181 – 190: Against Slander

Though a man from virtue strays, 181
To keep from slander brings him praise.
Who bite behind, and before smile 182
Are worse than open traitors vile.
Virtue thinks it better to die, 183
Than live to backbite and to lie.
Though harsh you speak in one’s presence 184
Abuse is worse in his absence.
Who turns to slander makes it plain 185
His praise of virtue is in vain.
His failings will be found and shown, 186
Who makes another’s failings known.
By pleasing words who make not friends 187
Sever their hearts by hostile trends.
What will they not to strangers do 188
Who bring their friends’ defects to view?
The world in mercy bears his load 189
Who rants behind words untoward
No harm would fall to any man 190
If each his own defect could scan.

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