Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/283

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261
Intemperate Speech or Garrulity


laughing thereat: I marvel (quoth he) that you should say so of Denys, who is so often under my hands, and at whose throat in a manner every day I hold my razor: these words were soon carried to the tyrant Denys, who fair crucified this barber and hanged him for his foolish words. And to say a truth, all the sort of these barbers be commonly busy fellows with their tongue; and no marvel, for lightly the greatest praters and idlest persons in a country frequent the barber's shop, and sit in his chair, where they keep such chat, that it cannot be but by hearing them prate so customably, his tongue also must walk with them. And therefore King Archelaus answered very pleasantly unto a barber of his, that was a man of no few words, who when he had cast his linen cloth about his shoulders, said unto him: Sir, may it please your highness to tell me how I shall cut or shave you? Marry (quoth he), holding thy tongue and saying not a word. A barber it was who first reported in the city of Athens the news of that great discomfiture and overthrow which the Athenians received in Sicily; for keeping his shop (as he did) in that end of the suburbs called Pyraeum, he had no sooner heard the said unlucky news of a certain slave who fled from thence out of the field when it was lost, but leaving shop and all at six and seven, ran directly into the city, and never rested to bring the said tidings, and whiles they were fresh and fire-new,

For fear some else might all the honour win,
And he too late, or second, should come in.

Now upon the broaching of these unwelcome tidings, a man may well think (and not without good cause) that there was a great stir within the city; insomuch, as the people assembled together into the market-place or common hall, and search was made for the author of this rumour: hereupon the said barber was haled and brought before the body of the people, and examined; who knew not so much as the name of the party of whom he heard this news; But well assured I am (quoth he) that one said so, marry, who it was or what his name might be I cannot tell. Thus it was taken for an headless tale, and the whole theatre or assembly was so moved to anger, that they cried out with one voice; Away with the villain, have the varlet to the rack, set the knave upon the wheel, he it is only that hath made all on his own fingers' ends, this hath he and none but he levised; for who else hath heard it, or who besides him hath believed it? Well, the wheel was brought, and upon it was the