WHEN in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary…. He imitated the pulpit style of the several clergymen of the village, and did it well, and with fine passion and energy. To me he was a wonder. I believed he was the greatest orator in the United States and would some day be heard from…. I think Jerry was right, in the main, but I think he did not go far enough.
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WHEN in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary…. He imitated the pulpit style of the several clergymen of the village, and did it well, and with fine passion and energy.
To me he was a wonder. I believed he was the greatest orator in the United States and would some day be heard from…. I think Jerry was right, in the main, but I think he did not go far enough. It was his idea that a man conforms to the majority view of his locality by calculation and intention. This happens, but I think it is not the rule.
It may be that such an opinion has been born somewhere, at some time or other, but I suppose it got away before they could catch it and stuff it and put it in the museum. I am persuaded that a coldly-thought-out and independent verdict upon a fashion in clothes, or manners, or literature, or politics, or religion, or any other matter that is projected into the field of our notice and interest, is a most rare thing — if it has indeed ever existed….
The outside influences are always pouring in upon us, and we are always obeying their orders and accepting their verdicts.
The Smiths like the new play; the Joneses go to see it, and they copy the Smith verdict. Morals, religions, politics, get their following from surrounding influences and atmospheres, almost entirely; not from study, not from thinking.
We know it is a matter of association and sympathy, not reasoning and examination; that hardly a man in the world has an opinion upon morals, politics, or religion which he got otherwise than through his associations and sympathies. Broadly speaking, there are none but corn-pone opinions. And broadly speaking, corn-pone stands for self-approval. Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people.
The result is conformity. Sometimes conformity has a sordid business interest — the bread-and-butter interest — but not in most cases, I think. For these gauds many a man will dump his life-long principles into the street, and his conscience along with them. We have seen it happen.
In some millions of instances. Men think they think upon great political questions, and they do; but they think with their party, not independently; they read its literature, but not that of the other side; they arrive at convictions, but they are drawn from a partial view of the matter in hand and are of no particular value. In our late canvass half of the nation passionately believed that in silver lay salvation, the other half as passionately believed that that way lay destruction.
Do you believe that a tenth part of the people, on either side, had any rational excuse for having an opinion about the matter at all? I studied that mighty question to the bottom — came out empty. Half of our people passionately believe in high tariff, the other half believe otherwise. Does this mean study and examination, or only feeling? The latter, I think. We all do no end of feeling, and we mistake it for thinking. And out of it we get an aggregation which we consider a boon.
Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it the Voice of God. Related Posts:.
Corn-Pone Opinions by Mark Twain
Beginning with an anecdote from his childhood in which he recalls the sermons of a lay preacher, Twain proceeds to discuss what he feels is a universal case of conformity and among the general population. The essay employs examples and cites evidence from the realms of fashion, literature, and dining etiquette to support his point that not only are people inclined toward conformity and self-approval, but that such qualities are derived from peer approval and a greater desire for solidarity with the general consensus. Throughout the piece, Twain uses a variety of rhetorical strategies and stylistic choices to arrange his words and express his thoughts. The culminating argument is packaged within a well-balanced narrative structure of claims, evidence and rhetorical elements. Alluding to his boyhood days in small town Missouri, Twain reminisces about a negro slave giving sermons from the top of a woodpile. James Harvey Robinson argues that people are not capable of thinking to a certain level of degree and likewise, people do not think wisely.
Overview of Corn-Pone Opinions by Mark Twain
Essay on Corn Pone Opinions By Mark Twain