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A Flatterer Post by :imported_n/a Category :Essays Author :John Earle Date :September 2011 Read :2268

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A Flatterer

Is the picture of a friend, and as pictures flatter many times, so he oft shews fairer than the true substance: his look, conversation, company, and all the outwardness of friendship more pleasing by odds, for a true friend dare take the liberty to be sometimes offensive, whereas he is a great deal more cowardly, and will not let the least hold go, for fear of losing you. Your meer sour look affrights him, and makes him doubt his casheering. And this is one sure mark of him, that he is never first angry, but ready though upon his own wrong to make satisfaction. Therefore he is never yoked with a poor man, or any that stands on the lower ground, but whose fortunes may tempt his pains to deceive him. Him he learns first, and learns well, and grows perfecter in his humours than himself, and by this door enters upon his soul, of which he is able at last to take the very print and mark, and fashion his own by it, like a false key to open all your secrets. All his affections jump(1) even with your's; he is before-hand with your thoughts, and able to suggest them unto you. He will commend to you first what he knows you like, and has always some absurd story or other of your enemy, and then wonders how your two opinions should jump in that man. He will ask your counsel sometimes as a man of deep judgment, and has a secret of purpose to disclose to you, and whatsoever you say, is persuaded. He listens to your words with great attention, and sometimes will object that you may confute him, and then protests he never heard so much before. A piece of wit bursts him with an overflowing laughter, and he remembers it for you to all companies, and laughs again in the telling. He is one never chides you but for your vertues, as, you are too good, too honest, too religious, when his chiding may seem but the earnester commendation, and yet would fain chide you out of them too; for your vice is the thing he has use of, and wherein you may best use him; and he is never more active than in the worst diligences. Thus, at last, he possesses you from yourself, and then expects but his hire to betray you: and it is a happiness not to discover him; for as long as you are happy, you shall not.


(1) Jump here signifies to coincide. The old play of Soliman and Perseda, 4to. without date, uses it in the same sense:

"Wert thou my friend, thy mind would jump with mine." So in Pierce Penilesse his Supplication to the Divele:--"Not two of them jump in one tale." p. 29.

(The end)
John Earle's essay: Flatterer

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