« AnteriorContinuar »
s E R M. humours, to which all of us are liable.
yj^\ It is to be regarded as a tender plant in an unfavourable foil, 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 cafe of friendship, this admonition is the more necessary
rv to be given, as a certain warmth andSERM.
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
M. and solid qualities counterbalance the common infirmities of men. It is to these qualities you are to look in forming friendships j to good fense 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 chuse.
In the second place, I must admonisli 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 fame mould, as to think always in the fame manner, on everyfubject. 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 trifles that diversity or contrariety of opi- S nions 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 difference 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 j as far as honour allows, disclose yourselves frankly; seek no cover from unnecessary and mysterious secrecy. Mutual confidence is the foul 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 fame 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