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AM apt to think Friendship a kind of
that inclination is unnecessary in the case, but 'tis as necessary to cultivate it with a great deal of care. That which confirms me in the opinion of its being a Science, is my observing it to be almost absolutely lost, there remaining hardly a shadow of it now-a-days : for sure Nature would not decay, but is much the same
in all ages.
My Lord Chancellor Bacon observes very justly, that we now see nothing of it between Equals; and only a little of it sometimes where the different degrees of men render each of them useful and necessary to the other : As between a wealthy countrygentleman and his led-captain, or rather his fellow-drunkard; between a great courtier and one of his dependant flatterers; whereas inequality is quite contrary to the very na
ture of Friendship, which like Love, either finds people equal, or makes them so.
THEREFORE as that advice is now-a-days thought very wise, of trusting friends with such a reserve as may preserve us from them, when turn'd enemies; 'tis only because we suppose. no real friends in so corrupt an age: for with true friendship that doctrine is inconfiftent. And indeed (comparing the very best sort now, with both the precepts and examples of former times) Friendship is not the same thing which Cicero, and even MonTAGN so lately describe it ; and whatever the first of those was, the latter is certainly a most fincere writer: For a judicious reader may be as sure of MONTAGN’s fincerity, as skilful artists are of a picture's being done by the Life, when there are such natural and lively touches in it, as no man's fancy in the world can reach. But to return to friendship, I cannot presume to advise any thing ; but out of some experience I have had in Courts, I think it safer to depend on those who have oblig'd us, than on those whom we have oblig'd, though never so much.
WHENCE shou'd this strange paradox proceed? If it were not too common every day, an ungrateful person wou'd appear a
greater monster, than any man with three legs or four hands.
This sure, like most other faults of human nature, proceeds from Pride, which makes us asham'd of our debts even to friends, and shun the very remembrance: It makes indeed a little amends, by inciting us to oblige people sometimes, only that they may be in our debt ; for I am confident, that of ten courtesies now received, there are scarce two bestowed out of meer good nature or friendship: and to say truth, they are most commonly returned accordingly. Yet that is but an ill excuse for ingratitude, which indeed admits of none : For by this argument, a Son would owe nothing to his Father, because he begot him only for his pleasure, and the child came out by the bye : there would be yet a greater pleasure in unbegetting such a Son, if possible.
One of the reasons why our Tragedies now are so little to be valued in comparison with those of the Ancients, is our changing this noble and almost divine subject of Friendship for soft effeminate Love-matters : For though Love and Friendship are equally ten. der and touching, yet the former of these is