« AnteriorContinuar »
ill presages, and specially a dream of Calpurnia, this man lifted him gently by the arm out of his chair, telling him he hoped he would not dismiss the senate till his wife had dreamed a better dream ; and it seemed his favour was so great, as Antonius, in a letter which is recited verbatim in one of Cicero's Philippics, called him “ venefica,” “ witch ;" as if he had enchanted Cæsar. Augustus raised Agrippa, (though of mean birth to that height, as, when he consulted with Mecænas about the marriage of his daughter Julia, Mecænas 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. Tiberius, in a letter to him saith, “ amicitia nostra non occultavi;' 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
66 hæc pro
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, 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 all. these could not supply the comfort of friendship.
It is not to be forgotten what Commineus observeth of his first master, duke Charles the Hardy, namely, that he 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 Commineus
might have made the same judgment also, if it had pleased him, of his second master, Lewis the eleventh, whose closeness was indeed his tormentor. The parable of Pythagoras is dark,
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 admirable, (wherewith I will conclude this first fruit of friendship,) 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 halfs ; 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 use 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, bis wits and understanding do clarify and break up in the communicating and discoursing with another ; 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, “ 1 nat 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 friend
ship 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
than that which cometh from his own understanding and judgment; which is ever infused and drenched in his affections and customs, 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