The Worlds Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906. Vols. VIIX: British
By William Wycherley (16401716)
From The Plain Dealer
MANLY and LORD PLAUSIBLE.
Man. Tell not me, my good Lord Plausible, of your decorums, supercilious forms, and slavish ceremonies, your little tricks, which you, the spaniels of the world, do daily over and over, for and to one anothernot out of love or duty, but your servile fear.
Man. With your pardon, my no friend, I will not, as you do, whisper my hatred or my scorn; call a man fool or knave by signs or mouths over his shoulder, whilst you have him in your arms. For such as you, like common wenches and pickpockets, are only dangerous to those you embrace.
Man. I thought so. But know, that speaking well of all mankind is the worst kind of detraction; for it takes away the reputation of the few good men in the world, by making all alike. Now, I speak ill of most men, because they deserve it; I, that can do a rude thing rather than an unjust thing.
Plaus. Well, tell me not, my dear friend, what people deserve; I neer mind that. I, like an author in a dedication, never speak well of a man for his sake, but my own. I will not disparage any man, to disparage myself; for to speak ill of people behind their backs, is not like a person of honour; and, truly, to speak ill of em to their faces, is not like a complaisant person. But if I did say or do an ill thing to anybody, it should be sure to be behind their backs, out of pure good manners.
Man. Very well. But I, that am an unmannerly sea-fellow, if I ever speak well of peoplewhich is very seldom indeedit should be sure to be behind their backs; and if I would say or do ill to any, it should be to their faces. I would jostle a proud, strutting, overlooking coxcomb, at the head of his sycophants, rather than put out my tongue at him when he were past me; would frown in the arrogant, big, dull face of an overgrown knave of business, rather than vent my spleen against him when his back were turned; would give fawning slaves the lie whilst they embrace or commend me; cowards whilst they brag; call a rascal by no other title, though his father had left him a dukes; laugh at fools aloud before their mistresses; and must desire people to leave me, when their visits grow at last as troublesome as they were at first impertinent.
Man. The only way to be sure not to have em troublesome is to make em when people are not at home; for your visits, like other good turns, are most obliging when made or done to a man in his absence. A pox! why should any one, because he has nothing to do, go and disturb another mans business?