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Again, we must be cautious how we rebuke a friend in company, always remembering the repartee made upon Plato on that account. For Socrates having fallen one day very severely upon an acquaintance of his at table, Plato could not forbear to take him up, saying, Had it not been more proper, sir, to have spoken these things in private? To which Socrates instantly replied, And had it not been more proper for you to have told me so in private too And they say, Pythagoras one time ranted a friend of his so terribly before company, that the poor young man went and hanged himself; from which time the philosopher would never chide any man in the presence of another. For the discovery and cure of a vice, like that of a scandalous disease, ought to be in secret, and not like a public show transacted upon the theatre; for it is no way the part of a friend, but a mere cheat and trick, for one man to recommend himself to the standers-by and seek for reputation from the failures of another, like mountebank chirurgeons, who perform their operations on a stage to gain the greater practice. But besides the disgrace that attends a reproof of this nature (a thing that will never work any cure), we are likewise to consider that vice is naturally obstinate and loves to dispute its ground. For what Euripides says is true not only of love,
The more 'tis checked, the more it presses on,

but of any other imperfection. If you lay a man open publicly for it and tell all, you are so far from reforming him that you force him to brave it out. And therefore, as Plato advises that old men who would teach the younger fry reverence should learn to revere them first, so certainly modestly to reprimand is the way to meet with a modest return. For he who warily attacks the criminal works upon his good nature by his own, and so insensibly undermines his vices. And therefore it would be much more proper to observe the rule in Homer [p. 149]

To whisper softly in the ear,
Lest standers-by should chance to hear.
1

But above all, we ought not to discover the imperfections of an husband before his wife, nor of a father before his children, nor of a lover in company of his mistress, nor of masters in presence of their scholars, or the like; for it touches a man to the quick to be rebuked before those whom he would have think honorably of him. And I verily believe that it was not so much the heat of the wine as the sting of too public a reprehension, that enraged Alexander against Clitus. And Aristomenes, Ptolemy's preceptor, lost himself by awaking the king, who had dropped asleep one time at an audience of foreign embassadors; for the court parasites immediately took this occasion to express their pretendedly deep resentments of the disgrace done his majesty, suggesting that, if indeed the cares of the government had brought a little seasonable drowsiness upon him, he might have been told of it in private, but should not have had rude hands laid upon his person before so great an assembly; which so affected the king, that he presently sent the poor man a draught of poison, and made him drink it up. And Aristophanes says, Cleon blamed him for railing at Athens before strangers,2 whereby he incensed the Athenians against him. And therefore they who aim at the interest and reformation of their friends rather than ostentation and popularity, ought amongst other things to beware of exposing them too publicly.

Again, what Thucydides3 makes the Corinthians say of themselves, that they were persons every way qualified for the reprehension of other men, ought to be the character of every one who sets up for a monitor. For, as Lysander replied upon a certain Megarian, who in a council of allies and confederates had spoken boldly in behalf of Greece, This style of yours, sir, needs a state to back it; so he who [p. 150] takes upon him the liberty of a censor must be a man of a regular conversation himself,—one like Plato, whose life was a continued lecture to Speusippus, or Xenocrates, who, casting his eye one time upon the dissolute Polemon at a disputation, reformed him with the very awfulness of his looks. Whereas the remonstrance of a lewd whiffling fellow will certainly meet with no better entertainment than that of the old proverbial repartee,

Physician, heal thyself.4

1 Odyss. I. 157.

2 Aristophanes, Acharn. 503.

3 Thucyd. I. 70.

4 From Euripides, Αλλων ἰατρὸς,αὐτὸς ἕλκεσι βρύων.

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