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alone ought to betray-a blush-he makes rifies any one else from making a similar his auditors feel ashamed for no fault of experiment. At all events, a silent man their own, while he glories in his own is by no means remarkable amongst an offence. It is in vain to oppose him— expectant dinner-party. It is also exhis eye is too gross to perceive his own tremely useful to be silent in the preimpropriety; and a conversation not sea sence of a great man who delights in soned with a touch of his own delight. talking--many an ingenious parasite has ful pleasantry is insipid, and possesses lost all the fruits of his labours from no charms for him. He is a wag at wagging too loose a tongue in the prethe expense of modesty, a retailer of sence of his patron, who likes the sound sayings that had better not be said-a of his own voice better than that of his great quoter of proverbs, and a man, in dependent. But to higher themes.short, who seems to have modelled The conversation of lovers is often sihis style of discourse on “ Wagstaffe's lence, and feelings which cannot be Polite Conversation,” adding, every now fashioned in the mould of words, and and then, some ingenious little piece of thoughts which lie too deep in the vulgarity of his own.
heart to be revealed by the voice, are We have scarcely space to enumerate all told in the eloquent silence which a the various other classes of talkers, such lover's soul so well understands. There as the timorous, who seem as if the per- is a communing of feeling which was son they are addressing were about to never meant to be expressed a higher eat them—the pert, who snap out their fight than poetry itself can reach, tho' words like a dog—the contradictory, who poetry is indeed the true language of Ay off at a tangent from every assertion love a sentiment which breathes of which they do not make themselves, heaven, but which words would drag the interrupters, who never let their down to earth-a sentiment of which friends get through more than half a silence alone can be the true interpreter. sentence and a whole world besides. What does the great poet of the feelWe shall now proceed from talking to ings say of silence in a thousand places ? conversing, and introduce our readers
Many a man's tongue,” says he, in from individuals into companies-speci. All's Well that ends Well, “ shakes out his fying the most appropriate times and master's undoing—" opportunities for displaying the genius
“ In silence we may see of different talkers.
“ Maids' mild behaviour and sobriety." As we began with the silent talkers,
Taming of the Shrew. we think the time best adapted for a “ Talkers are no doers.” display of their abilities is that dismal
Richard III. period which elapses between the assem “ The silence often of pure innocence bling of the company at a dinner-party, Persuades, when speaking fails.” and the annunciation of the feast. At
Winter's Tale. this time no one is expected to open
“ Be check'd for silence, his lips, by the courtesy of England. But never tax'd for speech." The guests sit round the room with de
All's Well that ends Well. pressed spirits, and sombre anxious faces
“ Silence is the most perfect herald of joy." -the quickest spirits yield to the influ
Much Ado about Nothing. ence of the hour-mirth is banished
But there are a thousand other pas. from the joker's face, and every one
sages seems in anxious expectation of hearing from our great dramatist in praise of
which we could bring forward of some melancholy event.
At length, discreet silence.* the host endeavours to promote the circulation of a little stream of conversation, which, by some chance or other, * Can our readers, after these quotations, bear
with the following begins to flow from the mouth of one
SONNET, of the company, probably some one who has provided himself with a com
Full-hearted Spirit! in the passionate stir fortable luncheon, and can afford to
And movement of the bosom, who art still employ his thoughts about something
The voice that tells what deepest feelings fill else than the dinner in futuro ; this in- The chambers of the soul! Interpreter cipient conversation generally consists Of fire-eyed Hope, who pleadest still for her
When the faint breath of words is weak and chill! of some bold remarks on the weather, and if it have good luck, it grows into From lovers' eyes! Great feelings' harbinger !
