صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors][merged small]

the heart but a true friend, to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or confession.

It is a strange thing to observe how high a rate great kings and monarchs do set upon this fruit of friendship whereof we speak: so great, as they purchase it many times at the hazard of their own safety and greatness : for princes, in regard of the distance of their fortune froin that of their subjects and servants, cannot gather this fruit, except (to make themselves capable thereof) they raise some persons to be as it were companions, and almost equals to themselves, which many times sorteth to inconvenience. The moderni languages give unto such persons the name of favourites, or privadoes, as if it were maiter of grace, or conversation ; but

I the Roman name attaineth the true use and cause thereof, naming them “participes curarum ;"{ for it is that which tieth the knot : and we see plainly that this hath been done, not by weak and passionate princes only, but by the wisest and most politic that ever reigned, who have oftentimes joined to themselves some of their servants, whom both themselves have called friends, and allowed others likewise to call them in the same manner, using the word which is received between priva -- men.

L. Sylla, when he commanded Rome, raised Pompey (after surnamed the Great) to that height that Pompey vaunted himself for Sylla's overmatch , for when he had carried the consulship for a friend of his, against the pursuit of Sylla, and that Sylla did a little resent thereat, and began to speak great, Pompey turned upon hirn again, and in effect bade him be quiet ; for that more men adored the sun rising than the sun setting. With Julius Cæsar, Decimus Brutus had obtained that interest, as he set him down in his testament for heir in remainder after his nephew; and this was the man that had power with him to draw him forth to his death : for when Cæsar would have discharged the senate, in regard of some ill presages, and specially a dream of Calphurnia, this man lifted him gently by the arm out of his chair, telling him he hoped he would not dismiss the senate

[ocr errors]


Pas Partakers of cares.

till his wife had dreamt a better dream; and it seemeth his favour was so great, as Antonius, in a letter which is recited 1 verbatim in one of Cicero's Philippics, calleth him “venefica,"

—“witch ;" as if he had enchanted Cæsar. Augustus raised Agrippa (though of mean birth) to that height, as, when he consulted with Mæcenas about the marriage of his daughter Julia, Mæcenas took the liberty to tell him, that he must either marry his daughter to Agrippa, or take away his life : there was no third way, he had made him so great. With Tiberius Cæsar, Sejanus had ascended to that height, as they two were termed and reckoned as a pair of friends. Tibe. rius, in a letter to him, saith, “ Hæc pro amicitiâ nostrâ nor occultavi ;"g and the whole senate dedicated an altar to Friendship, as to a goddess, in respect of the great dearness of friendship between them two. The like, or more, was between Septimius Severus and Plautianus; for he forced his eldest son to marry the daughter of Plautianus, and would often maintain Plautianus in doing affronts to his son ; and did write also, in a letter to the senate, by these words : “I love the man so well, as I wish he may over-live me.” Now, if these princes had been as a Trajan, or a Marcus Aurelius, a man might have thought that this had proceeded of an abundant goodness of nature ; but being men so wise,b of such strength and severity of mind, and so extreme lovers of themselves, as all these were, it proveth most plainly that they found their own felicity (though as great as ever happened to mortal men) but as an half-piece, except they might have a friend to make it entire ; and yet, which is more, they were princes that had wives, sons, nephews; and yet al these could not supply the comfort of friendship.

It is not to be forgotten what Comineus observeth of his first master, Duke Charles the Hardy,k namely, that he

5 “These things, by reason of our friendship, I have not concealed from you."

b Such infamous men as Tiberius and Sejanus hardly deserve this commendation.

Philip de Comines. * Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, the valiant antagonist of Louis XI. of France. De Comines spent his early years at his court, but afterwards passed into the service of Louis XI. This monarch was notorious for his cruelty, treachery, and dissimulation, and had all the bad qualities of his contemporary, Edward IV. of England, without any of his redeeming virtues.

[ocr errors]



would communicate his secrets with none; and least of all, those secrets which troubled him most. Whereupon he goeth on, and saith, that towards his latter time that closeness did impair and a little perish his understanding. Surely Comineus might have made the same judgment also, if it had pleased him, of his second master, Louis the Eleventh, whose closeness was indeed his tormentor. The parable of Pythagoras is dark, but true, “ Cor ne edito,”- “ eat not the heart.”? Certainly, if a man would give it a hard phrase,

those that want friends to open themselves unto are ? cannibals of their own hearts : but one thing is most ad

mirable (wherewith I will conclude this first fruit of friend. ship), which is, that this communicating of a man's self to his friend works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halves : for there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less. So that it is, in truth, of operation upon a man's mind of like virtue as the alchymists used to attribute to their stone for man's body, that it worketh all contrary effects, but still to the good and benefit of nature : but yet, without praying in aid of alchymists, there is a manifest image of this in the ordinary course of nature ; for, in bodies, union strengtheneth and cherisheth any natural action ; and, on the other side, weakeneth and dulleth any violent impression ; and even so is it of minds.

