In the latest series of Downton Abbey, we see that Lady Mary reverts to form in the cold demeanour she showed Matthew when they were courting.

In one of the later episodes of the present series, she displays a lack of feeling towards her troubled sister Edith.

Once alone with Mary, Lady Violet (Maggie Smith) tells her:

A lack of compassion can be as vulgar as a surfeit of tears.

Surfeit means ‘excess’, by the way.

Useful advice in a world where we find ourselves confronting not only a lot of public tears but also hard-heartedness.

Neither would do in Lady Violet’s world and we, too, would do well to avoid them.