THE quotations we have given from Plato and others show the very high ideal of friendship which obtained in the old world, and the respect accorded to it. With the incoming of the Christian centuries, and the growth of Alexandrian and Germanic influences, a change began to take place. Woman rose to greater freedom and dignity and influence than before. The romance of love began to centre round her. 1 The days of chivalry brought a new devotion into the world, and the Church exalted the Virgin Mother to the highest place in heaven. Friendship between men ceased to be regarded in the old light--i.e., as a thing of deep feeling, and an important social institution. It was even, here and there, looked on with disfavor--and lapses from the purity or chastity of its standard were readily suspected and violently reprobated. Certainly it survived in the monastic life for a long period;
but though inspiring this to a great extent, its influence was not generally acknowledged. The Family, in the modern and more limited sense of the word (as opposed to the clan), became the recognized unit of social life, and the ideal centre of all good influences (as illustrated in the worship of the Holy Family). At the same time, by this very shrinkage of the Family, as well as by other influences, the solidarity of society became to some extent weakened, and gradually the more communistic forms of the early world gave place to the individualism of the commercial period.
The special sentiment of comrade-love or attachment (being a thing inherent in human nature) remained of course through the Christian centuries, as before, and unaltered--except that being no longer recognized it became a private and personal affair, running often powerfully enough beneath the surface of society, but openly unacknowledged, and so far deprived of some of its dignity and influence. Owing to this fact there is nothing, for this period, to be quoted in the way of general ideal or public opinion on the subject of friendship, and the following sections therefore become limited to the expression of individual sentiments and experiences, in prose and poetry.
[paragraph continues] These we find, during the mediæval period, largely colored by religion; while at the Renaissance and afterwards they are evidently affected by Greek associations.
FOLLOWING are some passages from S. Augustine:--
"In those years when I first began to teach in my native town, I had made a friend, one who through having the same interests was very dear to me, one of my own age, and like me in the first flower of youth. We had grown up together, and went together to school, and used to play together. But he was not yet so great a friend as afterwards, nor even then was our friendship true; for friendship is not true unless Thou cementest it between those who are united to Thee by that 'love which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.' Yet our friendship was but too sweet, and fermented by the pursuit of kindred studies. For I had turned him aside from the true faith (of which as a youth he had but an imperfect grasp) to pernicious and superstitious fables, for which my mother grieved over me. And now in mind he erred with me, and my soul could not endure to be separated from him. But lo, Thou didst follow close behind Thy fugitives, Thou--both God of vengeance and fountain of mercies--
didst convert us by wonderful ways; behold, Thou didst take him out of this life, when scarcely a ear had our close intimacy lasted--sweet to me beyond the sweetness of my whole life. . . .
"No ray of light pierced the gloom with which my heart was enveloped by this grief, and wherever I looked I beheld death. M native place was a torment to me, and my father's house strangely joyless; and whatever I had shared with him, without him was now turned into a huge torture. My longing eyes sought him everywhere, and found him not; and I hated the very places, because he was not in them, neither could they say to me 'he is coming,' as they used to do when he was alive and was absent. And I became a great puzzle to myself, and I asked my soul why it was so sad, and why so disquieted within me; and it knew not what to answer. And if I said 'Trust thou in God,' it rightly did not obey; for that dearest one whom it had lost was both truer and better than that phantasm in which it was bidden to trust. Weeping was the only thing which was sweet to me, and it succeeded my friend in the dearest place in my heart." S. Augustine, Confessions, bk. 4, ch. iv. Trans. by Rev. W. H. Hutchings, M.A.
"I was miserable, and miserable is every soul which is fettered by the love of perishable things; he is torn to pieces when he loses them, and then he perceives how miserable he was in reality while he possessed them. And so was I then,
and I wept most bitterly, and in that bitterness I found rest. Thus was I miserable, and that miserable life I held dearer than my friend. For though I would fain have changed it, yet to it I clung even more than to him; and I cannot say whether I would have parted with it for his sake, as it is related, if true, that Orestes and Pylades were willing to do, for they would gladly have died for each other, or together, for they preferred death to separation from each other. But in me a feeling which I cannot explain, and one of a contradictory nature had arisen; for I had at once an unbearable weariness of living, and a fear of dying. For I believe the more I loved him, the more I hated and dreaded death which had taken him from me, and regarded it as a most cruel enemy; and I felt as if it would soon devour all men, now that its power had reached him. . . . For I marvelled that other mortals lived, because he whom I had loved, without thought of his ever dying, was dead; and that I still lived--I who was another self--,when he was gone, was a greater marvel still. Well said a certain one of his friend, 'Thou half of my soul;' for I felt that his soul and mine were 'one soul in two bodies:' and therefore life was to me horrible, because I hated to live as half of a life; and therefore perhaps I feared to die, lest he should wholly die whom I had loved so greatly." Ibid, ch. vi.
