By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Talkers - With Illustrations
Author: Bate, John
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Talkers - With Illustrations" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber's note:

   Text in italics is enclosed between underscores (_italics_).

   Text in bold face is enclosed between equal signs


With Illustrations.



Author of "Cyclopædia of Illustrations of Moral and Religious
Truths," etc., etc.

"Sacred interpreter of human thought,
How few respect or use thee as they ought."--COWPER.

Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.C.;
and Sold at 66, Paternoster Row.

Hazell, Watson, and Viney, Printers, London and Aylesbury.


The power to talk, like every other natural power of man, is designed
for profit and pleasure; but in the absence of wisdom in its government,
it fails to fulfil either.

The revelations of human life in the past show that the improper
employment of this power has brought upon individuals, families,
churches, and empires some of their most grievous evils. The revelations
of human life in the present show that this power is still unwisely
used, and the cause of similar lamentations and woes. Every man in his
own circle, to go no farther, may learn the sad effects following the
abuse of the faculty of speech. That member of the body, when "set on
fire of hell" (and how often is this!) what conflagrations it brings
about wherever its sparks and flames are spread! As a lucifer match in
the hands of a madman, when struck, may be the occasion of blowing up
castles or burning down cities, so the tongue may "set on fire the
course of nature."

Not only are talkers the cause of evils on such a large scale, but of
evils which, while not so distinguished, are still evils--annoyances
that mar the happiness and disturb the peace of individuals and
societies--thorns in the flesh--contagion in the atmosphere, which, if
they do not create disease, cause fear and alarm. Any one, therefore,
who contributes to the lessening of these evils, does a beneficent work,
and deserves the patronage and co-operation of all lovers of his

The prominence given to the use and abuse of the power of speech, in the
Scriptures, at once shows the importance of the subject.

The connection between talkers and Christianity teaches that this book
belongs as much to Christianity in its interests as to ethics in its

If in any of the illustrations there may seem to be an excess of
colouring, the reader is at liberty to modify them in his own mind as
much as he may desire; only let him not forget that "fact is stranger
than fiction," and that what may not have come within the range of his
experience, others may be familiar with.

It may be that the style in which some of the characters appear will not
please the taste of every one. It would be a wonder of wonders if it
did. Taste in respect to style in writing differs, perhaps, as much as
taste in respect to style in dress. By the bye, one likes Dr. Johnson's
idea of dress, which is, that a man or a woman, in her sphere, should
wear nothing which is calculated to attract more attention and
observation than the person who wears it. This is the author's idea of
style in writing; whether he has embodied it in the following pages
others must judge. His aim has been to show the _character_ more than
the _dress_ in which it appears.

If in two or three instances a similarity of character should be
observed, let it be remembered that it is in talkers in society as in
pictures in an album, in general features they are alike, but in
particular expression each one is distinctly himself and not another.

Should it be thought that the number of talkers might have been reduced,
the answer is, that difficulty has been experienced in keeping them
within the number given. One after another has risen in such rapidity,
that a selection has only been made. Some have not been admitted which
claimed sympathy and patronage among the rest.

The author has not purposely introduced any talker whose faults were
unavoidable through defect of nature or providential circumstances. The
faults described are such as have been acquired; such as might have been
escaped; such as each is responsible for.

Let not the reader imagine that because the writer has dealt so freely
with the faults of talking in others, he thinks himself perfect in this
art. Far from it. Did he know the writer as well as the writer knows
himself, he would perhaps have little difficulty in recognizing him as
one of the number whom he describes.

It may be observed by some that three or four illustrations have been
used which have already appeared in print, the authorship of which could
not be ascertained.

It is hoped that this book will find its way chiefly into the hands of
young talkers. The old are so _fixed_ and _established_ in their way of
talk, that, however their faults may be shown, they will not be likely
to reform. It is seldom that a tongue which has been accustomed to talk
for many years in a certain way can be changed to talk in an opposite
one. There may be modifications of the evil, but few real cures. But in
the case of young folk it is different. They, being somewhat pliable in
that member of the body, may, by seeing the fault portrayed in others,
so dislike it as not to fall into it, and covet earnestly the more
"excellent way" of speech.

"But might you not have effected your purpose better by presenting
examples of talkers without fault? Would not old and young more readily
have been corrected and improved?" This might have been done, but for
two simple obstacles in the way. First, the impossibility of finding the
talkers without fault; and then, the almost certain fact that no one
would have imitated them, had they been found. The defects of talkers
are noticed with greater quickness of perception than their
excellencies, and more is often learned from the former than from the
latter. Cato says that "wise men learn more from fools than fools from
wise men." Montaigne tells us that "Pausanias, an ancient player on the
lyre, used to make his scholars go to hear one that lived near him, and
played ill, that they might learn to hate discords." He says again of
himself, "A clownish way of speaking does more to refine mine than the
most elegant. Every day the foolish countenance of another is
advertising and advising me. Profiting little by good examples, I make
use of them that are ill, which are everywhere to be found. I endeavour
to render myself as agreeable as I see others fickle; as affable as I
see others rough; and as good as I see others evil."

Should such use be made of the faults of talkers as Montaigne would
doubtless have made, much good may be expected to arise from their

When it is remembered that Scripture affirms the man who offends not in
word is a "perfect man," the author feels that he has aimed at a
laudable object in writing this book. Should there only _one_ perfect
man arise in society through his effort, he flatters himself that a work
will have been done which thousands of books have failed to accomplish.
But, on the other hand, should _every_ reader lay aside his book not a
"perfect man," he will only fulfil the words of the same Scripture,
which say, "The tongue can no man tame."

"Then if the tongue _cannot_ be tamed, why attempt the task?" The answer
to this is: a little evil is better than a big one; and a tongue
partially tamed is better than a tongue altogether wild. Therefore,
while the author has no expectation of taming any man's tongue
_altogether_, he has the hope of taming a great many a _little_, and, in
the aggregate, of doing something towards elevating the talking
civilization of the nineteenth century.

"Will you have a little tongue?" asked a lady of a gentleman one day at
the dinner-table. "I will, ma'am, if it is cured," was the answer. Alas!
tongue will be at immense discount in the world if it is not received
until it is "cured." One must be content to take it as near "cured" as
it can be obtained. Not only must there be mutual efforts to cure one
another's, but each must try to cure his _own_.

And now, reader, the author asks you to peruse his book, and to make the
best use you can of it; and he suggests, _when you have done this, be
careful that you do not so talk about it as to illustrate some one or
more of the characters within it_.

J. B.

_November_, 1877.



       I. THE MONOPOLIST                 1
      II. THE FALSE HUMOURIST           18
     III. THE FLATTERER                 22
      IV. THE BRAWLER                   35
       V. THE MISCHIEF-MAKER            38
      VI. THE PLEONAST                  55
     VII. THE SELF-DISPARAGER           62
    VIII. THE COMMON SWEARER            71
      IX. THE AFFECTED                  85
       X. THE STULTILOQUIST             94
      XI. THE SLANDERER                101
     XII. THE VALETUDINARIAN           111
    XIII. THE WHISPERER                119
     XIV. THE HYPERBOLIST              124
      XV. THE INQUISITIVE              133
     XVI. THE PEDANT                   142
    XVII. THE DETRACTOR                154
   XVIII. THE GRUMBLER                 164
     XIX. THE EGOTIST                  174
      XX. THE TALE-BEARER              189
     XXI. THE ASSENTER                 203
    XXII. THE LIAR                     208
   XXIII. THE CENSORIOUS               227
    XXIV. THE DOGMATIST                236
     XXV. THE ALTILOQUENT              244
    XXVI. THE DOUBLE-TONGUED           253
   XXVII. THE DUBIOUS                  262
  XXVIII. THE SUSPICIOUS               266
    XXIX. THE POETIC                   273
     XXX. "YES" AND "NO"               279
    XXXI. A GROUP OF TALKERS           286

          1. The Misanthrope, p. 286.--2. The Story-Teller, p. 287.--3. The
          Careless, p. 290.--4. The Equivocator, p. 292.--5. The
          Absent-Minded, p. 294.--6. The Bustling, p. 296.--7. The
          Contradictory, p. 298.--8. The Technicalist, p. 300.--9. The
          Liliputian, p. 301.--10. The Envious, p. 302.--11. The
          Secret-Teller, p. 302.--12. The Snubber, p. 303.--13. The
          Argumentative, p. 306.--14. The Religious, p. 310.--15. The
          Prejudiced, p. 312.--16. The Boaster, p. 314.--17. The
          Quarrelsome, p. 316.--18. The Profound, p. 317.--19. The
          Wonderer, p. 320.--20. The Termagant, p. 325.

   XXXII. A MODEL TALKER               328



     "Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing: more than any man in
     Venice; his reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels
     of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you find them; and when you
     have them, they are not worth the search."--SHAKESPEARE.

The Monopolist enters into conversation with plenitude of speech enough
to make one think he has obtained a royal patent to do so. He talks
without much regard to what he says, or how he says it. Give him your
attention in the least degree, and he will show no lack of will or power
to surfeit you. It is not because he has anything to say worth your
hearing that he keeps up his talk, but only from his strange love of
talking. His conversation consists mainly in the exercise of his tongue,
as the faculties of his mind are generally dormant in proportion as that
works. He talks so much that you need do nothing but listen. He seldom
asks questions, and if he does, he cannot tarry for answers. While one
is speaking he either breaks in upon his discourse, heedless of what he
is saying; or he employs himself in gathering words to commence talking
again. And scarcely has the speaker finished his utterance ere he
begins and goes on at a rate that taxes both the ears and patience of
his listener. At the festive board he is not content to do one thing at
a time. He fills his mouth with food for his stomach, and with windy
words for the company; which two acts done at the same time prevent
necessary mastication, and produce a temporary collision of the contrary
elements in his guttural organs.

Monopolist is a talker with whom I am somewhat acquainted. I have on
different occasions met with him, and am, therefore, prepared to speak
of him as I have found him.

Some fifteen or sixteen years ago, as my memory serves, in the middle of
a severe winter, I met this gentleman as I was going to see a friend
about some business of pressing importance. I told him my business
required haste, and he must excuse me stopping just then. But taking me
by the hand, he held on until he was fairly on the track of talking.
What he talked about I cannot remember, though I am pretty sure there
was very little connection or sense in what he said. He spoke in such a
rapid manner that all I could say was "Yes," "No," "Ah," "Eh," "Indeed,"
"Is it possible?" and some of these, too, only half uttered because of
the rapid flow of his words in my ears. I did try once to make a remark
in response to a question he hurriedly asked; but I had scarcely spoken
three syllables (being slow of speech as I am) when he began at an
express rate to tell a story of a friend of his, in which I felt no
more interest than the man in the moon. I remember how I shivered with
cold; shuffled to keep myself warm, and made frequent attempts to leave
him, while with one hand he held the button of my coat, and with the
other wiped the perspiration from his brow. I finally took advantage of
a suspense while replacing his handkerchief; so abruptly wishing him
"good-bye," I went on my way, leaving him to resume his discourse to
himself. How long he stood talking after I left him he never told me.

One morning, not long ago, when in a studious mood upon a subject I was
anxious to complete, my wife informed me a certain gentleman had called
to see me. On entering the room, I saw, to my inner sorrow, the very
identical person who, above all others, I cared the least to see at that
time. Had he possessed a grain of ordinary discernment, which the
Monopolist does not, he would have seen from my manner I was little
inclined to give him even a courteous reception, not to say a long
interview. In fact I gave him several broad hints I was very busy, and
could ill spare much time in his company. But what did he care for
hints? He had commenced his talking journey, and must go through with
it; so away he went in his usual style, talking about everything in
general and nothing in particular, until he had out-talked the morning
hours, and allayed my mental afflatus by the vocal effusions of his
inane, twaddling loquacity. He then took a lingering departure, bid me
"good-bye, hoping that he had not intruded upon my duties of the
morning." Alas!

About a year or so after the incident referred to above, I invited a few
select friends to spend an evening at my house. Among the number were
the Rev. Mr. Peabody and Mrs. Peabody, Professor Jones, of Merton
College, and Mrs. Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Hungerford, Mr. and Mrs. Thuckton,
with others. I was very pleased with the character of my company, and
anticipated considerable pleasure during the evening. Mr. Peabody,
Professor Jones, and Mr. Hungerford were gentlemen of more than ordinary
attainments, and capable of communicating much varied and interesting
intelligence in conversation.

The early part of the evening passed in a manner apparently agreeable to
all present. But, alas, the happiness was destined to be short-lived!
for who should be ushered into the room by the servant but an unexpected
caller? I knew him well at first sight. He stepped into the room with
his usual display of self-assurance and self-gratulation. After the
ceremony of introduction to those who did not know him, he took his seat
in the most conspicuous part of the company.

I thought to myself, "The pleasure of the evening is now at an end,
excepting what he will have in hearing himself talk." I could see in the
very expression of his face that he was full-primed, and ready for a
long discharge. There was a short pause after he had taken his seat (as
there generally is in all company after the introduction of a
stranger); but not being accustomed to this sort of thing, he began with
a rapid utterance of some common-place observations, which elicited no
response, excepting a gentle bend of the head from Mr. Thuckton, to whom
he seemed more particularly to direct his attention. This was enough to
assure him what he had said met with approval. He now commenced in good
earnest, and went on so fast and so long, one wondered how the effort
was sustained by the ordinary vocal powers and breathing functions of a
mere mortal.

Every now and then the thought seemed to cross his mind, "Now I have
something to say of great importance." At which time he threw his head
back, winked with his left eye, cast a significant glance at Mr.
Hungerford, and said, "Mark, sir, what I am going to say:" then, bending
forward, placed his hands on his knees, and lo the "mountain in labour
brought forth a mouse."

He had a most singular way of snapping with his thumb and finger,
according to the nature of his talk; and when he reached a climax in an
argument, or made a statement with emphasis, he brought down his hands
with such violence on his knees as to make one fear the consequences.
The gentlemen smiled at the snapping and thumping. The ladies were
annoyed at his want of decorum and good breeding, and my son, a boy six
years old, asked in his innocence, "Who in the room is letting off

At this juncture he gave himself a respite, thinking, perhaps, common
decency called for it, so that some one else might have a chance of
speaking as well as himself. But the fact was he had talked all the talk
out of the company, and no one cared to enter on the arena of
conversation to be instantly pushed off by his egregious monopoly. He
was, however, determined there should be talk, even if he did it all
himself. He asked Mr. Thuckton a question, but before he had time to
give an answer, Monopolist was half-way through his own views on the
subject. He then appealed to Mr. Hungerford as to the correctness of a
certain sentiment he had expressed a moment before, and while Mr.
Hungerford was cautiously replying, he set off in a circuitous route to
show he was unquestionably right in what he had affirmed. He proposed a
question to Professor Jones upon a scientific difficulty. The Professor
began calmly to answer, and all the time he was speaking, I observed
Monopolist fidgety to go on, and ere he had finished he broke out of his
restraint and found relief in hearing himself say his own thoughts on
the subject.

His conduct was becoming unbearable. I had never seen him in such an
objectionable light. I almost wished he had gone to Bombay rather than
have called at my house that evening. I expected an intellectual "feast
of fat things" from my friends, and just as I was in the act of tasting,
in came this talker and substituted his fiddle-faddle of saws and
stories, which he had repeated, perhaps, a hundred times. We were jaded
with his superfluity of loquaciousness, and were not sorry when the
time of departure arrived. He was last of the company to retire, and he
did so with much self-complacency, doubtless thinking to himself, as he
walked home, "How great are my powers of conversation! I have talked
more than the Rev. Peabody; more than Professor Jones; more than Mr.
Hungerford, or any of the company. They scarcely talked at all. I am
surprised they had so little to say. I wonder what they thought of my
powers." Such probably were the reflections with which he entertained
himself after he left my house that evening.

The next day I met Mr. Hungerford, and almost the first thing he said

"What is the name of that individual who called upon you last night?"

"He is called Monopolist."

"A very appropriate name indeed; for he is the greatest case of monopoly
in conversation I ever met with or heard of. He is insufferable,
unpardonable. He did nothing but talk, talk, talk, to the almost
absolute exclusion of every one else,--

                 'He was tedious
  As a tir'd horse, a railing wife;
  Worse than a smoky chimney.'"

"I know him of old, Mr. Hungerford. I regretted very much his call at
that time; but I did hope for once he would restrain himself and keep
within the bounds of propriety. But I do think he went beyond anything I
have seen of him on any former occasion."

"If you are a friend of Monopolist," said Mr. Hungerford, "let me
suggest that you give him some suitable advice upon the subject."

"It is what he needs," I remarked, "and when I meet with him again I
will bear it in mind."

Some time after this I met Professor Jones. He had not forgotten
Monopolist. In course of conversation he said,--

"Mr. Golder, is that gentleman who called at your house the last time I
had the pleasure of visiting you yet living?"

"Yes, sir, he is still living, for anything I know to the contrary."

"Well, sir, I have thought and spoken of him many times since that
evening. He certainly exceeded on that occasion anything I ever heard in
talkativeness. I should not like again to endure the torment I suffered
after his entrance into the company that night. I do not consider myself
very slow of speech; but you know how difficult it was for me to
interject even a sentence after he came. And my friend, Mr. Peabody,
with all his intelligence and natural communicativeness, was placed in
the same dilemma. Neither of us was quick enough to compete with him.
Everybody, in fact, was crowded out by his incessant talking; and, after
all, what did it amount to?

  'Talking, he knew not why, and car'd not what.'"

"I think equally as strong as you do, Professor, respecting him, and I
am determined the first opportunity I have to lay before him a few
counsels, which if he take will be of service to him in the correction
of his great fault."

My reader must not think the conduct of Monopolist, as above described,
peculiar to the times and occasions mentioned. I have only spoken of him
as he appeared to me. I do not speak for any one else. Yet if so
disposed I could relate facts heard from others equal to, if not
surpassing, those given above.

As I have promised to give Monopolist a little advice, I will now enter
upon my task. I hope he will mortify that talking member of his body for
a few moments while I am discharging this necessary duty. After I have
done he may speak on to his heart's content, that is, in my absence.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Monopolist,--It is an old maxim that a man has two ears and but one
mouth, to teach him that he should hear twice as much as he should talk.
This is a very wise maxim, and worthy your serious meditation. You have
doubtless heard it before, but not attended to it. Would it not be much
to your credit in company, and much to the comfort of those with whom
you converse, if you allowed this maxim to have its due weight upon your
mind? Common sense, if such you have, must certainly intimate when you
exceed the bounds of propriety in the volume of your talk. How would you
like another to impose his talk upon you to the extent you impose your
talk upon him? When you talk I have noticed you are so pleased with
yourself as to think very little of what you say, or of how people hear.
If you talked about fifty or seventy-five per cent. less than you do,
you would be welcomed into the circles of society with fifty or
seventy-five per cent. greater pleasure than you are. Do not imagine,
because people _seem_ to listen, therefore they _like_ to hear you talk.
It is nothing of the kind. They must at least have a _show_ of good
behaviour. Were they to forget their manners in being listless, as you
do in talking so much, there would be an end to all decorum. (Do not be
impatient. Do be quiet for once.) Have you not sometimes seen one or
more go to sleep in company while you have been talking? Did not that
show they were unable to resist the soothing influence of your
long-continued and thoughtless words? And have you not sometimes talked
upon subjects in such a peculiar and protracted manner that when you
have done, your hearers have been so absent-minded that they have not
known anything you have said? Has not this taught you that you have been
a drag upon their mental powers? Have they not said in the words of Job,
"O that you would altogether hold your peace, and it should be your
wisdom"? (Job xiii. 5.)

Conversation is a means of mutual interchange of thought and feeling
upon subjects which may be introduced. And if the right subject be
brought forward, each one could contribute his quota to the general
stock. But to do so we must talk _with_ people and not _at_ them. We
must be willing to hear as well as to be heard. We must give others
credit to know something as well as ourselves. We must remember it is
not he who talks most that talks best. One man may give a long, wordy,
dry essay on a topic of conversation, and another may speak a sentence
of a score words which shall contain far more sense than his long

  "Words learned by rote a parrot may rehearse,
  But talking is not always to converse.
  Not more distinct from harmony divine,
  The constant creaking of a country sign."

       *       *       *       *       *

  "If in talking from morning till night,
      A sign of our wisdom it be,
    The swallows are wiser by right,
      For they prattle much faster than we."

"The talking lion of the evening circle," observes an English writer,
"generally plays off his part as obviously to his own satisfaction as to
the nausea of the company who forbear to hear him. Were he a
distinguished and illustrious talker like Johnson and Coleridge, he
might be excused, though in their case they laid too much embargo upon
the interchange of thought; but when the mind is an ordinary one, the
offence is insufferable, if not unpardonable. Those that talk much
cannot often talk well. There is generally the least of originality and
interest about what they say. It is the dry, old, oft-repeated things
which are nearly as well stereotyped upon the minds of the hearers as
they are upon their own. And even those who have the gift of talking
sensibly as well as loquaciously should remember that few people care
to be eclipsed, and that a superiority of sense is as ill to be borne as
superiority of fortune."

"He that cannot refrain from much speaking," says Sir W. Raleigh, "is
like a city without walls, and less pains in the world a man cannot
take, than to hold his tongue; therefore if thou observest this rule in
all assemblies thou shalt seldom err; restrain thy choler, hearken much
and speak little, for the tongue is the instrument of the greatest good
and greatest evil that is done in the world."

"As it is the characteristic," says Lord Chesterfield, "of great wits to
say much in few words, so it is of small wits to talk much and say
nothing. Never hold any one by the button or the hand in order to be
heard out; for if people are unwilling to hear you, you had better hold
your tongue than them."

"The evil of this" (much speaking), says Bishop Taylor, "is very
considerable in the accounts of prudence, and the effects and plaisance
of conversation: and the ancients described its evil well by a
proverbial expression; for when a sudden silence arose, they said that
Mercury was entered, meaning that, he being their 'loquax numen,' their
'prating god,' yet that quitted him not, but all men stood upon their
guard, and called for aid and rescue, when they were seized upon by so
tedious an impertinence. And indeed, there are some persons so full of
nothings, that, like the strait sea of Pontus, they perpetually empty
themselves by their mouth, making every company or single person they
fasten on to be their Propontis, such a one as was Anaximenes, who was
an ocean of words, but a drop of understanding."

You would do well to study the lesson, _When to talk, and when to be
silent_. Silence is preferred by the wise and the good to superfluity of
talking. You may read strange stories of some of the ancients, choosing
silence to talking. St. Romualdus maintained a seven years' silence on
the Syrian mountains. It is said of a religious person in a monastery in
Brabant, that he did not speak a word in sixteen years. Ammona lived
with three thousand brethren in such silence as though he was an
anchoret. Theona was silent for thirty years together. Johannes,
surnamed Silentarius, was silent for forty-seven years. I do not mention
these as examples for your imitation, and would not have you become
_such_ a recluse. These are cases of an extreme kind,--cases of
moroseness and sullenness which neither reason nor Scripture justify.
"This was," as Taylor observes, "to make amends for committing many sins
by omitting many duties; and, instead of digging out the offending eye,
to pluck out both, that they might neither see the scandal nor the duty;
for fear of seeing what they should not, to shut their eyes against all
light." The wiser course for you to adopt is the practice of silence for
a time, as a discipline for the correction of the fault into which you
have fallen. Pray as did the Psalmist, "Put a guard, O Lord, unto my
mouth, and a door unto my lips." "He did not ask for a wall," as St.
Gregory remarks, "but for a door, a door that might open and shut." It
is said of Cicero, he never spake a word which himself would fain have
recalled; he spake nothing that repented him. Silence will be a cover to
your folly, and a disclosure of your wisdom.

"Keep thy lips with all diligence."

  "A man that speaketh too much, and museth but little and lightly,
  Wasteth his mind in words, and is counted a fool among men:
  But thou when thou hast thought, weave charily the web of meditation,
  And clothe the ideal spirit in the suitable garments of speech."

Note well the _discretion of silence_. What man ever involved himself in
difficulties through silence? Who thinks another a fool because he does
not talk? Keep quiet, and you may be looked upon as a wise man; open
your mouth and all may see at once that you are a simpleton. Ben Jonson,
speaking of one who was taken for a man of judgment while he was silent,
says, "This man might have been a Counsellor of State, till he spoke;
but having spoken, not the beadle of the ward."

Lord Lytton tells of a groom who married a rich lady, and was in fear as
to how he might be treated by the guests of his new household, on the
score of his origin and knowledge: to whom a clergyman gave this advice,
"Wear a black coat, and hold your tongue." The groom acted on the
advice, and was considered a gentlemanly and wise man.

The same author speaks of a man of "weighty name," with whom he once
met, but of whom he could make nothing in conversation. A few days
after, a gentleman spoke to him about this "superior man," when he
received for a reply, "Well, I don't think much of him. I spent the
other day with him, and found him insufferably dull." "Indeed," said the
gentleman, with surprise; "why, then I see how it is: Lord ---- has been
positively talking to you."

This reminds one of the story told of Coleridge. He was once sitting at
a dinner-table admiring a fellow guest opposite as a wise man, keeping
himself in solemn and stately reserve, and resisting all inducements to
join in the conversation of the occasion, until there was placed on the
table a steaming dish of apple-dumplings, when the first sight of them
broke the seal of the wise man's intelligence, exclaiming with
enthusiasm, "Them be the jockeys for me."

Gay, in his fables, addressing himself to one of these talkers, says,--

  "Had not thy forward, noisy tongue
  Proclaim'd thee always in the wrong,
  Thou might'st have mingled with the rest,
  And ne'er thy foolish sense confess'd;
  But fools, to talking ever prone,
  Are sure to make their follies known."

Mr. Monopolist, can you refrain a little longer while I say a few more
words? I have in my possession several recipes for the cure of much
talking, that I have gathered in the course of my reading, four of which
I will kindly lay before you for consideration.

1. _Give yourself to private writing_; and thus pour out by the hand the
floods which may drown the head. If the humour for much talking was
partly drawn forth in this way, that which remained would be sufficient
to drop out from the tongue.

2. In company with your superiors in wisdom, gravity, and circumstances,
restrain your unreasonable indulgence of the talking faculty. It is
thought this might promote modest and becoming silence on all other
occasions. "One of the gods is within," said Telemachus; upon occasion
of which his father reproved his talking. "Be thou silent and say
little; let thy soul be in thy hand, and under command; for this is the
rite of the gods above."

3. Read and ponder the words of Solomon, "He that hath knowledge spareth
his words; and a man of understanding is of excellent spirit. Even a
fool when he holdeth his peace is counted wise: and he that shutteth his
lips is esteemed a man of understanding" (Prov. xvii. 27, 28). Also the
words of the Son of Sirach, "Be swift to hear, and if thou hast
understanding, answer thy neighbour; if not, lay thy hand upon thy
mouth. A wise man will hold his tongue till he see opportunity; but a
babbler and a fool will regard no time. He that useth many words shall
be abhorred; and he that taketh to himself authority therein shall be
hated" (Ecclesiasticus v. 11-13). "In the multitude of words THERE
WANTETH NOT SIN" (Prov. x. 19).

4. Attend more to business and action. It is thought that a diligent use
of the muscles in physical labour may detract from the disposition,
time, and power of excessive speech. Paul gives a similar suggestion,
"And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work
with your own hands as we commanded you" (1 Thes. iv. 11).

       *       *       *       *       *

With these few words of advice I now leave you, my friend Monopolist,
hoping they may have their due effect upon your talking faculty, and
that when I meet you again in company I shall find you a "new edition,
much amended and abridged:" "the half better than the whole."



     "There are more faults in the humour than in the mind."--LA

Among the various kinds of talk there is, perhaps, none in which talkers
are more liable to fail than in humour. It is that in which most persons
like to excel, but which comparatively few attain. It is not the man
whose imagination teems with monsters, whose head is filled with
extravagant conceptions, that furnishes innocent pleasure by humour. And
yet there are those who claim to be humourists, whose humour consists
only in wild irregular fancies and distortions of thought. They speak
nonsense, and think they are speaking humour. When they have put
together a round of absurd, inconsistent ideas, and produce them, they
cannot do it without laughing. I have sometimes met with a portion of
this class that have endeavoured to gain themselves the reputation of
wits and humourists by such monstrous conceits as almost qualified them
for Bedlam, rather than refined and intelligent society. They did not
consider that humour should always lie under the check of reason; and
requires the direction of the nicest judgment, by so much the more it
indulges in unrestrained freedoms. There is a kind of nature in this
sort of conversation, as well as in other; and a certain regularity of
thought which must discover the speaker to be a man of sense, at the
same time he appears a man given up to caprice. For my part, when I hear
the delirious mirth of an unskilful talker, I cannot be so barbarous as
to divert myself with it, but am rather apt to pity the man than laugh
at anything he speaks.

"It is indeed much easier," says Addison, "to describe what is not
humour than what is; and very difficult to define it otherwise than as
Cowley has done wit, by negatives. Were I to give my own notions of it,
I would deliver them after Plato's manner, in a kind of allegory--and by
supposing humour to be a person, deduce to him all his qualifications,
according to the following genealogy. Truth was the founder of the
family, and the father of Good Sense. Good Sense was the father of Wit,
who married a lady of collateral line called Mirth, by whom he had
issue, Humour. Humour, therefore, being the youngest of this illustrious
family, and descendant from parents of such different dispositions, is
very various and unequal in his temper: sometimes you see him putting on
grave looks and a solemn habit, sometimes airy in his behaviour, and
fantastic in his dress; inasmuch that at different times he appears as
serious as a judge, and as jocular as a merry-andrew. But as he has a
great deal of the mother in his constitution, whatever mood he is in, he
never fails to make his company laugh."

In carrying on the allegory farther, he says of the false humourists,
"But since there is an impostor abroad, who takes upon him the name of
this young gentleman, and would willingly pass for him in the world: to
the end that well-meaning persons may not be imposed upon by cheats, I
would desire my readers, when they meet with this pretender, to look
into his parentage and examine him strictly, whether or no he be
remotely allied to truth, and lineally descended from good sense; if
not, they may conclude him a counterfeit. They may likewise distinguish
him by a loud and excessive laughter, in which he seldom gets his
company to join with him. For as true Humour generally looks serious,
while everybody laughs about him; false Humour is always laughing, while
everybody about him looks serious. I shall only add, if he has not in
him a mixture of both parents, that is, if he would pass for the
offspring of Wit without Mirth, or Mirth without Wit, you may conclude
him to be altogether spurious and a cheat.

The impostor of whom I am speaking descends originally from Falsehood,
who was the mother of Nonsense, who gave birth to a son called Frenzy,
who married one of the daughters of Folly, commonly known by the name of
Laughter, from whom came that monstrous infant of which I have been
speaking. I shall set down at length the genealogical table of False
Humour, and, at the same time, place by its side the genealogy of True
Humour, that the reader may at one view behold their different pedigree
and relations:--

      Falsehood.              Truth.
          |                     |
      Nonsense.             Good Sense.
          |                     |
  Frenzy--Laughter.        Wit--Mirth.
          |                     |
    False Humour.             Humour.

I might extend the allegory, by mentioning several of the children of
False Humour, who are more in number than the sands of the sea, and
might in particular enumerate the many sons and daughters of which he is
the actual parent. But as this would be a very invidious task, I shall
only observe in general that False Humour differs from the True, as a
monkey does from a man.

First of all, he is exceedingly given to little apish tricks and

Secondly, he so much delights in mimicry, that it is all one to him
whether he exposes by it vice and folly, luxury and avarice; or, on the
contrary, virtue and wisdom, pain and poverty.

Thirdly, he is wonderfully unlucky, inasmuch that he will bite the hand
that feeds him, and endeavour to ridicule both friends and foes
indifferently. For, having but small talents, he must be merry where he
can, not where he should.

Fourthly, being entirely devoid of reason, he pursues no point either of
morality or instruction, but is ludicrous only for the sake of being



     "Who flatters is of all mankind the lowest,
     Save him who courts the flattery."
                                                 HANNAH MORE.

The Flatterer is a false friend clothed in the garb of a true one. He
speaks words from a foul heart through fair lips. His eyes affect to see
only beauty and perfection, and his tongue pours out streams of
sparkling praises. He is enamoured of your appearance, and your general
character commands his admiration. You have no fault which he may
correct, or delinquency which he may rebuke. The last time he met you in
company, your manners pleased him beyond measure; and though you saw it
not, yet _he_ observed how all eyes were brightened by seeing you. If
you occupy a position of authority whence you can bestow a favour which
he requires, you are "most gracious, powerful, and good." His titles are
all in the superlative, and his addresses full of wondering
interjections. His object is more to please than to speak the truth. His
art is nothing but delightful trickery by means of smoothing words and
complacent looks. He would make men fools by teaching them to overrate
their abilities. Those who walk in the vale of humility amid the modest
flowers of virtue and favoured with the presence of the Holy One, he
would lift into the Utopian heights of vanity and pride, that they might
fall into the condemnation of the Devil. He gathers all good opinions
and approving sentiments that he might carry them to his prey, losing
nothing in weight and number during their transit. He is one of Fame's
best friends, helping to furnish her with some of her strongest and
richest rumours. But conscience has not a greater adversary; for when it
comes forth to do its office in accusation or reproof, he anticipates
its work, and bribes her with flattering speech. Like the chamelion, he
changes his appearance to suit his purpose. He sometimes affects to be
nothing but what pleases the object of his admiration, whose virtues he
applauds and whose imperfections he pretends it to be an advantage to
imitate. When he walks with his friend, he would feign have him believe
that every eye looks at him with interest, and every tongue talks of him
with praise--that he to whom he deigns to give his respects is graced
with peculiar honour. He tells him he knows not his own worth, lest he
should be too happy or vain; and when he informs him of the good
opinions of others, with a mock-modesty he interrupts himself in the
relation, saying he must not say any more lest he be considered to
flatter, making his concealment more insinuating than his speech. He
approaches with fictitious humility to the creature of his praise, and
hangs with rivetted attention upon his lips, as though he spake with the
voice of an oracle. He repeats what phrase or sentence may particularly
gratify him, and both hands are little enough to bless him in return.
Sometimes he extols the excellencies of his friend in his absence, but
it is in the presence of those who he is pretty certain will convey it
to his ears. In company, he sometimes _whispers_ his commendations to
the one next him, in such a way that his friend may hear him in the
other part of the room.

The Flatterer is a talker who insinuates himself into every circle; and
there are few but are fond of his fair speech and gaudy praise. He
conceals himself with such dexterousness that few recognise him in his
true character. Those with whom he has to do too frequently view him as
a friend, and confide in his communications. What door is not open to
the man who brings the ceremonious compliments of praise in buttery lips
and sugared words--who carries in his hand a bouquet of flowers, and in
his face the complacent smile, addressing you in words which feed the
craving of vanity, and yet withal _seem_ words of sincere friendship and
sound judgment?

Where is the man who has the moral courage, the self-abnegation to throw
back honied encomiums which come with _apparent_ reality, although from
a flatterer? "To tell a man that he cannot be flattered is to flatter
him most effectually."

                      "Honey'd assent,
  How pleasant art thou to the taste of man,
  And woman also! flattery direct
  Rarely disgusts. They little know mankind
  Who doubt its operation: 'tis my key,
  And opes the wicket of the human heart."

  "The firmest purpose of a human heart
  To well-tim'd artful flattery may yield."

  "'Tis an old maxim in the schools
  That flattery's the food of fools;
  Yet now and then your men of wit
  Will condescend to take a bit."

The Flatterer is a lurking foe, a dangerous friend, a subtle destroyer.
"A flattering mouth worketh ruin." "He that speaketh flattery to his
friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail." "A man that
flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet." The melancholy
results of flattery are patent before the world, both on the page of
history and in the experience of mankind. How many thousand young men
who once stood in the uprightness of virtue are now debased and ruined
through the flattery of the "strange woman," so graphically described by
Solomon in Prov. vii., "With her much fair speech she caused him to
yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after
her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the
correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a
bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life"
(vers. 21-23). "She hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men
have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the
chambers of death" (vers. 26, 27).

And as the virtuous young man is thus led into ruin by the flattering
tongue of the strange woman; so the virtuous young female is sometimes
led into ruin by the flattering tongue of the lurking enemy of beauty
and innocence. I cannot give a more striking and pathetic illustration
of this than the one portrayed by the incomparable hand of Pollok:--

  "Take one example, one of female woe.
  Loved by her father, and a mother's love,
  In rural peace she lived, so fair, so light
  Of heart, so good and young, that reason scarce
  The eye could credit, but would doubt, as she
  Did stoop to pull the lily or the rose
  From morning's dew, if it reality
  Of flesh and blood, or holy vision, saw,
  In imagery of perfect womanhood.
  But short her bloom--her happiness was short.
  One saw her loveliness, and with desire
  Unhallowed, burning, to her ear addressed
  Dishonest words: 'Her favour was his life,
  His heaven; her frown his woe, his night, his death.'
  With turgid phrase thus wove in flattery's loom,
  He on her womanish nature won, and age
  Suspicionless, and ruined and forsook:
  For he a chosen villain was at heart,
  And capable of deeds that durst not seek
  Repentance. Soon her father saw her shame;
  His heart grew stone; he drove her forth to want
  And wintry winds, and with a horrid curse
  Pursued her ear, forbidding her return.
    Upon a hoary cliff that watched the sea,
  Her babe was found--dead; on its little cheek,
  The tear that nature bade it weep had turned
  An ice-drop, sparkling in the morning beam;
  And to the turf its helpless hands were frozen:
  For she, the woeful mother, had gone mad,
  And laid it down, regardless of its fate
  And of her own. Yet had she many days
  Of sorrow in the world, but never wept.
  She lived on alms; and carried in her hand
  Some withering stalks, she gathered in the spring;
  When they asked the cause, she smiled, and said,
  They were her sisters, and would come and watch
  Her grave when she was dead. She never spoke
  Of her deceiver, father, mother, home,
  Or child, or heaven, or hell, or God; but still
  In lonely places walked, and ever gazed
  Upon the withered stalks, and talked to them;
  Till wasted to the shadow of her youth,
  With woe too wide to see beyond--she died;
  Not unatoned for by imputed blood,
  Nor by the Spirit that mysterious works,
  Unsanctified. Aloud her father cursed
  That day his guilty pride which would not own
  A daughter whom the God of heaven and earth
  Was not ashamed to call His own; and he
  Who ruined her read from her holy look,
  That pierced him with perdition manifold,
  His sentence, burning with vindictive fire."

The flattering talker possesses a power which turned angels into devils,
and men into demons--which beguiled pristine innocence and introduced
the curse--which has made half the world crazy with self-esteem and
self-admiration. A power which has dethroned princes, involved kingdoms,
degraded the noble, humbled the great, impoverished the rich, enslaved
the free, polluted the pure, robbed the wise man of his wisdom, the
strong man of his strength, the good man of his goodness. It is
emphatically the power of the Destroyer, working havoc, devastation,
woe, and death wherever it has sway, spreading disappointment, weeping,
lamentation, and broken hearts through the habitations of the children
of men. "He is," as an old writer quaintly observes, "the moth of
liberal men's coats, the ear-wig of the mighty, the bane of courts, a
friend and slave to the trencher, and good for nothing but to be a
factor for the devil."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Sharp was a young student of amiable spirit, and promising
abilities. Soon after he left college he took charge of an important
church in the large village of C----, in the county of M----. He had not
been long among his people before he won the good-will of all; and his
popularity soon extended beyond the pale of his own church. Meantime, he
did not appear to think of himself more than he ought. He was unassuming
in his spirit, and devoted to his work, apparently non-affected by the
general favour with which he was received.

There was a member of his church whom we shall call Mr. Thoughtless; a
man of good education, respectable intelligence, and in circumstances of
moderate wealth. He was in the church an officer of considerable
importance and weight. He was, however, given to the use of soft words,
and complimentary speeches. In fact, he was a flatterer. He used little
or no wisdom in his flattery, but generally poured it forth in fulsome
measure upon all whom he regarded his friends. Mr. Sharp was a
particular favourite with him, and he frequently invited him to his
house. He did not observe the failing of his host, but considered him a
very kind man, sweet-tempered, one of his best friends, the only member
of his Church from whom he received any encouragement in his ministerial
labours. Mr. Sharp became increasingly attached to him, and passed the
greater part of his leisure hours in his company. The fact was, Mr.
Thoughtless did not restrain his expressions of "great satisfaction" and
"strong pleasure" in the "character and abilities" of Mr. Sharp. He was
the "best minister ever among them"--"every one admired him"--"what a
splendid sermon he preached last Sabbath morning"--"the congregations
were doubled since he came"--he was "delighted with his general
demeanour"--he "really thought his abilities were adequate to a larger
Church in a city, than theirs in the country"--but he must not be
"considered in speaking these things to flatter, for he should be
ashamed to say anything to flatter a young minister whom he esteemed so
highly," and besides, he "thought him beyond the power of flattery."
Such were the flattering words which he poured into the undiscerning
mind of Mr. Sharp at different times.

Not long after this close friendship and these frequent visits, Mr.
Sharp began to manifest a change in his spirit and conduct, which
gradually developed into such proportions that some of the Church could
not help noticing it.

"I do not think," said Mr. Smith--a truly godly man--to Mrs. Lane--who
also was in repute for her piety--one day in conversation, "that our
young pastor is so unassuming and devoted as when he first came among

"Is it not all fancy on your part, Mr. Smith?" asked Mrs. Lane.

"I only hope it may be, but I fear it is true."

"In what respects do you think he is changed?" asked Mrs. Lane.

"I do not, somehow or other, observe the same tone of spirituality in
his preaching and company as were so obvious during the first part of
his sojourn with us."

"Well, do you know," said Mrs. Lane, "although I asked whether it was
not all fancy on your part, yet I have had my apprehensions and fears,
similar to yours. I have never mentioned them to any one before. I have
been very grieved to see the change, and have prayed much for him. How
do you account for it, Mr. Smith?"

"I can only account for it by the supposition that he has been too much
under the influence of Mr. Thoughtless, who, you know, is a man given to
flattery, and who has by this flattery injured other young ministers who
have been with us."

"It is ten thousand pities," said Mrs. Lane, "that Mr. Sharp was not
warned of the dangers of his flattery."

"It is just here, you know, Mrs. Lane. Mr. Thoughtless is a man of such
influence in our Church, so bland in his way, so fair in his words, so
wealthy in his means, that it is little use saying anything to warn
against him. Besides, I fear that others have been too flattering in
their addresses and compliments."

Mrs. Lane replied with evident emotion, "I am jealous of our dear
minister. He is in jeopardy. O do let us pray for him, Mr. Smith, lest
the flattering lips prove his ruin?"

Mrs. Lane was right in her fears. In the course of a few months after
this brief conversation, Mr. Sharp had reached a great height of
self-importance. He failed in most of the amiable virtues which adorned
his early career. He deteriorated in the zeal and spirituality of his
preaching. He became florid, self-assured, and self-displaying. He
thought his abilities too great for the Church at C----. The
congregation had declined, and he assigned to himself as a reason, they
could not appreciate the high quality of his preaching. He sought a
change; and accepted an invitation to a Church in the city of B----. In
this Church he had little acceptance after a few weeks. Surrounded as he
was by so many popular ministers of other Churches, he was unable to
maintain his ground. He fell into temptation, and committed sin. He was
arraigned before his brethren, tried in the presence of the most
satisfactory witnesses, and _expelled from the Christian Ministry_.

This deep degradation was afterwards traced in its origin to the
flattering, fawning tongue and conduct of Mr. Thoughtless.

Flattery is too frequently indulged in by parents towards their
children. How many sons and daughters have been ruined by it would be
difficult to say. I will give one case as an illustration.

Mr. Horton was a tradesman in a flourishing business. He looked well
after it as a man of the world, and never allowed a "good chance" to
escape. He had a son as his first-born. This son was a great favourite
with him, for he saw in him the powers which would make a clever man of
business. When he first wore jackets, Harry proved himself an adept in
small trades, bartering his worn out and damaged toys for the better
ones of his playmates.

"I tell you," said Horton one day to a friend of his in the presence of
Harry, "that is the boy who is good at a bargain."

This was the phrase he often used when he wished to pass an eulogium
upon his boy as a little tradesman. Also in other ways he failed not to
set up his son as a paragon in business.

Made vain by these flatteries, he went on in increasing zeal and
craftiness to be "good at a bargain."

The flattering words of his father impelled him in all possible ways to
make money; so that when grown to manhood he was an adept at sharpness
in trade practices. At last, however, he went too far. His cunning,
which had grown out of "being good at a bargain," was employed in a
fraud, which was discovered and led to his apprehension. When his trial
came on, his father was present, anxiously waiting the issue. When the
sentence of his guilt was given, and his punishment stated, he covered
his face with his hand in deep emotion of paternal grief. He could not
look upon his condemned son, whom he had helped to ruin, whom he had
started and encouraged in the way which brought him to this end.

It was a most distressing scene when the father and son met in the
dreary prison cell. Each looked at the other with reproach. Each blamed
the other for the shame and pain brought upon them.

"This is a 'bad bargain,' my boy," said the old man, tremulously. "You
have ruined us all."

"Ruined you!" responded the son, in a tone that stung the father to the
heart. "Who ruined me? I was ruined when you flattered me so in my
boyhood, telling me so often how clever I was and good at a bargain,
instead of checking me: when you praised my trickery instead of
punishing it. Had you then kept back those words of parental flattery
and trained me in principles of strict honesty, I should not _now_ have
been here, paying in prison walls by convict labour and a felon's name
the price of 'being good at a bargain.'"

In how many other ways the flattering tongues of parents have issued in
the ruin of children I have not space to illustrate.

"Take care," says Walter Raleigh, "thou be not made fool by flatterers,
for even the wisest men are abused by these. Know, therefore, that
flatterers are the worst kind of traitors; for they will strengthen thy
imperfections, encourage thee in all evils, correct thee in nothing, but
so shadow and paint all thy vices and follies as thou shall never, by
their will, discern evil from good, or vice from virtue. A flatterer is
said to be a beast that biteth smiling. They are hard to distinguish
from friends, they are so obsequious and full of protestations; for as a
wolf resembles a dog, so doth a flatterer a friend. A flatterer is
compared to an ape, who because she cannot defend the house like a dog,
labour as an ox, or bear burdens as a horse, doth therefore yet play
tricks and provoke laughter."

  "Beware of flattery--'tis a flowery weed
  Which oft offends the very idol vice
  Whose shrine it would perfume."

       *       *       *       *       *

  "Of all wild beasts, preserve me from a tyrant;
  And of all tame--a flatterer."



     "As empty vessels make the loudest sound, so they that have the
     least wit are the loudest babblers."--PLATO.

This is a Talker whose characteristic consists in the possession of
sound lungs and sonorous voice. He is particularly jealous of their
failure, and hence, as a means of their preservation, he keeps them in
good exercise. "Practice makes perfect;" and believing in this maxim, he
uses his vocal functions without squeamish regard to the possibility of
their decline. One would imagine from the volume and strength of
tongue-power put forth in his conversation that he considered his
hearers stone deaf. He does not in fact talk but proclaim. I doubt not
that he is sometimes guilty of this outrage from vanity, because he
thinks what he has to say is of such vast importance; or he has his own
person in such veneration, that he believes nothing which concerns him
can be insignificant to anybody else. I do not wonder that some people
have had the drum of their ears seriously affected by his brawling. Nor
is it surprising that old maids have been thrown into hysterics, and
little children scared out of their wits by his vociferousness. Nor
should it be set down as a thing extraordinary that strong-nerved men
have found it expedient to insist either upon a reduction of the wind in
the organ, or a stoppage of the instrument altogether, or a hasty exit
of their persons from his presence.

