Friday, June 17, 2016

Milling to music | Micro Socratic Seminar

Musical Mingle and Milling to music: Play a song and let students mingle and share their class work, thinking, feelings, reflections or even homework in a fun way that gets students to interact. Musical Mingle or Milling to music is a great strategy for a quick brain break to practice conversation skills. Playing songs and giving students time move around the classroom and share ideas gives the teacher time to check for engagement and understating. Students will be re-energized and it gives reticent students or English Language Learners time to practice conversation skills. Extensions: As the music is playing, students move or dance around the room sharing something with their partner, partners take a bow or a curtsey and then move on. Have students share with a minimum of three peers.  

Procedure
Teacher: pick a topic for students to discuss or share and explain the Milling to Music logistics.
1. Teacher: Share a question with the whole class.
2. Teacher: Play a song students like and can dance to.
3. Students: As the music plays, students walk or dance around the room.
4. Teacher: Stop the music.
5. Teacher: Repeat the question for the class and Bow or Curtsey to the class and thank them, asks students to have a Polite Conversation about the topic!
6. Student: Bows or Curtsey to the teacher and the students find a partner, and discuss the answer to the questions posed.
7. Repeat for a few rounds.

Rules for a polite conversation! Conversation is a sine quâ non of polite society.

Excerpt: GENTLEMEN’S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE Conversation 1860

1. To be a good listener is as indispensable as to be a good speaker.
2. Scholars of real intelligence and cultivated mind, is generally modest.
3. Never, unless you are requested to do so, speak of your own accomplishments.
4. Make your own share in conversation as modest and brief as is consistent with the subject under consideration.
5. The most important requisite for a good conversational power is education.

THE
GENTLEMEN’S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE,
AND
MANUAL OF POLITENESS;

BEING

A COMPLETE GUIDE FOR A GENTLEMAN’S CONDUCT IN ALL
HIS RELATIONS TOWARDS SOCIETY.
CONTAINING

RULES FOR THE ETIQUETTE TO BE OBSERVED IN THE STREET, AT
TABLE, IN THE BALL ROOM, EVENING PARTY, AND MORNING
CALL; WITH FULL DIRECTIONS FOR POLITE CORRESPONDENCE,
DRESS, CONVERSATION, MANLY EXERCISES,
AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
FROM THE BEST FRENCH, ENGLISH, AND AMERICAN AUTHORITIES.
BY
CECIL B. HARTLEY.
BOSTON:
G. W. COTTRELL, PUBLISHER,
36 Cornhill.
Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by
G. G. EVANS,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


CHAPTER I.
CONVERSATION.

One of the first rules for a guide in polite conversation, is to avoid political or religious discussions in general society. Such discussions lead almost invariably to irritating differences of opinion, often to open quarrels, and a coolness of feeling which might have been avoided by dropping the distasteful subject as soon as marked differences of opinion arose. It is but one out of many that can discuss either political or religious differences, with candor and judgment, and yet so far control his language and temper as to avoid either giving or taking offence.

In their place, in circles which have met for such discussions, in a tête à tête conversation, in a small party of gentlemen where each is ready courteously to listen to the others, politics may be discussed with perfect propriety, but in the drawing-room, at the dinner-table, or in the society of ladies, these topics are best avoided.

If you are drawn into such a discussion without intending to be so, be careful that your individual opinion{12} does not lead you into language and actions unbecoming a gentleman. Listen courteously to those whose opinions do not agree with yours, and keep your temper. A man in a passion ceases to be a gentleman.

Even if convinced that your opponent is utterly wrong, yield gracefully, decline further discussion, or dextrously turn the conversation, but do not obstinately defend your own opinion until you become angry, or more excited than is becoming to a gentleman.

Many there are who, giving their opinion, not as an opinion but as a law, will defend their position by such phrases, as: “Well, if I were president, or governor, I would,” &c.—and while by the warmth of their argument they prove that they are utterly unable to govern their own temper, they will endeavor to persuade you that they are perfectly competent to take charge of the government of the nation.

Retain, if you will, a fixed political opinion, yet do not parade it upon all occasions, and, above all, do not endeavor to force others to agree with you. Listen calmly to their ideas upon the same subjects, and if you cannot agree, differ politely, and while your opponent may set you down as a bad politician, let him be obliged to admit that you are a gentleman.

