Слике страница

Self-command, as respects the tongue, is as necessary as it is difficult. For we are told from divine authority, “ If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."

As it is of the utmost importance that we rule our own tongues, so, on the other hand, it is of no small importance that we be guarded against the unruly tongues of others.

And here I will lay down one caution, and commend it to the particular remembrance of the young and unexperienced. Beware of close intimacy with those whose tongues are calumnious toward almost every one except their present company, to which they are ever smooth and fair. For he that commonly indulges himself in calumniating or ridiculing the absent, plainly shows his company what it has to expect from him after he leaves it.


Of saying too much.

The art of holding the tongue is quite as necessary as the art of speaking, and, in some instances, it is even more difficult to learn.

In a biographical notice of a celebrated speaker in and manager of, the British House of Commons, it is remarked, that “ he never said too much." This is, in truth, a rare commendation of a public speaker. One who, without circumlocution or parade, comes to the matter in hand at once, and pertinaciously adheres to it throughout-who seizes on the strong points in the argument and sets them to view in the clearest lightwho says

all that is proper, and nothing more-whose every sentence, strikes home, and who remembers to leave off when he has done :"-such a public speaker, whether in the hall of legislation, in the pulpit, or at the bar, will never tire his hearers.

But my present business is not with Speakers, but with Talkers; the last being much the most numerous tribe, and entitled of course to the first notice.

Man, or even woman, when enjoying the freedom of the tongue, and gifted with the faculty of using it fuently, is more apt to say too much than too little.

When a room full of ladies are all speaking at the same instant, only with this difference, that some tune their voices higher, and some lower—it is pretty clear that they say too much. But this is tender ground, on which I would tread lightly.

They who expect to be listened to by every body, but are unwilling themselves to listen to any body—who will hold you by the sleeve or button if you attempt to escape them, and din you the harder, the more you shew signs of weariness; this tribe of talkers, as all but themselves will readily admit, say 100 much.

Persons who have wit, or (what is as bad) who think they have it, are in particular hazard of saying too much. It is one of the hardest things in the world to make a temperate use of real or of self-supposed wit, and more particularly of the talent for raillery. And hence, many a one, not ill-natured, and meaning nothing more than to show off his wit, multiplies enemies, and sometimes wounds his best friends. To make use of a line in one of Crabbe's poems,

He kindles anger by untimely jokes." They who talk merely with intent to shine in company, or for the sake of showing off to advantage their own parts and learning-always say too much.

The fond pair, who entertain their visitants by the hour, with setting forth the excellent qualities or smart sayings of their own children, or with ridiculous details of the rare conjugal affection that subsists between themselves—say too much.

Those who are inordinately fond of speaking in the first person—I Myselfit is more than an even chance that they will say too much.

When a young man, whose stock is small, is more eager to expend it in talking, than to increase it by patient listening-he is very apt to say too much.

Old men are prone to say too much, when, getting in. to the preterpluperfect tense, they represent the former days as every way better than these. As if the human family, notwithstanding the perpetual accumulation of experience, were perpetually retrograding, instead of advancing; and as if men and women at the present day, were like grasshoppers, in comparison with their progenitors.

It is seldom that men do not say too much, in their convivial moments. It is then that they are peculiarly apt to say something which they are sorry for on the morrow: for 6 when wine is in, discretion is out.”

As to those persons whose staple of conversation is telling long and tedious stories, though it is hardly to be expected that they can be prevailed with either to refrain or abridge, yet the following direction from Chesterfield Travestie, may be of use to them as a general regulator :-“When you mean to introduce an interesting story, make out a kind of preface about an hour's length, by the way of impressing upon your hearers the pleasure they are about to receive. If they should be disappointed, that is not your fault. You did your best; and so much time has been past away, at least to your own satisfaction."

This rhapsody, which, notwithstanding its ungrave air, is unfeignedly meant for real and important good. I will conclude with a caution :-Let not him that talketh not, despise him that talketh. There have been some wights of the human family, both male and female, who have obtained the reputation of abilities and wisdom by their grave taciturnity-every body thinking that they could say a great deal if they would—when in sober truth, their habitual silence was owing rather to dearth of ideas or to dulness.

To be humdrum in company is as wide from the true mark, as to be garrulous.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Of the salutary effects of the necessity laid upon man

to Labor.

NECESSITY is the main spring of industry, and the mother of useful arts. The earth was given to the children of men in a rude and forlorn condition. And why? Assuredly, not because it was out of the power or beyond the benevolence of the Creator to have rendered the whole face of it "like blooming Eden fair"and so fertile every where, as to yield a sufficient abundance for human sustenance-without any human labor, care or forethought. This did not, however, consist with the plan of divine wisdom.

Man is a being compounded of mind and matter; and a great part of his necessary employment is such as tends to evince the superiority of the former over the latter. The stubborn glebe, he meliorates, softens, and fructifies. Regions of forest he subdues, and turns them into fruitful fields and blooming gardens. The droughty soil he irrigates, and the fenny he drains. Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, are all laid by him under contribution, and he compels them, as it were, to minister, not only to the necessities and comforts, but to the embellishments of life. In ten thousand ways, by skilful contrivance and the dint of industry, he overcomes the resistance of stubborn matter, and forces it to yield to his use- -to his comfort—to his adornment. And by all this busy round of contrivance and of labor, the faculties of his mind are developed, his body is made the more strong and healthy, his morals the more virtuous or the less corrupt, and his life unspeakably more contented and happy, for he rejoices in the work of his hands, nor feels he the burden of time, which hangs so heavily upon the sons and daughters of sloth.

Man is no where found more degraded, than in climes the most delicious, and upon a soil that produces, spontaneously, an abundant supply of his wants. It is there that his faculties are torpid, his mind and his heart most deeply corrupted, and his existence superlatively wretched. If we may credit the accounts of voyagers, some of the south sea islands are earthly paradises in regard to climate and soil, but border


the infernal regions as to customs, morals and manners : nor would it perhaps be much better with the human race over the world, if the whole world were in a condition that superceded all necessity for labor.

If it seemed meet to the all-wise Creator, that man in his primeval state, should be subject to labor-that he should be made to dress the garden and to keep itmuch greater is the urgency for industrious habits, in his lapsed state, in which indleness is sure to be prolific of vice. And, accordingly, upon the moral change of human nature, the earth, too, underwent a change. The thorn and the thistle grew up, in place of the fragrant flower and the nourishing plant. The heat consumed by day and the frost by night. The inert matter that he had to deal with became doubly intractable. Obstacles to sloth, and imperious calls to industry, multiplied-So that man was compelled to eat his bread in the sweat of his face.

Happy necessity! the necessity that prevents a frightful mass of moral evil, and produces an immensity of good. Without it, the wickedness of man would be doubly great upon the earth ; and so far from enjoyment-feeling the fulness of satiety and the intolerable burden of time-like Milton's fiend in paradise, he would “see undelighted all delight.”

Among the vain sons and daughters of men, there are those who despise labor, even though their circumstances urgently need it. As if the point of honor lay in being useless, improvident, and helpless. This is Folly's pride. · Whoso despiseth labor, despiseth an ordinance of heaven. Not only is labor made necessary by the law of our general nature, but it is enjoined by a positive law from above-Six day shalt thon labor and do all thy work. The truly wise, so far from despising, ever hold it in hunor. To honor useful labor- to encourage the industrious to bring up children to early habits of industry and frugality-and, on the other hand, to discountenance and hold in reproach a life of sloth, of improvidence and dissipation, are indis

« ПретходнаНастави »