As a preventive of these calamities in the future, and as a means of
restoring this unfortunate talker into his proper position in the ranks
of modern polite and intelligent society, I have been led to search in
my books for a cure of his fault, and I have discovered the following in
the _Spectator_:--

".... Plutarch tells us that Caius Gracchus, the Roman, was frequently
hurried by his passions into so loud and tumultuous a way of speaking,
and so strained his voice as not to be able to proceed. To remedy this
excess, he had an ingenious servant, by name Licinius, always attending
him with a pitch-pipe, or instrument to regulate the voice; who,
whenever he heard his master begin to be high, immediately touched a
soft note, at which, 'tis said, Caius would presently abate and grow

"Upon recollecting this story, I have frequently wondered that this
useful instrument should have been so long discontinued, especially
since we find that this good office of Licinius has preserved his memory
for many hundred years, which, methinks, should have encouraged some one
to revive it, if not for the public good, yet for his own credit. It may
be objected that our loud talkers are so fond of their own noise that
they would not take it well to be checked by their servants. But
granting this to be true, surely any of their hearers have a very good
title to play a soft note in their own defence. To be short, no Licinius
appearing, and the noise increasing, I was resolved to give this late
long vacation to the good of my country; and I have at length, by the
assistance of an ingenious artist (who works for the Royal Society),
almost completed my design, and shall be ready in a short time to
furnish the public with what number of these instruments they please,
either to lodge at coffee-houses, or carry for their own private use. In
the meantime I shall pay that respect to several gentlemen, who I know
will be in danger of offending against this instrument, to give them
notice of it by private letters, in which I shall only write, 'Get a

"I had almost forgotten to inform you that as an improvement in this
instrument, there will be a particular note, which I shall call a
hush-note; and that is to be made use of against a long story, swearing,
obsceneness, and the like."



     "Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth."--JAMES.

     "We should be as careful of our words as our actions; and as far
     from speaking as doing ill."--TULL.

The presence of this talker is almost ubiquitous. His aim is to create
ill-humour, misunderstandings, bickerings, envies, jealousies,
suspicions, quarrels, and separations, where exist mutual good-will,
concord, love, confidence. His nature and work are in _reality_ beneath
the society of human beings. It is even questionable whether he is not
in these respects below the rank of demons. Yet he boldly enters your
presence, sits by your side, looks you askant in the face, asks you
questions, communicates information, and feigns himself your friend and
the friend of everybody. At the same time he may be concocting a plan of
mischief between you and a neighbour with whom you are living on terms
of amity; and the next thing you hear after he has left your house is,
that you and your neighbour are intending some evil one towards the
other. This is all you know of it. The fact is, Mischief-maker is at the
bottom of it, and if the friendship between you is not broken, it will
not be his fault.

He is in peaceful society like a mischievous child in a well-furnished
drawing-room, puts things in confusion, and destroys much that is
valuable and worth preserving, and when asked, "Who has done it?" pleads
ignorance, or places it upon the shoulders of others, joining you in
strong utterances of condemnation of such wanton conduct.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. and Mrs. Blandford had lived together in their village cottage forty
years, in the greatest conjugal affection and concord. It was generally
known that they had seldom or ever had a quarrel or misunderstanding
during the whole of that period. They were hoping that their declining
years would be spent in similar blessedness. But, alas! such was not to
be their lot.

There lived not far from them a neighbour whose disposition was anything
but loving, and who took pleasure in promoting ill-will between those
who lived in peace. She had long had her heart set upon provoking a
quarrel between this happy pair. She had tried in many secret ways to
bring it about, but all failed. At last she hit upon one which
accomplished her malicious end, and evinced the more than diabolical
nature of her design.

On a certain day she made a neighbourly call upon Mrs. Blandford, and in
course of conversation, said,--

"You and Mr. Blandford have lived a long time together."

"We have. Forty years, I think, next December the 14th."

"And all this time, I am told, you have never had a quarrel."

"Not one."

"How glad I am to hear it; truly you have been blest. How remarkable a
circumstance! And do you expect that this will continue to the end?"

"I know nothing to the contrary; I really hope so."

"Indeed, so do I; but, Mrs. Blandford, you know that everything in this
world is uncertain, and the finest day may close with a tempest. Do not
be surprised if this is the case with your wedded life."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean this: your husband, I am told, has of late become rather peevish
and sullen betimes. So his fellow-workmen say."

"Well, now you mention it, I have noticed something of the kind myself,"
said Mrs. Blandford.

"I have thought," said the neighbour, "that I would just mention it to
you, that you might be on your guard, for no one knows what turn this
temper may take."

"Thank you; I think it might be as well for me to be on my guard," said
Mrs. Blandford. "Can you tell me the best way of managing the case?"

"Have you not noticed," said the neighbour, "that your husband has a
bunch of long coarse hair growing on a mole on one side of his neck?"

"Of course I have."

"Well, do you know, Mrs. Blandford, I am told these are the cause of his
change in temper, and as long as they remain there, you may expect him
to get worse and worse. Now, as a friend, I would advise you to cut them
off the first time you have a chance, and thus prevent any evil

"That is a thing I can easily manage, I think, and at your suggestion I
will do it," said Mrs. Blandford, in her simplicity.

A few more words on matters apart from this passed between them, and the
neighbour left for home. On her way she met Mr. Blandford, when she
talked with him much in the same way as she did with his wife about
their domestic happiness.

"But, friend Blandford, I have something very particular to say to you."

"Indeed! What is it?"

"Why, I have just heard that your wife has lately taken to peculiar
ways, and has some evil design upon you; and I think it my duty as a
Christian neighbour to give you a gentle warning, that you may be on
your guard."

The old man looked much astonished at this revelation. He could not
believe it; yet he could not deny it. He brooded over the matter as he
walked home, and considered what he should do to ascertain whether his
wife had any "evil design upon him." At last a thought occurred to his
mind, which he carried out. Soon after he reached home, he went and
threw himself on the bed as very much tired, and feigned sleep, brooding
over the statement of his neighbour, and what it could possibly mean.
His wife, thinking he was asleep, and that it would be a good
opportunity for cutting off this said foreboding hair, took her
husband's razor, and crept slowly and softly to his side. The old lady
was very nervous in holding a razor so close to her dear husband's
throat, and her hand was not so steady as in former years; so between
the two she went about it in an awkward way, pulling the hairs rather
than cutting them. Mr. Blandford opened his eyes, and there stood his
wife with an open razor close to his throat! After what he had heard
from his neighbour, and seeing this, he could no longer doubt that his
wife intended to murder him! He sprang from the bed in great horror, and
no explanation or entreaty could persuade him to the contrary.

From this time to the end of Mrs. Blandford's life there was no more
confidence between them. Jealousy, fear, quarrelling, took the place of
harmony, trust, and love.

The neighbour had gratified her wish; and now she did nothing but spread
the tidings about everywhere, that "old Mrs. Blandford had made an
attempt upon her husband's life; but he was just in time to save
himself; and now they were living like a cat and dog together; and this
was the end of their boasted forty years of conjugal peace and

In the small town of B----, in one of the northern counties, there lived
a very respectable tradesman, a grocer, of the name of Proctor. He was a
married man, and had a family of four children. He and his wife were
members of the Presbyterian Church. They were considered consistent,
godly people by all who knew them.

One winter's night, Mr. Bounce, well known in the town, was walking by
the house of Mr. Proctor, when he happened to hear a noise, and looking
at the window of the sitting-room, he saw, to his utter astonishment,
Mr. Proctor chasing Mrs. Proctor with a fire-shovel in his hand, in an
attitude of threatening wrath. He did not stop to see the end. He did
not go in to make inquiry. He did not pause for a day or so until he
obtained further light on the matter. No, he went on his way, thinking
to himself, "Here is a fine thing. I could not have believed it, had I
not seen it. What a scandal! What a disgrace! Mr. Proctor, a member of a
Christian Church, running after his wife, a member of the same Christian
Church, with a fire-shovel in his hand! What is to be done? Surely, if
this gets wind it will be ruinous to his character, if not to his
business! And then, what effect will it have upon the Church?"

I do not say that at this time and in this instance Mr. Bounce had any
bad feeling or intention towards the Proctors. Nevertheless we shall see
how without these he brought about no small mischief.

As I said, he went on his way thinking as above. He came to the house
of his friend Mr. Ready. He had scarcely sat himself down and inquired
after the health of Mrs. Ready, when he exclaimed in tones of wonder,
"What do you think I have just seen as I passed the house of Mr.

"I am sure I cannot tell," answered Mr. Ready.

"Why, I saw Mr. Proctor chasing his wife round the room with a
fire-shovel in his hand, in an attitude of threats."

"You don't mean it!"

"Indeed I do. I saw him as plainly as I see you sitting before me on
that chair."

"Well, that is a nice thing, certainly," said Mr. Ready. "And both
members of the Church of the Rev. S. Baker!"

"Yes, they are," replied Mr. Bounce.

The matter ended here for the present. Mr. Ready told Mrs. Ready as soon
as she came home, and she told her neighbour the same night. The Ready
family were not slow in spreading the news wherever they went in the
town: and of course Mr. Bounce left no stone unturned to clear the way
of the circulation of the fact. So that by these means it was known in
most families of the town by the evening of the next day.

It created no little excitement. The minister and elders of the Church
heard it with serious concern, and considered that a Church meeting
should be called without delay before the thing grew worse. It would be
disastrous to permit such a scandal to go unexamined and unpunished if

Elder Wiseman thought that before a Church meeting was called, it would
be well for their pastor and Elder Judge to wait upon Mr. and Mrs.
Proctor and inquire into the facts of the case. To this it was agreed.

The pastor and Elder Judge took the first opportunity and waited upon
the Proctors.

The Proctors, seated in their room with their pastor and Elder Judge,
seemed very much pleased to see them, and, with their usual blandness of
manner, spoke about their respective families while their pastor and
Elder Judge looked so grave as to make the Proctors think there was
really something very depressing on their minds.

At last the pastor said in a most solemn manner, "Mr. and Mrs. Proctor,
I and Elder Judge have called to see you this morning on a matter that
is far from agreeable to us and may be to you--a matter that affects the
interests of our Church, the interests of Christianity, and the
interests of your family. It is indeed a most grave matter. It was
thought that we had better call a Church meeting to look into it; but
before doing so we decided that you should be seen about it."

"Pray, Mr. Baker," said Mr. Proctor, cutting him short, "pray, what is
the matter! Do let us know without any ceremony."

"It is a matter which I am deeply pained to name. It concerns you and
your wife. The fact is simply this. It is reported throughout the town
that a certain gentleman, whose name I need not state, was passing your
house the night before last, when he saw you chasing your wife round the
room in a most furious manner, with a fire-shovel in your hand, meaning
to inflict bodily harm upon her."

The words had barely escaped the lips of the pastor ere the Proctors,
both together, burst into a loud laugh, which even shocked the gravity
for a moment of the pastor and Elder Judge.

"But Mr. and Mrs. Proctor," said Elder Judge, "I hope you will look upon
this affair in a different way to that."

"We cannot," said Mr. Proctor; "the thing to which you refer is so
perfectly ludicrous. Let me tell you the fact in a word. That night Mrs.
Proctor came into the sitting-room from the shop terribly frightened
with what she said was a mouse under her dress. In her fright she ran
round the room thinking to shake the vermin from her clothes, and I took
the fire-shovel and ran after her with a view to kill the mouse. So that
is the sum of the matter."

The pastor and Elder Judge here looked each other in the face and
laughed heartily; and seemed relieved of a great burden. Instead of
seeking to do his wife bodily harm, Mr. Proctor was only in pursuit of a
mouse which had overreached its legitimate boundaries and found its way
into a foreign territory.

Although the facts as thus discovered were ludicrous, the results might
have been serious. For while the pastor and the elder were thus
ascertaining the facts, the Readys, and Smiths, and a whole clique of
kindred spirits with Mr. Bounce, were keeping up the circulation of the
scandal; and notwithstanding the pastor and his elder instantly began to
correct the mischief, it was a long time before the general impression
died out that Proctor was chasing his wife with the intention of beating
her. In fact, Mr. Bounce himself, and Mrs. Bounce, his wife, with
several others, always believed it to the day of their death; and ever
and anon tried to do a little business in it by whisperings; but they
found no custom, unless with an occasional new-comer into the
neighbourhood, or with some one who owed the Proctors a little spite.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Webster, of Necham, was much given to the habit of making mischief
by his talk. At one time he did great damage to a Church and its
minister, of which the following may be taken as an illustration:--

"You have had a new minister come among you lately, I understand," said
Mr. Webster one day to Mr. Watson.

"Yes, we have."

"What is his name?"

"His name is Mr. Good."

"Did not he come from Stukely to your place?"

"I believe he did," replied Mr. Watson.

"I thought it was the same man."

"Do you know him, Mr. Webster?"

"I cannot say that I do, but I have heard of him. I know some of the
members of his former Church. In fact, I have just come from the
neighbourhood in which he laboured before he came to you."

It may be well to say here, that Mr. Watson had never heard, as yet,
anything prejudicial to his Minister. He, with the whole Church, seemed
to think highly of him, and to be satisfied with him in all respects.

"How is he liked?" inquired Mr. Webster.

"I, for one, like him very much," said Mr. Watson; "and I think all that
have heard him do."

"I hope you may always like him; but if all that is said about him be
true, I think you won't like him long. In fact, I should not like him at

"Mr. Webster, what have you to say against Mr. Good?"

"_I_ have nothing to say, but others have. My information has come from
other people, and people, too, on whom I can rely."

Mr. Watson very naturally began to feel rather curious to learn the
meaning of these innuendoes. He did not know but all that Mr. Webster
had _heard_ was perfectly correct; because he thought it quite possible
for Mr. Good to satisfy them for a few weeks and not for years. He was a
stranger among them, and when he should be more fully known it may be
that he would not prove to be what he now seemed. He began to reason,
and then to doubt and suspect.

"What have you heard of Mr. Good?" asked Mr. Watson.

"I will tell you. I am told that he was at Stukely only a few months,
when the people resolved to dismiss him from their Church."

"Indeed!" said Mr. Watson, with astonishment.

"I have heard," said Mr. Webster, "that he is a quarrelsome kind of man,
and always dunning for money; that he didn't preach well enough for
them. In fact there is no end to the stories which they have to say
about him."

"But it may be," said Watson, "that the fault was not in Mr. Good. There
are faulty people, you know, as well as faulty ministers."

"But from what I hear the fault was all in Mr. Good. I am pretty well
acquainted with the folk at Stukely."

"So you may be, and yet in this instance they may be more blamable than
he. I have seen nothing as yet to create suspicion in respect to him. I
think he is a good man and a good preacher. And if he continue as he has
begun, there is the promise of great prosperity from his labours. We
must take men as we find them, Mr. Webster; and whatever we might hear
against them, we should believe them innocent until they are proved
guilty. I have no doubt that a great proportion of your intelligence is
scandal, created and set afloat by some person or persons with whom,
perhaps, he had been more faithful than their sins would allow."

"I hope it may turn out so," said Mr. Webster; "but from all that I have
heard I think you are mistaken in your view of him."

Mr. Watson would not listen any longer to Webster, but bid him "good
morning." He could not, however, help thinking about what he had said:
and although it did not affect his conduct towards his new minister, he
could scarcely refrain an occasional thought that possibly there might
be some truth in it. But he did not encourage it. Mr. Watson cherished
the charity which "thinketh no evil."

But while Mr. Watson was incredulous of the stories of Webster, there
were others belonging to the congregation whose minds were always open
to receive ill rumours derogatory to others. Mr. News-seeker and Mr.
Reporter, with several of a similar class, soon had interviews with
Webster, when they heard that he had been to Stukely. He spoke to them
more freely than he did to Mr. Watson, because they had willing ears and
believing hearts. As soon as they had heard all he had to say, they went
about their business, and almost every one they met the first thing they
said was, "Mr. Webster, of Necham, has been to Stukely, the scene of Mr.
Good's last labours. He has heard strange things about him. If they are
true, and there seems to be little doubt of them, he will not suit us,
and the sooner we get rid of him the better." This statement excited
curiosity at once, and the question was immediately put, "What does he

"He says a great many things, I tell you," said Mr. Reporter.

"Well now," said Old Surmise, "do you know that I have had my suspicions
several times as to the genuineness of our new preacher. My suspicions
are now confirmed. I do not think I can hear him preach any more with

"If you can, I can't, and I won't," said Mrs. Rash, in great excitement.

The matter now spread like the light. It got into everybody's ears, and
came forth from their mouths much magnified. A great change came over
the Church and congregation in regard to Mr. Good. Some said one thing
and some said another. The balance, however, went against him. What was
being said reached his ears, and he was astonished at the things he
heard. It deeply affected him, as we may suppose. He observed a change
in the congregation and in the feeling of many of the people towards
him. In conversation one day with Mr. Watson, he asked him what he
thought was the cause of the changed feeling in the Church towards him.
Mr. Watson told him what he had heard, but as he did not as yet believe
any of the stories, he would like to hear Mr. Good's own statement of
things. Mr. Good gave him a minute and faithful account of everything
that had taken place between him and the Church at Stukely. It was just
as Mr. Watson expected. He was confirmed in his confidence in Mr. Good,
and used all his influence to suppress the scandal which was spreading,
and to restore right feeling in the Church towards their Minister; but
Mr. Watson was not equal to this. The fire had burnt too far and too
deep to be quenched. The suspicion and prejudice excited could not be
destroyed. Mr. Good wept over the state of things. He felt that the tide
was too strong for him to stem. He saw that his usefulness was at an end
so far as this Church was concerned. He resolved to give in his
resignation, and to live a year or two in retirement from the ministry
until the storm had swept away into the ocean of air.

A short time after Mr. Good had resigned his ministry, Mr. Webster met
with Mr. Watson again.

"You have had fine times," he said, "in your Church with Mr. Good,
haven't you?"

"What do you mean by 'fine times'?" asked Mr. Watson.

"O, why, he has been playing the same games with you as he did with the
Church at Stukely, hasn't he?"

"Mr. Good has been playing no games with us, Mr. Webster, nor did he
play any with the people at Stukely," said Mr. Watson, rather warmly.

"Well, I have been informed so, anyhow."

"So you may have been, Mr. Webster; but your information in this, as in
that you brought from Stukely, is almost altogether fabulous. It is
scandal which you hear and which you repeat. There is not a word of
truth as you state matters. I have heard an account of the whole affair
at Stukely from an authority which is as reliable as any you could
possibly adduce. I have every reason for thinking that the parties who
informed you are influenced by the basest malice and ill-humour. Mr.
Good stands as fair now before my eyes and the eyes of all decent
people as he did the first day he came amongst us. It is only such as
you, who delight in hearing and spreading scandal, that are prejudiced
against him; and such, too, as are influenced by your libellous reports.
It is a shame, Mr. Webster, that you, a man who pretends to membership
in a Christian Church, should be guilty of believing malicious reports
respecting a Christian minister, and more particularly that you should
spread them abroad in the very neighbourhood where he labours. This is a
conduct far beneath a man of honour, of charity, and self-respect."

"Are you intending this lecture for me, Mr. Watson?" asked Webster,
rather petulantly.

"I am, sir: and you deserve it, in much stronger language than I can
use. You have been the means of blackening Mr. Good's character in this
place, when it was all clean and unimpeachable. You have been the means
of weakening his influence in the pulpit, and out of the pulpit. You
have injured him, injured his wife and family; and the good man, through
you, has been obliged to give in his resignation as our pastor."

"Through me, do you say, Mr. Watson?"

"Yes, sir, through you."

"How can that be?"

"It was you who brought the scandal into the neighbourhood: who told it
to Newsman and Reporter and everybody you met with, until your scandal
grew as mushrooms in every family of the congregation. It became the
talk of all. Many kept from church. They suspected Mr. Good: more than
this, they accused him in their conversation of many things inconsistent
with a minister; and how could they receive benefit from his preaching,
even if they went to hear him? Yes, sir, you have been the cause of the
'fine times,' as you call them, in our Church, and not Mr. Good."

"I am sorry for it."

"Well, sir, if you are sorry for it, repent of it; forsake the evil of
your doing. Give up the itching you have for scandal. Do not repeat
things upon mere rumour; you have done more injury in this one case than
you will do good if you live to be a hundred years old. Remember, Mr.
Webster, what the Wise Man says, "He that uttereth slander is a fool."

Mr. Webster shrunk away from Mr. Watson as one condemned in his own
conscience. He evidently felt the keen remarks thus made; and I hope he
became a reformed man in this regard, during his future life.



     "This barren verbiage current among men."--TENNYSON.

The habit of this talker is to encumber his ideas with such a plethora
of words as frequently prove fatal to their sense. Some of this class
employ fine words because they are fine, with perfect indifference to
the signification: others do it from "that fastidiousness," as one says,
"which makes some men walk on the highroad as if the whole business of
their life was to keep their boots clean."

Mr. Hill was a man very much accustomed to talk in this way. He had read
little, but had studied the dictionary with considerable diligence. His
ideas were few and far between, but his words were many and diversified,
long and hard, sometimes connected in the most absurd and ludicrous
manner. Most of the illiterate who heard him thought he was highly
educated and intelligent, while men of taste and judgment considered him
greatly deficient in the first rudiments of correct speaking.

Mr. Hill and his friend Mr. Pope made a call one day last spring upon
Squire Foster. As they came to the front door of his house Mr. Hill said
to Mr. Pope,--

"Will you do me the exuberant honour of agitating the communicator of
the ingress door, that the maid may receive the information that some
attendant individuals are leisurely waiting at the exterior of the
mansion to propose their interrogatories after the resident proprietor."

"Did you want me to pull the door bell for you?" asked Mr. Pope.

"If you have that extremely obliging state of mind, which will permit
you to do that deed of exceeding condescension, I shall experience the
deepest emotionals of unprecedented gratitude," replied Mr. Hill.

"Why didn't you say, If you please? and have done with it," replied Mr.
Pope, in a manner which indicated impatience at his gibberish.

The servant appeared and opened the door.

"Will you have the propitiousness, the kindness to stay and communicate
unto me whether Squire Foster is in his residence?" said Mr. Hill.

The girl looked vacant, not knowing what to make of his question.

"What does the gentleman mean?" asked the servant of Mr. Pope.

"He wants to know if Squire Foster is at home."

"Yes, sir, he is. Will you walk in?"

Mr. Hill and his friend were showed into the parlour, where they waited
the coming of the Squire. After a brief interval "the resident
proprietor" made his appearance.

"Ah, ah! how do you do, Mr. Hill? I am very glad to see you," said the
Squire, at the same time shaking him by the hand.

"I am in the highest state of excellent health, extremely obliged,
Squire. I am sanguine to hope, sir, that you live in the felicity of
enjoying, and possessing, and feeling an undistracted state of the
physical constitution. Will you, Squire, give me the pleasure and allow
me the happiness of introducing and bringing to your acquaintance my
friend Mr. Pope? Squire Foster,--Mr. Pope."

"How did you leave Mrs. Hill and family?" asked the Squire.

"It gives me no ordinary pain, and no usual grief, and no common sorrow,
to inform and instruct you that I left Mrs. Hill, my dear wife, my
choice companion, subject to, and suffering from, and enduring under, a
severe and trying affectation of her respiratory organs, superinduced by
an exaggerant cold, received, and taken, and caught by her the other day
of last week, when we were travelling, and riding, and going to the
village of Burnley. My little ones, my children, my offspring, Squire, I
am excussitated to say, are in the finest, the best, the happiest state
of their juvenile physique that I have ever known, remembered, and borne
in mind."

"How is your son John, the little fellow with whom I was so much pleased
when I was at your house last?" enquired Squire Foster.

"He is a unique adolescent--a heavenly cherub. His excessively
prodigious development of juvenile intellectual and religious numerous
tendencies produce within me the largest, the greatest, the richest
exquisite emotions of deep pleasurability, and profoundest sensations of
unparalleled wonderment."

"You are very eloquent this morning," said the Squire, rather

Mr. Hill, considering himself a little flattered by this encomium, said,
"My eloquence, sir, is the natural, the habitual, the spontaneous, the
unprompted infusions of my own individuality of mental hallucinations,
sparkling out in the scintillations which you do me the honour of
denominating, and calling, and epithetising as eloquence."

Mr. Hill was something of a transcendentalist in his way. The Squire was
aware of his tendency in this direction, and not having a distinct idea
of what his transcendentalism was, he ventured to ask him during the
conversation to give him a definition of it. After a brief pause, as
though Mr. Hill was meditating for a succinct and clear definition, he

"I would define transcendentalism as the spiritual cognoscence of
psychological irrefragability, connected with concuitant ademption of
encolumnient spirituality, and etherealized contention of subsultory

"That _is_ transcendentalism, indeed!" exclaimed the Squire. "It goes
beyond my understanding and comprehension."

"I feel myself in the same predicament," observed Mr. Pope, who up to
this time had been silent during the desultory conversation of the
Squire and Mr. Hill.

"From what stand-point (as the Germans would call it) do you gain that
view of transcendentalism?" asked Mr. Pope.

"I have gained it from the esoteric stand-point of Christian exegetical
analysis; and agglutinating the polsynthetical ectoblasts of homogeneous
asceticism, I perceive at once the absolute individuality of this

"That is perfectly satisfactory," said Mr. Pope, with a look and in a
tone of keen irony.

I will not detain the reader any longer with specimens of the Pleonast
in the person of Mr. Hill; but give a few others of a desultory
character, with which I have met in reading and otherwise.

A certain gentleman was once speaking to a few friends on the subject of
happiness, and in giving his experience as to where it could not be
found, he is said have spoken thus,--

"I sought for happiness where it could not be found; I looked for
felicity where it could not be discovered; I enquired after bliss in
those places, situations, and circumstances which neither bliss, nor
felicity, nor happiness ever visited. Thus it remained with little
change, and continued without much alteration, all through the days of
my youth, the years of my juvenility, and the period of my adolescence."

"Is that really your experience?" said one who was listening; "and do
you intend that as a caution to us against seeking happiness in the same

"Most positively and assuredly I do. Profoundly impressed with the
veracity of these sentiments, deeply sensible of their correctness, and
heartily persuaded, and assured, and convinced of their consonance with
truth, I urge and press upon your attention what I have above and before
couched and expressed in such simple, and plain, and intelligible
language, and language easily to be understood withal."

A Pleonast, once speaking of a man who was found drowned in a canal in
the neighbourhood where he lived, said,--

"He is supposed to have perpetrated, committed, and done, voluntary,
willing, and of himself, destruction, suicide, and drowning, while in a
mood of mental aberration, superinduced, brought about, and effected, by
long indulgence in and continued habits of inhaling, drinking, and
swallowing, to inebriation and drunkenness, intoxicating liquids."

At one time, complaining of the effect of the air upon his lungs, which
were rather delicate, the Pleonast said,--

"The ponderosity, the pressure of the ethereal elements, the regions of
the atmosphere, the circumambient world, will not give me or allow me
the full, the free, the unrestrained extent of liberty to exercise
myself in the respiratory, functional faculties of my earthly human

The above illustrations may suffice to show how the Pleonast
transgresses the propriety of speech in his conversation.

A person in talking should endeavour to use such words as will convey
his meaning, and no more. Words are only the clothing of thought, and
when too numerous they encumber instead of adorn. When improperly
connected, as sometimes they are by the Pleonast, they amuse and
entertain rather than instruct and edify. Given thoughts clear and
simple, it will not be difficult to find words which will be simple and
clear also. Language and thought thus harmonised will render the one
that uses them an acceptable talker to be heard, rather than a Pleonast
to be ridiculed.



     "The love of praise, howe'er concealed by art,
     Reigns, more or less, and glows in every heart;
     The proud, to gain it, toils on toils endure,
     The modest shun it, but to make it sure."

This is a talker not unfrequently met with. He speaks in disparaging
terms of himself and his doings, not so much because he means you to
understand him as he speaks, as that he either feigns humility or
desires you to look more favourably upon him than you do, and say to
him, "O dear no, you are quite wrong in your judgment. I see very
differently; and think, Mr. Baker, that you injure yourself and your
performances by talking as you do."

If you speak in words of honest praise of some good feature of his
character, or of something he has done or possesses, he says in effect,
"I wish it was even as you say; but you are mistaken. I have no such
trait as you refer to, and what I have done is far from deserving the
eulogium you have passed upon it. I am a very poor creature, and have no
such goodness as you attribute to me, and am not capable of doing any
such good work as you say I have done."

       *       *       *       *       *

Miss Slater was a young lady generally acknowledged to possess good
taste and refined judgment. She was also considered to be honest in
spirit and candid in her expression of opinion. What she said she meant,
whether in praise or in censure; and no one could say she was a
flatterer or a cynic.

On a certain occasion, in conversation with Miss Button, she observed to
her, "I was much pleased with that landscape painting which I saw in
your parlour the last time I was at your house. Your mother said that it
was one you did while at Manor House School."

"Yes, Miss Slater," she replied, "it was done by me; but it is a very
inferior piece; not half so good as it might have been."

"I think it is very good indeed: so true to nature. The trees, the
clouds, the birds, the river, and in fact the whole of it commends
itself to my approval. It does you great credit and contains very good
promise for the future, if you continue in the exercise of painting."

"You are, indeed, quite mistaken in your judgment, Miss Slater. It is
really not up to most of my other paintings. I am ashamed of it, and
have often said it is not worthy the beautiful frame which father had
made for it."

Now, if Miss Slater had expressed herself in censure upon any
particular part, Miss Button would probably have shown signs of
uneasiness, if not displeasure.

Under this class of talkers may be mentioned those professors of
religion who affect failings which they know they have not, and who
acknowledge sins of which they know they are not guilty, for the sake of
being reckoned among those who make a merit of "voluntary humility."
They are among the "most unworthy of God's saints." They are the "vilest
of the vile," "not fit to have a name or a place among Christ's people;"
"their righteousness is filthy rags;" they are the "chief of sinners."

Now, there is little doubt that these words are perfectly true; only,
the question is, whether they themselves really believe them to be so.
It often occurs that these "great sinners," these "vilest of the vile,"
while forward to say such things of themselves, are the last to admit
them as true when said of them by others.

This reminds one of an instance in which a member of a Church was giving
way to this kind of self-disparagement, when a fellow member responding
to him said, "True, my brother, you are among the greatest of sinners;"
when he instantly warmed up in self-defence, and replied, "I am no
greater sinner than you are; look at home before you accuse other

It also reminds one of the old story of the monk who heard the
confession of a certain cardinal. "I am the chief of sinners," said the
cardinal. "It is true," said the monk. "I have been guilty of every
kind of sin," sighed the cardinal. "It is a solemn fact, my son," said
the monk. "I have indulged in pride, in ambition, malice, and revenge,"
continued his Eminence. The provoking confessor assented without one
pitying word of doubt or protest. "Why you fool," at last said the
exasperated cardinal, "you don't imagine I mean all this to the letter?"
"Ho, ho!" said the monk, "so you have been a _liar_ too have you?"

Now, in all such cases as the above, it is not difficult to perceive the
want of sincerity; and to talk in that way is anything but wise and
consistent. While, on the one hand, it is unseemly to praise ourselves,
it is, on the other, equally uncalled for to disparage ourselves. There
is a proper place in which a man should stand in respect to himself as
in respect to others. Towards himself let there be a dignified modesty,
and towards others a respectful acknowledgment of any _sincere_
commendation which may be given of his character and of his works. In
all our personal confessions, either before men or God, let us endeavour
to mean what we say and not act the hypocrite, that we may obtain the
eulogium from others or from ourselves, what "humble and self-renouncing
Christians we are."

Under this class of talkers there is another character which we wish to
illustrate, viz., the household-wife, whose "house is never clean, and
whose food is never such as is fit to place before you."

In a certain part of England, long celebrated for being a stronghold of
Methodism, there is a small village, very beautiful for situation, and
well known among the lovers of rural retreats. In this said village
there lived a farmer and his wife, without children, who belonged to the
Methodist Church. Squire Hopkins, which we shall call him, was a man of
some note in the village, for his intelligence, influence, and
character. Even the parson had a good word to say of him, and was not
above holding a brief conversation with him, when he met him in the lane
on the left side of the church. The Squire was a man who never was
ashamed of his name as a Methodist, whether in the presence of the poor,
the rich, or the clergyman. He had stood for many years a member,
trustee, and steward in the Methodist Church. With all these honours,
and the good-will of almost the entire village, the Squire was an
unassuming and quiet man. His religion to him was more than all Church
honours and worldly good opinions. His house was the home of the
"travelling preachers," when, in their appointments, they came to the
village to preach. And a right sort of a home it was too, clean, airy,
pleasant, and possessing all things requisite to convenience and
comfort. There was, however, one drawback in the happiness of this home.
Excellent Sister Hopkins was afflicted with one failing, which could not
be hid from those who visited her house. The weakness to which we allude
was on the one side of it, _the love of praise_; and on the other side,
_the disparaging of herself and her doings_. This she did that she might
obtain the other. _She_ disparaged, that _you_ might praise. We do not
say she did not deserve praise, but that her way of seeking it was
neither wise nor commendable.

Sister Hopkins had so habituated herself to this way of speaking, that
it was difficult for her to avoid it. As a housewife she was
unexceptionable. She was careful to have everything in the most cleanly
and orderly condition. She was an excellent cook, and the Squire an
excellent provider, so that their table was always well spread, whenever
good cheer was required. And yet you could not enter the house without
being reminded that her "husband had company yesterday, and she could
not keep the rooms half so decent as she would like;" and when you sat
down to her table, covered with the best provisions, prepared in the
best style of the cookery art, she was sorry that she "had so little,
and so badly cooked." She had been doing this or that, busy here or
there, that she "really had not such things as she would have liked to
have had, and you must excuse it this time." It did not signify how
bountiful or well-prepared the meal was, there was always sure to be
something wanting which would be a text for a short sermon on

On one occasion a minister was at breakfast when the table was well
stocked with everything which could be desired--coffee of the finest
flavour, tea of the richest kind, cream and butter fresh from the
dairy, chickens swimming in gravy, with various kinds of preserves, and
other things of a spicy and confectionery sort. No sooner had her guest
begun to partake of her hospitality than Mrs. Hopkins commenced. She was
afraid the coffee was not so good as it might have been, the cream and
butter were not so fresh as she should have liked them, the chickens
were hardly roasted enough, and as for the preserves, they had been
boiled too much, through the carelessness of Mary, the servant. She
meant to have had something better for breakfast, but had been
disappointed; and it was too bad that there was nothing nice for him to

All this was very heavy for her guest to bear. He simply remarked that
"there was no need for apologies; everything was very good, and there
was plenty of it."

We will now introduce another person to the reader in connection with
Mrs. Hopkins. It is Superintendent Robson, who had just come on the
circuit. He was a good man, plain, homely, practical. Like Mr. Wesley,
he no more dare preach a _fine_ sermon than wear a fine coat. Such was
the action of his religion upon his conscience. He was well known for
his common-sense way of teaching the truths of the Bible. He _would_
speak just as he thought and as he felt, although he might offend Miss
Precision and Mr. Itchingear. He gained the name of being an eccentric
preacher, as most preachers do who _never_ prevaricate and always speak
as they think. The failing of Sister Hopkins had reached the ears of
Superintendent Robson. He had no patience with such a failing, and he
was resolved to cure her. On his first visit to the village to preach,
he stopped, according to custom, at Squire Hopkins's. Thomas, the
ostler, took the preacher's horse, and the preacher entered the house.
He was shown into the best room, and from all appearances felt quite at
home. Everything was in perfect order and cleanliness, fit for the
reception of a prince. The preacher had not been seated long, scarcely
long enough to pass the usual interchange of first salutations and
enquiries, when Mrs. Hopkins began in her old style to say she was
"sorry that things were so untidy; her house was upside down; she was
mortified to be found in such a plight; she really hoped before his
arrival to have had all things in such order as she always liked to see
them. She hoped he would excuse their being so." Superintendent Robson
looked around and about the room in all directions, to find out the
terrible confusion to which his hostess alluded; but he said not a word.
Shortly after the dinner was announced as ready; and as this was the
first visit of the preacher, particular attention had been given to have
a table spread with more than usual good things. The preacher, however,
found from the Squire's wife that there was hardly anything for dinner,
and what there was she was ashamed for him to sit down to. The
Superintendent heard her in mute astonishment. He lifted his dark eyes,
and looking her in the face with penetration and austerity, he rose
gently from the table and said,--

"Brother Hopkins, I want my horse immediately; I must leave this house."

"Why, Brother Robson, what is the matter?"

"Enough the matter! Why, sir, your house isn't fit to stay in, and you
haven't anything fit to eat or drink, and I won't stay."

The preacher mounted his horse and took his departure.

Both the Squire and his lady were confounded at such unexpected conduct.
They stood in their room as though thunderstruck, not knowing what to
say or what to do. But the preacher was gone, and could not be

After a few moments poor Sister Hopkins wept like a child. "Dear me,"
said she to the Squire, "this is a terrible thing. It will be all over
the village, and everybody will be laughing at me. How shall I meet the
Superintendent again? I did not mean anything by what I said; it is only
my way. I never thought it wrong. Had I known our new minister didn't
like such a way of talk I would not have talked so. Oh, how vexed I am!"

The result of this was that Mrs. Hopkins saw herself as others saw her.
She ceased making these empty and meaningless apologies, and became a
wiser and better woman. The next time Superintendent Robson went to the
Squire's he found a "house fit for him to stay in and things fit for him
to eat."



     "Take not His name, who made thy tongue, in vain,
     It gets thee nothing, and hath no excuse."

He is a transgressor of the third commandment of the Decalogue, "Thou
shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." He transgresses
without any laudable purpose, and without any necessity. He is
thoughtless, foolish, and void of the fear of God. "His mouth," as an
old divine says, "is black with oaths, and the very soot of hell hangs
about his lips." He degrades the most excellent things into the meanest
associations. Sometimes he indulges to such an extent in his sin, that
the main substance of his speech is swearing. It is more than an adjunct
or concomitant of his conversation; it is the body and soul of it.
Sometimes you may hear him, with an air of self-complacency, give
utterance to his profanity, as though he regarded it an ornament of
rhetoric, giving spice and condiment to his thoughts. There are
occasions when he considers his talk only reliable in its truthfulness
as this evil accompanies it. He would not be a man in his own judgment
if he did not swear. He thinks he magnifies his own importance in the
estimation of other people; but, alas! he promotes his own shame and
disgrace before the eyes of the wise and good.

The common swearer is confined to no rank or age in society. I have
heard the youth who was barely in his teens indulge in this sin, as
though it had been a part of his parental or day-school education. I
have heard the young gentleman, so-called, recently returned from the
walks of a University, pollute his lips and character with this shameful
vice. I have heard the man who laid claim to wealth, to intelligence, to
respectability, and to honour, pour forth his swearing words. I have
heard the man who has stood in official relation to the state, and who
considered himself a "justice of the peace," break the holy commandment
with impunity. I have even heard one, called by the misnomer, "lady," do
disgrace to her sex by this sinful fault in conversation. In the
household, with a group of little ones whose minds were just unfolding
to receive first impressions, I have heard the parents swear as though
they were licensed to do so by reason. In company, where common civility
ought to have restrained, I have heard the utterances of the swearer's
horrid voice. In the street, where public decency ought to have
deterred, I have again and again heard the revolting expressions of this
talker's leprous tongue. In the shop, while transacting business, I have
heard him give vent to his blasphemies, when a kind reproof has only
seemed for the time to enrage his demoniacal spirit to more fiery
ebullitions. How humiliating is this sin to human nature! How it severs
from everything that is holy and honourable! How it insults and
blasphemes the glorious Lord of earth and heaven! How closely it allies
to "the prince of the power of the air"!

"It might puzzle a philosopher," says Ogden, "to trace the love of
swearing to its original principle, and assign its place in the
constitution of man.

"Is it a passion, or an appetite, or an instinct? What is its just
measure, its proper object, its ultimate end?

"Or shall we conclude that it is entirely the work of art? a vice which
men have invented for themselves without prospect of pleasure or profit,
and to which there is no imaginable temptation in nature?

"If it be an accomplishment, it is such an one as the meanest person may
make himself master of; requiring neither rank nor fortune, neither
genius nor learning.

"But if it be no test of wit, we must allow, perhaps, that it wears the
appearance of valour. Alas! what is the appearance of anything? The
little birds perch upon the image of an eagle.

"True bravery is sedate and inoffensive: if it refuse to submit to
insults, it offers none; begins no disputes, enters into no needless
quarrels; is above the little, troublesome ambition to be distinguished
every moment; it hears in silence, and replies with modesty; fearing no
enemy, and making none; and is as much ashamed of insolence as

The swearer may ask, "Where is the evil of an oath when it is used for
the support of truth?" If your character is good, the person with whom
you converse will require no oath. He will depend upon the simple and
bare declaration of the matter: and if you swear, it will take a
per-centage from your character in his estimation, and he will not
believe the statement any the sooner for the oath connected with it. Can
you think that the high and holy name of God is intended to be debased
by association with every trivial and impertinent truth which may be
uttered? "No oath," says Bishop Hopkins, "is in itself simply good, and
voluntarily to be used; but only as medicines are, in case of necessity.
But to use it ordinarily and indifferently, without being constrained by
any cogent necessity, or called to it by any lawful authority, is such a
sin as wears off all reverence and dread of the Great God: and we have
very great cause to suspect that where His name is so much upon the
tongue, there His fear is but little in the heart."

Again, the same author says, "Though thou swearest that which is true;
yet customary swearing to truths will insensibly bring thee to swear
falsehoods. For, when once thou art habituated to it, an oath will be
more ready to thee than a truth; and so when thou rashly boltest out
somewhat that is either doubtful or false, thou wilt seal it up and
confirm it with an oath, before thou hast had time to consider what
thou hast said or what thou art swearing: for those who accustom
themselves to this vice lose the observation of it in the frequency;
and, if you reprove them for swearing, they will be ready to swear
again, that they did not swear. And therefore it is well observed of St.
Austin, 'We ought to forbear swearing that which is truth; for, by the
custom of swearing, men oftentimes fall into perjury, and are always in
danger of it.'"

Take a few considerations, with a view to show the evil of swearing, and
to deter from the practice of it.

1. _Consider that Name by which the Swearer generally commits his sin._
"The name of God," says Jeremy Taylor, "is so sacred, so mighty, that it
rends mountains, it opens the bowels of the deepest rocks, it casts out
devils, and makes hell to tremble, and fills all the regions of heaven
with joy; the name of God is our strength and confidence, the object of
our worshippings, and the security of all our hopes; and when God hath
given Himself a name, and immured it with dread and reverence, like the
garden of Eden with the swords of cherubim, and none durst speak it but
he whose lips were hallowed, and that at holy and solemn times, in a
most holy and solemn place; I mean the high priest of the Jews at the
solemnities when he entered into the sanctuary,--then He taught all the
world the majesty and veneration of His name; and therefore it was that
God made restraints upon our conceptions and expressions of Him; and,
as He was infinitely curious, that, from all appearances He made to
them, they should not depict or engrave any image of Him; so He took
care that even the tongue should be restrained, and not be too free in
forming images and representments of His name; and therefore as God drew
their eyes from vanity, by putting His name amongst them, and
representing no shape; so even when He had put His name amongst them, He
took it off from the tongue, and placed it before the eye; for Jehovah
was so written on the priest's mitre, that all might see and read, but
none speak it but the priest. But besides all this, there is one great
thing concerning the name of God, beyond all that can be spoken or
imagined else; and that is, that when God the Father was pleased to pour
forth all His glories, and imprint them upon His Holy Son, in His
exaltation, it was by giving Him His holy name, the Tetragrammaton, or
Jehovah made articulate, to signify 'God manifested in the flesh;' and
so He wore the character of God, and became the bright image of His

"Now all these great things concerning the name of God are infinite
reproofs of common and vain swearing by it. God's name is left us here
to pray by, to hope in, to be the instrument and conveyance of our
worshippings, to be the witness of truth and the judge of secrets, the
end of strife and the avenger of perjury, the discerner of right and the
severe exactor of all wrongs; and shall all this be unhallowed by
impudent talking of God without sense or fear, or notice, or reverence,
or observation?"

2. _The uselessness of swearing._ "Surely," says Dr. Barrow, "of all
dealers in sin the swearer is palpably the silliest, and maketh the
worst bargains for himself; for he sinneth gratis, and, like those in
the prophet, _selleth his soul for nothing_. An epicure hath some reason
to allege; an extortioner is a man of wisdom, and acteth prudently in
comparison to him; for they enjoy some pleasure, or acquire some gain
here, in lieu of their salvation hereafter: but this fondling offendeth
heaven, and abandoneth happiness, he knoweth not why or for what. He
hath not so much as the common plea of human infirmity to excuse him; he
can hardly say he was tempted thereto by any bait."

The following incident will illustrate the senselessness of swearing as
frequently practised:--

Three travellers in a coach endeavoured to shorten the tedious hours by
relating stories. One of them, an officer, who had seen much of the
world, spoke of his past dangers, and former comrades, in so interesting
a manner, that his companions would have been charmed with his recitals
had he not interspersed them with continual oaths and imprecations. When
he had finished his tale, an elderly gentleman, who had not yet spoken,
was asked for a story. Without hesitation he thus commenced his

"Gentlemen, it is now nearly twenty years since I was travelling on this
road, on a very dark night, when--_a thousand trumpets, pipes, and
strings!_--an accident occurred,--_trumpets, pipes, and strings!_--of
which I cannot even now think without shuddering. I truly
believe--_trumpets, pipes, and strings!_--that it happened on the very
spot which we are now passing. The coach was going on at the usual speed
of--_trumpets, pipes, and strings!_--when we were suddenly alarmed by
the noise of horses galloping after us.--_Trumpets, pipes, and
strings!_--We distinctly heard voices crying, 'Stop! stop!'--_trumpets,
pipes, and strings!_--said I to my companions, 'We are pursued by
robbers!'--_trumpets, pipes, and strings!_--'It is not possible,' cried
the other travellers.--_Pipes and strings!_--'Oh, yes,' said I, 'it is
but too true,' and on looking out of the window, I saw that
those--_trumpets, pipes, and strings!_--horsemen had overtaken us. Just
as the carriage--_trumpets, pipes, and----_"

Here the officer's impatience could no longer be restrained. "I hope you
will excuse my interrupting you, sir," said he, "but for the life of me
I cannot see what your _trumpets, pipes, and strings_ have to do with
your story."

"Sir," replied the old man, "you astonish me. Have you not perceived
that these words are quite as necessary to my tale as the _oaths_ and
_imprecations_ with which you seasoned yours? Allow me to offer you a
few words of counsel: you are yet young, you can yet correct this sad
habit, which shows lightness of character and disrespect for God's
sacred name and presence."

There was a moment's silence, the officer then took the old gentleman's
hand, and pressing it with emotion, said,--

"Sir, I _thank_ you for the kind lesson you have taught me; I hope it
will not be in vain."

3. _The incivility of swearing._ "Some vain persons," says Dr. Barrow
again, "take it for a genteel and graceful thing, a special
accomplishment, a mark of fine breeding, a point of high gallantry; for
who, forsooth, is the brave spark, the complete gentleman, the man of
conversation and address, but he that hath the skill and confidence (O
heavens! how mean a skill! how mad a confidence!) to lard every sentence
with an oath or curse; making bold at every turn to salute his Maker, or
to summon Him in attestation of his tattle; not to say calling and
challenging the Almighty to damn and destroy him? Such a conceit, I say,
too many have of swearing, because a custom thereof, together with
divers other fond and base qualities, hath prevailed among some people
bearing the name and garb of gentlemen.

