True friends versus counterfeit

Have you ever picked up a book of famous quotations, especially one that was written, say, a half century ago? Here's an interesting statement that appeared in a 1937 edition of such a book: "'Tis hard to find a man of great estate,/That can distinguish flatterers from friends." Whether one is of "great estate" or not, the distinction is certainly worth considering.

I doubt that people have ever of heard of Wentworth Dillon, the seventeenth-century Earl of Roscommon, who reiterated this thought of Horace, the Roman poet. Nevertheless, the observation rings true. The quote continues, "True friends appear less mov'd than counterfeit; / As men that truly grieve at funerals / Are not so counterfeit; / As men that cry for hire." John Bartlett, ed., Familiar Quotations (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1937), p. 180.

Obviously it's not just bankers, merchants, or art collectors who need to be aware of counterfeiting. We all need to know the difference between the genuine article and an imitation. No matter how good a counterfeit, it is never what it appears to be, and therein lies the critical element.

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September 11, 1989

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