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It is the second genus, however, which calls forth all your powers; the first is, in fact, a matter of course, and nothing more than a kind of conciliatory introduction to the second. Some little skill is perhaps necessary, in order not to yield too clumsily, for a clumsy compliment is far worse than nothing. The blindest dolt will soon be palled by a repetition of “ You don't say so !” “Good heavens!” “How wonderful !” wound up, perhaps, by, “But then you are so clever !” The fool must soon be tired of a fellow who roars out a horselaugh at the wrong part of a good story; compliments a hypochondriac on his good looks, and pays his court to a lady of“ a certain age,” by remarking how well she wears.
The first, easiest, and most obvious branch of the colloquial kind, is flattery direct, as when you tell Miss
how beautifully she played that last air ; or remark, with what extraordinary skill Dowager managed to gain the odd trick. This, however, is so very easy, that it is almost worn out; so that, however high you may carry your panegyric, you will scarcely get any thing by it, as there is always somebody ready
to out-lie you.
The second is the oblique, which is not quite so thread-bare as the first, and certainly has a most insinuating way about it, and a wonderfully disinterested appearance withal. A student in this line will, in company with a miser, lay great stress on precise economy; revile generosity, of any kind as impiously throwing away the gifts of Providence; swear, that if he had a son, whom he suspected of spending sixpence a-year more than was necessary, he would cut him off with a shilling. He will relate, with the highest encomiums and the most extravagant enthusiasm, an anecdote of the very man to whom he is speaking, and, finally, will draw the gull's character, or what he, blind and miserable wretch, conceives to be such; and declare that he considers that, as all that can be desirable for a friend or acquaintance.
The third, I shall adopt another person's expression in calling the argumentative flattery : which is, the talent of entering into a discussion with your flatté, and suffering yourself gradually to be convinced by his arguments ; of course your apostacy must not be too rapid, and it is necessary to say something, in order to give your opponent an opportunity for refuting it. This serves the two purposes, first, of impressing him with a good opinion of his own oratorical talents, and thus bringing him into a good humour; and secondly, of displaying your good sense in appreciating his powers, and your candour in yielding to them.
The fourth, or deferential kind, operates most readily on persons of the busy-body and Lady Bountiful chai racter. This consists in asking your friend's opinion on every subject, however trifling ; listening to it with the greatest possible respect; expressing your unfeigned admiration of the same, and exclaiming at your happiness in having received it, and your pleasure in following it. Mem. Always to reserve to yourself the privilege of not acting up to your promise, in case the advice be bad.
The last that I shall name, the comparative flattery, is a powerful auxiliary of the oblique; though I hardly
know whether that ought to rank as flattery, which chiefly consists in depreciating others. For instance, in company with a blue you must blame the superficial studies of the present age, and contrast the solid acquirements of Hebrew, Chaldaic, Chinese, Arabic, and Kamschatchan, with the flimsy accomplishments now in vogue; and compare the mind of a modern Miss to the froth on the top of a trifle, which, on tasting, melts to nothing, and the other's fathomless stores of knowledge to the depth, solidity, and sweetness of the cream at the bottom. Unhappy he, who is delighted with the despicable and trivial pursuits of music, dancing, &c.
Olli cæruleus supra caput astitit imber. " The blue will soon burst on him in a furious volley of argument and learning.
And now, Mr. Bouverie, I take my leave, hoping that what I have said may perchance profit some junior professor of the art; and believe me,
P. S. If at any time you should be in want of a puff, or a panegyrical advertisement, I am your man.
IN IMITATION OF ANACREON.
Master of the graphic art,
Paint her, if thy pencil can,
In dress for queen of Lydia meet,
Master of the graphic art,
If music's voice can make the mournful gay,