صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

MISCELLANEOUS.

ON FLATTERY.

cases does not arise from the flat

tery, that is, from the gratification (Continued from p. 220),

of vanity, but from collateral causes. The second position which this essay An elderly bachelor, who sits ail was intended to maintain is this day wrapped in flannels, and counts that men are often much pleased, an annual income of £10,000 Lee. and therefore may be much injured, ward-Island currency, is watched by flattery, even when they know with the most assiduous care by a it to be such.

legacy-hunting cousin. He perIt will be expedient particularly haps perfectly understands the lanto explain this position. Nothing, it guage of all this behaviour, and is will be allowed, is more common, aware that the flattery is in fact and, in many cases, nothing can be paid to his hogsheads of sugar and more correct, than to suppose that puncheons of rum; but he finds a flatterer is dangerous, only be this interested attendant a very concause he is not known to be a flat- venient tool, and delights in b'im as terer ; that when his motives are he delights in his cloth shoes and unmasked, his power is gone; that gouty chair. He accepts the prethe language of adulation can be tended love for the sake of the real ensnaring only while it is mistaken obedience. for the language of sincerity. But Farther, it is conceivable that a it seems likely that adulation has vain man may be pleased with a often subtilty enough to ensnare, compliment which he knows to be even after it is detected, and that insincere, as he is pleased with men may be not only gratified, but building castles in the air, in which in a sense deceived, by what they, at he imagines himself to be a king or the very moment, know to be mere- a Newton. Heisaware, in both cases, ly mouth-honour.

of the delusion; but finds it so pleasIt will be necessary to keep in ing to associate the idea of self with view, that he assert the flattery to the idea of any sort of superiority, operate even at the very time when it that he chuses knowingly to indulge is known to be such. In a looses the dream. I cannot pretend that sense, it very frequently happens, I believe this to be a common case, that we are seduced by flattery, of and therefore have merely stated it which we are aware.

The art of as “conceivable.” the sycophant may be so consum- Many other cases may be feigned, mate as to steal away from is our in which we shall be pleased with prejudices against him, and, in spite evident flattery, not as flattery, but of our suspicions, to persuade us for some collateral reason; but these that he is no sycophant. But here, have no reference to the position we cannot properly be said to be se- here maintained, that our vanity duced by what we know to be flat- may be really gratified by compliments,

tery. We knew it, but have forgot which we at the same time know to be - it ; we believed it, but have now no deeper than the lip. I do not suffered ourselves to be convinced of mean to deny, that the natural tenthe contrary.

dency of detected flattery is to disThere are other cases also, in gust us; but simply to affirm, that which we may be inaccurately said this disgust may sometimes be conto be pleased with obvious flatte- quered by a feeling of pleasure and ry ; but which I do not here con- complacency. Perhaps this cannot sider, because the pleasure in those directly be proved, but the observer of common life will probably not itself may be the more readily befind it very difficult to discover ex- lieved.

There are two reasons amples of the principle; not to say, which may perhaps be assigned for that we may possibly trace it in our- this phenomenon, although I am selves.

not sure, that they altogether exSuppose, for instance, a humble plain it; but I will state them as farmer to wait upon his landlord, they occurred to me. and to be admitted to the breakfast- 1. A man, who perceives himself parlour. He soon enters upon a

to be flattered, naturally presumes round of coarse compliments to his that the flatterer would not altogehost, and particularly to his ho- ther praise him for imaginary excelnour's bairns' who surround the ta- lencies ; and he therefore instantly ble. His honour' easily sees through gives himself credit for deserving to the thin disguise ; he knows that his be complimented, though not perhonest friend wishes for a renewal haps with so high a compliment as of his lease on easy terms; but yet he has received. In this there is he wears a smile of complacency. evidently some reason, as most com

Characters, noted for smooth pliments, however extravagant, are speeches, always make their way founded on truth. No degree of through socieiv better than those vanity, for instance, could induce a who, under the appearance of blunt- dwars to receive, without indignaness, are known to conceal the most tion, a compliment npon his “ 'giwarm philanthropy:

gantic size." As a flatterer, thereAn eastern tyrant is always sur- fore, generally contents himself rounded with the most slavish obe- with exaggerating some excellence dience, and the most extravagant really possessed by the object of his adulation, and he is always pleased bounty, men claim the right of apwith both. A good reason can be propriating to themselves a part of given why he should be pleased the commendation bestowed upon with the obedience, as it is

them even by the most notorious of solid comfort to him; but the proficients in the art of adulation ; adulation is not attended with the and the more profuse the adulation, same benefit, and therefore must be the more do they take the liberty pleasing in itself. Yet a man of of appropriating. understanding cannot fail to be con- Still, though it is likely that we vinced of its insincerity.

