‘A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.’
I. A talebearer.—One celebrated nation of antiquity used to express this man’s character by a very significant figure. They called a talebearer a ‘seedpicker.’ There are men in the world who live by going about here and there, from house to house, through a town large or small, and gathering together all the little stories which can be told about the neighbours who are dwelling securely by them, and ignorant of the calumnies by which they are assailed.
II. A talebearer revealeth secrets.—Many motives go to make up a talebearer. (1) Perhaps he is a witty man. (2) Or he may be a man in whose own conscience there is a sore place. And it is a relief to him to hope that others are not so much better than himself. (3) There are others who cannot bear superiors. Their only comfort is in a general disbelief of virtue.
III. ‘He that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.’—He does not say what matter. But we may understand it to include two things: that which has been entrusted to him in the secrecy of confidence, and that which has become known to him to another’s disparagement.
‘It is hardly possible for a talebearer not to get into the habit of talking more about the faults of others than about their excellences. Most novelists feel that if there is no wickedness in their book it is almost sure to be dull; and most talebearers find that there is something much more effective in a story about the weaknesses, mistakes, or follies of others than in a story about their wisdom and virtue. You may speak of the good deeds of your friends incessantly, and never earn the name. The very word “talebearer” has come to mean one who tells tales to other people’s discredit; and we have not a word in the language which denotes one who habitually speaks of other men’s excellences.’