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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Theophrastus (c. 371–287 B.C.)

Of Loquacity

From “The Characters”

IF we would define loquacity, it is an excessive affluence of words. The prater will not suffer any person in company to tell his own story, but, let it be what it will, tells you you mistake the matter, that he takes the thing right, and that if you will listen, he will make it clear to you. If you make any reply, he suddenly interrupts you, saying, “Why, sir, you forget what you were talking about; it’s very well you should begin to remember, since it is most beneficial for people to inform one another.” Then presently he says, “But what was I going to say? Why, truly, you very soon apprehend a thing, and I was waiting to see if you would be of my sentiment in this matter.” And thus he always takes such occasions as these to prevent the person he talks with the liberty of breathing. After he has thus tormented all who will hear him, he is so rude as to break into the company of persons met to discuss important affairs, and drives them away by his troublesome impertinence. Thence he goes into the public schools and places of exercise, where he interrupts the masters by his foolish prating, and hinders the scholars from improving by their instruction. If any person shows an inclination to go away, he will follow him, and will not part from him till he comes to his own door. If he hears of anything transacted in the public assembly of the citizens, he runs up and down to tell it to everybody. He gives you a long account of the famous battle that was fought when Aristophanes the orator was governor, or when the Lacedæmonians were under the command of Lysander; then tells you with what general applause he made a speech in public, repeating a great deal of it, with invectives against the common people, which are so tiresome to those that hear him that some forget what he says as soon as it is out of his mouth, others fall asleep, and others leave him in the midst of his harangue. If this talker be sitting on the bench, the judge will be unable to determine matters. If he’s at the theater, he’ll neither let you hear nor see anything; nor will he even permit him that sits next to him at the table to eat his meat. He declares it very hard for him to be silent, his tongue being so very well hung that he’d rather be accounted as garrulous as a swallow than be silent, and patiently bears all ridicule, even that of his own children, who, when they want to go to rest, request him to talk to them that they may the sooner fall asleep.