[Outer Court, Temple]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 22: Morning


A sad wise valour is the brave complexion,

That leads the van, and swallows up the cities.

The gigler is a milk-maid, whom infection

Or a fir'd beacon frighteth from his ditties.

   Then he's the sport: the mirth then in him rests,

   And the sad man is cock of all his jests.

     A steadfast, wise worth is a handsome nature, that leads the entourage and conquers cities. [On the other hand] The giggler is a simple person whom infection or a bright fire frightens from his speeches. Then he [the giggler] is the sport: the mirth resides in him, and  [contrary to the giggler] the steadfast man is in control of all his jests.

     The person who laughs too easily at any thing is easily frightened by everything, the flu, a cough, a sneeze or a bright light. He/She responds spontaneously to anything and is surprised by everything. He laughs at everyone's jokes, distracts the conversation yet can not follow the meaning of the humor or the thread of the discussion. He stops his talking, stutters, loses his thought. He is changeable, inconstant and over responsive. He entertains himself to the detriment of social conversation and mutual interaction.

     On the other hand, the serious conversationalist does not distract the conversation from the subject. He/She manages his humor, as his words, to communicate with pleasure to those gathered. He is not easily or continuously moved or surprised by everything that is said. He is the sport who gives play to others at the table and listens to them in turn. The mirth may rest in him; it does not always have to be activated. The true sense of humor rests in him because he is the master of his entertainment. His humor does not rule him nor does he use it to manage others, divert the conversation or take center stage. He manages his wit; it is not the other way around.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

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