Wit and vivacity are two highly important ingredients in the conversation of a man in polite society, yet a straining for effect, or forced wit, is in excessively bad taste. There is no one more insupportable in society than the everlasting talkers who scatter puns, witticisms, and jokes with so profuse a hand that they become as tiresome as a comic newspaper, and whose loud laugh at{13} their own wit drowns other voices which might speak matter more interesting. The really witty man does not shower forth his wit so indiscriminately; his charm consists in wielding his powerful weapon delicately and easily, and making each highly polished witticism come in the right place and moment to be effectual. While real wit is a most delightful gift, and its use a most charming accomplishment, it is, like many other bright weapons, dangerous to use too often. You may wound where you meant only to amuse, and remarks which you mean only in for general applications, may be construed into personal affronts, so, if you have the gift, use it wisely, and not too freely.

The most important requisite for a good conversational power is education, and, by this is meant, not merely the matter you may store in your memory from observation or books, though this is of vast importance, but it also includes the developing of the mental powers, and, above all, the comprehension. An English writer says, “A man should be able, in order to enter into conversation, to catch rapidly the meaning of anything that is advanced; for instance, though you know nothing of science, you should not be obliged to stare and be silent, when a man who does understand it is explaining a new discovery or a new theory; though you have not read a word of Blackstone, your comprehensive powers should be sufficiently acute to enable you to take in the statement that may be made of a recent cause; though you may not have read some particular book, you should be capable of appreciating the criticism which you hear of it. Without such power—simple enough, and easily attained{14} by attention and practice, yet too seldom met with in general society—a conversation which departs from the most ordinary topics cannot be maintained without the risk of lapsing into a lecture; with such power, society becomes instructive as well as amusing, and you have no remorse at an evening’s end at having wasted three or four hours in profitless banter, or simpering platitudes. This facility of comprehension often startles us in some women, whose education we know to have been poor, and whose reading is limited. If they did not rapidly receive your ideas, they could not, therefore, be fit companions for intellectual men, and it is, perhaps, their consciousness of a deficiency which leads them to pay the more attention to what you say. It is this which makes married women so much more agreeable to men of thought than young ladies, as a rule, can be, for they are accustomed to the society of a husband, and the effort to be a companion to his mind has engrafted the habit of attention and ready reply.”

The same author says: “No less important is the cultivation of taste. If it is tiresome and deadening to be with people who cannot understand, and will not even appear to be interested in your better thoughts, it is almost repulsive to find a man insensible to all beauty, and immovable by any horror.

“In the present day an acquaintance with art, even if you have no love for it, is a sine quâ non of good society. Music and painting are subjects which will be discussed in every direction around you. It is only in bad society that people go to the opera, concerts, and art-exhibitions merely because it is the fashion, or to say{15} they have been there; and if you confessed to such a weakness in really good society, you would be justly voted a puppy. For this, too, some book knowledge is indispensable. You should at least know the names of the more celebrated artists, composers, architects, sculptors, and so forth, and should be able to approximate their several schools.

“So too, you should know pretty accurately the pronunciation of celebrated names, or, if not, take care not to use them. It will never do to be ignorant of the names and approximate ages of great composers, especially in large cities, where music is so highly appreciated and so common a theme. It will be decidedly condemnatory if you talk of the new opera ‘Don Giovanni,’ or Rossini’s ‘Trovatore,’ or are ignorant who composed ‘Fidelio,’ and in what opera occur such common pieces as ‘Ciascun lo dice,’ or ‘Il segreto.’ I do not say that these trifles are indispensable, and when a man has better knowledge to offer, especially with genius or ‘cleverness’ to back it, he will not only be pardoned for an ignorance of them, but can even take a high tone, and profess indifference or contempt of them. But, at the same time, such ignorance stamps an ordinary man, and hinders conversation. On the other hand the best society will not endure dilettantism, and, whatever the knowledge a man may possess of any art, he must not display it so as to make the ignorance of others painful to them. But this applies to every topic. To have only one or two subjects to converse on, and to discourse rather than talk on them, is always ill-bred, whether the theme be literature or horseflesh. The gentleman jockey{16} will probably denounce the former as a ‘bore,’ and call us pedants for dwelling on it; but if, as is too often the case, he can give us nothing more general than the discussion of the ‘points’ of a horse that, perhaps, we have never seen, he is as great a pedant in his way.

