ePub 版

most perfeet ties of affection. The ancients seem to have conceived the truest and most exalted ideas on the subject of friendship. Among the most celebrated instances are the friendship of Achilles and Patroclus, Orestes and Pylades, Æneas and Achates, Cyrus and Araspes, Alexander and Hephæstion, Scipio and Lælius. In each of these the parties are, the true hero, the man of lofty ambition, the magnificent personage in whom is concentred every thing that the historian or the poet was able to realise of excellence, and the modest and unpretending individual in whom his confidence was reposed. The grand secret of the connection is unfolded in the saying of the Macedonian conqueror, “Craterus loves the king ; but Hephæstion loves Alexander.” Friendship is to the loftier mind the repose, the unbending of the soul. The great man (whatever may be the department in which his excellence consists) has enough of his greatness, when he stands before the world, and receives the homage that is paid to his merits. Ever and anon he is anxious to throw aside this incumbrance, and be as a man merely to a man. He wishes to forget the “pride, pomp, and circumstance” of greatness, and to be that only which he is himself. He desires at length to be sure, that he receives no adulation, that he is accosted with no insincerity, and that the individual to whose society he has thought proper to withdraw, has no by-ends, no sinister purposes in all his thoughts. What he seeks for, is a true friend, a being who sincerely loves, one

who is attached to him, not for the accidents that attend him, but for what most strictly belongs to him, and of which he cannot be divested. In this friend there is neither interested intention nor rivalry.

Such are the characteristic features of the superior party in these exemplars of friendship among the ancients. Of the unpretending, unassuming party Homer, the great master of the affections and emotions in remoter ages, has given us the fullest portrait in the character of Patroclus. The distinguishing feature of his disposition is a melting and affectionate spirit, the concentred essence of tenderness and humanity. When Patroclus comes from witnessing the disasters of the Greeks, to collect a report of which he had been sent by Achilles, he is “overwhelmed with floods of tears, like a spring which pours down its waters from the steep edge of a precipice.” It is thus that Jupiter characterises him when he lies dead in the field of battle

- —’Axeños--
εταίρον έπεφνες ενηέα τε, κρατερόν τε.

It is thus that Menelaus undertakes to excite the
Grecian chiefs to rescue his body:

Νυν τις ενηείης Πατροκλήoς δειλοίο
Μνησάσθω πάσιν γάρ επίσατο μείλιχος είναι
Zwós éby. b

• Thou [addressing himself in his thoughts to Hector] hast slain the friend of Achilles, not less memorable for the blandness of his temper, than the bravery of his deeds.

1 Let each man recollect the sweetness of his disposition: for, as long as he lived, he was unremitted in kindness to all.

he says,

When Achilles proposes the games at the funeral,

“On any other occasion my horses should have started for the prize, but now it cannot be. . They have lost their incomparable groom, who was accustomed to refresh their limbs with water, and anoint their flowing manes ; and they are inconsolable.” Briseis also makes her appearance among the mourners, avowing that, “when her husband had been slain in battle, and her native city laid in ashes, this generous man prevented her tears, averring to her, that she should be the wife of her conqueror, and that he would himself spread the nuptial banquet for her in the hero's native kingdom of Phthia."

The reciprocity which belongs to a friendship between unequals may well be expected to give a higher zest to their union. Each party is necessary to the other. The superior considers him towards whom he pours out his affection, as a part of himself.

The head is not more native to the heart,

The hand more instrumental to the mouth. He cannot separate himself from him, but at the cost of a fearful maim. When the world is shut out by him, when he retires into solitude, and falls back upon himself, then his unpretending friend is most of all necessary to him. He is his consolation and his pleasure, the safe coffer in which he reposits all his anxieties and sorrows. If the principal, instead of being a public man, is a man of sciences


this kind of unbending becomes certainly not the less welcome to him. He wishes occasionally to forget the severity of his investigations, neither to have his mind any longer wound up and stretched to the height of meditation, nor to feel that he needs to be any way on his guard, or not completely to give the rein to all his sallies and the sportiveness of his soul. Having been for a considerable time shut up in sequestered reflection, he wishes, it may be, to have the world, the busy impassioned world, brought to his ears, without his being obliged to enter into its formalities and mummeries. If he desires to speak of the topics which had so deeply engaged him, he can keep as near the edge as he pleases, and drop or resume them as his fancy may prompt. And it seems useless to say, how much his modest and unassuming friend will be gratified in being instrumental to relieve the labours of his principal, in feeling that he is necessary to him, and in meditating on the delight he receives in being made the chosen companion and confident of him whom he so ardently admires. It was precisely in this spirit, that Fulke Greville, two hundred years ago,

years ago, directed that it should be inscribed on his tomb, “Here lies the friend of Sir Philip Sidney.” Tenderness on the one part, and a deep feeling of honour and respect on the other, give a completeness to the union which it must otherwise for ever want. “ There is no limit, none,” to the fervour with which the stronger goes forward to protect the weak; while

in return the less powerful would encounter a thousand deaths rather than injury should befall the being to whom in generosity and affection he owes so much.

In the mean time, though inequality is necessary to give this completeness to friendship, the inequality must not be too great. The inferior party must be able to understand and appreciate the sense and the merits of him to whom he is thus bound. There must be no impediment to hinder the communications of the principal from being fully comprehended, and his sentiments entirely participated. There must be a boundless confidence, without apprehension that the power of the stronger party can by the remotest possibility be put forth ungenerously. “Perfect love casteth out fear.” The evangelist applies this aphorism even to the love of the creature to his creator. “ The Lord spake unto Moses, face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." In the union of which I am treating the demonstrative and ordinary appearance will be that of entire equality, which is heightened by the inner, and for the greater part unexplained and undeveloped, impression of a contrary nature. There is in either party a perfect reliance, an idea of inequality with the most entire assurance that it can never operate unworthily in the stronger party, or produce insincerity or servility in the weaker. There will in reality always be some reserve, some shadow of fear between equals, which in the friendship of un

« 上一頁繼續 »