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was a meeting of similar parts, and when the dissimilar parts asserted themselves they broke up the union, which had begun to be formed. This is painful in proportion to the value of the friendship, and sometimes results in an opposition made violent by reason of that which has been displaced. Mrs. Browning uses the terms in a very high sense when she writes that “They never loved who dream that they loved once.” It is only in the more exclusive meaning of the words that this is true. There may have been sincerity, even while there was no completeness.
There is a French saying that Friendship is good understanding. It were perhaps more accurate to say that a good understanding is essential to a permanent friendship, which is not to be taken by surprise, and thrown off its balance. It knows what to expect, and is prepared for it, and consents to it. It does not “ hedge,” nor arrange for retreat. It believes, and is in covenant to believe. There is confidence which refuses to be moved. It does not require that everything shall be as it anticipates, but awaits coming events with assurance and interest. St. Paul's delineation of Charity, or Love, may cover grades lower than that which he had in mind. It bears, believes, hopes, endures all things, and never fails. This seems beyond our reach and poorly suited to a rough, rude world. Never
theless it may stand as a pattern, the vision of that which is perfect. It may be love at its richest estate, but it is possible and to be sought.
“ Friendship! mysterous cement of the soul!
Sweet'ner of life! and solder of society.”
It is one of Emerson's characteristic sayings, that “the condition which high friendship demands is ability to do without it.” If he means that a man should be able to live without a friend, it may be true. The conditions of existence are not severe. But no man is able to fill out his life, and give it ample proportion, save as he takes from others and gives to them, in a sharing of the goods and the good. Our thoughts must be at liberty and must find other thoughts; else, imprisoned, they are dwarfed, and their temper spoiled. It was written very early in human history: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Companionship is a condition of life, and friendship a condition of generous life. The heart needs to be open-not to everyone who knocks at the gate, but to one or two who can find their way, and be trusted. The old expression, “unbosom" was a good one, and can be used quite literally; but it is much restricted. Other feelings besides prudence keep the door closed. We are not able to declare ourselves except to those who are able to interpret our words. We speak in an unknown tongue when, before a stranger, we give voice to our best and deepest thoughts. Again, we hold them too sacred to be published, and we may well doubt whether they will be of any interest to one who does not know us.
We can only speak to one who is willing to listen and to take our secret things within doors which do not open outward. When this is possible the intercourse is a delight. I read over the fireplace of an artist these words written by a friend:
“These three goodly and gentle things : To be here, to be together, and to think well of one another."
When two agree upon this, there may be a long silence, broken by no word. The mind and heart are busy before the open fire, and each is with the other. They may be out upon the hills, or where the ship glides through the waves. The world is hushed, and thought is felt, almost heard. Silence is not mistaken for indifference, and there is no constraint to speak.
Courtesy rests contentediy with confidence. There come times for words; words of advice, comfort, cheer; and times for deeds, for the strong and helpful hand, the strong arms beside our own, under our load; and, perhaps, for the stout blow struck in our defence. The friendship is bold, and the heart gives vigour to the hand, and sends its devotion along the willing
The friend changes with us, comes into our new surroundings, adapts himself to our present needs. It is this to be the other self, or more than the self. If there come long separations, the friendship is not rent or strained. It should be firmer. When it is found that nothing is broken, and nothing is lost but the visible presence, the friendship gathers up its strength, and has delight in counting the days till the return. There are harder tasks, when, in the imperfectness of all which is human, a surprise does come; a strange thing is done, or left undone. We are wounded first, and jarred, then we recover ourselves, and say there is a reason, and it will come to light; but reason, or no reason, there is my friend, and it is well. It is as he would have it, and that is best. We can be even pleased that he has had his way; and that he trusted us enough to take it, and be sure we should understand—not it, but him. If it were a difference of opinion, we say he may be right; that he must be right, and we are gratified when in the result it is proven so, and we have more wisdom than we thought, having him. If only one can be right, let it be my friend. We are glad he was brave enough to have “a mind of his own.” We shall be glad of all the good which comes to him. Good fortune falls to his lot; he is prospered, promoted, honoured. We rise with him, indifferent whether the gains bear his name, or our own. If only one name, better it be his. Meantime he is more our friend, declaring that the gain should have come to us, the more deserving. But since it is his, it is ours; only he wishes it were first ours, so that it might be doubly his. There may be rivalries; we may be competitors in business, we may contend before court and jury, but the rivalries will be generous, without jealousy; and success will be assured because one of us must secure it. This may appear extreme when we think of the strifes of the world; but it is real at times, and, perhaps, oftener than we think.
Possibly the sorrow of our friend is more readily made our own than his prosperity. His suffering enters our sympathy, and we feel his pain. Perhaps we would take it all upon ourselves, if we could. We are grieved that there is so little we can do, and that words are so cold, so much poorer than our desire. We both find the reality of friendship. We did not know how precious it is; how full of solace is a friend's voice; how much support in the fellowship he brings us. We count nothing dear, if he needs it. We read with sympathy Macaulay's proposal, when the wife of his friend Ellis had been taken from him. He tried to comfort the broken-hearted man, but could not, “except by hearing him tell of her with tears in my eyes ”; and it seems strange that he could add, “I would with pleasure give one of my fingers to get him back his wife.” If