Silence

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SILENCE. The state of a person who does not speak, or of one who refrains from speaking.
     2. Pure and simple silence cannot be considered as a consent to a contract, except in cases when the silent person is bound in good faith to explain himself, in which case, silence gives consent. 6 Toull. liv. 3, t. 3, n. 32, note; 14 Serg. & Rawle, 393; 2 Supp. to Ves. jr. 442; 1 Dane's Ab. c. 1, art. 4, Sec. 3; 8 T. R. 483; 6 Penn. St. R. 336; 1 Greenl. Ev. 201; 2 Bouv. Inst. n. 1313. But no assent will be inferred from a man's silence, unless, 1st. He knows his rights and knows what he is doing and, 2d. His silence is voluntary.
     3. When any person is accused of a crime, or charged with any fact, and he does not deny it, in general, the presumption is very strong that the charge is correct. 7 C. & P. 832 5 C. & P. 332; Joy on Conf. s. 10, p. 77.
     4. The rule does not extend to the silence of a prisoner, when on his examination before a magistrate he is charged by another prisoner with having joined him in the commission of an offence: 3 Stark. C. 33.
     5. When an oath is administered to a witness, instead of expressly promising to keep it, he gives his assent by his silence, and kissing the book.
     6. The person to be affected by the silence must be one not disqualified to act as non compos, an infant, or the like, for even the express promise of such a person would not bind him to the performance of any contract.
     7. The rule of the civil law is that silence is not an acknowledgment or denial in every case, qui tacet, non utique fatetur: sed tamen verum est, eum non negaro. Dig. 50, 17, 142.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in classic literature ?
There was a moment's silence, during which one could have fancied the hall empty, so profound was the stillness.
For an instant the dancers paused, and in the silence of the interval there rose from the lips of the fast-bound white man an answering shriek, more fearsome and more terrible than that of the jungle-beast that had roused it.
On Ginevra's arrival she was received, as we have said, in profound silence. Of all the young women who had, so far, come to Servin's studio, she was the handsomest, the tallest, and the best made.
They continued to walk for some time in silence. Their steps unconsciously quickened.
"Was my father wrong?" she asked, with a simple dignity of tone and manner which forced Lady Janet to abandon her policy of silence, in spite of herself.
"I am sure that no other crime is being committed, on this night; for there is complete silence in the boudoir, where two nurses are taking care of Mademoiselle Stangerson until she is restored to health.
Nicholson digested the vile tidings in silence, and when John stole a glance at his father's countenance, he was abashed to see the marks of suffering.
There was a dead silence. The officers and men looked at each other confusedly.
Suddenly, the silence in the next room was disturbed by the ringing of an electric bell.
Two or three Bull-dogs whom I guessed to be the Body-Guard of the King--were waiting in grim silence: in fact the only voices at all plainly audible were those of two little dogs, who had mounted a settee, and were holding a lively discussion that looked very like a quarrel.
In her rambling and her idleness she might only be a caricature of herself; but in her silence and sadness she was the very reverse of all that she had been before.
There was a brief silence. Granet lounged a little back in his chair, but though his air of indifference was prefect, a sickening foreboding was creeping in upon him.