Men with Two FacesPosted: November 28, 2010
Even bad men praise consistency. Thieves like honest men, for they are the best to rob. When you know where to find a man, he has one good point at any rate; but a fellow who howls with the wolves and bleats with the sheep gets nobody’s good word unless it be the devil’s. To carry two faces under one hat is, however, very common. Many roost with the poultry and go shares with Reynard. Many look as if butter would not melt in their mouths and yet can spit fire when it suits their purpose. I read the other day an advertisement about reversible coats; the tailor who sells them must be making a fortune. Holding with the hare and running with the hounds is still in fashion. Consistency is about as scarce in the world as musk in a dog kennel.
You may trust some men as far as you can see them, but no further, for new company makes them new men. Like water, they boil or freeze according to the temperature. Some do this because they have no principles; they are of the weathercock persuasion and turn with the wind. you might as well measure the moon for a suit of clothes as know what they are. They believe in that which pays best. They always put up at the Golden Fleece; their mill grinds any grist which you bring to it if the ready money is forthcoming. They go with every wind, north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest, north-northeast, southwest-by-south, or any other in all the world. Like frogs, they live on land or water and are not at all particular which it is. Like a cat, they always fall on their feet and will stop anywhere if you butter their toes. They love their friends dearly, but their love lies in the cupboard; if that be bare, like a mouse, their love runs off to some other larder. They say, “Leave you, dear girl? Never, while you have a shilling.” How they scuttle off if you come to the bad! Like rats, they leave a sinking ship.
When good cheer is lacking,
Such friends still be packing.
Their heart follows the pudding. While the pot boils, they sit by the fire; when the meal tub is empty, they play at turnabout. They believe in the winning horse; they will wear anybody’s coat who may choose to give them one; they are to be bought by the dozen like mackerel, but he who gives a penny for them wastes his money. Profit is their god; and whether they make it out of you or your enemy, the money is just as sweet to them. Heads or tails are alike to them so long as they win. High road or back lane, all’s the same to them as long as they can get home with the loaf in the basket. They are friends to the goose, but they will eat his giblets. So long as the water turns their wheel, it is none the worse for being muddy; they would bum their mother’s coffin if they were short of fire wood and sell their own father if they could turn a penny by the old gentleman’s bones. They never lose a chance of minding the main chance.
Others are shifty because they are so desperately fond of good fellowship. “Hail fellow, well met,” is their cry, be it traveler or highwayman. They are so good-natured that they must agree with everybody. They are cousins of Mr. Anything. Their brains are in other people’s heads. If they were at Rome, they would kiss the Pope’s toe, but when they are at home they make themselves hoarse with shouting, “No Popery.” They admire the Vicar of Bray, whose principle was to be the Vicar of Bray whether the Church was Protestant or Popish. They are mere time-servers, in hopes that the times may serve them. They belong to the party which wears the yellow colors not in their button-holes, but in the palms of their hands. Butter them, and like turnips you may eat them. Pull the rope, and like the bells they will ring as you choose to make them, funeral knell or wedding peal, come to church or go to the devil. They have no backbones; you may bend them like willow wands, backwards or forwards, whichever way you please. Like oysters, anybody may pepper them who can open them. They are sweet to you and sweet to your enemy. They blow hot and cold. They try to be Jack-o’-both sides and deserve to be kicked like a football by both parties.
Some are hypocrites by nature, slippery as eels, and piebald like Squire Smoothey’s mare. Like a drunken man, they could not walk straight if they were to try. They wind in and out like a Surrey lane. They were born of the breed of St. Judas. The double shuffle is their favorite game, and honesty their greatest hatred. Honey is on their tongues, but gall in their hearts. They are mongrel-bred, like the gypsy’s dog. Like a cat’s feet, they show soft pads but carry sharp claws. If their teeth are not rotten, their tongues are, and their hearts are like dead men’s graves. If speaking the truth and lying were equally profitable, they would naturally prefer to lie; for, like dirt to a pig, it would be congenial. They fawn, and flatter, and cringe, and scrape; like snails they make their way by their slime, but all the while they hate you in their hearts and only wait for a chance to stab you. Beware of those who come from the town of Deceit. Mr. Facing-both-ways, Mr. Fair-speech, and Mr. Two-tongues are neighbors who are best at a distance. Though they look one way, as boatmen do, they are pulling the other; they are false as the devil’s promises, and as cruel as death and the grave.