“Reason plays a less conspicuous part in good society because its frequenters are too reasonable to be mere reasoners. A disputation is always dangerous to temper, and tedious to those who cannot feel as eager as the disputants; a discussion, on the other hand, in which every body has a chance of stating amicably and unobtrusively his or her opinion, must be of frequent occurrence. But to cultivate the reason, besides its high moral value, has the advantage of enabling one to reply as well as attend to the opinions of others. Nothing is more tedious or disheartening than a perpetual, ‘Yes, just so,’ and nothing more. Conversation must never be one-sided. Then, again, the reason enables us to support a fancy or an opinion, when we are asked why we think so. To reply, ‘I don’t know, but still I think so,’ is silly and tedious.

“But there is a part of our education so important and so neglected in our schools and colleges, that it cannot be too highly impressed on the young man who proposes to enter society. I mean that which we learn first of all things, yet often have not learned fully when death eases us of the necessity—the art of speaking our own language. What can Greek and Latin, French and German be for us in our every-day life, if we have not acquired this? We are often encouraged to raise a laugh at Doctor Syntax and the tyranny of Grammar,{17} but we may be certain that more misunderstandings, and, therefore, more difficulties arise between men in the commonest intercourse from a want of grammatical precision than from any other cause. It was once the fashion to neglect grammar, as it now is with certain people to write illegibly, and, in the days of Goethe, a man thought himself a genius if he could spell badly.

“Precision and accuracy must begin in the very outset; and if we neglect them in grammar, we shall scarcely acquire them in expressing our thoughts. But since there is no society without interchange of thought, and since the best society is that in which the best thoughts are interchanged in the best and most comprehensible manner, it follows that a proper mode of expressing ourselves is indispensable in good society.

“The art of expressing one’s thoughts neatly and suitably is one which, in the neglect of rhetoric as a study, we must practice for ourselves. The commonest thought well put is more useful in a social point of view, than the most brilliant idea jumbled out. What is well expressed is easily seized, and therefore readily responded to; the most poetic fancy may be lost to the hearer, if the language which conveys it is obscure. Speech is the gift which distinguishes man from animals, and makes society possible. He has but a poor appreciation of his high privilege as a human being, who neglects to cultivate, ‘God’s great gift of speech.’

“As I am not writing for men of genius, but for ordinary beings, I am right to state that an indispensable part of education is a knowledge of the literature of the English language. But how to read, is, for{18} society more important than what we read. The man who takes up nothing but a newspaper, but reads it to think, to deduct conclusions from its premises, and form a judgment on its opinions, is more fitted for society than he, who having all the current literature and devoting his whole time to its perusal, swallows it all without digestion. In fact, the mind must be treated like the body, and however great its appetite, it will soon fall into bad health if it gorges, but does not ruminate. At the same time an acquaintance with the best current literature is necessary to modern society, and it is not sufficient to have read a book without being able to pass a judgment upon it. Conversation on literature is impossible, when your respondent can only say, ‘Yes. I like the book, but I really don’t know why.’

“An acquaintance with old English literature is not perhaps indispensable, but it gives a man great advantage in all kinds of society, and in some he is at a constant loss without it. The same may be said of foreign literature, which in the present day is almost as much discussed as our own; but, on the other hand, an acquaintance with home and foreign politics, with current history, and subjects of passing interest, is absolutely necessary; and a person of sufficient intelligence to join in good society, cannot dispense with his daily newspaper, his literary journal, and the principal reviews and magazines. The cheapness of every kind of literature, the facilities of our well stored circulating libraries, our public reading rooms, and numerous excellent lectures on every possible subject, leave no excuse to poor or rich for an ignorance of any of the topics discussed in{19} intellectual society. You may forget your Latin, Greek, French, German, and Mathematics, but if you frequent good company, you will never be allowed to forget that you are a citizen of the world.”

A man of real intelligence and cultivated mind, is generally modest. He may feel when in every day society, that in intellectual acquirements he is above those around him; but he will not seek to make his companions feel their inferiority, nor try to display this advantage over them. He will discuss with frank simplicity the topics started by others, and endeavor to avoid starting such as they will not feel inclined to discuss. All that he says will be marked by politeness and deference to the feelings and opinions of others.

La Bruyere says, “The great charm of conversation consists less in the display of one’s own wit and intelligence, than in the power to draw forth the resources of others; he who leaves you after a long conversation, pleased with himself and the part he has taken in the discourse, will be your warmest admirer. Men do not care to admire you, they wish you to be pleased with them; they do not seek for instruction or even amusement from your discourse, but they do wish you to be made acquainted with their talents and powers of conversation; and the true man of genius will delicately make all who come in contact with him, feel the exquisite satisfaction of knowing that they have appeared to advantage.”

