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Thus much then for the point of praising; proceed we in the next place to treat of freedom in their reprehensions. And indeed, it were but reasonable that,—as Patroclus put on Achilles's armor and led his war-horse out into the field, yet durst not for all that venture to wield his spear,— so, though the flatterer wear all the other badges and ensigns of a friend, he should not dare to counterfeit the plain frankness of his discourse, as being ‘a great, massy, and substantial weapon,’ peculiar to him.1

But because, to avoid that scandal and offence which their drunken bouts, their little jests, and ludicrous babling humor might otherwise create, they sometimes put on the face of gravity, and flatter under the vizard of a frown, [p. 124] dropping in now and then a word of correction and reproof, let us examine this cheat too amongst the rest.

And indeed I can compare that trifling insignificant liberty of speech to which he pretends to nothing better than that sham Hercules which Menander introduces in one of his comedies. with a light hollow club upon his shoulder; for, as women's pillows, which seem sufficiently stuffed to bear up their heads, yield and sink under their weight, so this counterfeit freedom in a flatterer's conversation swells big and promises fair, that when it shrinks and contracts itself it may draw those in with it who lay any stress upon its outward appearance. Whereas the genuine and friendly reprehension fixes upon real criminals, causing them grief and trouble indeed, but only what is wholesome and salutary; like honey that corrodes but yet cleanses the ulcerous parts of the body, and is otherwise both pleasant and profitable. But of this in its proper place. We shall discourse at present of the flatterer who affects a morose, angry, and inexorable behavior towards all but those upon whom he designs, is peevish and difficult towards his servants, animadverts severely upon the failures of his relations and domestics, neither admires nor respects a stranger but superciliously contemns him, pardons no man, but by stories and complaints exasperates one against another, thinking by these means to acquire the character of an irreconcilable enemy to all manner of vice, that he may be thought one who would not spare his favorites themselves upon occasion, and would neither act nor speak any thing out of a mean and dastardly complaisance.

And if at any time he undertakes his friend, he feigns himself a mere stranger to his real and considerable crimes; but if he catch him in some petty trifling peccadillo, there he takes his occasion to rant him terribly and thunder him severely off; as, if he see any of his goods out of order, if his house be not very convenient, if his [p. 125] beard be not shaven or his clothes unfashionable, if his dog or his horse be not well looked after. But if he slight his parents, neglect his children, treat his wife scornfully, his friends and acquaintance disrespectfully, and squander away his estate, here he dares not open his mouth, and it is the safest way to hold his tongue. Just as if the master of a wrestling-school should indulge his young champion scholar in drinking and wenching, and yet rattle him about his oil-cruise and body-brush; or as if a schoolmaster should severely reprove a boy for some little fault in his pen or writing-book, but take no notice of the barbarisms and solecisms in his language. For the parasite is like him who hearing a ridiculous impertinent orator finds no fault with his discourse but delivery, blaming him only for having hurt his throat with drinking cold water; or like one who, being to peruse and correct some pitiful scribble, falls foul only upon the coarseness of the paper and the blots and negligence of the transcriber. Thus the parasites about Ptolemy. when he pretended to learning, would wrangle with him till midnight about the propriety of an expression, a verse, or a story; but not a word all this while of his cruelty, insults, superstition, and oppressions of the people. Just as if a chirurgeon should pare a man's nails or cut his hair, to cure him of a fistula, wen, or other carnous excrescence.

1 Il. XVI. 141.

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