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be more effectually obtained by their silence. A good listener is much more rare than a good talker, because the conversation of general society seldom fixes the attention, and thus, in the hopelessness of curing the evil, we aggravate it. “When I go into company,” said L- “I am compelled to become as great a chatterbox as the rest, because I had rather hear my own nonsense than that of other people. “After all,” observed his niece one day, when he was twitting her with her loquacity, “I know many men who talk more than women.”—“Ay," was the reply, “more to the point."
L- was once overturned in a carriage with his niece, who finding, after all her screams, that she had received no hurt, asked her uncle how, in such an imminent danger, he could have preserved so perfect a silence. “Because I was tolerably sure that death would not be frightened away by my making a noise.”
Socrates, when a chatterbox applied to him to be taught rhetoric, said that he must pay double the usual price, because it would first be necessary to teach him to hold his tongue. We may be sometimes gainers by practising this difficult art, even at a festive meeting. “Silence,” exclaimed an epicure to some noisy guests, "you make so much noise that we don't know what we are eating."
SILK—The refuse of a reptile, employed to give distinction and dignity to the lord of the creation. Compare the caterpillar in its cocoon with the king's counsel in his silk gown, and in adjusting the claims of the rival worms, the palm of ingenuity must be conceded to the former, because it spins and fashions its own covering, whereas the latter can only spin out the thread of empty elocution, and weave a web of sophistry. The Abbé Raynal calls silk, “l'ouvrage de ce ver rampant, qui habille l'homme de feuilles d'arbres élaborées dans son sein." Hear how the pompous Gibbon gives the same information. “I need not explain that silk is originally spun from the bowels of a caterpillar, and that it composes the golden tomb, whence a worm emerges in the form of a butterfly." There is an Arabian proverb which conveys the
same fact in a much more moral and poetical form. “ With patience and perseverance the leaf of the mulberry tree becomes satin."
SLANDERER-A person of whom the Greeks showed a due appreciation, when they made the word synonymous with devil. Slanderers are at all events economical, for they make a little scandal go a great way, and rarely open their mouths, except at the expense of other people. We must allow that they have good excuse for being defamatory, if it be their object to bring down others to their own level. It may be further urged in their extenuation, that they are driven to their trade by necessity; they filch the fair character of others, because they have none of their own; and with this advantage, that the stolen property can never be found upon them. There is a defence also for their covert and cowardly mode of attacking you, for how can you expect that backbiters should meet you face to face ? Nay, they have even a valid plea for being so foul-mouthed, considering how often they have been compelled to eat their own words. Hang them! let us do the fellows justice !
SLOTH—The sloth, in its wild state, spends its life in trees, and never leaves them but from force or accident. The eagle to the sky, the mole to the ground, the sloth to the tree; but what is most extraordinary, he lives not upon the branches, but under them. He moves suspended, rests suspended, sleeps suspended, and passes his life in suspense—like a young clergyman distantly related to a bishop.
SMITH-ALEXANDER—A noted manufacturer of and wholesale dealer in Images. The subjoined Sonnet to the Sun is evidently by a cook who has thoroughly imbibed the spirit of his great master, the Image-monger :
“Day is done brown, and set away to cool;
And Evening, like a salad fresh and moist,
Hangs o'er the landscape most invitingly ;-
“On such an eve as this 'tis sweet to sit
SNUFF-Dirt thrust up the nostrils with a pig-like snort, as a sternutatory, which is not to be sneezed at. The moment he has thus defeated his own object, the snufling snuff-taker becomes the slave of a habit, which literally brings his nose to the grindstone; his Ormskirk has seized him as St. Dunstan did the devil, and if the red-hot pincers could occasionally start up from the midst of the rappee, few persons would regret their embracing the proboscis of the offender. Lord Stanhope has very exactly calculated that in forty years, two entire years of the snuff-taker's life will be devoted to tickling his nose, and two more to the agreeable processes of blowing and wiping it, with other incidental circumstances. Well would it be if we bestowed half the time in making ourselves agreeable, that we waste in rendering ourselves offensive to our friends. Society takes its revenge by deciding, that no man would thrust dirt into his head, if he had got any thing else in it.
SOCIETY—If persons would never meet except when they have something to say, and if they would always separate
when they have exhausted their pleasant or profitable topics, how delightful, but alas ! how evanescent would be our social assemblages.
SOLDIER—A man machine, so thoroughly deprived of its human portion, that at the breath of another man machine, it will blindly inflict or suffer destruction. Divested of his tinsel trappings, his gold lace, feathers, music, and the glitter of the false glory with which it has been attempted to dazzle the world as to his real state, it is difficult to imagine any thing more humiliating than the condition of a soldier.
Nothing so much shows the triumph of opinion and usage over fact, of the conventional over the abstract, as that a profession, apparently so much at variance with all their feelings, should be chosen by gentlemen of independence, humanity, and reflection. Nothing is more redeeming to our common nature, than that such men, placed in a sphere so expressly calculated to make them both slavish and tyrannical, should generally preserve their good qualities from contamination. Why they ever entered it, we presume not to inquire, but we are bound to believe that the motive was not less rational and amiable than that of the affectionate Irishman, who enlisted in the seventy-fifth regiment, in order to be near his brother, who was a corporal in the seventy-sixth.-(Vide Josephus Molitor.)
SPECULATION—A word that sometimes begins with its second letter.
SPELLING—Bad—is sometimes the best, as in the case of the Beer vendor, who wrote over his shop-door, “ Bear sold here,” manifestly implying, as was observed by my friend T. H- , that it was his own Bruin. Not less ingenious was the device of the quack doctor, who announced in his printed handbills, that he could instantly cure, “the most obstinate agueros,” thus satisfactorily proving that he was no conjuror, and did not attempt to cure them by a spell.
SPINSTER-An unprotected female, and of course a fine subject for exercising the courage of cowards, and the wit of the witless.
STEAM_Strange that there should slumber in yonder tranquil pond a power so tremendous, that, could we condense and direct its energies, it might cleave the solid earth in twain, and yet so gentle that it may be governed, and applied, and set to perform its stupendous miracles by a child! The discovery that water would resist being boiled above 212 degrees, has conferred upon England its manufacturing supremacy, and will eventually produce changes, both moral and physical, of which it is difficult to limit the extent. One bushel of coals, properly consumed, will raise seventy millions of pounds weight a foot high. The Menai Bridge, weighing four millions of pounds, suspended at a medium height of 120 feet, might have been raised where it is by seven bushels of coals. M. Dupin estimated in 1820 the steam engines of England to possess a moving power equivalent to that of 6,400,000 men at the windlass. And this stupendous agent is at present only in its infancy!
STOMACH—The epicure's deity. Buffon gave it as his deliberate conviction, that this portion of our economy was the seat of thought, an opinion which he seems to have adopted from Persius, who dubs it a master of arts, and the dispenser of genius. So satisfied are we of its reflecting disposition, that we call a cow, or other beast with two stomachs, a ruminating animal par excellence. To judge by the quantity they eat, we might infer some of our own species to have two stomachs; but when we listen to their discourse we find it difficult to include them in the class of ruminating animals.
STONE—THE PHILOSOPHER'S—The folly of those who have inherited Midas's ears without his touch. A will-o'-the-wisp, however, does not always lead us into quagmires; in running after shadows we sometimes catch substances, and in following illusions overtake the most valuable realities. The pursuit of