Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/58

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HOW A MAN MAY DISCERN A FLATTERER FROM A FRIEND


THE SUMMARY

[The traveller hath great occasion and cause to rejoice, if in his journey he go with a good companion, who by his pleasant and profitable discourses may make him forget the tedious difficulty of the way: even so in this life, happy is the man who can find and meet with those to bear him company, by whom he may both easily pass through the occurrent dangers that are presented unto him, and also advance forward cheerfully unto virtue. In which regard our author, Plutarch, having discoursed as touching the nouriture, education, and instruction of youth, as also of vice and virtue in general, by good order and in great reason, sheweth in this treatise what sort of people we ought carefully to avoid, and with whom to join and be acquainted. And as he was a man well experienced and practised in the affairs of this world, he affirmeth and proveth by very sound and firm reasons, that there is nothing whereof we are to be more wary and heedful than false friendship, which he calleth flattery. Moreover, this being a matter of so great importance, as every wise man may well think and perceive, he draweth out this present discourse in length: and for that his purpose is to instruct us in those means whereby we may be able to distinguish between a flatterer and a true friend, he sheweth in the first place, that the only principal remedy to stop up the entry against all flatterers is to know ourselves well: for otherwise we shall have such array and ornaments hanged upon us, that we shall not easily perceive and discern who we are. And contrariwise, it happeneth oftentimes that we esteem them to be our perfect friends, so skilful axe they in counterfeiting; and withal, when they find us disposed to entertain such company, our own indiscretion depriveth us of that true insight and view which our soul ought to have in discerning a false friend from a true. Being willing, therefore, to aid and help us in this point, he describeth a crafty and wily flatterer, he discovereth his cunning casts, and depainteth him in his colours, shewing the very draught and lineaments which may direct us to the knowledge of him, to wit, that he doth conform and frame himself to the humour and nature of those whose company he haunteth; how he is unconstant and mutable, changing and turning into many and sundry fashions without any right and sincere affection, applying himself all the while to everything else but virtue, willing to be reputed always more lewd and vicious than those whom he flattereth: without regard of doing them good any way, or seeking their profit, he only aimeth at this, to please them and follow

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