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Conversation On Conversation
by [?]

“For every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”

“A very solemn sermon,” said Miss B., shaking her head impressively, as she sat down to table on Sunday noon; then giving a deep sigh, she added, “I am afraid that if an account is to be rendered for all our idle words, some people will have a great deal to answer for.”

“Why, Cousin Anna,” replied a sprightly young lady opposite, “what do you mean by idle words ?”

“All words that have not a strictly useful tendency, Helen,” replied Miss B.

“I don’t know what is to become of me, then,” answered Helen, “for I never can think of any thing useful to say. I sit and try sometimes, but it always stops my talking. I don’t think any thing in the world is so doleful as a set of persons sitting round, all trying to say something useful, like a parcel of old clocks ticking at each other. I think one might as well take the vow of entire silence, like the monks of La Trappe.”

“It is probable,” said Miss B., “that a greater part of our ordinary conversation had better be dispensed with. ‘In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin.’ For my own part, my conscience often reproaches me with the sins of my tongue.”

“I’m sure you don’t sin much that way, I must say,” said Helen; “but, cousin, I really think it is a freezing business sitting still and reflecting all the time when friends are together; and after all I can’t bring myself to feel as if it were wrong to talk and chatter away a good part of the time, just for the sake of talking. For instance, if a friend comes in of a morning to make a call, I talk about the weather, my roses, my Canary birds, or any thing that comes uppermost.”

“And about lace, and bonnet patterns, and the last fashions,” added Miss B., sarcastically.

“Well, supposing we do; where’s the harm?”

“Where’s the good?” said Miss B.

“The good! why, it passes time agreeably, and makes us feel kindly towards each other.”

“I think, Helen,” said Miss B., “if you had a higher view of Christian responsibility, you would not be satisfied with merely passing time agreeably, or exciting agreeable feelings in others. Does not the very text we are speaking of show that we have an account to give in the day of judgment for all this trifling, useless conversation?”

“I don’t know what that text does mean,” replied Helen, looking seriously; “but if it means as you say, I think it is a very hard, strait rule.”

“Well,” replied Miss B., “is not duty always hard and strait? ‘Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,’ you know.”

Helen sighed.

“What do you think of this, Uncle C.?” she said, after some pause. The uncle of the two young ladies had been listening thus far in silence.

“I think,” he replied, “that before people begin to discuss, they should be quite sure as to what they are talking about; and I am not exactly clear in this case. You say, Anna,” said he, turning to Miss B., “that all conversation is idle which has not a directly useful tendency. Now, what do you mean by that? Are we never to say any thing that has not for its direct and specific object to benefit others or ourselves?”

“Yes,” replied Miss B., “I suppose not.”

“Well, then, when I say, ‘Good morning, sir; ’tis a pleasant day,’ I have no such object. Are these, then, idle words?”

“Why, no, not exactly,” replied Miss B.; “in some cases it is necessary to say something, so as not to appear rude.”

“Very well,” replied her uncle. “You admit, then, that some things, which are not instructive in themselves considered, are to be said to keep up the intercourse of society.”