IT is interesting to see, in these extracts from S. Augustine, and in those which follow from Montalembert, the points of likeness and difference between the Christian ideal of love and that of Plato. Both are highly transcendental, both seem to contemplate an inner union of souls, beyond the reach of space and time; but in Plato the union is in contemplation of the Eternal Beauty, while in the Christian teachers it is in devotion to a personal God.
"If inanimate nature was to them an abundant source of pleasure they had a life still more lively and elevated in the life of the heart, in the double love which burned in them--the love of their brethren inspired and consecrated by the love of God." Monks of the West, introdn., ch. v.
"Everything invited and encouraged them to choose one or several souls as the intimate companions of their life. . . . And to prove how little the divine love, thus understood and practised, tends to exclude or chill the love of man for man, never was human eloquence more touching or more sincere than in that immortal elegy by which S. Bernard laments a lost brother snatched by death from the cloister:--'Flow, flow my tears, so eager to flow! he who prevented your flowing is here no more! It is not he who is dead, it is I who now live only to die. Why, O why have we loved, and why have we lost each other.'" Ibid.
"The mutual affection which reigned among the monks flowed as a mighty stream through the annals of the cloister. It has left its trace even in the 'formulas,' collected with care by modern eruditions. . . . The correspondence of the most illustrious, of Geoffrey de Vendôme, of Pierre le Vénérable, and of S. Bernard, give proofs of it at every page." Ibid.
SAINT ANSELM'S letters to brother monks are full of expressions of the same ardent affection. Montalembert gives several examples:--
"Souls well-beloved of my soul," he wrote to two near relatives whom he wished to draw to Bec, "my eyes ardently desire to behold you; my arms expand to embrace you; my lips sigh for your kisses; all the life that remains to me is consumed with waiting for you. I hope in praying, and, I pray in hoping--come and taste how gracious the Lord is--you cannot fully know it while you find sweetness in the world."
"'Far from the eyes, far from the heart,' say the vulgar. Believe nothing of it; if it was so, the farther you were distant from me the cooler my love for you would be; whilst on the contrary, the less I can enjoy your presence, the more the desire of that pleasure burns in the soul of your friend."
To Gondulf, Anselm ------ I put no other or longer salutations at the head of my letter, because I can say nothing more to him whom I love. All who know Gondulph and Anselm know well what this means, and how much love is understood in these two names." . . . "How could I forget thee? Can a man forget one who is placed like a seal upon his heart? In thy silence I know that thou lovest me; and thou also, when I say nothing, thou knowest that I love thee. Not only have I no doubt of thee, but I answer for thee that thou art sure of me. What can my letter tell thee that thou knowest not already, thou who art my second soul? Go into the secret place of thy heart, look there at thy love for me, and thou shalt see mine for thee." . . . "Thou knewest how much I love thee, but I knew it not. He who has separated us has alone instructed me how dear to me thou wert. No, I knew not before the experience of thy absence how sweet it was to have thee, how bitter to have thee not. Thou hast another friend whom thou hast loved as much or more than me to console thee, but I have no longer thee I--thee I thee I thou understandest? and nothing to replace thee. Those who rejoice in the possession of thee may perhaps be offended by what I say. Ah I let them content themselves with their joy, and permit me to weep for him whom I ever love."
THE story of Amis and Amile, a mediæval legend, translated by William Morris (as well as by Walter Pater) from the Bibliotheca Elzeviriana, is very quaint and engaging in its old-world extravagance and supernaturalism:--
Amis and Amile were devoted friends, twins in resemblance and life. On one occasion, having strayed apart, they ceased not to seek each other for two whole years. And when at last they met "they lighted down from their horses, and embraced and kissed each other, and gave thanks to God that they were found. And they swore fealty and friendship and fellowship perpetual, the one to the other, on the sword of Amile, wherein were relics." Thence they went together to the court of "Charles, king of France."
Here soon after, Amis took Amile's place in a tournament, saved his life from a traitor, and won for him the King's daughter to wife. But so it happened that, not long after, he himself was stricken with leprosy and brought to Amile's door. And when Amile and his royal bride knew who it was they were sore grieved, and they brought him in and placed him on a fair bed, and put all that they had at his service. And it came to pass one night "when as Amis and Amile lay in one chamber without other company) that God sent to Amis Raphael his angel, who said to him: 'Sleepest thou, Amis?' And he,
who deemed that Amile had called to him, answered: 'I sleep not, fair sweet fellow.' Then the angel said to him: 'Thou hast answered well, for thou art the fellow of the citizens of heaven, and thou hast followed after job, and Thoby in patience. Now I am Raphael, an angel of our Lord, and am come to tell thee of a medicine for thine healing, whereas he hath heard thy prayers. Thou shalt tell to Amile thy fellow, that he slay his two children and wash thee in their blood, and thence thou shalt get the healing of thy body.'"
