To be continually subject to the breath of slander will tarnish the purest virtue, as a constant exposure to the atmosphere will obscure the brightness of the finest gold; but in either case the real value of both continues the same, although the currency may be somewhat impeded.
As by flattery a man is usually brought to open his bosom to his mortal enemy, so by detraction, and a slanderous misreport of persons, he is often brought to shut the same even to his best and truest friends.
So fruitful is slander in variety of expedients to satiate as well as disguise itself. But if these smoother weapons cut so sore, what shall we say of open and unblushing scandal, subjected to no caution, tied down to no restraints? If the one, like an arrow shot in the dark, does nevertheless so much secret mischief, this, like the pestilence which rages at noonday, sweeps all before it, levelling without distinction the good and the bad: a thousand fall beside it, and ten thousand at its right hand: they fall, so rent and torn in this tender part of them, so unmercifully butchered, as sometimes never to recover either the wounds or the anguish of heart which they have occasioned.
Whether we speak evil of a man to his face or behind his back: the former way, indeed, seems to be the most generous, but yet is a great fault, and that which we call reviling; the latter is more mean and base, and that which we properly call slander or backbiting.