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siate ; and make it appear to your friends, that it is no hard task for you to learn and pronounce those little words, I was mistaken, how hard soever it be for the bulk of mankind to pronounce them. .
XIX. As you may sometimes raise enquiries for your own instruction and improvement, and draw out the learning, wisdom and fine sentiments of your friends, who perhaps may be too reserved or modest; so at other times if you perscive a person upskilful in the matter of debate ; you may by questions aptly proposed in the Socratic method, lead him into a clearer knowfedge of the subject; then you becomne bis instructor in such a mauner as may not appear to make yourself his superior.
XX. Take heed of affecting always to shine in company above the rest, and to display the riches of your owo uoderstanding or your oratory, as though you would render yourself admirable to all that are present. This is seldom well taken in polite compuny; much less should you use such forms of speech as should insinuate the ignorance or dulness of those with whom you converse.
XXI. Though you should not affect to flourish in a copious harangue and diffusive style in company, yet neither should you rudely interrupt and reproach him that happens to use it : but when he has done speaking, reduce his sentiments into a more contracted form ; not with a shew of correcting, but as one who is doubtful whether you hit upon his true sense or no. Thus matters may be brought more easily from a wild confusion into a single point ; questions may be soover determined, and difficulties more readily removed.
XXII. Be not so ready to charge ignorance, prejudice, and mistake upon others, as you are to suspect yourself of it : and in order to shew how free you are froin prejudices, learn to bear contradiction with patience : let it be easy to you to hear your own opinion strongly opposed, especially in matters which are doubtful and disputable amongst men of sobriety and virtue. Give a patient hearing to arguments on all sides, otherwise you give the company occasion to suspect that it is not the evidence of truth has lead you into this opinion, but some lazy anticipation of judgment; some beloved presumption, some long and rash possession of a party-scheme, in which you desire to rest uudisturbed. If your assent has been established upon just and sufficient grounds, why should you be afraid to let the truth be put to the trial of argument ?
XXIII. “ Banish utterly out of all conversation, and espe. cially out of all learned and intellectual copference, every thing that tends to provoke passion, or raise a fire in the blood." Let no sharp language, no voisy exclaipation, no sarcasms or biting jests be heard among you ; no perverse or invidious consequences
be drawn from each other's opinions, and imputed to the person : Let there be no wilful perversion of another's meaning ; no sud. den seizure of a lapsed syllable to play upon it, nor any abused construction of an innocent 'mistake : suffer not your tongue to iosult a modest opponent that begins to yield ; let there be no crowing and triumph, even where there is evident victory on your side. All these things are enemies to friendship, and the ruin of free conversation. The impartial search of truth requires all calmness and serenity, all teinper and candour : mutual instruction can never be attained in the midst of passion, pride and clamour, unless we suppose in the midst of such a scene there is a loud and penetrating lecture read by both sides on the folly and shameful infirmities of human nature.
XXIV. Whensoever therefore any unhappy word shall arise in company that might give you a reasonable disgust, quash the rising resentment, be it ever so just, and command your soul and your tongue into silence, lest you cancel the hopes of all improve. ment for that hour, and transform the learned conversation into the mean and vulgar form of reproaches and railing. The man who begun to break the peace in such a society, will fall under the shame and conviction of such a silent reproof, if he has any thing ingenuous about hiro. If this should not be sufficient, let a grave admonition, or a soft and gentle turn of wit, with an air of pleasantry, give the warm disputer an occasion to stop the progress of bis indecent fire, if not to retract the indecency and quench the flame.
XXV. Inure yourself to a candid and obliging manner in all your conversation, and acquire the art of pleasing address, even when you teach as well as when you learo, and when you oppose as well as when you assert or prove. This degree of politeness is not to be attained without a diligent attention to such kind of directions as are here laid down, and a frequent exercise and practice of them.
XXVI. If you would know what sort of companions you should select for the cultivation and advantage of the mind, the general rule is, choose such as by their briglitness of parts and their diligence in study, or by their superior advancement in learn-ing, or peculiar excellency in any art, science or accomplishment, divine or human, may be capable of administring to your innprovement; and be sure to maintain and keep sonne due regard to their moral character always, lest while you wander in quest of intellectual gain, you fall into the contagion of irreligion and vice. No wise man would venture into a house infected with the plague, in order to see the finest collections of any virtuoso in Europe.
XXVII. Nor is it every sober person of your acquaintance, BO, nor every man of bright parts, or rich in learning, that is fit to engage in free conversation for the enquiring after truth. Let a person have ever so illustrious talents, yet he is not a proper associate for such a purpose, if he lie under any of the following infirmities.
(1.) If he be exceedingly reserved, and hath eithier no inclination to discourse, or no tolerable capacity of speech and language for the communication of bis sentiments. (2.) If he be haughty and proud of his knowledge, imperious in his airs, and is always fond of inposing his sentiments on all the company. (3.) If he be positive and dogmatical in his own opinions, and will dispute to the end ; if he will resist the brightest evidence of truth rather than suffer himself to be overcome, or yield to the plainest and strongest reasonings. (4.) If he be one who always affects to outshine all the company, and delights to hear himself talk and flourish upon a subject, and make long barangues, while the rest must be all silent and attentive. (5.) If he be a person of a whiffling and unsteady turn of mind who cannot keep close to a point of controversy, but wanders from it perpetually, and is always solicitous to say something, whether it be pertinent to the question or no. (6.) If he be fretful and peevish, and given to resentment upon all occasions ; if he knows not how to bear contradiction, or is ready to take things in a wrong sense ; if he is swift to feel a supposed offence, or to imagine himself affronted, and then break out into a sudden passion, or retain silent and sullen wrath. (7.) If he affect wit op all occasions, and is full of his conceits and puns, quirks or quibbles, jests and repartees; these may agreeably entertain and animate an hour of mirth, but they have no place in the search after truth. (8.) If he carry always about with him a sort of craft, and cunning, and disguise, and act rather like a spy tban a friend.' Have a care of such a one as will make an ill use of freedom in conversation, and im. mediately charge heresy upon you, when you happen to differ from those sentiments which authority or custom has established.