"But in truth there is no practice more crossing the genuine nature of
genteelness, or misbecoming persons well-born and well-bred; who should
excel the rude vulgar in goodness, in courtesy, in nobleness of heart,
in unwillingness to offend, and readiness to oblige those with whom they
converse, in steady composedness of mind and manners, in disdaining to
say or do any unworthy, any unhandsome thing.

"For this practice is not only a gross rudeness towards the main body
of men, who justly reverence the name of God, and detest such an abuse
thereof; not only, further, an insolent defiance of the common
profession, the religion, the law of our country, which disalloweth and
condemneth it; but it is very odious and offensive to any particular
society or company, at least wherein there is any sober person, any who
retaineth a sense of goodness, or is anywise concerned for God's honour;
for to any such person no language can be more disgustful. Nothing can
more grate his ears, or fret his heart, than to hear the sovereign
object of his love and esteem so mocked and slighted; to see the law of
his Prince so disloyally infringed, so contemptuously trampled on; to
find his best Friend and Benefactor so outrageously abused. To give him
the lie were a compliment, to spit in his face were an obligation, in
comparison to this usage.

"Wherefore it is a wonder that any person of rank, any that hath in him
a spark of ingenuity, or doth at all pretend to good manners, should
find in his heart, or deign to comply with so scurvy a fashion; a
fashion much more befitting the scum of the people than the flower of
the gentry; yea, rather much below any man endued with a scrap of
reason, or a grain of goodness. Would we bethink ourselves, modest,
sober, and pertinent discourse would appear far more generous and
masculine than such mad hectoring the Almighty, such boisterous
insulting over the received laws and general notions of mankind, such
ruffianly swaggering against sobriety and goodness. If gentlemen would
regard the virtues of their ancestors, the founders of their quality;
that gallant courage, that solid wisdom, that noble courtesy which
advanced their families, and severed them from the vulgar; this
degenerate wantonness and sordidness of language would return to the
dunghill, or rather, which God grant, be quite banished from the world."

4. _The positive scriptural commands against swearing._ "Thou shalt not
take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold
him guiltless that taketh His name in vain." "Ye shall not swear by any
name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the
Lord." The Christian Lawgiver thus utters His voice, "Ye have heard that
it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself,
but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear
not at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne: nor by the earth,
for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the
great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not
make one hair white or black." St. James thus utters the inspiration of
the Spirit: "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by
heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your
yea be yea, and your nay, nay: lest ye fall into condemnation."

It is the duty of all who reverence the name of God, and desire not sin
upon their brother, to stand up in firm fidelity, to reprove and correct
this evil as it may come before them. The following instances
illustrate how this may be done.

"My lads," said a shrewd captain, when reading his orders to the crew on
the quarter-deck, to take command of the ship, "there is a favour which
I ask of you, and which, as a British officer, I expect will be granted
by a crew of British seamen; what say you lads, are you willing to grant
your new captain, who promises to treat you well, one favour?"

"Hi, hi, sir," cried all hands, "please to let's know what it is, sir,"
said a rough-looking, hoarse-voiced boatswain.

"Why, my lads," said the captain, "it is this: that _you must allow_ ME
_to swear the first oath in this ship_; this is a law which I cannot
dispense with; I must insist upon it, I cannot be denied. No man on
board must swear an oath before _I_ do; I want to have the privilege of
swearing _the first oath_ on board H.M.S. C----. What say you, my lads,
will you grant me this favour?"

The appeal seemed so reasonable, and the manner of the captain so kind
and so prepossessing, that a general burst from the ship's company
announced, "Hi, hi, sir," with their accustomed _three cheers_, when
they left the quarter-deck. The effect was good, _swearing was wholly
abolished in the ship_.

When the Rev. Rowland Hill was returning from Ireland, he found himself
much annoyed by the reprobate conduct of the captain and mate, who were
sadly given to the scandalous habit of swearing. First the captain
swore at the mate, then the mate swore at the captain; then they both
swore at the winds. Mr. Hill called to them for "fair play."

"Stop, stop," said he; "let us have fair play, gentlemen; it is my turn

"At what is it your turn?" asked the captain.

"At swearing," replied Mr. Hill.

Well, they waited and waited, until their patience was exhausted, and
they wished Mr. Hill to make haste and take his turn. He told them,
however, that he had a right to take his own time, and swear at his own

The captain replied with a laugh, "Perhaps you don't mean to take your

"Pardon me, captain," answered Mr. Hill, "I shall do so as soon as I can
find the good of doing it."

Mr. Hill did not hear another oath on the voyage.

John Wesley was once travelling in a stage-coach with a young officer
who was exceedingly profane, and who swore curses upon himself in almost
every sentence. Mr. Wesley asked him if he had read the Common Prayer
Book; for if he had, he might remember the collect beginning, "O God,
Who art wont to give more than we are to pray, and art wont to give more
than either we desire or deserve." The young man had the good sense to
make the application, and swear no more during the journey.

On another occasion Mr. Wesley was travelling, when he had as a
fellow-passenger one who was intelligent and very agreeable in
conversation, with the exception of occasional swearing. When they
changed coaches at a certain place, Mr. Wesley took the gentleman aside,
and after expressing the general pleasure he had had in his company,
said he had one favour to ask of him. He at once replied, "I will take
great pleasure in obliging you, for I am sure you will not make an
unreasonable request." "Then," said Mr. Wesley, "as we have to travel
together some distance, I beg, if I should so far forget myself as to
swear, you will kindly reprove me." The gentleman immediately saw the
reason and force of the request, and smiling, said, "None but Mr. Wesley
could have conceived a reproof in such a manner."



     "All affectation is vain and ridiculous; it is the attempt of
     poverty to appear rich."--LAVATER.

This is a talker with whom one sometimes meets in society. He is not
generally very difficult to recognise. His physiognomy often indicates
the class to which he belongs. He has sometimes a peculiar formation of
mouth, which you may notice as the result of his affectation in
speaking. His voice, too, is frequently indicative of his fault. It is
pathetic, joyous, funereal, strong, weak, squeaking, not according to
its own naturalness, but according to the affectation of his mind. And
these variations are generally the opposite of what they ought to be.
They neither harmonise with the subject spoken of, nor the person

Affectation is a fault which attaches itself to a certain class of
"young ladies and gentlemen" who have spent a few months in a village
academy or a city school, and wish to give to their friends and parents
unmistakeable evidence of their success in the acquisition of learning.
It also belongs to a limited class of young ladies who have advanced
somewhere the other side of thirty, and begin to stand in fear of a
_slip_. Their affectation, it is hoped, will be very winning upon the
affections of a peculiar sort of young gentlemen who have gone so far in
life that they are almost resolved to go all the way without any
companion to accompany them. It is a fault, too, which often clings to
another class of society,--that which, by a sudden elevation of fortune,
are raised from the walks of poverty into the ranks of the wealthy. The
elevation of their circumstances has not elevated their education, their
intelligence, their good manners. Nevertheless, they affect an equality
in these, and at the same time sadly betray the reality of their origin
and training.

This affectation in talk as well as in other ways mostly develops itself
in society which is supposed to be higher than the parties affected. The
ignorant talker is affected in the company of the intelligent; the
uneducated in the company of the educated; the poor in the company of
the rich; the young lady in the company of the one who is superior to
her, and into whose heart she wishes to distil a drop or two of Cupid's

Not only, however, among these is the affected talker to be found. He is
sometimes met with in those who are supposed to have acquired such
attainments in self-knowledge and education as to lift them above this
objectionable habit. A clergyman of considerable popularity on a certain
occasion was observed to give utterance to his thoughts thus, "The
sufferings of the _poo-ah_ increase with the approach of _wint-ah_; and
the _glaurious gos-pill_ is the only _cu-ah_ of all the ills of
suffering _hoo-man-e-tee_." On another occasion, the same accomplished
minister was heard to address himself with much eloquence to the ungodly
portion of his congregation: "_O sin-nah_, the judgment is _ne-ah_; life
is but a _va-pah_. He that hath ears to _ye-ah_, let him _ye-ah_."

A person of respectable position and intelligence, addicted to this way
of speaking, in giving account of a visit he had recently made to a man
in dying circumstances, said, "When I _arrove_ at the house of my
_deseased_ friend, he was _perspiring_ his last. I stood by his bedside,
and said, as he was too far gone to speak, 'Brother, if you feel happy
now, _jist_ squeze my hand;' and he _squoze_ it."

But wherever and in whomsoever this fault is discernible, it is a
creature of ignorance and weakness. It is repulsive. It is simply
detestible; in some, more than in others. There is no fault so easily
discovered, and there is none so quickly denounced. The affected talker
is one of the most disagreeable talkers. If there is no moral defect in
him, yet there is want of good taste, want of propriety, want of respect
to the taste of others, violence offered to his own natural gifts and
acquired abilities. There is a degree of deception and imposture in the
action, if not in the motive and the result: an effort to produce an
impression contrary to the honest and natural state of the agent. But
it is rarely the effort succeeds in attaining its object. Mind is too
discerning, too apprehensive, too inquisitive, too susceptible, to allow
of imposition from such a source. There seems to be an instinct in human
nature to resist the influences coming from affectation. It almost
invariably fails to accomplish its end. There is no _innocent_ faulty
talker so little welcomed into company as the affected.

In illustration of this character still further the following is quoted
from the _Spectator_, No. 38:--

"A late conversation which I fell into, gave me an opportunity of
observing a great deal of beauty in a very handsome woman, and as much
wit in an ingenious man, turned into deformity in the one, and absurdity
in the other, by the mere force of affectation. The fair one had
something in her person (upon which her thoughts were fixed) that she
attempted to show to advantage, in every look, word, and gesture. The
gentleman was as diligent to do justice to his fine parts as the lady to
her beauteous form. You might see his imagination on the stretch to find
out something uncommon, and what they call bright, to entertain her,
while she writhed herself into as many different postures to engage him.
When she laughed, her lips were to sever at a greater distance than
ordinary, to show her teeth; her fan was to point to something at a
distance, that in the reach she may discover the roundness of her arm;
then she is utterly mistaken in what she saw, falls back, smiles at her
own folly, and is so wholly discomposed that her tucker is to be
adjusted, her bosom exposed, and the whole woman put into new airs and
graces. While she was doing all this, the gallant had time to think of
something very pleasing to say next to her, or to make some unkind
observation on some other lady to feed her vanity. These unhappy effects
of affectation naturally led me to look into that strange state of mind
which so generally discolours the behaviour of most people we meet

"The learned Dr. Burnet, in his 'Theory of the Earth,' takes occasion to
observe that every thought is attended with a consciousness and
representativeness; the mind has nothing presented to it but what is
immediately followed by a reflection of conscience, which tells you
whether that which was so presented is graceful or unbecoming. This act
of the mind discovers itself in the gesture, by a proper behaviour in
those whose consciousness goes no farther than to direct them in the
just progress of their present state or action; but betrays an
interruption in every second thought, when the consciousness is employed
in too fondly approving a man's own conceptions; which sort of
consciousness is what we call affectation.

"As the love of praise is implanted in our bosoms as a strong incentive
to worthy actions, it is a very difficult task to get above a desire of
it for things that should be wholly indifferent. Women, whose hearts are
fixed upon the pleasure they have in the consciousness that they are the
objects of love and admiration, are ever changing the air of their
countenances, and altering the attitude of their bodies, to strike the
hearts of their beholders with new sense of their beauty. The dressing
part of our sex, whose minds are the same with the sillier part of the
other, are exactly in the like uneasy condition to be regarded for a
well-tied cravat, a hat cocked with an uncommon briskness, a very
well-chosen coat, or other instances of merit, which they are impatient
to see unobserved.

"This apparent affectation, arising from an ill-governed consciousness,
is not so much to be wondered at in such loose and trivial minds as
these; but when we see it reign in characters of worth and distinction,
it is what you cannot but lament, not without some indignation. It
creeps into the hearts of the wise man as well as that of the coxcomb.
When you see a man of sense look about for applause, and discover an
itching inclination to be commended; lay traps for a little incense,
even from those whose opinion he values in nothing but his own favour;
who is safe against this weakness? or who knows whether he is guilty of
it or not? The best way to get clear of such a light fondness for
applause is to take all possible care to throw off the love of it upon
occasions that are not in themselves laudable, but as it appears we hope
for no praise from them. Of this nature are all graces in men's persons,
dress, and bodily deportment, which will naturally be winning and
attractive if we think not of them, but lose their force in proportion
to our endeavour to make them such.

"When our consciousness turns upon the main design of life, and our
thoughts are employed upon the chief purpose either in business or
pleasure, we shall never betray an affectation, for we cannot be guilty
of it; but when we give the passion for praise an unbridled liberty, our
pleasure in little perfections robs us of what is due to us for great
virtues and worthy qualities. How many excellent speeches and honest
actions are lost for want of being indifferent when we ought! Men are
oppressed with regard to their way of speaking and acting, instead of
having their thoughts bent upon what they should do or say; and by that
means bury a capacity for great things. This, perhaps, cannot be called
affectation; but it has some tincture of it, at least, so far as that
their fear of erring in a thing of no consequence argues they would be
too much pleased in performing it.

"It is only from a thorough disregard to himself in such particulars
that a man can act with a laudable sufficiency; his heart is fixed upon
one point in view, and he commits no errors, because he thinks nothing
an error but what deviates from that intention.

"The wild havoc affectation makes in that part of the world which should
be most polite is visible wherever we turn our eyes: it pushes men not
only into impertinencies in conversation, but also in their premeditated
speeches. At the bar it torments the bench, whose business it is to cut
off all superfluities in what is spoken before it by the practitioner,
as well as several little pieces of injustice which arise from the law
itself. I have seen it make a man run from the purpose before a judge,
who was, when at the bar himself, so close and logical a pleader, that
with all the pomp of eloquence in his power, he never spoke a word too

"It might be borne even here, but it often ascends the pulpit itself,
and the declaimer in that sacred place is frequently so impertinently
witty, speaks of the last day itself with so many quaint phrases, that
there is no man who understands raillery but must resolve to sin no
more. Nay, you may behold him sometimes in prayer, for a proper delivery
of the great truths he is to utter, humble himself with so very well
turned phrase, and mention his own unworthiness in a way so very
becoming, that the air of the pretty gentleman is preserved under the
lowliness of the preacher.

"I shall end this with a short letter I wrote the other day, to a very
witty man, overrun with the fault I am speaking of.

     "DEAR SIR,--I spent some time with you the other day, and must take
     the liberty of a friend to tell you of the insufferable affectation
     you are guilty of in all you say and do. When I gave you a hint of
     it, you asked me whether a man is to be cold to what his friends
     think of him. No; but praise is not to be the entertainment of
     every moment. He that hopes for it must be able to suspend the
     possession of it till proper periods of life or death itself. If
     you would not rather be commended than be praiseworthy, contemn
     little merits, and allow no man to be so free with you as to praise
     you to your face. Your vanity by this means will want its food. At
     the same time your passion for esteem will be more fully gratified;
     men will praise you in their actions: where you now receive one
     compliment, you will then receive twenty civilities. Till then you
     will never have of either, farther than,

     "Sir, your humble servant,




     "Compress the sum into its solid worth,
     And if it weigh the importance of a fly,
     The scales are false, or algebra a lie."

This is a talker who seems to think that the best use of speech is to
give currency to folly. He deals in thoughts and words which create
laughter rather than convey instruction. The puns and witticisms of the
shop, the street, the theatre, the newspaper, he reserves with
sacredness for repetition in the social party, that he may excite the
risible faculties, and give merriment to the circle. He appears to have
no apprehension of anything that is serious and intelligent. The sum
total of his conversation, weighed in the balance, is lighter than
vanity. "The mouth of fools," says Solomon, "poureth out foolishness."
If he is not true to the character, he is to the sign. He forgets
altogether that there is a time "to weep," and talks in strains which
make one think that he believes there is only a time "to laugh." To
laugh and to create laughter is the main business of his tongue in all

He has no sympathy with Tennyson in the following lines:--

  "Prythee weep, May Lilian!
    Gaiety without eclipse
  Wearieth me, May Lilian."

Or with Barry Cornwall, in his lines:--

  "Something thou dost want, O queen!
    (As the gold doth ask alloy,)
  Tears, amidst thy laughter seen,
    Pity, mingling with the joy."

"That which is meant by stultiloquy," says Bishop Taylor, "or foolish
talking, is the '_lubricum verbi_', as St. Ambrose calls it, 'the
slipping with the tongue,' which prating people often suffer, whose
discourses betray the vanity of their spirit, and discover 'the hidden
man of the heart.' For no prudence is a sufficient guard, or can always
stand '_in excubiis_,' 'still watching,' when a man is in perpetual
floods of talk; for prudence attends after the manner of an angel's
ministry; it is despatched on messages from God, and drives away
enemies, and places guards, and calls upon the man to awake, and bids
him send out spies and observers, and then goes about his own ministries
above: but an angel does not sit by a man, as a nurse by the baby's
cradle, watching every motion, and the lighting of a fly upon the
child's lip: and so is prudence: it gives rules, and proportions out our
measures, and prescribes us cautions, and by general influences orders
our particulars; but he that is given to talk cannot be secured by all
this; the emissions of his tongue are beyond the general figures and
lines of rule; and he can no more be wise in every period of a long and
running talk than a lutanist can deliberate and make every motion of his
hand by the division of his notes, to be chosen and distinctly
voluntary. And hence it comes that at every corner of the mouth a folly
peeps out, or a mischief creeps in."

The stultiloquist's talk is like the jesting of mimics and players, who
in ancient times were so licentious that they would even make Socrates
or Aristides the subject of their jests, in order to find something to
provoke the laugh. It is immaterial to him who or what presents itself;
he will endeavour to extract therefrom something ludicrous or comical
for the amusement of the company. He may injure the feelings of some; he
may offend the modesty of others, and break all the rules of decorum;
but what does he care? Merriment is of more importance to him than the
most sacred feelings of other people.

Our talker may think that because his hearers listen and laugh, they
appreciate his continued flow of stultiloquy. But he is mistaken; could
he read the minds of the thoughtful and intelligent, he would find they
become jaded long before he does: and if each could speak, he would hear
the sentiment of the lines:--

  "I'm weary of this laughter's empty din,
  Methinks this fellow, with his ready jests,
  Is like to tedious bells, that ring alike,
  Marriage or death."

Let not the reader infer from the preceding observations that a talker
must always exclude from his conversation everything that partakes of
the spirit of solid mirth and innocent cheerfulness. Certainly not. "To
be a man and a Christian, one need neither be a mourning dove nor a
chattering magpie; neither an ascetic nor a wanton; neither soar with
the wings of an angel nor flutter with the flaps of a moth: for there is
as substantial a difference between light-heartedness and levity as
between the crackling pyrotechnics that disturb the darkness of the
night and the natural sunlight which enlivens the day. Indecency and
ribaldry bring down a man to the level of the beast, divesting him of
all his rational superiority and soul-dignity. What appears equally
contemptible with the man who stoops to make grimaces, to utter
expressions, to tell tales, in one word, to act the fool for the
amusement of others, while he is suffering actual disparagement, in
proportion to their entertainment."

According to inspired wisdom, "no corrupt communication should proceed
out of our mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it
may minister grace unto the hearers," that is, favour, complaisance,
cheerfulness. We must avoid sullenness on the one hand, as we would
jesting on the other. Sullenness is repulsive and hateful. Jesting is
unseasonable and intolerable. But cheerfulness is the light of the soul,
and the sunshine of life. It is an alleviator of human sorrow, an
exhauster of oppressive cares. Jesting is frequently criminal and
foolish; but cheerfulness is one of the convoys of religion--the
festival spirit filling the heart with harmony and happiness. "It
composes music for churches and hearts; it makes and publishes
glorifications to God; it produces thankfulness, and serves the end of
charity: and when the oil of gladness runs over, it makes bright and
tall emissions of light and holy fires, reaching up to a cloud, and
making joy round about: and therefore, since it is so innocent, and may
be so pious and full of holy advantage, whatsoever can innocently
minister to this holy joy sets forward the work of religion and charity.
And, indeed, charity itself, which is the vertical top of all religion,
is nothing else but a union of joys, concentred in the heart, and
reflected from all the angles of our life and intercourse. It is a
rejoicing in God, a gladness in our neighbour's good, a rejoicing with
him; and without love we cannot have any joy at all. It is this that
makes children to be a pleasure, and friendship to be so noble and
divine a thing; and upon this account it is certain, that all that which
can innocently make a man cheerful, does also make him charitable; for
grief, and age, and sickness, and weariness, these are peevish and
troublesome; but mirth and cheerfulness are content, and civil, and
compliant, and communicative, and love to do good, and swell up to
felicity only upon the wings of charity. Upon this account, here is
pleasure enough for a Christian at present; and if a facete discourse,
and an amicable friendly mirth can refresh the spirit, and take it off
from the vile temptation of peevish, despairing, uncomplying
melancholy, it must needs be innocent and commendable. And we may as
well be refreshed by a clean and brisk discourse as by the air of
Campanian wines; and our faces and our heads may as well be anointed and
look pleasant with wit and friendly intercourse as with the fat of the
balsam tree; and such a conversation no wise man ever did or ought to
reprove. But when the jest hath teeth and nails, biting or scratching
our brother,--when it is loose and wanton,--when it is unseasonable, and
much, or many,--when it serves ill-purposes, or spends better
time,--then it is the drunkenness of the soul, and makes the spirit fly
away, seeking for a temple where the mirth and the music are solemn and

In a world of this kind, where reign life and death, goodness and evil,
joy and sorrow, we need a wise conjunction of seriousness and
cheerfulness. While, on the one hand, our harps must not always be on
the willows; neither must they always be high-strung and gaily played.
Smiles and tears in their season harmonise better than all of one or the
other out of season. With clouded sky for weeks we sigh for sunshine; as
in Italy, under its long bright sky, they sigh for clouds. The time of
the "singing of birds" and the efflorescence of trees is very welcome;
but who does not equally welcome the time of fruit-bearing also? The
lark soars in the air and sings merrily, but she also falls to earth and
sings not at all. Jesus rejoiced; but "Jesus wept." The night of
weeping and the morning of joy unite in one. So let the grave and the
cheerful conjoin in speech, according to times and seasons, places and

It is wise to have the two thus meet together. To be lifted up in
hilarity is the precursor of being cast down in dejection. A sudden rise
of the thermometer is generally followed by as sudden a fall. "I am not
sorry," said Sir Walter Scott, after the breaking up of a merry group of
guests at Abbotsford, "being one of those whom too much mirth always
inclines to sadness."

  "There is no music in the life
    That sounds with idiot laughter solely;
  There's not a string attuned to mirth,
    But has its chord in melancholy."

  "To some men God hath given laughter; but tears to some men He hath
  He bade us sow in tears, hereafter to harvest holier smiles in heaven;
  And tears and smiles they are His gift; both good, to smite or to uplift:
  He tempers smiles with tears; both good, to bear in time the Christian



     "Whose edge is sharper than the sword: whose tongue
     Outvenoms all the worms of Nile; whose breath
     Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie
     All corners of the world; kings, queens, and states,
     Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave
     This viperous slander enters."

He has a mischievous temper and a gossiping humour. He deals
unmercifully with his neighbour, and speaks of him without regard to
truth or honour. The holy command given him by his Maker, to love his
neighbour as himself, is violated with impunity. Like those busy tongues
spoken of by Jeremiah, that would feign find out some employment, though
it was mischief, he says, "Report, and we will report." He catches up
any evil rumour, and hands it on to others, until, like the river Nile,
it spreads over the whole land, and yet the head of it remains in
uncertainty. He hides himself from discovery, like those fish which
immerse themselves in mud of their own stirring.

He tells malicious stories of others, and ascribes odious names to them,
without any just foundation for either. He defames and calumniates in
company persons of whom no one present knows anything evil, or, if he
does, prefers keeping it in his own mind. It seems his pleasure to cast
filth into the face of purity; and bespatter innocence with foul
imputations. No eminency in rank, or sacredness in office; no integrity
in principle, or wisdom in administration; no circumspection in life, or
benevolence in deed; no good-naturedness of temper, or benignity of
disposition, escape the venom of his petulant tongue. Devoid of feeling
himself, he speaks of other people as though they were devoid of it
likewise. He can thrust at the tenderest heart, as though it was
adamant, and deal with human excellencies as so many shuttlecocks to be
played with by his slanderous words. The Christian religion does not
escape his leprous speech. The Holy Scriptures and the Church of Christ
come within the subjects of his viperous utterances. Even Jehovah
Himself, in His names, attributes, and ways, is sometimes the topic of
his unhallowed and blasphemous sayings.

The mental and moral attributes of the slanderer are of the most
depraved and unhappy character. He is envious, selfish, jealous, vain,
malignant, unbelieving, uncharitable, thoughtless, atheistical. St.
James says that "his tongue is set on fire of hell."

As, however, there is in every other class of character a variety of
manifestations, so in that of the slanderer.

The highest manifestation of this talker in regard to men consists in
bearing false witness against a neighbour; charging him with things of
which he is not guilty: as in the case of those who said, "Naboth did
blaspheme God and the king," when he had not done so. Thus did the
slanderer speak against David: "False witnesses are risen up against me,
and such as breathe out cruelty;" "They laid things to my charge that I
knew not." A second manifestation of slander is the application to
persons of epithets and phrases which they do not deserve. Thus Korah
and his company denounced Moses as unjust and tyrannical. Thus the Jews
spoke of Christ as an impostor, a blasphemer, a sorcerer, a wine-bibber,
a glutton, possessed of the devil, an instigator of the people to
anarchy and rebellion. A third manifestation is, aspersing a man's
actions with mean censures, intimating that they proceed from wrong
motives and principles. Another is, the perversion of a man's words or
deeds so as to give them a contrary appearance and signification to what
was intended. Another is, the insinuation of suggestions, which,
although they do not directly assert falsehood, engender wrong opinions
towards those of whom they are made. Another is, the utterance of
oblique and covert reflections, which, while they do not expressly
amount to an accusation of evil, convey the impression that something is
seriously defective. Another is, the imputation to a man's practice,
judgment, profession, or words, consequences which have no connection
with them, so as to deteriorate him in the estimation of others.
Another is, the repetition of any rumour or story concerning a man
likely to injure his character in society. Another is, being accessory
to or encouraging slander in any sense or degree.

The Apostle James speaks of slander as "poison." "The deadliest
poisons," says the Rev. F. W. Robertson, in a sermon on this passage,
"are those for which no test is known; there are poisons so destructive
that a single drop insinuated into the veins produces death in three
seconds, and yet no chemical science can separate that virus from the
contaminated blood and show the metallic particles of poison glittering
palpably, and say, 'Behold, it is here.'

"In the drop of venom which distils from the sting of the smallest
insect, or the spike of the nettle leaf, there is concentrated the
quintessence of a poison so subtle that the microscope cannot
distinguish it, and yet so virulent that it can inflame the blood,
irritate the whole constitution, and convert day and night into restless

"Thus it is with some forms of slander. It drops from tongue to tongue;
goes from house to house, in such ways and degrees, that it would
sometimes be difficult to take it up and detect the falsehood. You could
not evaporate the truth in the slow process of the crucible, and then
show the residuum of falsehood glittering and visible. You could not
fasten upon any word or sentence, and say that it was calumny; for in
order to constitute slander, it is not necessary that the words spoken
should be false--half truths are often more calumnious than whole
falsehoods. It is not even necessary that a word should be distinctly
uttered; a dropped lip, an arched eyebrow, a shrugged shoulder, a
significant look, an incredulous expression of countenance, nay, even an
emphatic silence, may do the work; and when the light and trifling thing
which has done the mischief has fluttered off, the venom is left behind
to work and rankle, to fever human existence, and to poison human
society at the fountain springs of life."

Glance at the _evil effects_ of slander. Beauty is defaced, goodness is
abused, innocence is corrupted, justice is dethroned, truth is denied
and violated. Motives are impugned, and purposes misinterpreted. Sacred
principles are treated with scorn, and honourable actions are slimed
over with disgrace. The minister is falsely represented to his people,
and the people to their minister. Church persecutes Church, and
Christian maligns Christian. Ill feelings are created between master and
servant. Friend is separated from friend. Neighbour is set against
neighbour. Business men are thrown into mutual antagonism. Whole
families are excited to animosities and strifes. Churches are raised
into ferment and divisions. Political parties are brought into rivalry
and contention. The passions are kindled into fury, and blood for blood,
tooth for tooth, eye for eye, are the precepts of mutual action. Fame is
arrested in its course and turned backwards. Honour is thrown into the
dust. Worth is cast into the streets; usefulness is perverted into
mischievousness. Noble aspiration is said to be selfishness. Whatever
slander touches, it leaves upon it the slimy trail of the old serpent,
and infuses its poisonous venom; and were it not for the angel of truth
which destroys both, irretrievable ruin would be the consequence.

"The tongue of the slanderer," says Massillon, "is a devouring fire,
which tarnishes whatever it touches; which exercises its fury on the
good grain equally as on the chaff, on the profane as on the sacred;
which, wherever it passes, leaves only desolation and ruin; digs even
into the bowels of the earth, and fixes itself on things the most
hidden; turns into vile ashes what only a moment before had appeared to
us so precious and brilliant; acts with more violence and danger than
ever, in the time when it was apparently smothered up and almost
extinct; which blackens what it cannot consume, and sometimes sparkles
and delights before it destroys."

"He that uttereth slander is a fool," says the Wise Man. "He is a fool,"
remarks Dr. Barrow, "because he maketh wrong judgments and valuations of
things, and accordingly driveth on silly bargains for himself, in result
whereof he proveth a great loser." His "whole body is defiled" by it,
says the Apostle. As a Christian he is enfeebled in his spiritual
strength. As a moralist he is weakened in his influence and character.
As a neighbour he loses respect and confidence. As a talker in company
he is shunned by the sincere and charitable. "A fool's mouth," observes
Solomon, "is his destruction: his lips are the snare of his soul." "Thy
tongue," says the Psalmist, "deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor,
working deceitfully. Thou lovest evil more than good, and lying rather
than to speak righteousness. Thou lovest all-devouring words, O thou
deceitful tongue. God shall likewise destroy thee for ever; He shall
take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling-place, and root thee
out of the land of the living" (Ps. lii. 2-5).

"You cannot stop the consequences of slander," says the Rev. F. W.
Robertson; "you may publicly prove its falsehood, you may sift every
atom, explain and annihilate it, and yet, years after you had thought
that all had been disposed of for ever, the mention of a name wakes up
associations in the mind of some one who heard it, but never heard or
never attended to the refutation, or who has only a vague and confused
recollection of the whole, and he asks the question doubtfully, 'But
were there not some suspicious circumstances connected with him?' It is
like the Greek fire used in ancient warfare, which burnt unquenched
beneath the water; or like the weeds, which, when you have extirpated
them in one place, are sprouting forth vigorously in another spot, at
the distance of many hundred yards; or, to use the metaphor of St. James
himself, it is like the wheel which catches fire as it goes, and burns
with a fiercer conflagration as its own speed increases; 'it sets on
fire the whole course of nature' (literally the wheel of nature). You
may tame the wild beast; the conflagration of the American forest will
cease when all the timber and the dry underwood is consumed; but you
cannot arrest the progress of that cruel word which you uttered
carelessly yesterday or this morning,--which you will utter, perhaps,
before you have passed from this church one hundred yards: that will go
on slaying, poisoning, burning beyond your own control, now and for

In conclusion, a few suggestions may be given, which, if taken, may
assist in the cure or prevention of this evil disease of the tongue.

1. _Consider well the ninth commandment of the Decalogue_, which
requires you not to bear false witness against your neighbour.

2. _Abstain from the company of slanderers._ "Thou shalt not follow a
multitude to do evil." Slandering is contagious. Slanderers help one
another. Prefer being alone, or seek that company in which the slanderer
is not admitted.

3. _Do not interfere in the affairs of other people, when they do not
concern you._ "Study to be quiet, and to mind _your own_ business." This
will occupy all your time and attention, and leave you no opportunity of
picking up and spreading abroad slanderous tales about your neighbours.
The slanderer is very often an idler, and a busy-body in other men's
matters, while his own lie in confusion and tend to ruin. Look at home.
Set thy own house in order. Make up thy own accounts. Pay thy own bills.
Rectify the disorder of thy own affairs. In doing these things you may
find enough to do, without working in the field of slander.

4. _Remember that you have your own weak points_ and failings, as well
as he of whom you may utter slanderous things. Were you to use the
mirror of reflection, and look into your own life honestly, you would
probably see faults which would make you think, "Well, I have plenty of
failings of my own, without saying anything about those of others. I
have a beam in my own eye to take out, before I attempt to take the mote
out of my brother's. I see that I live in a glass house myself, and must
be careful at whom I throw stones. I must wash my own hands in innocency
before I complain of others being unclean."

5. _Consider that, as you value your character_, other people value
their character. As you do not like to be slandered, neither do they.
Do, therefore, unto them as you would have them do unto you.

6. _Think of the consequences of slander_, and if you have a spark of
beneficence in your nature, you will avoid the practice of it.

7. It will be as well for you _not to imagine yourself of so great
importance in the world, and others of such insignificance_. Be not
high-minded, but fear. It is generally from an eminence of
self-importance that the slanderer speaks of those who occupy a position
of real and given eminence. If he would step down from that cloudy
pedestal, and occupy his own place, he would probably think less of
himself and more of others.

8. _Give no countenance to the slanderer._ Keep your patronage for some
one of nobler worth: some one more generous and charitable, more
philanthropic and Christian. Give him no entrance into your house.
Prefer his room to his company. Write over the doorway of your
residence, "No admission for slanderers." And in case he should find an
entrance, inscribe upon the walls of your rooms what St. Augustine
inscribed upon his,--

  "He that doth love on absent friends to jeer
  May hence depart, no room is for him here."

Close your ears to his slanders whenever and wherever you meet him.
"Lend not your ears," says an old writer, "to those who go about with
tales and whispers; whose idle business it is to tell news of this man
and the other: for if these kind of flies can but blow in your ears, the
worms will certainly creep out at your mouth. For all discourse is kept
up by exchange; and if he bring thee one story, thou wilt think it
incivility not to repay him with another for it; and so they chat over
the whole neighbourhood; accuse this man, and condemn another, and
suspect a third, and speak evil of all."



     "Some men employ their health, an ugly trick,
     In making known how oft they have been sick;
     And give us, in recitals of disease,
     A doctor's trouble, but without his fees."

This is a talker who may very properly occupy a place in our sketches.
It may not be necessary to give a description of his person. And were it
necessary, it would be difficult, on account of the frequent changes to
which he is subject. It is not, however, with his bodily appearance that
we have to do. He cannot perhaps be held responsible for this
altogether. But the fault of his tongue is undoubtedly a habit of his
own formation, and may therefore be described, with a view to its
amendment and cure.

The Valetudinarian is a man subject to some affliction, imaginary or
real, or it may be both. Whatever may be its nature, it loses nothing by
neglect on his part, for he is its devoted nurse and friend. Night and
day, alone and in company, he is most faithful in his attentions. He
keeps a mental diary of his complaints in their changing symptoms, and
of his general experience in connection with them. Whenever you meet
him, you find him well informed in a knowledge of the numerous
variations of his "complicated, long-continued, and unknown

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Round was a man who will serve as an illustration of this talker. He
was formerly a merchant in the city of London. During the period of his
business career he was remarkably active and diligent in the
accumulation of this world's goods. He was successful; and upon the
gains of his prosperous merchandise he retired into the country to live
on his "means." The sudden change from stirring city life into the
retirement and inactivity of a rural home soon began to affect his
health; and not being a man of much education and intelligence, his mind
brooded over himself, until he became nervous and, as he thought, feeble
and delicate. His nervousness failed not to do its duty in his
imagination and fancy; so that, with the two in active working, a
"combination of diseases" gradually took hold of him, and "told
seriously upon his constitution."

Mr. Round, having given up his business in the city, now had a business
with his afflictions in the country. He studied them thoroughly, in
their internal symptoms and external signs. He could have written a
volume of experience as to how he suffered in the head, the nerves, the
stomach, the liver, the lungs, the heart, etc.; how he suffered when
awake and when asleep; how he suffered from taking a particular kind of
food or drink; and how he did not suffer when he did not take a
particular kind of food and drink; how he thought he should have died a
thousand times, under certain circumstances which he would not name.
These things he could have pictured in a most affecting manner to his
reader. But it was not in writing that Mr. Round described his
multitudinous ailments. It was in _talking_. This to him was great
relief. A description of his case to any one who was patient enough to
hear him through did him more good than all the pills and mixtures sent
him by Doctor Green, his medical attendant. This habit of talking about
his sickness became as chronic as the sickness itself. He seemed to know
little of any other subject than the real and imaginary complaints of
his body; at least, he talked about little else. If in conversation he
happened to commence in the spirit, he soon entered into the flesh, and
there he ended. If by an effort of his hearer his attention was diverted
from himself, it would with all the quickness of an elastic bow rebound
to his favourite theme. Out of the sphere of his own "poor body," as he
used to call it, he was no more at home in conversation than a fish
wriggling on the sea-beach.

Mrs. Blunt invited a few friends to spend an evening at her house. The
company was composed mostly of young persons, in whom the flow of life
was strong and buoyant. The beginning of the evening passed off amid
much innocent enjoyment from conversation, singing, music, and reading.
In the midst of this social pleasure, who should make his appearance
but Mr. Round, accompanied by Mrs. Blunt? She introduced him to the
company, and to be polite, as he thought, he shook hands with every one
in the room. This performance took up the best part of half an hour, as
he gave each one a brief epitome of his imaginary disorders. As he was
speaking first to one and then another, the whole party might have heard
his melancholy voice giving an account of some particular item of his
affliction. One could hear the responses at intervals to his
statements,--"Oh"--"Ah"--"A pity you are so sick"--"Why, I never"--"Dear
me"--"Is it possible?"--"Why, how can you live so?"--"I wonder how you
survived that,"--coming from various parts of the room. Not only on
entering, but during his stay, he talked about his symptoms, his fears,
his hopes, his dangers, in respect to his "dreadful sickness."
Occasionally he would point to his eyes, observing "how sunken and
bedimmed!" then to his cheeks, saying "how pale and deathly they seem!"
Then again, he would call attention to the thinness of his hands and
arms, saying, "He was not near the man he used to be, and he feared he
never should be again. Although he was out that evening, he ought not to
have been, and he expected to suffer severely through the night for it.
If he had the health he once had, or the health of his friend next him,
there was nothing he would enjoy more than that evening; but now he was
past it. His doctor had been visiting him for years; but he didn't seem
to get any better, and he thought he should have to give him up, or
lose all the money he had. O dear! the room was too warm, he could not
breathe; that door must be opened; that singing distracted him; he loved
the piano once--now his nerves could not stand it. He thought it became
young people to be very serious and devout in the prospect of an
affliction which might be as melancholy as his was. But he could not
remain any longer; he was afraid of stopping out nights, and therefore
he must wish them good-bye and retire."

This was about the substance of all he said during his visit. He was
like an iceberg rolled into the genial temperature of the social
atmosphere. What did those young people care to know about his health,
excepting the usual compliments at such times? The room was not an
hospital, and the company a collection of inquiring, medical students.
He was no worse that evening than he had been months before. But as he
had not seen most of them until now he probably thought that would be an
interesting opportunity to entertain them with a full and particular
account of "his complicated and long-continued afflictions."

As soon as Mr. Round had gone from the room a general rallying was the

"The bore is gone, the valetudinarian has made his exit," exclaimed
Master Thompson, rather excited.

"O how pleased I am that he has left!" said Miss Young.

"So am I," responded Mr. Baker, "for he is one of the greatest plagues
that ever came near me. He is enough to give one the horrors, in
hearing so much of his sick talk."

"He was not satisfied in simply telling us that he was not very well;
but he must enter into a long and tedious detail of all his sicknesses,"
observed Mr. Wales.

"Well, poor man, he is to be pitied, after all. He suffers a great deal
more in his imagination from his sickness than we have in reality by
hearing him tell of it," said Miss Swaithe, a little sympathetically.

"I don't know about that," said young Spencer.

"Is Round gone, then?" asked Mr. Burr, a young man who had left the room
soon after he came in, having been annoyed with his valetudinarian

"He's no more," answered Miss Glass, in a tone somewhat ironically

"Why, he's not dead, is he?" inquired Mr. Burr, quickly. "I should not
be surprised if he were; for, judging from what he said, one would
expect him to die any moment."

"O no; he's not the one to die yet, be sure of that; but he's gone for
the night," said Miss Glass.

"Thank goodness for his departure: I do not mean to another world, but
from this company. Yet where would be the harm in wishing him in heaven,
where none shall ever say they are sick?" said Mr. Ferriday.

"I see no harm in wishing a good thing like that," said Miss Bond--"a
good thing for him and other people too."

"Don't be so unkind and unmerciful," said Mrs. Grant.

"I do not think I am so," replied Miss Bond, "for if he was in heaven,
he would be cured of all his diseases; and he says he never shall be in
this world. And then other people would be happily exempted from the
misery of listening to his invalid tales every time they met with him."

"How his wife does to live with him I cannot tell," remarked Miss Bond.

"I suppose she is used to him," said Mr. Burr.

"Come now, let us have no more talk about Mr. Round, or we shall be
catching some of his diseases," said Miss Crane.

Soon after the above talk had ceased, Mr. Burr took up a copy of
Cowper's poems which lay on the table. He opened on the subject of
"Conversation," and, in reading, came to the part which describes the
Valetudinarian. Having read it over to himself, he could not refrain
asking permission to read it aloud.

"Although we have dismissed the subject of Mr. Round," said Mr. Burr,
"yet, if the company have no objection, I would like to read from
Cowper's poems a short piece which I think will interest you, as being
descriptive of the Valetudinarian, who has been with us this evening."

General consent being given, Mr. Burr read as follows:--

  "Some men employ their health, an ugly trick,
  In making known how oft they have been sick;
  And give us, in recitals of disease,
  A doctor's troubles, but without his fees;
  Relate how many weeks they kept their bed,
  How an emetic or cathartic sped;
  Nothing is slightly touched, much less forgot,
  Nose, ears, and eyes, seem present on the spot.
  Now the distemper, spite of draught or pill,
  Victorious seemed, and now the doctor's skill;
  And now--alas for unforeseen mishaps!--
  They put on a damp nightcap and relapse;
  They thought they must have died, they were so bad;
  Their peevish hearers almost wish they had."

"That's capital," cried out Mr. Strong.

"It is Mr. Round's character to a tick," said Mrs. Blunt, who was better
acquainted with him than any one else in the room.

"It seems to me," said Miss Young, "that Cowper must have had Round
before him when he wrote those lines."

"Cowper is a splendid poet," observed young Brown, who was rather
pedantic; "he is my favourite among the poets. I have been accustomed to
read him from my boyhood. I always admire his description of character.
Who but a Cowper could have written that admirable extract just given to
us by Mr. Burr, and which was read with such elegance?"

"Come," said Mr. Burr, "give us a tune on the piano, Miss Armstrong."

The company again left the Valetudinarian for their social enjoyments;
and not long after left Mrs. Blunt's for their respective homes.



     "And when they talk of him they shake their heads,
     And whisper one another in the ear;
     And he that speaks doth gripe the hearer's wrist,
     Whilst he that hears makes fearful action
     With wrinkled brows, with nods, and rolling eyes."

His stock of information is always of the most original kind, and no
want of it into the bargain. No one is acquainted with the facts
treasured in his memory but himself. Nor does he want any one else to
know, excepting a particular friend in whom he has the greatest
confidence. And he will only inform him in a whisper, lest any other
should hear; and this upon the sacred condition that he will never
discover the secret to his nearest friend, not even to the wife of his
bosom. And lo, when the grand secret is divulged into his inclining and
attentive ear, it is either an old story which everybody knows, or a
communication of gossip about some one in whom he has no interest

Peter Hush is a Whisperer often met with in the ranks of life. He is a
descendant from an ancient family of that name, which has lived so long
that the origin can scarcely be traced out. He stands related to a vast
number of Hushes located in different parts of the world. It is the
business of Peter, in the first place, to walk around in the
neighbourhood where he resides in order to pick up what scraps of
information he can find. He cares not where he finds them, nor how, nor
what they are; he has a use for them. He collects stories in the private
history of individuals, mixed up with a slight degree of scandal. The
sickness of persons, evening parties, clandestine visits, secret
courtships, elopements, marriages, difficulties of tradesmen, quarrels
of husbands and wives, rumours from abroad respecting a newly located
neighbour, with such-like things, constitute the commodity which he
gathers. He is seldom or ever without a stock on hand; if he cannot give
you of one kind, he can of another. Sometimes I have met him in a
bye-road, and, before he told me what he had to say, he came close to
me, and being a little shorter than myself, stood on tip-toe, and
whispered in my ears; then telling me aloud, "Be sure now you say
nothing about it; I wouldn't have it repeated for all the world." Poor
Peter need not have been alarmed, for I knew the thing long before he
did. I have been alone with him in a large room, and he would take me up
one corner to whisper something in my ears. He has a way sometimes of
ending his whispering revelations with a loud, "Do not you think so?"
then whisper again, and then aloud, "But you know that person," then
whisper again. The thing would be well enough if Peter whispered to keep
the folly of what he says among friends; but, alas! he does it to
preserve the importance of his own thoughts. It is a wonderful thing
that, although he is never heard to talk about things in nature, and
never seen with a book in his hand, yet he can whisper something like
knowledge of what has and of what now passes in the world, which one
would think he learned from some familiar spirit that did not think him
worthy to receive the whole story. But the truth is, he deals only in
half accounts of what he would entertain you with. A help to his
discourse is, "That the town says, and people begin to talk very freely,
and he had it from persons too considerable to be named, what he will
tell you when things are riper." He informs you as a secret that he
designs in a very short time to reveal you a secret; you must say
nothing to any one. The next time you see him the secret is not yet
ripened, he wants to learn a little more of it, and in a fortnight's
time he hopes to tell you everything about it.

You may sometimes see Peter seat himself in a company of eight or ten
persons whom he never saw before in his life; and after having looked
about to see that no one overheard, he has communicated unto them in a
low voice, and under the seal of secrecy, the death of a great man in
the country, who was perhaps at that very moment travelling in Europe
for his pleasure. If upon entering a room you see a circle of heads
bending over a table, and lying close to one another, it is almost
certain that Peter Hush is among them. Peter has been known to publish
the whisper of the day by eight o'clock in the morning at one house, by
twelve at a second, and before two at a third. When Peter has thus
effectually launched a secret, it is amusing to hear people whispering
it to one another at second hand, and spreading it about as their own;
for it must be known that the great incentive to whispering is the
ambition which every one has of being thought in the secret and being
looked upon as a man who has access to greater people than one would

Besides the character of Peter Hush, as a whisperer, there is Lady
Blast, about whom a word or two must be said. She deals in the private
transactions of the sewing circle, the quilting party, with all the
arcana of the fair sex. She has such a particular malignity in her
whisper that it blights like an easterly wind, and withers every
reputation it breathes upon. She has a most dexterous plan at making
private weddings. Last winter she married about five women of honour to
their footmen. Her whisper can rob the innocent young lady of her
virtue; and fill the healthful young man with diseases. She can make
quarrels between the dearest friends, and effect a divorce between the
husband and wife who never lived on any terms but the most peaceful and
happy. She can stain the character of the clergymen with corruption,
against which no one could ever utter the faintest moral delinquency.
She can beggar the wealthy, and degrade the noble. In short, she can
whisper men base or foolish, jealous or ill-natured; or, if occasion
requires, can tell you the failings of their great-grandmothers, and
traduce the memory of virtuous citizens who have been in their graves
these hundred years.

