06 October 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Flattery

What cannot praise effect in mighty minds,
When flattery sooths, and when ambition blinds!
Desire of power, on earth a vicious weed,
Yet, sprung from high, is of celestial seed:
In God 'tis glory; and when men aspire,
'Tis but a spark too much of heavenly fire.
[An] ambitious youth, too covetous of fame,
Too full of angels' metal in his frame,
Unwarily was led from virtue's ways;
Made drunk with honour, and debauched with praise.
-from John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel (1681)

A warning to all the "ambitious youths" out there, all too ready to listen to others' flattery or their own self-praise: watch out. The desire for power and fame suits God, who alone has the right to glorify himself, but in you, it's a ludicrous presumption. Soli Deo Gloria is a lot harder to put into practice than we think!

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