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[ Also see Address Assertions Company Discussion Eloquence Gossip Language Linguists Oratory Repartee Silence Speech Story Telling Talk Talking Tongue Visiting Voice Wit Words ]

In private conversation between intimate friends, the wisest men very often talk like the weakest; for indeed the talking with a friend is nothing else but thinking aloud.
      - Joseph Addison

Method is not less requisite in ordinary conversation than in writing, provided a man would talk to make himself understood.
      - Joseph Addison,
        in the "Spectator", no. 476

One would think that the larger the company is in which we are engaged, the greater variety of thoughts and subjects would be started into discourse; but, instead of this we find that conversation is never so much straightened and confined, as in numerous assemblies.
      - Joseph Addison

Conversation is an abandonment to ideas, a surrender to persons.
      - Amos Bronson Alcott

Debate is angular, conversation circular and radiant of the underlying unity.
      - Amos Bronson Alcott

Debate is masculine; conversation feminine.
      - Amos Bronson Alcott

Egotists cannot converse, they talk to themselves only.
      - Amos Bronson Alcott

Good discourse sinks differences and seeks agreements.
      - Amos Bronson Alcott

Jeffrey, in conversation, was like a skilful swordsman flourishing his weapon in the air; while Mackintosh, with a thin sharp rapier, in the middle of his evolutions, ran him through the body.
      - Sir Archibald Alison

It is all right to hold a conversation but you should let go of it now and then.
      - Richard Armour

He that questioneth much shall learn much and content much; but especially if he apply his questions to the skill of the persons whom he asketh; for he shall give them occasion to please themselves in speaking, and himself shall continually gather knowledge; but let his questions not be troublesome, for that is fit for a poser; and let him be sure to leave other men their turn to speak; nay, if there be any that would reign and take up all the time, let them find means to take them off, and bring others on,--as musicians used to do with those that dance too long galliards. If you dissemble sometimes your knowledge of that you are thought to know, you shall be thought, another time, to know that you know not.
      - Francis Bacon

He is so full of pleasant anecdote;
  So rich, so gay, so poignant in his wit,
    Time vanishes before him as he speaks,
      And ruddy morning through the lattice peeps
        Ere night seems well begun.
      - Joanna Baillie

We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.
      - Bible, Psalms (ch. LV, v. 14)

To speak well supposes a habit of attention which shows itself in the thought; by language we learn to think, and above all to develop thought.
      - Carl Victor de Bonstetten

The perfection of conversation is not to play a regular sonata, but, like the AEolian harp, to await the inspiration of the passing breeze.
      - Edmund Burke

With good and gentle-humored hearts
  I choose to chat where'er I come
    Whate'er the subject be that starts.
      But if I get among the glum
        I hold my tongue to tell the truth
          And keep my breath to cool my broth.
      - John Byrom, Careless Content

One could take down a book from a shelf ten tines more wise and witty than almost any man's conversation. Bacon is wiser, Swift more humorous, than any person one is likely to meet with; but they cannot chime in with the exact frame of thought in which we happen to take them down from our shelves. Therein lies the luxury of conversation: and when a living speaker does not yield us that luxury, he becomes only a book on two legs.
      - Thomas Campbell

In conversation avoid the extremes of forwardness and reserve.
      - Cato (Marcus Porcius Cato "The Elder") (a/k/a Cato the Censor)

Conversation stock being a joint and common property, every one should take a share in it; and yet there may be societies in which silence will be our best contribution.
      - Paul Chatfield (a/k/a Horace Smith)

Never hold any one by the button or the hand in order to be heard out; for if people are unwilling to hear you; you had better hold your tongue than them.
      - 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope

Topics of conversation among the multitude are generally persons, sometimes things, scarcely ever principles.
      - William Benton Clulow

Conversation is the music of the mind, an intellectual orchestra, where all the instruments should bear a part, but where none should play together. Each of the performers should have a just appreciation of his own powers, otherwise an unskilful novice who might usurp the first fiddle, would infallibly get into a scrape. To prevent these mistakes, a good master of the band will be very particular in the assortment of the performers; if too dissimilar, there will be no harmony, if too few, there will be no variety; and if too numerous, there will be no order, for the. presumption of one prater, might silence the eloquence of a Burke, or the wit of a Sheridan, as a single kettle-drum would drown the finest solo of a Gionowich or a Jordini.
      - Charles Caleb Colton

Some men are very entertaining for a first interview, but after that they are exhausted, and run out; on a second meeting we shall find them flat and monotonous; like hand-organs, we have heard all their tunes.
      - Charles Caleb Colton

When we are in the company of sensible men, we ought to be doubly cautious of talking too much, lest we lose two good things, their good opinion and our own improvement; for what we have to say we know, but what they have to say we know not.
      - Charles Caleb Colton

But conversation, choose what theme we may,
  And chiefly when religion leads the way,
    Should flow, like waters after summer show'rs,
      Not as if raised by mere mechanic powers.
      - William Cowper, Conversation (l. 703)

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