Friendship
Ralph Waldo Emerson


A ruddy drop of manly blood
The surging sea outweighs,
The world uncertain comes and goes,
The lover rooted stays.
I fancied he was fled,
And, after many a year,
Glowed unexhausted kindliness
Like daily sunrise there.
My careful heart was free again, --
O friend, my bosom said,
Through thee alone the sky is arched,
Through thee the rose is red,
All things through thee take nobler form,
And look beyond the earth,
And is the mill-round of our fate
A sun-path in thy worth.
Me too thy nobleness has taught
To master my despair;
The fountains of my hidden life
Are through thy friendship fair.

Friendship

We have a great selfishness that chills like east winds the
world, the whole human family is bathed with an element of love like
a fine ether. How many persons we meet in houses, whom we scarcely
speak to, whom yet we honor, and who honor us! How many we see in
the street, or sit with in church, whom, though silently, we warmly
rejoice to be with! Read the language of these wandering eye-beams.
The heart knoweth.

The effect of the indulgence of this human affection is a
certain cordial exhilaration. In poetry, and in common speech, the
emotions of benevolence and complacency which are felt towards others
are likened to the material effects of fire; so swift, or much more
swift, more active, more cheering, are these fine inward
irradiations. From the highest degree of passionate love, to the
lowest degree of good-will, they make the sweetness of life.

Our intellectual and active powers increase with our affection.
The scholar sits down to write, and all his years of meditation do
not furnish him with one good thought or happy expression; but it is
necessary to write a letter to a friend, -- and, forthwith, troops of
gentle thoughts invest themselves, on every hand, with chosen words.
See, in any house where virtue and self-respect abide, the
palpitation which the approach of a stranger causes. A commended
stranger is expected and announced, and an uneasiness betwixt
pleasure and pain invades all the hearts of a household. His arrival
almost brings fear to the good hearts that would welcome him. The
house is dusted, all things fly into their places, the old coat is
exchanged for the new, and they must get up a dinner if they can. Of
a commended stranger, only the good report is told by others, only
the good and new is heard by us. He stands to us for humanity. He
is what we wish. Having imagined and invested him, we ask how we
should stand related in conversation and action with such a man, and
are uneasy with fear. The same idea exalts conversation with him.
We talk better than we are wont. We have the nimblest fancy, a
richer memory, and our dumb devil has taken leave for the time. For
long hours we can continue a series of sincere, graceful, rich
communications, drawn from the oldest, secretest experience, so that
they who sit by, of our own kinsfolk and acquaintance, shall feel a
lively surprise at our unusual powers. But as soon as the stranger
begins to intrude his partialities, his definitions, his defects,
into the conversation, it is all over. He has heard the first, the
last and best he will ever hear from us. He is no stranger now.
Vulgarity, ignorance, misapprehension are old acquaintances. Now,
when he comes, he may get the order, the dress, and the dinner, --
but the throbbing of the heart, and the communications of the soul,
no more.

What is so pleasant as these jets of affection which make a
young world for me again? What so delicious as a just and firm
encounter of two, in a thought, in a feeling? How beautiful, on
their approach to this beating heart, the steps and forms of the
gifted and the true! The moment we indulge our affections, the earth
is metamorphosed; there is no winter, and no night; all tragedies,
all ennuis, vanish, -- all duties even; nothing fills the proceeding
eternity but the forms all radiant of beloved persons. 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. Shall I not call God the Beautiful, who daily
showeth himself so to me in his gifts? I chide society, I embrace
solitude, and yet I am not so ungrateful as not to see the wise, the
lovely, and the noble-minded, as from time to time they pass my gate.
Who hears me, who understands me, becomes mine, -- a possession for
all time. Nor is nature so poor but she gives me this joy several
times, and thus we weave social threads of our own, a new web of
relations; and, as many thoughts in succession substantiate
themselves, we shall by and by stand in a new world of our own
creation, and no longer strangers and pilgrims in a traditionary
globe. 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
derides and cancels the thick walls of individual character,
relation, age, sex, circumstance, at which he usually connives, and
now makes many one. High thanks I owe you, excellent lovers, who
carry out the world for me to new and noble depths, and enlarge the
meaning of all my thoughts. These are new poetry of the first Bard,
-- poetry without stop, -- hymn, ode, and epic, poetry still flowing,
Apollo and the Muses chanting still. Will these, too, separate
themselves from me again, or some of them? I know not, but I fear it
not; for my relation to them is so pure, that we hold by simple
affinity, and the Genius of my life being thus social, the same
affinity will exert its energy on whomsoever is as noble as these men
and women, wherever I may be.