A few words more respecting the Whisperer taken from the Bible. The
Psalmist regarded those who whispered against him as those who hated
him. "All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they
devise my hurt" (Ps. xli. 7). "A whisperer separateth chief friends," is
the declaration of the wise man (Prov. xvi. 28). And again, he says,
"Where there is no whisperer (marginal reading) the strife ceaseth"
(Prov. xxvi. 20). "Whisperers" is one of the names given by St. Paul to
the heathen characters which he describes in the first chapter of
Romans. Let my reader, then, beware of the Whisperer. Give no ear to his
secrets. Guard against an imitation of his example. Favour the candid
and honest man who has nothing to say but what is truthful, charitable,
and wise. Cultivate the same disposition in your own bosom, and so avoid
in yourself the disreputable character of a Whisperer, and prevent the
mischievous consequences in others.



     "He was owner of a piece of ground not larger
     Than a Lacedemonian letter."--LONGINUS.

     "He was so gaunt, the case of a flagelet was a mansion for

The habit of this talker is to exaggerate. He abides not by simple truth
in the statement of a fact or the relation of a story. What he sees with
his naked eye he describes to others in enlarged outlines, filled up
with colours of the deepest hues. What he hears with his naked ears he
repeats to others in words which destroy its simplicity, and almost
absorb its truthfulness. A straw is a beam, a mole-hill a mountain. His
ducks are geese, his minnows are perch, and his babes cherubs. The
fading light of the evening he merges into darkness, and the mellow rays
of the morning into the dazzling sunshine of noonday. He turns the
pyramid on its apex, and the mountain on its peak. If he has a slight
ache in the head, he is distracted in his senses, and a brief
indisposition of his friend is a sickness likely to be of long duration
and serious consequence.

Simple truth is not sufficient for the Hyberbolist to set forth his
views and feelings in conversation. He wishes to convey the idea that
_he_ has seen and experienced things in number, quality, and
circumstances exceeding anything within the range of your knowledge and
experience. He is wishful that you should "_wonder_" and utter words of
exclamation at his statements. If you do not, he may perchance repeat
himself with enlarged hyperbolisms; and should you then hear in a
matter-of-course manner, he may give you up as one stoical or phlegmatic
in your temperament.

The following lines, written by Dr. Byrom in the last century, will
serve to show the nature and growth of hyperbolism in many instances;
especially in the repetition of facts:--

  "Two honest tradesmen, meeting in the Strand,
  One took the other briskly by the hand;
  'Hark ye,' said he, ''tis an odd story this,
  About the crows!' '_I don't know what it is_,'
  Replied his friend.--'No! I'm surprised at that;
  Where I come from, it is the common chat.
  But you shall hear: an odd affair indeed!
  And, that it happen'd, they are all agreed;
  Not to detain you from a thing so strange,
  A gentleman that lives not far from 'Change,
  This week, in short, as all the Alley knows,
  Taking a puke, has thrown up _three black crows_.'

  '_Impossible!_' 'Nay, but it's really true;
  I have it from good hands, and so may you.'
  '_From whose, I pray?_' So having nam'd the man,
  Straight to enquire his curious comrade ran.
  '_Sir, did you tell?_'--relating the affair.
  'Yes, sir, I did; and if it's worth your care,
  Ask Mr. Such-a-one, he told it me,--
  But, by-the-bye, 'twas _two_ black crows, not _three_.'

    Resolv'd to trace so wondrous an event,
  Whip, to the third, the virtuoso went.
  '_Sir_,'--and so forth. 'Why, yes; the thing is fact,
  Though in regard to number not exact;
  It was not _two_ black crows, but only one;
  The truth of _that_ you may depend upon.
  The gentleman himself told me the case.'--
  'Where may I find him?'--'Why, in such a place.'

    Away goes he, and having found him out,
  'Sir, be so good as to resolve a doubt;'
  Then to his last informant he referr'd,
  And begg'd to know, if _true_ what he had heard,
  'Did you, sir, throw up a black crow?'--'Not I.'
  'Bless me! how people propagate a lie!
  Black crows have been thrown up, _three_, _two_, and _one_:
  And here, I find, all comes, at last, to _none_!
  Did you say _nothing_ of a crow at _all_?'
  'Crow--Crow--perhaps I might, now I recall
  The matter over.'--'And, pray, sir, what was't?'
  'Why I was horrid sick, and, at the last,
  I did throw up, and told my neighbour so,
  Something that was--_as black_, sir, as a crow.'"

An Englishman and a Yankee were once talking about the speed at which
the trains travelled in their respective countries. The Englishman spoke
of the "Flying Dutchman" travelling sixty miles an hour.

"We beat that hollow," said the Yankee. "Our trains on some lines travel
so fast that they outgo the sound of the whistle which warns of their
coming, and reach the station first."

Of course the "Britisher" gave the palm to his American cousin, and said
no more about English locomotive travelling.

Hyberbolism is a fault too much cultivated and practised among the
"young ladies" of our schools and homes. They think it an elegant mode
of speaking, and seem to rival each other as to which shall best
succeed. An ordinary painting of one of their friends is "an exquisitely
fine piece of workmanship, and really Reynolds himself could scarcely
exceed it." And that bouquet of wax flowers on the side-board "are not
surpassed by the products of nature herself." That young man lately seen
in company at the house of Mrs. Hood "is one of the handsomest young
gentlemen that I ever beheld; indeed, Miss Spencer, I never saw any one
to equal him in reality or in picture." To tell the truth, courteous
reader, this said "young gentleman" was scarcely up to an ordinary
exhibition of that sex and age of humanity; but this young lady, for
some reason or other, could not help speaking of him as the "_highest
style_ of man."

Our children are even found indulging in this exaggerated mode of
speech, as the following may illustrate:--

"Oh, mother," said Annie, as she threw herself into a chair, on her
return from a walk, "_I cannot stir another step._"

"Why, Annie," answered her mother, "I thought your walk was pleasant,
and not tiring at all."

"It was such a long one," said Annie; "_I thought we should never have
got home again._ I would not walk it again _for all the world_."

"But did you not enjoy the walk in the fields, Annie?"

"Oh, no; there were so many cows that _I was frightened to death_."

"What a little angel our baby is," said Nancy, one day to her sister,
"_I feel as though I could eat it up._"

"O what a _monstrous brute_ our governess is!" said Marian to a
school-fellow one afternoon, because she had corrected her rather
sharply for some misdemeanour.

"I say, Fred, we have strawberries in our garden _as big as my fist_,"
said David one day to him.

Fred opened his eyes in wonder, and said, "I should like to see them."

Fred went to see them, and David's garden strawberries were found to be
no larger than one of his ordinary-sized marbles.

"Come," says James to Harry, "let us go and get some blackberries; there
are _oceans_ of them on yonder hedge."

"Oceans!" said James in wonder.

"Yes, oceans; only you must mind in getting them that you don't fall
into the ditch, or you will be _over your head_ in mud."

James went with Harry, and found that the blackberries were as sparse on
the hedge as plums in his school pudding, and as for mud to cover him,
he saw scarcely enough to come over his boots.

Another boy says, "I am so thirsty, I could drink the _sea dry_."
Another, "I learned my lessons to-day in _no time_." Another, standing
in the cold, says, "I am _frozen to death_." Another, in the heat, says,
"I am _as hot as fire_." "My father's horse is _the best in the
kingdom_," says John. "My father's is _the best in the world_," says
Alexander in reply. "Oh, how it did hail in our parts yesterday," said a
boy to his schoolmate; "the hail-stones were as _big as hens' eggs_."
"That's nothing," said his rival in return; "in our parts it rained
_hens and chickens_." "Well," said the other, despairing of going beyond
that, "that was wonderful; I never heard of it raining like that

The above kind of talk may by some be regarded as only "inoffensive
ebullitions" of childhood and youth. It is not said that moral guilt may
be its immediate consequence; but is it a kind of talk altogether
innocent? Does it sound truthful? Is it a habit to be encouraged or
connived at? Should not all who have the education and training of young
persons correct the evil when it appears, and in the place of it
cultivate that speech which is made up of words of "truth and

The Hyperbolist not only shows himself in talk which _magnifies_ beyond
the natural, the simple, and the true; but which also _diminishes_. "He
said nothing of any account--nothing worth your hearing," observed one
friend to another, respecting a certain lecturer; when perhaps he
uttered thoughts of weight and force worthy the attention of highest
wisdom. He expressed this hyperbolism to allay some disappointment which
his friend felt in not hearing him. "The affair is really of such little
consequence that it is not worth your while to think about it;" at the
same time it involved questions of vital importance to him. This he said
to divert his mind from brooding over it to his injury. "I never saw
such a small watch in all my life; it was hardly bigger than a
sixpence;" and yet it was of the ordinary size of a lady's watch. "It is
no distance to go, and the hill is nothing to climb; you will get there
in the time you are standing hesitating;" and this a father said to
induce his son to go into the country on an errand for which he showed
strong disinclination. "The duties are of such a trifling nature, you
may perform them with perfect ease;" so said a minister to persuade a
member of his church to undertake a responsible office against which he
had conscientious objections.

Thus the Hyperbolist stands on either side of truth, and takes from or
adds to, according to the temper of his mind and the object he wishes to
accomplish. On whichever side he stand his talk is alike blamable.

Let me, in conclusion, caution my readers, and especially my young
readers, against the formation and practice of this intemperate habit in
talking. It is of no service to truth. It does no good to you or others,
but harm. It will grow upon you, and may end in the habit of absolute
_false speaking_. You do not mean now to be recognized as telling lies:
you would perhaps shudder at the thought; but what you now shudder at,
you may fall into, by the inadvertent formation of habitual exaggerated
talk. Therefore guard against these excessive and thoughtless
hyperbolisms of speech. Speak of things, persons, and places as you
_see_ them, not as you fancy; speak to convey correct views, not to
excite wonder or to rival others in "large talk," and in "strange
things." _Simple truth_ is always more welcome in society than swollen
fiction. The frog in the fable killed itself by trying to be as big as
the ox; so you are in danger of killing truth when you inflate it beyond
its own natural proportions. Truth needs no extraneous aids to commend
it; or, as Cowper says,--

  "No meretricious graces to beguile,
  No clustering ornaments to clog the pile,
  From ostentation as from weakness free,
  Majestic in its own simplicity."

"The apocrypha," says the Rev. J. B. Owen, "into which you may elaborate
your observations will ultimately be sifted from the canonical, and you
will appear before society as _interpolaters_, inserting your own
spurious statements among the genuine records of facts already received
as simple, authentic truths. Have the modesty to suppose that others
know a thing or two as well as yourselves. The scraps of facts which may
lie scattered among the profusion of your hyperbolisms may be old
acquaintances of your hearers. Let them speak for themselves in their
own artless, ingenuous way, and take their own chance of success to
whatever branch of the lovely family of truth they may belong.

"Hyperbole is a fault of no trivial importance in conversation. Carried,
as it generally is, to such an extent, it is nothing more nor less than
equivalent to lying. It frequently places the Hyperbolist in a position
of distrustful scrutiny and strong doubt, on the part of those with whom
he converses. His authentication of a rumour reacts as its
contradiction. He himself robs it of a large amount of evidence, by
welcoming the proof of anybody else as better than his own. He
anticipates the discount which will be made off his commodity, and so
adds exorbitancy to his statements, which will leave a balance in hand
after all. But people will not be deceived again and again. His credit
becomes damaged. His moral bill returns dishonoured. His extravagance of
diction, like extravagance in expenditure, involves him in difficulties,
and thus the immediate fate of mendacity symbolizes that awful
retribution which will finally exclude all liars from the society of the
good and true."

"Old Humphrey," in speaking of a painter who over-coloured his pictures,
was wont to express the defect by saying, "Too much red in the brush."
It would be well for the Hyperbolist to have some friend at his elbow,
when he over-colours things, to say, "Too much red in the brush."



     "The Inquisitive will blab: from such refrain;
     Their leaky ears no secret can retain."--HORACE.

The Inquisitive is a talker whose capacity is for taking rather than
giving. To ask questions is his province, and not to give answers. He is
more anxious to know than he is to make known. Though in some instances
he may have the ability to speak good sense, yet he cannot or will not
exercise himself in so doing. He must pry into other people's stock of
knowledge, and find out all that he can for his satisfaction. If he come
to anything which is labelled "Private," he is sure to be the more
curious to ascertain what is within. He is restless and dissatisfied
until he knows. He pauses--he resumes his interrogations--he
circumlocutes--he apologizes, it may be, but make the discovery he will
if possible. His inquisitiveness is mostly in regard to matters of
comparatively minor importance in themselves, but which, at the same
time, you do not care for _him_ to know. Your pedigree--your
relations--your antecedents--your reasons for leaving your former
occupation--your prospects in life--your income--your wife's maiden name
and origin--with a hundred similar things.

His inquisitiveness often turns into impertinence and impudence, which
one does well to resent with indignancy; or, if not, to answer him
according to his folly.

The two or three following instances will illustrate this talker:--

A gentleman with a wooden leg, travelling in a stage-coach, was annoyed
by questions relative to himself and his business proposed by his
fellow-passengers. One of them inquired how he came to lose his leg. "I
will tell you," he replied, "on condition that you all ask me no other
question." To this there was no objection, and the promise was given.
"As to the loss of my leg," said he, "_it was bit off_!" There was a
pause. No more questions were to be asked; but one of the party, unable
to contain himself, exclaimed, "But I should like to know _how_ it was
bit off." This is an old story, but here is one of a similar kind, of a
more recent date. It occurred in San Francisco, where a genuine Yankee,
having bored a new comer with every conceivable question relative to his
object in visiting the gold country, his hopes, his means, and his
prospects, at length asked him if he had a family.

"Yes, sir; I have a wife and six children in New York; and I never saw
one of them."

After this reply the couple sat a few moments in silence; then the
interrogator again commenced,--

"Was you ever blind, sir?"

"No, sir."

"Did you marry a widow, sir?"

"No, sir."

Another lapse of silence.

"Did I understand you to say, sir, that you had a wife and six children
living in New York, and had never seen one of them?"

"Yes, sir; I so stated it."

Another and a longer pause of silence. Then the interrogator again

"How can it be, sir, that you never saw one of them?"

"Why," was the response, "_one of them_ was born after I left."

A gentleman in America, riding in an eastern railroad car, which was
rather sparsely supplied with passengers, observed, in a seat before
him, a lean, slab-sided Yankee; every feature of his face seemed to ask
a question, and a little circumstance soon proved that he possessed a
more "inquiring mind." Before him, occupying an entire seat, sat a lady
dressed in deep black, and after shifting his position several times,
and manoeuvring to get an opportunity to look into her face, he at
length caught her eye.

"In affliction?"

"Yes, sir," responded the lady.

"Parent?--father or mother?"

"No, sir."

"Child, perhaps?--a boy or a girl?"

"No, sir, not a child; I have no children."

"Husband, then, I expect?"

"Yes," was the curt answer.

"Hum! cholery? A tradin' man may be?"

"My husband was a seafaring man, the captain of a vessel; he didn't die
of cholera; he was drowned."

"O, drowned, eh?" pursued the inquisitor, hesitating for a brief
instant. "Save his _chist_?"

"Yes; the vessel was saved, and my husband's effects," said the widow.

"_Was_ they?" asked the Yankee, his eyes brightening up. "_Pious_ man?"

"He was a member of the Methodist Church."

The next question was a little delayed, but it came.

"Don't you think that you have great cause to be thankful that he was a
pious man, and saved his _chist_?"

"I do," said the widow abruptly, and turned her head to look out of the

The indefatigable "pump" changed his position, held the widow by his
glittering eye once more, and propounded one more query, in a lower
tone, with his head slightly inclined forward, over the back of the

"Was you calculating to get married again?"

"Sir," said the widow, indignantly, "you are impertinent!" And she left
her seat and took another on the other side of the car.

"'Pears to be a little huffy?" said the ineffable bore. Turning to our
narrator behind him, "What did they make you pay for that umbrella
you've got in your hand?"

       *       *       *       *       *

A person more remarkable for inquisitiveness than good-breeding--one of
those who, devoid of delicacy and reckless of rebuff, pry into
everything--took the liberty to question Alexander Dumas rather closely
concerning his genealogical tree.

"You are a quadroon, Mr. Dumas?" he began.

"I am, sir," replied M. Dumas, who had seen enough not to be ashamed of
a descent he could not conceal.

"And your father?"

"Was a mulatto."

"And your grandfather?"

"A negro," hastily answered the dramatist, whose patience was waning.

"And may I inquire what your great-grandfather was?"

"An ape, sir," thundered Dumas, with a fierceness that made his
impertinent interrogator shrink into the smallest possible compass. "An
ape, sir; my pedigree commences where yours terminates."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Where have you been, Helen?" asked Caroline Swift of her sister, as
Helen, with a package in one hand and some letters in the other, entered
the parlour one severe winter's day.

Caroline had been seated near the fire, sewing; but as her sister came
in with the package, up the little girl sprang; and, allowing cotton,
thimble, and work to find whatever resting-place they could, she hurried
across the room; and, without so much as "By your leave, sister," she
caught hold of the letters and commenced asking questions as fast as her
nimble tongue could move.

"Which question shall I answer first?" asked Helen, good-humouredly,
trying, as she spoke, to slip a letter out of sight.

"Tell me whose letter you are trying to hide there," cried Caroline,
making an effort to thrust her hand into her sister's pocket.

Helen held the pocket close, saying gravely, "Suppose I should tell you
that this letter concerns no one but myself, and that I prefer not to
name the writer?"

"Oh dear! some mighty mystery, no doubt. I didn't suppose there was any
harm in asking you a question."

Caroline's look and tone plainly indicated displeasure.

"There is harm, Caroline, in trying to pry into anything that you see
that another person wishes to keep to herself; for it shows a meddling
disposition, and is a breach of the command to do as you would be done

"You're breaking that command yourself," retorted Caroline, "for you
won't let me see what I want to see."

"God's commands do not require us to forget our own rights. I am not
bound to do to you what you have no right to require of me. We have all
a perfect right to request of each other whatever is perfectly conducive
to our welfare and happiness, provided it does not improperly infringe
upon that of the person of whom the request is made. You trespass upon
_my rights_ when you attempt to pry into my private affairs."

"Mercy, Helen! don't preach any more. I guess I'm not the only
meddlesome person in the world. One half the people I know need nothing
more to make them take all possible pains to learn about a thing than to
know the person whom it concerns wishes it kept secret. But where have
you been, pray? and what have you in that bundle?" and Caroline tore off
the paper cover from the package which Helen had laid upon the table.

"Caroline," said the mother of the two young girls, "why do you not wait
to see whether your sister is willing for you to open her package? From
your tone, my dear, one would judge that you were appointed to
cross-question Helen, and had a right to be angry if she declined
explaining all her motives and intentions to you."

"For pity's sake! mother, haven't I a right to ask my sister all the
questions I please? I tell her everything I do, and I think she might
show the same confidence in me."

"You have a right, my daughter, to ask any proper question of any one;
but it is unmannerly to ask too particularly about things that do not
concern you; or to speak _at all_ respecting a thing which you see that
another desires should pass unobserved. It shows a small and vulgar mind
to seek to pry into the affairs of another, unless there be some great
necessity for doing so. Never press a matter where there is a
disposition to be reserved upon the subject. Be refined, my child;
remember that courtesy is as much a command of the Bible as is honesty.
I have often heard you, my thoughtless Carrie, mention impatiently the
annoying habits of one who is often here. You have said in great anger
that no one of the family could have a new shoe, or a neck ribbon, or
could go across the street twice, without being questioned and
cross-questioned by that young lady, until she became possessed of all
the particulars concerning the purchase or the walk. It is not well to
be violent in condemning one's neighbour, my children; but it is not
wrong to take notice enough of their faults to determine to shun them in
our own conduct, and also to try, if a proper season offers, to help
them to amend. I never wish to hear you speak again so harshly of the
person to whom I refer; but I very earnestly desire that you should
begin in season to check habits which, if suffered to go on, will render
you just as far from a favourite with your friends as she, poor orphan
girl, is with hers. She had no one to point out to her her faults and
her dangers; therefore the condemnation will be nothing to compare with
yours, if you forget that the spirit of the golden rule, which is the
true spirit of Christianity, requires attention just as close and
constant to all the little hardly noticed habits of heart and life as to
those of the more marked and noticeable:--

  ''Tis in these little things we all can do and say,
  Love showeth best its gentle charity.'"

Boldness and impudence are the twin features in the inquisitive talker.
Were these counterbalanced by education in the ordinary civilities of
life, he would be more worthy a place in the company of those whom now
he annoys with his rude and impertinent interrogatories. Few men care to
have the secrets of their minds discovered by the probing questions of
an intruder. The prudent man has many things, it may be, in his mind, in
his family, in his business, which are sacred to him, and to attempt an
acquaintance with them by stealth is what no one will do but he who is
devoid of good manners, or, if he ever had any, has shamefully forgotten
them. There are proper times and places in conversation for questions;
but even then they should be put with discretion and frankness. A man
should have common sense and civility enough to teach him when and what
questions to ask, and how far to go in his questions, so that he may not
seem to meddle with matters which do not concern him.



     "Pedantry, in the common acceptation of the word, means an absurd
     ostentation of learning, and stiffness of phraseology, proceeding
     from a misguided knowledge of books, and a total ignorance of

The Pedant is a talker who makes an ostentatious display of his
knowledge. His endeavour is to show those within his hearing that he is
a man of study and wisdom. He generally aims higher than he can reach,
and makes louder pretensions than his acquirements will justify. He may
have gone as far as the articles in English Grammar, and attempts to
observe in his speech every rule of syntax, of which he is utterly
ignorant; or he may have learned as far as "_hoc--hac--hoc_" in Latin,
and affect an acquaintance with Horace, by shameful quotations. He may
have reached as far as the multiplication table in arithmetic, and try
to solve the problems of Euclid as though he had them at his
finger-ends. If he has read the "Child's Astronomy," he will walk with
you through the starry heavens and the university of worlds, with as
much confidence as though he was a Ross or a Herschel. He labours at
the sublime and brings forth the ridiculous. He is a giant according to
his own rule of measurement, but a pigmy according to that of other
people. He thinks that he makes a deep impression upon the company as to
his literary attainments; but the fact is, the impression is made that
he knows nothing as he ought to know. He may, perchance, with the lowest
of the illiterate, be heard as an oracle, and looked up to as a Solon;
but the moment he rises into higher circles he loses caste, and falls
down into a rank below that with which he would have stood associated
had he not elevated himself on the pedestal of his own folly. He is
viewed with disgust in his fall; and becomes the object of ridicule for
the display of his contemptible weakness. His silence would have saved
him, or an attempt commensurate with his abilities; but his preposterous
allusions to subjects of which he proved himself utterly ignorant
effected his ruin.

The _Spectator_, in No. 105, gives an illustration of a pedant in _Will
Honeycomb_. "Will ingenuously confesses that for half his life his head
ached every morning with reading of men over-night; and at present
comforts himself under certain pains which he endures from time to time,
that without them he could not have been acquainted with the gallantries
of the age. This Will looks upon as the learning of a gentleman, and
regards all other kinds of science as the accomplishments of one whom he
calls a scholar, a bookish man, or a philosopher.

"He was last week producing two or three letters which he wrote in his
youth to a lady. The raillery of them was natural and well enough for a
mere man of the town; but, very unluckily, several of the words were
wrongly spelt. Will laughed this off at first as well as he could; but
finding himself pushed on all sides, and especially by the Templar, he
told us, with a little passion, that he never liked pedantry in
spelling, and that he spelt like a gentleman, and not like a scholar.
Upon this Will had recourse to his old topic of showing the
narrow-spiritedness, the pride, and arrogance of pedants; which he
carried so far, that upon my retiring to my lodgings, I could not
forbear throwing together such reflections as occurred to me upon the

"A man who has been brought up among books, and is able to talk of
nothing else, is a very indifferent companion, and what we call a
pedant. But methinks we should enlarge the title, and give it to every
one that does not know how to think out of his profession and particular
way of life.

"What is a greater pedant than a mere man of the town? How many a pretty
gentleman's knowledge lies all within the verge of the court? He will
tell you the names of the principal favourites; repeat the shrewd
sayings of a man of quality; whisper an intrigue that is not yet blown
upon by common fame; or, if the sphere of his observations is a little
larger than ordinary, will perhaps enter into all the incidents, turns,
and resolutions, in a game of _ombre_. When he has gone thus far, he
has shown you the whole circle of his accomplishments; his parts are
drained, and he is disabled from any further conversation. What are
these but rank pedants? and yet these are the men who value themselves
most on their exemption from the pedantry of the colleges.

"I might here mention the military pedant, who always talks in a camp,
and is storming towns, making lodgments, and fighting battles from one
end of the year to the other. Everything he speaks smells of gunpowder;
if you take away his artillery from him, he has not a word to say for
himself. I might likewise mention the law pedant, that is perpetually
putting cases, repeating the transactions of Westminster Hall, wrangling
with you upon the most indifferent circumstances of life, and not to be
convinced of the distance of a place, or of the most trivial point in
conversation, but by dint of argument. The state pedant is wrapped up in
news, and lost in politics. If you mention either of the kings of Spain
or Poland, he talks very notably; but if you go out of the _Gazette_,
you drop him. In short, a mere courtier, a mere soldier, a mere scholar,
a mere anything, is an insipid pedantic character, and equally

"Of all the species of pedants which I have mentioned, the book pedant
is much the most supportable; he has at least an exercised
understanding, a head which is full, though confused--so that a man who
converses with him may often receive from him hints of things that are
worth knowing, and what he may possibly turn to his own advantage,
though they are of little use to the owner. The worst kind of pedants
among learned men are such as are naturally endued with a very small
share of common sense, and have read a great number of books without
taste or distinction.

"The truth of it is, learning, like travelling, and all other methods of
improvement, as it finishes good sense, so it makes a silly man ten
thousand times more insufferable, by supplying variety of matter to his
impertinence, and giving him an opportunity of abounding in absurdities.

"Shallow pedants cry up one another much more than men of solid and
useful learning. To read the titles they give an editor or a collator of
a manuscript, you would take him for the glory of the commonwealth of
letters, and the wonder of his age; when perhaps upon examination you
find that he has only rectified a Greek particle, or laid out a whole
sentence in proper commas.

"They are obliged to be thus lavish of their praises that they may keep
one another in countenance; and it is no wonder if a great deal of
knowledge, which is not capable of making a man wise, has a natural
tendency to make him vain and arrogant."

       *       *       *       *       *

Arthur Bell was a young man of excellent qualities; and generally
respected by all who knew him. He had received his education, which was
of a superior order, at one of the Oxford colleges. Nevertheless, he
was modest and unassuming; shunning any display of his learning,
excepting under circumstances which justified him from vanity and
self-importance. Sidney Rose was a young man of the same village as
Arthur, but of different origin and training. In early boyhood they were
often playmates together; and the acquaintance thus formed continued
more or less up to manhood. Sidney was of another spirit to Arthur,
naturally high-minded, blustering, and self-conceited. His education was
only such as he had received in a country classical academy, and in this
he had not succeeded to the extent his pretensions led one to suppose.

Arthur and Sidney once met in an evening party at the house of Mr.
Grindell. The company consisted mostly of young ladies and young
gentlemen. During the conversation of the evening, in which Sidney took
a prominent part, he made an attempt to quote the following line from
Ovid, with no other intention than to exhibit his learning:--

  "Dulcia non ferimus; succo renovamur amaro,"

in which he made the most glaring blunders.

  "Dulcam non farimas, succor amarum reno,"

he said, with the most ostentatious air and bombastic confidence. Two or
three of the company could not refrain from laughing at his airs, not to
say his blunders.

"What are you laughing at?" inquired Sidney, in his independent tone,
and as though he was highly insulted.

"I beg your pardon, Sidney, but I think they were smiling at a mistake
or two which you have made in that Latin quotation," said Arthur,

"Mistake, indeed! I have made no mistake," said Sidney, in an angry

"I think you have," observed Arthur, modestly.

"Show me, then, if you can. I guess that is out of your power," said
Sidney, more excited.

"Don't be excited, my friend," said Arthur; "I think I can give the line

Arthur quoted the line as it occurs in the book. The difference appeared
to Sidney; but he would make no acknowledgment. Nor would he give up the
exhibition of his academic learning. He thought he would be a match for
Arthur and the young gentlemen who seemed to ridicule what _he_ knew
they could not mend, so he made another attempt.

"Which of you," he inquired, "can tell me in what part of Horace the
following line occurs:--

  'Amor improbe non quid pectora mortalia cogis'?"

A faint smile passed over the countenance of Arthur, while Bonner, an
educated young collegian, could not restrain his risible powers, and
broke out in a loud laugh, at the expense of his good manners.

"What's that Bonner laughing at?" asked Sidney, in a manner which
betrayed his indignation and chagrin.

"It strikes me," said Skinner, "that that line is very much corrupted in
its quotation. It does not seem to be such Latin as is found in the
classics, even from what I know of them."

"And with all my study of Horace," observed Judson, "I never met with
the line in him, even if it was given correctly. And then I think, with
Skinner, that it is not correctly quoted. What do you think, Arthur?"

"Of course it is not in Horace," replied Arthur; "nor is it correctly
quoted. If Sidney has no objection, I will give the correct words from
the right author."

Sidney was sullenly silent.

"In Virgil's 'Æneid,' Book iv., line 412," said Arthur, "the words of
which Sidney intends his to be a quotation may be found. They are as

  'Improbe amor, quid non mortalia pectora cogis.'"

"You are quite right, Arthur," said Bonner.

Here the subject ended. A short time after, during the evening, Sidney
was observed holding conversation with Miss Boast, a young lady of some
pretensions, but of no more than ordinary education. Sidney seemed to be
much at home with her in conversation. She gave a willing ear to all his
pedantic talk; and he used the opportunity much to his own
gratification. He was repeating to Miss Boast a list of his studies in
the classics, mathematics, history, geology, astronomy, etc., when
Arthur walked into that part of the room where they were sitting. He saw
that Sidney was recovered from his temper shown in the former
conversation, and had subsided into his own natural element, and was
pouring into the credulous ear of the young lady his pedantic effusions.

"Are you at all acquainted with Milton's 'Paradise Lost'?" inquired
Sidney of Miss Boast.

"I have read a little of it, but it is not my favourite book," she

"But it is an admirable book," said Sidney; "I have read it again and
again. Why, I know it almost line by line. It is a grand poem, of course
of the tragic style, full of strong sentiment and bold figure. Milton,
you know, wrote that poem in German. The translation into English is a
good one--incomparably good. I forget who the translator was. Do you not
remember those exquisitely fine lines which run thus,--

  'Ah, mighty Love----'

Why, now, it is strange I should forget them. Let me see (with his hand
to his forehead). Now I have them,

  'Ah, mighty Love, that it were inward heat
  Which made this precious limbeck sweet!
  But what, alas! ah, what does it avail!'

I need not repeat any more. This will give you an idea of the style and
sentiment of that wonderful poem."

"It is certainly very fine," said the young lady, innocently. "Did you
not hear those beautiful lines, Arthur, which Sidney has just quoted
from Milton?" asked Miss Boast.

"Yes, I heard them."

"Are they not fine?" said Sidney to Arthur.

He evaded an answer.

"Are you sure that the quotation is from Milton?" inquired Mr. Smith,
who was listening to the conversation.

"Certainly," said Sidney.

"Are they, Arthur?" asked Smith, who had his suspicions, and apprehended
another display of Sidney's pedantry, and was determined if possible to
put a check on his folly.

"If you require me to be candid in my answer," said Arthur, quietly, "I
do not think that they do belong to Milton at all."

"Whose are they, then?" asked Sidney, rather petulantly.

"They are Cowley's, to be found in vol. i., p. 132, of his works."

"I never knew that Milton's poem was tragedy, and that he wrote it in
German until now," observed Mr. Smith, ironically.

"Who said he did?" asked Arthur.


"That is new historical fact, if fact it be," said Arthur. "I always
thought he wrote it in English, and that the poem was of the epic

"I always thought so too," said Smith.

Sidney sat confounded, but not conquered in his fault. He would not
admit his error, nor would he cease his pedantic exhibitions. He gave
two or three more displays before the party separated, and with similar
results. Enough, however, has been given here to show the excessive
folly of this habit, and the just ridicule to which it is exposed.

       *       *       *       *       *

"What a pity that Sidney makes such preposterous pretensions to learning
in his conversation," said Smith the next day to Arthur.

"It certainly is," answered Arthur; "but he is generally so when in the
company of any he thinks educated. He aims at equality with them, and
even to rise above them, with his comparatively limited acquirements. He
rarely, or ever, attains his end. His folly almost invariably meets with
an exposure in one way or another. I have met with him on several
occasions previous to last night, and he was the same on every one."

"It is to be hoped he will grow wiser as he grows older," said Smith.

"I hope so," said Arthur. "If he do not, he will always be contemptible
in the eyes of the wise and learned; and they will do their utmost to
shun his society and keep him out of their reach. Were his professions
of learning to accord with his real abilities there would be no
objection--nothing unseemly; but he aims at that which he has little
competency to reach, and so makes himself ludicrous in his attempts.
And then he does it withal in such self-confidence and ostentation as is
perfectly revolting to good taste. As his friend, I feel very much for
him, and wish he may get a knowledge of his real acquirements, and make
no display of his learning beyond what he can honourably sustain, and in
which he will be justified by wisdom and propriety. In this way he might
obtain a position in which he would receive the respect of society
according to the real merits of which he gave obvious proof."

"Those are exactly my views," said Smith, "and I wish they were the
views of Sidney too."



                   "The ignoble mind
     Loves ever to assail with secret blow
     The loftier, purer beings of their kind."
                                                 W. G. SIMMS.

     "Detraction's a bold monster, and fears not
     To wound the fame of princes, if it find
     But any blemish in their lives to work on."

A detractor is one whose aim is to lessen, or withdraw from, that which
constitutes a good name or contributes to it.

The love of a good name is natural to man. He who has lost this love is
considered most desperately fallen below himself.

To acquire a good name and to maintain it, what have not men done,
given, and suffered in the world of Literature, Labour, Science,
Politics, and Religion?

And who has blamed them for it? It is declared by the highest wisdom,
that "A good name is better than great riches," and "better than
precious ointment." "The memory of the just shall be blessed, but the
name of the wicked shall rot." "Whatsoever things are of good report,
if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these

"It is," as one says, "that which gives us an inferior immortality, and
makes us, even in this world, survive ourselves. This part of us alone
continues verdant in the grave, and yields a perfume."

Considering, then, the worth of a good name, we cannot wonder that a man
should wish to preserve and guard it with all carefulness.

  "The honours of a name 'tis just to guard;
  They are a trust but lent us, which we take,
  And should, in reverence to the donor's fame,
  With care transmit them to other hands."

As the work of the detractor is the tarnishing, or, it may be, the
destruction of a man's good name, the evil nature of it may be seen at
one view. Can he commit a greater offence against his brother? Can he be
guilty of a more heinous motive and aim?

  "No wound which warlike hand of enemy
    Inflicts with dint of sword, so sore doth light
  As doth the poisonous sting which infamy
    Infixeth in the name of noble wight;
    For by no art, nor any leeches' might,
  It ever can re-curéd be again."

  "Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
  'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
  But he who filches from me my good name
  Robs me of that which not enriches him,
  And makes me poor indeed."

Let us notice some of the ways in which this talker seeks to accomplish
his work.

1. _He represents persons and actions under the most disadvantageous
circumstances he can_, speaking of those which may appear objectionable,
and passing by those which may be commendable. There is no person so
excellent who is not by his circumstances forced to omit some things
which would become him to do if he were able; to perform some things
weakly and otherwise than he would if he had the power. There is no
action so worthy, but may have some defect in matter, or manner,
incapable of redress; and he that represents such persons or actions,
leaving out those excusing circumstances, tends to create an unjust
opinion of them, taking from them their due value and commendation.
Thus, to charge a man with not having done a good work, when he had not
the power or opportunity, or is by unexpected means hindered from doing
it according to his desire; to suggest the action was not done exactly
in the best season, in the wisest mode, in the most proper place, with
expressions, looks, or gestures most convenient--these are tricks of the
detractor, who, when he cannot deny the metal to be good, and the stamp
true, clips it, and so would prevent it from being current.

2. _He misconstrues ambiguous words or misinterprets doubtful
appearances of things._ A man may speak never so well, or act never so
nobly, yet a detractor will make his words bear some ill sense, and his
actions tend to some bad purpose; so that we may suspect his meaning,
and not yield him our full approbation.

3. _He misnames the qualities of persons or things, and gives bad
appellations or epithets to good or indifferent qualities._ The names of
virtue and vice do so nearly border in signification that it is easy to
transfer them from one to another, and to give the best quality a bad
name. Thus, by calling a sober man sour, a cheerful man vain, a
conscientious man morose, a devout man superstitious, a free man
prodigal, a frugal man sordid, an open man simple, a reserved man
crafty, one that stands upon his honour and honesty proud, a kind man
ambitiously popular, a modest man sullen, timorous, or stupid, is a way
in which the detractor may frequently be known.

4. _He imperfectly characterises persons_, so as purposely to veil, or
faintly to disclose, their excellencies, but carefully to expose and to
aggravate their defects or failings.

Like an envious painter, he hides, or in shady colours depicts, the
graceful parts and goodly features, but brings out the blemishes in
clearest light, and most prominent view. There is no man who has not
some blemish in his nature or temper; some fault contracted by education
or custom; something amiss proceeding from ignorance or misapprehension
of things. These (although in themselves small and inconsiderable) the
detractor seizes, and thence forms a judgment calculated to excite
contempt of him in an unwary spectator; whereas, were charity to judge
of him, he would be represented as lovely and excellent.

5. _He does not commend or allow anything as good without interposing
some exception to it._ "The man, indeed," he says, "does seem to have a
laudable quality; his action has a fair appearance;" but, if he can, he
raises some spiteful objection. If he can find nothing plausible to say
against him, he will _seem_ to know and to suppress something. He will
say, "I know what I know; I know more than I'll say;" adding, perhaps, a
significant nod or strong expression, a sarcastic sneer or smile, of
what he cannot say in words.

  "Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
  And, without seeming, teach the rest to sneer;
  Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
  Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike."

6. _He suggests that good practices and noble dispositions are probably
the effects of sinister motives and selfish purposes._ As, for instance,
a liberal man, in his gifts is influenced by an ambitious spirit or a
vain-glorious design; a religious man, in his exercises of devotion, is
influenced by hypocrisy, and a desire to gain the good opinion of men,
and to promote his worldly interests. "He seems to be a good man," says
the detractor, "I must admit; but what are his reasons? Is it not his
interest to be so? Does he not seek applause or preferment thereby?
_Doth Job serve God for nought?_" So said the father of detractors more
than two thousand years ago.

7. _He detracts from good actions by attempting to show their defects_,
or to point out how they might have been much better. "In some respects
they are excellent and praiseworthy; but they might have been better
with no more labour and pains. Pity that a thing, when done, is not done
to the best of his ability." Thus Judas blamed the good woman who
anointed the Saviour's feet. "Why," said he, "was not this ointment
sold, and given to the poor?" His covetous heart prompted him to detract
from that action which Jesus, in His love, pronounced as a _good work_,
which should be spoken of as such, wherever the gospel was preached.

8. _A detractor regards not the general good character of a man's
conversation_ or discourse which is obvious, but attacks the part which
is defective, though less discernible to other eyes than his own; like a
man who, looking upon a body admirably beautiful, sees only a wart on
the back of one hand to attract his particular attention; or like the
man who overlooks the glories of the sun because of its spots.

Such are the chief particulars composing the character of the detractor.

We may now briefly notice some of the _causes_ which influence the
detractor in his talk.

1. _Ill nature and bad humour._--As good nature and ingenuous
disposition incline men to observe and commend what appears best in our
neighbour; so malignity of temper and heart prompt to seek and to find
the worst. One, like a bee, gathers honey out of any herb; the other,
like a spider, sucks poison out of the sweetest flower.

2. _Pride and inordinate self-importance._--The detractor would draw
all praise and glory to himself; he would be the only excellent person;
therefore he would jostle the worth of another out of the way, that it
may not endanger his; or lessen it by being a rival, that it may not
outshine his reputation, or in any degree eclipse it.

3. _Envy._--A detractor likes not to see a brother stand in the good
esteem of others, therefore he aims at the deterioration of his
character; his _eye_ is _evil_ and _sore_, hence he would quench or
becloud the light that dazzles it.

4. _Ungodly revenge._--His neighbour's good practice condemns his bad
life; his neighbour's worth disparages his unworthiness; this he
conceives highly prejudicial to him; hence in revenge he labours to
vilify the worth and good works of his neighbour.

5. _Sense of weakness, want of courage, or despondency of his own
ability._--He who is conscious of his own strength and industry will
allow to others the commendation becoming their ability. As he would not
lose the fruits of his own deserts, so he takes it for granted that
others should enjoy theirs also. To deprive them were to prejudice his
own claims. But he that feels himself destitute of worth, and despairs
of reaching the good favour of society, is thence tempted to disparage
and defame such as do. This course he takes as the best soother of his
disappointed feelings and the chief solace for his conscious defects.
Seeing he cannot rise to the standard of others, he would bring down
that of others to his. He cannot directly get any praise, therefore he
would indirectly find excuse by shrouding his unworthiness under the
blame of others. Hence detraction is a sign of a weak, ignoble spirit;
it is an impotent and grovelling serpent, that lurks in the hedge,
waiting opportunity to bite the heel of any nobler creature that passes

Notice the _consequences_ of detraction.

1. _It discourages and hinders the practice of goodness._ Seeing the
best men disparaged, and the best actions spoken against, many are
deterred from doing or being good in a conspicuous and eminent degree.
Especially may this be so with such as are not independent and superior
to what detractors may say about them.

2. _Detraction is injurious to society in general._ Society is
maintained in peace and progress by encouragement of mutual and personal
virtues and gifts; but when disparagement is cast upon them, they are in
danger of languishment and decay; so that a detractor is one of the
worst members of society; he is a moth, a canker therein.

3. _Detraction does injury to our neighbour._ It robs him of that
reputation which is the just reward of goodness, and chief support in
the practice of it; it often hinders him in undertaking a laudable deed;
and keeps those from him or sets those against him who would be his

4. Detraction injures those into whose ears it instils its poisonous
suggestions, requiring them to connive at the mischief it does to worth
and virtue, and desiring them to entertain the same unjust and
uncharitable thoughts as itself.

5. The detractor _is an enemy to himself_. He raises against himself
animosity and disfavour. Men of self-respect, conscious of their own
honest motives and upright actions, will not submit to his unrighteous
detraction. They will stand on their own consciousness of rectitude,
and, with Right on their side, will cause him to fall into the pit which
he has digged for others.

6. The detractor is likely to have given him the same that he gives to
others. If he has in him that which appears laudable, how can he expect
commendation for it, when he refuses it to others with similar claims?
How can any one admit him to have real worth who will not admit another
to have any?

The preceding observations are sufficient to exhibit the nature, causes,
and effects of the fault of the detractor. This fault is wide-spread in
its existence. It affects nearly all classes of society. Does it not too
widely prevail in circles of Christian professors? Is there not too much
of this kind of talk in the companies of ministers of religion? Among
men of all ranks, occupations, and ages of life this spirit is too
frequently and too powerfully operating. In the courts of princes, in
the halls of science, in the schools of literature, the detractor may be
found with his deteriorating and damaging tongue. The evening social
circle, the festive board, the railway carriage, the two or three
walking or sitting in the garden's shades, are not exempt from the
presence of this detracting demon.

My reader, be you among the honourable exceptions, with whom detraction
shall find no life. And as you would not possess it in yourself, do not
patronize it in others, although mixed in a sweet liquor, and offered in
a golden cup.

Covet to be among those charitable spirits which put the best
interpretation upon everything rather than the worst; which approve and
praise rather than censure and condemn; which offer the fragrance of the
rose rather than wound with the thorn; which present the jewel rather
than point out the flaw in it; which take the fly out of the pot of
ointment rather than put one in.

This is the spirit of nobleness, because the spirit of charity and of



     "Still falling out with this and this,
     And finding something still amiss;
     More peevish, cross, and splenetic,
     Than dog distract, or monkey sick."

The Grumbler is a talker who may frequently be known by his countenance
as well as by his tongue. The temper of his mind gives form and
expression to the features of his face. His contracted brow bespeaks his
contracted brain. His nose inclines to an elevation of disgust at the
things which lie beneath. His mouth is awry with its peculiar exercise,
and those deeply indented wrinkles on either side are the sad effects of
its long-continued use in its chosen service. His aspect is one of
chagrin, trouble, and disappointment.

There are a few more traits of the grumbling talker which may be
specified for the benefit of those concerned.

1. The grumbling talker _is generally indolent_. He loiters or strolls
about without any specific or profitable occupation. He can see nothing
worth his attention, and if he does, he defers it until the future,
meanwhile busy in grumbling with himself and with others. He gossips
among his neighbours, or lounges about places of publicity, engaging
those like himself, or, it may be, some of the better sort, with his
grumbling conversation. Listen a moment: "His son John was not up at the
right time this morning; his wife spoiled his breakfast; those orders
were not made up yet, and ten o'clock; his business was very poor--can't
make both ends meet, hope times will get better--he doesn't know how in
the world he will pay his way unless he can get in his debts; his
neighbour's chimney smokes so badly that if he doesn't mend it he must
complain; he wishes his friend Wilkes would keep his cats away from his
house, for they catch all the mice, and leave none for his cat; he would
make things very different in their day-school if he was the master; he
thinks Mr. Stock over the way doesn't conduct his business right, or he
would prosper more than he does."

2. The grumbling talker _generally attributes his want of success in his
calling to other causes rather than to himself_. "No one gives him
encouragement. He has to do the best he can by his own means. He is
always at it, and yet he does not succeed. Dr. Squibbs, Squire Bumble,
Parson Sturge, and Lawyer Issard, all send their custom to his rival in
Castle Street. Everybody else is favoured, while he is held back by
unfriendly and adverse influences."

William Goodwin was an industrious, economical, and obliging tradesman.
With these qualities he succeeded in his business, and attained to a
position of respectability which nearly everybody thought he deserved.
Robert Careless was in the same line of business, and had the same
opportunities of success, but he did not attain to it. He grumbled
dreadfully against Goodwin and his own slow prosperity. "Goodwin," he
said, "was patronized more than he was. The people owed him a grudge,
and they wouldn't trade with him. If he had the same chance as Goodwin,
he should prosper as he does. Goodwin is no more acquainted with his
business, and has no more wisdom, economy, and affability than he; his
clerk was very dull and disobliging; his own wife didn't seem to take
any interest in his business; the situation of his shop wasn't good,"

3. The grumbling talker _is usually independent_. He cares for nothing
and for nobody. Although he cannot have everything he wants, yet he will
not mind. He is determined to do as he likes. He will have his own way
after all. He has a will, a knowledge, a purse, friends of his own. He
will let the world see that he can get along with his own resources.
Barnabas Know-nothing may talk as he please, Job Do-nothing may do all
he can, and Richard Bombast may swagger because he thinks matters are
done as he planned; but Mr. Grumbler is independent of them all, and
will, by-and-by, demonstrate it beyond dispute.

