in this Kind of Conversation."(49) Writers who counseled the middling sort did give one piece of conversational advice that is not found in works for the elite alone: never interrupt.
Authors for the middling sort passed along Chesterfield's denunciations of awkwardness in speech and his insistence on the importance of choosing and pronouncing one's words with care.
Chesterfield and his followers recommended small talk, which served to keep off "certain serious subjects, that might create disputes." Works that addressed the middling sort specified that general topics such as literature, poetry, philosophy or history were also safe.
Both the elite and the middling sort were given a variety of counsels aimed at keeping conversation pleasant, and here too, the middling sort were given more extensive instructions.
On the whole, the extra advice for the middling sort on body carriage, facial expression, and conversation aimed at explaining exactly how they should exert self-mastery.
The middling sort were given some advice that was not addressed to the elite or the lower sort.
The most elaborate counsels are found in works that addressed the middling sort; and most of the elaborations asked the middling sort to be a little more gentle with inferiors than had been required in the past.
The new advice to the middling sort tended to be interspersed with more traditional advice regarding inferiors, advice that reminds us of the limits of revolutionary-era levelling.
The new sensibility is betrayed in some remarks to the middling sort regarding the management of time in encounters with inferiors.