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Why then, some may say, it is infinitely difficult at this rate to distinguish a flatterer from a friend, since there is no apparent difference either betwixt the satisfaction they create or the praises they bestow. Nay, it is observable, that a parasite is frequently more obsequious and obliging than a friend himself. Well, the way then to discover the disparity? Why, I will tell you; if you would learn the character of a true subtle flatterer, who nicks his point secundum artem, you must not, with the vulgar, mistake those sordid smell-feasts and poor trencher-slaves for your men, who begin to prate as soon as they have washed their hands in order to dinner, as one says of them, and ere they are well warmed with a good cut of the first dish and a glass of wine, betray the narrow soul that acts them by the nauseous and fulsome buffoonery they vent at table. For sure it needed no great sagacity to detect the flattery of Melanthius, the parasite of Alexander of Pherae, who, being asked how his master was murdered, made answer, With a thrust which went in at his side, but into my belly. Nor must we, again, confine our notions of flatterers to those sharping fellows who ply about rich men's tables, whom neither fire nor sword nor porter can keep from supper; nor yet to such as were those female parasites of Cyprus, who going into [p. 104] Syria were nick-named Steps, because they cringed so to the great ladies of that country that they mounted their chariots on their backs.

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load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1927)
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