We must regard every matter as an entrusted secret which we believe the person concerned would wish to be considered as such. Nay, further still, we must consider all circumstances as secrets intrusted which would bring scandal upon another if told, and which it is not our certain duty to discuss, and that in our own persons and to his face. The divine rule of doing as we would be done by is never better put to the test than in matters of good and evil speaking. We may sophisticate with ourselves upon the manner in which we should wish to be treated, under many circumstances; but everybody recoils instinctively from the thought of being spoken ill of in his absence.
Nothing can be added to the nicety of the death of the wife of Fulvius, a familiar favourite of Augustus. Augustus having discoverd that he had vented an important secret he had intrusted him withal, one morning that he came to make his court, receivd him very coldly, and lookt frowningly upon him. He returns home full of despair, where he sorrowfully told his wife, that being falln into this misfortune, he was resolvd to kill himself: to which she soundly replied, tis but reason you should, seeing that having so often experimented the inconsistency of my tongue you should not learn nor take warning: but let me kill myself first, and without any more dispute ran herself through the body with a sword.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. lx.