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narrator? Or was it the effect of the confused idea of the changes which interrupted the sameness of my thoughts or occupations? Or was it, which is most likely, the consequence of the joyful sensation of being exempted from the misfortune which befalls or threatens others?
"I should like to know what passes in the minds of other people, and particularly of those who have an humane, feeling heart, when they are surprised by important, and, at the same time, afflicting intelligence. However, I apprehend that most of them either do not pay proper attention to situations of that kind, or are anxious to hide their feelings from others, and, perhaps from themselves. Yet, I think, one ought to observe one's self with the utmost care in such cases; and, in order to recollect afterwards, to one's own benefit, the most secret emotions of the mind, one ought to commit them faithfully to writing in the first tranquil moment.
"I communicated the letter to my wife, made preparation for my journey, settled in haste some business, gave some orders, and then stepped into the carriage.
"Consternation, anxiety, uneasiness, and a secret satisfaction, on account of the joy my speedy arrival would afford my friend, but not only on account of that joy, but also of the praise which I expected himself and his family would give me—and shame on account of that satisfaction, succeeded each other, alternately, in the first quarter of an hour*.
"I began to pray: 'O! my God! how irregular and impure are my thoughts! When will my heart be in such a condition that I shall be able to look upon myself without blushing !—Merciful God! guide my thoughts and sensations, particularly at present." "
Real friendship is almost as exclusive as love, and cannot be diffused over a large circle. I can hardly call that man my friend who cares as much for a hundred other people as he does for me. I am not satisfied with a hundredth share of his heart. might as well pretend to love as many mistresses. have an equally deep feeling for them all. In the event of a contrariety of interests amongst them, how is he to act? Every body's friend is no one's. Jealousy is almost as much allied to friendship as to love, and it is more natural to see friends in pairs than in triads or in scores. The close communion of a great number of people is sociality, but not friendship,
*These are genuine confessions, and show a profound self-knowledge.
Some people talk of friendship as if it were as common a thing as the sexual affection, which is by no means the case. All men at some period of their lives have been fired by the latter passion, but comparatively very few of any age have felt the force of genuine friendship. Love is a compound feeling, and is fed with the grossest food; but friendship is a passion which must exist entirely on a moral or intellectual diet. Though love is more fiery and ardent, it is also more fickle and uncertain. It is subject, as are all physical passions, to a fatal satiety. It is destroyed by fruition. But the appetite of friendship grows with what it feeds on. Love is like a hunter who cares not for the game when once caught, which he may have pursued with the most intense and breathless eagerness. Love is strongest in pursuit, friendship in possession.
The ancient philosophers were enthusiastic advocates of friendship, and amongst the Greeks it was made a point of religion and legislation. But Christianity has been thought by some to nullify this virtue. Soame Jenyns, in his "View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion," maintains, that it is not consistent with that universal benevolence which is inculcated by the Scriptures*. Dr. Johnson seems to lean to the same opinion, and Shaftesbury in his "Characteristics" insists that private. friendship is a virtue purely voluntary in a Christian. He supports his argument with an extract from Bishop Taylor, who observes that the word friendship, in the sense commonly understood by it, is not so much as mentioned in the New Testament.
It is totally incompatible," be observes, "with the genius and spirit of the Gospel." Melmoth in his remarks on Cicero's Lælius warmly combats this notion.
But Bishop Heber (who by the way, wrote a Life of Bishop Taylor) made the following remark in a letter to Mr. Hornby: "Whatever may be our prospects of intercourse here, I am not one of those who apprehend that a wellgrounded esteem even for earthly beings, will perish with the present world; and I trust I am not presumptuous in cherishing the hope, that many of the friendships begun here, may be among the sources of our everlasting happiness."
Boswell records the following conversation on this subject between Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Knowles (a Quaker lady).
