Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/272

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Plutarch's Morals


for his importunate and unseasonable words mar all his good works, and make them to lose their grace. Lysias upon a time, at the request of one who had a cause to plead unto at the bar, penned an oration for his purpose and gave it him. The party after he had read and read it over again, came unto Lysias heavy and ill-apaid, saying; The first time that I perused your oration methought it was excellently well written, and I wondered at it; but when I took it a second and third time in hand, it seemed very simply indited and carried no forcible and effectual style with it: Why (quoth Lysias, and smiled withal), know you not that you are to pronounce it but once before the judges? and yet see and mark withal the persuasive eloquence and sweet grace that is in the writing of Lysias, for I may be bold to say and affirm of him, that

The Muses with their broided violet hair,
Grac'd him with favour much and beauty fair.

And among those singular commendations that are given out of any poet, most true it is that Homer is he alone of all that ever were who overcame all satiety of the reader; seeming evermore new and fresh, flourishing always in the prime of lovely grace, and appearing young still and amiable to win favour; howbeit in speaking and professing thus much of himself:

It grieves me much for to rehearse again
A tale that once delivered hath been plain,

he sheweth sufficiently that he avoideth what he can, and feareth that tedious satiety which followeth hard at heels, and layeth wait (as it were) unto all long trains of speech; in which regard he leadeth the reader and hearer of his poems from one discourse and narration to another, and evermore with novelties doth so refresh and recreate him, that he thinketh he hath never enough; whereas our long-tongued chatterers do after a sort wound and weary the ears of their hearers by their tautologies and vain repetitions of the same thing as they that soil and slourry writing-tables when they be fair scoured and cleansed: and therefore let us set this first and foremost before their eyes, that like as they who force men to drink wine out of measure and undelayed with water, are the cause that the good blessing which was given us to rejoice our hearts and make us pleasant and merry, driveth some into sadness, and others into drunkenness and violence; even so, they that beyond all reason and to no purpose use their speech (which is a thing otherwise counted the most delightsome and amiable means of conference