Having admitted the above to be an incontestable fact, you will also see that it is as great an accomplishment{20} to listen with an air of interest and attention, as it is to speak well.

To be a good listener is as indispensable as to be a good talker, and it is in the character of listener that you can most readily detect the man who is accustomed to good society. Nothing is more embarrassing to any one who is speaking, than to perceive signs of weariness or inattention in the person whom he addresses.

Never interrupt any one who is speaking; it is quite as rude to officiously supply a name or date about which another hesitates, unless you are asked to do so. Another gross breach of etiquette, is to anticipate the point of a story which another person is reciting, or to take it from his lips to finish it in your own language. Some persons plead as an excuse for this breach of etiquette, that the reciter was spoiling a good story by a bad manner, but this does not mend the matter. It is surely rude to give a man to understand that you do not consider him capable of finishing an anecdote that he has commenced.

It is ill-bred to put on an air of weariness during a long speech from another person, and quite as rude to look at a watch, read a letter, flirt the leaves of a book, or in any other action show that you are tired of the speaker or his subject.

In a general conversation, never speak when another person is speaking, and never try by raising your own voice to drown that of another. Never assume an air of haughtiness, or speak in a dictatorial manner; let your conversation be always amiable and frank, free from every affectation.

{21}Put yourself on the same level as the person to whom you speak, and under penalty of being considered a pedantic idiot, refraining from explaining any expression or word that you may use.

Never, unless you are requested to do so, speak of your own business or profession in society; to confine your conversation entirely to the subject or pursuit which is your own speciality is low-bred and vulgar.

Make the subject for conversation suit the company in which you are placed. Joyous, light conversation will be at times as much out of place, as a sermon would be at a dancing party. Let your conversation be grave or gay as suits the time or place.

In a dispute, if you cannot reconcile the parties, withdraw from them. You will surely make one enemy, perhaps two, by taking either side, in an argument when the speakers have lost their temper.

Never gesticulate in every day conversation, unless you wish to be mistaken for a fifth rate comedian.

Never ask any one who is conversing with you to repeat his words. Nothing is ruder than to say, “Pardon me, will you repeat that sentence—I did not hear you at first,” and thus imply that your attention was wandering when he first spoke.

Never, during a general conversation, endeavor to concentrate the attention wholly upon yourself. It is quite as rude to enter into conversation with one of a group, and endeavor to draw him out of the circle of general conversation to talk with you alone.

Never listen to the conversation of two persons who have thus withdrawn from a group. If they are so near{22} you that you cannot avoid hearing them, you may, with perfect propriety, change your seat.

Make your own share in conversation as modest and brief as is consistent with the subject under consideration, and avoid long speeches and tedious stories. If, however, another, particularly an old man, tells a long story, or one that is not new to you, listen respectfully until he has finished, before you speak again.

Speak of yourself but little. Your friends will find out your virtues without forcing you to tell them, and you may feel confident that it is equally unnecessary to expose your faults yourself.

If you submit to flattery, you must also submit to the imputation of folly and self-conceit.

In speaking of your friends, do not compare them, one with another. Speak of the merits of each one, but do not try to heighten the virtues of one by contrasting them with the vices of another.

No matter how absurd are the anecdotes that may be told in your presence, you must never give any sign of incredulity. They may be true; and even if false, good breeding forces you to hear them with polite attention, and the appearance of belief. To show by word or sign any token of incredulity, is to give the lie to the narrator, and that is an unpardonable insult.

Avoid, in conversation all subjects which can injure the absent. A gentleman will never calumniate or listen to calumny.

Need I say that no gentleman will ever soil his mouth with an oath. Above all, to swear in a drawing-room or before ladies is not only indelicate and vulgar in the{23}extreme, but evinces a shocking ignorance of the rules of polite society and good breeding.

For a long time the world has adopted a certain form of speech which is used in good society, and which changing often, is yet one of the distinctive marks of a gentleman. A word or even a phrase which has been used among the most refined circles, will, sometimes, by a sudden freak of fashion, from being caricatured in a farce or song, or from some other cause, go entirely out of use. Nothing but habitual intercourse with people of refinement and education, and mingling in general society, will teach a gentleman what words to use and what to avoid. Yet there are some words which are now entirely out of place in a parlor.

