Page images
PDF
EPUB

42.

It is a strange thing to observe how high a rate great kings and monarchs do set upon this fruit of friendship, so great as they purchase it many times at the hazard of their own safety and greatness. For princes in regard of the distance of their fortune from that of their subjects and servants cannot gather this fruit except they raise some persons to be as it were companions and almost equals to themselves. The Roman name attaineth the true use and cause thereof, naming them Sharers of Anxiety; for it is that which tieth the knot. And we see plainly that this hath been done not by weak and passionate princes only, but by the wisest and most politic that ever reigned; who have oftentimes joined to themselves some of their servants, whom both themselves have called friends and allowed others likewise to call them in the same manner, using the word which is received between private men.

Bacon

43.

The second fruit of friendship is healthful and sovereign for the understanding as the first is for the affections. For friendship maketh indeed a fair day in the affections from storm and tempests, but it maketh daylight in the understanding out of darkness and confusion of thoughts. Neither is this to be understood only of faithful counsel, which a man receiveth from his friend, but before you come to that certain it is that whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and break up in the communicating and discoursing with another. He tosseth his thoughts more easily, he marshalleth them more orderly, he seeth how they look when they are turned into words, finally he waxeth wiser than himself; and that more by an hour's discourse than by a day's meditation. In a word, a man were better to relate himself to a statue or picture than to suffer his thoughts to pass in smother.

44.

Add now to make this second fruit of friendship complete, that other point which lieth more open and falleth within vulgar observation, which is faithful counsel from a friend. Heraclitus saith well: Dry light is ever the best. And certain it is that the light that a man receiveth by counsel from another is drier and purer than that which cometh from his own understanding and judgment, which is ever infused and drenched in his affections and customs. So as there is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer. For there is no such flatterer as a man's self, and there is no such remedy against flattery of a man's self as the liberty of a friend. The best preservative to keep the mind in health is the faithful admonition of a friend.

Bacon

45.

After these two noble fruits of friendship, peace in the affections and support of the judgment, followeth the last fruit, which is like the pomegranate full of many kernels I mean aid and bearing a part in all actions and occasions. Here the best way to represent to life the manifold use of friendship is to cast and see how many things there are which a man cannot do himself. And then it will appear that it was a sparing speech of the ancients to say: A friend is another himself; for that a friend is far more than himself. Men have their time and die many times in desire of some thing which they principally take to heart—the bestowing of a child, the finishing of a work or the like. If a man have a true friend he may rest almost secure that the care of those things will continue after him. So that a man hath as it were two lives in his desires.

a

4

46.

:

Cicero says: “Those are only to be reputed friendships that are fortified and confirmed by judgment and length of time.” For the rest, what we commonly call friends and friendship are nothing but acquaintance and familiarities, either occasionally contracted or upon some design, by means of which there happens some little intercourse betwixt our souls. But in the friendship I speak of they mix and work themselves into one piece with so universal a mixture that there is no more sign of the seam by which they were first conjoined. If a man should importune me to give a reason why I loved him, I find it could no otherwise be expressed than by making answer: Because it was he, because it was I. We sought one another long before we met and by the characters we heard of one another, which wrought upon our affections more than in reason mere reports should do; I think 'twas by some secret appointment of heaven

Montaigne

« PreviousContinue »