!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Francis Bacon on Discourse

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Francis Bacon on Discourse

Francis Bacon first published "Of Discourse" in 1597 in a collection of short essays, and then in somewhat expanded form in subsequent 1612 and 1625 editions. Here, to give you a sense of Bacon's view of how to converse well, is the conclusion of the 1625 version:

I knew two noblemen, of the west part of England, whereof the one was given to scoff, but kept ever royal cheer in his house; the other would ask of those that had been at the other’s table, Tell truly was there never a flout or dry blow [scornful jest] given? To which the guest would answer, Such and such a thing passed. The lord would say, I thought he would mar a good dinner. Discretion of speech is more than eloquence; and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal, is more than to speak in good words or in good order. A good continued speech, without a good speech of interlocution, shows slowness: and a good reply or second speech, without a good settled speech, showeth shallowness and weakness. As we see in beasts, that those that are weakest in the course are yet nimblest in the turn; as it is betwixt the greyhound and the hare. To use too many circumstances ere one come to the matter, is wearisome; to use none at all, is blunt.


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