It is well to be free in conversing,
   It is well to be able to chat
With a friend on a subject of interest---
   With a stranger on this thing or that.
Don't aim to be cold or reticent,
   But listen to reason I pray,
And remember this wisest of mottos,
   "Don't talk when you've nothing to say."

A gay, lively friend, or companion,
   With wits that are ready and quick,
Is better by far, than a stupid,
   And unconversational stick.
Yet speech at the best is but silver,
   While silence is golden alway.
And remember at all times and places,
   Don't talk when you've nothing to say.

I like to see well informed people
   Who know what to say, how and when.
And a little good nonsense and jesting
   Is not out of place, now and then.
But I dread the approach of a Magpie,
   Who chatters from grave themes to gay,
Who talks from the morn to the midnight,
   And always with nothing to say.


Shells. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee:Hauser & Storey, 1873.

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