4. The grumbling talker _is easily frightened_. He may seem very large,
and appear very strong in his independence; he may bluster about his
determination to carry out his plans despite Mr. This and Mr. That; but
he is soon reduced to his just proportions. His fever heat falls
suddenly down to zero, if not twenty degrees below. You may soon raise a
lion in his way--soon make him believe that fate is against him--soon
open his eyes to see breakers ahead; and then he would have done it but
for the consequences which he foresaw. It is well to look before you
leap. He looked and saw the gulf, and he prefers not to leap. It is
better to suffer a little injury than bring a greater one. You may be
sure nothing would have kept him from doing as he positively said he
would, excepting those insuperable difficulties which he did not
anticipate at the time, and which he defies any one to remove out of the
way. The fact is, things are just the same as they ever were, only he
has got into another element which has changed his temperament and

5. The grumbling talker _is generally endowed with a most capacious
appetite for personal favours_. If you can by any means administer to
his necessities in this respect you will very much allay his craving,
and, in a measure, stop his grumbling. It is the intensity of the
appetite which often gives rise to the grumbling. Grumbling is the way
in which he expresses his want. Every beast has a way of its own in
making known its wants, and grumbling is the way some men have in
expressing the deep hunger of their minds for special or ordinary
favours. The grumbler is always on hand to receive the gift of a friend.
The motto which he carries in the foreground of his grumblings is,
"Small favours thankfully received, and larger ones in proportion."

6. The grumbling talker _is generally very jealous_. He does not approve
of the promotion of his friend to any honour above himself. He is afraid
lest it should exalt him beyond measure. Besides, he does not see that
he is any more qualified or deserving than he. He is surprised at the
judgment of the "powers that be" when they placed Mr. So-and-So in such
a responsible office. They could not certainly have known that he was
not the man for the office, nor the office for the man. He must have
been a favourite. He had helped them into their position, and, "One good
turn deserves another, you know." He knows how these sort of things are
managed, "Kissing goes by favour, you know." He happened to be out of
their "good books," and they were determined to punish him. Had his
esteemed friend, Squire Impartial, been in authority, he didn't doubt
for a moment but he would have been promoted to the place where
So-and-So now stands. Well, he congratulates himself that his time
_will_ come, and when it does he will make everybody wonder and regret
that he wasn't advanced before.

"Do you know," said he one day to Mr. Content, "how it is that people
talk so much about the superior abilities of our town councillor, Mr.
Workman? For my part, I see nothing in him which is above mediocrity."

"Mr. Workman is, indeed, generally reputed as being a clever man, and I
certainly think he is," said Mr. Content.

"He may be clever, but I do not think that he is any cleverer than most
ordinary men."

"I have every opportunity of judging, and I do most candidly think that
we could not have found his equal in the entire town," said Mr. Content

"That may be your opinion, and the opinion of others; but still my
opinion is the same, and I am amazed at his reputation," replied Mr.

7. The grumbling talker _is often long-lived_. The philosophy of the
fact, if fact it be, I will not attempt to explain. It is a pity it
should be so, but it does sometimes occur that the least desirable men
are continued, while the most lovable are taken away. Were Providence to
suspend or change the law which protracts the grumbler's existence
beyond the length of better men, I am sure no one would complain of it
except the grumbler himself.

8. The grumbling talker _is found everywhere in some one or all of his
developments_. He seems to be endowed with a spirit of ubiquity. You
find him in all ages of time, in all ages of persons, in all places of
resort, in all circumstances of life, in all nations of humanity, and
in all varieties of mind. On the throne of the prince, in the chair of
the president, in the gathering of Parliament or Congress, in the
counting-house and in the store, in the tradesman's shop and the
lawyer's office, in the school, the college, the lecture-room, and even
in the precincts of the house of God, you may find the spirit of the
grumbling talker. Heaven, perhaps, is the only place in the universe
where he cannot be found.

9. The grumbling talker _can rarely improve or make things better, even
if he tries_. Place him to fill the office which he says is so
ineffectively filled by some one else, and its functions will be
neglected or far more ineffectively performed. He "can preach a better
sermon than the minister preached the other Sunday morning." Let him
try, and others judge. He "can superintend the Sunday-school with more
authority and keep better order than he who now is in that position."
Place him there, and see what are the results.

In forty-nine instances out of fifty in which the grumbler has been
taken as a substitute for the one against whom he has complained, there
has been failure, through his want of competency for the place.

It is not, however, often that he reaches his end by his grumbling. He
frustrates his own wish. Sound judgment in others pronounces against
him. Wisdom knows that weakness is the main element of grumbling; that
to instal in office a person who is a grumbler will not cure him; that
one evil is better than two--his grumbling out of office than his
grumbling in, with an inefficient performance of its duties.

His grumbling is sometimes so chronic and habitual, that no one takes
any notice of him. He attracts far more attention when he is out of this
rut than when he is in it. The majority know that things are right when
he grumbles; but when he is silent they suspect them to be wrong, and
when he approves they are quite sure.

10. The grumbling talker _includes everything within his grumbling_. He
grumbles against God and His Providence, His Word and His ministers. The
devil does not even please him. He grumbles about politics, religion,
the Church, the state, books, periodicals, papers. He grumbles against
trade, commerce, money; against good men and bad men; against good women
and bad women; against babes and children, young ladies and old maids.
He grumbles about the weather, about time, life, death, things present,
and things to come. It would appear that as he is endowed with universal
presence, he is endowed with universal knowledge also, which leads him
to universal grumbling.

11. The grumbling talker _is afflicted with a most revolting disease_.
It is dangerous in its nature, and most unpleasant in its influence. It
is injurious in its operation upon all who come within its reach.
Persons who are not troubled with it, and are not accustomed to see it,
never wish to catch a sight or a scent of it the second time. It is
rather contagious. If the law regulating the case of the leper was to be
enforced in the case of the grumbler, it might have a salutary effect.
But as there is no probability of this, and as it is important that the
disease should be arrested before it spread farther and prove more
disastrous than it has, I shall, _pro bono publico_, as well as for the
grumbler himself, presume to copy an American prescription that I have
in my possession, and which never failed to cure any grumbler who
scrupulously carried it out.

     "1. Stop grumbling.

     "2. Get up two hours earlier in the morning, and begin to do
     something outside of your _regular profession_.

     "3. Stop grumbling.

     "4. Mind your own business, and with all your might; let other
     people alone.

     "5. Stop grumbling.

     "6. Live within your means. Sell your horse. Give away or kill your

     "7. Stop grumbling.

     "8. Smoke your cigars through an _air_-tight stove. Eat with
     moderation, and go to bed early.

     "9. Stop grumbling.

     "10. Talk less of your own peculiar gifts and virtues, and more of
     those of your friends and neighbours.

     "11. Stop grumbling.

     "12. Do all you can to make others happy. Be cheerful. Bend your
     neck and back more frequently when you pass those outside of
     'select circles.' Fulfil your promises. Pay your debts. Be yourself
     all you see in others. Be a _good_ man, a _true Christian_, and
     then you cannot help _finally to_

     "13. Stop grumbling."

The above is an admirable receipt for the grumbling disease. It is
composed of ingredients each of which is the best quality of healing
medicine. Every grumbler should take the whole as prescribed, and he
will soon experience a sensible change in his nature for the better; his
friends also will observe him rapidly convalescent, and after a short
time will rejoice over his restoration to a sound healthy condition,
called by moral physicians--"CONTENTMENT."

  "Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content--
    The quiet mind is richer than a crown;
  Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent--
    The poor estate scorns fortune's angry frown.
  Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss,
  Beggars enjoy when princes oft do miss.

  The homely house that harbours quiet rest,
    The cottage that affords no pride nor care,
  The mean that 'grees with country music best,
    That sweet consort of Mirth's and Music's fare.
  Obscuréd life sits down a type of bliss;
  A mind content both crown and kingdom is."



     "What cracker is this same, that deafs our ears
     With this abundance of superfluous breath?"

     "For none more likes to hear himself converse."

This is a talker whose chief aim is the exhibition of himself in terms
and phrases too fulsome and frequent for the pleasure of his hearers.
_I_ was, _I_ am, _I_ shall be, _I_ have, etc., are the pronouns and
verbs which he chiefly employs. He is all _I_. I is the representative
letter of his name, his person, his speech, and his actions. There is
nothing greater in the universe to him than that of which _I_ is the
type. There is not a more essential letter in the English alphabet to
him than the letter _I_. Destroy this, and he would be disabled in his
conversation; he would lose the only emblem which he has to set himself
off before the eyes of people. He is nothing and can do nothing without
_I_. This stands out in an embossed form, which may be felt by the blind
man, as well as be seen by those who have eyesight. If you tell him of
an interesting circumstance in which a friend of yours was placed,
"_I_" is sure to be the beginning of a similar story concerning himself.
Speak of some success which your friend has made in trade or commerce,
and "_I_" will be the commencement of something similar, in which he has
been more successful. You can inform him of nothing, but "_I_" is
associated with what is equal or far superior. Were one required to give
an etymology of the egotist, it would be in the words of the Rev. J. B.
Owen: "One of those gluttonous parts of speech that gulp down every
substantive in social grammar into its personal pronoun, condensing all
the tenses and moods of other people's verbs into a first person
singular of its own."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Slack, of the town of Kenton, was egregiously given to egotism. He
was a man of ordinary education, but somewhat elevated above his
neighbours in worldly circumstances. He carried himself with an air of
imposing importance, as though he was lord of the entire county. In his
conversation he assumed much more than others who knew him conceded. It
was a little matter for him to ignore the abilities of other people. His
own prominent self made such demands as almost absorbed the rights of
everybody else. Whenever opportunity occurred, he set himself off as
_most_ learned, _most_ wealthy, _most_ extensively known, numbering
among his acquaintances the _most_ respectable. He rarely talked but to
exhibit himself, alone, or in some aristocratic connections.

Mr. Dredge was a neighbour of Mr. Slack's, but of an opposite turn of
mind. They were accustomed to make occasional calls upon each other.
Dredge was quiet and unassuming, and often allowed Slack to go on with
his egotistic gibberish unchecked, which rather encouraged him in his
personal weakness.

One morning Mr. Slack called upon Mr. Dredge to spend an hour in a
friendly way, as he often did, and, as usual, the conversation was
principally about himself, and things relating to the same important

"Have you seen the French Ambassador yet, Mr. Dredge?"

"No. Have you?"

"Indeed I should think so. I have been in his company several times, and
had private interviews with him; and do you know, Mr. Dredge, he showed
me more respect and attention than any one else in his company at the
same time. He gave me a most pressing invitation to dine with him
to-morrow afternoon, at six o'clock; but really, Mr. Dredge, my
engagements, you know, are so numerous and important that I was
compelled respectfully to decline the honour."

"You must have felt yourself highly flattered," said Mr. Dredge calmly.

"Not at all! not at all! It is nothing for me, you know, to dine with
ambassadors. I think no more of that than of dining with you."

"Indeed!" said Dredge in a sarcastic tone. "I thank you for the

"No compliment at all, Mr. Dredge. It is the truth, I assure you; and
were you to see the heaps of invitations which cover my parlour table,
from persons equally as great as he, and more so, in fact, you would at
once see the thing to be true. I feel it no particular honour to have an
invitation from such a quarter, because so common. The Ambassador took
to me as soon as he saw me. He saw me, you know, to be one of his own
stamp. I put on my best grace, and talked in my highest style, and I saw
at once that he was prejudiced in my favour. It was my ability, you
know, my ability, Mr. Dredge, which made an impression on his mind."

"I see, my friend," said Mr. Dredge, "you have not lost all the egotism
of your former years."

"Egotism, egotism, Mr. Dredge! _I_ am no egotist--and never was. It is
seldom I speak of myself. No man can help speaking of himself sometimes,
you know. If you are acquainted with Squire Clark, he's the man, if you
please, for egotism. Talk of egotism, sir, he surpasses me a hundred per
cent. I am no egotist."

"I hope no offence, Mr. Slack," said Mr. Dredge.

"None at all, sir; I am not so easily offended. I am a man too
good-tempered for that. I and you understand each other, you know."

"Have you been to the City lately?" inquired Mr. Dredge.

"I was there only last week; and whom do you think I travelled with in
the train? His Grace the Duke of Borderland. He was delighted to see
me, you know, and gave me a pressing invitation to call on him at his
London residence. Did you not know that I and the Duke were old cronies?
We went to school together; and he was never half so clever as I was in
the sciences and classics. He was a dull scholar compared with me."

"You must have felt yourself somewhat honoured with his presence and

"Well, you know, Mr. Dredge, it is just here. I am so much accustomed to
high life, that the presence of dukes, lords, etc., is little more to me
than ordinary society. Had my friend Mr. Clarke been thus honoured, he
would have blazed it all about the country. _I_ would not have mentioned
it now, only your question called it up."

The fact is, Mr. Dredge had heard of it before from a number of people
to whom Mr. Slack had already told it.

At this stage of the talk between Messrs. Dredge and Slack a rap was
heard at the front door. It was Mr. Sweet, a friend of Mr. Dredge, who
had called on his way to an adjacent town.

Mr. Dredge introduced his friend to Mr. Slack, who gave him one of his
egotistic shakes of the hand, and said, "How are you this morning?"

"Mr. Sweet," observed Mr. Dredge to Mr. Slack, "is an intimate friend of
mine, and a professor in Hailsworth College."

"Indeed! I am very happy, extremely happy, to make his acquaintance,"
said Mr. Slack, with an air and voice which made the Professor open his
eyes as to who he was. And without any more ceremony, Mr. Slack
observed, "I know all the professors in that seat of learning. Drs.
Jones, Leigh, Waller, I am intimately acquainted with--special friends
of mine."

To be candid, he had met with them on one occasion, and had received a
formal introduction to them; but since then had not seen them.

"Are you at all acquainted with music, Professor Sweet?" asked Mr.

"I know a little of it, but am no adept."

"O, sir, music is a noble science. It is the charm of my heart; it is
enchantment to my inmost soul. Ah, sir, I have been nearly ruined by it
many times! I carried it too far, you know. Not content with one
instrument, I procured almost all kinds; and, sir, there is scarcely an
instrument but I am perfectly at home with. And, sir, there is not a
hymn or song but I can play or sing. Would you believe it, sir, that I
stood first in the last grand oratorio which took place in the great
metropolis? I sang the grand solo of the occasion. Allow me, sir, to
give you a specimen of it." And here he struck off with the solo, much
to the amusement of the Professor. "Ah, sir, that is a noble piece. Does
not go so well in this room, you know, as it did in Exeter Hall. The
audience was so enraptured, sir, with my performance, that they encored
me again and again."

"Indeed, sir!" observed the Professor in a tone of keen sarcasm and
strong unbelief.

"Of course, Professor, you are familiar with the classics," said Mr.

"Somewhat," replied the Professor, in a manner which indicated his
disgust at the impertinence of the man.

"The classics, sir, are a fine study--hard, but interesting to those who
have the taste--so refining--give such a polish to the mind, sir. I once
had a great taste for the classics--studied them fully; and even now,
sir, I know as much about them as many who profess to teach them. Would
you believe me, sir, that I have the entire list of the classics in my

The Professor smiled at the man's preposterous egotism.

"The sciences," continued Mr. Slack, "are grand studies for the mind.
Geology, astronomy, astrology, phrenology, psychology, and so on, and so
on--you know the whole list of them, Professor. Why, sir, I do not know
the first science that I did not study at college; and even now, sir,
after the lapse of years spent in the stir of a political life, there
are few with whom I would be willing to stand second in my knowledge of

In this style of impertinent egotism he continued to waste the precious
moments and to torment the company, until the Professor could bear it no
longer, and suggested to his friend Mr. Dredge that he had some
business of importance upon which he would like to see him, if he could
spare a short time alone. Mr. Slack took the hint, and made his
departure, much gratified at the impression he thought he had made of
himself upon the mind of his new acquaintance, Professor Sweet.

"What a prodigious egotist your friend is, Mr. Dredge," observed the
Professor, as soon as he had gone out of hearing. "He exceeds anything I
ever heard. It is perfectly nauseous to hear him. He appears more like a
fool to me than a wise man. I have not felt so repulsed and disgusted in
the presence of a man for a long time. From the first moment of my
entrance into your house until the last second of his departure he has
talked about nothing except himself in the most bombastic way. I would
rather dwell in mountain solitude than be compelled to live in his

"I am accustomed to him," replied Mr. Dredge, "and do not think so much
of it as you, being a stranger; but he is without doubt an exceedingly
vain man and brimful of egotism. I am sorry you were obliged to hear so
much of him."

"I am very pleased he is gone, and hope never to meet him in company
again, excepting as a reformed character. He may be a good neighbour; he
may be wealthy; he may be a little wise and educated; but none of these
things justify the excessive vanity and self-setting-off which are so
prominent in his conversation."

The views of the Professor were such as others entertained who knew Mr.
Slack. Few cared for his company; and those who did, _endured_ more than
_enjoyed_ it. Himself occupied so much space in conversation, that other
persons and things were crowded out. He thought so much of himself, that
it was unnecessary for other people to think anything of him. He filled
up so much room in society, that others could scarcely move their
tongues. In fact, the ego within him was so enormous that those around
him were Liliputians in his estimation. The _U_ of other people was
absorbed in his great _I_. He was known generally by the name of "_Great
I_;" and when one repeated anything that Mr. Slack of K---- had said,
the answer was, "_O, Mr. Great I said it, did he?_" and so it passed
away as vapour. Some called him a "fool." Others said, "Pity he knew no
better." The universal sentiment was that he spoke a hundred per cent.
too much of himself, when of all men he should be last to say anything.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Snodgrass is a man who, without any injustice to him, may be
referred to as an egotist.

I once waited upon him to consult him in his professional capacity
respecting a matter in which I had a deep interest. But ere I could
possibly reach the question, he occupied the greater part of the time I
was in his company in making known to me the multiplicity of his labours
in the past; his engagements for the time to come; what invitations he
was obliged to decline; how for years he had kept up his popularity in
one particular town; how he was busy studying the mathematics; how he
had succeeded in a critical case, in which the most eminent men in the
city had failed; how he had been written to concerning questions of the
most vital importance. In fine, his great _I_ stood out so full and
prominent that my little _i_ was scarcely allowed to make its
appearance, and when it did it was despatched with an off-handedness
which amounted to, "Who are you to presume to stand in the way of Me, so
much your superior?" Of course my little _i_ had to be silent until his
great _I_ was pleased to give permission for him to speak.

I have been with him in company when he has spoken in such tones of
egotism as have made me feel pity for him. He had acquirements which no
one else could lay claim to. He had attained professional honours which
put every one of his class in the shade. He could give information which
no one present had heard before from any of their ministers or teachers.
He criticised every one, but no one could criticise _him_. He put every
one right in politics, divinity, medicine, exegesis of Scripture. What
had he not read? Where had he not been? Was not he a philosopher? an
historian? a theologian? a physician? In fact, was not he _the_ wise man
from the East? and when he died, would not wisdom die with him?

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Fidler is a young man given to egotism in his own peculiar way. He
is fond of putting himself forward in company by telling tales and
repeating jests as original and of his own creation, when they had an
existence before he was born, and are perhaps as well or better known by
some to whom he repeats them than they are to himself. It would not be
so objectionable did he not exhibit himself in such airs of
self-conceit, and speak in a manner which indicated that he was in his
own estimation the chief personage of the company. On one occasion he
was apparently gulling his hearers with a tale as new to them, with all
the egotism he could command, when, as soon as he had done, one present,
disgusted with his vanity, quietly observed, "That is an old thing which
I remember hearing in my childhood." But, nothing daunted by this, he
still went on with his egotistic talk and manner, until another
gentleman well read in books recommended him when he reached home to
procure a certain book of jests and read it, and he would find every one
of his pleasantries which he had told on that occasion there inserted.
This advice being taken, he found that all his jokes and puns which he
thought were new, or wished to pass as new, had been published and gone
through several editions before he or his friends were ever heard of.

       *       *       *       *       *

When a man's conversation is principally about himself, he displays
either ignorance of men and things, or is inflated with vanity and
self-laudation. He must imagine himself and his doings to be of such
consequence that if not known it will be an irreparable loss to the
world. He shows himself in the social circle in an air which indicates
that he would, were he able, either compel others to retire, or eclipse
them with his own moonshine glare.

Such a talker must necessarily be a person at great discount in all
well-informed and respectable society. They resent his disgusting
trespasses upon their general rights; and they are just in so doing.
What authority has he for his intrusions? He has none, either in himself
or in his associations. His inventions, of which he speaks, will not
sustain the test of examination. His great and numerous acquaintances of
which he boasts are not all of the genuine stamp. The cards which lie on
his table, thick as autumnal leaves, and to which he points for your
particular observation, are not of the kind he would lead you to

"I was to dine with the Admiral to-night," said a naval lieutenant once;
"but I have so many invitations elsewhere that I can't go."

"I am going, and I'll apologise," said a brother officer.

"O, don't trouble yourself."

"But I must," said the officer, "for the Admiral's invitation, like that
of the Queen, is a command."

"Never mind; pray don't mention my name," rejoined the lieutenant.

"For your own sake I certainly will," was the reply.

At length the hero of a hundred cards stammered out, "Don't say a word
about it; I had a hint to stay away."

"A hint to stay away! Why so?"

"The fact is, I--wasn't invited."

The man who prides himself in his aristocratic acquaintances betrays
little respect for himself. A wise man knows that if he have true
distinction, he must be indebted to himself for it. The shadow of his
own body is more valuable to him than the _substance_ of another man's.
In the mirror of self-examination he beholds the imperfections of his
own doings and virtues, which will not for conscience' sake allow him to
parade his small apparent excellencies or acquisitions before society.

Lord Erskine was a great egotist; and one day in conversation with
Curran he casually asked what Grattan said of himself.

"Said of himself!" was Curran's astonished reply. "Nothing. Grattan
speak of himself! Why, sir, Grattan is a great man. Sir, the torture
could not wring a syllable of self-praise from Grattan; a team of six
horses could not drag an opinion of himself out of him. Like all great
men, he knows the strength of his reputation, and will never condescend
to proclaim its march like the trumpeter of a puppet-show. Sir, he
stands on a national altar, and it is the business of us inferior men to
keep up the fire and incense. You will never see Grattan stooping to do
either the one or the other." Curran objected to Byron's talking of
himself as a great drawback on his poetry. "Any subject," he said, "but
that eternal one of self. I am weary of knowing once a month the state
of any man's hopes or fears, rights or wrongs. I would as soon read a
register of the weather, the barometer up to so many inches to-day and
down so many inches to-morrow. I feel scepticism all over me at the
sight of agonies on paper--things that come as regular and notorious as
the full of the moon."

"In company," says Charron, "it is a very great fault to be more forward
in setting one's-self off and talking to show one's parts than to learn
the worth and to be truly acquainted with the abilities of other men. He
that makes it his business not to know, but to be known, is like a
tradesman who makes all the haste he can to sell off his old stock, but
takes no thought of laying in any new."

"A man," says Dr. Johnson, "should be careful never to tell tales of
himself to his own disadvantage; people may be amused and laugh at the
time, but they will be remembered and brought up against him upon
subsequent occasions."

"Speech of a man's self," says Bacon, "ought to be seldom and well
chosen. I knew one who was wont to say in scorn, 'He must needs be a
wise man, he speaks so much of himself;' and there is but one case
wherein a man may commend himself with good grace, and that is in
commending virtue in another especially if it be such a virtue
whereunto himself pretendeth."

Solomon says of the egotist, "Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit?
There is more hope of a fool than of him" (Prov. xxvi. 12). That is, he
thinks he knows so much that you can teach a fool more easily than him.
He be taught indeed! Who is so wise as he? If he want knowledge, has he
not funds yet untouched, or powers equal to any discovery? Nevertheless,
it is an old saying, "He that is his own pupil shall have a fool for his

How suitable are the words of Divine Wisdom spoken to such: "Look not
every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others"
(Phil. ii. 4). That is, whatever you have of your own, be not vain and
proud of, to boast of and trust in; but rather look upon what others
have to learn from, wisely to commend, and never to covet. Study the
well-being of others rather than the exhibition of yourself. Again, it
is said, "Be not wise in your own conceits." "Be not high-minded, but
fear." "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, but he that exalteth
himself shall be abased."



     "He that rails against his absent friends,
     Or hears them scandalized and not defends,
     Sports with their fame, and speaks whate'er he can,
     And only to be thought a witty man,
     Tells tales and brings his friends in disesteem,
     That man's a knave; be sure beware of him."

There are two things which the tale-bearer does: he first collects his
tales, and then carries them abroad for distribution. Although always
distributing, his stock on hand remains unexhausted. One feature of his
business is _bartering_. He exchanges his own ware for that of other
people, of which he can dispose when occasion serves. He is an adept at
his trade, and is seldom cheated in his bargains. It is immaterial to
him what articles he takes in exchange, so that they can be disposed of
in private market. Fragments of glass, old rusty nails, rotten rags,
cast-away boots and shoes, and such-like things are received by him,
either for immediate disposal or for manufacture into new commodities to
meet special demands. He is agreeable in his manners, and careful lest
he give offence. He enters with delicate feet into his neighbour's
house. His tongue is smooth as oil, and his words as sweet as honey, by
which he wins the ear of his listener. On his countenance is the smile
of good humour, by which he ingratiates himself into the favour of his
customer. And now you may see him Satan-like, when squatted at the ear
of Eve, pouring in the tales which he has either received from abroad or
manufactured in his own establishment. Whichever they are, he has
labelled them with his own signature under the words, "_Not
transferable, but at the risk of a violation of the most sacred
confidence_." Having found a willing receiver of his goods in this
neighbour, he asks remuneration, not in pounds, shillings, and pence,
but in an equivalent--some fact or fiction, lie or rumour (he is not
particular), which he can turn to account in another market. Having
received payment, he bids adieu to his friend, and passes on to the next
house and does his business there in a similar way.

The tongue of the tale-bearer is like the tail of Samson's foxes, it
carries fire-brands wherever it goes, and is enough to set the whole
field of the world in a blaze. What Bishop Hall says of the busy-body
may be said of the tale-bearer. "He begins table-talk of his neighbour
at another man's board, to whom he tells the first news and advises him
to conceal the reporter; whose angry or envious answer he returns to his
first host, enlarged with a second edition; and as is often done with
unwilling mastiffs to excite them to fight, he claps each on the side
apart, and provokes them to an eager conflict. He labours without
thanks, talks without credit, lives without love, dies without tears and
pity, save that some say it was a pity he died no sooner."

The stories of the tale-bearer never lose in their transmission from
person to person. Their tendency is to accumulate like the boys'
snow-ball rolled about in a field of thawing snow, so that by the time
it has gone its round none of the primary features shall be recognised.
This may be illustrated by the following:--

"A friend advised me, if ever I took a house in a terrace a little way
out of town, to be very careful that it was the centre one, at least if
I had any regard for my reputation. For I must be well aware that a
story never loses by telling; and consequently, if I lived in the middle
of a row of houses it was very clear that the tales which might be
circulated to my prejudice would only have half the distance to travel
on either side of me, and therefore could only be half as bad by the
time they got down to the bottom of the terrace as the tales that might
be circulated by the wretched individuals who had the misfortune to live
at the two ends of it, so that I should be certain to have twice as good
a character in the neighbourhood as they had. For instance, I was
informed of a lamentable case that actually occurred a short time since.
The servant of No. 1 told the servant of No. 2 that her master expected
his old friends, the Bayleys, to pay him a visit shortly; and No. 2 told
No. 3 that No. 1 expected to have the Bayleys in the house every day;
and No. 3 told No. 4 that it was all up with No. 1, for they couldn't
keep the bailiffs out; whereupon No. 4 told No. 5 that the officers were
after No. 1, and that it was as much as he could do to prevent himself
being taken in execution, and that it was nearly killing his poor dear
wife; and so it went on increasing and increasing until it got to No.
32, who confidently assured the last, No. 33, that the Bow-street
officers had taken up the gentleman who lived at No. 1 for killing his
poor dear wife with arsenic, and that it was confidently hoped and
expected that he would be executed."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Eadie, of the village of Handley, was a man very much addicted to
the practice of collecting tales and then disposing of them wherever he
could. It was his habit whenever he had a spare hour (and this was
rather often, for it must be understood he was not any too industrious),
to go at one time into the house of neighbour A., and at another time
into the house of neighbour B. Sometimes he would sit gossiping in these
houses for hours together. He managed to keep on good terms with both of
them, although between B. and A. there existed anything but a good
feeling. And, by-the-by, Eadie was the agent of producing it, through
carrying tales to each respecting the other. If A. ever happened to
show temper at a tale which he repeated as originating with B. about
him, he would be sure to have a gentle corrective in telling a tale
which he had heard on "most reliable authority" respecting B., which
tale would be sure to be worse than the one he had told A. as spoken by
B. Thus he did from time to time with either party, so as to keep on
good terms with both.

He was known in the whole village and neighbourhood as a person given to
the gathering of tales and the telling of them. Some of the people were
too wise and peaceable to give him any patronage and encouragement.
Others, however, were of different temperament. With curious mind and
itching ears they always gave Eadie a welcome into their house. He was
sure to bring news about neighbour Baxter and neighbour Mobbs, and
somebody else of whom they were anxious to know a little matter or two.
Miss Curious was always glad to see him, because he could answer her
inquiries about Miss Inkpen's engagement with young Bumstead--about the
young gentleman who was at church the last Sabbath evening, and sat
opposite to her in the gallery, ever and anon casting a glance at her as
though he had some "serious intentions." Mrs. Allchin was another who
always greeted Eadie with a smile into her house. They were, in fact, on
very intimate and friendly terms. Whenever they met, mutual tale-bearing
occupied their chief time and attention. Now and then Mrs. Allchin would
ask Eadie to have a friendly cup of tea, which when accepted was always
a high time for both. On such occasions they exchanged goods to the last
articles manufactured in Fancy's shop or received from Scandal's

The next day Mrs. Allchin might be seen busy in making her calls upon
her friends, doing business with the new goods received from Eadie over
her tea-table; and Eadie might be seen moving about among his friends,
disposing of the new goods he had received from Mrs. Allchin at the same
time. But it must be understood that the quality of them in each case
was generally adulterated.

Mr. Steeraway was another who gave a hearty reception to Eadie whenever
he called upon him. He would give close attention to the recital of
Eadie's tales, much closer than he was in the habit of giving to the
sermon at church or to the godly advice of the minister when he called
on pastoral duties. One day Eadie told a tale about B. and S., two
persons living as neighbours in the village, and who were living on the
best terms of friendship. The day after Steeraway went to B. and told
him what S. had been saying about him. He then went to S. and told him
what B. had been saying about him. They were hard to believe the things
which they heard; but Steeraway substantiated everything with such
evidence as could not be denied. They met for explanation in the
presence of Steeraway, who feigned to be the friend of both. Instead of
clearing up matters, they made things darker, and parted, each thinking
that there was some truth in what one had been saying of the other.
Reserve sprang up between them; mutual confidence was lost; a separation
of friendship took place; and it became a notorious fact in the village
that B. and S. were now as much at variance as they were aforetime
friendly and united. But Eadie was the main cause of it by telling his
scandal to Steeraway, who he knew would repeat it the first opportunity,
and could no more keep it secret than a child can keep from the
candy-shop a penny given it by its Uncle Moses.

Mr. Musgrove was a tradesman in the village. He was generally believed
to be an honest man, making full measure and just weight to little
children as well as to adults. He was a tradesman who had a high sense
of honour, and withal a mind sensitive to any attack upon his moral
principles. Nothing affected him more than to have his integrity as a
man of business called in question. One day Eadie, the tale-bearer,
called at his shop (Musgrove was not at this time acquainted with
Eadie's character and business), and after buying a small article, he
said to him in a most grave manner,--

"Mr. Musgrove, I am a comparative stranger to you, and you are to me;
but I am always concerned for the welfare of honest and good citizens.
Now, I would like you to succeed in trade as well as anybody else, and I
hope you will; but you know it is difficult for a man in your business
to get along if it is ever rumoured that he makes short weight and
measure, and takes advantage of children and ignorant persons."

"What do you mean, Mr. Eadie?" inquired Mr. Musgrove, as though he
understood the remark to apply to himself.

"I will tell you, Mr. Musgrove. Now, I hope you will not think that I am
the inventor of what I am about to tell you, or that I even _believe_
it, for I have no reason for doing so."

"What is it, Mr. Eadie? What is it?"

"I would not dream of telling you, if I did not desire that you might
stand well before the public and your customers in particular."

"That is what I am anxious to do; and what I am always studying to do;
and I never yet had any fears about the matter."

"Nor have I, Mr. Musgrove; but it is said that you make short weight and

"This is the first time that ever anything of the kind came to my ears
since I have been in business," said Mr. Musgrove, with considerable

"The thing has been told me by several individuals; and I fear the
report is going the round of the village, much to your injury."

"I am exceedingly sorry for it. But, Mr. Eadie, I must know the name of
the party who has thus suffered from my dishonesty. I must trace this
matter out, for my honour and happiness are dependent upon it. I scorn
such a thing in the very thought."

"Yes, and it is said to have been in connection with a little child,
too, and that makes the thing so much the worse."

"Well, now, Mr. Eadie, I must know the name of the party," said Mr.
Musgrove, very warmly.

"I feel considerable reluctance to give names," replied Eadie.

"You need not fear of being involved in any unpleasantness," answered

"So far as that goes, you know, I have no fear. But if you must know, I
will tell you. It is in connection with the family of Bakers."

"Is it possible!" exclaimed Mr. Musgrove. "Do you know, Mr. Eadie, that
I and that family are on the most friendly terms. We visit each other
often; and they are most regular and frequent customers of mine. I can
hardly believe, Mr. Eadie, that there is any truth in the report."

"I hope it may not be true, but it is strange so many should talk about
it, if it were not. But I have no interest in telling you of this, I do
it for your good."

"Thank you, thank you, Mr. Eadie."

Eadie had now done his business, so off he started, and left Mr.
Musgrove reflecting. "Strange," thought he to himself, "that the Bakers
have never said anything to me; that they should continue so friendly;
that they should still send to my shop for everything they need. I
cannot account for it." He continued the subject of considerable emotion
and anxiety. He informed his wife of the matter; but she did not credit
the first word. She was of different temper to him. He was very anxious
during the night, and slept little. How could he, when his character for
probity was implicated, and his business was likely to suffer? The first
opportunity he had he went to see Mrs. Baker, to inquire into the facts
of the case. She was glad to see him. Upon the statement of the story,
as told by Eadie, she was amazed, and exceedingly grieved. After a brief
pause, she said to Mr. Musgrove, "I think I can tell you how the matter
originated. My little girl went to your shop the other day for two
pounds of butter, and when she brought it home, Miss Nancy, who is
rather given to suspicion, thought the butter didn't weigh two pounds,
so she at once weighed it, and found that the weight was perfectly
right. Mrs. Allchin called in the day after, and in conversation I
happened to mention the circumstance to her. I ought to have known
better; for I seldom tell her anything of the kind, because I know her
gossiping humour. Mrs. Allchin and Eadie, who you say told you about it,
are very intimate friends; I have no doubt she informed him in her way
of exaggeration and wonder; and then he would tell you in his own
peculiar way, which is far from being a way of truthfulness. If you knew
him as well as I do, you would not have heard his tale at all; and I am
sure you would not have been disturbed in your mind by it, because you
would not have believed him. And as to the tale being circulated through
the village, that may be partly true; for when anything gets into Mrs.
Allchin's or Eadie's hands, it spreads like wildfire; but you may rest
assured that no one will believe it, when it is known to come from
either the one or the other. Do not be alarmed, Mr Musgrove, neither
your character nor business will suffer. You stand as high as ever you
did with us, and with everybody else, for aught I know. I am exceedingly
sorry that the thing should have occurred." Musgrove left Baker's fully
satisfied as to the fabrication of the tale, and still conscious of his
own integrity; but he could not help feeling about it, nor could he help
observing a slight decline in business from those parties who gave
credence to the tale of Mrs. Allchin or Mr. Eadie.

These miserable habits of tale-bearing and meddling, of backbiting and
whispering, are the source of the greater part of the quarrellings,
alienations, jealousies, and divisions in families. The smallest,
plainest bit of wire may become by such malicious working a sword that
pierces, to the destruction of peace and happiness. The least possible
authority is enough to give them warrant to set a-going an evil report,
which, as it rolls, gathers from every point it touches.

As in the case of Jeremiah, "Report, say they, and we will report it.
All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be
enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take revenge on
him" (Jer. xx. 10). As in the case also of Nehemiah, "It is reported
among the heathen, _and Gashmu saith it_, that thou and the Jews think
to rebel; and now shall it be reported to the king according to these
words" (Neh. vi. 6, 7).

Gashmu saith it, anybody says it, is authority enough. What did Nehemiah
know about Gashmu? What did any one know? But there are always plenty of
Gashmus for the tale-bearer's purpose. But although Gashmus be as plenty
as blackberries, God's law is absolute and explicit; it hedges this
wickedness around with many provisions, and walls it in, so that a man
who commits it is as if he had broken through flaming gates for the
purpose. "Thou shalt not raise nor receive a false report. Put not thine
hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. Thou shalt not follow
a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline
after many to wrest judgment (Exod. xxii. 1, 2). Lord, who shall abide
in Thy tabernacle? He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth
evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour"
(Ps. xv.).

Then observe the vagueness and indefiniteness of the accusation, founded
on what in the nature of things was absolutely impossible to be known,
except by overt action; founded on suspicion or conjecture of men's
thoughts. "That thou and the Jews think to rebel!" There was no pretence
that they _had_ rebelled. There is no need to begin the lie in so gross
and bungling a manner; it was bad enough to set _the conjecture of an
intention in motion_. Whoever took that report to the king would be sure
to present it thus:--

"It is said that there is rebellion in Jerusalem."

"Rebellion! Who is at the head of it?"

"Nehemiah, the Governor."

"And where is the proof of this thing?"

"O, Gashmu saith it."

"And who is Gashmu?"

"O, nobody knows anything about him; but doubtless he is some
responsible person!"

  "A whisper broke the air,--
    A soft light tone, and low,
    Yet barbed with shame and woe;
  Now, might it only perish there,
    Nor further go!
  Ah me! a quick and eager ear
    Caught up the little meaning sound!
  Another voice has breathed it clear,
    And so it wandered round
  From ear to lip, from lip to ear,
  Until it reached a gentle heart,
    And that--_it broke!_"

In reflecting upon these and similar results following the work of the
tale-bearer, one cannot but recommend to his attention these words of
Scripture: "Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy
people." "A tale-bearer revealeth secrets; but he that is a faithful
spirit concealeth the matter." "The words of a tale-bearer are as
wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." "He
that goeth about as a tale-bearer revealeth secrets, therefore meddle
not with him that flattereth with his lips." "Where there is no
tale-bearer, the strife ceaseth." "They learn to be idle, wandering
about from house to house; and not only idlers, but tattlers also, and
busy-bodies, speaking things which they ought not."

The following recipe is said to be an effectual cure of the
mouth-disease of the tale-bearer. It is given in the hope that all who
are so affected will give it a fair trial:--

"Take of good nature, one ounce; mix this with a little
'charity-for-others' and two or three sprigs of
'keep-your-tongue-between-your-teeth;' simmer them together in a vessel
called 'circumspection' for a short time, and it will be fit for
application. The symptom is a violent itching in the tongue and roof of
the mouth, which invariably takes place when you are in company with a
species of animals called 'Gossips.' When you feel a fit of the disorder
coming on, take a teaspoonful of the mixture, hold it in your mouth,
which you will keep closely shut till you get home, and you will find a
complete cure. Should you apprehend a relapse, keep a small bottleful
about you, and on the slightest symptom repeat the dose."



     "And there's one rare, strange virtue in his speeches,
     The secret of their mastery--they are short."

This is a talker of a very accommodating kind. He is pliable as an
elastic bow. He takes any shape in sentiment or opinion you please to
give him, with most obliging disposition. As you think, so he thinks; as
you say, so he says. If you deny, he denies; if you affirm, he affirms.
He is no wrangler or disputant, no dogmatist or snubber. You may always
rely upon having a hearing from him, whatever you say. And observe this,
what he is to you, so he is to others, however averse they may be in
sentiment to yourself. He is very much of a weathercock-make in his
intellect. It seems to be fixed on a pivot, and from whichever point of
the compass the wind blows in the talking world he veers round to that
quarter. His pet expressions are, "Yes, truly;" "Just so;" "I believe
that;" "Nothing is truer;" "That is what I have said many a time," etc.
I am not, however, disposed to think that this vacillation is owing to
moral weakness so much as to want of mental calibre in independent and
manly exercise.

In some it is a habit formed as the result of a desire to stand on
friendly terms with everybody they hold conversation.

"It is a very fine morning, Mr. Long," said Mr. Oakes, as he met him one
day in Bond Street.

"Very fine, indeed," said Mr. Long.

"I think we are going to have settled weather now after such a
succession of storms."

"O, yes, I think so, Mr. Oakes."

"Did you mind that picture of Wellington as you came by Brown's shop. Is
it not fine? Did you ever see a better likeness of the glorious hero of
Waterloo than that? Is it not grand?"

"It is indeed grand. I never saw anything like it. I think with you, Mr.

"That is a magnificent building, Mr. Long, which is in course of
erection in Adelaide Street. It will be an honour to the architect, the
proprietor, and the city."

"It is indeed a magnificent building, and it will do honour to the
architect, the proprietor, and the city," replied Mr. Long.

"Did you hear Mr. Bowles lecture the other night? Was it not a grand
piece of eloquence, of originality, and of literary power? I think that
it was super-excellent."

"Just so, Mr. Oakes. It was, as you say, super-excellent; that is the
exact idea. It was everything you describe. I fully concur in your

"But I did not think much of the man that supplied our pulpit on Sunday
morning. He was too long, too loose, and too loud; a very poor
substitute for our beloved pastor."

"Those are exactly my views upon that subject," responded Long.

"My opinion is that the probability of the restoration of Popery in this
country was never so strong as now, and unless something be done to
interpose, it will become more probable still."

"Just so, Mr. Oates. My opinion is precisely the same as yours upon that
point. We agree exactly."

"I think Mr. Gladstone's pamphlet on the Vatican Decrees is likely to
produce a reactionary effect upon the patronage of the Romanists in his
future support as the Liberal leader."

"That is what I think too, Mr. Oakes. It is very likely, as you say, to
be so. Your mind and mine agree upon that particular also."

"I have a strong impression that the Public Worship Act will have little
effect in arresting the progress of Ritualism, because of the apathy of
the Bishops."

"That is just my impression, Mr. Oakes."

"Do you not think, Mr. Long, that the scepticism of the age is very
subtle, powerful, and dangerous?"

"Yes, truly, Mr. Oakes, I do indeed think that the scepticism of the age
is all you say it is."

"I did not say it was so; you mistook my question for a statement, Mr.

With some little tremor, as though he had given offence, Mr. Long said,
"Oh dear no; you did not say so: I have made a mistake; do pardon me,
Mr. Oakes."

"That notion of George Eliot, taught in the following lines, is full of
atheistic teaching, and likely to be mischievous in its influence.
Speaking of his wish to have an immortality, his notion of it is only
that of living in the minds of others in subsequent ages:--

  'O may I join the choir invisible
  Of those immortal dead, who live again
  In minds made better by their presence:
  So to live is heaven.'

His notion of a heaven, you see, is limited to a life of immortality
among the dead, who live in others made better by them--a posthumous
influence for good is his only heaven."

"Yes, I see, Mr. Oakes," answered Long. "Just so: I believe all you say.
You have expressed what I think about the atheistic theory of George

It was in this way that Mr. Long assented to Mr. Oakes in everything he
said. They separated, and each went on his way. As Mr. Long walked down
the street, who should meet him but Mr. Stearns? and he began his
conversation somewhat in the same order as Mr. Oakes, only he happened
to take in almost every particular an opposite view. But this was of no
consequence to Mr. Long. Both Mr. Oakes and Mr. Stearns were his
intimate friends, though not friends of each other, and he did not wish
to disagree with either, so he assented to everything Stearns said with
as much readiness and affability as he did to what Oakes said.

The above is a brief specimen of the assenter in conversation. His fault
shows itself to every observer; and if it is not a moral fault, it
certainly is an intellectual one. Every man in conversation ought to
have a mind of his own for free and independent thought; and while he
does not dogmatically and doggedly bring it into contact with others, he
should avoid making it the tool of another man's. He should not throw
it, as clay, into everybody's mental mould which comes in his way, to
receive any shape which may be given to it. This is _softness_ which a
healthful state of any mind does not justify--which the natural
intellectual rights of man condemn. It is a _pliability_ of mind which
no honourable man requires in conversation, and which he does not
approve. It is mental stultification. It confines the action of mind to
one party, and limits the circle of conversation to the compass which
that mind pleases to give it. The proper contact of mind in conversation
is mutual stimulus to action. Friction produces fire, and when there are
wise hands to supply suitable material on both sides, a genial glowing
heat is the result, which thaws out the frigidness that otherwise might
exist. Each one warms himself at the other's fire; all who listen feel
the influence, and lasting are the benefits which flow from such



     "A false witness shall not be unpunished; and he that speaketh lies
     shall not escape."--SOLOMON.

This is a talker who voluntarily speaks untruth with an intention to
deceive. He is a _painter_, giving to subjects colours and views that he
knows are false to the original, but which he means to be understood as
true by the spectators. He is a _dramatist_, making representations
which do not belong to the characters in the drama, and thereby imposing
upon the credulity of the beholders. He is a _legerdemain_, showing
black to be white, and white to be black, and red to be no colour--a
_factor_, producing works which he vends as real, when he knows them to
be shams--a _witness_, bearing testimony to things which have no
existence--a _tradesman_, carrying on business in a fictitious name and
with an imaginary capital.

This talker may be met with in a variety of aspects and relations: in
the shop, telling his customer that his goods are the best in town, and
cheapest in price, when he knows that they are far from being either one
or the other; in the market, declaring that the fruit is fresh gathered
and fish just arrived, when he knows that both are on the eve of decay
and rottenness from long keeping; in the manufactory, stating that the
article is pure and unadulterated, when he knows that one half or three
parts are impure and corrupt. "You shall have it at cost price," when
perhaps the price is ten or twenty per cent. above it. "Selling at
twenty-five below cost," when the proprietor knows he will make a large
profit. "They are salvage goods," or they are "damaged goods from a
great fire in Manchester or Edinburgh," when they are old things which
have been damaged in the owner's own warehouse or cellar. "William, if
Mr. Cash calls to inquire if I am at home, tell him I am gone out for
the day," said Mr. Brush to his servant, while he was the whole day
engaged in some pet diversion in the bagatelle-room. "You shall most
certainly have your new coat by Thursday evening," says the tailor to
Mr. Shaw, upon which promise he makes a special engagement to meet
company. Thursday evening comes, and Mr. Shaw finds the promise
unfulfilled by the tailor, who knew at the time he should not do as he
said. "O, yes, I will meet you at four o'clock on Monday at Mr.
Nuncio's," when he knew that he was purposing to go in quite an opposite
direction at that very hour. "I certainly cannot pay your bill to-day:
call on Friday, and I will pay you," when he knows he has the money on
hand, and that when you call on Friday he will not pay you.

