Ulysses says to Alcinous,
You bid me tell what various ills I bore,And Oedipus says to the chorus,
1 That the sad tale might make me grieve the more.
'Tis pain to raise again a buried grief.2But Euripides on the contrary,
How sweet it is, when we are lulled in ease,True indeed, but not to those that are still tossed, still under a misfortune. Therefore be sure never to ask a man about his own calamities; it is irksome to relate his losses of children or estate, or any unprosperous adventure by sea or land; but ask a man how he carried the cause, how he was caressed by the King, how he escaped such a storm, such an assault, thieves, and the like; this pleaseth him, he seems to enjoy it over again in his relation, and is never weary of the topic. Besides, men love to be asked about their happy friends, or children that have made good progress in philosophy or the law, or are great at court; as also about the disgrace and open conviction of their enemies; for of such matters they are most eager to discourse, yet are cautious of beginning it themselves, lest they should seem to insult over and rejoice at the misery of others. You please a hunter if you ask him about dogs, a wrestler about exercise, and an amorous man about beauties; the ceremonious and superstitious man discourses about dreams, and what success he hath had by following the directions of omens or sacrifices, and by the kindness of the Gods; and questions concerning those things will extremely please him. He that enquires any thing of an old man, though the story doth not at all concern him, wins his heart, and urges one that is very willing to discourse: [p. 233]
To think of toils!—when well, of a disease!
Nelides Nestor, faithfully relateHere is a multitude of questions and variety of subjects; which is much better than to confine and cramp his answers, and so deprive the old man of the most pleasant enjoyment he can have. 'In short, they that had rather please than distaste will still propose such questions, the answers to which shall rather get the praise and good-will than the contempt and hatred of the hearers. And so much of questions.
How great Atrides died, what sort of fate;
And where was Menelaus largely tell?
Did Argos hold him when the hero fell?