A short silence followed this discourse; then Florus began thus: This last thing you mentioned, sir, is a greater difficulty than the other. For it is necessary when we invite our friends to give them liberty to choose their own shadows, as was before hinted; for to entertain them without their friends is not very obliging, nor is it very easy to know whom the person we invite would be most pleased with. Then said I to him: Consider therefore whether those that give their friends this license to invite do not at the same time give the invited license to accept the invitation and come to the entertainment. For it is not fit either to permit or to desire another to do that which is not decent to be done, or to urge and persuade to that which no man ought to be persuaded or to consent to do. When we entertain a great man or stranger, there we cannot invite or choose his company, but must receive those that come along with him. But when we treat a friend, it will be more acceptable if we ourselves invite all, as knowing his acquaintance and familiars; for it tickles him extremely to see that others take notice that he hath chiefly a respect [p. 384] for such and such, loves their company most, and is well pleased when they are honored and invited as well as he. Yet sometimes we must deal with our friend as petitioners do when they make addresses to a God; they offer vows to all that belong to the same altar and the same shrine, though they make no particular mention of their names. For no dainties, wine, or ointment can incline a man to merriment, as much as a pleasant agreeable companion. For as it is rude and ungenteel to enquire and ask what sort of meat, wine, or ointment the person whom we are to entertain loves best; so it is never disobliging or absurd to desire him who hath a great many acquaintance to bring those along with him whose company he likes most, and in whose conversation he can take the greatest pleasure. For it is not so irksome and tedious to sail in the same ship, to dwell in the same house, or be a judge upon the same bench, with a person whom we do not like, as to be at the same table with him; and the contrary is equally pleasant. An entertainment is a communion of serious or merry discourse or actions; and therefore, to make a merry company, we should not pick up any person at a venture, but take only such as are known to one another and sociable. Cooks, it is true, mix sour and sweet juices, rough and oily, to make their sauces; but there never was an agreeable table or pleasant entertainment where the guests were not all of a piece, and all of the same humor. Now, as the Peripatetics say, the first mover in nature moves only and is not moved, and the last moved is moved only but does not move, and between these there is that which moves and is moved by others; so there is the same analogy between those three sorts of persons that make up a company,—there is the simple inviter, the simple invited, the invited that invites another. We have spoken already concerning the inviter, and it will not be improper, in my opinion, to deliver my sentiments about the other [p. 385] two. He that is invited and invites others, should, in my opinion, be sparing in the number that he brings. He should not, as if he were to forage in an enemy's country, carry all he can with him; or, like those who go to possess a new-found land, by the excessive number of his own friends, incommode or exclude the friends of the inviter, so that the inviter must be in the same case with those that set forth suppers to Hecate and the Gods who avert evil, of which neither they nor any of their family partake, except of the smoke and trouble. It is true they only speak in waggery that say,
He that at Delphi offers sacrificeBut the same thing really happens to him who entertains ill-bred guests or friends, who with a great many shadows, as it were harpies, tear and devour his provision. Besides, he should not take anybody that he may meet along with him to another's entertainment, but chiefly the entertainer's acquaintance, as it were contending with him and preventing him in the invitation. But if that cannot be effected, let him carry such of his own friends as the entertainer would choose himself; to a civil modest man, some of complaisant humor; to a learned man, ingenious persons; to a man that hath borne office, some of the same rank; and, in short, such whose acquaintance he hath formerly sought and would be now glad of. For it will be extremely pleasing and obliging to bring such into company together; but one who brings to a feast men who have no conformity at all with the feast-maker, but who are perfect aliens and strangers to him,—as hard drinkers to a sober man,— gluttons and sumptuous persons to a temperate thrifty entertainer,—or to a young, merry, boon companion, grave old philosophers solemnly talking through their beards,—will be very disobliging, and turn all the intended mirth into an unpleasant sourness. The entertained [p. 386] should be as obliging to the entertainer as the entertainer to the entertained; and then he will be most obliging, when not only he himself, but all those that come by his means, are pleasant and agreeable. The last of the three which remains to be spoken of is he that is invited by one man to another's feast. Now he that disdains and is much offended at the name of a shadow will appear to be afraid of a mere shadow. But in this matter there is need of a great deal of caution, for it is not creditable readily to go along with every one and to everybody. But first you must consider who it is that invites; for if he is not a very familiar friend, but a rich or great man, such who, as if upon a stage, wants a large or splendid retinue, or such who thinks that he puts a great obligation upon you and does you a great deal of honor by this invitation, you must presently deny. But if he is your friend and particular acquaintance, you must not yield upon the first motion: but if there seems a necessity for some conversation which cannot be put off till another time, or if he is lately come from a journey or designs to go on one, and out of mere good-will and affection seems desirous of your company, and doth not desire to carry a great many strangers but only some few friends along with him; or, besides all this, if he designs to bring you thus invited acquainted with the principal inviter, who is very worthy of your acquaintance, then consent and go. For as to ill-humored persons, the more they seize and take hold of us like thorns, we should endeavor to free ourselves from them or leap over them the more. If he that invites is a civil and well-bred person, yet doth not design to carry you to one of the same temper, you must refuse, lest you should take poison in honey, that is, get the acquaintance of a bad man by an honest friend. It is absurd to go to one you do not know, and with whom you never had any familiarity, unless, as I said before, the person be [p. 387] an extraordinary man, and, by a civil waiting upon him at another man's invitation, you design to begin an acquaintance with him. And those friends you should chiefly go to as shadows, who would come to you again in the same quality. To Philip the jester, indeed, he seemed more ridiculous that came to a feast of his own accord than he that was invited; but to well-bred and civil friends it is more obliging for men of the same temper to come at the nick of time with other friends, when uninvited and unexpected; at once pleasing both to those that invite and those that entertain. But chiefly you must avoid going to rulers, rich or great men, lest you incur the deserved censure of being impudent, saucy, rude, and unseasonably ambitious.
Must after meat for his own dinner buy.