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But he who will take the pains to act the dissembler himself, by interchangeably decrying and extolling the same things, discourses, and ways of living, will easily perceive that the opinions of a flatterer are as mutable and inconstant as the colors of a polypus, that he is never consonant to himself nor properly his own man; that all his passions, his love and hatred, his joy and sorrow, are borrowed and counterfeit; and that, in a word, like a mirror, he only receives and represents the several faces or images of other men's affections and humors. Do but discommend one of your acquaintance a little in his company, and he will tell you it is a wonder you never found him out all this while, for his part he never fancied him in his life. Change but your style and commend him, he presently swears you oblige him in it, gives you a thousand thanks for the gentleman's sake, and believes your character of him to be just. Tell him you have thoughts of altering your course of life, as for instance, to retire from all public employs to privacy and [p. 110] ease; he immediately wishes that he had retreated long ago from the hurry and drudgery of business and the odium that attends it. Seem but again inclinable to an active life; Why now, says he, you speak like yourself; leisure and ease are sweet, it is true, but withal mean and inglorious. When you have thus trepanned him, it would be proper to cashier him with some such reply as this:—
How now, my friend! What, quite another man!1

I abhor a fellow who servilely complies with whatsoever I propose, and keeps pace with me in all my motions,—my shadow can do that better than yourself,—but my friend must deal plainly and impartially, and assist me faithfully with his judgment. And thus you see one way of discerning a flatterer from a friend.

1 Odyss. XVI. 181.

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