As it has already* been laid down that to man’s maturity in his appropriate perfection it is necessary for him to seek assistance from his fellow creatures, and the foundations of such a course can only be laid in union and affection, it follows that the more intimates a man may have, the easier the attainment of his perfection will become. Now, friendship being the highest order of affection, it is by means of this that man’s efforts after perfection may be most successfully ordered.*

It happens, however, that genuine friends cannot be numerous; for it is to rare jewels only that value is attached.* The generality of mankind are in search of mere animal gratification, and the delights of passion, and with these we are only to mingle in the measure of our necessities. This class moralists have compared to condiments, which we are to employ in our dishes just as they are needed, and of which the too sparing or the too abundant use leads alike to disorder.

Aristotle says men have need of friends in all circumstances: in opulence, to enjoy themselves in their society and intimacy; in hardships, to benefit by their succour and assistance. And, in truth, princes, who are the most independent of mankind, have as much occasion for persons having claims on their regard, — nay, for poor and desti­tute ones, of all mankind the most necessitous, — as these have for the rich and bounteous.* Ifsikar Atlias* says, “Were a man to have possession and management of the universe, and be debarred from friendship, his life would be a burden, or rather its continuance impossible. Yet if any one holds this relation easy of attainment, his opinion is erro­neous. A genuine friendship, that will stand the test of trial, is one of the richest gems the world affords. When calamity arrives, or some advantage fails us, store or treasure, nay, the whole world and all that it contains, avail us nothing in comparison with friendship for lightening the burden, or aiding us to recover our lost composure. Thrice fortunate he, though having nothing else, who holds a full portion of this surpassing blessing.” And yet more fortu­nate he who can combine this happiness with the elevation of a throne: for a king must be familiar with all things, both summary and minute, the concerns of his dominions and the interests of all classes among his subjects. For such multifarious purposes a single eye, a single heart, and a single tongue, are insufficient; but when, in virtue of friendship, he obtains management of the eyes, ears, hearts, and tongues of others, seeing with the eyes of all, hearing with the ears of all, and speaking with the tongues of all, then indeed the interests of his dominions may be easily attended to.

It is said that when desirous of selecting an object for our friendship, our first inquiry concerning him should be into his behaviour towards his parents during his youthful state; and if noted for contra­vention of their claims, he is not to be trusted or taken for a friend: for good can never come of him who requites the claims of his parents with dis­obedience. Next to that, the manner of his inter­course and behaviour with his intimates should be ascertained. Next to that, we must inform our­selves how he is affected towards his benefactors; if disposed to ingratitude, no advance should be desired in his acquaintance. For of all vile qualities, none is more culpable than ingratitude; as, among good ones, there is no virtue more laudable than thankfulness. The intent of gratitude is not merely requital, (for this it may happen from poverty that a person is unable to effect,) but that in his heart he entertain for him affection, and by his tongue express towards him eulogy and praise. As long as he does this, such person is guilty of no omission. Next, we are to notice how he is affected towards enjoyments, and the treasuring up of properties and effects. If ruled by covetousness, he is unfit for friendship. Next, we should examine his inclination for aggrandizement and predominance. If he exceeds here, he must likewise be rejected: for to this predominance equity will be sacrificed. He will seek more than his due, and the refusal to concede it will terminate his regard. Another subject of consideration it should be made, whether a passion for amusement and diversion — the listen­ing to music and intimacy of musicians — interferes with his feeling for a genuine friend; and if so, no wish should be entertained for his attachment. When he has passed through the analytic process of these several tests, and come forth at the end in standard purity, he should be hailed for the truly genuine and eminently attached friend, and his affection locked away with the soul’s choicest valuables in the treasure-chambers of the heart.* “For there is no glory like a faithful friend.” It has even been said by the wise, “How do I envy him who is in trouble, and hath a devoted friend!”

