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Whitney's Choice of Emblemes 60

Silentium

Ad D. T. C. M.

PYTHAGORAS, unto his schollers gave,
This lesson firste, that silence they should keepe:
And this, wee reade Philosophers moste grave,
Yea in theire hartes, this Princes printed deepe:
   ULISSES wordes weare spare, but rightlie plac'd:
   This, NESTOR lik'de. LYCURGUS this imbrac'de.

This, famons made EPAMINONDAS boulde:
By this, great praise did DEMARATUS gaine:
This, Athens made to reverence ZENO oulde:
SIMONIDES condemned speaches vaine,
   Whose sayinge was, my wordes repentance had,
   But Silence yet, did never make mee sad.

And CATO sayeth: That man is next to GOD,
Whoe squares his speache, in reasons rightfull frame:
For idle wordes, GOD threatneth with his rodde,
And sayeth, wee must give reckoninge for the same:
   Sainct PAULE likewise, this faulte doth sharplie tutche,
   And oftentimes, condemneth bablinge mutche.

One calles the tounge, the gate of life, and deathe,
Which wiselie us'd, extolleth men on earthe:
Which lewdlie us'de, depriveth men of breathe,
And makes them mourne, whoe might have liv'de in mirthe:
   For evell wordes, pierce sharper then a sworde,
   Which ofte wee rue, thoughe they weare spoke in boorde.

Not that distroyes, into the mowthe that goes,
But that distroyes, that forthe thereof doth comme:
For wordes doe wounde, the inwarde man with woes,
Then wiselie speake, or better to bee domme
   The tounge, althowghe it bee a member small,
   Of man it is the best, or worste of all.

The foole, is thought with silence to be wise,
But when he prates, him selfe he dothe bewraye:
And wise men still, the babler doe dispise,
Then keepe a watche when thou haste owght to saie,
   What labour lesse, then for to houlde thy peace,
   Which aged daies, with quiet doth increase.

Th'Aegyptians wise, and other nations farre,
Unto this ende, HARPOCRATES devis'de,
Whose finger, still did seeme his mouthe to barre,
To bid them speake, no more then that suffis'de,
   Which signe thoughe oulde, wee may not yet detest,
   But marke it well, if wee will live in reste.