Conversation "A Noisy Man Is Always In The Right"

Stephen Miller

"A Noisy Man Is Always In The Right"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: As Cowper can vent his bitter irony and anger on those who deal in slaves or even are uncharitable toward their fellow man, so in Conversation, he can show the good and evil of speech, which he calls "a gift and not an Art." In its 906 lines of rhymed couplets, after the style of Alexander Pope (1688–1744), Cowper gives many examples of good and bad uses of talking. In conversations, some take chief delight in contradicting; others, in recounting even the simplest event, swearing often and forcefully as to its truth, "till affirmation breeds a doubt." The poet expresses his abhorrence of "Duels in the form of debate." Then he gives suggestions about arguing, warning against opposition merely for the sake of an argument and pointing out that some people wrongly believe that shouting is more convincing than logic.

But still remember, if you mean to please,
To press your point with modesty and ease.
The mark at which my juster aim I take
Is contradiction for its own dear sake . . .
The wrangler, rather than accord with you,
Will judge himself deceived, and prove it too.
Vociferated logic kills me quite,
A noisy man is always in the right;
I twirl my thumbs, fall back into my chair,
Fix on the wainscot a distressful stare,
And when I hope his blunders are all out,
Reply discreetly, "To be sure–no doubt."