« PoprzedniaDalej »
TT has been always supposed of courts,
that they are particularly marked by false pretences to Friendship ; in other words, by the worst pasfions, or by the coldest indifference, under the warmest professions of respect and honour, attachment and service. But is there any reason for supposing, that such dissimulation is much less common in cities; or that it is not fufficiently practised in smaller societies, and more confined fituations; in short, wherever wealth is possessed, or the desire of it strong; wherever vice has hardened the heart, or luxury enervated the soul? We have already seen, that, as society grows more highly polished, fincere af-' fection becomes more rare. An earnest attention to appearance, a boundless ambition of splendor, an incessant study of conceited, in default of that genuine, refinement which can only be attained by delicate minds—all these, so manifestly · characteristic of the present age, co-operating with its more depraved dispositions, are powerful enemies to the purity and folidity of Friendship. But, since youth is. still easy of belief, and its credulity, in points that interest its regards, is often peculiarly dangerous, we have been at some pains to admonish you, my young auditors, against the deceits and errors to which you are most exposed on the side of your kindest propensities.
The last caution we presumed to offer, turned on the necessity of confining your expectations to a small number of Bosom Friends. The feelings that , belong to such are, in truth, too important, and too discriminating, to be entertained for many
persons by the same individuals. They
When we speak of Friendship, we fhould carefully remember the distinction
between that which is common and imperfect, and that which is peculiar and transcendent. The former should properl.y be termed acquaintance, familiarity, fellowship, being in fact little or nothing more : the latter, which implies the noblest alliance and closest communion that can subsist among men, the most intimate and endearing correspondence of principles, views, pursuits, and enjoyments, is alone entitled to the glorious appellation of Friendship in its full force and emphasis. The former may be easily contracted, and as hastily dissolved, by the most trivial accident: the latter, however it may sometimes take its rise from circumstances apparently fortuitous and inconsiderable, is established only by time, by reflection, by a nearer and nearer intercourse, and a mutual approximation of hearts, till they at length meet and mix in one lovely mass, with an union so complete, and so delightful, that they can never after be divided. The former often
rests on the flightest grounds, that pleafure, or profit, humour, or amusement, among the flightest spirits, can furnish : the latter is always built on solid esteem, and reciprocal affiance, among persons of sense and probity. The first admits of many degrees, and is liable to many variations : the second is by its nature always exalted, and in its essence always uniforrn, though it may at particular junctures, through human imbecillity, wear a different appearance. The first, we know, may take place between a great number : the last, we fear, can extend to a very few. It has been even questioned, whether a man can have more than one Friend, in the highest acceptation of that title. The first is subjected to a great variety of rules, restrictions, precautions, settled forms, and necessary guards : all these are generously despised by the last, which is too upright and honourable to require, too dignified and free to endure them. Once more, the former must be