Avoid a declamatory style; some men, before speaking, will wave their hands as if commanding silence, and, having succeeded in obtaining the attention of the company, will speak in a tone, and style, perfectly suitable for the theatre or lecture room, but entirely out of place in a parlor. Such men entirely defeat the object of society, for they resent interruption, and, as their talk flows in a constant stream, no one else can speak without interrupting the pompous idiot who thus endeavors to engross the entire attention of the circle around him.

This character will be met with constantly, and generally joins to the other disagreeable traits an egotism as tiresome as it is ill-bred.

The wittiest man becomes tedious and ill-bred when he endeavors to engross entirely the attention of the company in which he should take a more modest part.

Avoid set phrases, and use quotations but rarely.{24} They sometimes make a very piquant addition to conversation, but when they become a constant habit, they are exceedingly tedious, and in bad taste.

Avoid pedantry; it is a mark, not of intelligence, but stupidity.

Speak your own language correctly; at the same time do not be too great a stickler for formal correctness of phrases.

Never notice it if others make mistakes in language. To notice by word or look such errors in those around you, is excessively ill-bred.

Vulgar language and slang, though in common, unfortunately too common use, are unbecoming in any one who pretends to be a gentleman. Many of the words heard now in the parlor and drawing-room, derive their origin from sources which a gentleman would hesitate to mention before ladies, yet he will make daily use of the offensive word or phrase.

If you are a professional or scientific man, avoid the use of technical terms. They are in bad taste, because many will not understand them. If, however, you unconsciously use such a term or phrase, do not then commit the still greater error of explaining its meaning. No one will thank you for thus implying their ignorance.

In conversing with a foreigner who speaks imperfect English, listen with strict attention, yet do not supply a word, or phrase, if he hesitates. Above all, do not by a word or gesture show impatience if he makes pauses or blunders. If you understand his language, say so when you first speak to him; this is not making a display of your own knowledge, but is a kindness, as a foreigner{25} will be pleased to hear and speak his own language when in a strange country.

Be careful in society never to play the part of buffoon, for you will soon become known as the “funny” man of the party, and no character is so perilous to your dignity as a gentleman. You lay yourself open to both censure and ridicule, and you may feel sure that, for every person who laughs with you, two are laughing at you, and for one who admires you, two will watch your antics with secret contempt.

Avoid boasting. To speak of your money, connections, or the luxuries at your command is in very bad taste. It is quite as ill-bred to boast of your intimacy with distinguished people. If their names occur naturally in the course of conversation, it is very well; but to be constantly quoting, “my friend, Gov. C——,” or “my intimate friend, the president,” is pompous and in bad taste.

While refusing the part of jester yourself, do not, by stiff manners, or cold, contemptuous looks, endeavor to check the innocent mirth of others. It is in excessively bad taste to drag in a grave subject of conversation when pleasant, bantering talk is going on around you. Join in pleasantly and forget your graver thoughts for the time, and you will win more popularity than if you chill the merry circle or turn their innocent gayety to grave discussions.

When thrown into the society of literary people, do not question them about their works. To speak in terms of admiration of any work to the author is in bad taste; but you may give pleasure, if, by a quotation from{26} their writings, or a happy reference to them, you prove that you have read and appreciated them.

It is extremely rude and pedantic, when engaged in general conversation, to make quotations in a foreign language.

To use phrases which admit of a double meaning, is ungentlemanly, and, if addressed to a lady, they become positively insulting.

If you find you are becoming angry in a conversation, either turn to another subject or keep silence. You may utter, in the heat of passion, words which you would never use in a calmer moment, and which you would bitterly repent when they were once said.

“Never talk of ropes to a man whose father was hanged” is a vulgar but popular proverb. Avoid carefully subjects which may be construed into personalities, and keep a strict reserve upon family matters. Avoid, if you can, seeing the skeleton in your friend’s closet, but if it is paraded for your special benefit, regard it as a sacred confidence, and never betray your knowledge to a third party.

If you have traveled, although you will endeavor to improve your mind in such travel, do not be constantly speaking of your journeyings. Nothing is more tiresome than a man who commences every phrase with, “When I was in Paris,” or, “In Italy I saw——.”

When asking questions about persons who are not known to you, in a drawing-room, avoid using adjectives; or you may enquire of a mother, “Who is that awkward, ugly girl?” and be answered, “Sir, that is my daughter.”

{27}Avoid gossip; in a woman it is detestable, but in a man it is utterly despicable.

Do not officiously offer assistance or advice in general society. Nobody will thank you for it.

Ridicule and practical joking are both marks of a vulgar mind and low breeding.

