« PreviousContinue »
maners. For grauitie and affabilitie be euery of them laudable qualities, so be seueritie and placabilitie, also magnificence and liberalitie be noble vertues, and yet frugalitie, whiche is a sobrenesse or moderation in liuinge is, and that for good cause, of al wise men extolled. Yet where these vertues and qualities be seperately in sondry parsones assembled, may well be parfecte concorde, but frendshippe is there seldome or neuer; for that, whiche the one for a vertue embraceth, the other contemneth, or at the leste neglecteth. Wherfore it semeth that
"'Tis obvious,' says Hume, 'that people associate together according to their particular tempers and dispositions, and that men of gay tempers naturally love the gay, as the serious bear an affection to the serious. This not only happens where they remark this resemblance betwixt themselves and others, but also by the natural course of the disposition, and by a certain sympathy which always arises betwixt similar characters.'-Philosoph. Works, vol. ii. p. 96, ed. 1826. A modern writer considers 'a general resemblance of character' an 'indispensable requisite' to the maintenance of friendship. Often there are considerable differences of nature in those who pass for friends; but generally it will be found that even those who seem most diverse have some peculiarities in common-some opinions, prejudices, or sympathies, in which they are at one; otherwise it would be quite impossible for them to maintain an attachment. It is best when the two natures have a general conformity, for then tastes, opinions, and sympathies will all be in harmony, and each will find in the other's conversation that support to his own views, and that encouragement to his own tendencies, which, by soothing his selflove, will irresistibly dispose him to look agreeably on his associate.'-Chambers's Essays, vol. iii. p. 234.
All prospect of success in life, or even of tolerable subsistence, must fail where a reasonable Frugality is wanting. The heap, instead of increasing, diminishes daily, and leaves its possessor so much more unhappy, as not having been able to confine his expenses to a large revenue, he will still less be able to live contentedly on a small one.'—Hume, Phil. Works, vol. iv. p. 313. And another writer of equal reputation says, 'In the steadiness of his industry and frugality, in his steadily sacrificing the ease and enjoyment of the present moment for the probable expectation of the still greater ease and enjoyment of a more distant but more lasting period of time, the prudent man is always both supported and rewarded by the entire approbation of the impartial spectator.'-Ad. Smith, Theory of Moral Sent. p. 314. 'The character of Pitt,' says Lord Macaulay, 'would have stood higher if, with the disinterestedness of Pericles and of De Witt, he had united their dignified frugality.'-Biographies, p. 233, ed. 1860.
• Deficiency of imagination may probably account to a very large extent for the absence of complete sympathy. That which makes it so difficult,' says Mr. Lecky in his most interesting work, for a man of strong vicious passions to unbosom
wherein the one deliteth, it is to the other repugnaunt unto his nature; and where is any repugnaunce, may be none amitie, sens frendshippe is an entier consent of willes and desires.a Therfore it is seldome sene that frendship is betwene these parsones, a man sturdie, of oppinion inflexible, and of soure countenaunce and speche, with him that is tractable, and with reason persuaded, and of swete countenaunce and entretaynement. Also betwene him which is eleuate in autoritie and a nother of a very base astate or degree. Ye and if they
himself to a naturally virtuous man, is not so much the virtue as the ignorance of the latter. It is the conviction that he cannot possibly understand the force of a passion he has never felt.'-Hist. of Europ. Morals, vol. i. p. 141, ed. 1869.
'True friendship is only to be expected amongst average and superior moral beings, and where there is conformity of character, equality of worldly condition, and a perfect independence.'-Chambers's Essays, vol. iii. p. 237.
A modern writer makes precisely the same remark: Where there is a diversity of feeling on some leading matter, such as politics, friendship, though other circumstances may be favourable, can scarcely be maintained. There must also be a general parity in the moral conditions. If one of the parties is deficient in a virtue which the other has in large endowment, or is marked by a glaring vice which is absent in the other party, friendship can scarcely be maintained, for in either event there cannot be a thorough esteem, and therefore no union. It may be liable to a question, how far friendship can be kept up between parties of infirm or harsh temper. It is perhaps possible for a pair of such a description to worry on with each other for a long course of years, each finding the other's society necessary, and even by fits and starts entertaining a sort of liking for each other. But certainly there can be no consistent friendship between a pair, of which one of the parties is of a harsh, and the other of a mild, temper. Elements so opposite can never be reconciled, even by the powerful sense of conjugal duty.'-Chambers's Essays, vol. iii. p. 234, ed. 1847.