I confess to an extreme tenderness of nature on this point. It
is almost dangerous to me to "crush the sweet poison of misused wine"
of the affections. A new person is to me a great event, and hinders
me from sleep. I have often had fine fancies about persons which
have given me delicious hours; but the joy ends in the day; it yields
no fruit. Thought is not born of it; my action is very little
modified. I must feel pride in my friend's accomplishments as if
they were mine, -- and a property in his virtues. I feel as warmly
when he is praised, as the lover when he hears applause of his
engaged maiden. 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.

Yet the systole and diastole of the heart are not without their
analogy in the ebb and flow of love. Friendship, like the
immortality of the soul, is too good to be believed. The lover,
beholding his maiden, half knows that she is not verily that which he
worships; and in the golden hour of friendship, we are surprised with
shades of suspicion and unbelief. We doubt that we bestow on our
hero the virtues in which he shines, and afterwards worship the form
to which we have ascribed this divine inhabitation. In strictness,
the soul does not respect men as it respects itself. In strict
science all persons underlie the same condition of an infinite
remoteness. Shall we fear to cool our love by mining for the
metaphysical foundation of this Elysian temple? Shall I not be as
real as the things I see? If I am, I shall not fear to know them for
what they are. Their essence is not less beautiful than their
appearance, though it needs finer organs for its apprehension. The
root of the plant is not unsightly to science, though for chaplets
and festoons we cut the stem short. And I must hazard the production
of the bald fact amidst these pleasing reveries, though it should
prove an Egyptian skull at our banquet. A man who stands united with
his thought conceives magnificently of himself. He is conscious of a
universal success, even though bought by uniform particular failures.
No advantages, no powers, no gold or force, can be any match for him.
I cannot choose but rely on my own poverty more than on your wealth.
I cannot make your consciousness tantamount to mine. Only the star
dazzles; the planet has a faint, moon-like ray. I hear what you say
of the admirable parts and tried temper of the party you praise, but
I see well that for all his purple cloaks I shall not like him,
unless he is at last a poor Greek like me. I cannot deny it, O
friend, that the vast shadow of the Phenomenal includes thee also in
its pied and painted immensity, -- thee, also, compared with whom all
else is shadow. Thou art not Being, as Truth is, as Justice is, --
thou art not my soul, but a picture and effigy of that. Thou hast
come to me lately, and already thou art seizing thy hat and cloak.
Is it not that the soul puts forth friends as the tree puts forth
leaves, and presently, by the germination of new buds, extrudes the
old leaf? The law of nature is alternation for evermore. Each
electrical state superinduces the opposite. The soul environs itself
with friends, that it may enter into a grander self-acquaintance or
solitude; and it goes alone for a season, that it may exalt its
conversation or society. This method betrays itself along the whole
history of our personal relations. The instinct of affection revives
the hope of union with our mates, and the returning sense of
insulation recalls us from the chase. 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.

DEAR FRIEND: --

If I was sure of thee, sure of thy capacity, sure to match my
mood with thine, I should never think again of trifles in relation to
thy comings and goings. I am not very wise; my moods are quite
attainable; and I respect thy genius; it is to me as yet unfathomed;
yet dare I not presume in thee a perfect intelligence of me, and so
thou art to me a delicious torment. Thine ever, or never.

