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Friendship, that have written since bis time. Sir Fran. cis Bacon has finely described other advantages, or, as he calls them, fruits of friendship; and, indeed, there is no subject of morality wbich has been better handled and more exhausted than this. Among the several fine things which have been spoken of it, I shall beg leave to quote some out of a very ancient author, whose book would be regarded by our modern wits as one of the most shining tracts of morality that is extant, if it appeared under the name of a Confucius, or of any celebrated Grecian philosopher: I mean the little apocryphal treatise, entitled, “ The Wisdom of the Son of Sirach." How finely has he described the “art of making friends," by an obliging and affable behaviour! And laid down that precept, which a late excellent author has delivered as his own, “ That we should bave many well wishers, but few friends.”_" Sweet language will multiply friends; and a fair-speaking tongue will increase kind greetings. Be in peace with many, nevertheless have but one counsellor of a thousand*.” With what prudence does he caution us in the choice of our friends! And with wbat strokes of nature (I could almost say of humour) has he described the behaviour of a treacherous and self-interested friend ! “ If thou wouldst get a friend, prove bim first, and be not hasty to credit him: for some man is a friend for his own occasion, and will not abide in the day of thy trouble. And there is a friend, who, being turned to enmity and strife, will discover thy reproach.” Again: "Some friend is a companion at the table, and will not continne in the day of thy affiction: but in thy prosperity be will be as thyself, and will be bold over thy servants. If thou be brought low he will be against thee, and hide himself from thy facet.” What can be more strong and pointed than The following verse ? “ Separate thyself from thine
• Ecclus. vii. 5, 6.
+ Ibid. vi. 7, & seq.
enemies, and take heed of thy friends.” In the next words be particularises one of those fruits of friend. ship which are described at length by the two famous authors above mentioned, and falls into a general eulo. gium of friendship, wbich is very just as well as very sublime. “ A faithful friend is a strong defence; and he that hath found such an one, hath found a treasure. Nothing doth countervail a faithful friend, and his ex. cellency is invaluable. A faithful friend is the medi. cine of life; and they that fear the Lord shall find him. Whoso feareth the Lord shall direct his friendship aright; for as he is, so shall his neighbour (that is, his friend) be also *.” I do not remember to have met with any saying that has pleased me more than that of a friend's being the medicine of life, to express the efficacy of friendship in healing the pains and anguish which naturally cleave to our existence in this world; and am wonderfully pleased with the turn in the last sentence, that a virtuous man shall as a blessing meet with a friend who is as virtuous as himself. There is another saying in the same author, which would have been very much admired in an heathen writer: “ Torsake not an old friend, for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old thou shalt drink it with pleasure t." With what strength of allusion, and force of thought, has he de. scribed the breaches and violations of friendship : " Whoso casteth a stone at the birds, frayeth them away;
and he that npbraideth his friend, breaketh friendship. Though thou drawest a sword at a friend, yet despair not, for there may be a returning to fa
If thou hast opened thy mouth against thy friend, fear not, for there may be a reconciliation ; except for upbraiding, or pride, or disclosing of secrets, or a treacherous wound; for, for these things every friend will depart*.” We may observe in this and several other precepts in this author, those little familiar instances and illustrations which are so much admired in the moral writings of Horace and Epictetus. There are very beautiful instances of this nature in the following passages, which are likewise written upon the same subject : “ Whoso discovereth secrets, loseth his credit, and shall never find a friend to his mind. Love thy friend, and be faithful unto him; but if thou bewrayest his secrets, follow no more after him; for as a man hath destroyed his enemy, so hast thợu lost the love of thy friend; as one that letteth a bird go out of his hand, so hast thou 'let thy friend go, and shalt not get him again : follow after him no more, for he is too far off; be is as a roe escaped out of the snare. As for a wound it may be bouvd up, and after reviling there may be a reconciliation: but he that betrayeth secrets, is withont hope t."
+ Ibid, ix. 10,
* Ecclus. vi. 15-18.
Among the several qualifications of a good friend, this wise man has very justly singled out constancy and faithfulness as the principal; to these, others bave added virtue, knowledge, discretion, equality in age and fortune, and, as Cicero calls it, morum comitas, a pleasantyess of temper. If I were to give my opi. nion upon such an exhausted subject, I should join to these other qualifications a certain equability or evenness of behaviour. A man often contracts a friendship with one whom perhaps he does not find out till after a year's conversation; when on a sudden some latent ill-humour breaks out upon him, which he never disco. vered or suspected at his first entering into an intimacy with him. There are several persons who in some certain periods of their lives are inexpressibly agreeable, and in others as odious and detestable. Martial has given us a very pretty picture of one of this species, in the following epigram.
Ecclus. ix. 20, 21, 22.
+ Ibid. xxvii, 16, & seq.
Difficilis, facilis, jucundus, acerbus es idem,
EPIG. xlvii, 12.
“In all thy humours, whether grave or mellow,
It is very unlucky for a man to be entangled in a friendship with one, who by these changes and vicissi. tudes of humour, is sometimes amiable, and sometimes odious; and as most inen are at some times in an admirable frame and disposition of mind, it should be one of the greatest tasks of wisdom to keep our. selves well when we are so, and never to go out of that which is the agreeable part of our character.
Friendship is a strong and habitual inclination in two persons to promote the good and happiness of oue another. Though the pleasures and advantages of friendship bave been largely celebrated by the best moral writers, and are considered by all as great in. gredients of human happiness, we very rarely meet with the practice of this virtue in the world.
Every man is ready to give in a long catalogue of those virtues and good qualities he expects to find in the person of a friend, but very few of us are careful to cultivate them in ourselves.
Love and esteem are the first principles of friend. ship, which always is imperfect where either of these two is wanting.
As on the one hand, we are soon ashamed of loving a man whom we cannot esteem; so, on the other, though we are truly sensible of a man's abilities, we can never raise ourselves to the warmth of friendship, without au affectionate good will towards bis person.
Friendship immediately banishes envy under all its disguises. A man who can once doubt whether he should rejoice in his friend's being happier thau him. self, may depend upon it that he is an utter stranger to this virtue.
There is something in friendship so very great and noble, that in those fictitious stories which are invented to the honour of any particular person, the authors have thought it as necessary to make their hero a friend as a lover. Achilles has his Patroclus, and Æneas his Achates. In the first of these instances we may observe, for the reputation of the subject I am treating of, that Greece was almost ruined by the he. ro's love, but was preserved by his friendship.
The character of Achates suggests to us an observation we may often make on the intimacies of great men, who frequently choose their companions rather for the qualities of the heart than those of the head, and prefer fidelity in an easy inoffensive complying temper to those endowments which make a much greater tigure among mankind. I do not remember that Achates, who is represented as the first favourite, either gives his advice, or strikes a blow, through the whole Æneid.
A friendship which makes the least noise, is very often most useful; for which reason I should prefer a prudent friend to a zealous one.
Atticus, one of the best men of ancient Rome, was a very remarkable instance of what I am bere speak. ing. This extraordinary person, amidst the civil wars of his country, when he saw the designs of all parties equally tended to the subversion of liberty, by constantly preserving the esteem and affection of both the competitors, found means to serve his friends on either side : and while he sent money to young Marins, whose father was declared an enemy of the common. wealth, he was himself one of Sylla's chief favourites, and always near that general.
During the war between Cæsar and Pompey, he still maintained the same conduct. After the death of Cæsar he sent money to Brutus in his tronbles, and