Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/162

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140
Plutarch's Morals

excuse at all that his leisure will not serve to hear out the tale,

But bids say on, and tell us more:
And close he holds his ear therefore.

So that this sentence,

How sooner much are ill news understood
And heard by men (alas) than tidings good!

is well and truly verified of these curious polypragmons. For like as cupping glasses, boxes, and ventoses draw the worst matter out of the flesh; even so, the ears of curious and busy folk are willing to receive and admit the most lewd and naughtiest speeches that are: or rather, to speak more properly, as towns and cities have certain cursed and unlucky gates, at which they send out malefactors to execution, carry and throw forth their dung, ordure, filthiness, and cleansings whatsoever, but never cometh in or goeth out that way anything that pure is and holy; semblably, the ears of these curious intermeddlers be of the same nature: for there entereth and passeth into them nothing that is honest, civil and lovely; but the bruit and rumours of cruel murders have access unto them, and there make abroad, bringing therewith wicked, abominable, profane and cursed reports: and as one said:

The only bird that in my house doth ever chant and sing,
Both night and day, is doleful moan, much sorrow and wailing.

So this is the muse, siren and mermaid alone that busy folk have; neither is there anything that they hearken to more willingly: for curiosity is an itching desire to hear secrets and hidden matters: and well you wot that no man will lightly conceal any good thing that he hath; considering that many times we make semblance of good parts that be not in us. And therefore the busy intermeddler who is so desirous to know and hear of evils, is subject to that which the Greeks call ὄπιχαιρεσκακία, a vice, cousin-german or sister rather to envy and eye-biting.

Forasmuch as envy is nothing else but the grief for another man's good: and the foresaid ὄπιχαιρεσκακία the joy for his harm: and verily both these infirmities proceed from an untoward root, even another untamed vice and savage disposition, to wit, malignity or malice. And this we know well, that so irksome and odious it is to every man for to bewray and reveal the secrets, evils and vices which he hath, that many men have chosen to die rather than to discover and open unto physicians any of their hidden maladies, which they carry about them. Now suppose that Heraclitus or Erosistratus, the physicians;