actually possess a degree of that exThe sycophants of Dionysius, the cellence, on the possession of which tyrant of Syracuse, actually licked we are congratulated, still we deup his spittle, declaring it to be ceive ourselves in estimating that sweeter than nectar or ambrosia. degree. If we are assailed by eviAfter every allowance for the inten- dent flattery, we know that we țional extravagance of this hyper- must reduce something of the eulobole, it seems likely that these men gy, before it will fit us; but the really professed to find extraordi- quantity of the reduction is left to nary pleasure in this surprising our own conjecture, and self-love will piece of obsequiousness ; and Dio- very seldom reduce enough. At nysius could hardly believe them to any rate, even if we reduce to the be sincere; yet Dionysius was un. proper point, we attach too great a doubtedly pleased.

value to what remains; we dwell If these illustrations shall be ad- upon it, cherish the idea of it, and mitted to make it probable, that men become self important; and this, let may be flattered by what they know us recollect, is as truly vanity, as it to be flattery, it is a curious ques. is vanity to plume ourselves on quation, whence does their delusion in lities which do not pertain to us. this case arise? And if any natural It may be remarked here, that it account can be given of it, the fact is not always necessary for a flatterer

CHRIST. OESEKY. No. 53.

source

Рp

to consider what good qualities we philosophers that ever wielded a really possess;

he
may

be satisfied pen, to one of the greatest and most with knowing what we think we ill-favoured sovereigns that ever sat possess. “If he be a cunning flat- upon a throne ! terer (says Lord Bacon), he will I would, on the whole, then subfollow the arch-flatterer, which is a mit, that the gratification which is man's self; and wherein a man sometimes felt at hearing what is thinketh best of himself, therein the perceived to be flattery, arises partly flatterer will uphold him most." from the cause I have mentioned. Unhappily, Lord Bacon understood But this cannot be always the this art but too well; and to shew cause; it will not account, for inhour excellently he could put in stance, for the alacrity with which practice his own rule, we have only Dionysius imbibed that odious piece to read his monstrous and ridiculous of adulation that has been before compliments to poor Queen Eliza- mentioned. Dionysius could not beth on her personal beauty, of possibly believe any part of this which she had about as little as she adulation to be founded in fact; for gave herself credit for possessing how could even the most absolute much. I transcribe the passage li- and most intoxicated tyrant ever terally*, only giving the extracts approximate to the supposition, that from Virgil out of a translation. his royal glands had rezily the power

“For the beauty and many graces of secreting nectar ? of her presence, what colours are 2. The second cause seems to me fine enough for such a portraiture? to be, that men are flattered with Let no light poet be used for such a what they know to be flattery, be: description, but the chastest and the cause they are pleased with finding royalest:

that they are thought worth flattery. « Of her gait;

Unless the flatterer is plainly actuat* And her majestic port confessed the ed by a malus animus, unless he is god.'

flattering them with an evident « Of her voice;

view to expose them to the derision * In more than human sounds she spoke of others, or to entice them into inspird.'

some danger, they presume that he

is really doing them homage in one Ånd breathes immortal spirit in her sense, though not exactly in the

sense in which he professes to do it. eyes.'

Who would waste compliments on « Of her colour;

those upon whose favour he did not • So looks the beauteous ivory stain'd set sonie value? This supposition, with reit.'

it is plain, turns the particular flat« Of her neck;

tery into what we have before Her neck she show'd

called constructite flattery; the par. * That with celestial charms divinely ticular compliment is in itself worthgloo'd.'

less, but it is considered as an index " Of her breast;

of general respect on the part of the Close, in a knot, her flowing robes she

flatterer. It operates, therefore, exdiet.'

actly as we have before shewn con

structive flattery to operate. « Of ber hair ; Her rearing locks immortal odours remarked that obsequiousness, eren

It has already been once or twice sheril, * And breath'd ambrosial scents around when perceived to arise from inte. her head."

rested motives, may yet be pleasing, What a strange tribute from one of because it is a convenient tool. But the profoundest and most eloquent we may now observe, that, though

this is true, yet the pleasure will very * Discourse on Queen Elizabeth. rarely stop at this point. There is

« Of her eye;

Something very captivating in the was destined for him by heaven, idea of being worshipped, even and (as he says) that "it was, of itthough the incense be not that of self, determined to be caught.Ipse the heart ; the object of it will be capi voluit. “ What could be more apt to say with the tyrant, “They palpable (proceeds the poet) than are welcome to hate me, if they will this compliment? Yet the Emperor's only be afraid of me," and will crest rose ; for nothing, however exult in conscious superiority. flattering, can be said of absolute

