Jeremy Taylor.

The whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 11) online

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brothers contracting such friendships are the beauties of
society, and the pleasure of life, and the festivity of minds :
and whatsoever can be spoken of love, which is God's eldest
daughter, can be said of virtuous friendships ; and though
Carneades made an eloquent oration at Rome against jus-
tice, yet I never saw a panegyric of malice, or ever read that
any man was witty against friendship. Indeed it is probable
that some men, finding themselves, by the peculiarities of
friendship, excluded from the participation of those beauties
of society which enamel and adorn the wise and the virtuous,
might suppose themselves to have reason to speak the evil
words of envy and detraction ; I wonder not : for all those
unhappy souls which shall find heaven's gates shut against
them, will think they have reason to murmur and blaspheme;
the similitude is apt enough, for that is the region of friend-
ship, and love is the light of that glorious country, but so
bright that it needs no sun : here we have fine and bright
rays of that celestial flame, and though to all mankind the
light of it is in some measure to be extended, like the
treasures of light dwelling in the south, yet, a little, do


illustrate and beautify the north yet some live under the
line, and the beams of friendship in that position are imminent
and perpendicular.

I know but one thing more in which the communications
of friendship can be restrained ; and that is, in friends and
enemies: "Arnicus amici,amicus meus non est, My friend's
friend is not always my friend ; " nor his enemy mine ; for if
my friend quarrel with a third person with whom he hath had
no friendships, upon the account of interest ; if that third
person be my friend, the nobleness of our friendships despises
such a quarrel ; and what may be reasonable in him, would
be ignoble in me ; sometimes it may be otherwise, and friends
may marry one another's loves and hatreds, but it is by
chance if it can be just; and therefore, because it is not
always right, it cannot be ever necessary.

In all things else let friendships be as high and expres-
sive till they become a union, or that friends, like the Mo-
lionidae, be so the same that the flames of their dead bodies
make but one pyramis ; no charity can be reproved, and such
friendships which are more than shadows, are nothing else
but the rays of that glorious grace drawn into one centre,
and made more active by the union ; and the proper signifi-
cations are well represented in the old hieroglyphic, by which
the ancients depicted friendship ; " In the beauties and
strength of a young man, bareheaded, rudely clothed, to
signify its activity, and lastingness, readiness of action, and
aptnesses to do service : upon the fringes of his garment
was written ' Mors et vita,' as signifying that in life and death
the friendship was the same : on the forehead was written
' Summer and winter,' that is, prosperous and adverse accidents
and states of life : the left arm and shoulder were bare and
naked down to the heart, to which the finger pointed, and
there was written ' Longe et prope :'" by all which we know
that friendship does good far and near, in summer and win-
ter, in life and death, and knows no difference of state or
accident, but by the variety of her services : and, therefore,
ask no more to what we can be obliged by friendship ; for
it is every thing that can be honest and prudent, useful and

For this is all the allay of this universality, we may do
any thing or suffer any thing that is wise or necessary, or


greatly beneficial to my friend ; and that in any thing, in
which I am perfect master of my person and fortunes. But
I would not in bravery visit my friend when he is sick of the
plague, unless I can do him good equal at least to my dan-
ger ; but I will procure him physicians and prayers, all the
assistances that he can receive, and that he can desire, if they
be in my power : and when he is dead, I will not run into his
grave and be stifled with his earth; but I will mourn for him,
and perform his will, and take care of his relatives, and do
for him as if he were alive ; and I think that is the meaning
of that hard saying of a Greek poet ; z

/v a.-jto'Te^ii uptv rctii^ti'
nx TOVTOV, <jra,yro( %/>v(/.aTo; IffTi xogaj.

To me, though distant, let thy friendship fly ;
Though men be mortal, friendships must not die.
Of all things else there's great satiety.

