As We Were Saying

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Harper & brothers, 1891 - American essays - 219 pages
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Page 79 - Let us have a new deal!" It is a natural exclamation, and does not necessarily mean any change of purpose. It always seems to a man that if he could shuffle the cards he could increase his advantages in the game of life, and, to continue the figure which needs so little explanation, it usually appears to him that he could play anybody else 's hand better than his own.
Page 42 - ... by impulse. When we meet we shall talk on set topics, determined beforehand. By this concentration we shall be able as one man or one woman to reach the human limit of cultivation, and get rid of all the aberrations of individual assertion and feeling. By studying together in clubs, by conversing in monotone and by rule, by thinking the same things and exchanging ideas until we have none left, we shall come into that social placidity which is one dream of the nationalists — one long step...
Page 33 - ... the order might be given for the talk to go on in that tone, and that every person who raised the voice and began to scream should be gagged and removed to another room. In this room could be collected all the screamers to enjoy their own powers. The same experiment might be tried at a dinner-party, namely, to ascertain if the total hum of low voices in the natural key would not be less for the individual voice to overcome than the total scream of all the voices raised to a shriek. If scientific...
Page 123 - Drawer would like to emphasize the noble, self-sacrificing spirit of American women. There are none like them in the world. They take up all the burdens of artificial foreign usage, where social caste prevails, and bear them with a heroism worthy of a worse cause. They indeed represent these usages to be a burden almost intolerable, and yet they submit to them with a grace and endurance all their own. Probably there is no harderworked person than a lady in the season, let us say in Washington, where...
Page 29 - ... on account of the low, heavenly pitch of his voice. His inference would be that these people had been selected to come together by reason of their superior power of screaming. He would be wrong. They are selected on account of their intelligence, agreeableness, and power of entertaining each other. They come together, not for exercise, but pleasure, and the more they crowd and jam and struggle, and the louder they scream, the greater the pleasure. It is a kind of contest, full of good-humor and...
Page 183 - ... interposition of fiction. But the conduct of the novelists and the painters makes the task of the conservators of society doubly perplexing. Neither the writers nor the artists have a due sense of the responsibilities of their creations. The trouble appears to arise from the imitativeness of the race. Nature herself seems readily to fall into imitation. It was noticed by the friends of nature that when the peculiar coal-tar colors were discovered, the same faded, aesthetic, and sometimes sickly...
Page 164 - ... perhaps his taste is not yet equal to his means, but there is no question of his adaptability to the sort of display which is so pleasing to the greater part of the human race, and which contributes so much to the brightness and cheerfulness of this world. We cannot all have decorations, and cannot all wear uniforms, or even regalia, and some of us have little time for going about in military or civic processions, but we all like to have our streets put on a holiday appearance ; and we cannot...
Page 98 - ... is something pathetic in the expression " He is as shy as a girl;" it may appeal for sympathy and the exercise of the protective instinct in women. Unfortunately it is a little discredited, so many of the old plays turning upon its assumption by young blades who are no better than they should be. What would be the effect upon the masculine character and comfort if this shyness should become general, as it may in a contingency that is already on the horizon? We refer, of course, to the suggestion,...
Page 135 - ... that the people who would like to talk together are not neighbors; and if they are, they exhaust each other to weariness in an hour, at least of topics which can be talked about with the risk of being overheard. A duet to be agreeable must be to a certain extent confidential, and the dinner-table duet admits of little except generalities, and generalities between two have their limits of entertainment. Then there is the awful possibility that the neighbors at table may have nothing to say to...
Page 30 - Reception, and in a moment more the screaming would begin again, the voices going higher and higher, until, if the roof were taken off, one vast shriek would go up to heaven. This is not only a fashion, it is an art. People have to train for it, and as it is a unique amusement, it is worth some trouble to be able to succeed in it. Men, by reason of their stolidity and deeper voices, can never be proficients in it; and they do not have so much practice — unless they are stock-brokers. Ladies keep...

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