Johnson: "All friendship is preferring the interest of a friend to the neglect or perhaps against the interest of others; so that an old Greek said, he that has friends has no friend.' Now Christianity recommends universal benevolence, to consider all men as our brethren; which is contrary to the virtue of friendship, as described by the ancient philosophers. Surely, madam, your sect must approve of this; for you call all men friends." Mrs. Knowles: "We are commanded to do good to all men, but especially to them that are of the household of faith!" Johnson : Well, madam, the household of faith is wide enough." Mrs. Knowles: “But, Doctor, our Saviour had twelve Apostles, yet there was one whom he loved. John was called the disciple whom Jesus loved!" Johnson: (with eyes sparkling benignantly,) "Very well, indeed, madam. You have said very well." Boswell: "A fine application. Pray sir, had you ever thought of it?" Johnson: "I had not, sir."
But though there is certainly a spirit of exclusiveness in friendship itself, it does not follow that it is necessarily opposed to that universal philanthropy which is so incessantly and so beautifully recommended by the Christian religion. To entertain exactly the same esteem and love for all men is utterly impossible, because we esteem and love individuals for qualities with which all men are not equally endowed. There are also natural instincts which interfere with this equality of regard. Every mother must prefer the interest of her own offspring to that of others. All that can be expected from us is, the cultivation of a spirit of charity and good-will towards the whole human race; and they who are capable of an intense and passionate friendship cannot be cruel or cold-hearted towards any portion of their fellow-creatures. In fact, in the composition of a genuine friendship there are many of the highest and most generous virtues. A merely selfish man cannot be a friend, neither can an evil-minded or a foolish one. Voltaire defines friendship a tacit contract between two sensible and virtuous persons." "The wicked," he says, "have only accomplices; the voluptuous, companions; the interested, asso
ciates; idle men, connexions; and princes, courtiers. Cethegus," he adds, "was the accomplice of Cataline, and Mæcenas, the courtier of Octavius; but Cicero was the friend of Atticus."
There are many delightful examples of literary friendship. Perhaps one reason of the fervour of friendship between men of letters is their facility of mental intercourse. They are in the habit of clothing their most subtle thoughts and associations in a transparent diction. The communion of such men is perfect, and the intense delight with which they compare minds, and kindle at the social collision of their most secret conceptions, is inconceivable by ordinary persons. Their mental characters are more firmly fixed, and their opinions are not liable to be affected by the breath of frivolous scandal or by slight external occurrences. They live as it were in a world of their own, in which there are fewer mutabilities than in the material world with which other men are connected. They do not care for the idle gossip of society. Their conversation is about departed spirits, and is full of glorious abstractions. They are hand and glove with Milton and Shakspeare, with Bacon and with Newton, while they have not even a bowing acquaintance with their next-door neighbour. How beautiful an instance of literary friendship is that of Beaumont and Fletcher, whose labours were so mingled, that no critic has been able to separate them! Their union is eternal! It is scarcely necessary to allude to the friendship of Virgil and Horace, Petrarch and Boccacio, Chaucer and Gower, Surrey and Wyatt, Milton and Marvel, Cowley and Harvey, Isaac Walton and Charles Cotton, Lloyd and Churchill, Pope and Swift, and Byron and Moore. Of these interesting literary friendships almost every one must have read. How touchingly has Gray commemorated his affection for West, in the following Sonnet. "In vain to me the smiling morning shines,
And reddening Phoebus lifts his golden fire;
These ears, alas, for other notes repine;
To warm their little loves the birds complain,
I fruitless mourn for him that cannot hear,
And weep the more because I weep in vain."
The friendship of Montaigne and Stephen de Boetius was such as is rarely known in ordinary life," a friendship so entire, and so perfect, that certainly the like is hardly to be found in story." Nothing can exceed the passionate and disinterested tenderness with which they regarded each other. After the death of Boetius, of which his friend has given us so pathetic a relation, life seemed one dark tedious night" to the survivor. "From the day that I lost him," says Montaigne, " I have only languished in life, and the very pleasures that present themselves to me, instead of comforting me, double my affliction for the loss of him. We were half-sharers in every thing; and methinks, by outliving him, I defraud him of his share." This approaches nearly to Dryden's somewhat extravagant description of friendship in his "All for Love."
"I was his soul: he lived not but in me;
If I have any joy when thou art absent,
I grudge it to myself; methinks I rob.