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A good man is the best friend, and therefore soonest to be chosen, longer to be retained; and indeed never to be parted with, unless he cease to be that for which he was chosen.
For the good man is a profitable, useful person, and that is the band of an effective friendship. For I do not think that friendships are metaphysical nothings, created for contemplation, or that men or women should stare upon each other's faces, and make dialogues of news and prettinesses, and look babies in one another's eyes. Friendship is the allay of our sorrows, the ease of our passions, the discharge of our oppressions, the sanctuary to our calamities, the counsellor of our doubts, the charity of our minds, the emission of our thoughts, the exercise and improvement of what we meditate. And although I love my friend because he is worthy, yet he is not worthy if he can do me no good: I do not speak of accidental hinderances and misfortunes by which the bravest man may become unable to help his child; but of the natural and artificial capacities of the man. He only is fit to be chosen for a friend, who can do those offices for which friendship is excellent. For (mistake not) no man can be loved for himself; our perfections in this world cannot reach so high; it is well if we would love God at that rate; and I very much fear that if God did us no good we might admire his beauties, but we should have but a small proportion of love towards him; all his other greatnesses are objects of fear and wonder, it is his goodness that makes him lovely. And so it is in friendships. He only is fit to be chosen for a friend who can give counsel, or defend my cause, or guide me right, or relieve my need, or can and will, when I need it, do me good : only this I add, into the heaps of doing good, I will reckon, loving me, for it is à pleasure to be beloved; but when his love signifies nothing but kissing my cheek, or talking kindly, and can go no further, it is a prostitution of the bravery of friendship to spend it upon impertinent people who are it may be) loads to their families, but can never ease any loads; but my friend is a worthy person when he can become to me, instead of God, a guide or a support, an eye or a hand, a staff or a rule.
Can any wise or good man be angry if I say, I choose this man to be my friend, because he is able to give me counsel, to restrain my
wanderings, to comfort me in my sorrows; he is pleasant to me in private, and useful in public; he will make my joys double, and divide my grief between himself and me? For what else should I choose ? For being a fool and useless ? for a pretty face and a smooth chin? I confess it is possible to be a friend to one that is ignorant, and pitiable, handsome and good for nothing, that eats well, and drinks deep, but he cannot be a friend to me; and I love him with a fondness or a pity, but it cannot be a noble friendship.
Plutarch calls such friendships “the idols and images of friendship.” True and brave friendships are between worthy persons; and there is in mankind no degree of worthiness, but is also a degree of usefulness, and by every thing by which a man is excellent I may be profited: and because those are the bravest friends which can best serve the ends of friendships, either we must suppose that friendships are not the greatest comforts in the world, or else we must say, he chooses his friend best, that chooses such a one by whom he can receive the greatest comforts and assistances.
This being the measure of all friendships; they all partake of excellency, according as they are fitted to this measure: a friend may be counselled well enough, though his friend be not the wisest man in the world; and he may be pleased in his society, though he be not the best natured man in the world; but still it must be, that something excellent is, or is apprehended, or else it can be no worthy friendship; because the choice is imprudent and foolish. Choose for your friend him that is wise and good, and secret and just, ingenuous and honest: and in those things which have a latitude, use your own liberty; but in such things which consist in an indivisible point make no abatements; that is, you must not choose him to be your friend that is not honest and secret, just and true to a tittle; but if he be wise at all, and useful in any degree, and as good as you can have him, you need not be ashamed to own your own friendships; though sometimes you may be ashamed of some imperfections of your friend.
But if you yet enquire, further, whether fancy may be an ingredient in your choice? I answer, that fancy may minister to this as to all other actions in which there is a liberty and variety. And we shall find that there may be peculiarities and little partialities, a friendship improperly so called, entering upon accounts of an innocent passion and a pleased fancy; even our blessed Saviour himself loved St. John
and Lazarus by a special love, which was signified by special treatments; and of the young man that spake well and wisely to Christ it is affirmed, Jesus loved him, that is, he fancied the man, and his soul had a certain cognation and similitude of temper and inclination. For in all things where there is a latitude, every faculty will endeavour to be pleased, and sometimes the meanest persons in a house have a festival: even sympathies and natural inclinations to some persons, and a conformity of humours, and proportionable loves, and the beauty of the face, and a witty answer, may first strike the flint and kindle a spark, which if it falls upon tender and compliant natures may grow into a flame; but this will never be maintained at the rate of friendship unless it be fed by pure materials, by worthinesses which are the food of friendship: where these are not, men and women may be pleased with one another's company, and lie under the same roof, and make themselves companions of equal prosperities, and humour their friend; but if you call this friendship, you give a sacred name to humour or fancy; for there is a Platonic friendship, as well as a Platonic love; but they being but the images of more noble bodies, are but like tinsel dressings, which will show bravely by candle-light, and do excellently in a mask, but are not fit for conversation and the material intercourses of our life. These are the prettinesses of prosperity and good natured wit; but when we speak of friendship, which is the best thing in the world (for it is love and beneficence, it is charity that is fitted for society), we cannot suppose a brave pile should be built up with nothing; and they that build castles in the air, and look upon friendship as upon a fine romance, a thing that pleases the fancy but is good for nothing else, will do well when they are asleep, or when they are come to Elysium; and for aught I know in the mean time may be as much in love with Mandana in the Grand Cyrus, as with the Infanta of Spain, or any of the most perfect beauties and real excellencies of the world : and by dreaming of perfect and abstracted friendships, make them so immaterial that they perish in the handling and become good for nothing.
But I know not whither I am going: I did only mean to say that because friendship is that by which the world is most blessed and receives most good, it ought to be chosen amongst the worthiest persons, that, is amongst those that can do greatest benefit to each other. And though in equal worthiness I may choose by my eye, or ear, that is, into
the consideration of the essential, I may take in also the accidental and extrinsic worthinesses; yet I ought to give every one their just value: when the internal beauties are equal, these shall help to weigh down the scale, and I will love a worthy friend that can delight me as well as profit me, rather than him who cannot delight me at all, and profit me no more: but yet I will not weigh the gayest flowers, or the wings of butterflies, against wheat; but when I am to choose wheat, I may take that which looks the brightest. I had rather see thyme and roses, marjoram and July flowers, that are fair and sweet and medicinal, than the prettiest tulips that are good for nothing: and my sheep and kine are better servants than race-horses and greyhounds. And I shall rather furnish my study with Plutarch and Cicero, with Livy and Polybius, than with Cassandra and Ibrahim Bassa ; and if I do give an hour to these for divertisement or pleasure, yet I will dwell with them that can instruct me, and make me wise and eloquent, severe and useful to myself and others. I end this with the saying of Lælius in Cicero: “Amicitia non debet consequi utilitatem, sed amicitiam utilitas.” When I choose my friend, I will not stay till I have received a kindness: but I will choose such a one that can do me many if I need them: but I mean such kindnesses which make me wiser, and which make me better: that is, I will, when I choose my friend, choose him that is the bravest, the worthiest, and the most excellent person; and then your first question is soon answered. To love such a person, and to contract such friendships, is just so authorized by the principles of Christianity, as it is warranted to love wisdom and virtue, goodness and beneficence, and all the impresses of God upon the spirits of brave men.
16.-THE HISTORY OF PERKIN WARBECK.
Bacon. [FRANCIS Bacon is one of the most prominent names in English literature. His · Essays' are in the hands of many persons; his Novum Organon' is talked of by more. He is execrated as the corrupt judge and faithless friend; he is venerated under the name of the father of the inductive philosophy. His foibles, as well as his merits, have been perhaps equally exaggerated. This is not the place to enter