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this or that, often act like an inward slow-corroding canker in the minds of some who have never read or heard anything distinct on the subject; and who, for that very reason, are apt to imagine these objections, &c., to be much more formidable than they really are. For there are people of perverse mind, who, really possessing both learning and ingenuity, will employ these to dress up in a plausible form something which is, in truth, perfectly silly: and the degree to which this is sometimes done, is what no one can easily conceive without actual experience and examination.
'It is, therefore, often useful, in dealing even with the unlearned, to take notice of groundless and fanciful theories and interpretations, contained in books which probably most of them will never see, and which some of them perhaps will never even hear of; because many persons are a good deal influenced by reports, and obscure rumours, of the opinions of some supposed learned man, without knowing distinctly what they are; and are likely to be made uneasy and distrustful by being assured that this or that has been disputed, and so and so maintained, by some person of superior knowledge and talents, who has proceeded on 'rational' grounds; when, perhaps, they themselves are qualified by their own plain sense to perceive how er-rational these fanciful notions are, and to form a right judgment on the matters in question.
'Suppose you were startled in a dark night by something that looked like a spectre in a winding-sheet,—would not he who should bring a lantern, and show you that it was nothing but a white cloth hanging on a bush, give you far betteu encouragement than he who merely exhorted you to 'look another way, keep up your heart, whistle, and pass on ?''
No avowedly antichristian advocate is half so dangerous as those professed believers who deprecate and deride all study of evidence,—all endeavour to 'prove all things, and hold fast that which is good,' and to be always 'ready t» give a reason of the Lope that is in us.'1
1 See Elements of I-mgic, Appendix iii.
ESSAY XXXII. OF DISCOURSE.
SOME in their discourse desire rather commendation of wit, in being able to hold all arguments, than of judgment, in discerning what is true; as if it were a praise to know what might be said, and not what should be thought. Some have certain commonplaces and themes, wherein they are good, and want variety; which kind of poverty is for the most part tedious, and, when it is once perceived, ridiculous. The honourablest part of the talk is to give the occasion; and again to moderate,1 and pass to somewhat else; for then a man leads the dance. It is good in discourse, and speech of conversation, to vary, and intermingle speech of the present occasion with arguments, tales with reasons, asking of questions with telling of opinions, and jest with earnest; for it is a dull thing to tire, and as we say now, to jade2 anything too far. As for jest there be certain things which ought to be privileged from it—namely, reb'gion, matters of state, great persons, any man's present business of importance, and any case that deserveth pity; yet there be some that think their wits have been asleep, except they dart out somewhat that is piquant, and ,to the quick—that is a vein which would be bridled:—
'Paree puer stimuli?, et fortius utere loris,'J
And, generally, men ought to find the difference between saltness and bitterness. Certainly, he that hath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of his wit, so he had need be afraid of others' memory. He that questioneth much shall learn much, and content much, but especially if he apply his questions to the skill of the persons whom he asketh, for he shall give them occasion to please themselves in speaking, and himself shall continually gather knowledge; but let his questions not be troublesome, for that is fit for a poser; * and let him be sure to leave other men their turns to speak—nay, if there be any that would reign and take up all the time, let him find means to take them off, and bring others on, as musicians used to do with those that dance too long galliards.1
1 Moderate. Regulate. Those who presided at University-disputations Tob called Moderator).
2 Jade. To over-ride or drive.
'I do not now fool myself to let imagination Jade me.'—Shakespere. 3 'Boy, spare the spur, and more tightly hold the reins.'—Ovid. Met. ii. 127. 4 Poser. Examiner. (From pose, to interrogate closely.) 'She posed him, sod sifted him to try whether he were the very Duke of York or not.'—Bacon's ifwy VII.
If you dissemble sometimes your knowledge of that3 you are thought to know, you shall be thought, another time, to know that you know not. Speech of a man's self ought to be seldom, and well chosen. I knew one 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 a good grace, and that is in commending virtue in another, especially if it be such a virtue whereunto himself pretendeth.3 Speech of touch4 towards others should be sparingly used; for discourse ought to be as a field, without coming home to any man. I knew two noblemen, of the west part of England, whereof the one was given to scoff, but kept ever royal cheer in his house; the other would ask of those that had been at the other's table, 'Tell truly, was there never a flout5 or dry blow given?' To which the guest would answer, 'Such and such a thing passed.' The lord would say, 'I thought he would mar a good dinner.'
