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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
Or discourse, signifies an interlocution between two or more persons, with this distinction, that conversation is used for any general intercourse of sentiments whatever, whereas a discourse means a conversation limited to some particular subject. To render conversation at all times agreeable, the following rules have been laid down,
1. The parties should meet together with a determined resolution to please and to be pleased.
2. No one should be eager to interrupt others, or be uneasy at being interrupted.
3. All should have leave to speak in turn.
4. Inattention should be carefully avoided.
5. Private concerns should never be mentioned, unless particularly enquired into, and even then as briefly as possible.
6. Each person should, as far as propriety will admit, be afforded an opportunity of discoursing on the subject with which he is best acquainted.
7. Stories should be avoided, unless short, pointed, and quite a propos.
8. Each person should speak often, but not long. Haranguing in private company is insupportable.
9. If the majority of the company be naturally silent or reserved, the conversation will flag, unless it be often renewed by one who can start new subjects.
10. It is improper to laugh at one's own wit and humour; this should be left to the company.
11. When the conversation is flowing in a serious and useful channel, never interrupt it by an ill-timed jest.
12. It is at all times extremely indelicate to whisper to one's next neighbour: this is in some degree a fraud, conversation being a kind of common property.
13. In speaking of absent people, the infallible rule is, to say no more than we should say if they were present. "I resolve, " said bishop Beveridge, "never to speak of a man's virtues to his face, nor of his faults behind his back." A golden rule! the observation of which would at once banish flattery and defamation from the world.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Conversation'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/c/conversation.html. 1802.