Of such immortal, abstracted, pure friendships indeed there
is no great plenty, and to see brothers hate each other is not
so rare as to see them love at this rate. The dead and the
absent have but few friends, say the Spaniards ; but they who
are the same to their friend avoTrgoOtv, when he is in another
country, or in another world, these are they who are fit to
preserve the sacred fire for eternal sacrifices, and to perpetu-
ate the memory of those exemplar friendships of the best
men, which have filled the world with history and wonder :
for in no other sense but this can it be true that friendships
are pure loves, regarding to do good more than to receive it.
He that is a friend after death, hopes not for a recompense
from his friend, and makes no bargain either for fame or
love ; but is rewarded with the conscience and satisfaction
of doing bravely : but then this is demonstration that they
choose friends best, who take persons so worthy that can and
will do so. This is the profit and usefulness of friendship;
and he that contracts such a noble union, must take care that
his friend be such who can and will ; but hopes that himself
shall be first used, and put to act it. I will notjiave such a
friendship that is good for nothing, but I hope that I shall
be on the giving and assisting part ; and yet if both the
friends be so noble, and hope and strive to do the benefit,
I cannot well say which ought to yield, and whether that

1 Gaisford, p. 244.


friendship were braver that could be content to be unpro-
sperous, so his friend might have the glory of assisting him;
or that which desires to give assistances in the greatest mea-
sures of friendship : but he that chooses a worthy friend that
himself in the days of sorrow and need might receive the ad-
vantage, hath no excuse, no pardon, unless himself be as cer-
tain to do assistances, when evil fortune shall require them :
the sum of this answer to this inquiry I give you in a pair of
Greek verses.

T I<rv Sty ffv rovi ty'tKov; rifta* SiXf
'Ev rcit KO.KOIS Se rous ipikovs ti/tgyirtt'

Friends are to friends as lesser gods, while they
Honour and service to each other pay.
But when a dark cloud comes, grudge not to lend
Thy head, thy heart, thy fortune, to thy friend.

3. The last inquiry is, how friendships are to be con-
ducted ; that is, what are the duties in presence and in
absence; whether the friend may not desire to enjoy his friend
as well as his friendship ? The answer to which in a great
measure depends upon what I have said already : and if
friendship be a charity in society, and is not for contempla-
tion and noise, but for material comforts and noble treat-
ments and usages, this is no peradventure, but that if I buy
land, I may eat the fruits; and if I take a house, I may dwell
in it ; and if I love a worthy person, I may please myself in
his society : and in this there is no exception, unless the
friendship be between persons of a different sex: for then
not only the interest of their religion, and the care of their
honour, but the worthiness of their friendship, require that
their intercourse be prudent, and free from suspicion and
reproach. And if a friend is obliged to bear a calamity, so he
secure the honour of his friend ; it will concern him to con-
duct his intercourse in the lines of a virtuous prudence, so
that he shall rather lose much of his own comfort, than she
any thing of her honour ; and in this case the noises of peo-
ple are so to be regarded, that next to innocence they are the
principal. But when, by caution, and prudence, and severe
conduct, a friend hath done all that he or she can to secure
fame and honourable reports ; after this, their noises are to
be despised : they must not fright us from our friendships,
nor from her fairest intercourses ; I may lawfully pluck the


clusters from my own vine, though he that walks by, calls me

But by the way, Madam, you may see how much I dif-
fer from the rnorosity of those cynics, who would not admit
your sex into the communities of a noble friendship. I be-
lieve some wives have been the best friends in the world ;
and few stories can outdo the nobleness and piety of that
lady that sucked the poisonous, purulent matter from the
wound of our brave prince in the Holy Land, when an
assassin had pierced him with a venomed arrow. And if it
be told that women cannot retain counsel, and, therefore,
can be no brave friends ; I can best confute them by the
story of Porcia, who, being fearful of the weakness of her
sex, stabbed herself into the thigh to try how she could
bear pain ; and finding herself constant enough to that suf-
ferance, gently chid her Brutus for not daring to trust her,
since now she perceived that no torment could wrest that
secret from her, which she hoped might be intrusted to her. If
there were not more things to be said for your satisfaction, I
could have made it disputable whether have been more illus-
trious in their friendships, men or women ? I cannot say
that women are capable of all those excellences by which
men can oblige the world ; and, therefore, a female friend
in some case is not so good a counsellor as a wise man, and
cannot so well defend my honour ; nor dispose of reliefs and
assistances, if she be under the power of another : but a
woman can love as passionately, and converse as pleasantly,
and retain a secret as faithfully, and be useful in her proper
ministries ; and she can die for her friend as well as the
bravest Roman knight ; and we find that some persons have
engaged themselves as far as death upon a less interest than
all this amounts to : such were the Eu^wX/^a/b/, as the Greeks
call them ; the ' Devoti' of a prince or general ; the Assas-
sins amongst the Saracens; the Soldurii amongst the old
Gauls: they did as much as a friend could do. And if the
greatest services of a friend can be paid for by an ignoble
price, we cannot grudge to virtuous and brave women that
they be partners in a noble friendship, since their conversa-
tion and returns can add so many moments to the felicity of
our lives : and, therefore, though a knife cannot enter as far
as a sword, yet a knife may be more useful to some purposes,


