to use the country phrase
It is a nail of pain and pleasure, said Plato, which fastens the body to the mind... I find few books so entertaining as the wistful human history written out in the faces of any collection of men at church or court-house. The silent assembly thus talks very loud.... In the silentest meeting, the eye reads the plain prose of life, timidity, caution, appetite, ignorance, old houses, musty savors, stationary, retrograde faculties puttering round (to use the country phrase) in paltry routines from January to December.
These are the precincts of comedy and farce.
ex R. W. Emerson, “The Comic,” in The Dial 4:2 (October 1843) : 247-256