"Sonner Hurt Than Healed," The National Anti-Slavery Standard, Feb 25, 1854
In this anonymous account, the narrator warns her readers about asking for and relying on gossip when moving to a new neighborhood. She herself makes the mistake of inquiring about people she has met during her walks, when she dines with an old acquaintance, and subsequently takes years to overcome the prejudices developed that evening.
In defending herself against the charge of being a gossip, the author distinguishes between "watching one's neighbors with a view to find out their private concerns for purposes of tattle, and that natural interest with which we observe those who are to form our future associates."
CreditReadex: African American Newspapers, Series 2
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"I was very much interested in speculating on the habits and characters of the people I met within my walks, and who I hoped would in time be among those friends, concerning whom I had been building so many castles in the air. I am not gossip; indeed I shrink from the whole system of busy-bodying and scandal-mongering, and feel it to be a very just remark that for every tale of scandal that is told, at least three people are injured–namely, the speaker, the listener, and the person spoken of. But, there is a difference between watching one's neighbors with a view to find out their private concerns for purposes of tattle, and that natural interest with which we observe those who are to form our future associates, and with whom our home and social comforts are to be closely interwoven.
I have since learned three excellent rules, which all who enter a neighborhood would do well to learn and practice, but which then alas I had not discovered. 1st, Remember that every character has its strong and its week points, its good and its bad qualities, and that it is your wisdom to try and discover the former, and be as blind as you can to the latter. 2nd, Never ask any one to tell you anything about your neighbours, as you will be sure to hear more of the bad than the good. 3rd, If you wish to love and be loved, to live in peace and to be useful, never tell to one neighbor anyhting you may have observed or been told that is objecitonable in another. "The least said is sooner mended." I would that I had held by these rules, but, as I have said, such was no the case. ..."