and in every thing, except it be against an enemy. A man
is the best friend in trouble, bnt a woman may be equal to him
in the days of joy : a woman can as well increase our com-
forts, but cannot so well lessen our sorrows ; and, therefore,
we do not carry women with us when we go to fight ; but,
in peaceful cities and times, virtuous women are the beauties
of society, and the prettinesses of friendship. And when we
consider that few persons in the world have all those excel-
lences by which friendship can be useful and illustrious, we
may as well allow women as men to be friends ; since they
can have all that which can be necessary and essential to
friendships, and these cannot have all by which friendships
can be accidentally improved ; in all, some abatements
will be made ; and we shall do too much honour to women
if we reject them from friendships, because they are not
perfect : for if to friendships we admit imperfect men, because
no man is perfect ; he that rejects women, does find fault
with them because they are not more perfect than men ;
which either does secretly affirm that they ought and can
be perfect, or else it openly accuses men of injustice and

I hope you will pardon me that I am a little gone from
my undertaking : I went aside to wait upon the women, and
to do countenance to their tender virtues : I am now returned,
and, if I were to do the office of a guide to uninstructed
friends, would add the particulars following. Madam, you
need not read them now ; but when any friends come to be
taught by your precept and example how to converse in the
noblest conjurations, you may put these into better words
and tell them,

1 . That the first law of friendship is, they must neither
ask of their friend what is indecent, nor grant it if them-
selves be asked. For it is no good office to make my friend
more vicious or more a fool ; I will restrain his folly, but
not nurse it ; I will not make my groom the officer of my
lust and vanity. There are villains who sell their souls for
bread, that offer sin and vanity at a price: I should be un-
willing my friend should know I am vicious ; but if he could
be brought to minister to it, he is not worthy to be my
friend : and if I could offer it to him, I do not deserve to
clasp hands with a virtuous person.


2. Let no man choose him for his friend whom it shall he
possible for him ever after to hate ; for though the society
may justly be interrupted, yet love is an immortal thing,
and I will never despise him whom I could once think wor-
thy of my love. A friend that proves not good, is rather to
be suffered than any enmities be entertained : and there are
some outer offices of friendship and little drudgeries, in which
the less worthy are to be employed, and it is better that he
be below stairs than quite thrown out of doors.

3. There are two things which a friend can never pardon,
a treacherous blow and the revealing of a secret, because
these are against the nature of friendship ; they are the adul-
teries of it, and dissolve the union ; and in the matters of
friendship, which is the marriage of souls, these are the pro-
per causes of divorce ; and, therefore, I shall add this only,
that secrecy is the chastity of friendship, and the publication
of it is a prostitution and direct debauchery ; but a secret,
treacherous wound, is a perfect and unpardonable apostasy.
I remember a pretty apologue that Bromiarcl tells: "A
fowler, in a sharp frosty morning, having taken many little
birds for which he had long watched, began to take up his
nets, and nipping the birds on the head laid them down. A
young thrush, espying the tears trickling down his cheeks by
reason of the extreme cold, said to her mother, that certainly
the man was very merciful and compassionate that wept so
bitterly over the calamity of the poor birds : but her mo-
ther told her more wisely, that she might better judge of
the man's disposition by his hand than by his eye ; " and
if the hands do strike treacherously, he can never be admit-
ted to friendship, who speaks fairly and weeps pitifully.
Friendship is the greatest honesty and ingenuity in the world.