Such a person, however, is rarer than the phi­losopher’s stone. Onē true friend, if he can be met with, is as much as we ought to look for; it being hardly conceivable that we could satisfy the expectations of many. In all probability the dictates of their several circumstances will be adverse each to each. For instance, to harmonize with one we must appear open and joyous; to harmonize with another, reserved and dejected.* Besides, as enmity generally proceeds from previous intimacy and acquaintance, (for with a person previously unknown hostility seems out of the question,) and enmity is always more injurious when preceded by extreme familiarity and consequent knowledge of our minutest affairs, we ought to proceed very cautiously in establishing such intimate acquaintance, and content ourselves with the measure of our need for it.*

“Foes are easier ruled than fellows;
Be content with fit and few:
Half the friends that share your table
Love the table more than you.”

When we have met with a friend we should be careful to acknowledge his claims. The troubles that befall him we should rectify. On seeing him we should testify our pleasure, and be easily satisfied with his approval and praise, without being eager for obsequiousness or adulation.* Neither, on our parts, are we to content ourselves with sincerity of feeling and proofs that lie within us; for on what food our hearts may feed is discoverable only by him who discovers all things. Trifling failings and partial faults, whether relative to friends or foes, we are not to dwell on: it is but fair to wink at them; for from these no mortal can be exempt. A rigid scrutiny on this score would lead to a life of savage solitude and exclusion from the merits of friend­ship.* On this point it is of great service to us to contemplate our own imperfections. As we have it in the dicta of the Prophet, “Happy he whose own faults recall his observation from the faults of others.” By the discharge of these obligations not only may attachment be purified and corroborated, but an attraction may be exercised on indifferent parties, and persons previously unknown.

Another of the obligations of friendship it is to make friends participate with us in our affluence and dignity, and to be careful in avoiding the least appearance of exclusiveness in these matters; keep­ing our attentions unsullied by any affectation of favour; consoling them under the incidence of calamity with our sympathy and our wealth, and bearing them fellowship to the utmost length in all things. Indeed, fellowship in suffering has a greater value and a greater grace than participation in enjoyment.

“The countless claims of brotherhood to plenty
Must be decided in the court of want.”*

In paying such attentions to our friends we are not to wait for any application on their part: we must ascertain their feelings by signs and tokens; and if we perceive in a friend symptoms of offence, we are not to treat it negligently, but rather be doubly urgent in our instances and offers. For if he too let the subject drop, the bond of affection would be severed: nay, it might be that the breach widened till it terminated in renunciation and irreparable rupture. The proper course is to state without hesitation, in frank purity of heart, the cause of uneasiness, whatever it may be, in the hope of its yielding to the hallowed influence of truth.*

These observances must also be unintermitting; for if we undertake the management of house, or dress, or beast of burden, and neglect its critical junctures, ruin must supervene. With what reason then can we neglect the management of a relation from which we may look for blessings in this world and the next?* And then there is great risk that the friend­ship which terminates may revert to open hostility. The evils of enmity are more intolerable when they follow upon previous affection.* A quarrelsome habit, though it is always culpable, is still more odious in the case of friends. It leads indeed to discord, and discord leads to repugnance; which is the root of all evil.*

In communicating to a friend any knowledge or accomplishment we may possess, no reserve must be permitted to have place. To compete with friends in the goods of this life, which is a state of competition, is abominable enough; how much more then in knowledge, which by participation is promoted, and by selfishness is decreased!*

When we perceive any fault in a friend, we ought to apprise him of it in some method carrying with it a graceful admonition. Points like these we are not at liberty to treat with indulgence or profession; for this would be no better than treachery.* The method of such graceful admonition is this: First to apprise him of it by some fable or anecdote of another person;* if that does not avail, to intimate it by allusion and metaphor, and if it is necessary to be explicit, to perform the unpleasant duty in private; prefacing it by a statement of the circum­stances that entitle you to his confidence, and taking care to conceal the matter from all others, even from the friends of both.

Lastly, we are to give no access to tale-bearers. The firmer the foundations of our affection may be, the more will detraction exert itself to perforate and subvert. Moralists have likened the detractor to one who scratches with his nails at a solid wall, till he somewhere finds room for the insertion of his finger-top. Once master of a fissure, he constantly enlarges it, until at last he subverts the structure. In the preservation of affection no caution can be too great; for, as we have repeatedly stated, it is the centre of adjustment in the affairs of life, and of maintenance in the powers of the universe.*