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Now one way of arming ourselves against these assaults will be always to remember that,—since our souls are made up of two different parts, the one sincere, honest, and reasonable, the other brutish, false, and governed by passion,—the friend always adapts his advice and admonitions to the improvement of the better part (like a good physician, who preserves and advances an healthful constitution where he finds it), whilst the flatterer claws and tickles the irrational part of the man only, debauching it from the rules of right reason by the repeated suggestion of soft and sensual delights. For as there are some sorts of meat which assimilate neither with the blood nor with the spirits, and invigorate neither [p. 129] the nerves nor the marrow, but only provoke lust, swell the paunch, and breed putrid flabby flesh; so he who shall give himself the labor to observe will find that the discourses of a flatterer contribute nothing to the improvement of our prudence and understanding, but either only entertain us with the pleasure of some love-intrigue, or make us indiscreetly angry or envious, or blow us up into an empty troublesome opinion of ourselves, or increase our sorrows by pretending to share in them; or else they exasperate any inbred naughtiness that is in us, or our illiberality or distrustfulness, making them harsh, timorous, and jealous, with idle malicious stories, hints, and conjectures of his own. For he always fastens upon and pampers some distemper of the mind, growing, like a botch or bile. upon its inflamed or putrid part only. Are you angry? Revenge yourself, says he. Covet you any thing? Have it. Are you afraid? Fly. Suspect you this or that? Believe it.

But if we find it something difficult to discover him in these attempts upon our passions, because they often violently overpower all the forces of our reason to the contrary, we may then trace him in other instances of his knavery; for he always acts consonant to himself. As, if you are afraid of a surfeit and thereupon are in suspense about your bath and diet, a friend indeed will advise you to act cautiously and take care of your health; but the flatterer persuades you to the bath, bids you feed freely and not starve yourself with mortification. If he observes you want briskness and spirit for action, as being unwilling to undergo the fatigue of a journey or a voyage, he will tell you presently, there is no haste; the business may be well enough deferred, or else transacted by proxy. If at any time you have promised to lend or give a friend a sum of money, and upon second thoughts gladly would, and yet are ashamed to retract your word, the flatterer puts his [p. 130] advice in the worse scale, and inclines the balance to the saving side, and strips you of your squeamish modesty, telling you that you ought not to be so prodigal, who live at great expense and have others to relieve besides him. And therefore, unless we be mere strangers to ourselves,—to our own covetousness, shamelessness, or timidity,—the flatterer cannot easily escape our discovery; for he is the great patron of these disorderly passions, endeavoring always to wind us up to excesses of this kind. But enough of this.

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