C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


The tongue is the worst part of a bad servant.


Fire and sword are but slow engines of destruction in comparison with the babbler.


We acknowledge that we should not talk of our wives; but we seem not to know that we should talk still less of ourselves.

La Rochefoucauld.

Yet have I ever heard it said that spies and tale-bearers have done more mischief in this world than poisoned bowl or the assassin’s dagger.


  • Who ever keeps an open ear
  • For tattlers, will be sure to hear
  • The trumpet of contention;
  • Aspersion is the babbler’s trade,
  • To listen is to lend him aid,
  • And rush into dissension.
  • Cowper.

    I will be silent and barren of discourse when I chance to hear a tale, rather than go with child therewith, till another’s ears be my midwife, to deliver me of such a deformed monster. I may hear a tale of delight, and perhaps smile at an innocent jest. I will not jest nor joy at a tale disgracing an innocent person.

    Arthur Warwick.

    Be careful that you believe not hastily strange news and strange stories; and be much more careful that you do not report them, though at the second hand; for if it prove an untruth (as commonly strange stories prove so), it brings an imputation of levity upon him that reports it, and possibly some disadvantage to others.

    Sir Matthew Hale.

    Merrily and wittily said Platitus, who was one of the merry wits of his time, “I would,” said he, “by my will have tale-bearers and tale-hearers punished—the one hanging by the tongue, the other by the ears.” Were his will a law in force with us, many a tattling gossip would have her vowels turned to mutes, and be justly tongue-tied, that desires to be tied by the teeth at your table.

    Arthur Warwick.