There are yet three more aspects in which this talker appears before
society--as _jocular_, as _officious_, as _pernicious._ As _Jocular_, he
talks with a view to amuse and create merriment by telling stories of
his own invention, or what he has heard others repeat, and which he
knows not to be true. As _Officious_, he talks with a view, as he says,
to benefit others. He may do it as a parent to benefit his children; or
as a husband to benefit his wife; or as an officer in Church or State to
benefit those who are subject to him. He thinks the end justifies the
means, and he can do evil that good may come. But this is an egregious
mistake; for the Divine injunction is that we must _not_ do evil that
good may come. "And therefore," says Bishop Hopkins, "although thine own
life or thy neighbour's depends upon it; yea, put the case it were not
only to save his life, but to save his soul, couldest thou by this means
most eminently advance the glory of God, or the general good and welfare
of the Church, yet thou oughtest not to tell the least lie to promote
these great and blessed ends." As _Pernicious_, he talks things that are
false with a view to injure his neighbour, or any one towards whom he
has an evil feeling. It is immaterial to him what the invention is, so
that it will answer his malicious design. He can create rumours by
wholesale, and dispense them to all who will degrade themselves by
accepting them. Aspersions, detractions, slanders, defamations, and
calumnies he can conjure in his mind and pour out of his lips without
the shadow of a justification. And as there are always persons with
ready minds to receive whatever is said to the injury of others, and to
circulate it as truth, the liar often succeeds in the accomplishment of
his evil purpose. I will give briefly the traits of his character.

1. _He is a child of the devil._--"Ye are of your father the devil, and
the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the
beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.
When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and
the father of it" (John viii. 44). The liar, then, is a legitimate son
of this lying father. He speaks as he is inspired by that black spirit
of perdition. "Thou never liest," says Bishop Hopkins, "but thou
speakest aloud what the devil whispered softly to thee; the Old Serpent
lies folded round in thy heart, and we may hear him hissing in thy
voice. And therefore, when God summoned all His heavenly attendants
about Him, and demanded who would persuade Ahab to go up and fall at
Ramoth-Gilead, an evil spirit that had crowded in amongst them steps
forth and undertakes the office as his most natural employment, and that
wherein he most of all delighted. 'I will go forth and be a lying spirit
in the mouth of all his prophets' (I Kings xxii. 22). Every lie thou
tellest, consider that the devil sits upon thy tongue, breathes
falsehood into thy heart, and forms thy words and accents into deceit."

2. _He acts contrary to the Divine mind and nature._--God is truth and
in Him is no falsehood at all. What He hath said He will do; what He
hath promised He will fulfil. All His thoughts are according to the
perfect reality of things; and all His words are in exact accord with
His thoughts. Hence the sin of lying is contrary to His very nature, and
an abomination in His sight. "These six things doth the Lord hate: yea,
seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, A LYING TONGUE, and
hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked
imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A FALSE WITNESS
THAT SPEAKETH LIES, and he that soweth discord among his brethren"
(Prov. vi. 16-19). "LYING LIPS are abomination to the Lord: but they
that deal truly are His delight" (Prov. xii. 22).

3. _He gives indubitable evidence of a depraved nature._--He is the
opposite in nature to a child of "our Father which is in heaven."
"Surely," says the Lord of His children, "they are My people; children
that WILL NOT LIE: so He became their Saviour" (Isa. lxiii. 8). On the
contrary, it is affirmed of the wicked that they "are estranged from the
womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies" (Ps.
lviii. 3). Again it is said, "Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a
sharp razor, working deceitfully. Thou lovest evil more than good, and
lying rather than to speak righteousness" (Ps. lii. 2, 3). The wicked
"delight in lies; they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly"
(Ps. lxii. 4). Again it is said, "Behold, he travaileth with iniquity,
and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood" (Ps. vii. 14).
Jeremiah's description of his people answers to the character of the
liar in our day. "They bend their tongues like their bow for lies; but
they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth, for they proceed from
evil to evil, and they know not Me, saith the Lord." "They will deceive
every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth; they have taught
their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity"
(Jer. ix. 3, 5).

4. _He is generally a coward in respect to men, and a contemner of
God._--"To say a man lieth," says Montaigne, "is to say that he is
audacious towards God, and a coward towards men." "Whosoever lies,"
observes Hopkins, "doth it out of a base and sordid fear lest some evil
and inconvenience should come unto him by declaring the truth." "A
liar," remarks Bacon, "is brave towards God and a coward towards man.
For a lie faces God, and shrinks from man." "The meanness of lying,"
says Gilpin, "arises from the cowardice which it implies. We dare not
boldly and nobly speak the truth, but have recourse to low subterfuges,
which always show a sordid and disingenuous mind. Hence it is that in
the fashionable world the word _liar_ is always considered as a term of
peculiar reproach."

  "Lie not, but let thy heart be true to God,
  Thy mouth to it, thy actions to them both.

  Cowards tell lies, and those that fear the rod;
  The stormy working soul spits lies and froth."

Again, says the poet:--

  "Dishonour waits on perfidy. The villain
  Should blush to think a falsehood; 'tis the crime Of cowards."

5. _As a rule he is the most condemned and shunned of all the talkers in
society._--Those who have any self-respect avoid him. The noble and
virtuous stand aloof from his company. He is regarded as a dangerous
person, possessed of deadly weapons, subject to a deadly malady. He is
not depended upon at any time, or in anything. Even his veracity is
suspected, if not discredited altogether; so that when he does speak the
truth there is little or no confidence reposed in what he says _as_ the
truth. Aristotle, being asked what a man would gain by telling a lie,
answered, "Not to be credited when he shall tell the truth."

The poet, in a dialogue with Vice, thus represents the liar or falsehood
as the greatest fiend on earth. Vice inquires of Falsehood:--

  "And, secret one! what hast thou done
  To compare, in thy tumid pride, with me?
  _I_, whose career, through the blasted year,
  Has been tracked by despair and agony."

To which Falsehood replies:--

  "What have I done? I have torn the robe
  From Baby Truth's unsheltered form,
  And round the desolated globe
  Borne safely the bewildering charm:
  My tyrant-slaves to a dungeon floor
  Have bound the fearless innocent,
  And streams of fertilizing gore
  Flow from her bosom's hideous rent,
  Which this unfailing dagger gave....
  I dread that blood!--no more--this day
  Is ours, though her eternal ray
  Must shine upon our grave.
  Yet know, proud Vice, had I not given
  To thee the robe I stole from heaven,
  Thy shape of ugliness and fear
  Had never gained admission here."

In view of the enormity of this sin, the language and feeling of the
good is, "I hate and abhor lying;" "A righteous man hateth lying;" "The
remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity nor speak lies, neither shall a
deceitful tongue be found in their mouth." They pray against the sin,
"Remove from me the way of lying;" "Remove far from me vanity and lies."
They do not respect those who are guilty of the sin. "Blessed is the man
that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such
as turn aside to lies;" "He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within
my house; he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight." It would be
well if all professing Christians would act upon this resolution of the
Psalmist, and exclude all liars from their presence.

6. _He is generally characterized for other evils as associated and
produced by his lying._--The degeneracy of moral principle which can
impose upon the credulity of mankind by the invention and statement of
what is known to be untrue is capable of other acts of vice and
immorality. Hence the prophet Hosea, in speaking to the Israelites of
the judgments that should come upon them, declares that "the Lord hath
a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is NO
TRUTH, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and
lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery they break
out, and blood toucheth blood." Here we see the brood of evils
associated with lying. "A lying tongue," says Solomon, "hateth those
that are afflicted by it." It not only afflicts, but hates them whom it
does afflict--hates them under the calamity of which itself has been the
cause. "A liar," he again says, "giveth ear to a naughty tongue." He
listens to lies, to slander, to cursing, to profanity, and the various
evils constituting a "naughty tongue."

7. _He often tries to conceal his previous sins by lying, and to conceal
his lying by subsequent sins._--Ananias and Sapphira sinned in keeping
back part of the price, and then they lied in endeavouring to cover that
(Acts v.). Cain sinned in murdering his brother, and then lied in the
attempt to hide it (Gen. iv. 9). Jacob did wrong in appearing before his
father as Esau, and sustained his wrong by a lie. The brethren of Joseph
transgressed in dealing unkindly with him and selling him into the hands
of the Ishmaelites, and then to conceal the matter they deceived their
father by lying (Gen. xxxvii. 31, 32). Samson committed sin by throwing
himself into the power of Delilah, and sought his deliverance from her
hands by telling lies (Judges xvi. 10).

And so the liar has to resort to additional sin in defending himself
against his lying. One lie begets another lie to sustain it. Sometimes
it calls forth an oath, a blasphemy, a curse, perjury, and other kinds
of sin. Gehazi lied to Naaman concerning his master, and then to clear
himself before his master he lied a second time (2 Kings v. 22, 25).
Peter also lied in saying that he knew not Jesus, and to sustain himself
in it, when discovered, he cursed and swore, and thus doubled his crime
(Matt. xxvi. 72).

"One lie," says Owen, "must be thatched with another, or it will soon
rain through." "He who tells a lie," remarks Pope, "is not sensible how
great a task he undertakes, for he must be forced to invent twenty more
to maintain that one." "When one lie becomes due," says Thackeray, "you
must forge another to take up the old acceptance; and so the stock of
your lies in circulation inevitably multiplies, and the danger of
detection increases every day."

It is astounding to a serious mind to observe how some persons can run
on in the repetition of falsehoods; and who, upon an apprehension of
discovery, will yet go on paying the price of what they have told by
continuing to lie on. It is also humiliating to one's humanity to notice
oftentimes the cunning, subtlety, paltry tricks resorted to in order to
cover over the lies which are exposed to detection.

  "This is the curse of every evil deed,--
  That, propagating still, it brings forth evil."

8. _He is almost invariably discovered in his sin._--"The lip of truth,"
says the wise man, "shall be established for ever; but a lying tongue
is but for a moment" (Prov. xii. 19). The moral government of God is
maintained by truth. It is engaged in the promulgation and defence of
truth. He who lies is a violator of its sacred laws, and exposes himself
to the searching and grasping power of justice. The agents of the
justice of God are numerous, and by one or the other the rebel is sure
to be discovered and brought to public exposure in his criminality.
There is a general love to truth and hatred to lies among mankind, and
the belief or suspicion of a lie leads at once to the use of means to
find it out, in order to know the truth and expose the falsehood. Truth
known as truth is never questioned. It remains inviolable and eternal.
It stands as the admiration of the intelligent universe. But falsehood
is transient in its power and reign, and exists while it does exist as
the object of execration to all the rational beings of heaven and earth.

9. _He cannot go unpunished._--He is punished in the remorse and
condemnation of his conscience; in the abhorrence of him in the judgment
of every respectable member of society; in the continual fear he has of
shameful discovery. None can trust him. It is against the moral instinct
of human nature to confide in a liar. Children cannot trust their
parents when they know they lie. Even the ties of kindred, however
close, cannot create mutual assurance in the face of habitual falsehood.

Fidelity in every authority visits lying with punishment. Children are
punished by parents; servants by their masters. A liar is such a
mischievous member of the community that the almost unanimous feeling
towards him is one of condemnation.

The Scriptures contain most fearful words expressive of the retribution
which shall come upon the liar:--

"I will be a swift witness against false-swearers, and them that fear
not Me, saith the Lord of hosts." "Thou shalt destroy them that speak
leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man." "What shall
be given unto, or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp
arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper." "A false witness shall not
be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape." "But the
fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and
whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and ALL LIARS, shall have
their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is
the second death." "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything
that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh A LIE."
"For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers,

In illustration of some of the preceding sentiments, I give the

An American lawyer says: "On entering college, I promised my mother,
whom I loved as I have never loved another mortal, that while there I
would not taste of intoxicating liquor, nor play at cards, or other
games of hazard, nor borrow money. And I never did, and never have
since. I have lived well-nigh sixty years, yet have never learned to
tell a king from a knave among cards, nor Hock from Burgundy among
wines, nor have I ever asked for the loan of a single dollar. Thanks to
my mother!--loving, careful, anxious for me, but not over-careful nor
over-anxious. How could she be, when I was so weak and ignorant of my
weakness, feeling myself strong because my strength was untried, and
such a life as human life is, such temptations as beset the young,
before me.

"She did not ask me to promise not to swear. She would not wrong me by
the thought that I _could_ swear; and she was right. I could not. How
can any one so insult the Holy, the All-Excellent, our Father, and best
friend? Nor did she ask me not to lie. She thought I _could_ not _lie_.
Had she thought otherwise, my promise would have been of little value to
her. And I also thought I could not. I despised lying as a weakness,
cowardice, meanness, the concentration of baseness. I felt strong
enough, manly enough, to accomplish my end without it. I had no fear of
facing my own acts. Why should I shrink before my fellows for anything I
had done? Lie to them to conceal myself or my acts? Nay, I would not
have faults to be concealed. My own character, my own life, was more to
me than the esteem of others. I would do nothing fit to have hidden, or
which I might wish to hide. I thought I could not lie, and I could not
for myself.

"During my second college year there was a great deal of card-playing
among the students. The Faculty tried to prevent it, but found it
difficult. Though I never played, my chum did, and sometimes others
played with him in our room when I was present. I not unfrequently saw
the students at cards. One of the professors questioned me upon the

"'Have you ever seen any card-playing among the students?'

"'No, sir,' I answered firmly, determined not to expose my fellows. 'A
lie of honour!' I said to myself. What coupling of contradictions! As
well talk of 'honest theft!' 'innocent sin!'

"'You are ignorant of any card-playing in the college building, Brown?'

"'Yes, sir,'

"'We can believe _you_, Brown.'

"I was ready to sink. Nothing else could have smitten, stung me, like
that. Such confidence, and I so unworthy of it. Still I held back the

"But I left the professor's room another person than I entered
it--guilty, humbled, wretched. That one false word had spoiled
everything for me. All my past manliness was shadowed by it. My ease of
mind had left me, my self-respect was gone. I felt uncertain, unsafe. I
stood upon a lie, trembling, tottering. How soon might I not fail? I
was right in feeling unsafe. It is always unsafe to lie. My feet were
sliding beneath me. One of the students had lost a quarter's allowance
in play, and applied to his father for a fresh remittance, stating his
loss. His father had made complaint to the college Faculty, and there
was an investigation of the facts. The money had been staked and lost in
my room. I was present.

"'Was Brown there?' asked the professor.

"'He was.'

"The professor's eyes rested on me. Where was my honour _then_--my
manliness? and where the trust reposed in me? Did any say, 'We can
believe _you_, Brown,' after that? Did any excuse my lie--any talk of my
honour then? Not one. They said, 'We didn't think it of you, Brown!' 'I
didn't suppose Brown would lie for his right hand!'

"It was enough to kill me. But there was no help. I had to bear my sin
and shame as best I might, and try to outlive it. No one trusted me as
before. No one could, for who knew whether my integrity might not again
fail? I could not trust myself until I had obtained strength as well as
pardon from God, nor even then, until I had many times been tried and
tempted, and found His strength sufficient for me."

       *       *       *       *       *

Bessie was a little girl, not very old. One morning, as she stood before
the glass pinning a large rose upon her bosom, her mother called her to
take care of the baby a few minutes. Now Bessie wanted just then to go
out into the garden to play, so she went very unwillingly.

Her mother bade her sit down in her little chair, placed the baby
carefully in her lap, and left the room. The red rose instantly
attracted the little one's attention, and quick as thought the chubby
little fingers grasped it, and before Bessie could say, "What are you
about?" the rose was crushed and scattered. Bessie was so angry that she
struck the baby a hard blow. The baby, like all other babies, screamed
right lustily. The mother, hearing the uproar, ran to see what was the
matter. Bessie, to save herself from punishment, told her mother that
her little brother Ben, who was playing in the room, had struck the baby
as hard as he could.

Ben, although he declared his innocence, received the punishment which
Bessie so richly deserved. Bessie went to school soon after, but she did
not feel happy.

That night, as she lay in her bed, she could not go to sleep for
thinking of the dreadful wrong she had committed against her brother and
against God; and she resolved that night to tell her mother the next
morning. When morning came, however, she felt as if there was something
kept her back; she could not make up her mind to confess the sin; it did
not seem so great as the night before. It was not much, after all, her
silly heart said. As day after day passed, Bessie felt the burden less
and less, and she might have fallen into the same sin again had a
temptation presented itself, but for a sad event. One morning, when she
came home from school, she found Ben ill with a frightful throat
distemper. He had been so all the forenoon. He continued to grow worse,
and the next evening he died.

Poor Bessie! it seemed as if her heart would break. Kind friends tried
to comfort her. They told her that he was happy; that he had gone to
live with the Saviour who loved little children; and if she was good,
she would go to see him, though he could not come again to her.

"O!" said the child, "I am not crying because he has gone to heaven, but
because I told that lie about him; because he got the punishment which
belonged to me."

For a long time she refused to be comforted.

Several years have passed. Bessie is now of woman's size; but the
remembrance of that lie yet stings her soul to the quick. It took less
than one minute to utter, but many years have not effaced the sorrow and
shame which followed it.

       *       *       *       *       *

A mother sat with her youngest daughter, a sprightly child, five years
of age, enjoying an afternoon chit-chat with a few friends, when a
little girl, a playmate of the daughter of Mrs. P., came running into
the sitting-room, and cried,--

"Where is Jane? I've got something for her."

"She is out," said the mother.

"What have you got? Show it to me," eagerly exclaimed Hannah, the
mother's favourite. "I'll give it to her."

The little girl handed Hannah a bouquet of flowers, which she had
gathered for Jane, and returned home with the faith that her kindness
had not been misapplied. She had scarcely left the room, when Hannah,
standing by her mother's chair, talking to herself, said, loud enough to
be heard across the room,--

"I like flowers--she often calls me Jane--she thinks I am Jane--I'm
going to keep this bouquet."

The mother made no objection to the soliloquy, and Hannah immediately
began to pick the leaves from the handsome rose, for the purpose of
making rose water. She had not completed her task when Jane bounded into
the room, and seeing Hannah with flowers, exclaimed,--

"I'm going to have a bouquet pretty soon. Sally Johnson said she would
bring me one this afternoon."

"But she won't," said Hannah.

"I'll go and see," returned Jane, tripping as she spoke towards the
front door.

"Here, Jane," said the mother, "Sally brought this bouquet for you, but
you were not in, and she gave it to Hannah."

The tears started in Jane's eyes. She felt that she had been robbed, and
she knew that Hannah had been preferred to her. Hannah had been
encouraged in a deliberate falsehood and in deception towards her
sister. Many a time since has that mother felt herself obliged to punish
her daughter for prevarications, and often has she been heard to say
that she wondered where so small a child learned so much deceit.

This is a small affair at best, some may say; but do not

  "Large streams from little fountains flow--
  Tall oaks from little acorns grow?"

And do not the "small beginnings" of instruction lay the foundation of
man's or woman's character?

The following lines are a solemn admonition against this sin, spoken by
one who had committed it and fallen under its terrible punishment:--

  "My sin, Ismenus, has wrought all this ill;
  And I beseech thee to be warned by me,
  And do not lie, if any man should ask thee
  But how thou dost, or what o'clock 'tis now;
  Be sure thou do not lie, make no excuse
  For him that is most near thee; never let
  The most officious falsehood 'scape thy tongue;
  For they above (that are entirely Truth)
  Will make the seed which thou hast sown of lies
  Yield miseries a thousandfold
  Upon thine head, as they have done on mine."



     "Judging with rigour every small offence."--HAYWARD.

He is a judge passing sentence upon persons and things without justice
or charity. Benevolent works in Church or State are failures unless he
has been a prominent party in their execution. Personal motives are
weighed in the balance and found wanting. Thoughts, ere they are
expressed, are even seen and censured. Actions are pronounced false and
defective. Appearances are judged as realities, and realities as
nonentities. Things straight are seen as crooked, and things beautiful
as deformed. Where wiser men perceive order, strength, utility, he
perceives confusion, weakness, and uselessness. An enterprise of which
the community approve and co-operate in he stands aloof from, and
satisfies his unhappy disposition with carping criticisms and ungenerous
censures. A neighbour who does not reach his standard of moral
excellence in character and action he pronounces lax in principles and
delinquent in life. One who does not agree with him in his peculiar
views of some disputed doctrine of Christian faith or principle of
Church discipline he judges to be little better than a heretic or a

It seems the instinct of his nature to find fault. He hears no preacher,
reads no book, looks upon no work of art, without some expression of
disapproval. God, Providence, the Bible, Religion, do not escape his
sharp and keen criticisms. His perception is so fine and his taste so
exquisite that points of failure which a generous mind would overlook he
discerns and speaks of with unfailing fidelity. He would at any time
rather rub his nose against a thistle than smell at a flower.

"Mr. Smith is a very excellent man," said a friend of mine one day in
conversation to Mr. Pepper.

"Yes, he may be," said Pepper in an indifferent way; "but perhaps you
don't know him as well as I do."

"What a noble gift of Lord Hill to the town of Shenton, that park of one
thousand acres!"

"True, it was; but what were his motives in its bestowment? Did he not
expect to gain more than its value in certain ways that I need not

"How sad that the family of Hobson have come into such circumstances."

"It is only a judgment upon them for the old man's sins."

"Have you heard that young Dumas has entered the ministry?"

"Yes, and what for? Only for the loaves and fishes."

"What a kind Providence it was that provided so suitably for widow
Bonsor and her family."

"Providence, indeed! Was it not rather the benevolence of Mr. Lord and
his friend Squance?"

"What an admirable picture that is in Mr. Robinson's window in Bond
Street. It is a splendid piece of workmanship. Don't you think so?"

"A bad sky--very bad! Cold as winter. That trunk of a tree on the right
is as stiff and formal as a sign-post. It spoils the whole picture."

"Then you don't like it?"

"There are a few good points in it; but it is full of faults."

"The Rev. Mr. Benson, of Queen's-road Church, is, in my judgment, an
eloquent and powerful preacher. Don't you think so, Mr. Pepper?"

"Well, as you ask me so pointedly, I am free to say that I think him a
very good preacher _on the whole_. But, you know, he is far from
perfect. I have again and again perceived his false logic, his weak
metaphors, and his unsound expositions. Still, he is passable, and you
may go a long way before you hear a better."

Thus the censor meets you in every topic which you introduce in

  "All seems infected that the infected spy,
  And all seems yellow to the jaundiced eye."

If you ask reasons for his censures, he cannot give you any, excepting
one similar in kind to the following:--

  "I do not like you, Doctor Fell,
  The reason why I cannot tell;
  But I do not like you, Doctor Fell."

"Canting bigotry and carping criticism," says Magoon, "are usually the
product of obtuse sensibilities and a pusillanimous will. Plutarch tells
us of an idle and effeminate Etrurian, who found fault with the manner
in which Themistocles had conducted a recent campaign. 'What,' said the
hero, in reply, 'have you, too, something to say about war, who are like
the fish that has a sword, but no heart?' He is always the severest
censor on the merits of others who has the least worth of his own."

Again he says, "The Sandwich Islanders murdered Captain Cook, but adored
his bones. It is after the same manner that the censorious treat
deserving men. They first immolate them in the most savage mode of
sacrifice, and then declare the relics of their victims to be sacred.
Crabbed members of churches and other societies will quarrel a pastor or
leading member away, and with snappish tone will complain of his
absence, invidiously comparing him with his successor, and making the
change they have caused the occasion of a still keener fight, simply to
indulge the unslumbering malice of their unfeeling heart. The rancour
with which they would silence one, the envy with which they hurry
another into seclusion, and the inexorable bitterness under the
corrosion of which a third is brought prematurely to the grave, proves
how indiscriminate are their carping comments, and how identical
towards all degrees of merit is their infernal hate."

Pollok speaks of the censor in the following lines:--

                "The critics--some, but few,
  Were worthy men; and earned renown which had
  Immortal roots; but most were weak and vile;
  And as a cloudy swarm of summer flies,
  With angry hum and slender lance, beset
  The sides of some huge animal; so did
  They buzz about the illustrious man, and fain
  With his immortal honour, down the stream
  Of fame would have descended; but alas!
  The hand of time drove them away: they were
  Indeed a simple race of men, who had
  One only art, which taught them still to say,
  Whate'er was done might have been better done;
  And with this art, not ill to learn, they made
  A shift to live; but sometimes, too, beneath
  The dust they raised, was worth awhile obscured:
  And then did envy prophesy and laugh.
  O envy! hide thy bosom! hide it deep:
  A thousand snakes, with black, envenomed mouths,
  Nest there, and hiss, and feed through all thy heart!"

"The manner in which cynical censors of artistic and moral worth proceed
is the same in every place and age. In Pope's time 'coxcombs' attempted
to 'vanquish Berkely with a grin,' and they would fain do the same
to-day. 'Is not this common,' exclaimed a renowned musician, 'the least
little critic, in reviewing some work of art, will say, pity this and
pity that--this should have been attired, that omitted? Yea, with his
wiry fiddle-string will he creak out his accursed variations. But let
him sit down and compose himself. He sees no improvements in variations

The fault of which the censorious talker is guilty has been defined as a
"compound of many of the worst passions; latent pride, which discovers
the mote in a brother's eye, but hides the beam in our own; malignant
envy, which, wounded at the noble talents and superior prosperity of
others, transforms them into the objects and food of its malice, if
possible obscuring the splendour it is too base to emulate; disguised
hatred, which diffuses in its perpetual mutterings the irritable venom
of the heart; servile duplicity, which fulsomely praises to the face,
and blackens behind the back; shameless levity, which sacrifices the
peace and reputation of the absent, merely to give barbarous stings to a
jocular conversation: all together forming an aggregate the most
desolating on earth, and nearest in character to the malice of hell."

The censorious talker, with all his criticisms and censures, never does
any good, as none heed him but those who do not know him. His criticisms
have no influence with the wise and judicious. Though he may swim
against the stream of general opinion, he can never turn the stream of
general opinion to run with him. Though he may talk contrary to others,
he cannot persuade or constrain others to talk as he does. He may
dissent in judgment from them, but he cannot bring them over to coincide
with him; and it is a good thing for society that it is so. As he talks
without wisdom and charity, so he talks to no purpose, excepting to
prejudice weak and unwary minds, and degrade himself in the sober
judgment of the intelligent and thoughtful.

"Voltaire said that the 'character of the Frenchman is made up of the
tiger and the ape;' but even such a composition may be turned to some
useful account, while the inveterate fault-finder neutralizes, as far as
possible, every attempt made by others to do good. To perform any task
perfectly to his liking, would be as impossible as to 'make a portrait
of Proteus, or fix the figure of the fleeting air.' To speak favourably
of anybody or anything is a trait of generosity entirely foreign to his
nature; from temperament and confirmed habit, he 'must be cruel only to
be kind.' The only benefit he occasions is achieved contrary to his
intent; in his efforts to impede rising merit, he fortifies the energies
he would destroy. Said Haydon, 'Look down upon genius, and he will rise
to a giant--attempt to crush him, and he will soar to a god.'"

While the censorious man is most severe in judging others, he is
invariably the most ready to repel any animadversions made upon himself;
upon the principle well understood in medical circles, that the feeblest
bodies are always the most sensitive. No man will so speedily and
violently resent a supposed wrong as he who is most accustomed to
inflict injuries upon his associates. Not unfrequently is a fool as
dangerous to deal with as a knave, and for ever is he more incorrigible.

What an unhappy state of mind is that of the censorious talker! He is
always looking with the eyes of jealousy, envy, or malice, to discern
something for censure; and something he _will_ discern; true or false,
it is of no consequence to him. He proceeds in direct opposition to the
Divine injunction, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." "Judge not according
to appearance, but judge righteous judgment." He is like the Pharisees
of old, with two bags, one before and the other behind him. In the one
before he deposits the faults of other people, and in the one behind he
now and then, it may be, deposits the faults of himself. He is devoid of
the charity which covereth a multitude of sins, which is the bond of
perfectness, which "suffereth long, and is kind, which envieth not,
vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, which doth not behave itself
unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; which beareth all
things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
This charity has not so much as cast her passing shadow upon the soul of
the censor; and did the shadow or body of charity come within the range
of his vision, he would not discern either the one or the other, because
of the blindness of his heart.

One of the finest expressions in the world is in the seventeenth chapter
of Proverbs, "He that covereth a transgression _seeketh love_; but he
that repeateth a matter separateth very friends." In what a delightful
communion with God does that man live who habitually seeketh love! With
the same mantle thrown over him from the cross, with the same act of
amnesty, by which he hopes to be saved, injuries the most unprovoked,
and transgressions the most aggravated are covered in eternal

On the contrary, the censorious man often separates intimate friends by
repeating a matter and digging up forgotten quarrels. The charity which
is most divine is that which hides a multitude of faults. It is pure in
itself, and labours to promote the peace and happiness of all. If one
would be noble, he must be habitual in the cultivation of lofty
principle and generous love.

What advantage comes of the uncharitable criticisms and judgments which
are passed one upon the other? Is any one the better? Do they not rather
result in mutual ill-humour and enmity? Who likes to have his motives
called in question? Who can endure with meekness to have himself and his
works put through the crucible of a mere mortal, as though that mortal
were the Judge of eternal destinies? Let us remember that we are all
frail, and as such should exercise towards each other that charity which
we hope the Supreme One will exercise towards us.

                      "Oh what are we,
  Frail creatures as we are, that we should sit
  In judgment man on man? and what were we,
  If the All Merciful should mete to us
  With the same rigorous measure wherewithal
  Sinner to sinner metes."



                     "I am Sir Oracle:
     And when I ope my lips let no dog bark."

This talker is one who sits in company as a king whose words are law; or
as a god whose communications are divine; or as a judge whose decisions
are unalterable. There is, however, this drawback to his supremacy--it
is only in his _own_ imagination. He is to himself an infallible
oracle--infallible in all points of theory and practice on which he
converses. He has surrounded himself with such fortifications of
strength, that to attack him with a view to gain a surrender on any
questions of dispute is like trying to break a rock with a bird's
feather, or taking Gibraltar with a merchant ship's gun. He is
invulnerable in everything. His words, like Jupiter's bolts, come down
upon you in such fury that your escape is as likely as that of a gnat
thrown into a caldron of flaming oil. Hercules crushing an infant in his
grasp is a difficult task compared to the ease with which this giant
talker grasps and crushes his opponent. In every mode of hostility he
meets you as Goliath met David--with lips of scorn and words of
contempt--to presume to stand before him in contradiction. Your logic is
weak; or you beg the question; or you see only one side; or you want
order of thought, breadth of view, clearness of perception; or you have
not studied philosophy, or psychology, or history, sufficiently to judge
of the question; or you are wrong altogether: you _must_ be so.

Thus his denunciations come down without mercy upon your poor soul; and
alas for you if you have not enough of mental stamina, independence, and
fortitude to stand up against them. If you are a lamb, you are torn to
pieces as in the jaws of a lion; if you are trembling and diffident, you
are overwhelmed as a dove in the claws of an eagle. He scathes with his
lightning and awes with his thunder. He sweeps everything before him,
and stands in the field as sole possessor. He is "Sir Ruler" of all
opinion. He is "Lord Guide" of all thought; and to have a thought or an
opinion of your own, contrary to his, is a presumption frowned upon with
sternest ire.

Another trait in this talker is, he has nothing good to say of any one,
or of anything that is of any one. He deals with others in the third
person as he deals with you in the second person. "What do you think of
so and so?" you ask: it may be of the highest personage in State or
Church, in literature or politics.

"O, he is narrow, or he is selfish; or he is mean; or he is vain; or he
is jealous; or he is little; or he is limited in his reading; or he is
something else, which unfits him to be where he is or what he is."

No one pleases him; nothing pleases him. Everybody is wrong; everything
is wrong. If there is a dark spot in the bright sky, he is sure to see
it; if a thorn on the rose, he is bound to run his hand in it; if a hole
in the garment, his finger will instinctively find its way there, and
make it larger.

I have met this talker in company more than once or twice; and I must
say that my conversation with him has been anything but pleasant or
satisfactory. I have thought every time that he has increased in his
idiosyncracy, that he has become more and more dogged, self-willed, and
obstinate. I have wished that he might see himself as others see him.
But to this he has been as blind as an owl in mid-day. Where is the
salve that would give him this power of vision? He see himself as others
see him! Can the blind be made to see, or the deaf to hear? Then may
this miracle be wrought. He sees no one in his mirror but himself, and
himself in full perfection. Should he, perchance, at any time see
another, it is in a manner that only enlarges the perception of his own
personal excellences, and strengthens his consciousness of
self-importance and self-satisfaction.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Do you think, Mr. Jones, that Dr. Sharpe's views of the natural
immortality of the soul and the future condition of the wicked are
tenable by reason and Scripture?" asked Mr. Manly.

"There is neither reason nor Scripture in them," replied Mr. Jones, with
dogmatic emphasis. "He is hemmed in by your 'orthodoxy.' He is narrow in
his conceptions. He lacks breadth of thought. His logic is feeble. He is
deficient in true exegesis of Scripture. He has not looked into nature
to catch its unfettered inspirations. His arguments are as weak as an

"But are you not forgetting the scholarship of the Doctor, underrating
his powers, and losing sight of the general favour with which his work
is received?" asked Mr. Manly.

"Forgetting his scholarship!" replied Jones, with a dogmatic sneer; "how
can I forget what he never had, and underrate powers which he never
possessed? And as for the favour with which his book has been received,
that is nothing to me. I think for myself: I speak for myself. I care
nothing for the opinion of others. I say, and when I say I mean what I
say, that there is no force in the Doctor's arguments."

"Yes, but, Mr. Jones, all that is mere dogmatism on your part, and no
argument," said Mr. Manly, calmly and firmly.

"You accuse me of dogmatism, do you?" roared Mr. Jones, "dogmatism
indeed! Who are you, to be so bold? No argument, either! If I do not
argue, who does? It is impudence on your part to say such a thing in my

Mr. Manly thought it wise to say no more about Dr. Sharpe's book. After
a brief pause Mr. Jones told a most marvellous account of two men in
South Africa, to which Mr. Manly observed,--

"That is a strange story, and hard to believe, Mr. Jones."

"_It is so_, whether you believe it or no: _I_ know it is true, and _it
is so_," replied Mr. Jones, positively.

"But your _ipse dixit_ does not make it true."

"My _ipse dixit_, indeed! Have not I read it? Do not I know it? Be it
true or false, I believe it; and I wonder at your impudence to call in
question anything that I say," said Jones, somewhat furiously.

"Do not excite yourself, Mr. Jones."

"Excite myself! isn't there enough to excite me? _I said so_, and that
ought to have been enough without your contradiction."

Mr. Manly said no more on that point, but after a while observed,--

"The principle you advanced, Mr. Jones, a short time since, on geology
seems to be altogether gratuitous, and can only be received for what it
is worth."

"Gratuitous, indeed! Gratuitous! You affirm it to be gratuitous, do you?
I should like to know what right you have to say it is gratuitous?
Haven't I said it is so? and do you mean to insult me by saying it is
only gratuitous?" roared out Jones.

"I do not mean to insult at all; but I was not prepared to receive it,
as it is antagonistic to the views of the most eminent geologists of the
present day," replied Mr. Manly, rather coolly.

"What is that to me? My views are my own. I have found them myself. I
hold them sacred. I care not who they contradict. I believe they are
right. I affirm them so to you, and you should not dispute them."

       *       *       *       *       *

It is thus the dogmatist stands upon his self-confidence and
presumption, his fancied superiority of knowledge and learning. He
virtually ignores everybody else's right to think and to know. He flings
denunciation at the man who dares contradict him. He is his own standard
of wisdom, and erects himself as the standard for other people. "To the
law and the testimony," as they are embodied in him; and if there is not
conformity to these, it is because there is no light in you.

Sometimes the dogmatist seems to rule supreme in the company of which he
forms a part. But his rule is not acquired by the force of logic or the
convincing power of truth. It is assumed or usurped. It may be that some
are too modest to contradict him, or others may not have sufficient
intelligence, or others may not think it worth their while, or others
may have wisdom to perceive his folly, and answer him accordingly. Hence
he may imagine himself triumphant when no one disputes the field with
him. He may think he reigns supreme in the circle, when, in fact, he
reigns only over his own opinions, or rather is a slave to their
despotic power.

The dogmatist is far from having influence with the wise and
intelligent. Among the timid and ignorant he may rule in undisputed
power; but to men of reason and thought he is repulsive. He is kept at
arm's length as a piece of humanity whose "room is better than his
person." In these days of free thought and free speech, who will submit
to be hectored out of his right to think, and to speak as he thinks, by
one who has nothing but his own dictatorial self-conceit to show as his
authority, perhaps backed with a pretentious influence coming from a
subordinate official position that he holds in Church or State?

Even when the dogmatist possesses that amount of intelligence and
position which legitimately place him above most of the company into
which he may go, he is seldom or ever welcomed as an acceptable
conversationalist. But when he is a man below mediocre--a pedant--he is

Were it required to state what are the causes of the fault of this
talker, they might be summed up in two words--_ignorance and pride_. The
man who assumes to himself authority over other people's thought and
speech must indeed possess a large measure of these qualities. He must
estimate his powers at the highest value, and set down those of others
at the lowest. He is wise in his own conceit, and in others foolish. He
occupies a position which has been usurped by the stretch of his
self-importance, and from which he should be summarily deposed by the
unanimous vote of pure wisdom and sound intelligence.

Cowper, in speaking of this talker, thus describes him:--

  "Where men of judgment creep and feel their way,
  The positive pronounce without dismay;
  Their want of light and intellect supplied
  By sparks absurdity strikes out of pride.
  Without the means of knowing right from wrong,
  They always are decisive, clear, and strong;
  Where others toil with philosophic force,
  Their nimble nonsense takes a shorter course;
  Flings at your head conviction in the lump,
  And gains remote conclusions at a jump;
  Their own defect invisible to them,
  Seen in another, they at once condemn;
  And, though self-idolised in every case,
  Hate their own likeness in a brother's face.
  The cause is plain, and not to be denied,
  The proud are always most provoked by pride;
  Few competitions but engender spite,
  And those the most where neither has a right."



     "With words of learned length and thundering sound."

This is a talker not content to speak in words plain and simple, such as
common sense teaches and requires. He talks as though learning and
greatness in conversation consisted in fine words run together as beads
on a string. You would infer on hearing him that he had ransacked
Johnson to find out the finest and loftiest words in which to express
his ideas, so far as he has any. The regions in which ordinary mortals
move are too mundane for him; so he rises aloft in flights of winged
verbiage, causing those who listen below to wonder whither he is going,
until he has passed away into the clouds, beyond their peering ken. At
other times he speaks in such grandiloquence of terms as make his
hearers open their eyes and mouths in vacant and manifold interjections!
"How sublime! How grand! How surpassingly eloquent! Was it not

I will give the reader a few illustrations of this talker, as gathered
from a variety of sources.

"That was a masterly performance," said Mr. Balloon to his friend Mr.
Gimblett, as they came out of church one Sunday morning, when the Rev.
Mr. German had been preaching on the _Relation of the Infinite to the

"Yes," replied Mr. Gimblett, "I suppose it was very fine; but much
beyond my depth. I confess to being one of the sheep who looked up and
were not fed."

"That's because you haven't a metaphysical mind," said Mr. Balloon,
regarding his friend with pity; "you have got a certain faculty of mind,
but I suspect you have not got the _logical grasp_ requisite for the
comprehension of such a sermon as that."

"I am afraid I have not," said Mr. Gimblett.

"I tell you what it is," continued Mr. Balloon, "Mr. German has a
_head_. He's an intellectual giant, I hardly know whether he is greater
as a subjective preacher, or in the luminous objectivity of his
_argumentum ad hominem_. As an instructive reasoner, too, he is
perfectly great. With what synthetical power he refuted the Homoiousian
theory. I tell you Homoiousianism will be nowhere after that."

"To tell the truth," said Mr. Gimblett, "I went to sleep at that long
word, and did not awake until he was on Theodicy."

"Ah, yes," said Mr. Balloon, "that was a splendid manifestation of
ratiocinative word-painting. I was completely carried away when, in his
magnificent, sublime, and marrowy style he took an analogical view of
the anthropological." But at this point Mr. Balloon soared away into the
air, and left Mr. Gimblett standing with wondering vision as to whither
he had gone.

At the time the Atlantic telegraph was first laid a certain preacher
thought proper to use it as an illustration of the connection between
heaven and earth, thus: "When the sulphuric acid of genuine attrition
corrodes the contaminating zinc of innate degeneracy and actual
sinfulness, and the fervent electrical force of prayerful eternity
ascends up to the residence of the Eternal Supreme One, you may
calculate on unfailing and immediate despatch with all magnetical

A certain American altiloquent was once talking of liberty, when he
said, "White-robed liberty sits upon her rosy clouds above us; the
Genius of our country, standing on her throne of mountains, bids her
eagle standard-bearer wind his spiral course full in the sun's proud
eye; while the Genius of Christianity, surrounded by ten thousand
cherubim and seraphim, moves the panorama of the milky clouds above us,
and floats in immortal fragrance--the very aroma of Eden through all the

An altiloquent was one day about taking a journey into the country. He
was rather of a nervous tendency, having met with two or three accidents
in travelling. Before getting into the hired conveyance he asked the
driver, "Can you, my friend, conduct this quadruped along the highway
without destroying the equilibrium of the vehicle?" The journey having
been made without the "equilibrium of the vehicle" being destroyed, when
he reached the inn where the horse was to lodge for the night, he said
to the ostler, "Boy, extricate this quadruped from the vehicle,
stabulate him, devote him an adequate supply of nutritious aliment, and
when the aurora of morn shall again illumine the oriental horizon I will
reward you with pecuniary compensation for your amiable hospitality."

On a certain occasion one of this class of talkers was dining in a
country farm-house, when, among other vegetables on the table, cabbage
was one. After despatching the first supply, he was asked by the hostess
if he would take a little more, when he said, "By no means, madam.
Gastronomical satiety admonishes me that I have arrived at the ultimate
of culinary deglutition consistent with the code of Esculapius."

A photographer once, describing his mode of taking pictures, said, "Then
we replace the slide in the shield, draw this out of the camera, and
carry it back into the shadowy realm where Cocytus flows in black
nitrate of silver, and Acheron stagnates in the pool of hyposulphite,
and invisible ghosts, trooping down from the world of day, cross a Styx
of dissolved sulphate of iron, and appear before Rhadamanthus of that
lurid Hades."

A certain doctor once, conversing about the romantic scenery of
Westmoreland, said, "In that magnificent county you see an apotheosis
of nature, and an apodeikneusis of the theopratic Omnipotence."

Mr. Paxton Hood tells of a minister who described a tear "as that small
particle of aqueous fluid, trickling from the visual organ over the
lineaments of the countenance, betokening grief." Of another, who spoke
of "the deep intuitive glance of the soul, penetrating beyond the
surface of the superficial phenomenal to the remote recesses of absolute
entity or being; thus adumbrating its immortality on its precognitive
perceptions." Of another, an eminent man, head of a college for
ministers, when repeating a well-known passage of Scripture, "'He that
believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his'"--here he
paused, and at last said, "Well, out of his ventriculum shall flow
'living water!'"

One altiloquent rendered "Give us this day our daily bread" as follows:
"Confer upon us during this mundane sphere's axillary revolution our
diurnal subsistence." And another, instead of saying, "Jesus wept,"
said, "And Jesus the Saviour of the world burst into a flood of tears;"
upon hearing which Dr. Johnson is said to have exclaimed in disgust,
"Puppy, puppy!"

A minister once, speaking in the presence of a few friends met for the
purpose of promoting the interests of a certain Young Men's Christian
Association, relieved himself in the following: "When I think of this
organization, with its complex powers, it reminds me of some stupendous
mechanism which shall spin electric bands of stupendous thought and
feeling, illuminating the vista of eternity with corruscations of
brilliancy, and blending the mystic brow of eternal ages with a tiara of
never-dying beauty, whilst for those who have trampled on the truth of
Christ, it shall spin from its terrible form toils of eternal funeral
bands, darker and darker, till sunk to the lowest abyss of destiny."

A physician, while in his patient's room, in speaking to the surgeon
about him, said, "You must phlebotomize the old gentleman to-morrow."

The old gentleman, who overheard, immediately exclaimed in a fright, "I
will never suffer that."

"Sir, don't be alarmed," replied the surgeon; "he is only giving orders
for me to bleed you."

"O, as for the bleeding," answered the patient, "it matters little; but
as for the other, I will sooner die than endure it."

I have read of an Irishman who, speaking of a house which he had to let,
said, "It is free from opacity, tenebrosity, fumidity, and injucundity,
or translucency. In short, its diaphaneity, even in the crepuscle, makes
it a pharos, and without laud, for its agglutination and amenity, it is
a most delectable commorance; and whoever lives in it will find that the
neighbours have none of the truculence and immanity, the torvity, the
spinosity, the putidness, the pugnacity, nor the fugacity observable in
other parts of the town. Their propinquity and consanguinity occasions
jucundity and pudicity, from which and the redolence of the place they
are remarkable for longevity."

Altiloquents are not unfrequently found among a class of young persons
who think they must talk in a manner corresponding with their dress and
appearance--fine and prim. A barber is a "tonsorial artist," and the
place in which he works a "hair-dressing studio;" a teacher of swimming
is a "professor of natation," and he who swims "natates in a
natatorium;" a common clam-seller is a "vender of magnificent bivalves;"
a schoolmaster is a "preceptor," or "principal of an educational
institute;" a cobbler is a "son of Crispin;" printers are "practitioners
of the typographical art;" a chapel is a "sanctuary," a church a
"temple," a house a "palace" or an "establishment," stables and
pig-styes are "quadrupedal edifices and swinish tenements."

One of this class, a young lady at school, considering that the word
"eat" was too vulgar for refined ears, is said to have substituted the
following: "To insert nutritious pabulum into the denticulated orifice
below the nasal protuberance, which, being masticated, peregrinates
through the cartilaginous cavities of the larynx, and is finally
domiciliated in the receptacle for digestible particles."

       *       *       *       *       *

"It is impossible," says a recent writer, "not to deplore so pernicious
a tendency to high-flown language, because all classes of society
indulge in it more or less; and because, as we have already said, it
proceeds in every instance from mental deficiencies and moral defects,
from insincerity and dissimulation, and from an effeminate proneness to
use up in speaking the energy we should turn to doing and apply to life
and conduct. Without a substratum of sincerity, no man can speak right
on, but runs astray into a kind of phraseology which bears the same
relation to elegant language that the hollyhock does to the rose."

The altiloquent talker may be called a _word-fancier_, searching for all
the fine words discoverable, and then putting them together in a sort of
mosaic-pavement style or artificial-flower order, making something to be
considered _pretty_, or _fascinating_, or _profound_.

"Was it not beautiful?" asked Miss Bunting of Mr. Crump, after hearing
one of these talkers. "Did you ever hear anything like it?"

"No, I did not," answered Mr. Crump, "and I do not wish to hear anything
like it again. Too much like a flourishing penman, Miss Bunting, who
makes more of his flourishes than of his sense, and which attract the
reader more than his communication."

"But was he not very deep, Mr. Crump?"

"No, Miss Bunting, he was not deep. You remind me of an occasion some
time past when reading a book of an altiloquent style. A friend of mine
asked, 'Is it not deep?' I answered, 'Not deep, but drumlie.' The
drumlie often looks deep, and is liable to deceive; but it is shallow,
as shallow as a babbling brook, as shallow as the beauty of the rose or
the human countenance. Sometimes you may think you have a pearl; but it
is only a dewdrop into which a ray of light has happened to fall. Such
kind of talk, wherever it may be, is only like the aurora-borealis, or
like dissolving views which for the moment please. But you know, Miss
Bunting, it is the light of the sun that makes the day, and it is
substantial food that feeds and strengthens.