Conformity of character is scarcely more necessary than is equality of worldly conditions. The distinctions of wealth and social position may be ridiculed as much as any one likes; but they operate upon all, and an individual is powerless to overcome them. When two persons of sympathising character, but different in these respects, are thrown together, there may be considerable liking and esteem; but the association will hardly ripen into a friendship. A constant condescension on the one side, and a constant looking up on the other, are incompatible with the genuine feeling. If the superior party has the good nature to get over all his difficulties, it will scarcely be that the inferior party has the humility to put up with his. Though they may occasionally meet, the spheres in which they spend the main part of their lives are different, and their ordinary feelings, maxims, and views, will be different also. The one party will shrink from what
be bothe in an equall dignitie, if they be desirous to klyme, as they do ascende, so frendship for the more parte decayeth.a For as Tulli saieth in his firste boke of offices, what thing so euer it be, in the whiche many can nat excell or haue therein superioritie, therein often tymes is suche a contencion, that it is a thinge of all other moste difficile to kepe amonge them good or vertuous company; that is as moche to say as to retayne amonge them frendship and amitie. And it is often tymes sene that diuers, which before they came in autoritie, were of good and vertuous condicions, beinge in their prosperitie were utterly chaunged, and dispisinge their olde frendes set all their studie and pleasure on their newe acquaintaunce.
he hears of a lower grade and style of mind from the other; and the other, again will be mortified at hearing of higher things, of which he is not allowed to partake. Hence there will be secret disgusts, and rancours, and jealousies, until each has the uneasy feeling that he is walking over a mine ever ready to explode; about which period of course all real friendship will be at an end between them, and it will not even be necessary that they should quarrel in order to be avowedly done with it.'-Chambers's Essays, vol iii. p. 235.
Bacon has a passage very like this: Near kinsfolks and fellows in office, and those that are bred together, are more apt to envy their equals when they are raised; for it doth upbraid unto them their own fortunes, and pointeth at them, and cometh oftener into their remembrance, and incurreth likewise more into the note of others; and envy ever redoubleth from speech and fame.'—Essays, p. 81, ed. 1857.
Quicquid ejusmodi est, in quo non possint plures excellere, in eo fit plerumque tanta contentio, ut difficillimum sit sanctam servare societatem.'—De Off. lib. i. cap. 8.
And on the other hand, such prosperity often tests severely the sincerity of the friends of those who are advanced to honour, for as Adam Smith says, 'The man who, by some sudden revolution of fortune, is lifted up all at once into a condition of life greatly above what he had formerly lived in, may be assured that the congratulations of his best friends are not all of them perfectly sincere. An upstart, though of the greatest merit, is generally disagreeable, and a sentiment of envy commonly prevents us from heartily sympathising with his joy. If he has any judgment, he is sensible of this, and instead of appearing to be elated with his good fortune, he endeavours, as much as he can, to smother his joy, and keep down that elevation of mind with which his new circumstances naturally inspire him. He redoubles his attention to his old friends, and endeavours more than ever to be humble, assiduous, and complaisant. And this is the behaviour which in his situation we most approve of; because we expect, it seems, that he should have
Wherein men shall parceiue to be a wonderfull blindnes, or (as I mought say) a madnesse, if they note diligently all that I shall here after write of frendshippe. But nowe to resorte to speke of them in whom frendship is most frequent, and they also therto be moste aptly disposed. Undoughtedly it be specially they whiche be wyse and of nature inclined to beneficence, liberalitie and constance." For by wysedome is marked and substancially decerned the wordes, actes, and demeanure of all men betwene whom hapneth to be any entrecourse or familiaritie, whereby is ingendred a fauour or disposition of loue.b Beneficence, that is to say, mutually puttinge to their
more sympathy with our envy and aversion to his happiness, than we have to his happiness. It is seldom that with all this he succeeds. We suspect the sincerity of his humility, and he grows weary of this constraint. In a little time, therefore, he generally leaves all his old friends behind him, some of the mearest of them excepted, who may perhaps condescend to become his dependants. Nor does he always acquire any new ones; the pride of his new connections is as much affronted at finding him their equal, as that of his old ones had been by his becoming their superior; and it requires the most obstinate and persevering modesty to atone for this mortification to either. He generally grows weary too soon, and is provoked by the sullen and suspicious pride of the one, and by the saucy contempt of the other, to treat the first with neglect, and the second with petulance, till at last he grows habitually insolent, and forfeits the esteem of all.'—Theory of Moral Sent., p. 55.
