solid mental grace

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Boastfulness

I WOULD define boastfulness to be the pretension to good which the boaster does not possess.

The braggart will stand on the quay talking away to foreigners of the vast sums he has at sea, and will wax eloquent on the mightiness of his money-lending business and on his gains and losses. At the very moment of exaggeration he sends his servant to the bank where he has a deposit of a whole shilling. He is fond of imposing on a companion of the road a tale of how he saw service with Alexander the Great, and the king's personal dealings with him and the number of jewelled drinking-cups he brought home. He follows up this by asserting that the craftsmen of Asia are more skilled than those of Europe, and all this though he has never been out of town in his life. He will tell you that a letter has come from Antipater1 - the third, as a matter of fact - bidding him come to Macedonia, and that he declined an offer of the right to export timber duty free, so that no one could carp at him further for being too kindly disposed to Macedonia.' 'In the famine' he continues, 'my givings in presents to the starving citizens came to more than a thousand pounds you see, I can't say "No" to people.' And though those sitting beside him are unknown to him he will ask one of them to reckon up by items of fifty or a hundred pounds, calmly giving a name for each till he gets it well up to two thousand pounds. This sum he declares was given in charities without counting the fitting-out of a war-ship for the state and other public services. He will go to the sellers of the best horses pretending to wish to buy, or, approaching the stalls, ask to see as much as fifty pounds' worth of cloth, and then quarrel with his slave because he dared attend him without bringing gold. While he is living in' a hired house he declares, to those who don't know about him, that it is the family mansion, but he thinks of selling it for it is too small for his entertainments.

1 An able general of Alexander's who was left to govern Macedonia in his name.

2 The Athenians had heen the root of the resistance to the aggression of Macedonia, and thoogh now hombled still cherished to the full their old hostility. A philoMacedonian was not popular with the people.