"Balloons are very good things for rising in the air and floating over
people's heads; but they are worthless for practical use in the stirring
and necessary activities of life. Gew-gaws are pretty things to call
forth the wonder of children and ignorant gazers; but the judicious pass
them with an askant look and careless demeanour. A table well spread
with fine-looking artificial flowers and viands may be nice for the eye,
but who can satisfy his hunger and thirst with them? Thus it is with
your altiloquent talkers, Miss Bunting. They give you, as a rule, only
the tinsel, the varnish, the superficial, which vanishes into thin
nothing under your analysis of thought or your reflection of intelligent



     "Think'st thou there are no serpents in the world
     But those who slide along the glassy sod,
     And sting the luckless foot that presses them?
     There are who in the path of social life
     Do bask their spotted skins in fortune's sun,
     And sting the soul."
                                                 JOANNA BAILLIE.

He is so called because he carries two tongues in one--one for your
presence and one for your absence; one sweet as honey, the other bitter
as gall; one with which he oils you, the other with which he stings you.
In talking _with_ you he is bland and affable; but in talking _about_
you he detracts or slanders. The other night, when at your hospitable
board, he was complimentary and friendly; the night after, at the
hospitable board of your neighbour, in your absence, he had no good word
to say of you.

Such is the versatility of his nature, that he is called by a variety of
names. Sometimes he is named "_Double-faced_," because he has two faces
answering to his two tongues. Sometimes he is named "_Backbiter_,"
because if he ever bite any one it is behind his back, where he thinks
he is not seen; and so soon is he out of sight, that you can only learn
who has bitten you from some honest friend that saw him do it and
instantly hide himself under a covering which he always carries about
with him for such occasions. He is sometimes named a "_Sneak_," because
he has not courage to say candidly to your face what he means, but
creeps about slyly among other people to say it, that he may evade your
notice, and at the same time retain your confidence in him as a personal
friend. He is sometimes named a "_Snake-in-the-grass_," because he
secretes himself in shady places, waiting his opportunity to sting
without your knowing how or by whom it was done. In fine, he has been
named a "_Hypocrite_," who comes to you in "sheep's clothing," but is in
truth a "ravening wolf."

  "His love is lust, his friendship all a cheat,
  His smiles hypocrisy, his words deceit."

He welcomes you with a shake of the hand at his door, and says in soft
flattering words, "How glad I am to see you, Mr. Johnson! Pray do walk
in;" and while you are laying your hat, gloves, and umbrella on the hall
table, he whispers to some one in the parlour, "_That Johnson has just
come in, and I am sure I don't care to see him_."

Mrs. Stubbs informs her husband on arriving home in the evening that she
met Mrs. Nobbs in the street, and invited her to take a friendly cup of
tea with them to-morrow, and then adds with emphasis, "_but I do hope
she will not come!_"

A young gentleman complimented Miss Stokoe the other night in company
upon her "exquisite touch on the piano" and the "nightingale tones of
her voice in singing;" but as he was walking home from the party with
Miss Nance, he said to her (of course in the absence of Miss Stokoe)
that "_Miss Stokoe, after all that is said in her praise, is no more
than an ordinary pianist and singer_."

"That was a most excellent sermon you gave us this morning," said Mr.
Clarke to the Rev. T. Ross, as he was dining with him at his house. "I
hope it will not be long before you visit us again."

"I am obliged for your compliment," replied Mr. Ross.

A day or two after Mr. Clarke was heard to say that he had never
listened to such "_a dull sermon, and he hoped it would be a long time
ere the reverend gentleman appeared in their pulpit again_."

"What darling little cherubs your twins are," said Mrs. Horton to Mrs.
Shenstone in an afternoon gathering of ladies at her house. "I really
should be proud of them if they were mine: such lovely eyes, such rosy
cheeks, such beautiful hair, and withal such sweet expressions of the
countenance! And then, how tastily they are dressed! Dear darlings! come
and kiss me."

Mrs. Shenstone smiled complacently in return; and shortly after retired
from the room, when the two "little cherubs" approached their prodigious
admirer, with a view to make friends and impress upon her the solicited
kiss. She instantly put them at arm's length from her, saying to Mrs.
Teague, who sat next her, "_What pests these little things are, treading
on my dress, and obtruding their presence on me like this. I do wish
Mrs. Shenstone had taken them out of the room with her_."

"I am deeply grieved to learn," said Farmer Shirley one day to his
neighbour, Farmer Stout, "that your circumstances are such as they are.
Now, if you think I can help you in any way, do not be backward in
sending to me. You shall always find a friend in me."

That very afternoon this same farmer Shirley was heard to say in a
company of farmers at the "Queen's Head" that Stout had brought all his
difficulties upon himself, and _he was not sorry for him a bit_. The
next day Stout availed himself of the "great kindness" offered him by
Shirley, and sent to ask the loan of a pound to pay the baker's bill, in
order to keep the "staff of life" in the house for his family; when
Shirley sent word back to him that he had "no pounds to lend anybody,
much less one _who had by his own extravagance brought himself into such
difficult circumstances_."

This double-tongued talker is not unfrequently met with in public
meetings. Especially is he heard in "moving votes of thanks," and
"drinking toasts." Fulsome praises and glowing eulogiums are poured out
by him in rich abundance, which, as soon as the meetings are over, are
eaten up again by the same person, but of course in the absence of his
much-admired gods.

It would not be difficult to go on with instances illustrative of these
double-tongued exercises. They are almost as universal as the
multifarious phases of society. They are met with in the street, in the
shop, in the family, in the church, in the court, in the palace and
cottage, among the rich and poor.

Addison, in writing of this fault in talking in his times, gives a
letter which he says was written in King Charles the Second's reign by
the "ambassador of Bantam to his royal master a little after his arrival
in England." The following is a copy, which will show how in those days
the double-tongued talked, and how the writer, a stranger in this
country, was impressed by it.

     "MASTER,--The people where I now am have tongues further from their
     hearts than from London to Bantam, and thou knowest the inhabitants
     of one of these places do not know what is done in the other. They
     call thee and thy subjects barbarians, because we speak what we
     mean, and account themselves a civilized people because they speak
     one thing and mean another; truth they call barbarity, and
     falsehood politeness. Upon my first landing, one, who was sent by
     the king of this place to meet me, told me that he was extremely
     sorry for the storm I had met with just before my arrival. I was
     troubled to hear him grieve and afflict himself on my account; but
     in less than a quarter of an hour he smiled, and was as merry as if
     nothing had happened. Another who came with him told me, by my
     interpreter, he should be glad to do me any service that lay in his
     power; upon which I desired him to carry one of my portmanteaux for
     me; but, instead of serving me according to his promise, he
     laughed, and bid another do it. I lodged the first week at the
     house of one who desired me to think myself at home, and to
     consider his house as my own. Accordingly I the next morning began
     to knock down one of the walls of it, in order to let in the fresh
     air, and had packed up some of the household goods, of which I
     intended to have made thee a present; but the false varlet no
     sooner saw me falling to work but he sent me word to desire me to
     give over, for that he would have no such doings in his house. I
     had not been long in this nation before I was told by one for whom
     I had asked a certain favour from the chief of the king's servants,
     whom they here call the lord-treasurer, that I had eternally
     obliged him. I was so surprised at his gratitude that I could not
     forbear saying, 'What service is there which one man can do for
     another that can oblige him to all eternity?' However, I only asked
     him, for my reward, that he would lend me his eldest daughter
     during my stay in this country; but I quickly found that he was as
     treacherous as the rest of his countrymen.

     "At my first going to court, one of the great men almost put me out
     of countenance by asking ten thousand pardons of me for only
     treading by accident upon my toe. They call this kind of lie a
     compliment; for when they are civil to a great man, they tell him
     untruths, for which thou wouldst order any of thy officers of
     state to receive a hundred blows on his foot. I do not know how I
     shall negotiate anything with this people, since there is so little
     credit to be given to them. When I go to see the king's scribe, I
     am generally told that he is not at home, though perhaps I saw him
     go into his house almost the very moment before. Thou wouldst fancy
     that the whole nation are physicians, for the first question they
     always ask me is, how I do; I have this question put to me above a
     hundred times a day; nay, they are not only thus inquisitive after
     my health, but wish it in a more solemn manner, with a full glass
     in their hands, every time I sit with them at the table, though at
     the same time they would persuade me to drink their liquors in such
     quantities as I have found by experience will make me sick.

     "They often pretend to pray for thy health also in the same manner;
     but I have more reason to expect it from the goodness of thy
     constitution than the sincerity of their wishes. May thy slave
     escape in safety from this double-tongued race of men, and live to
     lay himself once more at thy feet in the royal city of Bantam."

This double-tonguedness of which we have spoken is anything but
creditable to an age that makes claim to such a high state of
civilisation, to say nothing of Christianity. It shows a gilded or
superficial state of things, which cannot but end in consequences
disastrous and irremediable.

The finical and fashionable may call the candid speaker a boar, and shun
him. He may be an outcast from their society: but, after all, his
honesty and candour will wear better and longer than their sham and
shoddy. His "Nay, nay," and "Yea, yea," will outlast and outshine their
double-tongued prevarication and flattery. Better a boar--if you know
him to be such--than a wolf in sheep's clothing. A rough friend is more
valuable than a hypocritical sycophant.

  "As thistles wear the softest down
  To hide their prickles till they're grown,
  And then declare themselves, and tear
  Whatever ventures to come near;
  So a smooth knave does greater feats
  Than one that idly rails and threats;
  And all the mischief that he meant,
  Does, like the rattlesnake, prevent."

Archbishop Tillotson, in speaking of this subject in his day, says, "The
old English plainness and sincerity, that generous integrity of nature
and honesty of disposition, which always argues true greatness of mind,
and is usually accompanied with undaunted courage and resolution, is in
a great measure lost amongst us.

"It is hard to say whether it should more provoke our contempt or our
pity to hear what solemn expressions of respect and kindness will pass
between men almost upon no occasion; how great honour and esteem they
will declare for one whom, perhaps, they never saw before; and how
entirely they are all on a sudden devoted to his service and interest,
for no reason; how infinitely and eternally obliged to him, for no
benefit; and how extremely they will be concerned for him, yea, and
afflicted too, for no cause. I know it is said in justification of this
hollow kind of conversation that there is no harm, no real deceit in
compliment, but the matter is well enough so long as we understand one
another; words are like money, and when the current value of them is
generally understood, no man is cheated by them. This is something, if
such words were anything; but being brought into the account they are
mere cyphers. However, it is a just matter of complaint that sincerity
and plainness are out of fashion, and that our language is running into
a lie; that men have almost quite perverted the use of speech, and made
words to signify nothing; that the greatest part of the conversation of
mankind is little else but driving a trade of dissimulation.

"If the show of anything be good for anything, I am sure sincerity is
better: for why does any man dissemble, or seem to be that which he is
not, but because he thinks it good to have such a quality as he pretends
to? Now the best way in the world to seem to be anything is really to be
what he would seem to be. Besides that, it is many times as troublesome
to make good the pretence of a good quality as to have it; and if a man
have it not, it is ten to one but he is discovered to want it; and then
all his pains and labour to seem to have it are lost."



     "Man, on the dubious waves of error tossed,
     His ship half-foundered, and his compass lost,
     Sees, far as human optics may command,
     A sleeping fog, and fancies it dry land:
     Spreads all his canvas, every sinew plies;
     Pants for 't, aims at it, enters it, and dies!"

This is a talker of an opposite stamp to the dogmatist. The one knows
and asserts with imperial positiveness, the other with childish
trepidation and hesitancy. "It is so, it can't be otherwise, and you
must believe it," is the dictatorial spirit of the dogmatist. "It may be
so, I am not certain, I cannot vouch for its truthfulness: in fact, I am
rather inclined to doubt it, but I would not deny nor affirm, or say one
word to dispose you either way," is the utterance of the spirit of
Dubious. He is an oscillator, a pendulum, a wave of the sea, a
weathercock. He has no certain dwelling-place within the whole domain of
knowledge, in which to rest the sole of his feet with permanency. He
sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels nothing with certainty, and hence
he knows nothing by his senses but what is enveloped in the clouds of
doubtfulness. He tenaciously guards himself in the utterance of any
sentiment, story, or rumour, lest he expose himself to apprehension. His
own existence is a fact of which he speaks with caution. His
consciousness _may be_ a reality of which he can say a word. As to his
soul, he does not like to speak of that with any assurance. The being of
a God is a doctrine in the clouds, and he cannot affirm it with
confidence. There _may be_ such places as China, India, Africa, etc.;
but as he has never seen them, he dare not venture his full belief in
their existence. Whatever he has seen, and whatever he has _not_ seen,
seem to stand on the same ground as to the exercise of his faith. Things
worldly and religious, simple and profound, plain and mysterious,
practical and theoretical, human and divine, personal and relative,
present and future, near and afar off,--all seem to crowd around him
with a hazy appearance, and he has no definite or certain knowledge
respecting them of which to speak. All the things he has ever read or
heard he seems to have forgotten, or to hold them with a vague and
uncertain tenure. There is nothing within him to rely upon but doubts,
fears, and _may bes_. He lives, moves, and has his being in
uncertainties. He will not positively affirm whether his face is black
or white, his nose long or short, his own or some other person's. He
"guesses" that two and two make four, and that four and three do not
make eight. He "guesses" that blue is not red, and that green is
neither blue nor red. He "guesses" that the earth is globular, but would
not like to assert that it is not a plain. He "guesses" that the sun
gives light by day and the moon by night; but as for affirming either
the one or the other, he would not like to commit himself to such
positiveness. His talk is full of "hopes," "presumes," "may bes,"
"trusts," "guesses," and such-like expressions. He is certainly a
_doubtful_ man to have anything to do with in conversation. I do not say
he is _dangerous_. Far from this, for he has not confidence enough in
your actual materiality to make an assault upon your person; and he has
not _certain_ knowledge sufficient to contend with your opinions, so
that there is no need of apprehension upon either the mental or physical
question. It is difficult to acquire any information from him, for who
likes to add that to his stock of knowledge which is shrouded in doubts,
and to which the communicator will not give the seal of his affirmation?
Of course some knowledge must be held and communicated problematically.
Such we are willing to take in its legitimate character. But our Dubious
talker appears to destroy all distinction and difference, and to arrange
all knowledge in the probable or doubtful category, and hence he has
nothing but doubtful information to impart, which in reality is no
information. To enter into conversation with _Dubious_, therefore, is no
actual benefit to the intellect or the faith. It is harassing,
perplexing, provoking to the man who possesses belief in the certainty
of things. It is to him time lost, and words uttered in vanity. He
retires from the scene with dissatisfaction and disgust. He pities the
man who _knows_ nothing, whose intellect revolves in universal haziness,
and whose soul is steeped in the quagmires of unrestrained scepticism.

Cowper does admirable justice to this talker in the following lines:--

  "_Dubious_ is such a scrupulous good man--
  Yes--you may catch him tripping if you can:
  He would not with a peremptory tone
  Assert the nose upon his face his own;
  With hesitation admirably slow,
  He humbly hopes--presumes--it may be so.
  His evidence, if he were called by law
  To swear to some enormity he saw,
  For want of prominence and just relief,
  Would hang an honest man and save a thief.
  Through constant dread of giving truth offence,
  He ties up all his hearers in suspense;
  Knows what he knows as if he knew it not;
  What he remembers, seems to have forgot;
  His sole opinion, whatsoe'er befall,
  Centring at last in having none at all.
  Yet, though he tease and baulk your listening ear,
  He makes one useful point exceeding clear;
  Howe'er ingenious on his darling theme
  A sceptic in philosophy may seem,
  Reduced to practice, his beloved rule
  Would only prove him a consummate fool;
  Useless in him alike both brain and speech,
  Fate having placed all truth above his reach,
  His ambiguities his total sum,
  He might as well be blind, and deaf, and dumb."



     "Foul suspicion! thou turnest love divine
     To joyless dread, and mak'st the loving heart
     With hateful thoughts to languish and repine,
     And feed itself with self-consuming smart;
     Of all the passions of the mind thou vilest art."

The words of his mouth live with a spirit of doubt, incredulity, and
jealousy. Actions, thoughts, motives, are questioned as to their reality
and disinterestedness. Good counsel given in time of perplexity is
attributed to some ulterior purpose which is kept out of view. Gifts of
beneficence are said to be deeds of selfishness--patronage is expected
in an affair you have on hand, or you anticipate as much or more in
return in some other ways. A family visited with a severe affliction is
suspected to have the cause in some secret moral delinquency in the
father, or mother, or elder son or daughter. A merchant meets with
reverses in his business, and he is suspected of something wrong, for
which these reverses are sent as punishment. A traveller meets with an
accident, by which a member of his body is fractured or life taken
away: he is suspected of having been a great sinner before God, for
which His vengeance now visits him.

The suspicious talker may be found in one or other phase of his
character in almost every class and grade of society. How often the
husband suspects the wife, and the wife the husband; the master the
servant, and the servant the master; brothers suspect brothers; sisters
sisters; neighbours neighbours; the rich the poor; the poor the rich.

The talk of the suspicious is bitter, stinging, exasperating. How often
it ends in jealousy, strife, quarrels, separations, and other evils of a
similar kind!

This talk seldom or ever effects any good. It more frequently excites to
the very thing on which the suspicion has fixed its demon eye, but of
which the subject of the suspicion was never guilty.

Suspicious talk, like many other kinds, has frequently no foundation to
rest upon, excepting the fancy of an enfeebled mind or the ill-nature of
an unregenerate heart.

       *       *       *       *       *

"That was a very nice present which Mr. Muckleton sent you on
Christmas-Day," said Mr. Birch to his neighbour.

"O, yes," he replied in a sort of careless way; "I _know_ what he sent
it for--that he may get my vote at the next election of town
councillors. I can see through it."

"Did not Mr. Shakleton call at your house the other day? and were you
not pleased to see him?"

"So far as that goes, I was pleased; but I _know_ what he called for;
not to see me or mine. It is not worth saying, but I _know_."

"Has not Mrs. Mount recently joined your church? She is an excellent
lady, of very good means and intelligence. I should think you will value
her acquisition to your number."

"Well, as for that, I cannot say. I like persons to act from pure
motives in all things, especially in religious. Don't you know Mrs.
Mount is a widow, and there is in our church that Squire Nance, a
bachelor? I needn't say any more."

"The Rev. Mr. Wem has left our church and gone to a church in London."

"Indeed! I was not aware of that, but I guess it is to obtain more

"How do you know that?"

"How do I know it? You may depend he wouldn't have gone unless he could
better himself."

"My dear," said Mrs. Park to her husband one evening as they were
sitting alone, "Tom has gone with young Munster to the city, and will be
back about ten o'clock."

"What has he gone there for?" asked Mr. Park, rather sternly. "No good,
I venture to say. You know the temptations that are in the city, and he
is not so steady as we would like him to be."

When Tom came home at ten o'clock, he had to endure a good deal of
suspicious tongue-flagellation, which rather excited him to speak rashly
in return.

"I do really think," said Mrs. Lance, snappishly, to her servant one
day, "you are guilty of picking and biting the things of the larder,
besides other little tricks. Now, I do not allow such conduct. It is
paltry and mean."

Mrs. Lance had no ground for this utterance but her own suspicions. The
servant, conscious of her integrity, became righteously angry, and gave
notice to leave at once. So Mary left her suspicious mistress. She was
not the first nor the sixth servant she had driven away by her
suspicious talk in regard to the "larder," the "cupboards," the
"drawers," and the "wardrobe."

Squire Nutt one day went a drive of twelve miles in the country to
attend "a hunt dinner," promising his wife that he would be home by
eleven o'clock at night. This hour came, but no Squire. Twelve struck,
and he had not returned. One struck, yea, even two, and no husband. Mrs.
Nutt all this time was alone, watching for the Squire, and suspecting
with a vivid imagination where he had gone, and what he was doing. At
half-past two a sound of wheels was heard coming to the door, and in a
few minutes the suspected husband entered the hall, and greeted his
little wife with signs of affection. Instead of receiving him kindly in
return, and waiting till the effects of the dinner had escaped before
she called him to account, she began in a most furiously suspicious way
to question him. "Where have you been all this time? Have you been round
by Netley Hall? _I know all about what you have been up to._ This is a
fine thing, this is, keeping me watching and waiting these hours, while
you have been galavanting--ah! _I know where._"

Thus, not within curtains, but within the hall, Mrs. Nutt gave her
husband a "caudle" lecture, but with little effect upon him. She had
nothing but groundless suspicion; he had the inward satisfaction of a
good conscience on the points respecting which she suspected him.

As an illustration of another aspect of this talker we may take the
friends who came to talk with Job in his troubles. His wife was bad
enough in her utterances, but his "friends" were worse. Coleridge, in
speaking of Satan taking away everything he had, but left his wife,

  "He took his honours, took his wealth,
  He took his children, took his health,
  His camels, horses, asses, cows,
  And the sly devil did not take his spouse."

But his wife was kind and considerate to what his _friends_ were. She
spake as one of the "foolish women;" but his friends came as
philosophers, the wise ones, to converse with him; and yet, when they
spoke to him, they had nothing but suspicions and doubts to utter as to
his sincerity, motives, and purity; told him not to plead innocence in
his circumstances, but confess all with candour, and show that he had
been a profound hypocrite, and that God had visited him with His sore
judgments as a punishment for his sins; for _they_ knew that all these
things could not have come upon him if there had not been some "secret
thing" with him.

Although Job sometimes spoke "unadvisedly with his lips" in reply to the
unjustifiable suspicions of his "friends," God stands on his side, and
defends him in his rectitude and integrity. He rebukes with severity
Bildad the Shuhite and his two companions, because of their uncharitable
suspicions uttered against His servant. He was "angry" that they had not
spoken truthfully "as His servant Job;" "and they were to go," as one
says, "to this servant Job to be prayed for, and eat humble pie, and a
good large slice of it too (I should like to have seen their faces while
they were munching it), else their leisurely and inhuman philosophy
would have got them into a scrape."

       *       *       *       *       *

Suspicion in talking is a disposition which renders its subject
unacceptable to others and unhappy in himself. Persons will have as
little as possible to say to him or do with him, lest they fall under
his ruling power; and this is what no one with self-respect cares to do.
Who likes to have himself, in his motives and deeds, put through the
crucible of his narrow, prickly, stingy soul? He cannot see an inch from
himself to judge you by. He "measures your cloth by his yard," and
weighs your goods in his scales, and judges your colours through his
spectacles; and of the justice and trueness of these nothing need be

  "Suspicion overturns what confidence builds;
  And he that dares but doubt when there's no ground,
  Is neither to himself nor others sound."

The true remedy for suspicion in talking is more knowledge in the head
and more love in the heart. As bats fly before the light, so suspicions
before knowledge and love. Throw open the windows of the soul, and admit
the truth. Be generous and noble in thoughts of others. Give credit for
purity of intention and disinterestedness of motives. Build no fabric of
fancies and surmises in the imagination without a solid basis. Be pure
in yourself in all things. "The more virtuous any man is in himself,"
says Cicero, "the less easily does he suspect others to be vicious."



     "I begin shrewdly to suspect the young man of a terrible
     taint--poetry; with which idle disease, if he be infected, there is
     no hope of him in a state course."--BEN JONSON.

Scraps of poetry picked up from Burns, or Thomson, or Shakespeare, or
Tennyson, are ready to hand for every occasion, so that you may
calculate upon a piece, in or out of place, in course of conversation.
If you will do the prose, rely upon it he will do the poetic, much to
his own satisfaction, if not to your entertainment. In walking he will
gently lay his finger on your shoulder, saying, as he gathers up his
recollection, and raising his head, "Hear what my favourite poet says
upon the subject."

Sometimes the poetic afflatus falls upon him as he converses, and he
will impromptu favour you with an original effusion of rhyme or blank
verse, much to the strengthening of his self-complacency, and to the
gratification of your sense of the ludicrous.

Talking with Mr. Smythe, a young student, some time ago, I found he was
so full of poetic quotations that I began to think whether all his
lessons at college had not consisted in the learning of odds and ends
from "Gems" and "Caskets" and "Gleanings."

Speaking about the man who is not enslaved to sects and parties, but
free in his religious habits, he paused and said, "You remind me, Mr.
Bond, of what Pope says,--

  'Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
  But looks through nature up to nature's God.'"

The subject of _music_ was introduced, when, after a few words of prose
he broke out in evident emotion,--

  "Music! oh, how faint, how weak,
    Language fades before thy spell!
  Why should feeling ever speak
    When thou canst breathe her soul so well?
  Friendship's balmy words may pain,
    Love's are e'en more false than they--
  Oh! 'tis only music's strain
    Can sweetly soothe and not betray."

"Those are very beautiful lines, Mr. Smythe," I observed; "can you tell
me whose they are?"

Placing his hand to his head, he answered, "Really, Mr. Bond, I do not
now remember."

"They are Moore's," I replied.

"Oh yes, yes, so they are. I could give you numberless other pieces, Mr.
Bond, equally fine and touching."

"Thank you, that will do for the present, Mr. Smythe."

We began to talk about travelling in Scotland, Switzerland, and other
parts, when I gave a little of my experience in plain words, as to the
effect of the scenery upon my mind and health, when he suddenly
interrupted me and said, "Let me see, what is it the poet says upon
that? If I can call it up, I will give it you, Mr. Bond,--

                           'Go abroad,
  Upon the paths of Nature, and, when all
  Its voices whisper, and its silent things
  Are breathing the deep beauty of the world,
  Kneel at its simple altar.'"

I spoke of neglected genius both in Church and State, when he exclaimed
with much emphasis, as though the lines had fallen on my ears for the
first time,--

  "Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
    The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
  Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

A voyage to America, with a few incidents about the sea, were spoken of.

"Ah, ah, Mr. Bond," he said, "I have seen some fine lines by J. G.
Percival on that subject,--

  'I, too, have been upon thy rolling breast,
    Wildest of waters! I have seen thee lie
  Calm as an infant pillowed in its rest
    On a fond mother's bosom, when the sky,
    Not smoother, gave the deep its azure dye,
  Till a new heaven was arched and glassed below.'

"And then, Mr. Bond, you are familiar with--

  'The sea! the sea! the open sea!
  The blue, the fresh, the ever free!
  Without a mark, without a bound,
  It runneth the earth's wide region round;
  It plays with the clouds; it mocks the skies;
  Or like a cradled creature lies.'"

I spoke of progress in the age in which we live, when he instantly said,
"Ah, that reminds me now of what Tennyson says,--

  'Not in vain the distant beacons. Forward, forward, let us range,
  Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.
  Through the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day;
  Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.'"

The worth of a good name was spoken of, and the words of Solomon quoted
in support of what was said. But Solomon was not enough. The poetic
spirit of our student was astir instantly within him, and broke forth in
the well-known lines of Shakespeare, already quoted in this volume,--

  "Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing,
  'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
  But he who filches from me my good name
  Robs me of that which not enriches him,
  And makes me poor indeed."

Marriage and love were incidentally brought up, when, lo and behold, I
found he was so brimful on these, that I was obliged to ask him to
forbear, after a few specimens. Having had so long an experience in
those happy climes, I found he could not say anything that half came up
to the reality. Nevertheless, I am free to say, he did quote some
sentiments which on him and the young ladies present seemed to have a
most charming effect, especially one from Tupper, who used in those
times to be a pet poet with the fair sex and such as our student,--

  "Love! what a volume in a word! an ocean in a tear!
  A seventh heaven in a glance! a whirlwind in a sigh!
  The lightning in a touch--a millennium in a moment!
  What concentrated joy, or woe, is blessed or blighted love!"

"Blighted love! Ah," said Mr. Smythe, "that reminds me of Tennyson's
words," which he appeared to render with deep feeling,--

  "I hold it true, whate'er befall--
    I feel it when I sorrow most--
    'Tis better to have loved and lost
  Than never to have loved at all."

"These lines remind me," he observed, "and it is astonishing the poetic
associations of my mind, Mr. Bond. These kind of pieces seem so linked
together in my mind, that when I begin I can scarcely stop myself. Well,
I was going to give Shakespeare's words,--

  'Ah me! for aught that ever I could read,
  Could ever hear of tale or history,
  The course of true love never did run smooth.'"

"But have you not a few lines, Mr. Smythe, on marriage, although you
have not as yet entered into that happy state?" said Mr. Bond.

"O dear yes! I have pieces without number. For instance, here is one
from Middleton,--

  'What a delicious breath marriage sends forth--
  The violet's bed not sweeter! Honest wedlock
  Is like a banqueting-house built in a garden,
  On which the spring flowers take delight
  To cast their modest odours.'

"Here are some more," he remarked, "from Cotton,--

  'Though fools spurn Hymen's gentle powers,
  We who improve his golden hours,
    By sweet experience know
  That marriage rightly understood
  Gives to the tender and the good
    A Paradise below.'"

Still going on, he said, "Here are some charming lines, Mr. Bond, from

  'There's a bliss beyond all that the minstrel has told,
    When two that are linked in one heavenly tie,
  With heart never changing and brow never cold,
    Love on through all ills, and love on till they die.
  One hour of a passion so sacred is worth
    Whole ages of heartless and wandering bliss;
  And oh! if there be an Elysium on earth,
    It is this--it is this.'"

At the close of these lines something occurred to stop Mr. Smythe going
any further.

Poetic quotations in conversation are all very well, when given aptly
and wisely; but coming, as they often do, as the fruits of affectation
and pedantry, they are repulsive. One wishes in these circumstances that
the talker had a few thoughts of his own in prose besides those of the
poets which he so lavishly pours into one's jaded ears.


_"YES" AND "NO."_

     "Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is
     more than these cometh of evil."--JESUS CHRIST.

Although in length "yes" and "no" are among the smallest and shortest
words of the English language, yet they often involve an importance far
beyond "the most centipedal polysyllables that crawl over the pages of
Johnson's dictionary." Did persons stop to reflect upon the full import
of these monosyllables, so easily uttered, they would undoubtedly use
them with less frequency and more caution.

I shall make no apology for quoting on this subject from a letter out of
the "Correspondence of R. E. H. Greyson, Esq.," written by him to Miss
Mary Greyson.

"You remember the last pleasant evening in my last visit to Shirley,
when I accompanied you to the party at Mrs. Austin's. Something occurred
there which I had no opportunity of _improving_ for your benefit. So as
you invite reproof--an invitation which who that is mortal and senior
can refuse?--I will enlarge a little.

"The good lady, our hostess, expressed, if you recollect, a fear that
the light of the unshaded camphine was too bright, in the position in
which you sat, for your eyes. Though I saw you blinking with positive
pain, yet, out of a foolish timidity, you protested, 'No; oh no; not at
all!' Now that was a very unneighbourly act of the tongue, thus to set
at nought the eye; the selfish thing must have forgotten that 'if one
member suffer, all the others must suffer with it.' My dear, never
sacrifice your eyes to any organ whatever; at all events, not to the
tongue,--least of all when it does not tell the truth. Of the two, you
had better be dumb than blind.

"Now, if I had not interposed, and said that you _were_ suffering,
whether you knew it or not, you would have played the martyr all the
evening to a sort of a--a--what shall I call it?--it must out--a sort of
fashionable fib. You may answer, perhaps, that you did not like to make
a fuss, or seem squeamish, or discompose the company; and so, from
timidity, you said 'the thing that was not.' Very true; but this is the
very thing I want you to guard against; I want you to have such presence
of mind that the thought of absolute truth shall so preoccupy you as to
defy surprise and anticipate even the most hurried utterances.

"The incident is very trifling in itself; I have noticed it because I
think I have observed on other occasions that, from a certain timidity
of character, and an amiable desire not to give trouble, or make a fuss,
as you call it (there, now, Mary, I am sure the medicine is nicely
mixed--that spoonful of syrup ought to make it go down), you have
evinced a disposition to say, from pure want of thinking, what is not
precise truth. Weigh well, my dear girl, and ever act on, that precept
of the Great Master, which, like all His precepts, is of deepest import,
and, in spirit, of the utmost generality of application, 'Let your yea
be yea, and your nay, nay.'

"Let truth--absolute truth--take precedence of everything; let it be
more precious to you than anything else. Sacrifice not a particle of it
at the bidding of indolence, vanity, interest, cowardice, or shame;
least of all, to those tawdry idols of stuffed straw and feathers--the
idols of fashion and false honour.

"It is often said that the great lesson for a young man or a young woman
to learn is how to say 'no.' It would be better to say that they should
learn aright how to use both 'yes' and 'no,'--for both are equally
liable to abuse.

"The modes in which they are employed often give an infallible criterion
of character.

"Some say both doubtfully and hesitatingly, drawling out each
letter--'y-e-s,' 'n-o,'--that one might swear to their indecision of
character at once. Others repeat them with such facility of assent or
dissent, taking their tone from the previous question, that one is
equally assured of the same conclusion, or, what is as bad, that they
never reflect at all. They are a sort of parrots.

"One very important observation is this--be pleased to remember, my
dear, that 'yes,' in itself, always means 'yes,' and 'no' always means

"I fancy you will smile at such a profound remark; nevertheless, many
act as if they never knew it, both in uttering these monosyllables
themselves and in interpreting them as uttered by others. Young ladies,
for example, when _the_ question, as it is called, _par excellence_ (as
if it were more important than the whole catechism together) is put to
them, often say 'no' when they really mean 'yes.' It is a singular
happiness for them that the young gentlemen to whom they reply in this
contradictory sort of way have a similar incapacity of understanding
'yes' and 'no;' nay, a greater; for these last often persist in thinking
'no' means 'yes,' even when it really means what it says.

"'Pray, my dear,' said a mamma to her daughter of eighteen, 'what was
your cousin saying to you when I met you blushing so in the garden?'

"'He told me that he loved me, mamma, and asked if I could love him.'

"'Upon my word! And what did you say to _him_, my dear?'

"'I said yes, mamma.'

"'My dear, how could you be so----'

"'Why, mamma, what else _could_ I say? it was the--_truth_.'

"Now I consider this a model for all love-passages: and when it comes to
your turn, my dear, pray follow this truth-loving young lady's example,
and do not trust to your lover's powers of interpretation to translate
a seeming 'no' into a genuine 'yes.' He might be one of those simple,
worthy folk who are so foolish as to think that a negative is really a

"I grant that there are a thousand conventional cases in which 'yes'
means 'no,' and 'no' means 'yes;' and they are so ridiculously common
that every one is supposed, in politeness, not to mean what he says, or,
rather, is not doubted to mean the contrary of what he says. In fact,
quite apart from positive lying--that is, any intention to deceive--the
honest words are so often interchanged, that if 'no' were to prosecute
'yes,' and 'yes' 'no,' for trespass, I know not which would have most
causes in court. Have nothing to do with these absurd conventionalisms,
my dear. 'Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay.' If you are asked
whether you are cold, hungry, tired, never, for fear of giving trouble,
say the contrary of what you feel. Decline giving the trouble if you
like, by all means; but do not assign any false reason for so doing.
These are trifles, you will say; and so they are. But it is only by
austere regard to truth, even in trifles, that we shall keep the love of
it spotless and pure. 'Take care of the pence' of truth, 'and the pounds
will take care of themselves.'

"Not only let your utterance be simple truth, as you apprehend it, but
let it be decisive and unambiguous, according to those apprehensions.
Some persons speak as falteringly as if they thought the text I have
cited ran, 'Let your yea be nay, and your nay, yea.' And so they are apt
to assent or dissent, according to the tenor of the last argument:
'Yes--no--yes--no.' It is just like listening to the pendulum of a

"It is a great aggravation of the misuse of 'yes' and 'no,' that the
young are apt to lose all true apprehension of their meaning, and think,
in certain cases, that 'yes' cannot mean 'yes,' nor 'no' 'no.'

"I have known a lad, whose mother's 'no' had generally ended in 'yes,'
completely ruined, because when his father said 'no' in reply to a
request for unreasonable aid, and threatened to leave him to his own
devices if he persisted in extravagance, could not believe that his
father meant what he said, or could prevail on justice to turn nature
out of doors. But his father meant 'no,' and stuck to it, and the lad
was ruined, simply because, you see, he had not noticed that father and
mother differed in their dialects--that his father's 'no' always meant
'no,' and nothing else. You have read 'Rob Roy,' and may recollect that
that amiable young gentleman, Mr. F. Osbaldistone, with less reason,
very nearly made an equally fatal mistake; for every word his father had
ever uttered, and every muscle in his face, every gesture, every step,
ought to have convinced him that his father always meant what he said.

"In fine, learn to apply these little words aright and honestly, and,
little though they be, you will keep the love of truth pure and

"Ah me! what worlds of joy and sorrow, what maddening griefs and
ecstacies have these poor monosyllables conveyed! More than any other
words in the whole dictionary have they enraptured or saddened the human
heart; rung out the peal of joy, or sounded the knell of hope. And yet
not so often as at first sight might appear, for these blunt and honest
words are, both, kindly coy in scenes of agony.

"There are occasions--and those the most terrible in life--when the lips
are fairly absolved from using them, and when, if the eye cannot express
what the muffled tongue refuses to tell, the tongue seeks any stammering
compassionate circumlocution rather than utter the dreaded syllable. 'Is
there no hope?' says the mother, hanging over her dying child, to the
physician, in whose looks are life and death. He dare not say 'yes;' but
to such a question silence and dejection can alone say 'no.'"




He is sour and morose in disposition. He is a hater of his species.
Whether he was born thus, or whether he has gradually acquired it
through contact with mankind, will best be ascertained from himself. I
think, however, that he too frequently and too readily inclines in his
nature to run against the angles and rough edges of men's ways and
tempers, by which he is made sore and irritable, until he loses patience
with everybody, and thinks everybody is gone to the bad. He is happy
with no one, and no one is happy with him.

His talk agrees with his temper. He says nothing good of anybody or
anything. Society is rotten in every part. He cares for no one's thanks.
He bows to no one's person. He courts no one's smiles. There is neither
happiness nor worth anywhere or in any one. He says,--

                          "Only this is sure:
  In this world nought save misery can endure."

If you try to throw a more cheerful aspect upon things and breathe a
more genial soul into his nature, he says to you,--

    "Have I not suffered things to be forgiven?
    Have I not had my brain seared, my heart riven,
    Hopes sapped, name blighted, life's life lied away?
    And only not to desperation driven,
    Because not altogether of such clay
  As rots into the souls of those whom I survey."

He is hard to cure, but worse to endure. Sunshine has no brightness for
him. Love has no charms. Beauty has no smiles. Flowers have no
fragrance. All is desert to him; and alas! he is desert to all.

II. THE STORY-TELLER.--He is ever and anon telling his anecdotes and
stories, until they become as dull as an old newspaper handled for days
together. He seldom enters your house or forms one of a company but you
hear from him the same oft-repeated tales. He may sometimes begin on a
new track, but he soon merges into the old. You are inclined to say,
"You have told me that before;" but respect to the person who speaks, or
a sense of good manners, restrains, so you are under the necessity of
enduring the unwelcome repetition.

I have known this talker, again and again, rise from his seat with an
intention of going because of a "pressing engagement," and yet he has
stood, with hat in hand, for a further half-hour, telling the same
stories which on similar occasions he had told before. I knew what was
coming, and wished that he had left when he rose at first to do so,
rather than afflict me with the same worn-out threadbare tales of
three-times-three repetition in my ears.

I have thought, Whence this failing? Whether from loss of memory or from
the fact that these things have been so often repeated that, when once
begun, they instinctively and in the very order in which they are laid
in the mind find an irresistible outlet from the mouth: like a
musical-box, when wound up and set a-going, goes on and on, playing the
same old tunes which one has heard a hundred times, and which it has
played ever since a musical-box it has been.

I am inclined to think, however uncharitable my thinking may seem, that
this is the chief cause of his fault. I think so because I have
frequently noticed him saying as soon as he has begun, "Have not I told
you this before?" and I have answered, "Yes, you have;" still he has
gone on with the old yarn, telling it precisely in the same way as
before; as the aforesaid instrument plays its old tunes without
variation right through to the end.

The affliction would not be so bad to bear if he cut his stories short;
but, unfortunately, he does not, and I verily believe cannot, any more
than the parson who has repeated his sermons a hundred times can
curtail, or leave out some of the old to substitute new. Not only so;
another addition to the burden one has to endure is, that he always
repeats his stories with such apparent self-satisfaction--a smile here,
a laugh there, a "ha-ha-ha" in another place; at the same time you feel
he is a bore, and wish his old saws were a hundred miles away.

One has been reminded, in hearing him talk, of what Menander says about
the Dodonian brass, that if a man touched it only once it would continue
ringing the whole day in the same monotonous tone. Thus this talker,
touch him on the story-key, and he plays away until you are jaded in

  "His copious stories, oftentimes begun,
  End without audience, and are never done."

Is there a remedy for this talker? I fear not. He has practised so
long--for he generally is sixty or seventy years old--that little hope
can be entertained of his cure. He will have to _wear_ out. This,
however, you can do for yourself; only go into his company _once_, and
you will not be afflicted with his repetition; and if he would go into
the same company only once, it would secure to him a more enduring

Cowper, in his day, it would seem, met with such a talker as I have been
describing. He thus refers to him:--

  "Sedentary weavers of long tales
  Give me the fidgets, and my patience fails.
  'Tis the most asinine employ on earth,
  To hear them tell of parentage and birth,
  And echo conversation dull and dry,
  Embellished, with, _He said and so said I_.
  At every interview their route the same,
  The repetition makes attention lame;
  We bustle up with unsuccessful speed,
  And in the saddest part cry, _Droll indeed!_"

After thus expressing his own experience under the rod of this talker,
he suggests the way in which he should exercise himself in his

  "A tale should be judicious, clear, succinct;
  The language plain, and incidents well linked;
  Tell not as new what everybody knows,
  And new or old still hasten to a close;
  There centring in a focus round and neat,
  Let all your rays of information meet.
  What neither yields us profit nor delight
  Is like a nurse's lullaby at night;
  Guy Earl of Warwick and fair Elenore,
  Or giant-killing Jack would please me more."

III. THE CARELESS.--This talker is heedless of what, and how, and to
whom he talks. He consults no propriety of speech; he has no respect of
persons. He never asks, "Will it be wise to speak thus at this time? Is
this the proper person to whom I should say it? Shall I give offence or
deceive by speaking in this way? What will be the consequence to the
absent of my making this statement concerning them? Is Tittle-Tattle, or
Rumour, or Mischief Maker, or Slanderer, or Blabber in this company, who
will make capital out of what I say?"

I do not mean that one should be always so precise in speaking, that
what he says should be as nicely measured and formed as a new-made pin.
This, however, is one thing, and to speak without thought or
consideration is another.

The careless talker would save others as well as himself from frequent
difficulties if he would get into the way of pondering, at least
somewhat, the things which he has to say, so as to be sure that what he
says will not injure another more than he would like to be injured

I will give one illustration of this careless and thoughtless way of

In a gathering of friends belonging to a certain church in N---- the
minister's name came up as the subject of conversation. Many eulogiums
were passed upon his character, among others one expressive of his high
temperance principles, and the service he was rendering to the
temperance cause in the town.

There happened to be present in the company a young gentleman of rather
convivial habits, who assented to their compliments of the minister. He
thought he was a very excellent man and a pleasant companion. "In fact,"
he said, "it was only the other day when he and I drank brandy and water

What a compliment this to give to a minister and a teetotaller! Of
course the particulars were not inquired into there and then; but Miss
Rumour, who was present, made a note of it in her mind, and as soon as
she left the company she spread it abroad until the statement of the
thoughtless young gentleman came to the ears of the deacons of the
church, who solemnly arraigned the minister before them, and summoned
the accuser into their presence.

He declared that what he had said was positively true, but had
evidently been misunderstood. "Your excellent minister," he said, "and I
_have_ drunk brandy and water together; but then _I_ drank the brandy,
and _he_ drank the _water_."

IV. THE EQUIVOCATOR.--He speaks in such a way as to convey the
impression that he means what he says and at the same time leaves
himself in his own mind at liberty to go contrary to what he says,
without considering himself guilty of breach of truth should he do so.
He speaks so as to give you reason for believing him; and then, if he
fail to verify your faith, he tells you he did not say so positively.
Hence his chief phrases of speech are, "May be so;" "It is more than
likely I shall;" "There is little doubt upon the question;" "It is more
than probable it will be so." He means these phrases to have the same
effect upon you as the positive or imperative mood; and yet if you take
them in this sense, and he does not act up to them, he says, "O, I did
not say I would."

Much evil has been done by this way of talking in business, in families,
in the social circle. How many a tradesman has lost valuable hours in
waiting and expecting some one who has promised him by, "It is more than
probable," that he would meet him at such an hour. And when reminded of
his failure, he said, "I did not promise."

With a similar understanding based on a promise of the same kind, how
frequently has the housewife made ready her person, her children, her
rooms, and her larder, to receive guests on a day's visit!
Disappointment has been the result; perhaps hard thoughts, if not harder
feelings, have been felt, and it has been a long time ere any
preparation has been made for the same guests again.

A mother in a family says to her little son, "Now, John, you be a very
good boy, and give your sister Betsy no trouble while I am gone to see
your Aunt Charlotte, and may be I will bring you back a Noah's ark."

The mother goes to see Aunt Charlotte; meanwhile John is trying in all
his strength to be a "good boy, and to give his sister Betsy no

Little Johnny is wishing his mother would return. The hour is getting
late. He is becoming heavy with sleep. He says to his sister,--

"I am so tired. I do want mother to come home and bring me the nice
present she promised. O how glad I shall be to have a Noah's ark!"

At last mother enters the house, and her little boy rushes to meet her,
asking as the first thing,--

"Mother, have you brought the present you promised?"

"What present, my boy?" the mother asks.

"Noah's ark, mother."

"Did I promise to buy you Noah's ark? Are you not mistaken?"

"You said _may be_ you would do it; and I expected you would."

"But _may be_, my dear, is not a promise."

With these words the little boy set on crying at his great
disappointment, and could not be comforted.

Now this way of talking to children is calculated to give them wrong
views of truthfulness, and to cherish within them a similar way of
equivocation. It creates hopes and blights them. It gives ground for
expectation, and then destroys it. "Let your communication be, Yea, yea;
Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil." "The
promises of God are all YEA."

V. THE ABSENT-MINDED.--It is far from being pleasant to meet in
conversation a talker of this class. To ask a question of importance or
to give a reply to one whose mind is wandering in an opposite direction
is anything but complimentary and assuring. How mortifying to be
speaking to a person who you think is sweetly taking in all you say, and
when finished you find you have been talking to one whose mind was as
absent from what you said as a man living in America or New Zealand! He
wakes up, perhaps, to consciousness, some time after you have done
speaking, with the provoking interrogatory, "I beg pardon, sir; but pray
what were you speaking about just now?"

He has been known at the dinner-table to ask a blessing at least three

He has been seen in company to make one of his best bows in reply to
what he supposed was a compliment paid him, when it was intended for
some other person.

He has been heard try to give a narrative of great interest; but before
he had got half-way through he lost his mind in the story, and ran two
or three into one.

He has been known almost to rave with self-indignation while calling
back some one to whom he had forgotten to state the object of meeting,
although they had been together some time in promiscuous talk.

He has been seen at the tea-table in a heated discussion, thinking of
his brightest idea just as he was in the act of swallowing his tea, and
by the time the tea was gone his idea was gone, and of course he lost
the day.

