Not only did the Courvoisiers not assign to intelligence the same importance as the Guermantes, the had a different notion of it. For a Guermantes (however stupid), to be intelligent meant to have a sharp tongue, to be capable of saying scathing things, to give short shrift; but it meant also the capacity to hold one’s own equally in painting, music, architecture, and to speak English. The Courvoisiers had a less favorable notion of intelligence, and unless one belonged to their world, being intelligent was almost tantamount to “having probably murdered one’s father and mother.” For them intelligence was a sort of burglar’s jimmy by means of which people one did not know from Adam forced the doors of the most reputable drawing-rooms, and it was common knowledge among the Courvoisiers that you always had to pay in the long run for having “those sort” of people in your house.
Vol. II 458(Scott-Moncrief/Kilmartin trans. 1981)