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it. So averse are we to this faint semblance of the eternal state, that not even the terrors of God's broken law can force us to partake of it. The aversion must be strong indeed that will make us risk so much by disobedience, rather than make the sacrifice of a few brief hours. And to what is it we are so averse? Let us consider.
For Friendship is no plant of hasty growth ;
THERE are a great number of things that every body says for no reason that can be perceived, but because every body always has said them; and, whatever be the recommendation to these current opinions, or rather assertions, for opinion has little to do with them, it is certainly not their truth. There is not one in ten of the persons who talk on these universal topics, that has ever considered whether what it is customary to say, be true or not; and though they are matters of every-day experience, they seldom pause to compare their habits of talking with their actual observation on the subject. But observation, unfortunately, we most of us make none, till past the age at which it would most avail us. We take up' our sentiments, and not seldom our very feelings, upon trust, and it is not till after many'a hard rub and bitter pang, we come to perceive that had we felt more justly, we need not have suffered. Perhaps this is an evil in some degree irremediable: there are many who cannot, and more who will not, think and judge on their own behalf. What they were taught in their youth they will be. lieve in their 'age, and what they said at fifteen they
will go on saying at fifty; though the whole course and current of their observations, had they made any, would go to disprove it. But, if this is the case, and if it must be so, it is but of the more importance what habits of thinking and feeling young people receive on entering a world, that will not change its course to meet their expectations, or show overmuch indulgence to their mistakes. If the mischief ended where we began to trace it, with the mistaken sentiments given forth in the talk of society, it would be small, and we would let it pass as a harmless fiction; but not seldom it goes to the dearest and tenderest interests of our bosoms, to the very vitals of our earthly happiness. It may indeed do worse; for it may assail our virtues and attaint our souls with sin, by giving a check to the benevolent affections, and inducing a morose and cynical habit of feeling towards our fellow-creatures, the , very reverse of what Christianity enjoins.
These reflections, something long, as those may have thought who are in a hurry to know what they mean, were excited in my mind by a conversation I recently heard in a party of young ladies, and which I take as a pattern and semblance of twenty other conversations I have heard in twenty similar parties. Friendship was, as it very often is
, the subject of the discussion, and though the words have escaped my memory, I can well
recall the substance of the remarks. One lady boldly asserted, that there was no such thing as friendship in the world, where all was insincerity and selfishness. I looked, but saw not in her mirthful eye and unfurrowed cheeks any traces of the sorrow and ill usage, that I thought should alone have wrung from gentle lips so harsh a sentence, and I wondered where, in twenty brief years, she could have learned so hard a lesson. Have
known it, she could not; therefore I concluded she had taken it upon trust from the poets, who are fain to tell all the ill they can of human nature, because it makes better poetry than the good.
The remark was taken up, as might be expected, by a young champion who thought, or said without thinking, that friendship was, I really cannot undertake to say what—but all the things that young ladies usually put into their themes at school: something very interminable, illimitable, and immutable. From this the discussion grew, and how it was, and what it was, went on to be discussed. I cannot pursue the thread of the discourse; but the amount of it was this: one thought friendship was the summer portion only of the blest; a flower for the brow of the prosperous, that the child of misfortune must never gather. Another thought, that all interest being destructive of its very essence, it could not be trusted unless there was an utter destitution of
every thing that might recommend us to favour, or requite affection. This lady must have been brought to the depth of wretchedness ere she ever could be sure she had a friend. Some, I found, thought it was made up of a great deal of sensibility, vulgarly called jealousy, that was to take umbrage at every seeming slight, to the indescribable torment of either party. Some betrayed, if they did not exactly say it, that they thought friendship such an absolute unity, that it would be a less crime to worship two gods than to love two friends! Therefore to bring it to its perfection it was necessary that all beside should be despised and disregarded.
Others, very young, and of course soon to grow wiser, thought it consisted in the exact disclosure of your own concerns, and those of every body else with which you might chance to become acquainted;
others that it required such exact conformity in opinion, thought, and feeling, as should make it impossible to differ; and others that it implied such generous interference even with the feelings as well as affairs of its object, that it should spend itself in disinterested reproaches and unasked advice. But however differing else, all were sure that friendship but usurped the name, unless it were purely disinterested, endlessly durable, and beyond the reach of time and circumstance to change it: and all were going forth in the full certainty of finding friends, each one after the pattern of her own imagination: the first speaker only excepted, who was fully determined never to find any, or never to trust them if she did.
I marked with pained attention the warm glow of expectation so soon to be blighted, and reflected deeply on the many heart-aches with which they must unlearn their errors. I saw that each one was likely to pass over and reject the richest blessing of earth, even in the very pursuing of it, from having sketched in imagination an unresembling portrait of the object of pursuit. “ When Friendship meets them," I said, “ they will not know her. Can no one draw for them a better likeness ?”
It is the language of books and the language of society, that friends are inconstant, and friendship but little to be depended on; and the belief, where it is really received, goes far to make a truth of that which else were false, by creating what it suspects. Few of us but have lived already long enough to know the bitterness of being disappointed in our affections, and deceived in our calculations, by those with whom, in the various relationships of life, we are brought in contact. Perhaps the aggregate of pain from this cause is greater than from any other