Even bad men praise consistency. 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 praise, unless it be the devils. To carry two faces under one hat is, however, very common. Many roost with the poultry and go shares with Reynard the Fox. I read the other day an advertisement about reversible coats; the tailor who sells them must be making a fortune. Holding with the hares and hunting with the hounds is still in fashion.
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 thy have no principles; they are of the weathercock persuasion, and turn with the wind. Their mill grinds any grist that you bring to it if the ready money is forthcoming. And they go with every wind – north, south, east, west, north-east, north-west, south-east, south-west, nor'-nor' east, south-west-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. They believe in the winning horse; and are to be bought by the dozen, like mackerel, but he who gives a penny for them wastes his money.
Others are shifty because they are so desperately fond of "good fellowship." "Hail fellow, well met," is their cry, be it traveller or highwayman. They are so good-natured that they must needs 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 timeservers, hoping that the times may serve them. They have no backbones; you may bend them like willow wands, backwards or forwards, whichever way you please. They try to be Jack-o'-bothsides, but deserve to be kicked like a football by both parties.
Beware of those who come from the town of Deceit – Mr. Facing-both-ways, Mr. Fair-speech and Mr. Two-tongues are neighbours 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.
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.
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 hypocrites 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 will not do, don't try the fox's. 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 into trouble, but it is better than shuffling. At the least, 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 mill-stone under each arm.