Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/357

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
Profiting by Our Enemies

with prodigality, if thou be a covetous miser thyself. Alcmæon reviled Adrastus (upon a time) in this wise: Thou

A sister hast by parents twain,
Whose hands her husband dear have slain.

But what answered Adrastus? He objected not unto him the crime of another, but payeth him home with his own, after this manner:

But thou thyself hast murder'd
Thine own kind mother, who thee bred.

In like sort, when Domitius (upon a time) seemed to reproach Crassus, saying: Is it not true, that when your lamprey was dead which was kept full daintily for you in a stew, you wept therefore? Crassus presently came upon him again with this bitter reply: And is it not true, that you, when you followed three wives of yours one after another to their funeral fire, never shed tear for the matter? It is not so requisite or necessary iwis (as the vulgar sort do think) that he who checketh and rebuketh another should have a ready wit of his own and a natural gift in doing it, or a loud and big voice, or an audacious and bold face; no, but such an one he ought to be, that cannot be noted and taxed with any vice: for it should seem that Apollo addressed this precept of his [Know thyself] to no person so much as to him who would blame and find fault with another; for fear lest such men, in speaking to others what they would, hear that again which they would not. For it happeneth ordinarily as Sophocles saith: That such an one

Who lets his tongue run foolishly,
In noting others bitterly,
Shall hear himself (unwillingly)
The words he gave so wilfully.

Lo, what commodity and profit ensueth upon reproaching an enemy!

Neither cometh there less good and advantage unto a man by being reproached by another, and hearing himself reviled by his enemies: and therefore it was well and truly said of Antisthenes, that such men as would be saved and become honest another day, ought of necessity to have either good friends, or most spiteful and bitter enemies: for as they with their kind remonstrances and admonitions, so these with their reproachful terms were like to reform their sinful life. But forasmuch as amity and friendship nowadays speaketh with a small and low voice when faults should freely be reproved, and is very audible and full of words in flattering, altogether mute and dumb in rebukes