Foremost among the soul's affections is love. Love is the ruler of
every motion of the heart; drawing all to itself, and making us
like to that we love. Beware, then, my daughter, of harbouring any
evil affection, or you too will become evil. And friendship is the
most dangerous of all affections, because any other love may exist
without much mental communication, but as friendship is founded
thereon, it is hardly possible to be closely bound by its ties to
any one without sharing in his qualities.
All love is not friendship, for one may love without any
return, and friendship implies mutual love. Further, those who are
bound by such affection must be conscious that it is reciprocal,--
otherwise there may be love but not friendship; and moreover,
there must be something communicated between the friends as a
solid foundation of friendship.
Friendship varies according to these communications, and they vary
according to that which people have to communicate. If men share
false and vain things, their friendship will be false and vain; if
that which is good and true, their friendship will be good and
true, and the better that which is the staple of the bond, so much
the better will the friendship be.
That honey is best which is culled from the choicest flowers,
and so friendship built upon the highest and purest intercommunion
is the best. And just as a certain kind of honey brought from
Pontus is poisonous, being made from aconite, so that those who
eat it lose their senses, so the friendship which is based on
unreal or evil grounds will itself be hollow and worthless.
Mere sensual intercourse is not worthy of the name of
friendship; and were there nothing more in married love it would
not deserve to bear the name; but inasmuch as that involves the
participation of life, industry, possessions, affections, and an
unalterable fidelity, marriage, when rightly understood, is a very
real and holy friendship.
Whatever is founded on mere sensuality, vanity, or frivolity,
is unworthy to be called friendship. I mean such attractions as
are purely external; a sweet voice, personal beauty, and the
cleverness or outward show which have great weight with some. You
will often hear women and young people unhesitatingly decide that
such an one is very delightful, very admirable, because he is
good-looking, well-dressed, sings, or dances, or talks well. Even
charlatans esteem the wittiest clown amongst them as their best
But all these things are purely sensual, and the connections
built on such foundation must be vain and frivolous, more fitly to
be called trifling than friendship. They spring up chiefly among
young people, who are easily fascinated by personal attractions,
dress, and gossip--friendships in which the tailor and hairdresser
have the chief part. How can such friendships be other than
shortlived, melting away like snow wreaths in the sun!