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tolerable, and perhaps unpardonable. And let it be considered what a fearful destruction and contradiction of friendship or service it is, so to love myself and my little interest, as to prefer it before the soul of him whom I ought to love! By my flattery I lay a snare to get twenty pounds, and rather than lose this contemptible sum of money, I will throw him that shall give it me (as far as I can) into hell, there to roar beyond all the measures of time or patience. Can any hatred be more, or love be less, can any expression of spite be greater, than that it be said, 'You will not part with twenty pounds to save your friend's, or your patron's, or your brother's soul?' and so it is with him that invites him to, or confirms him in, his folly, in hopes of getting something from him; he will see him die, and die eternally, and help forward that damnation, so he may get that little by it. Every state is set in the midst of danger, as all trees are set in the wind, but the tallest endure the greatest violence of tempest; no man flatters a beggar; if he does a slovenly and a rude crime, it is entertained with ruder language, and the mean man may possibly be affrighted from his fault, while it is made so uneasy to him by the scorn and harsh reproaches of the mighty. But princes and nobles often die with this disease: and when the courtiers of Alexander counterfeited his wry neck, and the servants of the Sicilian tyrant pretended themselves dimsighted, and on purpose rushed one against another, and overthrew the meat as it was served to his table, only because the prince was shortsighted, they gave them sufficient instances in what state of affairs they stood with them that waited; it was certain they would commend every foolish answer, and pretend subtilty in every absurd question, and make a petition that their base actions might pass into a law, and be made to be the honour and sanctity of all the people and what proportions or ways can such great personages have towards felicity, when their vice shall be allowed and praised, every action that is but tolerable shall be accounted heroical, and if it be intolerable among the wise, it shall be called virtuous among the flatterers? Carneades said bitterly, but it had in it too many degrees of truth; That princes and great personages never learn to do any thing perfectly well, but to ride the great horse; "quia scilicet ferociens bestia adulari non didicit,'
"because the proud beast knows not how to flatter," but will as soon throw him off from his back, as he will shake off the son of a porter.-But a flatterer is like a neighing horse, that neigheth under every rider, and is pleased with every thing, and commends all that he sees, and tempts to mischief, and cares not, so his friend may but perish pleasantly. And, indeed, that is a calamity that undoes many a soul; we so love our peace, and sit so easily upon our own good opinions, and are so apt to flatter ourselves, and lean upon our own false supports, that we cannot endure to be disturbed or awakened from our pleasing lethargy. For we care not to be safe, but to be secure, not to escape hell, but to live pleasantly; we are not solicitous of the event, but of the way thither, and it is sufficient, if we be persuaded all is well; in the mean time, we are careless whether indeed it be so or no, and therefore we give pensions to fools and vile persons to abuse us, and cozen us of felicity. But this evil puts on several shapes, which we must discover, that they may not cozen us without our observation. For all men are not capable of an open flattery. And therefore, some will dress their hypocrisy and illusion so, that you may feel the pleasure, and but secretly the compliance and tenderness to serve the ends of your folly. "Perit procari, si latet," said Plancus; If you be not perceived, you lose your reward; if you be too open, you lose it worse.'
1. Some flatter by giving great names, and propounding great examples; and thus the Egyptian villains hung a tumbler's rope upon their prince, and a piper's whistle; because they called their Ptolemy by the name of Apollo, their god of music. This put buskins upon Nero, and made him fiddle in all the great towns of Greece. When their lords were drunkards, they called them Bacchus; when they were wrestlers, they saluted them by the name of Hercules; and some were so vain, as to think themselves commended, when their flatterers told aloud, that they had drunk more than Alexander the conqueror. And indeed nothing more abuses easy fools, that only seek for an excuse for their wickedness, a patron for their vice, a warrant for their sleepy peace,—than to tell stories of great examples remarked for the instances of their temptation. When old Cato commended meretricious mixtures, and, to prevent adulteries, permitted fornica
tion, the youth of the succeeding ages had warrant enough to go ad olentes fornices,' into their chambers of filthy pleasure :
Quidam notus homo cum exiret fornice; Macte
And it would pass the goblets in a freer circle, if a flattering man shall but say, "Narratur et prisci Catonis Sæpe mero caluisse virtus," "That old Cato would drink hard at sunset."+ When Varro had noted, that wise and severe Sallust, who, by excellent sententious words, had reproved the follies of lust, was himself taken in adultery; the Roman youth did hug their vice, and thought it grew upon their nature like a man's beard, and that the wisest men would lay their heads upon that threshold; and Seneca tells, that the women of that age despised adultery of one man only; and hated it lik marriage, and despised that as want of breeding, and grandeur of spirit; because the braver Spartans did use to breed their children promiscuously, as the herdsmen do cattle from the fairest bulls. And Arrianus tells that the women would defend their baseness by the doctrine of Plato, who maintained the community of women. This sort of flattery is therefore more dangerous, because it makes the temptation ready for mischief, apted and dressed with proper, material, and imitable circumstances. The way of discourse is far about, but evil examples kill quickly.
