Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/94

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Plutarch's Morals

not only upon a desire to yield unto others and to gratify them, but also for fear to give any suspicion that he would seem to draw back and avoid to set his hand to any work or business whatsoever, is ready with the foremost to apply himself to the appetite and inclination of another, yea and withal, pricketh and inciteth him forward to enter upon it. And yet lightly you shall find even of rich men and kings but few or none who can or will come forth with these words:

Would God some one that needy is and poor,
Yea, worse than he that begs from door to door.
Would come to me (so that he were my friend)
Without all fear, and speak to me his mind.

But nowadays it is far otherwise; for they are much like unto composers of tragedies, who will be provided of a quire or dance of their friends to sing with them, or desire to have a theatre of purpose to give applause and clap their hands unto them. And verily, whereas Merope in a certain tragedy giveth these sage and wise advertisements:

Take those for friends, I rede, and hold them so,
Whose speech is sound, and waves not to and fro;
But those that please thy mind in word and deed,
Count lewd, and such lock forth of door with speed:

our potentates and grand seigneurs do clean contrary; for such as will not follow their humours, and soothe them up at every word, but gainsay their courses, in making remonstrance of that which is more profitable and expedient; such they disdain and will not vouchsafe them a good look. But for those wicked wretches, base-minded varlets, and cozening impostors, who can curry favour, they not only set their doors wide open for such, and receive them into their houses, but they admit them also to conferences with their inward affections and the very secrets of their heart. Among whom you shall have one more plain perhaps and simple than the rest, who will say that it is not for him, neither is he worthy to deliberate and consult of so great affairs; marry, he could be content, and would take upon him, to be a poor servitor and minister, to execute whatsoever were concluded and enjoined him to do: another more crafty and cunning than his fellows, is willing enough to be used in counsel, where he will hear all doubts and perils that be cast; his eyebrows shall speak if they will, his head and eyes shall nod and make signs, but his tongue shall not speak a word: Say that the party whom he mindeth to flatter do utter his mind and what he thinketh good to do: then