A laughing summary of a lady’s capacity to say the right thing at the right moment, just what she ought, no more no less.
The image is simply one I chose to represent the era, mood and look – a suitably elegant lady who might be the owner of such impeccable soft skills. In case you’re curious, she is Lady Selina Caroline Meade (1797-1872), described by the artist as ‘in beauty and interesting character, one of the most distinguished persons in Vienna’.
‘She spoke then, on being so entreated. – What did she say? – Just what she ought, of course. A lady always does.’
See another signal of good breeding, also from Emma.
Source: Jane Austen, Emma (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 1999), p. 399
Image credit: Thomas Lawrence, portrait of Lady Selina Caroline Meade, later Countess Clam-Martinic (1797–1872); oil on canvas, April 1819