All those associations,' says a modern writer, which are grounded on a common indulgence of the lower sentiments, and all those which have only in view a little temporary amusement, although they may be attended with the immediate effects in enjoyment which are contemplated from them, involve but a very elementary condition of the passion of friendship. This feeling, like love, is seen in many forms, graduating between the lowest and the most exalted; and its condition in any human being must depend greatly on the general moral condition of that being. Unquestionably, it will only be found in its state of utmost purity and nobleness in highly-refined and greatly-generous natures. There only shall we find such associations as those of David and Jonathan, Damon and Pythias, and the other like friendships of historical celebrity.'-Chambers's Essays, vol. iii. p. 234.
Modern philosophers define Wisdom as the habit by which we select right means for right ends. 'We approve,' says one of them, and admire Prudence relatively to its end. We approve and admire Wisdom absolutely. We commend the prudent man as taking the best course for his purpose, but we do not necessarily agree with him in his estimate of his object. We venerate the wise man as
studie and helpe in necessary affaires, induceth loue. They that be liberall do with holde or hyde nothinge from them whom they loue, wherby loue encreaseth. And in them that be constante is neuer mistrust or suspition, nor any surmise or iuell reporte can withdrawe them from their affection, and hereby frendship is made perpetuall and stable. But if similitude of studie or lerninge be ioyned unto the said vertues, frendship moche rather hapneth, and the mutuall one knowing better than we do the true object of action, as well as the means of approaching it. Wisdom is a Cardinal Virtue, like Benevolence, Justice, Truth, Purity, and with reference to the first as well as the other four human Dispositions, are good, as they partake of the Cardinal Virtue. Wisdom is the complete Idea of Intellectual Excellence, as Benevolence, Justice, Truth, and Purity are of Moral Excellence.'-El. of Mor. p. 88. But as Adam Smith says, "It necessarily supposes the utmost perfection of all the intellectual and of all the moral virtues. It is the best head joined to the best heart.'-Theory of Mor. Sentiments, P. 316.
Of all the persons,' says the writer last quoted, whom nature points out for our peculiar beneficence, there are none to whom it seems more properly directed than to those whose beneficence we have ourselves already experienced.'-Theor. of Moral Sent., p. 331. When a friend thinks of his friend,' says another writer, 'what a long period of reciprocal good offices does he seem to measure in a single moment with his eye, what happiness conferred, what misery soothed!'-Brown Phil. of the Mind, vol. iii. p. 291.
A modern writer uses very similar language. Even with respect to the pleasure of friendship itself, if it be a pleasure on which we set a high value, it is not a slight consideration whether it be fixed on one whose regard is likely to be as stable as ours, or on one who may in a few months, or perhaps even in a few weeks, withhold from us the very pleasure of that intimacy which before had been profusely lavished on us. In every one of these respects, I need not point out the manifest superiority of virtue over vice. Virtue only is stable, because virtue only is consistent; and the caprice which, under a momentary impulse, begins an eager intimacy with one, as it began it from an impulse as momentary with another, will soon find a third with whom it may again begin it, with the same exclusion, for the moment, of every previous attachment.'-Brown, Phil. of the Mind, vol. iv. p. 268. And Adam Smith says, 'The prudent man, though not always distinguished by the most exquisite sensibility, is always very capable of friendship. But his friendship is not that ardent and passionate, but too often transitory, affection, which appears so delicious to the generosity of youth and in experience. It is a sedate, but steady and faithful, attachment to a few well-tried and well-chosen companions; in the choice of whom he is not guided by the giddy admiration of shining accomplishments but by the sober esteem of modesty, discretion, and good conduct.'-Theory of Moral Sentiments, p. 313.