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

Day 25: Evening


In thy discourse, if thou desire to please,

All such is courteous, usefull, new, or wittie.

Usefulnesse comes by labour, wit by ease;

Courtesie grows in court; news in the citie.

   Get a good stock of these, then draw the card

   That suites him best, of whom thy speech is heard.

     In your conversation, if you desire to please [your listeners with] all that is courteous, useful, new or witty. [You should know that] Usefulness comes by labor, wit by ease; courtesy grows in court; news in the city. Get a good stock of [all of] these, then draw the card that suits him best by whom your speech is heard.

     To be able to converse with anyone, you will need four accomplishments. First, what you learn on the job, fixing the house, taking care of the children and all the necessities of daily projects is useful and can be useful to someone else when communicating with him. Second, wit comes easily, and should come easily and naturally to any conversation. Third, courtesy, etiquette and social consideration, grows from dealing with different kinds of people in different situations. It does require practice and awareness. Fourth, news, something from the newspaper, comes from the cities, places of commerce and government. These four are the subject and abilities necessary to conversation. Keep current with all of these, encourage them in yourself. Make a conscious effort to develop the talent and store up the information. The useful and news will give you the substance for your conversation. Courtesy and wit give the means to present the subjects.

     Having these attributes you may choose the means and subject for the individual person, or social occasion. It sounds easy enough, but some listeners respond to different degrees of courtesy and kinds of news, wit and humor. When courtesy governs wit, communication runs smoothly.

Messages for different people (you may only see the message meant for you):

For Everyone: "Draw the card that suits him/her best."

Links to improve your store of what is courteous, new and wittie.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

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