Friday, February 06, 2009

Vanity and humility

There are various ways of flattering, and, of course, you must adapt your style to your subject. Some people like it laid on with a trowel, and this requires very little art. With sensible persons, however, it needs to be done very delicately, and more by suggestion than actual words. A good many like it wrapped up in the form of an insult, as--"Oh, you are a perfect fool, you are. You would give your last sixpence to the first hungry-looking beggar you met;" while others will swallow it only when administered through the medium of a third person, so that if C wishes to get at an A of this sort, he must confide to A's particular friend B that he thinks A a splendid fellow, and beg him, B, not to mention it, especially to A. Be careful that B is a reliable man, though, otherwise he won't.

Those fine, sturdy John Bulls who "hate flattery, sir," "Never let anybody get over me by flattery," etc., etc., are very simply managed. Flatter them enough upon their absence of vanity, and you can do what you like with them.

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