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THE Romans, Sossius Senecio, remember a pretty saying of a pleasant man and good companion, who supping alone said that he had eaten to-day, but not supped; as if a supper always wanted company and agreement to make it palatable and pleasing. Evenus said that fire was the sweetest of all sauces in the world. And Homer calls salt θεῖον, divine; and most call it χάριτας, graces, because, mixed with most part of our food, it makes it palatable and agreeable to the taste. Now indeed the best and most divine sauce that can be at an entertainment or a supper is a familiar and pleasant friend; not because he eats and drinks with a man, but because he participates of and communicates discourse, especially if the talk be profitable, pertinent, and instructive. For commonly loose talk over [p. 363] a glass of wine raiseth passions and spoils company, and therefore it is fit that we should be as critical in examining what discourses as what friends are fit to be admitted to a supper; not following either the saying or opinion of the Spartans, who, when they entertained any young man or a stranger in their public halls, showed him the door, with these words, ‘No discourse goes out this way.’ What we use to talk of may be freely disclosed to everybody, because we have nothing in our discourses that tends to looseness, debauchery, debasing of ourselves, or back-biting others. Judge by the examples, of which this seventh book contains ten.
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