morning visits. The most congenial period for colloquial discourse is after a late dinner, by a cheerful fireside, or at least by candle-light. Such a scene as the following prepares us for a free and cordial interchange of thoughts.

"Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each;
So let us welcome peaceful evening in."

At such a time the ingenuous heart reveals its eloquent secrets; and the feelings, that in the broad daylight and amid the shock and the hum of strife and business were painfully repressed, gush forth with a charming air of confidence and sincerity. It is in such an hour that men seem most capable of friendship. A spell is upon them, and they forget for a while their worldly coldness and reserve. They no longer act upon a selfish and heartfreezing system, which teaches us to treat our best friends as if they might hereafter become our bitterest enemies.

It is said that neither Pope nor Dryden were good talkers. The latter has told us of himself that he was 66 saturnine and reserved, and not one of those who endeavour to entertain company by lively sallies of merriment and wit;" and Pope was too conscious of his fame, and too fearful of committing himself. Still the conversation of these eminent men, when they felt themselves perfectly at their ease, and their associates were not unworthy of them, cannot have been otherwise than delightful and instructive. But it is not every day that a literary man can meet with those who are capable of talking with him, or who are fit to listen." Nothing," says Petrarch, "is so tiresome as to converse with a person who has not the same information as one's self." His biographers tell us that Petrarch was not always sociable, but that the moment he felt disposed to give himself to society, he conversed with

the utmost freedom.

"If I seem to my friends," says the poet, "to be a great talker, it is because I see them seldom, and then I talk as much in a day as will compensate for the silence of a year." Mr. Taylor (the author of the humourous poem of Monsieur Tonson) says, that Mr. Murphy, the translator of Tacitus, used to frequent a bookseller's shop, the resort of several literary. men, for the purpose of listening to Akenside's conversation, while he himself pretended to be reading a book. He said that nothing could be more delightful. Mr. Murphy and the poet never, however, became personally acquainted with each other.

Milton with " a fit audience, though few," was no doubt most instructive and enchanting in conversation. It makes us even exult in our common human nature, when we think. "of that celestial colloquy sublime" which he must have held with worthy spirits. Who does not kindle at the thought of the honor and delight which Mr. Lawrence must have felt in being the friend and associate of such a man as Milton? How the following sonnet must have stirred his heart!


LAWRENCE, of virtuous father, virtuous son,
Now that the fields are dank and ways are mire,
Where shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire
Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
From the hard season gaining? Time will run
On smoother, till Favonius re-inspire
The frozen earth, and clothe in fresh attire
The lily and rose, that neither sowed nor spun.
What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice
Of attic taste, with wine, whence we may rise
To hear the lute well touched, or artful voice
Warble immortal notes and Tuscan air?
He who of those delights can judge, and spare
To interpose them oft, is not unwise.


Some of or modern essayists have entered into the question of whether autho men of the world are the most agreeable and

instructive in conversation. Rousseau has remarked in his Emilius, that the conversation of authors is better than their books; and if this be really the case, it must certainly be better than the conversation of the majority of other men, whose tabletalk would appear but tame and frivolous in print. The knowledge of literary men is superior in quality to the knowledge of other people, inasmuch as it is not technical and professional, but of universal application. They do not address themselves to lawyers, soldiers or physicians, but to human beings, with a general reference to their common nature. Dr. Johnson's conversation, as recorded by Boswell, has been considered superior to his writings. It was more subtle, animated and pointed than his laboured and formal compositions. Yet, though whatever he said was always worthy of preservation, he was not an agreeable converser. He carried the monarchical principle into conversation, and made himself its representative. He allowed no equality. His hearers were his subjects, and he ruled them with a rod of iron. The utmost they could venture upon was a timid question. Goldsmith wittily and truly applied a passage in one of Cibber's plays to Dr. Johnson. "There is no arguing with Johnson," said he; for when his pistol misses fire, he knocks his adversary down with the butt end of it." Burke seems to have been the only man who was any thing like a match for him; and so jealous was Johnson of his own supremacy, and so highly did he respect the conversational abilities of his eloquent friend, that on one occasion, when debilitated by sickness, he said of him, ་་ that fellow calls forth all my powers. Were I to see Burke now it would kill me." Burke was indeed a formidable antagonist, who neither dealt in dogmatisms himself, nor encouraged them in others. There was great shrewdness in the question put by Goldsmith to Boswell, who was too extravagantly praising the conversation of Johnson. "Can he wind into a subject like a serpent, as Burke does ?" said the


poet*. Goldsmith himself was generally an indifferent and blundering converser. Horace Walpole called him " an inspired idiot." Garrick said, that

"He wrote like an angel and talked like poor Poll."

But he blurted out occasionally many admirable sayings, which would have made the fortune of any other man who did not neutralize their effect with similar failings. His printed compositions are as remarkable for grace and perspicuity as was his conversation for that hurry and confusion which are generally considered characteristic of his countrymen. The most amusing anecdote that we have of his conversation is his singularly infelicitous attempt to repeat a good pun. Some one directed a servant to take a dish of bad-coloured peas to a particular place. When asked his reason for sending them in that direction, he replied that it was the way to turn 'em green (Turnham green). Goldsmith, desirous to shine, though in borrowed plumes, endeavoured to repeat the pun in another company. A similar question was put to him. “Oh !” said he, “ that is the way to make them green." There have been other authors who were as much out of their element in society as Goldsmith, but I still doubt if there are not a greater number of good talkers amongst literary men than are to be found in any other class.

Some artists are delightful talkers. Barry Cornwall (Proctor) represents Haydon's as singularly vivid and picturesque. He had heard him describe Edinburgh in a shower of rain in a way that made it palpably visible to the imagination.

*Charles Butler in his Reminiscences thus characterises the conversation of Fox, Pitt, and Burke :-" In familiar conversation, these three great men equally excelled, but even the most intimate friends of Mr. Fox complained of his too frequent ruminating silence. Mr. Pitt talked ;-and his talk was fascinating. A good judge said of him, that he was the only person he had known, who possessed the talent of condescension. Yet his loftiness never forsook him; still one might be sooner seduced to take liberties with him than with Mr. Fox. Mr. Burke's conversation was rambling, but splendid, rich and instructive beyond comparison.

Montaigne asserts of himself that he spoke much better than he wrote. If he did, he must have been a divine companion. conversing," we might well " forget all time,

With such a man

all seasons and their change."


"His wit

And subtle talk would cheer the winter night,
And make me know myself :--and the fire-light
Would flash upon our faces, till the day
Might dawn, and make me wonder at my stay."

Julian and Maddalo.

Beattie was delighted with the conversation of Gray. "He was happy," he observes, " in a singular facility of expression. His conversation abounded in original observations, delivered with no appearance of sententious formality, and seeming to arise spontaneously without study or premeditation."

The conversation of authors, says Hazlitt, is not so good as might be imagined, but such as it is (and with rare exceptions) it is better than any other. His own was acute, original, and profound. He "threw a light as from a painted window" on the dreariest subject, and untwisted the knot of a complicated argument with a magical dexterity. His delivery was sometimes difficult and irregular, but his matter was so rich that his companions could well afford to overlook the manner. If they could think at all, he charmed them as with a spell, and when he was once thoroughly interested in some important subject, his eloquent words flowed as rapidly as his thoughts, and he gave his hearers good reason to exclaim,

How charming is divine philosophy!

Not harsh and crabbed as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute.

He has well described the conversation and manner of his friend Leigh Hunt. "Hunt has a fine vinous spirit about him. He sits at the head of a party with great gaiety and grace; has an elegant manner and turn of features; has continual sportive sallies

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