Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/159

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Of Curiosity

(though one should call and pray him never so fair), but ready he is to discover and set abroad in the view of the whole world such things; for which we use locks, keys, bolts, bars, portals and gate-houses. Those winds (saith Ariston) are we most troubled and offended with which drive open our cloaks and garments that cover us, or blow and whisk them over our heads: but busy polypragmons doth lay abroad and display not the cloaks of their neighbours nor their coats; but discovereth their walls, setteth wide open their doors, and like a wind, pierceth, creepeth and entereth so far as to the tender-bodied and soft-skinned maiden, searching and inquiring in every bacchanal, in all dancings, wakes and night feasts, for some matter to raise slanders of her. And as one Cleon was noted by an old comical poet upon the stage:

Whose hands were both in Ætolie.
But heart and mind in Clopidie;

Even so the spirit of a curious and busy person is at one time in the stately palaces of rich and mighty men, in the little houses of mean and poor folk, in kings' courts, and in the bed-chambers of new-wedded wives; it is inquisitive in all matters, searching as well the affairs of strangers and travellers, as negotiations of lords and rulers, and otherwhile not without danger of his own person. For much like as if a man upon a kind of wanton curiosity will needs be tasting of aconite or libard-bane, to know (forsooth) the quality of it, cometh by a mischief and dieth of it before he can know anything thereof; so they that love to be prying into the faults of great persons, many times overthrow themselves before they come to any knowledge. For such as cannot be content with the abundant rays and radiant beams of the sun which are spread so clear over all things, but will needs strive and force themselves impudently to look full upon the circle of his body, and audaciously will presume and venture to pierce his brightness and enter into the very minds of his inward light, commonly dazzle their eyes and become stark blind. And therefore well and properly answered Philippides, the writer of comedies, upon a time when King Lysimachus spake thus unto him; What wouldest thou have me to impart unto thee of my goods, Philippides? What it pleaseth your majesty (quoth he), so it be nothing of your secrets. For to say a truth, the most pleasant and beautiful things simply, which belong to the estate of kings, do shew without, and are exposed to the view and sight of every man; to wit, their sumptuous