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With the Compliments of Mr Collins : There is an art to making one’s compliments seem artless.
With the Compliments of Mr Collins

From Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

Mr Bennet delights in meeting ridiculous people. His cousin, the Revd Mr Collins, is a revelation, singing the praises of his snobbish neighbour Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and her smothered, chronically ill daughter Anne.

“HER indifferent state of health unhappily prevents her being in town; and by that means, as I told Lady Catherine one day, has deprived the British court of its brightest ornament. These are the kind of little things which please her ladyship, and it is a sort of attention which I conceive myself peculiarly bound to pay.”

“You judge very properly,” said Mr. Bennet, “and it is happy for you that you possess the talent of flattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?”

“They arise chiefly from what is passing at the time, and though I sometimes amuse myself with suggesting and arranging such little elegant compliments as may be adapted to ordinary occasions, I always wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible.”

Mr. Bennet’s expectations were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped.

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Picture: © Stuart Fyffe-Collins, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0. View original
Belton House near Grantham in Lincolnshire. It was used as the residence of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in a BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudicestarring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth (1995).
By Jane Austen
By Richard Whately

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