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The speech of a man explains his worth and interprets his intellect.



A man is known by his words, as a tree is by the fruit; and, if we would be apprised of the nature and qualities of any one, let him but discourse, and he himself will speak them to us, better than another can describe them. We may therefore perceive how proper it, is for those to hold their tongues who would not discover the shallowness of their understandings.

The deepest rivers are most silent; the greatest noise is ever found where there is the least depth of water. And it is a true observation, that those who are the weakest in understanding, and most slow of apprehension are generally the strongest in opinion, and most precipitate in uttering their crude conceptions.*

A sensible man gives not an answer,

Except when people put him a question.
Though the loquacious man be in the right,
People will regard his claim (to be heard) as absurd.


Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice.


Speech is silvern, silence is golden: speech is human,

silence is divine.

* From Bewick's Select Fables.

†Translated by Platts.


Though in the opinion of the wise silence is good


(Yet) when good will come of it, better is it that thou endeavour to speak freely.

Two things constitute levity of mind-to be silent When it is right to speak, and to speak when one ought to be silent.


He who reflects not in giving an answer,
His words will generally be unbefitting.

Either adorn thy speech with sense, like a man,
Or remain silent like beasts.


The speech of him is the more excellent, who speaks

more true.


So long as thou perceivest not clearly that it is quite right to speak,

Thou oughtest not to open thy mouth to speak.


Never use a word that may offend a chaste ear.


Make up thy mind then alone to speak,

When thou knowest that speaking will effect thy


Translated by Platts.

+ Translated by West.



When you have nothing to say, say nothing; a weak defence strengthens your opponent, and silence is less injurious than a bad reply.


The more we speak of ourselves in superlatives, the more will others speak of us in diminutives.

Never speak by superlative, in doing so you will be sure to wound either truth or prudence. Exaggeration is neither thoughtful, wise nor safe.

The best of speech is that which is short, and to the purpose.

Men of few words are the best men.


Speak but little, and let that little be the truth,
Spend but little, and let that little be cash down.

We will not stand to prate,

Talkers are no great doers.


Words are like leaves, and where they most abound,
Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.


The greatest talkers in the days of peace have been the most pussillanimous in the day of temptation.


The eyes see dimly from incessant babbling,

Kabîr cries aloud, and says, understand the word. that is spoken.*


He who says what he likes, shall hear what he does. not like.


If thou wishest to be wise,

Keep these words before thine eyes:-
What thou speak'st, and how, beware!
Of whom-to whom-when-and where.


Regard not who it is which speaketh, but weigh only what is spoken.


Be true to every inmost thought,

And as thy thought, thy speech:

What thou hast not by suffering bought,
Presume thou not to teach.


How gloomy would human society be, and how diminished would the comfort be which we derive from. it, if we had not the faculty of communicating our thoughts by speech; and if we could not unburden our hearts in the bosom of a friend! How deplorable would our lot be, if we were in the number of those unfortunate persons, who, from their infancy, have been deprived of

• From the Works of H. H. Wilson.

the use of speech! Are there not several of these unhappy people among us? Let us learn from them, as often as we see them, to esteem our happiness; and to render thanks to the Lord, that among the multitude of benefits with which he has blessed us, we have the gift of speech. Let us make a salutary use of it; let us employ it to glorify the Supreme Being, and to edify, comfort, and instruct our brethren.


We ought to dread what Speech can do,

And mortal words have done,

As vain or vile, or false or true,
Since Language first begun;

For speech the soul can so empower,
For fiend's or angel's work,

That Death or Life, each dawning hour,
Within some tone may lurk.

A speechless thought innocuous seems
To all except the Mind,

Through whose vague depths, it acts or dreams,
For self or for mankind;

But when abroad, by speech, or press,

Our Thoughts their course begin,

Conception cannot dare to guess
What conquest they may win.

Through regions, empires, heart and home,
A trackless Thing it hies,
And through eternity will roam,—
For influence never dies.

To counsel, flatter, charm, or cheer,
How potent human speech!

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