Master of the rich tear-drops that distil a slight disquisition on the passing news I do evoke thee from thy deep-hid cell, of the day--if not, its gradual death ter And to that sweetest lady of my love,
Nothing is more odious in conversa But of all adepts in conversation, men tion than scandal; and yet it must be of letters and authors by profession, from confessed, there is a delightfully malig- whom the most entertainment and innant kind of pleasure in pulling to pieces struction might reasonably be expected, che characters of one's best friends, which are frequently the most intolerable. Oh we take to be a portion of original sin. the self-love of an author, or rather, This feeling is very nearly allied to that the love of an author for his intellectual which makes us laugh when we see a offspring! It surpasses the fondest and person for whom we entertain the sin- most famed instances of maternal affeccerest affection and respect, fall down in tion or paternal kindness. Some pathe channel during a slippery thaw. The rents are delighted with introducing their fact seems to be, that, in these cases, our children to the notice of their friends, natural love of detraction and of the and in pointing out their beauty or their ridiculous gets the better of our kinder talents; but such delight is not to be feelings. Scandal-mongers, however, are compared with the rapture which anigreat nuisances in society, and should be mates the breast of an author as he is banished" to some distant shore,” for haranguing in praise of his own works they do infinite mischief to their friends. Touch upon the subject, and he starts This description of people generally as if galvanized-give him the least enabounds in small inland towns, where couragement, and he will put his hand there is no great circulation of novelty, into the large roomy pocket of his black and where they are compelled to make coat, and there will follow a roll of up for the dulness in which nature has paper, large enough to daunt the coucruelly placed them, by inventing a few rage of the bravest listener. There is little ingenious anecdotes respecting the no retreat, no absconding, no backingfrailties and failings of their neighbours. out. An author never even grows hoarse In
great cities there are plenty of healthy with reading his own works. Page foltopics to talk about, without introducing lows page, leaf leaf, yet how slowly any such morbid substitute. The per. the pile seems to decrease! Every now sons most attached to this style of con and then the delighted parent stops versation are (we are sorry to say it) to receive your praises and congratulayoung girls and old women; and the tions—and if his offspring be weak, times and places best adapted for prac- ugly, and deformed, how can you tell tising it are, for the former, when they him so to his face ? A person must in return to a ball-room, and leave their deed have a strong sense of moral duty, partners at supper; and for the latter, who would dare to tell an author the when they are comfortably seated at a truth to his face. Horace tells us of a game at whist, which furnishes excel- rigid creditor, who used to take out his lent opportunities between the deals. demands by compelling his debtors to The door-way of a Dissenting chapel in listen to his compositions, amaras his the country, after service, is also an ex torias,” we think he calls them. Cercellent place for hearing and telling little tainly this mode of receiving satisfaction anecdotes of this kind.
of a debt was very little better than the There is nothing more disagreeable provisions of the ancient Roman law than finding one's self in the company de debitore secando, by which, it is said, of persons who are talking of their own a creditor was allowed to cut his debtor profession or business. How edifying into pieces if he did not pay him. For io sit and listen to a little knot of mer our parts, save us from the hands of an chants discoursing with the longest and author in an empty room, and with a most important faces about prices-cur- full pocket! rent, and exports and imports, and draw As to what is generally called literary, backs, and molasses, and Upland cottons, or blue stocking conversation, such as and pearl-ashes; or a party of detestable would suit the drawing-room of an stock-jobbers running over the Auctua- Edinburgh lady, the talent for it is tions which the market has sustained. easily acquired. Skim Sir Walter's last Exclusive conversation of every kind is, novel-dip into Lord Byron's last poem, in fact, the destruction of all pleasant and commit two consecutive lines to society, whatever may be the favourite memory-attend two lectures on geolotopic in which a man indulges. gy, and fix a few of the hardest names, Bid thee in thine own eloquent language tell
if you can, in your head. Never men
tion a book without using some adjecThe inexpressive thoughts of her which move Trembling within my heart like some dim spell;
tive of praise or dispraise at the same And oh ! let not her lips tly tale reprove. time and when you speak of authors,
always give the name at full length, ing a volume on the subject, which, if christian and surname, which looks as executed in the manner we contemif you knew them. Magazine reading plate, would be a great acquisition to is very useful to qualify a man for this those who wish to excel in the practice society, especially if he adds to it a peru- of this amiable and useful accomplishsal of the Edinburgh and Quarterly ment. The design of our work is to but this would really make him a very give a series of conversations on all the accomplished man, and perhaps make most trite and approved subjects, dihim appear rather too learned—which viding them under various heads, with is fault not easily forgiven.