Yet these uneasy pleasures and fine pains are for curiosity,
and not for life. They are not to be indulged. This is to weave
cobweb, and not cloth. Our friendships hurry to short and poor
conclusions, because we have made them a texture of wine and dreams,
instead of the tough fibre of the human heart. The laws of
friendship are austere and eternal, of one web with the laws of
nature and of morals. But we have aimed at a swift and petty
benefit, to suck a sudden sweetness. We snatch at the slowest fruit
in the whole garden of God, which many summers and many winters must
ripen. We seek our friend not sacredly, but with an adulterate
passion which would appropriate him to ourselves. In vain. We are
armed all over with subtle antagonisms, which, as soon as we meet,
begin to play, and translate all poetry into stale prose. Almost all
people descend to meet. All association must be a compromise, and,
what is worst, the very flower and aroma of the flower of each of the
beautiful natures disappears as they approach each other. What a
perpetual disappointment is actual society, even of the virtuous and
gifted! After interviews have been compassed with long foresight, we
must be tormented presently by baffled blows, by sudden, unseasonable
apathies, by epilepsies of wit and of animal spirits, in the heyday
of friendship and thought. Our faculties do not play us true, and
both parties are relieved by solitude.

I ought to be equal to every relation. It makes no difference
how many friends I have, and what content I can find in conversing
with each, if there be one to whom I am not equal. If I have shrunk
unequal from one contest, the joy I find in all the rest becomes mean
and cowardly. I should hate myself, if then I made my other friends
my asylum.

"The valiant warrior famoused for fight,
After a hundred victories, once foiled,
Is from the book of honor razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toiled."

Our impatience is thus sharply rebuked. Bashfulness and apathy
are a tough husk, in which a delicate organization is protected from
premature ripening. It would be lost if it knew itself before any of
the best souls were yet ripe enough to know and own it. Respect the
_naturlangsamkeit_ which hardens the ruby in a million years, and
works in duration, in which Alps and Andes come and go as rainbows.
The good spirit of our life has no heaven which is the price of
rashness. Love, which is the essence of God, is not for levity, but
for the total worth of man. Let us not have this childish luxury in
our regards, but the austerest worth; let us approach our friend with
an audacious trust in the truth of his heart, in the breadth,
impossible to be overturned, of his foundations.

The attractions of this subject are not to be resisted, and I
leave, for the time, all account of subordinate social benefit, to
speak of that select and sacred relation which is a kind of absolute,
and which even leaves the language of love suspicious and common, so
much is this purer, and nothing is so much divine.

