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They made some slight excuse at first; but the whole company urging them to obey, Crato began thus. A captain of a watch (as Plato says) ought to be most watchful and diligent himself, and the director of merry companions ought to be the best. And such a one he is, that will not be easily overtaken or apt to refuse a glass; but as Cyrus in his epistle to the Spartans says, that in many other things he was more fit than his brother to be a king, and chiefly because he could bear abundance of wine. For one that is drunk must have an ill carriage and be apt to affront; and he that is perfectly sober, must be unpleasant, and fitter to be a governor of a school than of a feast. Pericles, as often as he was chosen general, when he first put on his cloak, used to say to himself, as it were to refresh his memory, Take heed, Pericles, thou dost govern freemen, thou dost govern Greeks, thou dost govern Athenians. So let our director say privately to himself, Thou art a governor over friends, that he may remember to neither suffer them to be debauched nor stint their mirth. Besides, he ought to have some skill in the serious studies of the guests, and not be altogether ignorant of mirth and humor; yet I would have him (as pleasant wine ought to be) a little severe and rough, for the liquor will soften and smooth him, and make his temper pleasant and agreeable. For as Xenophon says, that Clearchus's rustic and morose humor in a battle, by reason of his bravery and heat, seemed pleasant and surprising; thus one that is not of a very sour nature, but grave and severe, being softened by a chirping cup, becomes more pleasant and complaisant. But chiefly he should be acquainted with every one of the guests' humors, what alteration the liquor makes in him, what passion he is most subject to, and what quantity he can bear; for it is not to be supposed the water bears various proportions to different sorts of wine (which kings' cup-bearers understanding sometimes pour in more, sometimes less), [p. 214] and that man hath no such relation to them. This our director ought to know, and knowing, punctually observe; so that like a good musician, screwing up one and letting down another, he may make between these different natures a pleasing harmony and agreement; so that he shall not proportion his wine by measure, but give every one what was proper and agreeable, according to the present circumstances of time and strength of body. But if this is too difficult a task, yet it is necessary that a steward should know the common accidents of age and nature, such as these,—that an old man will be sooner overtaken than a youth, one that leaps about or talks sooner than he that is silent or sits still, the thoughtful and melancholy sooner than the cheerful and the brisk. And he that understands these things is much more able to preserve quietness and order, than one that is perfectly ignorant and unskilful. Besides, I think none will doubt but that the steward ought to be a friend, and have no pique at any of the guests; for otherwise in his injunctions he will be intolerable, in his distributions unequal, in his jests apt to scoff and give offence. Such a figure, Theon, as out of wax, hath my discourse framed for the steward of a feast; and now I deliver him to you.
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