Silent People as Misjudged by the Noisy

—When a number of good-humored people are setting out, bright and early in the morning, on some exhilarating expedition, it is pleasant to notice how lively and expansive they are. For the first hour they talk all at once, laughing their words rather than speaking them. But as the forenoon goes on, one after another drops gradually into comparative quiet and silence. It is not that they have ceased to enjoy the excursion and each other, but the first effervescence of the uncorked animal spirits of the morning has spent itself.

In a similar fashion, as we get on in life past the period of obstreperous youth, we incline to talk less and write less, especially on the topics which we have most at heart. The younger people notice this, and think it is because we are growing lukewarm on these matters. They deplore us, among themselves, as being “lost leaders,” or lost followers, of this and the other fine cause. But they do not understand. The thought is deeper and stronger in us now, perhaps, than when it was visible at the surface and made more noise. We are beginning to realize the uselessness of perpetually talking, that is all. If there is a thing to be said, we prefer to wait and say it only when and where it will hit something or somebody.

Moreover, if the youngsters will observe us a little, they may see that we say a number of things — and pretty forcibly, too — by simply taking them for granted. They might follow us around, A and B and C, and a half dozen more of us elders, and listen to our talk for a whole week without ever hearing from us a single argument or exhortation on the subject, say, of the Intellectual Rights of Women, or the Rascality of Thick-and-Thin Partisans, or the Curse of the Ignorant Vote. But they would soon notice that what we quietly take for granted in our talk would furnish a number of tolerably strong creeds or platforms. They might come to the conclusion, too, that this quiet taking of certain things for granted by sensible and vigorous men and women is not to be despised, as a working force, in comparison with whole parlorsfull of vociferous chatter.