He is now old, but a thin, active, lively little gentleman, talking fast and well upon all common subjects, and without the smallest indication of the ‘Man of Feeling’ about him. . . . . While we were at breakfast Lord Elgin came in, a man about fifty, and as fat, round, stupid-looking a man as can well be found. The little he said justified what his appearance promised. . . . . There were other persons whom I knew and to whose houses I went,—Colonel Ellice and


1 An interesting autobiography of Mrs. Fletcher, with selections from her letters, etc., has been published by her family.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Miss Fletcher (3)
Henry Mackenzie (2)
Abbe Taylor (1)
Playfair (1)
James Mackintosh (1)
Anne Grant (1)
Ellice (1)
William Cumming (1)
Henry Brougham (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: