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Robert Bland, Proverbs

Nam nulli tacuisse nocet, nocet esse locutum.

Esp. Quien calla, piedras apaña
Esp. Oveja que bala bocada pierde
Ing. The fool's bolt is soon shot
It. Parla poco, ascolta assai, et non fallirai
What is retained and kept in the mind can never injure, it may injure us to have divulged it. Quien calla, piedras apaña, he that is silent is heaping up stones; he is thinking how he may profit by what others are saying; and Oveja que bala bocada pierde, the sheep loses a mouthful when it bleats. Silence is the sanctuary of prudence, and properly used, it is one of the most valuable attributes of wisdom. The fool's bolt is soon shot, he has little in him, and over that little he has no controul; he is always, therefore, saying something that is unseasonable and improper; he is precipitate in his judgment, and determines before he well knows the proposition to which his assent is required. But the wise man is reserved and cautious, he looks before he leaps, thinks before he speaks and even of a good bargain he thinks twice before he says done, for he knows that appearances are often deceitful, and that all is not gold that glitters, he has wide ears, and a short tongue, therefore more ready to hear the opinions of others, than to proclaim his own. Augustus Cæsar bore a sphinx, an emblem of silence, on his ring, intimating that the counsels of princes should be secret. But silence is often adopted for very different purposes and from different motives: some make use of it, to cover their ignorance; conscious of their inability to bear a part in the conversation, they avoid venturing their opinion, and «wisely keep the fool within», in which they shew a commendable prudence; even a fool when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise, and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. Parla poco, ascolto assai, et non fallirai, speak little and attend to what falls from others, and you will commit no error. Others again are silent through craft, fearful lest by some unguarded expression they should betray the part they had taken in some transaction, in which they would not be thought to have been concerned; or that they should discover their opinion or intention, which may be the reverse of what they publicly profess: such men, to use the strong language of Churchill,

«Lest bold truth to do sage wisdom spight,
Should burst the portals of their lips by night,
Tremble to trust themselves one hour in sleep».

Yet there is an instance on record, where silence is said to have occasioned the destruction of a country, whence the following:

Amyclas perdidit Silentia.

Amyclas was lost by silence. The magistrates of this city having been frequently alarmed by some of the more timid inhabitants, with reports of an enemy being at hand when no danger was near, ordered, under the penalty of a severe punishment, that no one should again disturb them with such rumours. At length, when an enemy was actually approaching, the people not daring, on account of the law to give the necessary information, the city was taken. The proverb may be applied to any one neglecting the proper opportunity or time for doing any necessary business.
Antónimo(s): He looks before he leaps
He thinks before he speaks
Even of a good bargain he thinks twice before he says done
He has wide ears, and a short tongue
Fuente: Marco Porcio Catone.
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