With respect to court-llattery, power, which absolute power will indeed, some distinctions are to be not believe.” This is certainly a made. The evident and open er- fine sentiment ; but it is exemplitrarugance of the titles usually con- fied only in the case of weak moferred on the Turkish and other narchs. Had the fisherman been eastern monarchs, cannot fairly per- addressing Julius Cæsar, probably haps be brought as an instance of his crest also would have risen ; such flatterv as pleases, though in- but it would not have been because derstood to be flattery. Such titles he believed the assertion. In truth, as king of the Universe, Shadow of it cannot but be observed that all God, and others equatty absurd and those habitual titles of impious aviuequally blasphemous, being habituallation which we have mentioned appellations, are generally, I should

were once new ; and that when suppose, construed to mean nothing new, they came under the denomimore than absolute power. They are nation of particular flattery; and annexed to the name of the Sure though probably perceived to be reign, as the jewels are annexed to such, were yet encouraged. his diadem, and a canopy to his It will, however, be a mistake to throne. They can hardly there- imagine that this subject belongs fore be supposed to indicate an in- only to courts and kings. It betention of deceiving on the part of longs to ourselves; because it shews those who use them, and who mean the amazing skill of the human them to be translated according to heart in the science of self-deceptheir standard sense. But in a more tion. Whether I am correct, let extended view, it must be owned, the reader judge ; but I cannot that all the state and ceremony help thinking, that there is hardly which surround a tyrant may be one of us who has not, on some occalled flattery ; and all who contri. casion or other, exemplified in his bute, by either speech or actions, to own person one or both of the two support them, may be regarded in the principles which have been describlight of parties to deliberate decep- ed as making obvious flattery gratetion : and in this case, if we sup- ful to the palate. There is much, pose the general intention to be per- far too much, flattery in common ceived by a sagacious despot, the life ; and almost every man must case will nndoubtedly come under have, at some time or other, perthe rule which I am here endea- ceived himself to be the object of vouring to maintain.

it. He has, perhaps, in these cases, Yet after all, there is, in despo- been disgusted ; but has not distic courts, an infinite quantity of gust silently given way to a feeling particular adulation; which de- of satisfaction? Possibly he congralights a weak monarch, because he tulated himself on the temper with believes it; and delights a sen- which he bore so great an insult; sible one, because he sees it to while, in reality, he was pleased, be extorted, and swells with the because he thought it only an apidea of conquest. Juvenal intro- parent insult: thus doubly deceivduces a fisherman making a present ing himself, when he imagined him. of a huge turbot to Domitian, and self to be most indeceived, and assuring the Emperor that the fisha Anding in the lowest deep a lower deep

a

of delusion. But whether this he dor, and joy. But the person apthe true account or not, and whether pointed to superintend my educathe whole of this essay be correct tion, endeavoured to persuade me, or completely incorrect, authority that the wide expanse below was that cannot be disputed has pro- obscured by vapour and exhalation. nounced, the heart of man to be I heard, however, his lectures with deceitful above all things; and, if we incredulonscontempt, and attributed really defer to this authority, what my preceptor's unaccountableinsenremains but that we apply to Him sibility to defective vision. Had who is both the searcher and purifier he told me, that the prospect was of hearts, to “ cleanse the thoughts indeed illuminated by the full blaze of ours, by the inspiration of his of the solar effulgence, but that an Holy Spirit ?”

impalpable cloud might dissolve at once the magic vision ; had he ap

prized me, that the innumerable To the Editor of the Christian Observer. objects discernible from the emi

nence I then occupied acquired an SIR, 'Although the general title prefixed

unreal interest from their distance to the following papers may

be cen

and consequent indistinctness : had sured as arbitrary and indetermi. he forwarned me, that when I should nate, and inapplicable to many of descend into the plain, and examine the subjects brought under discuse those objects nearly, the greater sion, I have been compelled, in this part would surprise and disappoint instance, to sacrifice distinctness to me, or even create disgust by their brevity. The World As It Is, is se

homeliness and offensive qualities, lected from a correspondence pre-- But he commenced at the wrong

he had gained a more attentive ear. served with some interest in my domestic archives; and in transcrib- point: he contradicted the evidence ing the enclosed extracts, their ori

my senses : he never laboured ginal form has been retained, omit- to exercise and inform my underting however several passages of a standing; never taught his pupil private or local character.

to anticipate futurity, nor elevated Should the principles advanced his mental sight abore the horizon and illustrated in Arthur's Letters that bounded the subjacent prospect accord with those of the Christian to regions far above, beyond the Observer, I plead for their admis- situation of that source of material sion into your miscellaneous depart. light which the glory of its Creator ment, and, am, sir,

« darkens with excessive brightYours, &c.

ness.

* * * * * * The interval between my leaving the university and entering upon my present profession was passed at ihe country

residence of a gentleman, whose in-Decipit

telligence and mildness of manners #rons prima multos ; rara mens intelligit persuaded me to forget that he was Quod interiore condidit cura angulo. one of those whom the generality

-As I climbed the steeps of life, of his neighbours pitied and almost The World,- for such I have since neglected, as perverted by the wild learned the pageant really was, notions of what they denominated began to open upon me. Viewed a too serere religion. Mr. M. was from the heights of youth and inex- indeed my maternal uncle; and the perience, it resembled, (to borrow veneration I bore to the memory of an elegant and apposite compari- my mother taught me to regard him son) a distant landscape sun-gilt. with an appropriate degree of afThe whole scene appeared to glow fection. Yet I evidently saw, that with increasing beauty, and slpen- he commiserated my practical con

of

AN ANTI-SECULAR PHILOSOPHER.

THE WORLD AS IT IS.

NO I.

« السابقةمتابعة »