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“Why don't you tell the man he is wasting that water : What would be the state of the highways of life, if we did not drive our thought-sprinklers through them with the valves open, sometimes ?"
II. Besides, there is another thing about this talking, which you forget. It shapes our thoughts for us ;—the waves of conversation roll them as the surf rolls the pebbles on the shore. liet me modify the image a little. I rough out my thoughts in talk, as an artist models in clay. Spoken language is so plastic, you can pat and coax, and spread and shave, and rub out, and fill up, and stick on, so easily, when you work that soft material, that there is nothing like it for modeling. Out of it come the shapes which you turn into marble or bronze in your immortal books, if you happen to write such. Or, to use another illustration, writing or printing is like shooting with a rifle; you may hit your reader's mind or miss it,--but talking is like playing at a mark with the pipe of an engine; if it is within reach, and you have time enough, you can't help hitting it.
III. The company agreed that this last illustration was of superior excellence, or, in the phrase used by them, “ Fust rate." I acknowledged the compliment, but gently rebuked the expression. “Fust rate," "prime," "a prime article," "a superior piece of goods," "a handsome garment," "a gent in a flowered vest,”—all such expressions are final.
There is one other phrase which will soon come to be decisive of a man's social status,* if it is not already: “ That tells the whole story”. It is an expression which vulgar and conceited people particularly affect, and which well-meaning ones, who know better, catch from them. It is intended to stop all debate, like the previous question in the General Court. Only it don't; simply because " thať does not usually tell the whole, nor ona half of the whole story.
* Sta'tus, position.
I think there is one habit,—I said to our company a day of two afterwards,-worse than that of punning. It is the gradual substitution of cant or flash terms for words which characterize their object. I have known several very genteel idiots whose whole vocabulary had deliquesced into some half dozen expressions All things fell into one of two great categories,-fast or slow. Man's chief end was to be a brick. When the great calamities of life overtook their friends, these last were spoken of, as being a good deal cut up. Nine-tenths of human existe ence were summed up in the single word, bore. These expres sions come to be algebraic symbols of minds which have grown too weak or indolent to discriminate. They are the blank checks of intellectual bankruptcy ;-you may fill them up with what idea you like; it makes no difference; for there are no funds in the treasury upon which they are drawn.
The young fellow called John spoke up sharply and said it was "rum” to hear me "pitchin' into fellers” for “goin' it in the slang line," when I used all the flash words myself just when I pleased.
I replied with my usual forbearance !
The business of conversation is a very serious matter. There are men that it weakens one to talk with an hour, more than a day's fasting would do. Mark this that I am going to say; for it is as good as a working professional man's advice, and costs you nothing.
There are men of esprit* who are excessively exhausting to some people. They are the talkers that have what may be called jerky minds. Their thoughts do not run in the natural order of sequence. They say bright things on all possible Bubjects, but their zigzags rack you to death. After a jolting half hour with one of these jerky companions, talking with a dull companion affords great relief. It is like taking the cat in your lap after holding the squirrel.
VI. Talk about conceit as much as you like; it is to human charater what salt is to the ocean; it keeps it sweet, and renders it endurable.
When one has had all his conceit taken out of him, when he has lost all his illusions, his feathers will soon soak through, and he will iy no more.
But little-minded people's thoughts move in such small circles, that five minutes' conversation gives you an arc long enough to determine their whole curve.
Even in common people, conceit has the virtue of making thèm cheerful; the man who thinks his wife, his baby, his house, his horse, his dog, and himself severally unequaled, is almost sure to be a good-humored person, though liable to be tedious at times.
VII. I will tell you what I have found spoil more good talks than anything else ;-long arguments on especial points between people who differ on the fundamental principles upon which these depend.
No men can have satisfactory relations with each other until they have agreed on certain ultimata* of belief not to be disturbed in ordinary conversation, and, unless they have sense enough to trace the secondary questions depending on the ultimate beliefs to their source.
Don't flatter yourselves that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. On the contrary, the Learer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn unpleasant truths from his enemies; they are ready enough to tell them. Goodbreeding never forgets that self-love is universal. When you road the story of the Archbishop and Gil Blas, you may laugh,
* Ultima'ta, final conditions or propositions.
if you will, at the poor old man's delusion; but don't forget that the youth was the greater fool of the two, and that his master served such a booby rightly in turning him out of doors.
IX. I always believed in life rather than in books. I suppose every day of earth, with its hundred thousand deaths and something more of births,—with its , loves and hates, its triumphs and defeats, its pangs and blisses, has more of humanity in it than all the books that were ever written put together. I believe the flowers, growing at this moment, send up more fragrance to heaven than was ever exhaled from all the essences ever distilled.
Don't I read up various matters to talk about at this table or elsewhere? No; that is the last thing I would do. I will tell you my rule. Talk about those subjects you have had long in your mind, and listen to what others say about subjects you have studied but recently. Knowledge and timber shouldn't be much used till they are seasoned
JOAN PIERPONT, an American poet and clergyman, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, in the year 1785. His longest poem, “THE AIRS OF PALESTINE,” was published in 1816. He has written much, and is deservedly ranked among the best of American poets.
NOT ON THE BATTLE-FIELD.
0, no, no,let me lie
Let not the iron tread
Nor let the reeking knife,
Be in my hand, when Death
His heavy squadron's heels,
From such a dying bed, Though o'er it float the stripes of white and red,
And the bald Eagle brings The clustered stars upon his wide-spread wings, . To sparkle in my sight, (), never let my spirit take her flight!
I know that beauty's eye
And brazen helmets dance,
I know that bards have sung
In honor of the brave
I know that o'er their bones
And hears, as life ebbs out,
But, as his eyes grow dim,
What to the parting soul,
Of drums ? No! let me die