One has heard of an eminent minister so absent-minded in talk at the
tea-table that he has taken about twenty cups of tea, and has not only
exhausted the supply of tea, but after using the teaspoon in each cup
has thrown it behind him on the sofa, until all the spoons have been
gone as well as all the tea; and only when he has been told that there
was no more of either has he woke up to know how much tea he had drunk,
and what had become of the spoons.

One of these talkers, in the midst of conversation in a large circle of
friends, tried to quote the lines following:--

  "I never had a dear gazelle,
    To glad me with its soft black eye,
  But when it came to know me well,
    And love me, it was sure to die."

But, instead of repeating them correctly, his mind became absent, and
thought of a parody on the lines, which ran as follows:--

  "I never had a piece of bread,
    Particularly long and wide,
  But fell upon the sanded floor,
    And always on the buttered side."

So in his attempt to render the first correctly he mingled the beauties
of both as follows:--

  "I never had a dear gazelle,
    Particularly long and wide,
  But when it came to know me well,
    And always on the buttered side."

A story is told of a clergyman who went a walk into the country. Coming
to a toll-bar, he stopped, and shouted to the man, "Here! what's to

"Pay for what?" asked the man.

"For my horse."

"What horse? You have no horse, sir!"

"Bless me!" exclaimed the clergyman, looking between his legs. "I
thought I was on horseback."

He had fallen into a thoughtful mood in his walk, and being more
accustomed to riding than walking, in his absence of mind he made the

VI. THE BUSTLING.--This talker you will generally find to be a man
rather small in stature, with quick eye, sharp nose, nervous expression
of face, and limbs ever ready for prompt action. He has little patience
with other people's slowness, and wastes more time and temper in
repeating his own love of despatch than would be required to do a great
deal of work.

His tongue is as restless as his hands and feet, both of which are in
unceasing motion. He asks questions in such rapidity that it is
difficult for the ear to catch them. He is always in a hurly-burly. He
has more business to attend to than he knows how. His engagements are so
numerous that many of them must be broken. If he call to see you, he is
always in a hurry; he cannot sit down; he must be off in a minute. He
often rushes into your room so suddenly that you wonder what is the
matter, throws down his hat and gloves as though he had no time to place
them anywhere, and, taking out his watch, he regrets that he can only
spare you two minutes; and you would not have been sorry if it had been
only one. He leaves you much in the same manner as he came, with a slam
of the door which goes through you, and steps back two or three times to
say something which he had forgotten.

"If you go to see him," says one, "on business, he places you a chair
with ostentatious haste; begs you will excuse him while he despatches
two or three messengers on most urgent business; calls each of them back
once or twice to give fresh instalments of his defective instructions;
and having at last dismissed them, regrets as usual that he has only
five minutes to spare, whereof he spends half in telling you the
distracting number and importance of his engagements. If he have to
consult a ledger, the book is thrown on the desk with a thump as if he
wished to break its back, and the leaves rustle to and fro like a wood
in a storm. Meanwhile he overlooks, while he gabbles on, the very
entries he wants to find, and spends twice the time he would if he had
proceeded more leisurely. In a word, everything is done with a bounce,
and a thump, and an air, and a flourish, and sharp and eager motions,
and perpetual volubility of tongue. His image is that of a blind beetle
in the twilight, which, with incessant hum and drone and buzz, flies
blundering into the face of every one it chances to meet."

VII. THE CONTRADICTORY.--The contradictory talker is one who steps into
the arena of conversation with an attitude which says in effect, "It
matters not what you say, good or bad, wise or foolish, of my opinion or
against my opinion, I am here to contradict. It is my mind, my habit, my
nature to do it, and do it I will."

And so he does. His tongue, like the point of a weathercock, veers round
to face the sentiment or fact from whatever quarter it may come. You
express your views upon some eminent minister of the Gospel. He says, "I
do not think with you." Your friend gives his views upon some theory in
science. He says, "I am altogether of another opinion." Some one else
gives his views of a political scheme in contemplation. He says, "I
think the very opposite." A fourth states his views on some doctrine of
theology. He says, "They are far from orthodox." A fifth ventures to
give his opinion on a late experiment in natural philosophy. He says, "I
think it was entirely a blunder."

Thus he stands in hostile, pugilistic attitude to every one, as though
he had made up his mind to it long ago. He acts upon the principle,
"Whatever you say now, I will contradict it, and if you agree with me, I
will contradict myself. You shall not say anything that I will not
contradict." Except you should tell him he was a wise man, which of
course would be a questionable truth, there is indeed no opinion or
proposition in which he would agree with you.

He reminds one of the Irishman who, despairing of a _shindy_ at a fair,
everything being so quiet and peaceful, took off his coat, and, trailing
it in the mud, said, "And, by St. Patrick, wouldn't I like to see the
boy that would tread on that same!"

You are thus challenged to combat; and you must either be mute or stand
the chance of being cudgelled at every position you take. The best way
is to be mute rather than be in a constant (for the time being) ferment
of strife and conflict.

This quibbling or contradictory talk may sometimes be met with in the
family as existing between brothers or sisters. They are continually
opposing and contradicting each other in things trifling and
indifferent, differing in opinion for no other reason, apparently, than
that they have got in the habit of doing so.

"It is not so, Fanny; you know it is not, and why do you say so?" said
Fred, warmly.

"I say it is," replied Fanny; "and I am surprised that you should
contradict me."

"It is just like you, Fanny, to be always opposed to me, and I wonder
you should be so."

This habit of contradiction in a family is anything but pleasant and
happy, and should be checked by parents, as well as guarded against by
the children themselves.

VIII. THE TECHNICALIST.--He is a talker who indulges much in the slang
of his calling. The naval cadet, for instance, poetically describes his
home as "the mooring where he casts anchor," or "makes sail down the
street," hails his friend to "heave to," and makes things as plain as a
"pikestaff," and "as taut as a hawser." The articled law clerk "shifts
the venue" of the passing topic to the other end of the room, and "begs
to differ from his learned friend." The new bachelor from college snuffs
the candle at an "angle of forty-five." The student of surgery descants
upon the comparative anatomy of the joint he is carving, and asks
whether "a slice of adipose tissue will be acceptable." The trade
apprentice "takes stock" of a dinner party, and endorses the observation
of "ditto." The young chemist gives a "prescription" for the way you
should go to town. The student of logic "syllogizes" his statement, and
before he draws a conclusion he always lays down his "premise." The
architect gives you a "plan" of his meaning, and "builds" you an
argument of thought.

Thus, you may generally infer the profession or occupation of this
talker from the technical terms he employs in conversation.

IX. THE LILIPUTIAN.--I give this designation to him, not because of his
physical stature, for he may be of more than ordinary proportions in
flesh and blood; and in fact he often is. His talk is _small_; what some
would call "chit-chat." He deals in pins and needles, buttons and tapes,
nutmegs and spices: things of course, in their places, necessary, but
out of place when you have plenty of them, and they are being ever and
anon pressed on your notice. He has no power of conception or utterance
beyond the commonplace currency of the time of day, state of the
weather, changes of the moon, who was last married, who is going to be,
when dog days begin, what he had for dinner, when he bought his new hat,
when he last went to see his mother, when he was last sick, and how he
recovered, etc.

Cowper pictures this talker in the following lines:--

  "His whispered theme, dilated, and at large,
  Proves after all a wind-gun's airy charge,
  An extract of his diary--no more,
  A tasteless journal of the day before.
  He walked abroad, o'ertaken in the rain,
  Called on a friend, drank tea, stepped home again,
  Resumed his purpose, had a word of talk
  With one he stumbled on, and lost his walk.
  I interrupt him with a sudden bow,
  Adieu, dear sir! lest you should lose it now."

X. THE ENVIOUS.--This talker is one much allied to the detractor, whom
we have considered at length in a former part of this volume. He cannot
hear anything good of another without having something to say to the
contrary. If you speak of a friend of yours possessed of more than
ordinary gifts or graces, he interjects a "but" and its connections, by
which he means to counterbalance what you say. Like his ancestor Cain,
he seeks to kill in the estimation of others every one who stands more
acceptable to society than himself.

The disposition of the envious is destructive and murderous. Anything
that exceeds himself in appearance, in circumstances, in influence, he
endeavours to destroy, so that _he_ may stand first in esteem and

But he is a deceiver of himself. Others see his motive and aim, and,
like Jehovah in the beginning, discover his malicious spirit, and
condemn him as a vagabond and fugitive in society. He becomes a _marked_
man, and whoever sees him avoids him as a destroyer of everything
amiable and of good report.

It is bad enough to _feel_ envy in the heart; but to bring it forth in
words in conversation makes it doubly monstrous and repulsive. Such a
talker is revolting to all amiable and justly disposed persons in the
social circle.

XI. THE SECRET TALKER.--"Be sure, now, you do not tell any one what I am
going to say to you," is a phrase that one talker often says to
another: "Certainly not," is the ready rejoinder. So the secret is given
in charge; and no sooner have the two friends parted than the entrusted
fact or rumour is divulged, perhaps, to the very first person with whom
he comes in conversation, told of course as a "secret never to be
repeated." He had power to hear it, but not power to retain it. He is a
_leaky_ vessel, a sieve-receiver, not able to keep anything put within

There is oftentimes deception, if not absolute lying, in this talker.
Why does he receive the secret with the strong promise, "I will tell no
one, upon my honour," if he cannot retain it in his own bosom?

Such persons are not to be trusted _twice_. As soon as you discover your
facts given under covenant of secrecy are blabbed to others, you say, "I
shall not trust him again:" and very properly too. Of course he tells as
a secret what you tell him as a secret; but if he cannot retain it, how
can he expect others? It is in this way that a matter, which in the
first instance is spoken of under the most strict confidence, becomes a
well-known fact, as though the public bellman had been hired to proclaim
it in the streets.

XII. THE SNUBBER.--There is a man sometimes met with in society, whose
business, when he talks, seems to be the administration of rebuke, in a
spirit and with a tone of voice churlish and sarcastic, by which he
would stop the increase of knowledge, check the development of mind, and
arrest the growth of heroic souls. He is far from amiable in his
disposition, or happy in his temper. He is a knotty piece of humanity,
which rubs itself against the even surface of other portions, much to
its annoyance, and to his own irritability. He is like a frost, nipping
the tender blossoms of intellect, and stopping the growth of a youthful
branch of promise. He is shunned by the gentle and sensitive. The
independent and bold repel him, and pay him back in his own coin, a
specie which he does not like, although he does a large business with it

The word itself is banished from polite society; but alas! the custom is
by no means proscribed. The sound is, to some extent, significant of the
sense. "To snub" is certainly not euphonious, and would sadly offend the
ears of many who are addicted to the habit. Snubbing is of various
kinds. For instance, there is the snub direct, sharp, and decisive, that
knocks the tender, sensitive spirit at once; there is the covert snub,
nearly allied to being talked at; the jocose snub, veiling the
objectionable form of reproof under an affected pleasantry; and there is
also a most unpleasant form of snubbing, frequently used by well-meaning
persons to repress forwardness or personal vanity. It is very true that
children and young people often exhibit forwardness, vanity, and many
other qualities extremely distasteful to their wiser elders; but it is
questionable if snubbing was ever found an effectual cure for such
faults. It may smother the evil for the time; but in such cases it is
better to encourage children to speak their thoughts freely, patiently,
gently, to show them where they are wrong, and trust to a kind voice and
tender indulgence to win the hearts that snubbing would most certainly,
sooner or later, alienate.

So far, then, from snubbing curing faults of character, it will be found
to be a frightful source of evil: it renders a timid child reserved, and
it may be deemed fortunate if the conscientious principle is strong
enough to preserve him from direct deceit. Indecision of character, too,
is a common result of snubbing; for there can be no self-reliance when
the mind is wondering within itself whether such or such an action will
be snubbed. Some dispositions may in time become tolerably callous to
reproof; but it rarely happens that even those most seasoned by
incessant rebukes ever entirely lose the uncomfortable feeling which
snubbing occasions. It is, in fact, a perpetual mental blister; and it
is grievous to see how blindly people exercise it on those they dearly
love. It may occur to some, who can think as well as snub, that the
benefit to be derived from anything calculated to wound sensitive
feelings must be very questionable; but the plain fact is, that nine
times out of ten it is done unthinkingly, and from the impulse of the
moment. It may be but a small unkindness at the time, the words
forgotten as soon as uttered; but in many instances the effects of a
snubbed childhood last a lifetime.

These remarks are offered in the hope that they may be useful in
pointing out the evil of this very prevalent habit. It is most
certainly a violation of the holy commandment of doing to others as we
would be done by, and requires to be diligently watched against. There
is no one addicted to the practice of snubbing others who likes to be
snubbed himself. The law of love should not only dwell in the heart, but
should also baptize the lips.

XIII. THE ARGUMENTATIVE.--This talker has so fully studied Whateley and
Mill, and his mind is so naturally constructed, that he must have every
thought syllogistically placed, and logically wrought out to
demonstration, beyond the shadow of a shade of doubt. With countenance
grave he approaches close to your person, and with the tip of one
forefinger on the tip of the other forefinger, he begins, "Now mark,
sir, this is the proposition which I lay down--the _quality_ and
_quantity_ of it I will not now stop to state--'No one is free who is
enslaved by his appetites: a sensualist is enslaved by his appetites,
therefore a sensualist is not free.' Now, sir, there is no escape from
this conclusion, if you admit the _premise_, the _major_ and the _minor_
of my argument."

"It is most conclusive and demonstrative," observed Mr. Allgood. "What
have you to say, Mr. Goose, about the propriety of enforcing the penal
laws against the Papists, who, as you know, are in the heart of their
religion so opposed to the Protestant laws and constitution of this

Again placing the tip of his forefinger on his right hand upon the tip
of his forefinger on his left hand, he said, "If penal laws against
Papists were enforced, they would have cause of grievance; but penal
laws against them are not enforced, therefore they have no such cause."

"That is very clear and convincing," observed Mr. Allgood again. "Do you
think, Mr. Goose," again asked Mr. Allgood--he could not argue, but only
ask questions--"that the practice of oath-taking is in any way
beneficial and to be commended?"

Once more assuming his former logical attitude, with additional signs of
thought and gravity, as though the question demanded great
consideration, Mr. Goose at length said,--

"Mr. Allgood, if men are not likely to be influenced in the performance
of a known duty by taking an oath to perform it, the oaths commonly
administered are superfluous; if they are likely to be so influenced,
every one should be made to take an oath to behave rightly throughout
his life; but one or the other of these must be the case; therefore,
either the oaths commonly administered are superfluous, or every man
should be made to take an oath to behave rightly throughout his life."

"Thank you, Mr. Goose, thank you, for placing the thing in such a lucid
and irrefutable light," answered Mr. Allgood, who seemed to be in mist
all the time Mr. Goose was laying down his argument.

Had Mr. Allgood gone on with his questions up to the thousandth, each
one being distinct from the other, Mr. Goose would have answered him,
as far as he could, in the same formal, argumentative manner. But Mr.
Allgood was getting jaded; the stretch of attention required by the
reasoning of Mr. Goose was telling upon his patience; so he slided away
to talk with one who spoke in less categorical style: not so
propositional, syllogistic, and demonstrative.

And, as a rule, who does not sympathise with Mr. Allgood, as against Mr.
Goose, in his method of talk? Syllogisms, propositions, predicates,
majors, minors, sorites, enthymeme, copula, concrete, and such-like
logical terms are all very well from a professor to his students in a
lecture room, but introduced into ordinary conversation in company they
are altogether out of place. No one with good taste, unless he has
fearfully forgotten it, will disfigure his talk with them, however pure
and efficient a logician he may be in reality.

Some of this class of talkers are nothing but mere shams in their art.
They affect a knowledge of argumentative processes, and obtrude upon
your attention by false reasoning conclusions which perhaps _appear_ as
legitimate as possible. You cannot deny, yet you cannot believe. You
cannot refute by your logic, neither can you admit by your faith. Such
are most of the sceptical talkers on the Bible, Christianity, etc.
Milton speaks of this argumentative talker when he says,--

                            "But this juggler
  Would think to chain my judgment, as mine eyes,
  Obtruding false rules pranked in reason's garb."

Another species of this talker is thus described by Butler, in

    "He'd undertake to prove, by force
    Of argument, a man's a horse;
    He'd prove a buzzard is no fowl,
    And that a lord may be an owl;
  A calf an alderman, a goose a justice,
  And rooks committee men and trustees."

Another kind may be noticed: the one whose arguments are generally of a
class which, when seen through and used by sound wit, rebound upon
himself. Trumball, in his "M'Fingal," thus describes him:--

  "But as some muskets do contrive it,
  As oft to miss the mark they drive at,
  And though well aimed at duck or plover,
  Bear wide, and kick their owners over,--
  So fared our squire, whose reas'ning toil
  Would often on himself recoil,
  And so much injured more his side,
  The stronger arguments he apply'd."

One more of this class of talkers may be mentioned, viz., the man who
forces his logic upon you in such a dogmatic manner as leaves you
without any hope of reply. You give him all the glory of victory. For
the sake of peace and safety you remain passive, and think this the best
valour for the occasion. Cowper refers to him in the following lines:--

  "Vociferated logic kills me quite,
  A noisy man is always in the right;
  I twirl my thumbs, fall back into my chair,
  Fix on the wainscot a distressful stare;
  And when I hope his blunders are all out,
  Reply discreetly, To be sure--no doubt!"

XIV. THE RELIGIOUS.--He is one that obtrudes his views and experience
upon others in ways, times, and places which are far from prudent and
commendable. Between his talk and his conduct there is a wide disparity.
From his words you would judge him a saint: from his conduct a sinner.
Abroad he is a Christian: at home he is an infidel.

Bunyan describes this character in his own simple and forcible way: "I
have been in his family, and have observed him both at home and abroad;
and I know what I say of him is the truth. His house is as empty of
religion as the white of an egg is of savour. There is neither prayer
nor sign of repentance for sin; yea, the brute, in his kind, serves God
far better than he. He is the very stain, reproach, and shame of
religion to all that know him: it can hardly have a good word in that
end of the town where he dwells, through him--a saint abroad, and a
devil at home! His poor family find it so. He is such a churl; such a
railer at and so unreasonable with his servants, that they neither know
how to do for him nor speak of him. Men that have any dealings with him
say it is better to deal with a Turk than with him, for fairer dealings
they shall have at his hands. This Talkative, if it be possible, will go
beyond them, defraud, beguile, and overreach them. Besides, he brings up
his sons to follow in his steps; and if he finds in any of them a
'foolish timorousness' (for so he calls the first appearance of a tender
conscience), he calls them fools and blockheads, and by no means will
employ them in much, or speak to their commendation before others. For
my part, I am of opinion that he has, by his wicked life, caused many to
stumble and fall, and will be, if God prevent not, the ruin of many

The Apostle James in his epistle refers to this talker: "If any man
among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but
deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." And how is he to
bridle his tongue? Why, not only from slander and profanity, but from
_saying_, "When he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot tempt
to evil; neither tempteth He any man." Also, from making empty and
pharisaic pretensions to a high state of piety, while there are glaring
contradictions in the life: "What doth it profit, if a man say that he
hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?" As though the
Apostle should say, "You talkers about religion are not always the most
practical exemplifiers of it. Not he who _says_ he is religious, but he
who _lives_ religious is the justified one before God and man. Enough of
talk, talk, talk: let us have the _reality_ in heart experience and in
life deeds."

  "'Say well' from 'do well' differs in letter;
  'Say well' is good, but 'do well' is better.
  'Say well' says godly, and helps to please;
  But 'do well' lives godly, and gives the world ease.
  'Say well' in danger of death is cold;
  'Do well' is harnessed, and wondrous bold.
  'Say well' to silence sometimes is bound;
  But 'do well' is free for every stound.
  'Say well' has friends, some here some there;
  But 'do well' is welcome everywhere.
  By 'say well' many a one to God's Word cleaves;
  But for lack of 'do well' it quickly leaves.
  If 'say well' and 'do well' were joined in one frame,
  Then all were done, all were won, and gotten were the game."

XV. THE PREJUDICED.--Rumour and ignorance form the foundation of

"That is an injurious book for your children to read," said Mr. Rust one
day to Mr. Moon, concerning a volume of the "Primrose Series," which he
was looking at in Smith's library.

All Mr. Rust knew about the volume was something which had casually
dropped in conversation the day before, in the house of a friend where
he was visiting; but that was sufficient to prejudice him against the

"I hear you have invited the Rev. Jonas Winkle to be the pastor of your
church," said the Rev. T. Little to Deacon Bunsen.

"Yes, we have," the deacon replied.

"I am sorry to hear it; for if all that is said about him is true, you
have made a mistake."

And what did this Reverend brother know of the other Reverend brother to
justify him in speaking thus? Why, just nothing at all. True, he had
heard a rumour, but personal knowledge he had none. However, what he
said so influenced the mind of Deacon Bunsen, that he did all he could
to have the invitation withdrawn; which being done, the Rev. Mr. Little,
by certain "wire pulling" on his part, and a good word spoken for him by
a layman of wealth on his part, managed to secure the pastorate of the
said church for himself.

"I hear that young Bush is coming into your bank as cashier," observed
Mr. Young to Mr. Monk, the manager.

"Yes; he enters upon his duties next week."

"But have you not heard what is afloat about him?"

"No. I have heard nothing."

"Then the less said the soonest mended," answered Young.

Now this Mr. Young knew nothing personally against young Bush, but had
heard a rumour which prejudiced him to speak in this way of him; the
result of which was that the manager evinced suspicion of the young man
until he had been in the bank some time, and by his unquestionable
conduct had proved that Mr. Young's insinuation was nothing but
prejudice grounded upon rumour and ignorance of him.

Thus it is that the prejudiced talker may do a great deal of mischief
against persons of the most innocent character.

Prejudice has nothing to justify it, but everything to condemn it. The
person subject to it evinces a mind devoid of the breadth, strength, and
independence characteristic of true manhood; and the sooner he disposes
of rumour and ignorance as the creator of words on his tongue, the
better for his reputation. Before he speaks of persons or things he will
act wisely to "come and see" by personal interview and experience.

XVI. THE BOASTER.--This talker is somewhat akin to the _Egotist_;
nevertheless there is a distinction and difference. What he is, what he
has done, where he has been, his acquaintances, his intentions, his
prospects, his capabilities, his possessions, are the subjects of his
talk in such a braggadocio spirit and style as disgusts the intelligent,
and imposes upon the simple.

Has he done you a charitable deed? has he been heroic in an act of
mercy? has he given a contribution to an object of beneficence? has he
performed some feat of gymnastics? has he made a good bargain in
business? has he said or done something which has elicited the faintest
praise from an observer?--with what a flourish he brags of each in its
turn! Everybody and everything must stand aside while he and his doings
are exhibited in full glory before the company.

It is well when these mountebanks meet with treatment such as they
deserve. A honest word or two spoken by a fearless hearer of their loud
talking will soon cause their balloon to collapse, or bring their
exhibition to a sudden end. And then how pitiable they do look! Where is
boasting then? Alas, it is excluded; and their glory is turned into

A young man who in his travels had visited the isle of Rhodes was once
boasting in company of how he had out-jumped all the men there, and all
the Rhodians could bear witness of it. One of the company replied, "If
you speak the truth, think this place to be Rhodes, and jump here;" when
it turned out that he could do nothing, and was glad to make his exit.
The English proverb, "Great boast and small roast," is applicable to

It is said in history that a friend of Cæsar's had preserved a certain
man from the tyranny of the triumvirate proscription; but he so
frequently talked about it in a boasting manner, that the poor man
ultimately exclaimed, "Pray thee, restore me to Cæsar again! I had
rather undergo a thousand deaths than to be thus continually upbraided
by thee with what thou hast done for me."

And who does not sympathise with this feeling when any one who has in a
way been a friend is ever and anon boasting of it in conversation?

"We must not," as one says, "make ourselves the trumpet of our
benevolence in liberalities and good deeds, but let them, like John the
Baptist, be the speaking son of a dumb parent--speak to the necessity of
our brother, but dumb in the relation of it to others. It is for
worthless empirics to stage themselves in the market and recount their
cures, and for all good Christians to be silent in their charitable

  "The highest looks have not the highest mind,
    Nor haughty words most full of highest thought;
  But are like bladders blown up with the wind,
    That being pricked, evanish into nought."

        "Who knows himself a braggart,
  Let him fear this; for it will come to pass
  That every braggart shall be found an ass."

XVII. THE QUARRELSOME.--What is said of the Irishman may be said of this
talker, "He is only in peace when he is in a quarrel." His flowers are
thistles, and his sweets bitters. The more you study to be quiet, the
more he aims to make a noise. The least imaginable thing in word, look,
or act he takes as a cause for bickering and contention. As a neighbour,
as a fellow member in a family, as a fellow workman, as a fellow
traveller, he is disagreeable and annoying. He quarrels with you alike
for things you do to please him or things you do to displease him. When
two such persons meet, peace takes to her wings and flies away, leaving
war of words, if not of weapons, in her room.

Benvolio in _Romeo and Juliet_ was one of this steel. Mercutio
addressing him says, "Thou! why thou wilt quarrel with a man that hath a
hair more or less in his beard than thou hast. Thou wilt quarrel with a
man for cracking nuts, having no other reason but because thou hast
hazel eyes. What eye but such eye would spy out such a quarrel? Thy head
is as full of quarrels as an egg is full of meat; and yet thy head hath
been beaten as addle as an egg for quarrelling. Thou hast quarrelled
with a man for coughing in the street, because he hath wakened thy dog
that hath lain asleep in the sun. Didst thou not fall out with a man for
wearing his new doublet before Easter? with another, for tying his new
shoes with old ribbons? and yet thou wilt tutor me from quarrelling!"

XVIII. THE PROFOUND.--He leaves you at the edge, but himself plunges
like an expert diver into the vasty deeps; and there in twilight
visible, if not in darkness felt, he converses with you about the
mysterious, the metaphysical, the mystical, the profound. As you gaze
with wondering vision, you hear a voice, but see no man. He invites you
down into his caves of ocean thought; but, as you see not where he is,
and know not the way to follow, nor think it worth while to go at a
venture, you prefer remaining on the shore.

Nor is it always the _depth_ into which this talker delights to go. Were
it this, with _transparency_, there would not be so much objection. He
too frequently plunges into muddled waters, or makes them so by his
movements therein. He persuades himself that he has acquired profound
knowledge of philosophy from the dark and mystical writings of the
Germans translated into English. With this persuasion he courts your
attention, while he discourses to you in terms and phrases of marvellous
vagueness about the Ego within us--the Infinite and the Immense, the
Absolute, the Entity and Nonentity, and such-like subjects, of which you
can make neither "top nor tail," and of which he knows nothing save the
terms and phrases that he strings together with such adept expertness
and palpable absurdity.

"What do you think," asked Mr. Stanley of Professor Rigg, "of Hegel's
paradox, that nothing is equal to being, and that if being and nothing
be conjoined you have existence?"

The Professor answered with his usual gravity and profundity: "Nothing
could be more profound, and as lucid as profound, if Hegel's theory of
the 'evolution of the concrete' was remembered. According to that theory
the concrete is the idea which, as a unity, is variously determined,
having the principle of its activity within itself, while the origin of
the activity, the act itself, and the result, are one, and constitute
the concrete. The innate contradiction of the concrete is the basis of
its development, and though differences arise, they at last vanish into
unity. To use the words of Hegel, there is 'both the movement and repose
in the movement. The difference hardly appears before it disappears,
whereupon there issues from it a full and complete unity.'"

"That is very clear and satisfactory," observed Mr. Stanley, ironically;
not seeing anything but confusion confounded in the whole of it. "What
is your view," he asked again, "of the Hegelian 'Absolute'?"

"This," said the Professor, "is nothing but a continual process of
thinking, without beginning and without end. Now that the evolution of
ideas in the human mind is the process of all existence--the essence of
the Absolute--of a Deity, so that Deity is nothing more than the
Absolute ever striving to realize itself in human consciousness."

Without questioning the truthfulness of such a doctrine, so _plainly
expressed_, Mr. Stanley proceeded to ask, in a way rather beyond
himself, "Whether there was not a little to be said for Schelling's
notion that the rhythmical law of all existence is cognisable at the
same time by the internal consciousness of the subjective self, in the
objective operation of Nature?"

To this question, somewhat mystical it must be confessed, the Professor
replied in his usual style of profundity:--

"I see clearly enough Schelling's great ingenuity; but think his three
movements or potencies--that of 'Reflexion,' whereby the Infinite
strives to realize itself in the Finite--that of 'Subsumption,' which is
the striving of the Absolute to return from the Finite to the
Infinite--and that of the 'Indifference-point,' or point of junction of
the two first--were not to be admitted; for is it not clear as the day
that the poles ever persist in remaining apart, the indifference-point
having never been fixed by Schelling?"

In these ways Mr. Stanley and the Professor kept up the conversation
until I and the rest of the company were perfectly involved in dense
mists and fogs, wishing that the sun of simple truth would shine, to
bring us into clear seeing and firm foot-standing. We longed for the day
without a cloud. At last they ceased, and after a brief interval we
found ourselves where we were before they began, with no more knowledge
of the mystical, and no less love to the simplicity of truth spoken in
words of plain meaning and thoughts of undisguised transparency.

XIX. THE WONDERER.--This is a talker with whom one very often meets in
the walks of life. His peculiarity in conversation is the use of the
word _wonder_ in almost every statement he makes and question he asks.
It is a strange peculiarity, and I _wonder_ that he should so frequently
indulge in its use; I _wonder_ that he does not discover some other mode
of expression.

I once met with him at a railway station, and after wishing him the
compliments of the day, almost his first word was, "I _wonder_ how long
my train will be before it starts?" Scarcely had he time to get his
breath, when he said, "I _wonder_ what o'clock it is." I looked at my
watch and told him. Instantly he said, "I _wonder_ whether it rains; I
hope not." I assured him that it did not when I came on the platform;
then he quickly said, "I _wonder_ whether it will rain to-morrow; I hope
not, for I have a long journey to take by coach."

I remember once travelling with a gentleman in a railway carriage
between London and Bristol. Besides him and me there were three or four
more passengers in the compartment, ladies and gentlemen.

Scarcely had we left the Paddington station ere he began _wondering_.

"I _wonder_," said he, "how fast this train goes."

Oh, about forty miles an hour, I replied.

"I _wonder_, does this train stop at Reading?"

I think it does, I answered.

Then whispering in my ear, he said, "I _wonder_ who that old gentleman
is in yon corner of the carriage."

I really do not know; he is a stranger to me, I observed.

After a few minutes' pause, in which he seemed to have indulged a
profound meditation, he again whispered in my ears, saying, "I _wonder_
who that lady is sitting next to you."

I cannot say, I replied.

The train travelled on at a great speed, passing station after station
in rapid succession.

Again he said, "I _wonder_ how fast we are travelling now."

Oh, perhaps sixty miles an hour.

Quickly, he said, "I _wonder_ what station that is we have just passed."

I think it is Swindon.

After a brief pause:--

"I _wonder_ what time this train gets into Bristol."

It is due at ten o'clock.

"I _wonder_ will it be punctual."

Thus he was wondering ever and anon until we reached the Bristol
station, where we parted, he going one way and I another; perhaps he
_wondering_ who I was, and I _wondering_ who he was.

I remember meeting another Wonderer in the house of a friend of mine
with whom I had intended to spend part of the evening.

Scarcely had we been introduced to each other when he said,--

"I _wonder_ whether the Republican or Democrat candidate is elected to
the American Presidency."

That is a matter in which I do not profess to be posted up, I replied.

Then he said, "I _wonder_ how Lord Salisbury is getting on in the

From all the newspaper reports he seems to be getting on very well, I

After a very brief pause, he said, "I _wonder_ whether there will be
war. I _wonder_ whether Russia really means war or peace."

It is exceedingly difficult to say, I observed. Diplomacy is so
involved, so intricate, so uncertain, that no one can say until all
things are really settled.

"I _wonder_," he immediately said, "whether England will go to war."

I cannot say, I answered; I sincerely hope not.

"If there be war, I _wonder_," he said, "which way it would go. I
_wonder_ whether Russia would take Constantinople. I _wonder_ whether
she would crush Turkey. I _wonder_ what the effect would be upon our way
to India. I _wonder_ how Germany and Austria would act in the matter."

After he had done, I said, I _wonder_ what time it is.

He said, "It is eight o'clock."

I must go, I have another engagement at half-past eight. So leaving my
friend's friend in his _wonders_, I retired.

Another Wonderer I met with shortly after the one just named, when the
conversation turned upon the new Bishopric of Cornwall.

"I _wonder_ what effect it will have upon the Methodists."

It will stir them up to duty and diligence, I hope.

"I _wonder_ who will be the Bishop."

I don't know.

"I _wonder_, will he be High Church or Low."

That I cannot say.

"I _wonder_ what he will do when he finds the county so filled with
Methodists and Methodist chapels."

He will find something to do, I said, if he means to put them down.

"I _wonder_ whether he will put them down," he said.

You need not wonder about that, I rejoined.

"I _wonder_ why?"

Wonder why! He may as well try to put down the Cornish hills into plains
or valleys.

The fact is, one can scarcely speak with any one, or enter any company,
but the first utterance he hears is "I wonder."

Persons wonder what the weather will be; they wonder what time it is;
they wonder who is going to preach on Sunday; they wonder what the
preacher's text will be; they wonder what will be for dinner; they
wonder who will be in the company; they wonder who is going to be
married; they wonder who is dead in the next newspaper. In fine, this
_wonder_ is a wonderful word in almost everybody's lips.

I _wonder_ whether some other mode of expression could not be adopted,
which would either be a substitute for it, or somewhat of variation: so
that the _wonderer_ may not be so common a talker in the circles of

But it is one thing to be _always_ wondering, and quite another thing to
wonder occasionally, when the statement made, or question asked, is of
such a nature as to _require_ or to _demand_ a _wonder_. It is possible
to get into the way of wondering so that you will not know when you do
_wonder_. It is supposed that persons only _wonder_ when things of great
surprise and astonishment are heard, such as the fall of stars, the
overthrow of cities by earthquakes, etc. At the reading or hearing of
such things, it seems natural that persons should _wonder_. But why they
should wonder at almost every trivial thing they ask in ordinary
conversation is to me an inexplicable mystery.

There is another use of the word which I had nearly forgotten. In
American society I remember this word is used in the opposite sense to
what it is in this country.

"I have just come from New York by steamboat, and I saw Mr. Bouser on

"Well; I _wonder_!" is the reply.

"I saw the moon in the sky as I came here this evening."

"I _wonder_!" is the answer.

"Do you know I met a little girl of the Sunday-school in the street?"

"I _wonder_!" said a grave-looking lady.

"Mr. and Miss Lane are going to be married next week by Mr. Sparks."

"I really _wonder_!" was the general exclamation of the company,
although they had heard it before at different times.

This wonderer in America is, if possible, more ludicrous than in
England. In both he is ludicrous; and the sooner he changes into some
other form of talker, more sensible, the better.

XX. THE TERMAGANT.--This is a talker chiefly of the female sex; and it
is in this gender we shall give our sketch.

Jemima, the wife of Job Sykes, was a woman of turbulent and fiery
temper; but he was a man calm and self-possessed. Her tongue was as the
pen of a ready-writer, in the rapidity with which it talked, and as the
point of a needle and the edge of a razor in the keenness of its words.
Sometimes she was loud and boisterous, violent and raging, attacking her
prey as a tigress, rather than as a human being. Sometimes she was
snappish, snarling, waspish. Her husband, her children, her servants,
her neighbours, all came in for their share, in their turn, of her
bites, stings, and poisons.

It was, however, poor Job who fell in for the lion's share. Alas for
him! He often found the words of Solomon to be true: "It is better to
dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and angry woman" (Prov.
xxi. 19). As there was no wilderness into which he could fly to escape
the tongue of his dear Jemima, he would fly away into a solitary room,
or into the adjoining garden, or into a neighbour's house, or take a
walk in the lonely road,--anywhere to shelter himself from the fiery
droppings of his termagant spouse.

The least imaginable thing that crossed her will or temper would set
Jemima's tongue-machine a-going; and when once started, it rattled away
like a medley of tin, glass, and stones turned in a churn. It threw out
words like razors, darts, fire-brands, scorpions, wasps, mosquitos,
flying helter-skelter in all directions about the head of poor Job, and
he seldom escaped without wounds which lasted for days together. He has
been known to receive cuts and bruises that have prevented his speaking
to his "darling" for weeks in succession.

Mrs. Caudle's lectures to her husband were mild, entertaining, and
instructive to what Job Sykes received from Mrs. Sykes. Mrs. Caudle, I
think, always addressed her beloved in the evening within curtains, when
he was in such a condition of mind and body as rendered him impervious
to the entrance of her loving words; so that he would even go to sleep
under them, as a babe under the soothing lullaby of its mother. But
Job's dear wife fired away at him anywhere, at any time: night or day,
at home or from home, in company or out of company. Given the least
cause, the attack would begin and be carried on until the ammunition was

As we have said, Job was of a quiet disposition, although firm and never
yielding his place to his "weaker vessel;" and he generally found that
silence or "soft answers" were his best weapons.

And so they are in every such case: and if any one of my readers is
afflicted with a wife like Job Sykes' wife, he will find that his policy
is the wisest to follow.

Sometimes a cure is effected in this talker, and the husband rejoices in
the salvation wrought out for him. Sometimes there is no cure excepting
in the paralysis of death. This, too, is salvation to many hen-pecked
husbands, in which they also rejoice. Such has been the mighty
deliverance accomplished for some, that they have even celebrated it by
appropriate epitaphs on the tombstones of their buried partners. The
following is one said to be at Burlington, Massachusetts:--

  "Sacred to the memory of Anthony Drake,
  Who died for peace and quietness' sake,
  His wife was constantly scolding and scoffing,
  So he sought repose in a twelve dollar coffin."

There is another in Ellon churchyard:--

  "Here lies my wife in earthly mould,
  Who, when she lived, did nought but scold.
  Peace! wake her not, for now she's still;
  She had, but now I have _my_ will."



     "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye
     may know how ye ought to answer every man."--PAUL.

Having devoted the previous pages to sketches of faulty talkers, I
propose in this concluding chapter to give a description of a talker who
may be exhibited as a model for imitation.

As there is but One Model Man in the world, so there is only One Model
Talker. The Apostle James tells us who he is: "If any man offend not in
word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole

But who is the man that offends not in word? Where is he to be found? Is
he not rather an ideal being than a _real_ one? Be he ideal or real, it
may answer some good end to set him forth as far as his ideality or
reality can be apprehended.

It may be well to premise just here that when it is said "he _offends
not in word_," it does not imply that no one ever _takes offence_ at his
word, but that he offends not through any defect in his intention, that
he is not held blamable or responsible for any offence taken at his
word. Not until every _hearer_ is perfect as well as every talker will
offence cease on both sides. Did offence taken by the hearer necessarily
involve offence given by the talker, He of whom it was said, "Never man
spake like this man," would fail to be perfect; yea, even God Himself
would come short of perfection: for how many took offence at the words
of Jesus! and how many are continually offended at the words of the

The following may be given as the outline features of a model talker.
There is only space for an outline.

He endeavours, as far as possible, to ascertain the temper and
disposition of those with whom he talks.

He is cautious how he receives and repeats anything that he hears from
one in whose veracity he has not implicit confidence.

If any one with whom he is talking says anything that is detrimental to
the character and interests of an absent person, he hopes charitably
that it is not true, and avoids circulating it in his conversation or in
other ways.

He does not impose his talk upon others against prudence and propriety.
"He spareth his words in wisdom and understanding" (Prov. xvii. 27).
"Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles"
(Prov. xxi. 23). "He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life" (Prov.
xiii. 3).

No corrupt communication proceeds out of his mouth; no bitterness,
wrath, anger, clamour, evil-speaking, malice; no filthiness nor jesting,
nor blasphemy, nor reviling, nor slander. (See Eph. iv. 29, v. 4; Col.
iii. 8.)

In the presence of fiery temper and enraged passion he says nothing to
add fuel to the flame, but keeps calm and self-possessed.

He never retaliates, or gives reviling for reviling, but
contrariwise--good for evil, blessing for cursing.

He flatters not any one in any way, but speaks the words of truth and
soberness. He is not as the fox in the fable, who commended the singing
of the crow when he wanted something that was in his mouth.

He finds out as far as he can what is the particular _forte_ of
knowledge held by those with whom he talks, and prudently converses upon
it so as to promote mutual edification.

He chooses such words as shall, in the clearest, truest, and most
effective way, embody his thoughts and sentiments.

He speaks the truth in everything, everywhere, and to every one, without
equivocation, prevarication, or unjust hyperbolism.

He avoids all affectation as a thing of the mountebank or pantomime, and
appears himself without a Jezebel's paint or a Jacob's clothing, so that
you may know at once who he is, what he says, and what he means.

He reverences God and Truth, avoiding as demoniacal all profane
swearing, cursing, blasphemy, scoffing, and jeering.

He modulates his voice to suit the company, the subject, and the place
where he talks.

He does not interrupt another in his talk, unless it is immoral, but
hears him through, that he may the better understand him.

He accustoms himself to think before he speaks. As Zeno advises, he dips
his tongue in his mind before he allows it to talk. It is said that a
fool thinks _after_ he has spoken, and a wise man _before_.

He does not pry with a curious and inquisitive spirit into the affairs
of others. If they are wise not to reveal, he is wise not to inquire.

He is no blabber, to divulge secrets committed to his bosom for security
by confiding friendship.

He speaks not evil of the absent, unless in case of self-defence, or as
a witness, or in vindication of righteousness and truth; and when he
does, he adheres closely to fact, and evinces the absence of envy,
malice, or vindictiveness in his motives.

He guards against the exhibition of his own wisdom, knowledge, goodness,
as a boaster or egotist. He is no more a self-flatterer than a flatterer
of others.

He does not mark the failings of those who talk with him or around him
in company, and take them up in carping criticism or biting ridicule.

He does not dogmatize, wrangle, quibble, as though he was an autocrat or
a pugilist. He thinks and lets think. He is as willing for others to
talk their views in their way as he wishes them to be willing that he
should do the same.

He is no censor or grumbler. He remembers that he shall be judged, and
judges not others. In everything he gives thanks. If things and persons
are not as he thinks they should be, he tries to make them better,
rather than spend his words and time in useless complaining.

He is no willow to bend before every breeze of opinion, nor an oak to
stand unmoved in every change of the intellectual atmosphere. He
maintains his conscientious convictions with manly dignity and
independence, but not with a dogged tenacity which snaps at every
resistance, and holds on simply because he will.

He blends the grave and joyous in his conversation. He is neither a
jester nor a hermit; neither a misanthrope nor a fool. "Sorrowful, yet
alway rejoicing," he "weeps with them that weep, and rejoices with them
that rejoice." He is like the heavens; he has sunshine and cloud, each
in its season, seemly, appropriate, useful.

       "Though life's valley be a vale of tears,
  A brighter scene beyond that vale appears,
  Whose glory, with a light that never fades,
  Shoots between scattered rocks and opening shades;
  And while it shows the land the soul desires,
  The language of the land she seeks inspires.
  Thus touched, the tongue receives a sacred cure
  Of all that was absurd, profane, impure;
  Held within modest bounds, the tide of speech
  Pursues the course that Truth and Nature teach;
  No longer labours merely to produce
  The pomp of sound or tinkle without use;
  Where'er it winds, the salutary stream,
  Sprightly and fresh, enriches every theme,
  While all the happy man possessed before,
  The gift of nature, or the classic store,
  Is made subservient to the grand design
  For which heaven formed the faculty divine.
  So, should an idiot, while at large he strays,
  Find the sweet lyre on which an artist plays,
  With rash and awkward force the chords he shakes,
  And grins with wonder at the jar he makes;
  But let the wise and well-instructed hand
  Once take the shell beneath his just command:
  In gentle sounds it seems as it complained
  Of the rude injuries it late sustained,
  Till, tuned at length to some immortal song,
  It sounds Jehovah's name, and pours His praise along."

Such is my model talker. Another hand may have drawn a different one:
perhaps much better, _or_ perhaps much worse.

Some, in looking at him, may be disposed to think that he is too
antiquated, too precise, too spiritual, too scripturified; not enough
broadness, strength, liberty. Before this judgment is formed, let there
be a further examination of the entire character.

"But it is all very well to give an ideal picture. We want the reality,
and where can he be found?" That is perfectly true. The _reality_ is
wanted in every family, society, church, and nation in the wide world.
My reader, do you see and approve the ideal? Then aim at the _reality_,
and to be the first model human talker that has ever lived in this
Babel-talking world. Mark well the failings of others in the use of
their tongues, and strive to avoid them in your own. A heart and head
united in being right will do almost everything in making the tongue
right. When the interior of a watch is in order, it will generally
indicate the right time: when a man in the belfry wisely pulls the rope
attached to a bell, it will give a proper sound: when a musician is
perfect in his art, and his instrument in tune, the music he plays will
agree thereto. So, reader, is it with the tongue, when the "man of the
head and heart" are perfect in Christ Jesus. Seek, and obtain this, and
you will be among those who "OFFEND NOT IN WORD."

  "What! never speak one evil word,
    Or rash, or idle, or unkind?
  O how shall I, most gracious Lord,
    This mark of true perfection find?

  Thy sinless mind in me reveal,
    Thy Spirit's plenitude of grace;
  And all my spoken words shall tell
    The fulness of a loving heart."


Printed by Hazell, Watson, and Viney, London and Aylesbury.




_Revised and Enlarged, 8vo, cloth, 12s. 6d.; half morocco, 18s.; whole
morocco, elegant, 25s._


Definitions, Metaphors, Synonymes, Contrasts, Analogies, Statistics,
Anecdotes, etc.

_Designed for the Pulpit, the Platform, the School, and the Family:
selected from Authors Ancient and Modern._

The following particulars may be mentioned as the peculiar features of
this work:--

I. =Arrangement=: The subjects are consecutively and analytically placed,
so that the illustrations desired can at once be found by a reference to
the letters beginning the proper word of the subject. Each illustration
has over it the precise subject, as near as could be ascertained, for
which it was intended by the author, forming in itself a thought upon
the general subject.

II. =Comprehensiveness=: Scarcely any point within the compass of theology
and morals, in all their phases and relations, is omitted. There is from
one to ninety or a hundred illustrations on each general subject. The
work contains between SIX AND SEVEN THOUSAND ILLUSTRATIONS, gathered

III. =Newness of Illustration=: The greater proportion of the matter has
never appeared before the public, apart from the respective authors.
There is also a variety of _original_ illustrations, for the first time
appearing in print.

_Clergymen of the Church of England, Ministers of all Denominations, Lay
Preachers, Sunday School Teachers, and all purchasers, have testified to
the excellence of this work, as well as the press in England and
America. The fact that the_ =Eighth Edition= _has been called for in so
short a time is a sufficient recommendation of its worth and


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to indicate
both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as
presented in the original text.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "Misanthorpe" corrected to "Misanthrope" (page xiv)
  "scorcerer" corrected to "sorcerer" (page 103)
  "acquiantances" corrected to "acquaintances" (page 175)
  "anbody" corrected to "anybody" (page 200)
  "I I" corrected to "I" (page 209)
  "or" corrected to "to" (page 238) -- or the deaf or hear?
  "a a" corrected to "a" (page 269)
  "suggusts" corrected to "suggests"(page 290)
  "meer" corrected to "mere" (page 308)
  "Rupublican" corrected to "Republican" (page 322)
  "is is" corrected to "is" (page 328)

Other than the corrections listed above, printer's inconsistencies in
spelling, punctuation, and hyphenation usage have been retained.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Talkers - With Illustrations" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.