ALTHOUGH the French are great talkers, there is nevertheless among them a sort of silent dervishes, called Carthusians. They are said to cut out their tongues on entering the convent; and it is much to be desired that all other dervishes would deprive themselves in the same way of that which their profession renders useless to them.
Talking of these taciturn people reminds me that there are others who excel them in taciturnity, and who have a very remarkable gift. These are they who know how to talk without saying anything; and who carry on a conversation for two whole hours without its being possible to discover their meaning, to rehearse their talk, or to remember a word of what they have said.
This class of people are adored by the women; but not so much as some others who have received from nature the charming gift of smiling at the proper time, that is to say, every moment; and who receive with delighted approbation everything the ladies say.
I know others of them who are fortunate enough to be able to introduce into conversation inanimate things, and to make a long story about an embroidered coat, a white peruke, a snuffbox, a cane, a pair of gloves. It is well to begin in the street to make oneself heard by the noise of a coach and a thundering rap at the door: such a prologue paves the way for the rest of the discourse; and when the exordium is good, it secures toleration for all the nonsense which follows, but which, fortunately, arrives too late to be detected.
I assure you that these little gifts, which with us are of no account, are of great advantage here to those who are happy enough to possess them; and that a sensible man has no chance of shining where they are displayed.
PARIS, the 6th of the second moon of Rebiab, 1715.