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advantages of friendship have been largely celebrated by the best moral writers, and are considered by all as great ingredients 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 friendship, 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 can not 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 an affectionate good-will towards his 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 than himself, 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 goddess Friendship was represented with her left side bare, her hand pointing to her heart, with these words, far and near; the bottom of her gown was bound about with these words, life and death.
the reputation of the subject I am treating of, that Greece was almost ruined by the hero'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 these endowments which make a much greater figure among mankind. I do not remember that Achates, who is represented as the first favourite, either gives his advice, or strikes a blow, though 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 remakable instance of what I am here speaking. This extraordinary person, amidst the civil wars of his country, when he saw the designs of all parties equally tended to the subver, sion 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 Marius, whose father was declared an enemy to the commonwealth, 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 troubles, and did a thousand good offices to Antony's wife and friends when that party seemed ruined. Lastly, even in that bloody war between
Antony and Augustus, Atticus still kept his place in both their friendships; insomuch that the first, says Cornelius Nepos; whenever he was absent from Rome in any part of the empire, writ punctually to him what he was doing, what he read, and whither he intended to go, and the latter
gave him constantly an exact account of all his affairs.
A likeness of inclinations in every particular is so far from being requisite to form a benevolence in two minds towards each other, as it is generally imagined, that I believe we shall find some of the firmest friendships to have been contracted between persons of different humours; the mind being often pleased with those perfections which are new to it, and which it does not find among its own accomplishments. Besides, that a man in some measure supplies his own defects, and fancies himself at second-hand possessed of those good qualities and endowments, which are in the possession of him who, in the eye of the world, is looked on as his other self.
The most difficult province in friendship is the letting a man see his faults and errors; which should, if possible, be so contrived, that he may perceive our advice is given him, not so much to please ourselves as for his own advantage. The reproaches therefore of a friend should always be strictly just and not too frequent.
The violent desire of pleasing in the reproved, may otherwise change into a despair of doing it, while he finds himself censured for faults he is not conscious of. A mind that is softened and humanized by friendship can not bear frequent reproaches; either it must quite
sink under the oppression, or abate considerably of the value and esteem it had for him who bestows them. The proper business of friendship is to inspire life and courage; and a soul thus supported outdoes itself; whereas, if it be unexpectedly deprived of these succours, it droops and languishes.
We are in some measure more inexcusable if we violate our duties to a friend than to a relation; since the former arise from a voluntary choice, the latter from a necessity to which we could not give our own consent.
As it has been said on one side, that a man ought not to break with a faulty friend, that he may not expose the weakness of his choice; it will doubtless hold much stronger with
respect to a worthy one, that he may never be upbraided for having lost so valuable a treasure which was once in his possession. (See No. 68.)
No. 386. FRIDAY, MAY 23.
Cum tristibus severe, cum remissis jucunde, cum senibus graviter, cum juventute comiter vivere.
TULL. The piece of Latin on the head of this paper is part of a character extremely vicious, but I have set down no more than may fall in with the rules of justice and honour. Cicero spoke it of Catiline, Who,' he said, "lived with the sad severely, with the cheerful agreeably, with the old gravely, with the young pleasantly;' he added,
“ with the wicked boldly, with the wanton lasciviously.”
The two last instances of his complaisance I forbear to consider, having it in my thoughts at present only to speak of obsequious behaviour, as it sits upon a companion in pleasure, not a man of design and intrigue. To vary with every humour in this manner, can not be agreeable, except it comes from a man's own temper and natural complexion; to do it out of an ambition to excel that way, is the most fruitless and unbecoming prostitution imaginable. To put on an artful part, to obtain no other end but an unjust praise from the undiscerning is of all endeavours the most despicable. A nian must be sincerely pleased to become pleasure, or not to interrupt that of others: for this reason, it is a most calamitous circumstance, that many people who want to be alone, or should be so, will come into conversation. It is certain that all men, who are the least given to reflection, are seized with an inclination that way, when, perhaps, they had rather be inclined to company: but indeed they had better go home, and be tired with themselves, than force themselves upon others to recover their good humour.
In all this the case of communicating to a friend a sad thought, or difficulty, in order to relieve a heavy heart, stands excepted; but what is here meant is, that a man should always go with inclination to the turn of the company he is going into, or not pretend to be of the party. It is certainly a very happy temper to be able to live with all kinds of dispositions, because it argues a mind that lies open to receive what is pleasing to others, and not obstinately bent on any particularity of his own.