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Blupete's Weekly Commentary

March 15th, 1998.


Demeanour is the way of comporting oneself outwardly towards others. It is behaviour of a person which is often only appreciated by an observer and not the person displaying the demeanour. As Shakespeare wrote:

There's a language in her eye, her cheek, her lip,
Nay, her foot speaks; her wanton spirits look out
At every joint and motive of her body.
Troil and Cress.
Or, Rochefoucauld:

Nothing prevents our being natural so much as the desire to appear so.
Maxim 431.
Or, Ruskin:

The essence of lying in deception, not in words; a lie may be told in silence, by equivocation, by the accent on a syllable, by a glance of the eye attaching a peculiar significance to a sentence; but all of these kinds of lies are worse and baser by many degrees than a lie plainly worded.
Modern Painters, 1856.
Or, finally, William Hazlitt:

Tact, finesse, is nothing but the being completely aware of the feeling belonging to certain situations, passions, &c., and the being consequently sensible to their slightest indications or movements in others. One of the most remarkable instances of this sort of faculty is the following story, told of Lord Shaftesbury, the grandfather of the author of the Characteristics. He had been to dine with Lady Clarendon and her daughter, who was at that time privately married to the Duke of York (afterwards James II), and as he returned home with another nobleman who had accompanied him, he suddenly turned to him, and said, 'Depend upon it, the Duke has married Hyde's daughter.' His companion could not comprehend what he meant; but on explaining himself, he said, her mother behaved to her with and attention and a marked respect that is impossible to account for in any other way; and I am sure of it.
Table Talk, 1822, "On Genius and Common Sense."

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Peter Landry

March, 1998 (2019)