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31 March, 2005
This is an activity which we all perhaps indulge in given the right circumstances, or necessity. Flattery can, of course, be of many kinds, innocent, without positive motive, or implied to please, insult, misguide, and even harm.
In the course of social intercourse we are sometimes obliged to exaggerate in order strike the right note and found off a story. Thus a person’s attributes may appear in light not so much accurate as favourable to him. He can even be grossly over praised, and this is sometimes done deliberately in a select company where the eulogist hopes that his observations will duly be reported to the gentleman in question, who will take careful note and remember his admirer if and when favours are expected of him. This is flattery as investment.
How does and ageing actress (or say a woman of fashion) feel when she is told at a party that she is the most beautiful female in the worlds? A stiffening of her attitude towards you will put you in your proper place. This is flattery as insult.
If you wish to flatter your hostess at the dinner table be careful that the whisky imbibed previously has not loosened your tongue to the extent that it may be hanging out of your mouth. Whatever did your cook put into this groggy broth. I’ve never tasted anything quite like it before? Ugh! A tap on your head with her fan will indicate that she probably cooked it herself.
How not to flatter your host before dinner, when you have been told to name your poison. Have you any of the gin you usually offer to your friends ? Back comes the answer; “Of course,” Then you drop your tan of bricks. I feared as much no thank you win a consolation prize. You may never be invited to dinner there again.
There are times when we find ourselves in an amorous frame of mind, seated perhaps on a bench beside a charming damsel, with rose bushes close by, and romantic music in the distance. You may think this is a good time to whisper sweet nothings into a surpnsed ear. The words seem to be like roses to her startled brain. Her hearts beats faster, her lips tremble. You must be very, very careful that you do no, whatever the temptation, go too far, passion may be panting behind the the nearest tree, Eros may have drawn an arrow. Flattery of this kind may land you in an abyss of trouble. Watch your step!
Politicians seem to thrive on flattery. A more applicable word for this kind of approach is perhaps sychophancy. Almost without exception, persons who decide to meddle in public affairs and dedicate themselves to the welfare to the oppressed masses, of tolling humanly manage to obtain a golden key which enables them to enter a food’s Paradise. Now this is one kind of heaven the path to which only fools dare to tread, and politicians are by and large, capable of much folly if they succeed in assuming office, and begin to wield power, this power, like a heady liquor, goes easily to their heads, and they fumes of intoxication numb their vulnerable brains. Then is the time for the adept flatterer or sycophant to practice his subtle art. He wants favours, recognition, a place in the party, a job somewhere, rapid promotion. May be even a state minister ship! And all can be his if he selects the proper cards. Plays them well, and stops at nothing on his way to the top. As for the victim? Poor sap, he deserves it anyway?
I think we all have a weakness for pleasant flattery; if depressed our hopes can be raised; if on the brink of failure, we can regain confidence in ourselves; if facing disgrace, we can put on a bold face. Thus flattery, Judiciously used, can serve a good moral purpose.
In conclusion I must confess that I love to be flattered but them I think I have a lot to be flattered about flattery we got you everywhere with me.
3 January, 1992.