[Temple Wall,
  Jerusalem]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 19: Evening


Catch not at quarrels. He that dares not speak

Plainly and home, is coward of the two.

Think not thy fame at ev'ry twitch will break:

By great deeds shew, that thou canst little do;

   And do them not: that shall thy wisdome be;

   And change thy temperance into braverie.

     Do not fasten on quarrels. He that fears to speak clearly and to the point is more of a coward than one who avoids confrontation. Do not think that your fame will break at every little movement; by grand designs you show that you can do little; then do not do them: that shall be your wisdom; and change your restraint into courage.

     Do not look at every word hoping to find fault or a chance for an argument. There are always opportunities to find disagreements. Try to understand the speaker. Answer his words and his intent. When you speak, formulate your thoughts clearly and express them for the ability of the listener so there can be little room for misunderstanding. To avoid quarrels and, at the same time, speak plainly and to the point seems contradictory. To speak the blunt truth may start an argument that you want to prevent. On the other hand, some would rather misunderstand on purpose and have the argument than makes matters clear or deal with the situation. It is a waste of time to try to convince someone who has made up his/her mind, regardless of the facts. Yet, it is cowardly not to simply speak the truth as you know it and work from there. You will end up wasting your time and doing little of permanent use. Your reputation continues regardless. Don't get involved in actions, problems or quarrels beyond your capacity just because they exhibit a preconceived plan or grand design. Do not become embroiled in controversy that can have no resolution. Let is be your wisdom to keep out of these quarrels.

     Bravery avoids foolishness. Boldness rejects falsehood. These two when balanced by your judgment will engender fewer quarrels and better understanding. They will keep you out of most trouble. Make your position clear but do not seek conflict or offend intentionally. Courage keeps its own counsel.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

Go to Next Stanza

Go Back To the Index:

By Day

By Subject

Go to George Herbert: "The Church-porch", Introduction

Go to George Herbert & The Temple Home Page