Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885, November 01, 1878, Page 459, Image 4
AMMMAkMni 4G9 CONVERSATION. VOL. VII, &-. t JlM h but because in nil time talking lias been one of the greatest sources of pleasure as well as improvement. We have a thought but half.formod ; moulded by the single touch of the tongue it leaps into dollnito shapu. Butler says : " It matters little how vast an amount of inlollectiml wealth a man has in solid bars if he cannot mint it into coin in the commerce of thought." We may have a line of argument, vague and dimly out-Hnod, but in giving itself expression, it unwinds a clear and well dellucd chain. Who can bound the picas, lire experienced by intelligent and conge. 11 i nl people when they converse with each other, and exchange their thoughts and opinions upon subjects mutually interest ing. Nothing is so indicative of character as conversation. Hear anyone talk and you know what ho is. llere, culture, refine nienl, wit, eloquence and genius show themselves in every sound; there, coarse ness and ignorance. Some people profess to read character from the haudwriting or face of a person, where to a great extent character may be concealed; but let a man open his lips and immediately we say: "lie is educated, cultured, intelligent ;" or on the other hand we pronounce him, ignorant, rude, billy. In short us some one has put it, "Couver satiou is the vent of character as well as of thought." How delightful it must have been to sit and listen to such talkers as Macnulay, Ben Johnson, Burke, Lord Chatham, Madame DeSlael, and scores of other brilliant talkers. I remember a lit tle anecdote told of Madame De Stael which well illustrates her conversational power. At one time, though poor, she was obliged to invite a number of gentle men to dine with her. At the table she endeavored by conversation to cover if pos sible the baroness of the board. The serv ant slipped up to her in the midst of the dinner unci whispered in her ear: " one more anecdote, Madame, there is no roast." She told the anecdote, and neither the roast, nor any thing else that was nec essary was missed. How wonderfully fascinating she must have been to make men forgot their dinners. In choosing illustrations from brilliant conversationists 1 am at a loss whom to select from the many who have shone in that sphere. Going back to the ancients, there was Socrates, who spent his whole life in talking and testing the goodness of others, confuting and entangling them in their own arguments until no made them tlatly contradict themselves and acknowl edge his victory. Cicero we may judge by some few stories that are told of him. Once in conversation with a Ro man lady, she said she was thirty years old; he replied that it must be true as he had heard it for twenty years. In modern times wo find a large number of flue con versationists. Samuel Johnson, Matthews thinks was the most celebrated of nil. He styles him "the Goliah and David," at the same time of conversation, "strong to wield a spear like a weavers beam, and nimble to whirl n pobble from a sling; tongue, witli a garnish of brains." Ben Johnson was also distinguished in this regard. One of his opponents said of him: "there is no use arguing witli John son, if his pistol misses lire he knocks you down with the butt end." Coleridge was most elegant in his use of language, indeed honeyed words were said to drop from his tongue so smoothly that at last they grow exceedingly mono unions from very nicety. He talked so much that he grew absolutely tiresome. When talking with people he detained them until they were completely wearied Theodore Hook, in telling of a talk he had with him occasioned by seeing two soldiers by the way -side said : " Zounds, I was never so bothumped with words " Thank lloavon ho did'nt see a whole rcg. imont, for then ho never would have fin ished. Carlyle is also in the first rank of con versationists. Ho is said to advance on his opponent, not only with a perfect vol ley of words, but also with his voice rnis.