Discretion of speech is more than eloquence; and to speak agreeably6 to him with whom we deal, is more than to speak in good words or in good order. A good continued speech, without a good speech of interlocution, shows slowness; and a good reply, or second speech, without a good settled speech, showeth shallowness and weakness. As we see in beasts, that those that are weakest in the course, are yet nimblest in the turn; as it is betwixt the greyhound and the hare. To use too many circumstances' ere* one come to the matter, is wearisome; to use none at all, is blunt.
1 Galliard. A sprightly dance.
'Gay galliards here my love shall dance.
Whilst I my foes goe fighte.'—.Fair Rosamond.
J That . What; that which. See page 83.
* Pretend to. Lay claim to. 'Those countries that pretend to freedom.'—Swift.
* Touch. Particular application. 'Dr. Parker, in his sermon before them, touched them for their being so near that they went near to touch him for his life.'— Haytoard.
* Flout. Jeer; taunt; gibe.
'These doors are barred against a bitter flout; Snarl if you please; but you shall snarl without.'—Dryden. 'Full of comparisons and wounding flouts.'—Shakespere. 8 Agreeably. In a manner suited.
Among the many just and admirable remarks in this essay on ' Discourse,' Bacon does not notice the distinction—which is an important one—between those who speak because they tckh to say something, and those who speak because they have something to say: that is, between those who are aiming at displaying their own knowledge or ability, and those who speak from fulness of matter, and are thinking only of the matter, and not of themselves and the opinion that will be formed of them. This latter, Bishop Butler calls (in reference to writings) 'a man's writing with simplicity, and in earnest.' It is curious to observe how much more agreeable is even inferior conversation of this latter description, and how it is preferred by many,—they know not why—who are not accustomed to analyse their own feelings, or to inquire why they like or dislike.
Something nearly coinciding with the above distinction, is that which some draw between an 'unconscious' and a 'conscious' maimer; only that the latter extends to persons who are not courting applause, but anxiously guarding against censure. By a 'conscious' manner is meant, in short, a continual thought about oneself, and about what the company will think of us. The continual effort and watchful care on the part of the speaker, either to obtain approbation, or at least to avoid disapprobation, always communicates itself, in a certain degree, to the hearers.
Some draw a distinction, again, akin to the above, between the desire to phase, and the desire to give pleasure; meaning by the former, an anxiety to obtain for yourself the good opinion of those yon converse with, and by the other, the wish to gratify
1 Circumstances. Non-essential ],articul<irs; adjuncts.
'This peroration, with such circumstance.'—Shakespere. 5 Ere. Before. 'The nobleman said uuto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.'—John iv. 49.
Aristotle, again, draws the distinction between the Eiron and the Bomolochus,—that the former seems to throw out his wit for his own amusement, and the other for that of the company. It is this latter, however, that is really the ' conscious' speaker; because he is evidently seeking to obtain credit as a wit by his diversion of the company. The word seems nearly to answer to what we call a ' wag.' The other is letting out his good things merely from his own fulness.
When that which has been called 'consciousness' is combined with great timidity, it constitutes what we call 'shyness;' a thing disagreeable to others, and a most intense torture to the subject of it .
There are many (otherwise) sensible people who seek to cure a young person of that very common complaint, by exhorting him not to be shy,—telling him what an awkward appearance it has,—and that it prevents his doing himself justice, &c. All which is manifestly pouring oil on the fire to quench it. For, the very cause of shyness is an over-anxiety as to what people are thinking of you; a morbid attention to your own appearance. The course, therefore, that ought to be pursued is exactly the reverse. The sufferer should be exhorted to think as little as possible about himself, and the opinion formed of him,—to be assured that most of the company do not trouble their heads about him,—and to harden him against any impertinent criticisms that may be supposed to be going on,— taking care only to do what is right, leaving others to think and say what they will.
And the more intensely occupied any one is with the subjectmatter of what he is saying—the business itself that he is engaged in,—the less will his thoughts be turned on himself, and what others think of him.
A. was, as a youth, most distressingly bashful. After he had taken Orders, he was staying at a friend's house, where there was also another clergyman, who was to preach, and who remarked to him how nervous he always felt in preaching in a strange church,—asking whether the other did not feel the same. Perhaps he expected to be complimented on his modesty; but A. replied, 'I never allow myself to feel nervous in preaching;