Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/69

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47
To Discern a Flatterer from a Friend

in Asia, but he gave himself to voluptuousness and pleasure, to riot, wantonness, and superfluous delights: Thus throughout the whole course of his life he won the love of all men, by framing himself to their humours and fashions wheresoever he came. Such were not Epaminondas and Agesilaus: For albeit they conversed with many sorts of people, travelled divers cities, and saw sundry fashions and manners of strange nations; yet they never changed their behaviour, they were the same men still, retaining evermore a decent port which became them, in their apparel, speech, diet, and their whole carriage and demeanour. Plato likewise was no changeling, but the same man at Syracuse that he was in the academy or college at Athens: and look, what his carriage was before Dion, the same it was and no other in Denys his court.

But that man may very easily find out the variable changes of a flatterer, as of the fish called the pourcuttle, who will but strain a little and take the pains to play the dissembler himself, making shew as if he likewise were transformed into divers and sundry fashions; namely in misliking the course of his former life, and suddenly seeming to embrace those things which he rejected before, whether it be in diet, action or speech: For then he shall soon see the flatterer also to be inconstant, and not a man of himself, taking love or hatred to this or that, joying or grieving at a thing, upon any affection of his own that leadeth him thereto, for that he receiveth always as a mirror the images of the passions, motions and lives of other men.

If you chance to blame one of your friends before him, what will he say by and by? Ah well, you have found him out I see now at last, though it were long first: Iwis I liked him not, a great while ago: Contrariwise, if your mind alter, so that you happen to fall a praising of him again: Very well done, will he say, and bind it with an oath, I con you thank for that: I am very glad for the man's sake, and I believe no less of him. Do you break with him about the alteration of your life, and bear him in hand that you mean to take another course, as for example, to give over state affairs, to betake yourself to a more private and quiet life. Yea, marry (quoth he), and then you do well, it is more than high time so to do: For long since we should have been disburdened of these troubles so full of envy and peril. Make him believe once that you will change your copy, and that you are about to shake off this idle life, and to betake yourself unto the commonweal, both to rule and also to speak in public place: you shall have him to soothe you