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retain to the last a tenderness and warmth, seldom possessed by friendships that are formed in the riper periods of life. The remembrance of ancient and youthful connections melts every human heart; and the dissolution of them is, perhaps, the most painful feeling to which we are exposed here below. But at whatever period of life friendships are formed, as long as they continue sincere and affectionate, they form, undoubtedly, one of the greatest blessings we can enjoy. By the pleasing communications of all our sentiments which they prompt, they are justly said to double our pleasures and to divide our sorrows. They give a brighter sunshine to the gay incidents of life; and they enlighten the gloom of its darker hours. A faithful friend, it is justly and beautifully said by one of the Apocryphal writers, is the medicine of life.* A variety of occasions happen, when to pour forth the heart to one whom we love and trust, is the chief comfort, perhaps the only relief, we can enjoy. Miserable is he who, shut up within the narrow inclosure of selfish interest, has no person to whom he can at all times, with full confidence, expand his soul.
SINCE cordial friendship is so great a blessing to human life, let us proceed to consider what duties it requires, and by what methods it may be cultivated to most advantage. The fundamental qualities of true friendship are, constancy and fidelity. Without these material ingredients it is of no value. An inconstant man is not capable of friendship. He may perhaps have affections which occasionally glow in his heart; which excite fondness for amiable qualities; or connect him with seeming attachment
# Ecclesiasticus, vi, 16.
to one whom he esteems, or to whom he has been obliged. But after these feelings have lasted for a little, either fancied interest alienates him, or some new object attracts him; and he is no longer the same person to those whom he once loved. A man of this inconstant mind cannot be said to have any mind at all. For where there is no fixedness of moral principle, occasional feelings are of no value; mind is of no effect; and with such persons it is never desirable to have any connection. Where constancy is wanting, there can be no fidelity, which is the other basis of friendship. For all friendship supposes entire confidence and trust; supposes the seal of secrecy to be inviolable; supposes promises and engagements to be sacred; and no advantage of our own to be pursued, at the expense of our friend's honour. An inconstant man is despicable. A faithless man is base.
But supposing neither constancy nor fidelity to be altogether wanting, still however friendship is in hazard of suffering from the follies, and unreasonable humours, to which all of us are liable. It is to be regarded as a tender plant in an unfavourable soil, which, in order to its flourishing, requires to be reared and nursed with care. The following directions may be of use for promoting its cultivation, and preserving it from whatever might be apt to blast and wither it.
In the first place, let me advise you not to expect perfection in any with whom you contract friendship. It holds in general with respect to all worldly pursuits, that the more moderate our expectations are, they are likely to be the more successful. If in any situation of life, we hope to possess complete happiness, we may depend on receiving modifications. If, in any person, we trust to find nothing but perfection, we may be assured that, on longer acquaintance, we shall meet with disappointments. In the case of friendship, this admonition is the more necessary to be given, as a certain warmth and enthusiasm belong to it, which are apt to carry us beyond the bounds of nature. In young minds, especially, a disposition of this kind is often found to take place. They form to themselves romantic ideas, gathered perhaps from fictitious histories of the high and heroic qualities which belong to human nature. All those qualities they ascribe, without reserve or limitation, to the person with whom they wish to enter into intimate friendship; and on the least failure appearing, alienation instantly follows. Hence many a friendship, hastily perhaps contracted, is as hastily dissolved, and disgust succeeds to violent attachment. - Remember, my friends, that a faultless character on earth is a mere chimera. Many failings you experience in yourselves. Be not surprised when you discover the like in others, of whom you had formed the highest opinion. The best and most estimable persons are they, in whom the fewest material defects are found; and whose great and solid qualities counterbalance the common infirmities of men.
It is to these qualities you are to look in forming friendships; to good sense and prudence, which constitute the basis of every respectable character; to virtue, to good temper, to steadiness of affection; and according to the union of those dispositions, esteem yourselves happy in the friend whom you choose.
In the second place, I must admonish you not to be hurt by differences of opinion arising in intercourse with your friends. It is impossible for these not to occur. Perhaps no two persons were ever cast so exactly in the same mould, as to think always in the same manner on every subject. It was wisely contrived by Providence, that diversity of sentiment should take place among men, on purpose to exercise our faculties, and to give variety to human life. Perpetual uniformity of thought would become monotonous and insipid. — When it is with regard to trifles that diversity or contrariety of opinion shows itself, it is childish in the last degree, if this become the ground of estranged affection. When from such a cause there arises any breach of friendship, human weakness is then discovered in a mortifying light. In matters of serious moment, the sentiments of the best and worthiest may vary from those of their friends, according as their lines of life diverge, or as their temper and habits of thought present objects under different points of view. But, among candid and liberal minds, unity of affection will still be preserved. No man has any title to erect. his own opinions into an universal and infallible standard, and the more enlarged that any man's mind is, the more readily he will overlook differences in sentiments, as long as he is persuaded that the mind of his friend is upright, and that he follows the dictates of conscience and integrity.
In the third place, It is material to the preservation of friendship, that openness of temper and manners, on both hands, be cultivated. Nothing more certainly dissolves friendship, than the jealousy
which arises from darkness and concealment. If your situation oblige you to take a different side from your friend, do it openly. Avow your conduct; avow your motives; as far as honour allows, disclose yourselves frankly ; seek no cover from unnecessary and mysterious secrecy. Mutual confidence is the soul of friendship. As soon as that is destroyed, or even impaired, it is only a show of friendship that remains. What was once cordial intimacy, degenerates first into formal civility. Constraint on both sides next succeeds; and disgust or hatred soon follow. — The maxim that has been laid down by certain crooked politicians, to behave to a friend with the same guarded caution as we would do to an enemy, because it is possible that he may one day become such, discovers a mind which never was made for the enjoyments of friendship.
It is a maxim which, not unreasonably I admit, may find place in those political and party friendships, of which I before spoke, where personal advancement is always in view. But it is altogether inconsistent with the spirit of those friendships, which are formed, and understood to be nourished, by the heart,
The fourth advice which I give is, To cultivate, in all intercourse among friends, gentle and obliging
It is a common error to suppose, that familiar intimacy supersedes attention to the lesser duties of behaviour; and that, under the notion of freedom, it may excuse a careless, or even a rough demeanour. On the contrary, an intimate connection can only be kept up by a constant wish to be pleasing and agreeable. The nearer and closer that men are brought together, the more frequent that