Religious deceivers are the worst of vermin, and I fear they are as plentiful as rats in an old wheat stack.
They are like a silver pin, Fair without but foul within.
They cover up their black flesh with white feathers. Saturday and Sunday make a wonderful difference in them. They have the fear of the minister a good deal more before their eyes than the fear of God. Their religion lies in imitating the religious; they have none of the root of the matter in them. They carry Dr. Watts’ hymn book in their pocket and sing a roaring song at the same time. Their Sunday coats are the best part about them; the nearer you get to their hearts, the more filth you will Cad. They prate like parrots, but their talk and their walk do not agree. Some of them are fishing for customers, and a little pious talk is a cheap advertisement; if the seat at the church or the meeting costs a trifle, they make it up out of short weights They don’t worship God while they trade, but they trade on their worship. Others of the poorer sort go to church for Soup, and bread, and coal tickets. They love the communion because of the alms’ money. Some of the dear old Mrs. Goodbodies want a blessed almshouse, and so they profess to be so blessed under the blessed ministry or their blessed Pastor every blessed Sabbath. Charity suits them if faith does not; they know which side their bread ice buttered on.
Others make a decent show in religion to quiet their consciences; they use it as a salve for their wounds. If they could satisfy heaven as easily as they quiet themselves, it would be a fine thing for them. It has been my lot to meet with some who went a long way in profession, as far as I could see, for nothing but the love of being thought well of. They got a little knot of friends to believe in their dime talk, and take all in for gospel that they liked to say. Their opinion was the true measure of a preacher’s soundness; they could settle up everything by their own know, and they had gallons of XXX experience for those who liked something hot and strong; but dear, dear, if they had but condescended to show a little Christian practice as well, how much better their lives would have weighed up! These people are like owls, which look to be big birds, but they are not, for they are all feathers; and they look wonderfully knowing in the twilight, but when the light comes, they are regular boobies.
Hypocrites of all sorts are abominable, and he who deals with them will rue it. He who tries to cheat the Lord will be quite ready to cheat his fellow men. Great cry generally means little wool. Many a big chimney in which you expect to see bacon and hams, when you look up it, has nothing to show you but its empty hooks and black soot. Some men’s windmills are only nutcrackers, and their elephants are nothing but sucking pigs. It is not all who go to church or meeting that truly pray, nor those who sing loudest that praise God most, nor those who pull the longest faces who are the most in earnest. What mean animals hypocrites must be! Talk of polecats and weasels, they are nothing in comparison to them. Better be a dead dog than a live hypocrite. Surely when the devil sees hypocrites at their little game, it must be as good as a play to him; he tempts genuine Christians, but he lets these alone, because he is sure of them. He need not shoot at lame ducks; his dog can pick them up any day.
Depend upon it, friends, if a straight line will not pay, a crooked one won’t. What is got by shuffling is very dangerous gain. It may give a moment’s peace to wear a mask, but deception will come home to you and bring sorrow with it. Honesty is the best policy. If the lion’s skin does not do, never try the fox’s. Be as true as steel. Let your face and hands, like the church clock, always tell how your inner works are going. Better be laughed at as Tom Tell-truth than be praised as Crafty Charlie. Plain dealing may bring us trouble, but it is better than shuffling. At the last, the upright will have their reward; but for the double-minded to get to heaven is as impossible as for a man to swim the Atlantic with a millstone under each arm.