Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/269

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Intemperate Speech or Garrulity

much money at such a time; as Archilochus was wont to say, yea, and Aristotle also, that wise philosopher: for when upon a time he was much troubled with one of these busy praters, who haunted and wearied him out of measure with cavilling tales and many foolish and absurd discourses, iterating eftsoons these words; And is not this a wonderful thing, Aristotle? No, iwis (quoth he again), but this were a wonder rather, if a man that hath feet of his own should stand still and abide to hear you thus prate. Unto another also of the same stamp, who after much prittle-prattle and a long discourse, said thus unto him: I doubt I have been tedious unto you, philosopher, with my many words; No, in good sooth (quoth Aristotle unto him), for I gave no ear at all unto you. For if otherwhiles men cannot shake such praters off, but must of necessity let their tongues walk, this benefit he hath by the soul, that she retireth inwardly all the while lending the outward ears only for them to beat upon, and dash as it were all about with their jangling bibble-babble; for she in the meantime is otherwise occupied, and discourseth to herself of divers matters within; by which means such fellows can meet with no hearers that take heed what they say, or believe their words. For as it is generally held, that the natural seed of such as are lecherous and much given to the company of women is unfruitful and of no force to engender; even so the talk of these great praters is vain, barren, and altogether fruitless. And yet there is no part or member of our body that nature hath so surely defended (as it were) with a strong rampart as the tongue: for before it she hath set a palisado of sharp teeth, to the end that if peradventure it will not obey reason, which within holdeth it hard as with a strait bridle, but it will blatter out and not tarry within, we might bite it until it bleed again, and so restrain the intemperance thereof. For Euripides said not that houses unbolted.

But tongues and mouths unbridled if they be
Shall find in th'end mishap and misery.

And those in my conceit who say that housen without doors, and purses without strings, serve their masters in no stead, and yet in the meantime neither set hatch nor lock unto their mouths, but suffer them run out and overflow continually, like unto the mouth of the sea Pontus, these, I say, in mine opinion seem to make no other account of words than of the basest thing in the world; whereby they are never believed (say what they will), and yet this is the proper end and scope that all speech