2. Others flatter by imitation: for when a crime is rare and insolent, singular and out of fashion, it must be a great strength of malice and impudence that must entertain it; but the flattering man doing the vice of his lord takes off the wonder, and the fear of being stared at; and so encourages it by making it popular and common. Plutarch tells of one that divorced himself from his wife, because his friend did so, that the other might be hardened in the mischief; and when Plato saw his scholars stoop in the shoulders, and Aristotle observed his to stammer, they began to be less troubled with those imperfections, which they thought common to themselves and
3. Some pretend rusticity and downright plainness, and upon the confidence of that, humour their friend's vice, and flatter his ruin. Seneca observed it of some of his time;
"Alius quâdam adulatione clam utebatur parce, alius ex aperto palam, rusticitate simulatâ, quasi simplicitas illa ars non sit;" They pretend they love not to dissemble, and therefore they cannot hide their thoughts; let their friend take it how he will, they must commend that which is commendable; and so, man, that is willing to die quietly, is content with the honest-heartiness and downright simplicity of him, that with an artificial rudeness dressed the flattery.
4. Some will dispraise themselves, that their friend may think better of himself, or less severely of his fault.
5. Others will reprove their friend for a trifle, but with a purpose to let him understand, that this is all; for the honest man would have told his friend if it had been worse.
"Some will laugh and make a sport of a vice, and can hear their friend tell the cursed narrative of his adultery, of his drunkenness, of his craft and unjust purchases; and all this shall prove but a merry scene; as if damnation were a thing to be laughed at, and the everlasting ruin of his friend were a very good jest. But thus the poor sinner shall not be affrighted from his danger, nor chastised by severe language; but the villain that eats his meat, shall take him by the hand, and dance about the pit till he falls in, and dies with shame and folly. Thus the evil spirit puts on shapes enough; none to affright the man, but all to destroy him; and yet it is filthy enough, when it is invested with its own character.
Γαστὴρ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα, πανταχῆ βλέπων
"The parasite or flatterer is a beast that is all belly, looking round with his eye, watchful, ugly, and deceitful, and creeping on his teeth;" they feed him, and he kills them that reach him bread; for that is the nature of all vipers.
I have this one thing only to insert, and then the caution will be sufficient, viz. that we do not think all praise given to our friend to be flattery, though it be in his presence. For sometimes praise is the best conveyance for a precept, and it may nourish up an infant-virtue, and make it grow up towards perfection, and its proper measures and rewards. Friendship does better please our friend than flattery, and though it was made also for virtue, yet it mingles pleasures in the chalice: Εἰς ὄμματ ̓ εὔνου φωτὸς ἔσβλεψαι γλυκύ· “ It is
delicious to behold the face of a friendly and a sweet perand it is not the office of a friend always to be sour, or at any time morose; but free, open, and ingenuous, candid and humane, not denying to please, but ever refusing to abuse or corrupt. For as adulterine metals retain the lustre and colour of gold, but not the value; so flattery, in imitation of friendship, takes the face and outside of it, the delicious part; but the flatterer uses it to the interests of vice, and a friend by it serves virtue; and therefore, Plutarch well compared friendship to medicinal ointments, which however delicious they be, yet they are also useful, and minister to healing: but flattery is sweet and adulterate, pleasant, but without health. He, therefore, that justly commends his friend to promote and encourage his virtue, reconciles virtue with his friend's affection, and makes it pleasant to be good; and he that does so, shall also better be suffered when he reproves, because the needing person shall find, that then is the opportunity and season of it, since he denied not to please so long as he could also profit. I only add this advice; that since self-love is the serpent's milk that feeds this viper, flattery, we should do well to choke it with its mother's milk; I mean, learn to love ourselves more, for then we should never endure to be flattered. For he that, because he loves himself, loves to be flattered, does, because he loves himself, love to entertain a man to abuse him, to mock him, and to destroy him finally. But he that loves himself truly, will suffer fire, will endure to be burnt, so he may be purified; put to pain, so he may be restored to health; for, of all sauces' (said Evenus), sharpness, severity, and fire, are the best.'
Eurip. Ion. 732. Hulseman. p. 107.