The second fruit of friendship is healthful and sovereign for the understanding, as the first is for the affections; for friendship maketh indeed a fair day in the affections from storm and tempests, but it maketh daylight in the understanding, out of darkness and confusion of thoughts : neither is this to be understood only of faithful counsel, which a man receiveth from his friend; but before you come to that, certain it is, that whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and

| Pythagoras went still further than this, as he forbade his disciples to eat flesh of any kind whatever. See the interesting speech which Ovid attributes to him in the Fifteenth book of the Metamorphoses. Sir Thomas Browne, in his Pseudodoxia (Browne's Works, Bohn's An. tiquarian edn., vol. i. p. 27, et seq.), gives some curious explanations of the doctrines of this philosopher.


break up in the communicating and discoursing with ano ther; he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he marshalleth them more orderly ; he seeth how they look when they are turned into words : finally, he waxeth wiser than himself ; and that more by an hour's discourse than by a day's meditation. It was well said by Themistocles to the king of Persia, “ That speech was like cloth of Arras, opened and put abroad; whereby the imagery doth appear in figure; whereas in thoughts they lie but as in packs.” Neither is this second fruit of friendship, in opening the understanding, restrained only to such friends as are able to give a man counsel (they indeed are best), but even without that a man learneth of himself, and bringeth his own thoughts to light, and whetteth his wits as against a stone, which itself cuts not. In a word, a man were better relate himself to a statue or picture, than to suffer his thoughts to pass in smother.

Add now, to make this second fruit of friendship complete, that other point which lieth more open, and falleth within vulgar observation : which is faithful counsel from a friend. Heraclitus saith well in one of his enigmas, “ Dry light is ever the best :” and certain it is, that the light that a man receiveth by counsel from another, is drier and purer tban that which cometh from his own understanding and judgmeut; which is ever infused and drenched in his affections and customs. So as there is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer; for there is no such flatterer as is a man's self, and there is no such remedy against flattery of a man's self as the liberty of a friend. Counsel is of two sorts; the one concerning manners, the other concerning business : for the first, the best preservative to keep the mind in health, is the faithful admonition of a friend. The calling of a man's self to a strict account is a medicine sometimes too piercing and corrosive; reading good books of morality is a little flat and dead; observing our faults in others is sometimes improper for our case; but the best receipt (best I say to

m Tapestry. Speaking hypercritically, Lord Bacon commits an anachronism here, as Arras did not manufacture tapestry till the middle




[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


work and best to take) is the admonition of a friend. It is & strange thing to behold what gross errors and extreme absurdities many (especially of the greater sort) do commit for want of a friend to tell them of them, to the great damage both of their fame and fortune : for, as St. James saith, they are as men “ that look sometimes into a glass, and presently forget their own shape and favour.”" As for business, a man may think, if he will, that two eyes see no more than one ; or, that a gamester seeth always more than a looker-on; or, that a man in anger is as wise as he that hath said over the four and twenty letters ;o or, that a musket may be shot off as well upon the arm as upon a Test ;P and such other fond and high imaginations, to think

himself all in all : but when all is done, the help of good > counsel is that which setteth business straight: and if any . man think that he will take counsel, but it shall be by pieces ;

asking counsel in one business of one man, and in another business of another man; it is well (that is to say, better, perhaps, than if he asked none at all); but he runneth two dangers; one, that he shall not be faithfully counselled; for it is a rare thing, except it be from a perfect and entire friend, to have counsel given, but such as shall be bowed and crooked to some ends which he hath that giveth it: the other, that he shall have counsel given, hurtful and unsafe (though with good meaning), and mixed partly of mischief, and partly of remedy; even as if you would call a physician, that is thought good for the cure of the disease you complain of, but is unacquainted with your body; and, therefore, may put you in a way for a present cure, but overthroweth your health in some other kind, and so cure the disease, and kill the patient : but a friend, that is wholly acquainted with

a man's estate, will beware, by furthering any present busia ness, how he dasheth upon other inconvenience; and there

fore, rest not upon scattered counsels; they will rather distract and mislead, than settle and direct.

n James i. 23.

• He alludes to the recommendation which moralists have often given, that a person in anger should go through the alphabet to himself before he allows himself to speak.

p In his day the musket was fixed upon a stand, called the “rest," much as the gingals or matchlocks are used in the East at the pre sent day.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »