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retain to the last a tenderness and S ERM. warmth, seldom possessed by friendships, XVII, 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 communication of all our sentiments which they prompt, they are justly said to double our pleasures, and to divide our sorrows. They give a brighter funshine 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
* Ecclefiafticus vi. 16.
SER M. forth the heart to one whom we love A s 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 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 at
tracts him; and he is no longer the S ER M. same person to those whom he once V 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 connexion. 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 expence 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
SER M. humours, to which all of us are liable. XVII. 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 mortifications. 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 neceffa
ry to be given, as a certain warmth and SERM.
XVII. 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 diffolved, 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