variations and additions, fitting them for But the most important branch of persons
of different characters, ages,
and our subject still remains unnoticed-we
humours. The great characteristic exmean the science of small-talk; a science cellence of these dialogues would be, the difficulty of mastering which is that by dealing entirely in generals, and equal to the value of the acquisition. carefully framing each observation and There cannot be a person in the world sentence, whether question, answer, or that has not felt the necessity of this remark, so as to be, if we may so accomplishment. How painful it is to express ourselves, a picture of itself, see a company of perhaps half a dozen every person, by exerting only a small persons sitting round the room, silently. degree of ingenuity and reasoning, may tracing with their eyes the pattern of be able to introduce, at any pause in the carpet, as if they were in hopes of conversation, some neat and apposite discovering by that means some food to remark, which, from the nature of its resuscitate the fainting conversation ! contrivance, must necessarily lead to Or to be one of a dinner-party, when some farther observation, and this, in the movement of the bottle is the only the hands of a person who had studied symptom of vitality amongst the statues the work, would be gradually led and which surround the table! Small-talk, fostered into a sprightly and brilliant however, is an art not depending in any conversation. To young persons more manner on knowledge or information, particularly whose timidity often prePeople who have nothing to say, and vents them from hazarding any opinion who moreover know nothing, are very of their own, a work of this nature frequently the best professors of it, and would be found particularly valuable, as really are able to keep up a lively and they could not feel any hesitation in pleasant conversation, when scholars introducing the elegant sentences which and philosophers would sit in a cold would be found in our intended publiand languid silence. The talent is, per- cation. The work should not, howhaps, partly constitutional. Women are
ever, be entirely confined to giving prebetter small-talkers than men ; the cedents of such conversations as are Irish, as a nation, better than the Eng- fitted for general company, but it should lish ; and the French better than either. also embrace dialogues in delicate situaA true small-talker can discourse about tions--as between a young man and a any thing, and the lighter and more tri- rich uncle in a bad state of health-the fling a subject is, the better he will proper formula of words on receiving or handle it. He is never at a loss; a conferring a favour-or on condoling flower, a leaf, a straw, are materials on with a friend on a loss in his familywhich he will bestow his emptiness for and lastly, we intend that it should conan hour; and rather than not have tain a series of declarations, adapted, like something to say, he will talk about the conversations to every age, and conhimself, which, by the way, is not always dition, for the use of all gentlemen who the last subject he touches upon. A wish to enter into the married state. really accomplished small-talker will This last portion will, we imagine, be never recur to the weather for assist- the most valuable part of the volume; ance.
for it is well known what difficulties a It may perhaps be expected that we gentleman sometimes lies under in reshould lay down a few rules by which vealing his tender attachment, and how this valuable science may be acquired; fearful he is that he shall not be suffibut independently of our being limited ciently impressive in the communicain space, which would be a sufficient tion. At a time too when the spirits excuse, we are also able to plead ano are so much futtered, and the mind in ther
very plausible reason for forbearing general disturbed, it surely must be to do this at present. The fact is, we thought a great acquisition to be able have long had serious thoughts of writ- to choose a form of words and expres
sion, which, with the mere trouble of partee, and sound and valuable in sense, committing them to memory, must ne- will require talents of a very extended cessarily have a much greater effect than and various order. It will be a very diffia few rapid half-uttered crude sentences, cult task for the proprietors to attempt breathed forth in tribulation and dis- such an arduous work without the proturbance of heart, and which, after all, mise of some support from the most inare scarcely distinct enough to convey genious and polished of their friends; the speaker's meaning. The lady too, for this purpose they have applied to seif well versed in our volume, would be veral ladies of consideration and fashion, able to give an appropriate and elegant of their acquaintance, who have kindly reply-and the declarations and accepte promised to keep small note-books, and ance thus expressed, might actually be on their return from routs and converinserted, as spoken, in any novel. A saziones, to report the particulars of all very full index would be added to the the most interesting conversations which volume, so that a man would not have they have had or heard; and what is a the least difficulty in finding a fit speech still more valuable acquisition, they in a moment. Thus, under the word have undertaken to add notes of their Lover, there would be, general conver- own, pointing out the deficiencies or sation of-young-old-in a morning superabundances which they have obin an evening—at dinner-dancing-de- served, and marking that part of the claration by-passionate-tender-respect- conversation which to them appeared ful-timid, &c.-quarrels between—recon most agreeable. By means like these, ciliation-&c. &c. &c.
and by the most unremitting attention, Now it must be clear to the meanest the proprietors hope to render the work capacity that an undertaking of this worthy of public patronage. A specikind, embracing all that is polished in men may probably be given in a future manners, brilliant in wit, lively in re- number.
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION JUDGED BY ITS RESULTS. A THOUSAND years of slavery had The momentary glory, which raised itself thrown their shadow over France. From upon the ruins of the Merovingian race, Charles the Great to Louis le Grand, the was but the glory of a single family; and happiness of the many was ever over- the victories of the house of Heristal looked in the aggrandisement of the only prepared the path for the coming of few; and in the struggles of the nobles, that mighty conqueror, whose very name the clergy, and the kings, the rights of carries sovereignty in its sound; the the people were disregarded, and even splendour of whose character outshines to themselves unknown.