In short, you should avoid the man in such select conversation, who practises any thing that is unbecoming the character of a sincere, free and open searcher after truth.
Now though you may pay all the relative duties of life to persons of these unhappy qualifications, and treat them with decency and love, so far as religion and humanity oblige you, yet take care of entering into a free debate on matters of truth or falsehood in their company, and especially about the principles of religion. I confess, if 'a person of such a temper happens to judge and talk well on such a subject, you may hear bim with attention and derive what profit you can from his discourse ; but he is by no means to be chosen for a free conference in matters of onquiry and knowledge."
XXVIII. While I would persuade you to beware of such
persons, and abstain from too much freedom of discourse’amongst ibem, it is very natural to infer that you should watch against the working of these evil qualities in your own breast, if you happer to be tainted with any of them yourself. Men of learning and ingenuity will justly avoid your acquaintance, when they find such an unlappy and unsociable temper prevailing in you.
XXIX. To conclude: when you retire from company, then converse with yourself in solitude, and enquire what you have learnt for the improvement of your understanding, or for the rectifying your inclinations, for the increase of your virtues, or the meliorating your conduct and behaviour in any future parts of life. If you have seen some of your company candid, modest, humble in their manner, wise and sagacious, just and pious in their sentiments, polite and graceful, as well as clear and strong in their expression, and universally acceptable and lovely in their behaviour, endeavour to impress the idea of all these upon your memory, and treasure them up for your imitation.
XXX. If the laws of reason, decency, and civility, have not been well observed among your associates, take notice of these defects for your own improvement : and from every occurrence of this kind, remark something to imitate or to avoid, in elegant, polite, and useful conversation. Perhaps you will find that some persons present have really displeased the company by an excessive and too visible an affectation to please, that is, by giviog loose to servile fattery, or promiscuous praise ; while others were as ready to oppose and contradict every thing that was said. Some have deserved just censure for a morose and affected taciturnity, and others have been anxious and careful lest their silence should be interpreted a want of sense, and therefore they have ventured to make speeches, tho' they had nothing to say which was worth hearing. Perhaps you will observe, that one was ingenious in his thoughts and bright in his language, but he was so top full of himself, that he let it spill on all the company; that he spoke well indeed, but that he spoke too long, aud did not allow equal time or liberty to his associates. You will remark that another was full charged to let out his words before his friend had done speaking, or impatient of the least opposition to any thing he said. You will remember that sqıne persons have talked at large, and with great confidence, of tbings which they understood not, and others counted every ibing tedious and intolerable that was spoken upon subjects out of their sphere, and they would fain confine the conference entirely within the limits of their own narrow knowledge and study. The errors of conversation are alınost infinite.
XXXI. By a view of such irregularities as these, you may learn to avoid those follies and pieces of ill conduct which spoil good conversation, or make it less agreeable and less useful ; and by degrees you will'acquire that delightful and easy manner of address and behaviour in all useful correspondences, which may render your company every wbere desired and beloved ; and at the same time among the best of your companions you may make the bighest improvement in your intellectual acquisitions, that the discourse of mortal creatures will allow, under all our disadvantages in this sorry state of mortality. But there is a day coming, when we shall be seized away from this lower class in the school of knowledge, where we labour under the many dangers and dark esses, the errors and the incumbrances of flesh and blood, and our conversation shall be with angels, and more illuminated spirits in the upper regions of the universe.
CHAP. X.-Of Disputes. I. UNDER the general head of Conversation for the Improvement of the Mind, we may rank the practice of disputing; that is, when two or more persons appear to maintain different sentiments, and defend their own, or oppose the other's opinion in alternate discourse by some methods of argument.
: II. As these disputes often arise in good earnest, where the two contenders do really believe the different propositions which they support; so sometimes they are appointed as mere trials of skill in academies, or schools, by the students : sometimes they are practised, and that with apparent fervour, in courts of judicature by lawyers, in order to gain the fees of their different _clients, while both sides perhaps are really of the same sentiment with regard to the cause which is tried.
· III. In common conversation, disputes are often managed without any forms of regularity or order, and they turn to good, or evil purposes, chiefly according to the temper of the disputants. They may sometimes be successful to search out truth, sometimes effectual to maintain truth, and convince the mistaken, but at other times a dispute is a mere scene of battle in order to victory and vain triumphı. € IV. There are some few general rules which should be observed in all debates whatsoever, if we would find out truth by them, or convince a friend of his error, even though they be not managed according to any settled forms of disputation : and as there are almost as many opinions and judgments of things as there are persons, so when several persons happen to meet and confer together upon any subject, they are ready to declare their different sentiments, and support them by such reasonings as they are capable of. This is called debating, or disputing, as is above described.