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And therefore it will be then more especially our concern to look about us when a flatterer is upon the strain of praising ; which he is sensible enough of, and accordingly avoids all occasion of suspicion when he attacks us on that side. If indeed he meets with a tawdry fop, or a dull country clown in a leathern jacket, he plays upon him with all the liberty imaginable; as Struthias by way of flattery insulted and triumphed over the sottishness [p. 119] of Bias, when he told him that he had out drunk King Alexander himself, and that he was ready to die of laughter at his encounter with the Cyprian. But if he chance to fall upon an apprehensive man, who can presently smoke a design, especially if he thinks he has an eye upon him and stands upon his guard, he does not immediately assault him with an open panegyric, but first fetches a compass, and softly winds about him, till he has in some measure tamed the untractable creature and brought it to his hand. For he either tells him what high characters he has heard of him abroad (introducing, as the rhetoricians do, some third person), how upon the exchange the other day he happily overheard some strangers and persons of great gravity and worth, who spake extreme honorably of him and professed themselves much his admirers; or else he forges some frivolous and false accusation of him, and then coming in all haste, as if he had heard it really reported, asks him seriously, if he can call to mind where he said or did such a thing. And immediately upon his denial of the matter of fact, which he has reason enough to expect, he takes occasion to fall upon the subject of his commendation; I wondered indeed, says he, to hear that you should calumniate your friend, who never used to speak ill of your enemies; that you should endeavor to rob another man of his estate, who so generously spend your own.

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load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1927)
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