the congregated glories of his ancestors ; A rapid view of the history of this and whose greatness is magnified by the great nation appears necessary to the dense obscurity which the neighbourcontemplation of the object before us; ing nations threw around him. CHARand, without attempting to penetrate LEMAGNE was certainly a hero. Not the obscurity which covers the origin of stainless, but still astonishing. Overearly Gaul, we may slightly notice the powering, by the majesty of his virtues, most prominent of those striking con- the censure which his failings would trasts which her later annals every provoke; and looking grandly from an where present. The memory of the eminence, in all the dignity of knowdays, when in literature and rívilisation ledge, upon a chaos of ignorance, barshe rivalled the renown of Athens and barity, and superstition. In gazing on of Rome; the powerful effects of that his greatness, we forget all by which he sublime eloquence which, in the early was preceded. He stands like a barrier ages of Christianity, flowed irresistibly between past and present time ; and we from the lips of St. Ambrose, St. Mar- love to look at him as belonging to ourtin, and their illustrious coadjutors; the selves, in spite of the veneration that dazzling glories of Clovis, the founder would consign him to the ages of antiof their monarchy; all were gradually quity. He was alike the father of sunk in the degeneracy of his successors: France and the enlightener of Europe; science expired under the burning glance giving solidity to the one and emulation of military fame; learning was buried to the other. He founded the honour of in the cloisters ; and religion, despoiled his people on the culture of their minds. of its simplicity, became the terror of From Italy, England, and Ireland, he the superstitious, and the tool of power. procured them learned instructors. The
elementary principles of knowledge re- gress of modern philosophy to eulogize vived at his command. The love of the talents of its disciples, or to lament seience, the thirst of fame, the pride of their errors, is not within the compass country, were emanations from his ge- of this design. The causes are suffinius, and shed their lustre over the ciently known; we have but to treat of world. He died; and France, no longer the effects of 'that mighty, that monsustained by his support, could not bear strous revolution, which in its magnifithe weight of the celebrity she inherited cent dawning scattered light and brightfrom him ; but the stamp of that cha: ness with such beautiful profusion ; but racter which he imprinted on her still which, nounting too fiercely in its remained. Domestic aggrandisement course, warmed into life the whole creaand foreign conquest took the lead by tion of reptile passion ; drew after it the turns ; 'ambition, faction, and revolt noxious exhalations of human deprarioted in the spoils of piety and learn- vity; and sinking soon into the ocean of ing; chivalry, like a beauteous meteor, time, showed us the tracks of its career blazed awhile in dazzling but factitious covered awhile by a veil of radiance, that lustre; aristocracy succeeded despotism, softened down the horror of their asand was in its turn subdued ; religion, pect. Nearly an age has passed since raising her head from her debasement, ihe completion of that great catastrophe. lost quickly, in the madness of the cru We now begin to recover from its early sades, the loveliness of that enthusiasm agitations. I'he generation which acted to which they owed their impulse: the in its opening scenes is sinking fast into darkness of feudality was occasionally, the grave; and the passions of those enlightened by the casual glimpse of who survive, experience hourly that knowledge; tyranny fixed firm its chains mental interment which hides them on independence ; conquests were made from the world. At this distance then, and abandoned; battles lost and gained, the rising race may contemplate the monarchs assassinated or canonized; past with tempers tolerably composed, dynasties established and overthrown: and a vision suficiently clear. We may -but still the print of Charlemagne's contrast the state of France in the genius was deep upon the national cha- eighth century, when the wisdom of racter. Through every age, every reign, Charlemagne, like the wand of an enand every convulsion, not one of them chanter, raised her to a pitch of unparalresembling that by which it was pre- leled renown, with her condition in the ceded or followed, the elements of that eighteenth, when Louis lost his empire character seemed preserved by the magic and his life; when the monarchy of so of his creation; and we see learning, many ages was merged in the gulf of science, courage, and ambition, though revolutionary fanaticism, and the venefrequently obscured, still never extin- ration for the sacred name of king, so guished, but blending their shades with interwoven in the feelings of Frenchfolly and crime in astonishing combina men, faded before the imagined splentions of consistent frivolity. Such was dour of republican virtue. the continued march of French events, Look at the Revolution from whatwhen, by regular gradations, the minds ever side we will, the object that strikes of men began anew to develope their us first and strongest is its crimes. They powers; when present experience, and have stamped upon the name of France the memory of the past, flashed their for ever and ever a stigma, by each new united lights to illuminate mankind, and shade of vice made more indelible, and to arouse them from the torpor of sub- which centuries of remorse and virtue mission. Feudal tyranny and royal des- could never wipe away. This is a grievpotism had for ages performed their ous bequest to posterity, and in days to silent task of brutalizing, by degrading come will be acknowledged by many a the people; and the national religion, retrospective curse. Yet these crimes, sublimely mysterious to the most en- deep and complicated as they were, are lightened, but to the uninformed in- not to be attributed to natural depravity. comprehensible, gave its powerful aid to Whoever has studied the French characthe forination of that chain, which ter, has perceived the high rank which bearing hard and long upon the giant humanity holds among its virtues. mind of man, was finally corroded by Charily to beggars, kindness to children, its own rust, and snapt asunder at the and good treatment of domestsc animals, application of the volatile essence which can be seen by the very travellers on the emancipating hand of genius so. their highways. We must then look to skilfully applied. But to trace the pro- other causes to discover the source of NEW MONTHLY Mag. No. 81. VOL. XIV.