“Like starting a stone”

“I feel very strongly about putting questions; it partakes too much of the style of the day of judgment. You start a question, and it’s like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back garden and the family have to change their name. No sir, I make a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask.”

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories, R.L. Stevenson, Reader’s Digest Edition, 1991, p. 13.

I wish more people had the view of Mr. Enfield (the speaker). I’ve always subscribed to the “least said, soonest mended” school of thought, even when it has proved to be completely wrong for the situation. But there are a lot of personal “issues” that only become issues when they are repeatedly brought up, called attention to, and hashed over, so I’d rather just keep mum and see what resolves itself.

However, I grant that ignoring a problem and hoping it goes away is not an effective strategy for everything, and sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which. I suppose that begs the question whether, in the context these words are spoken, if somebody had asked more questions and pursued answers about the Hyde/Jekyll situation, the crisis could have been averted.

I may have to re-read the story to formulate any definite opinions on the matter. But for now, my default is to simply respond to Mr. Enfield’s rule of minding one’s own business with the same sentiments as Mr. Utterson: “A very good rule, too.”

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