Candour as a Home Commodity

The brutality of some qualities of candour.

Why is it that members of some households consider themselves at liberty to make the rudest remarks to each other on subjects that ought to be sacred ground? We all know the old saying which tells us that fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and when we find strangers from without the home circle inter-meddling with the bitter griefs of its members, we are full of condemnation. For instance, when a callous question was asked of a girl in mourning as to whom she was wearing it for, the indignation of those in hearing of it knew no bounds. But there are other griefs than bereavement, and sometimes they are even harder to bear. If perfect freedom of remark is habitually indulged in, the habit grows, and grows, and the operator at last becomes so hardened to the sight of the pain she inflicts that it makes no impression on her—no more than a hedgehog’s prickles make on their proprietor.

The painfully frank person not always a model of justice.

There is far too much candour in family life! Like all perversions of good qualities, it is more aggravating than many wholly bad ones. The possessor can always make out such a good case for herself. “I always say what I think,” is one of the favourite expressions of these candid folk. “I never flatter any one,” is another of their pet sayings, but I have always observed that a painfully frank person is by no means rigidly “true and just in all her dealings,” as the Catechism puts it. Quite the contrary, in fact. Such persons seem to use up all their stock of candour in dealing round heart-aches and planting roots of bitterness where-ever they find an opportunity. They have none left for occasions when it is obviously against their own interests to be very honest and open. Double-dealing often lurks behind an exaggerated appearance of frankness.

Politeness need not mean stiffness.

The cultivation of politeness in the home averts much of this element of brusquerie and unnecessary candour with their consequences of ill-will and wounded spirits. Politeness need not mean stiffness, as some folk seem to fancy that it does. It is only when it is but occasionally donned and not habitually worn that it becomes inseparable from a feeling of gêne. “Company manners” should not be very different from those of everyday life, but those of every day are often lamentably insufficient.

“A prophet is not honoured.”

The alchemy of noble natures.

The reason that so many wounds can be dealt to those at home by the wielders of the weapon of candour is that we are known with all our faults to the members of the home circle. Our weaknesses cannot expect to escape the notice of those who see us every day, and it is only after long practice that we learn to receive the thrusts of the over-candid with a patient forbearance. Sometimes we are fain to acknowledge that we have profited by the sound and wholesome home-truths conveyed to us by their means, but it needs a noble nature to accept in this way what was meant as a dagger-thrust. There are cases where some natural defect is made the butt of sneers and rude remarks, as when a sister remarks to a brother, “Pity you’re so short, Jack!” when she knows very well that poor Jack would willingly give a finger to be the length of it taller. These nasty little jests are not forgotten, and when the day comes that the sister might exert a beneficent influence over Jack, she finds that he is armed against her by the memory of her own words.

Revealing family secrets.

A very hateful form of candour is that which impels people to reveal family secrets, which have for some very good reason been kept from some of the members. “They think it only right that he should know,” and straightway proceed to inform him, whoever he may be, without even giving the unfortunate relatives the chance of telling him themselves. Such a case occurred once in a family with which I had some acquaintance. A woman, who was not even a relative, revealed a carefully-guarded secret to a boy

  By PanEris using Melati.

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