THE ART OF CONVERSATION.
Daily Chronicle, January 21, 1904
[Conversation at Society dinner tables is said to deal now exclusively with diseases and cures.]
We used until the other day
To talk on every kind of topic,
The latest book, the freshest play,
The newest movement philanthropic:
We sometimes probed—it served our need—
Some politician’s last oration—
Those were sufficient fuel to feed
A desultory conversation.
But now we try another plan
(I question if it’s an improvement):
A weather-dictum shows a man
Beyond the pale, not in the movement.
We don’t discuss the latest play,
Such trivial talk no longer pleases:
Our table-tattle turns to-day
Exclusively upon diseases.
Entrancing theme! He never fails
To shine in well-bred conversations,
Who thrills the company with tales
Of interesting amputations,
Or woos them from a state of dumps
With apt, exhilarating humour
Anent the lighter side of mumps,
The inner quaintness of a tumour.
And yet, I own it with a sigh,
Though, mark you, I am not complaining,
I pass each dish untasted by,
My hunger curiously waning.
And when the ladies rise, I find,
Feeling exceptionally odd, I
May possibly have fed the mind
But not by any means the body.
P. G. W.