I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with roughest
courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or
frostwork, but the solidest thing we know. For now, after so many
ages of experience, what do we know of nature, or of ourselves? Not
one step has man taken toward the solution of the problem of his
destiny. In one condemnation of folly stand the whole universe of
men. But the sweet sincerity of joy and peace, which I draw from
this alliance with my brother's soul, is the nut itself, whereof all
nature and all thought is but the husk and shell. Happy is the house
that shelters a friend! It might well be built, like a festal bower
or arch, to entertain him a single day. Happier, if he know the
solemnity of that relation, and honor its law! He who offers himself
a candidate for that covenant comes up, like an Olympian, to the
great games, where the first-born of the world are the competitors.
He proposes himself for contests where Time, Want, Danger, are in the
lists, and he alone is victor who has truth enough in his
constitution to preserve the delicacy of his beauty from the wear and
tear of all these. The gifts of fortune may be present or absent,
but all the speed in that contest depends on intrinsic nobleness, and
the contempt of trifles. 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 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. Sincerity is
the luxury allowed, like diadems and authority, only to the highest
rank, _that_ being permitted to speak truth, as having none above it
to court or conform unto. Every man alone is sincere. At the
entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins. We parry and fend the
approach of our fellow-man by compliments, by gossip, by amusements,
by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds.
I knew a man, who, under a certain religious frenzy, cast off this
drapery, and, omitting all compliment and commonplace, spoke to the
conscience of every person he encountered, and that with great
insight and beauty. At first he was resisted, and all men agreed he
was mad. But persisting, as indeed he could not help doing, for some
time in this course, he attained to the advantage of bringing every
man of his acquaintance into true relations with him. No man would
think of speaking falsely with him, or of putting him off with any
chat of markets or reading-rooms. But every man was constrained by
so much sincerity to the like plaindealing, and what love of nature,
what poetry, what symbol of truth he had, he did certainly show him.
But to most of us society shows not its face and eye, but its side
and its back. To stand in true relations with men in a false age is
worth a fit of insanity, is it not? We can seldom go erect. Almost
every man we meet requires some civility, -- requires to be humored;
he has some fame, some talent, some whim of religion or philanthropy
in his head that is not to be questioned, and which spoils all
conversation with him. But a friend is a sane man who exercises not
my ingenuity, but me. My friend gives me entertainment without
requiring any stipulation on my part. 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. We are holden
to men by every sort of tie, by blood, by pride, by fear, by hope, by
lucre, by lust, by hate, by admiration, by every circumstance and
badge and trifle, but we can scarce believe that so much character
can subsist in another as to draw us by love. 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. I find
very little written directly to the heart of this matter in books.
And yet I have one text which I cannot choose but remember. My
author says, -- "I offer myself faintly and bluntly to those whose I
effectually am, and tender myself least to him to whom I am the most
devoted." I wish that friendship should have feet, as well as eyes
and eloquence. It must plant itself on the ground, before it vaults
over the moon. I wish it to be a little of a citizen, before it is
quite a cherub. We chide the citizen because he makes love a
commodity. It is an exchange of gifts, of useful loans; it is good
neighbourhood; it watches with the sick; it holds the pall at the
funeral; and quite loses sight of the delicacies and nobility of the
relation. But though we cannot find the god under this disguise of a
sutler, yet, on the other hand, we cannot forgive the poet if he
spins his thread too fine, and does not substantiate his romance by
the municipal virtues of justice, punctuality, fidelity, and pity. I
hate the prostitution of the name of friendship to signify modish and
worldly alliances. I much prefer the company of ploughboys and
tin-peddlers, to the silken and perfumed amity which celebrates its
days of encounter by a frivolous display, by rides in a curricle, and
dinners at the best taverns. The end of friendship is a commerce the
most strict and homely that can be joined; more strict than any of
which we have experience. It is for aid and comfort through all the
relations and passages of life and death. It is fit for serene days,
and graceful gifts, and country rambles, but also for rough roads and
hard fare, shipwreck, poverty, and persecution. It keeps company
with the sallies of the wit and the trances of religion. We are to
dignify to each other the daily needs and offices of man's life, and
embellish it by courage, wisdom, and unity. It should never fall
into something usual and settled, but should be alert and inventive,
and add rhyme and reason to what was drudgery.

Friendship may be said to require natures so rare and costly,
each so well tempered and so happily adapted, and withal so
circumstanced, (for even in that particular, a poet says, love
demands that the parties be altogether paired,) that its satisfaction
can very seldom be assured. It cannot subsist in its perfection, say
some of those who are learned in this warm lore of the heart, betwixt
more than two. I am not quite so strict in my terms, perhaps because
I have never known so high a fellowship as others. I please my
imagination more with a circle of godlike men and women variously
related to each other, and between whom subsists a lofty
intelligence. But I find this law of _one to one_ peremptory for
conversation, which is the practice and consummation of friendship.
Do not mix waters too much. The best mix as ill as good and bad.
You shall have very useful and cheering discourse at several times
with two several men, but let all three of you come together, and you
shall not have one new and hearty word. Two may talk and one may
hear, but three cannot take part in a conversation of the most
sincere and searching sort. In good company there is never such
discourse between two, across the table, as takes place when you
leave them alone. In good company, the individuals merge their
egotism into a social soul exactly co-extensive with the several
consciousnesses there present. No partialities of friend to friend,
no fondnesses of brother to sister, of wife to husband, are there
pertinent, but quite otherwise. Only he may then speak who can sail
on the common thought of the party, and not poorly limited to his
own. Now this convention, which good sense demands, destroys the
high freedom of great conversation, which requires an absolute
running of two souls into one.

No two men but, being left alone with each other, enter into
simpler relations. Yet it is affinity that determines _which_ two
shall converse. Unrelated men give little joy to each other; will
never suspect the latent powers of each. We talk sometimes of a
great talent for conversation, as if it were a permanent property in
some individuals. Conversation is an evanescent relation, -- no
more. A man is reputed to have thought and eloquence; he cannot, for
all that, say a word to his cousin or his uncle. They accuse his
silence with as much reason as they would blame the insignificance of
a dial in the shade. In the sun it will mark the hour. Among those
who enjoy his thought, he will regain his tongue.