4. Never accuse thy friend, nor believe him that does ;
if thou dost, thou hast broken the skin : but he that is
angry with every little fault, breaks the bones of friendship.
And w r hen we consider that in society, and the accidents of
every day, in which no man is constantly pleased or dis-
pleased with the same things, we shall find reason to impute
the change unto ourselves ; and the emanations of the sun
are still glorious when our eyes are sore : and we have no
reason to be angry with an eternal light because we have a
changeable and a mortal faculty. But, however, do not think


thou didst contract alliance with an angel, when thou didst
take thy friend into thy bosom ; he may be weak as well as
thou art, and thou mayest need pardon as well as he ; and
that man loves flattery more than friendship who would not
only have his friend, but all the contingencies of his friend,
to humour him.

Of vror' 0,1 A.AiA.o/f U^/AIOI, ou$i tpiXai.

Theog. cccxxv. Gaisforcl, p. 229.

5. Give thy friend counsel wisely and charitably, but leave
him to his liberty whether he will follow thee or no : and be
not angry if thy counsel be rejected : for advice is no empire,
and he is not my friend that will be my judge whether
I will or no. Neoptolemus had never been honoured with
the victory and spoils of Troy, if he had attended to the tears
and counsel of Lycomedes, who being afraid to venture the
young man, fain would have had him sleep at home safe in
his little island. He that gives advice to his friend and exacts
obedience to it, does not the kindness and ingenuity of a
friend, but the office and pertness of a schoolmaster.

6. Never be a judge between thy friends in any matter
where both set their hearts upon the victory : if strangers or
enemies be litigants, whatever side thou favourest, thou
gettest a friend ; but when friends are the parties thou
losest one.

7. Never comport thyself so, as that thy friend can be
afraid of thee : for then the state of the relation alters when
a new and troublesome passion supervenes. " Oderuntquos
metuunt; Perfect love casteth our fear;" and no man is
friend to a tyrant ; but that friendship is tyranny where the
love is changed into fear, equality into empire, society into
obedience ; for then all my kindness to him also will be no
better than flattery.

8. When you admonish your friend, let it be without
bitterness; when you chide him, let it be without reproach ;
when you praise him, let it be with worthy purposes, and for
just causes, and in friendly measures ; too much of that is
flattery, too little is envy: if you do it justly, you teach him
true measures ; but when others praise him, rejoice, though


they praise not thee ; and remember, that if thou esteemest
his praise to be thy disparagement, thou art envious, but
neither just nor kind.

9. When all things else are equal, prefer an old friend
before a new. If thou meanest to spend thy friend, and
make gain of him till he be weary, thou wilt esteem him as
a beast of burden, the worse for his age : but if thou esteem-
est him by noble measures, he will be better to thee by thy
being used to him, by trial and experience, by reciprocation
of endearments and a habitual worthiness. An old friend
is like old wine, which, when a man hath drunk, he doth not
desire new, because he saith " the old is better." But every
old friend was new once ; and if he be worthy, keep the new
one till he become old.

10. After all this, treat thy friend nobly, love to be with
him, to do him all the worthinesses of love and fair endear-
ment, according to thy capacity and his ; bear with his
infirmities till they approach towards being criminal ; but
never dissemble with him, never despise him, never leave
him. 3 'Give him gifts and upbraid him not, b and refuse
not his kindnesses, and be sure never to despise the smallness
or the impropriety of them. " Confirmatur amor beneficio
accepto ; A gift (saith Solomon), fasteneth friendships."
For as an eye that dwells long upon a star, must be refreshed
with lesser beauties, and strengthened with greens and look-
ing-glasses, lest the sight become amazed with too great a
splendour ; so must the love of friends sometimes be re-
freshed with material and low caresses ; lest by striving to
be too divine it become less human : it must be allowed its
share of both : it is human in giving pardon, and fair con-
struction, and openness, and ingenuity, and keeping secrets ;
it hath something that is divine, because it is beneficent ;
but much because it is eternal.

