This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
First then, such as will vex and gall the conscious must please those that are clean, innocent, and not suspected of the matter. Such a joke is Xenophon's, when he pleasantly brings in a very ugly ill-looking fellow, and is smart upon him for being Sambaulas's minion. Such was that of Aufidius Modestus, who, when our friend Quintius in an ague complained his hands were cold, replied, Sir, you brought them warm from your province; for this made Quintius laugh, and extremely pleased him; yet it had been a reproach and abuse to a covetous and oppressing governor. Thus Socrates, pretending to compare faces with the beauteous Critobulus, rallied only, and not abused. [p. 235] And Alcibiades again was smart on Socrates, as his rival in Agatho's affection. Kings are pleased when jests are put upon them as if they were private and poor men. Such was the flatterer's to Philip, who chided him: Sir, don't I keep you? For those that mention faults of which the persons are not really guilty intimate those virtues with which they are really adorned. But then it is requisite that those virtues should be evident and certainly belong to them; otherwise the discourse will breed disturbance and suspicion. He that tells a very rich man that he will procure him a sum of money,—a temperate sober man, and one that drinks water only, that he is foxed, or hath taken a cup too much,—a hospitable, generous, good-humored man, that he is a niggard and pinch-penny,—or threatens an excellent lawyer to meet him at the bar,— must make the persons smile and please the company. Thus Cyrus was very obliging and complaisant, when he challenged his play-fellows at those sports in which he was sure to be overcome. And Ismenias piping at a sacrifice, when no good omens appeared, the man that hired him snatched the pipe, and played very ridiculously himself; and when all found fault, he said: To play satisfactorily is the gift of Heaven. And Ismenias with a smile replied: Whilst I played, the Gods were so well pleased that they were careless of the sacrifice; but to be rid of thy noise they presently received it.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.