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some good action. The latter two are well worthy of observation ; but the first concerns our present undertaking Alexander having received divers letters of great importance from his mother; after he had read them, in the presence of none but his dear friend Ephestion and himself, he drew forth his signet which sealed his most private letters, and without speaking, set it upon Ephestion's lips, intimating thereby, that he in whose bosom a man buries his secrets, should have his lips locked up from revealing them.
Among the rest it may not be disagreeable to the reader to peruse the following story, as told by. Aulus Gellius in his Attie : Nights, and by Macrobius in his Saturnals. ' 2 intito
The sénators of Rome, at their usual sitting in the senate-house, had constituted a custom among themselves, that each brother senator who had a son, should be admitted with his father to abide in the sénate-house during their sitting, or depart if occasion required ; nor was this favour general, but extended only to noblemen's sons, who were tutor’d in such a manner as enabled them to becoine wise governors,lcapable of keeping their own secrets. About this time it happened that the senators sat in : consultation of a very important cause, so that they stayed much longer than usual, and the conclusion referred to the following day, with express charge of secrecy in the mean time. cAmong the other noblemen's sons who had been at this weigthy business, was thatfaithful youth the son of the grave Papirus, whose family was one of the most noble and illustrious in all Rome.
The young tad being come home, his mother (as nost of the fair-sex are highly affected with novelty)T intreated him to tell her what istrange case had been that day debated in the senate, that had power to detain them so long beyond their usual hours: The virtuous and noble youth courteously told her that
it was a business-not in his power to reveal, he being in a solemn manner. commanded to silence : Upon hearing this answer, her desires became more earnest in stricter enquries into the case, and nothing but intelligence thereof could any way content her: So that first by fair speeches and intreaties, with liberal promises, she endeavoured to break open this poor little casket of secrecy : But finding these efforts in vain, she made use of violent threats, and stripes thinking, that force might compel, where lenity could not. : The admired noble spirit finding a mother's threats to be very harsh, but her stripes more bitter than any thing beside ; comparing his love to her as his mother, with the duty he owed to his father ; the one might, but the other impulsive , he lays her and her fond conceit in one scale ; his father, his own honour, and solemn injunctions to secrecy, in the other scale ; and finding her intrinsic weight, as being his mother, but lighter than wind being thus gone out of herself; whetting his tender wit upon the sandy stone of her. edging importunity, to appease her, and preserve his own honour by remaining, faithful, he thus resolved her:.
Madam, and dear mother, you may well blame the senate for their long sitting, at least for calling in question a case so impertinent; for except the wives of the senators be admitted to consult thereon, there can be no hope of a conclusion: I speak this but out of my young apprehension, for I know their gravity may easily confound me; and yet, whether nature or duty so instruct me, I cannot tell : But to them it seems necessary, for the increase of people, and for the public good, that every senator should be allowed two wives; or otherwise, their wives two husbands : I shall hardly under one roof call two men by the name
of father; I had rather call two women by the name of mother. This is the question, mother ; and to-morrow it must have determination.
The mother hearing this, and his seeming unwilling to reveal it, took it for infallible truth: Her blood quickly fired, and rage ensued. I need not put the reader in mind that such sudden heats seldom admit of consideration ; but on the contrary, hurry the senses and faculties further to rashness, and other follies ; by which they are rendered incapable of doing themselves such good actions, or service, as their case often require : So without requiring any other counsel, she immediately sent to the other ladies and matrons of Rome, to acquaint them with this weighty affair, wherein the peace and welfare of their whole lives was so nearly concerned. This melancholy news blew up such a brain-sick passion, that the ladies immediately assembled ; and though, some say, that a parliament of women are very seldom governed by one speaker, yet this affair being so urgent, the haste as pertinent, and the case on their behalf, merely indulgent, the revealing woman must prolocute for herself and the rest. And the next morning such a din was at the senate door, for admission to sit with their husbands in this wonderous consultation, as if all Rome had been
Their minds must not be known before they have audience; which (though against all order) being granted, such an oration was made by the woman speaker, with request that women might have two husbands rather than men two wives, who could scarcely content one, &c. Upon the riddle's solution, the noble youth was highly commended for his' fidelity, and the ladies greatly confounded, and departed very likely with blushing cheeks. Nevertheless, to avoid the like inconveniency for the future, it was determined that thence forward they should bring their sons no more into the senate ; only young Papirus, who was freely accepted, and his secrecy and discreet policy not only applauded, but himself with titles of honour dignified and rewarded.
in an uproar.
Nor should we forget the faithful Anaxarchus as related by Pliny, in his seventh book and twenty-third chapter, who was taken in order to force his secrets from him, bit his tongue in the midst between his teeth, and afterwards threw it in the tyrants face.
The Athenians had a statue of brass, which they bowed to ; the figure was made without a tongue, to declare secrecy thereby.
Likewise the Egyptians worshiped Harpocrates, the god of silence ; for which reason he is always pictured holding his finger on his mouth.
The Romans had a goddess of silence named Angerona, which was pictured like Harpocrates, holding her finger on her mouth, in token of secrecy. Hence the Latin sentence linguam digito compesce.
The servants of Plancus are much commended, because no torment could make them confess the secret which their master intrusted them with:
Likewise the servant of Cato the orator was cruelly tormented, but nothing could make him reveal the secrets of his master.
Quintius Curtius tells us, that the Persians held it as an inviolable law to punish most grievously and much more than any other trespass him that discovered any secret ; for confirmation thereof, he says, that king Darius, being vanquished by Alexander, had made his escape so far as to hide himself where he thought he might rest secure ; no tortures whatsoever, or liberal promises of recompence, could prevail with the faithful brethren that knew it, or compell them to disclose it to any person: And furthermore says, that no man ought to commit any matter of consequence to him that cannot truly keep a secret.
Lycurgus, among his continual laws, would have every man keep secret whatsoever was done or said : For this reason the Athenians were wont when they met at any feast, that the most ancient among them should shew every brother the door whereat they entered, saying, take heed that not so much as one word pass out from hence, of whatsoever shall here be acted or spoken.
The first thing that Pythagoras taught his scholars was to be silent, therefore for a certain time, he kept them without speaking, to the end that they might the better learn to preserve the valuable secrets he had to communicate to them, and never to speak but when time required, expressing thereby that secrecy was the rarest vir. tue : Would to God that the masters of our present lodges would put the same in practice ! · Aristotle was demanded what thing appeared most difficult to him; he answered, to be secret and silent.
To this purpose St. Ambrose, in his offices, placed among the principal foundations of virtue, the patient gift of silence.
The wise king Solomon says in his proverbs, that a king ought not to drink wine, because drunken, ness is an enemy to secrecy; and in his opinion, he is not worthy to reign that cannot keep his own secrets; he furthermore says, that he which discovers secrets is a traitor, and he that conceals them is a faithful brother: He likewise
that he that refraineth his tongue is wise: And again, he that keeps his tongue, keeps his soul. To these I shall add the words of another wise man, Ecclesiasticus, chap. xxvii, to the 22d verse. & Whosoever discovereth secrets looseth his credit,