Friendship requires that rare mean betwixt likeness and
unlikeness, that piques each with the presence of power and of
consent in the other party. Let me be alone to the end of the world,
rather than that my friend should overstep, by a word or a look, his
real sympathy. I am equally balked by antagonism and by compliance.
Let him not cease an instant to be himself. The only joy I have in
his being mine, is that the _not mine_ is _mine_. I hate, where I
looked for a manly furtherance, or at least a manly resistance, to
find a mush of concession. Better be a nettle in the side of your
friend than his echo. The condition which high friendship demands is
ability to do without it. That high office requires great and
sublime parts. There must be very two, before there can be very one.
Let it be an alliance of two large, formidable natures, mutually
beheld, mutually feared, before yet they recognize the deep identity
which beneath these disparities unites them.

He only is fit for this society who is magnanimous; who is sure
that greatness and goodness are always economy; who is not swift to
intermeddle with his fortunes. Let him not intermeddle with this.
Leave to the diamond its ages to grow, nor expect to accelerate the
births of the eternal. Friendship demands a religious treatment. We
talk of choosing our friends, but friends are self-elected.
Reverence is a great part of it. Treat your friend as a spectacle.
Of course 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. Are you the
friend of your friend's buttons, or of his thought? To a great heart
he will still be a stranger in a thousand particulars, that he may
come near in the holiest ground. Leave it to girls and boys to
regard a friend as property, and to suck a short and all-confounding
pleasure, instead of the noblest benefit.

Let us buy our entrance to this guild by a long probation. Why
should we desecrate noble and beautiful souls by intruding on them?
Why insist on rash personal relations with your friend? Why go to
his house, or know his mother and brother and sisters? Why be
visited by him at your own? Are these things material to our
covenant? Leave this touching and clawing. Let him be to me a
spirit. A message, a thought, a sincerity, a glance from him, I
want, but not news, nor pottage. I can get politics, and chat, and
neighbourly conveniences from cheaper companions. Should not the
society of my friend be to me poetic, pure, universal, and great as
nature itself? Ought I to feel that our tie is profane in comparison
with yonder bar of cloud that sleeps on the horizon, or that clump of
waving grass that divides the brook? Let us not vilify, but raise it
to that standard. That great, defying eye, that scornful beauty of
his mien and action, do not pique yourself on reducing, but rather
fortify and enhance. Worship his superiorities; wish him not less by
a thought, but hoard and tell them all. Guard him as thy
counterpart. Let him be to thee for ever a sort of beautiful enemy,
untamable, devoutly revered, and not a trivial conveniency to be soon
outgrown and cast aside. The hues of the opal, the light of the
diamond, are not to be seen, if the eye is too near. To my friend I
write a letter, and from him I receive a letter. That seems to you a
little. It suffices me. It is a spiritual gift worthy of him to
give, and of me to receive. It profanes nobody. In these warm lines
the heart will trust itself, as it will not to the tongue, and pour
out the prophecy of a godlier existence than all the annals of
heroism have yet made good.

Respect so far the holy laws of this fellowship as not to
prejudice its perfect flower by your impatience for its opening. We
must be our own before we can be another's. There is at least this
satisfaction in crime, according to the Latin proverb; -- you can
speak to your accomplice on even terms. _Crimen quos inquinat,
aequat_. To those whom we admire and love, at first we cannot. Yet
the least defect of self-possession vitiates, in my judgment, the
entire relation. 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. Who set you to cast about what you
should say to the select souls, or how to say any thing to such? No
matter how ingenious, no matter how graceful and bland. There are
innumerable degrees of folly and wisdom, and for you to say aught is
to be frivolous. Wait, and thy heart shall speak. Wait until the
necessary and everlasting overpowers you, until day and night avail
themselves of your lips. The only reward of virtue is virtue; the
only way to have a friend is to be one. You shall not come nearer a
man by getting into his house. If unlike, his soul only flees the
faster from you, and you shall never catch a true glance of his eye.
We see the noble afar off, and they repel us; why should we intrude?
Late, -- very late, -- we perceive that no arrangements, no
introductions, no consuetudes or habits of society, would be of any
avail to establish us in such relations with them as we desire, --
but solely the uprise of nature in us to the same degree it is in
them; then shall we meet as water with water; and if we should not
meet them then, we shall not want them, for we are already they. In
the last analysis, love is only the reflection of a man's own
worthiness from other men. Men have sometimes exchanged names with
their friends, as if they would signify that in their friend each
loved his own soul.