Avoid flattery. A delicate compliment is permissible in conversation, but flattery is broad, coarse, and to sensible people, disgusting. If you flatter your superiors, they will distrust you, thinking you have some selfish end; if you flatter ladies, they will despise you, thinking you have no other conversation.

A lady of sense will feel more complimented if you converse with her upon instructive, high subjects, than if you address to her only the language of compliment. In the latter case she will conclude that you consider her incapable of discussing higher subjects, and you cannot expect her to be pleased at being considered merely a silly, vain person, who must be flattered into good humor.

Avoid the evil of giving utterance to inflated expressions and remarks in common conversation.

It is a somewhat ungrateful task to tell those who would shrink from the imputation of a falsehood that they are in the daily habit of uttering untruths; and yet, if I proceed, no other course than this can be taken by me. It is of no use to adopt half measures; plain speaking saves a deal of trouble.

The examples about to be given by me of exaggerated expressions, are only a few of the many that are constantly in use. Whether you can acquit yourselves of{28} the charge of occasionally using them, I cannot tell; but I dare not affirm for myself that I am altogether guiltless.

“I was caught in the wet last night, the rain came down in torrents.” Most of us have been out in heavy rains; but a torrent of water pouring down from the skies would a little surprise us, after all.

“I am wet to the skin, and have not a dry thread upon me.” Where these expressions are once used correctly, they are used twenty times in opposition to the truth.

“I tried to overtake him, but in vain; for he ran like lightning.” The celebrated racehorse Eclipse is said to have run a mile in a minute, but poor Eclipse is left sadly behind by this expression.

“He kept me standing out in the cold so long, I thought I should have waited for ever.” There is not a particle of probability that such a thought could have been for one moment entertained.

“As I came across the common, the wind was as keen as a razor.” This is certainly a very keen remark, but the worst of it is that its keenness far exceeds its correctness.

“I went to the meeting, but had hard work to get in; for the place was crowded to suffocation.” In this case, in justice to the veracity of the relater, it is necessary to suppose that successful means had been used for his recovery.

“It must have been a fine sight; I would have given the world to have seen it.” Fond as most of us are of sight-seeing, this would be buying pleasure at a dear{29} price indeed; but it is an easy thing to proffer to part with that which we do not possess.

“It made me quite low spirited; my heart felt as heavy as lead.” We most of us know what a heavy heart is; but lead is by no means the most correct metaphor to use in speaking of a heavy heart.

“I could hardly find my way, for the night was as dark as pitch.” I am afraid we have all in our turn calumniated the sky in this manner; pitch is many shades darker than the darkest night we have ever known.

“I have told him of that fault fifty times over.” Five times would, in all probability, be much nearer the fact than fifty.

“I never closed my eyes all night long.” If this be true, you acted unwisely; for had you closed your eyes, you might, perhaps, have fallen asleep, and enjoyed the blessing of refreshing slumber; if it be not true, you acted more unwisely still, by stating that as a fact which is altogether untrue.

“He is as tall as a church-spire.” I have met with some tall fellows in my time, though the spire of a church is somewhat taller than the tallest of them.

“You may buy a fish at the market as big as a jackass, for five shillings.” I certainly have my doubts about this matter; but if it be really true, the market people must be jackasses indeed to sell such large fishes for so little money.

“He was so fat he could hardly come in at the door.” Most likely the difficulty here alluded to was never felt by any one but the relater; supposing it to be otherwise,{30} the man must have been very broad or the door very narrow.

“You don’t say so!—why, it was enough to kill him!” The fact that it did not kill him is a sufficient reply to this unfounded observation; but no remark can be too absurd for an unbridled tongue.

Thus might I run on for an hour, and after all leave much unsaid on the subject of exaggerated expressions. We are hearing continually the comparisons, “black as soot, white as snow, hot as fire, cold as ice, sharp as a needle, dull as a door-nail, light as a feather, heavy as lead, stiff as a poker, and crooked as a crab-tree,” in cases where such expressions are quite out of order.



The practice of expressing ourselves in this inflated and thoughtless way, is more mischievous than we are aware of. It certainly leads us to sacrifice truth; to misrepresent what we mean faithfully to describe; to whiten our own characters, and sometimes to blacken the reputation of a neighbor. There is an uprightness in speech as well as in action, that we ought to strive hard to attain. The purity of truth is sullied, and the standard of integrity is lowered, by incorrect observations. Let us reflect upon this matter freely and faithfully. Let us love truth, follow truth, and practice truth in our thoughts, our words, and our deeds.

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