ALBERT HERTER

RALPH WALDO EMERSON ON FRIENDSHIP…….

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2009 at 15:05

“Let the soul be assured that somewhere in the universe it should rejoin its friend, and it would be content and cheerful alone for a thousand years. I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new. My friends have come to me unsought. The great God gave them to me. By oldest right, by the divine affinity of virtue with itself, I find them, or rather not I, but the Deity in me and in them, both deride and cancel the thick walls of individual character, relation, age, sex, circumstance, at which he usually connives, and now makes many one. I must feel pride in my friend`s accomplishments as if they were mine, – wild, delicate, throbbing property in his virtues .We over-estimate the conscience of our friend. His goodness seems better than our goodness, his nature finer, his temptations less. Every thing that is his, his name, his form, his dress, books and instruments, fancy enhances. Our own thought sounds new and larger from his mouth. Thus every man passes his life in the search after friendship, and if he should record his true sentiment, he might write a letter like this to each new candidate for his love. The laws of friendship are great, austere and eternal.  let us approach our friend with an audacious trust in the truth of his heart .

 

There are two elements that go to the composition of friendship, each so sovereign that I can detect no superiority in either, no reason why either should be first named. One is Truth. A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud. I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal that I may drop even those most undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness with which one chemical atom meets another. But a friend is a sane man who exercise not my ingenuity, but me. My friend gives me entertainment without requiring me to stop, or to lisp, or to mask myself. A friend therefore is a sort of paradox in nature. I who alone am, I who see nothing in nature whose existence I can affirm with equal evidence to my own, behold now the semblance of my being, in all its height, variety and curiosity, reiterated in a foreign form; so that a friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.

 

The other element of friendship is Tenderness . Can another be so blessed and we so pure that we can offer him tenderness? When a man becomes dear to me I have touched the goal of fortune. Let him not cease an instant to be himself. Friendship demands a religious treatment. We must not be wilful, we must not provide.Treat your friend as a spectacle. Of course if he be a man he has merits that are not yours, and that you cannot honor if you must needs hold him close to your person. Stand aside. Give those merits room. Let them mount and expand . Why should we desecrate noble and beautiful souls by intruding on them? Why insist on rash personal relations with your friend? Let him be to me a spirit. A message, a thought, a sincerity, a glance from him, I want, but not news, nor pottage.

 

Worship his superiorities. We must be our own before we can be another`s. There can never be deep peace between two spirits, never mutual respect, until in their dialogue each stands for the whole world.What is so great as friendship, let us carry with what grandeur of spirit we can. Let us be silent, – so we may hear the whisper of the gods. Let us not interfere.Wait, and thy soul shall speak. We walk alone in the world. Friends such as we desire are dreams and fables. But a sublime hope cheers ever the faithful heart, that elsewhere, in other regions of the universal power, souls are now acting, enduring and daring, which can love us and which we can love. I fear only that I may lose them receding into the sky in which now they are only a patch of brighter light. It would indeed give me a certain household joy to quit this lofty seeking, this spiritual astronomy or search of stars, and come down to warm sympathies with you; but then I know well I shall mourn always the vanishing of my mighty gods. So I will owe to my friends this evanescent intercourse. I will receive from them not what they have but what they are. They shall give me that which properly they cannot give me, but which emanates from them. But they shall not hold me by any relations less subtle and pure. We will meet as though we met not, and part as though we parted not. The essence of friendship is entireness, a total magnanimity and trust. It must not surmise or provide for infirmity. It treats its object as a god, that it may deify both.”   R W Emerson

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