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Now these observations are argument enough to convince a man of any tolerable sense, that the friendship such men pretend to is not really virtuous and chaste, but rather a sort of impudent whorish love that obtrudes its embraces upon you.

But, to be more particular, let us first examine the disparity betwixt their promises. For our forefathers well observed, that the offers of a friend run in such terms as these:

If I can serve you, sir, if your request
Be feasible by me, I'll do my best;

but the flatterer's thus:

Command me freely what you will, I'll do it.1

For the comedians introduce such brave promises as these:

Come, sir, let me but fight that fellow there;
I'll beat him soft as sponge or jellies are.

Besides, no real friend will assist in the execution of a design, unless, being first advised with, he approve of it as either honest or useful. Whereas the flatterer, though permitted to consult and give his opinion about an undertaking, not only out of a paltry desire to comply with and gratify his friend at any rate, but lest he should be looked upon as disaffected to the business, servilely closes with and advances his proposal, how unreasonable soever. For there are few rich men or princes of this mind:

Give me a friend, though a poor beggar he,
Or meaner than the meanest beggar be,
If he his thoughts but freely will impart,
And boldly speak the language of his heart;

for they, like actors in a tragedy, must have a chorus of their friends to join with them in the concert, or else the [p. 132] claps of the pit to encourage them. Whereupon Merope in the tragedy speaks thus:

Make choice of those for friends, who never knew
The arts of wheedling and betraying you;
But those poor rascals never entertain,
Who please you only with design to gain.

But alas ! they invert the counsel, and abominate those who deal freely with them and advise them obstinately for the best, whilst pitiful cringing cheats and impostors are admitted not only into their houses, but into their affections and the nearest concernments of their life. You shall have some of them indeed more plain and simple than the rest, who confess themselves unworthy to consult about such weighty affairs, but are ready to serve you in the executive part of a design. But the more subtle hypocrite comes in at the consult, knits his brows, declares his consent by the gravity of a look or a nod, but speaks never a word, unless perchance, when the great man delivers his opinion, he cries, Lord! sir, you prevented me; I was just going to say so. For, as the mathematicians tell us that surfaces and lines, which are incorporeal and creatures of the understanding only, are neither bended nor moved nor extended of themselves, but are so affected together with the bodies whose extremities they are; so you shall observe the flatterer attends only the motion of another's sense, opinion, or passion, without any principle of action in himself. So that the disparity betwixt them thus far is easily discernible.

And yet more easily in the manner they perform their good offices. For the kindnesses of a friend, like an animate creature, have their most proper virtues deep within, without any parade or pageantry on the outside. Nay, many times, as a faithful physician cures his patient when he least knows of it, so a true friend, either present or [p. 133] absent, as occasion serves, is solicitous about your concerns, when perhaps you know nothing of it. Such was the excellent Arcesilaus, as in his other actions, so particularly in his kindness to Apelles, native of Chios, whom finding extremely indigent in his sickness, he repeated his visit to him with twenty drachms in his pocket; and sitting by his bedside, You have got nothing here, said he, but Empedocles's elements, fire, water, earth, and the surrounding air; neither, methinks, do you lie easily. And with that, stirring up his pillow, he put the money privately under his head; which when the good old woman his nurse found and in great wonder acquainted Apelles with, Aye, says he, smiling a little, this is a piece of Arcesilaus's thievery. And the saying that children resemble their parents is found true also in philosophy. For when Cephisocrates was impeached of high treason, and Lacydes, an intimate acquaintance of Arcesilaus, with several others of his friends, stood by him at his trial, the counsel for the state desired that the prisoner's ring, wherein lay the principal evidence against him, might be produced in court; which Cephisocrates hearing dropped it softly off his finger, and Lacydes observing it set his foot upon it and buried it in the ground. Whereupon being acquitted, and going afterwards to pay his respects and thanks to his judges, one of them (who, it seems, had taken notice of the passages) told him that his thanks were owing to Lacydes, and so related the whole story, when yet Lacydes had never mentioned it.

Thus I am verily persuaded the Gods confer several benefits upon us which we are not sensible of, upon no other motive in the world than the mere pleasure and satisfaction they take in acts of kindness and beneficence.

But on the contrary, the seemingly good offices of a flatterer have nothing of that sincerity and integrity, that simplicity and ingenuousness, which recommend a kindness, but [p. 134] are always attended with bustle and noise, hurry, sweat and contracting the brow, to enhance your opinion of the great pains he has taken for you; like a picture drawn in gaudy colors, with folded torn garments, and full of angles and wrinkles, to make us believe it an elaborate piece and done to the life.

Besides, the flatterer is so extremely troublesome in recounting the weary steps he has taken, the cares he has had upon him, the persons he has been forced to disoblige, with a thousand other inconveniencies he has labored under upon your account, that you will be apt to say, The business was never worth all this din and clutter about it.

For a kindness once upbraided loses its grace, turns a burden, and becomes intolerable. But the flatterer not only reproaches us with his services already past, but at the very instant of their performance; whereas, if a friend be obliged to speak of any civility done another, he modestly mentions it indeed, but attributes nothing to himself. Thus, when the Lacedaemonians supplied the people of Smyrna in great scarcity of provisions, and they gratefully resented and extolled the kindness; Why, replied the Spartans, it was no such great matter, we only robbed ourselves and our cattle of a dinner. For a favor thus bestowed is not only free and ingenuous, but more acceptable to the receiver, because he imagines his benefactor conferred it on him without any great prejudice to himself.

1 Il. XIV. 195.

2 From the Ino of Euripides, Frag. 416.

3 From the Erechtheus of Euripides, Frag. 364.

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