Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/72

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Plutarch's Morals

uttered and revealed. And this resemblance and likeness that they take upon themselves causeth them to seem more affectionate and fuller of compassion. The other then, thus flattered, thinking that by this means they have received from them a sufficient pawn and assurance of their fidelity, stick not to let fall from their mouth some matter of secrecy also; and when they have once committed it unto them, then they are ever after bound to use them, yea, and be afraid to mistrust them in anything. I myself knew one who seemed to put away his own wedded wife because his friend whom he flattered had divorced his before: and when he had so done, was known to go secretly unto her, and messengers there were who passed to and fro between them underhand: which the divorced wife of the other perceived and found out well enough. Certes, little knew he what a flatterer was, and he had no experience of him who thought these iambic verses to express the sea-crab better than him:

A beast whose body and belly are meet.
The eye doth serve each way to see:
With teeth it creeps, they stand for feet,
Aread now what creature this may be?

For this is the very portraiture and image of a parasite, who keeps about the frying-pan (as Eupolis saith) of his good friends, and waiteth where the cloth is laid.

But as touching these things, let us refer them to their proper place for to be discoursed more at large. Howbeit, for the present let us not leave behind us one notable device and cunning cast, that a flatterer hath in his imitations; to wit, that if he do counterfeit some good quality that is in him whom he doth flatter, yet he giveth him always the upper hand: For among those that be true friends there is no emulation at all, no jealousy or envy between one and another; but whether they be equal in well-doing or come behind, they take all in good part and never grieve at the matter. But the flatterer, bearing well in mind that he in every place is to play the second part, yieldeth always in his imitation the equality from himself, and doth affect to counterfeit another so as he will be the inferior, giving the superiority unto the other in all things but those which are naught, for therein he challengeth to himself the victory over his friend. If he be somewhat malcontent and hard to be pleased, then will the flatterer profess himself to be stark melancholic: if his friend be somewhat too religious or superstitious, then will he make semblance as though he were