Sure thou the very Achilles art, and not his son.But the most exquisite fineness of a flatterer consists in his imitation of that freedom of discourse which friends particularly use in mutually reprehending each other. For finding that men usually take it for what it really is, the natural language of friendship, as peculiar to it as certain [p. 106] notes or voices are to certain animals, and that, on the contrary, a shy sheepish reservedness looks both rude and unfriendly, he lets not even this proper character of a friend escape his imitation. But as skilful cooks use to correct luscious meats with sharp and poignant sauce, that they may not be so apt to overcharge the stomach; so he seasons his flattery now and then with a little smartness and severity, lest the fulsomeness of repeated dissimulation should pall and cloy the company. And yet his reprehensions always carry something in them that looks not true and genuine; he seems to do it, but with a kind of a sneering and grinning countenance at the best; and though his reproofs may possibly tickle the ear, yet they never strike effectually upon the heart. On these accounts then it is as difficult to discern a flatterer from a friend, as to know those animals again which always wear the livery of the last thing they touch upon. And therefore, since he puts so easily upon us under the disguise and appearance of a friend, it will be our business at present to unmask the hypocrite, and show him in other men's shapes and colors, as Plato speaks, since he has none properly his own.
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