|Diane's Antique Book Collection|
The Art of Conversing with Fluency and Propriety
Undue Pretensions to Learning.- Avoid even the appearance of pedantry. If you are conversing with persons of very limited attainments, you will make yourself far more acceptable, as well as useful to them, by accommodating yourself to their capacities, than by compelling them to listen to what they cannot understand. Possibly in some instances you may make them stare at your supposed wisdom, and perhaps they may even quote you as an oracle of learning; but it is much more probable than even they will smile at such an exhibition as a contemptible weakness.
With the intelligent and discerning, this effect will certainly be produced; and that whether your pretensions to learning are well founded or not; the simple fact that you aim to appear learned, that you deal much in allusion to the classics, or the various departments of science, with an evident intention to display your familiarity with them, will be more intolerable than absolute ignorance.
Thornwell, Emily, THE LADY’S GUIDE TO COMPLETE ETIQUETTE, New York, Belford, Clarke & Company, 1884