A generous friendship no cold medium knows,
Burns with one love. with one resentment glows;
One should our interests and our passion be.
My friend must hate the man that injures me.
A friend is an alter ego, i.e. one whose interests must coincide with those of mine. Friendship is not a contract, that is to say, it does not mean that ‘if you help me, I shall be your friend, otherwise not.’ Friendship is a calm and sedate affection.
There are, of course, mutual obligations, but even if they are not recognized as such, friendship should remain intact. What is essential in friendship is the similarity of interests due to affection. I should like to have a friend who is able to put up with my defects, only pointing them out to me gently. He must be able to soothe my nerves when calamities of the world assail me from all sides he must be one in whom I should repose my implicit faith.
Truly has a writer said, “Friendship has the skill and observation of the best physician. the diligence and vigilance of the best nurse, and the tenderness and patience of the best mother.” Above all, I must have the firm belief in my mind that my friend will not desert me when my pecuniary interests clash with his or when prosperity ceases to shine on me. Fair-weather friendship is a calamity, inasmuch as the disappointment that it creates in much greater than the happiness we get when forming the friendship.
W. Hazlitt compares old friends to old married people without the tie of children. It is love and sympathy through thick and thin that I hanker after in friendship because any friendship worth the name must cement the soul and sweeten its life by means of its constancy.
“A faithful friend is the medicine of life.” I do not, however, mean that my friend should be with me even on the path of sin.
He must be faithful in misfortune but not in sin and error. He should do his best to desist me from wallowing in sin and I give him the option to desert me if I throw his cautions to the wind and plunge headlong into sin. On the other hand, I do not want my friend to be always a fault-finder. He should not pick holes in my coat day in and day out and discuss them with me. In love we see no faults ‘except those by which we ourselves suffer. The long man says,
“Ideals are difficult to achieve, and one is fortune if one finds a friend who approximates to an ideal”.
One thing more I insist on in a friend. He should enrich my mind by a lively as well as instructive talk and not lead me to frivolities and mere gossip. He may not be a brilliant talker but he should not at least drag my mind downwards. I go a step further. Even if he teaches me nothing, let him stimulate my mind with intelligent questions. If he fails to do that too, his companionship is a mere waste of time.