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Tact And Talent

Talent is something, but tact is everything. Talent is serious, sober, grave, and respectable. Tact is all that, and more too. It is not a sixth sense, but it is the life of all the five. It is the open eye, the quick ear, the judging taste, the keen smell, the lively touch. It is the interpreter of all riddles, the surmounter of all difficulties, the remover of all obstacles. It is useful in all places and at all times. It is useful in solitude, for it shows a man his way into the world. It is useful in society, for it shows him his way through the world.

Talent is power, tact is skill; talent is weight, tact is momentum. Talent knows what to do, tact knows how to do it; talent makes a man respectable, tact will make him respected; talent is wealth, tact is ready money. For all the practical purposes of life, tact carries against talent, ten to one.

Talent makes the world wonder that it gets on no faster, tact excites astonishment that it gets on so fast. And the secret is that it has no weight to carry; it makes no false steps; it hits the right nail on the head; it loses no time; it takes all hints, and by keeping its eye on the weathercock is ready to take advantage of every wind that blows. Take them into the church. Talent has always something worth hearing, tact is sure of abundance of hearers; talent may obtain a living, tact will make one; talent gets a good name, tact a great one; talent convinces, tact converts; talent is an honor to the profession, tact gains honor from the profession.

Take them into court. Talent feels its weight, tact finds its way; talent commands, tact is obeyed; talent is honored with approbation, tact is blessed by preferment. Place them in the senate. Talent has the ear of the house, but tact wins its heart and has its votes; talent is fit for employment, but tact is fitted for it, it has all the air of commonplace, and all the forces and power of genius.

From "London Atlas,"

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