Some time ago the editor of one of a magazines which specialize in word study asked a small number of distinguished writers to answer the following questions:
1. What word to you in English seems the most beautiful in sound?
2. What English word seems to you the most useful in the language?
3. What word to you seems the most annoyingly used or misused?
In answer to the first question, seeking the most beautiful word, some of the old favorites were given, among them the musical word "Mesopotamia." This is the word the great English actor Garrick wished he could pronounce the way the famous preacher George Whitefield pronounced it. Nearly all agreed that the most misused word is "Yes," and nearly all voted that the most useful word in the language is "No."
The late United States senator from Massachusetts, and one of the noblest characters the Senate has known, George F. Hoar, in his Autobiography tells of his college days at Harvard in the early forties. He pays a high tribute to one of the faculty, Dr. James Walker, who frequently preached in the college chapel. He says that the ticking of the clock in the chapel was inaudible when the chapel was empty, but it ticked out clear and loud upon the strained ears of the students as they waited for the next sentence from the preacher.
Among the sermons which Hoar recalled after sixty years was one which he says no hearer could forget to the day of
his death. It was on the text, "Thou shalt say, No."
General Grant, describing his able and faithful chief of staff, General John Rawlins, says of him that to a request he felt should not be granted he knew how to say No in such a manner that the request was never repeated. To be able to do that is an important equipment, not only for a staff officer in war, but for all of us in the battle of life.