The higher the style we demand of friendship, of course the
less easy to establish it with flesh and blood. 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. We may
congratulate ourselves that the period of nonage, of follies, of
blunders, and of shame, is passed in solitude, and when we are
finished men, we shall grasp heroic hands in heroic hands. Only be
admonished by what you already see, not to strike leagues of
friendship with cheap persons, where no friendship can be. Our
impatience betrays us into rash and foolish alliances which no God
attends. By persisting in your path, though you forfeit the little
you gain the great. You demonstrate yourself, so as to put yourself
out of the reach of false relations, and you draw to you the
first-born of the world, -- those rare pilgrims whereof only one or
two wander in nature at once, and before whom the vulgar great show
as spectres and shadows merely.

It is foolish to be afraid of making our ties too spiritual, as
if so we could lose any genuine love. Whatever correction of our
popular views we make from insight, nature will be sure to bear us
out in, and though it seem to rob us of some joy, will repay us with
a greater. Let us feel, if we will, the absolute insulation of man.
We are sure that we have all in us. We go to Europe, or we pursue
persons, or we read books, in the instinctive faith that these will
call it out and reveal us to ourselves. Beggars all. The persons
are such as we; the Europe an old faded garment of dead persons; the
books their ghosts. Let us drop this idolatry. Let us give over
this mendicancy. Let us even bid our dearest friends farewell, and
defy them, saying, `Who are you? Unhand me: I will be dependent no
more.' Ah! seest thou not, O brother, that thus we part only to meet
again on a higher platform, and only be more each other's, because we
are more our own? A friend is Janus-faced: he looks to the past and
the future. He is the child of all my foregoing hours, the prophet
of those to come, and the harbinger of a greater friend.

I do then with my friends as I do with my books. I would have
them where I can find them, but I seldom use them. We must have
society on our own terms, and admit or exclude it on the slightest
cause. I cannot afford to speak much with my friend. If he is
great, he makes me so great that I cannot descend to converse. In
the great days, presentiments hover before me in the firmament. I
ought then to dedicate myself to them. I go in that I may seize
them, I go out that I may seize them. I fear only that I may lose
them receding into the sky in which now they are only a patch of
brighter light. Then, though I prize my friends, I cannot afford to
talk with them and study their visions, lest I lose my own. 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. It is true, next week I shall have
languid moods, when I can well afford to occupy myself with foreign
objects; then I shall regret the lost literature of your mind, and
wish you were by my side again. But if you come, perhaps you will
fill my mind only with new visions, not with yourself but with your
lustres, and I shall not be able any more than now to converse with
you. 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, but which
emanates from them. But they shall not hold me by any relations less
subtile and pure. We will meet as though we met not, and part as
though we parted not.

It has seemed to me lately more possible than I knew, to carry
a friendship greatly, on one side, without due correspondence on the
other. Why should I cumber myself with regrets that the receiver is
not capacious? It never troubles the sun that some of his rays fall
wide and vain into ungrateful space, and only a small part on the
reflecting planet. Let your greatness educate the crude and cold
companion. If he is unequal, he will presently pass away; but thou
art enlarged by thy own shining, and, no longer a mate for frogs and
worms, dost soar and burn with the gods of the empyrean. It is
thought a disgrace to love unrequited. But the great will see that
true love cannot be unrequited. True love transcends the unworthy
object, and dwells and broods on the eternal, and when the poor
interposed mask crumbles, it is not sad, but feels rid of so much
earth, and feels its independency the surer. Yet these things may
hardly be said without a sort of treachery to the relation. 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.