8 Extra fortunam est, quicquid donatur amicis ;

Quas dederis, solas semper habebis opes. Mart. lib. v. ep. 43.
Est tamen hoc vitium, sed non leve, sit licet unum,

Quod colit ingratas pauper amicitias.
Quis largitur opes veteri, fidoque sodali ? Ep. 19.
b Non belle quajdam faciunt^luo : sufficit unus

Huic operi : si yis ut loquar, ipse tace.
Crede mihi, qyamvis ingentia, Postume, dona
Auctoris pereunt garrulitate sui. Ep. 53.




IF you shall think it fit that these papers pass further than
your own eye and closet, I desire they may be consigned
into the hands of my worthy friend Dr. Wedderburne : for I
do not only expose all my sickness to his cure, but I submit
my weaknesses to his censure ; being as confident to find of
him charity for what is pardonable, as remedy for what is
curable : but indeed, Madam, I look upon that worthy man
as an idea of friendship ; and if I had no other notices of
friendship or conversation to instruct me than his, it were
sufficient : for whatsoever I can say of friendship, I can
say of his ; and as all that know him reckon him amongst
the best physicians, so I know him worthy to be reckoned
amongst the best friends.










THE circles of Divine Providence turn themselves
upon the affairs of the world so, that every spondyl
of the wheels may mark out those virtues which we
are then to exercise ; and every new event in the^
economy of God is God's finger to point out to us
by what instances he will be served. We have been
sorely smitten, and for a long time ; for (that I may
use the words of the prophet), " Alas, for that day
was great, so that none was like to it it was even the
time of Jacob's trouble ;" a and then, faith and pa-
tience, and all the passive graces of religion, were in
their own season. But since God hath left off to smite
us with an iron rod, and hath once more said unto
these nations, " They shall serve the Lord their God,
and David their king whom I have raised up unto
them ;" now our duty stands on the sunny side ; it
is our work to rejoice in God and in God's Anointed,

Jer. xrx. 7.


and to be glad, and worthily to accept of our pro-
sperity is all our business : for so good a God we
serve that he hath made it our duty to be happy,
and we cannot please him unless we be infinitely
pleased ourselves. It was impossible to live with-
out our king; but as slaves live, that is, such who
are civilly dead, and persons condemned to metals ;
we lived to the lusts and insolence of others, but not
at all to ourselves, to our own civil or religious com-
forts. But now our joys are mere and unmixed ; for
that we may do our duty and have our reward at
once, God hath sent your Majesty amongst us, that
we may feel the pleasures of obedience, and reap
the fruits of that government which God loves and
uses, which he hath constituted and adorned, which
he hath restored to us by a conjugation of miracles,
by the work of his hand and the light of his counte-
nance, by changing the hearts of men, and ' scattering
the people that delight in war/ by infatuating their
counsels and breaking their cords asunder ; that is,
which he himself hath wrought amongst us by him-
self alone, and therefore will bless and will never in-
terrupt : only we must be careful never to provoke
him any more by our unthankfulness and infidel

But now, great Sir, be pleased to give me leave
in the throngs of those that rejoice to see the good-
ness of God to his servant Job, in imitation of them
who presented him with, every man, an earring of


gold, and a piece of silver, 6 or a lamb, to bring also
my offering, the signification of my joy. For though
it be but two books, which, like the widow's two
mites, make up but a contemptible sum ; yet because
it is all I have, your Majesty may be pleased to ac-
cept : and so much the rather, because it is also an
expression of that part of the duty of my calling
which hath fallen to my share. For your Majesty,
like the king in the Gospel, hath been in a far coun-
try, and some of your citizens sent after you, and
said, " Nolumus hunc regnare ;" c but God hath
caused you to return and reign : and if your Majesty
should by that example call us to render an account
of our talents, I can only say, that amongst those
many excellent persons who have greatly improved
theirs, I was willing to negotiate and to labour. What
fruit will from hence accrue to souls is wholly in the
hands of God : but this semination and culture were
much wanted in the reformed churches. For though
in all things else the goodness of God hath made us
to abound, and our cup to run over ; yet our labours
have been hitherto unemployed in the description of
the rules of conscience and casuistical tjieology. In

Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 11) → online text (page 32 of 50)