Amis was shocked when he heard these words, and at first refused to tell Amile; but the latter had also heard the angel's voice, and pressed him to tell. Then, when he knew, he too was sorely grieved. But at last he determined in his mind not even to spare his children for the sake of his friend, and going secretly to their chamber he slew them, and bringing some of their blood washed Amis--who immediately was healed. He then arrayed Amis in his best clothes and, after going to the church to give thanks, they met Amile's wife who (not knowing all) rejoiced greatly too. But Amile, going apart again to the children's chamber to weep over them, found them at play in bed, with only a thread of crimson round their throats to mark what had been done!
The two knights fell afterwards and were killed in the same battle; "for even as God had joined them together by good accord in their life-days,
so in their death they were not sundered." And a miracle was added, for even when they were buried apart from each other the two coffins leapt together in the night and were found side by side in the morning.
Of this story Mr. Jacobs, in his introduction to William Morris' translation, says: "Amis and Amil were the David and Jonathan, the Orestes and Pylades, of the mediæval world." There were some thirty other versions of the legend "in almost all the tongues of Western and Northern Europe"--their "peerless friendship" having given them a place among the mediæval saints. (See Old French Romances, trans. by William Morris, London, 1896.)
IT may not be out of place here, and before passing on to the times of the Renaissance and Modern Europe, to give one or two extracts relating to Eastern countries. The honor paid to friendship in Persia, Arabia, Syria and other Oriental lands has always been great, and the tradition of this attachment there should be especially interesting to us, as having arisen independently of classic or Christian ideals. The poets of Persia, Saadi and Jalalu-ddin Rumi
[paragraph continues] (13th cent.), Hafiz (14th cent.), Jami (15th cent.), and others, have drawn much of their inspiration from this source; but unfortunately for those who cannot read the originals, their work has been scantily translated, and the translations themselves are not always very reliable. The extraordinary way in which, following the method of the Sufis, and of Plato, they identify the mortal and the divine love, and see in their beloved an image or revelation of God himself, makes their poems difficult of comprehension to the Western mind. Apostrophes to Love, Wine, and Beauty often, with them, bear a frankly twofold sense, material and spiritual. To these poets of the mid-region of the earth, the bitter antagonism between matter and spirit, which like an evil dream has haunted so long both the extreme Western and the extreme Eastern mind, scarcely exists; and even the body "which is a portion of the dustpit" has become perfect and divine.
"Every form you see has its archetype in the placeless world. . . .
From the moment you came into the world of being
A ladder was placed before you that you might escape (ascend) .
First you were mineral, later you turned to plant, p. 101
Then you became an animal: how should this be a secret to you?
Afterwards you were made man, with knowledge, reason, faith;
Behold the body, which is a portion of the dustpit, how perfect it has grown I
When you have travelled on from man, you will doubtless become an angel;
After that you are done with earth: your station is in heaven.
Pass again even from angelhood: enter that ocean,
That your drop may become a sea which is a hundred seas of 'Oman.'"
From the Divani Shamsi Tabriz of Jalalu-ddin Rumi, trans. by R. J. Nicholson.
"Twere better that the spirit which wears not true love as a garment
Had not been: its being is but shame.
Be drunken in love, for love is all that exists. . . .
Dismiss cares and be utterly clear of heart,
Like the face of a mirror, without image or picture.
When it becomes clear of images, all images are contained in it." Ibid.
"Happy the moment when we are seated in the palace, thou and I,
With two forms and w th two figures, but with one soul, thou and I." Ibid.
Once a man came and knocked at the door of his friend.
His friend said, 'Who art thou, O faithful one?'
He said, 'Tis I.' He answered, 'There is no admittance.
There is no room for the raw at my well-cooked feast.
Naught but fire of separation and absence
Can cook the raw one and free him from hypocrisy!
Since thy self has not yet left thee,
Thou must be burned in fiery flames.'
The poor man went away, and for one whole year
Journeyed burning with grief for his friend's absence.
His heart burned till it was cooked; then he went again
And drew near to the house of his friend.
He knocked at the door in fear and trepidation
Lest some careless word should fall from his lips.
His friend shouted, 'Who is that at the door?'
He answered, 'Tis thou who art at the door, O beloved!'
The friend said, 'Since tis I, let me come in,
There is not room for two I's in one house.'
From the Masnavi of Jalalu-ddin Rumi, trans. by E. H. Whinfield.
SOME short quotations here following are taken from Flowers culled from Persian Gardens (Manchester, 1872):--
"Everyone, whether he be abstemious or self-indulgent is searching after the Friend. Every place may be the abode of love, whether it be a mosque or a synagogue. . . . On thy last day, though the cup be in thy hand, thou may'st be borne away to Paradise even from the corner of the tavern." Hafiz.
"I have heard a sweet word which was spoken by the old man of Canaan (Jacob)--'No tongue can express what means the separation of friends.'" Hafiz.
"Neither of my own free will cast I myself into the fire; for the chain of affection was laid upon my neck. I was still at a distance when the fire began to glow, nor is this the moment that it was lighted up within me. Who shall impute it to me as a fault, that I am enchanted by my friend, that I am content in casting myself at his feet?" Saadi.
VON KUPFFER, in his Anthology, Lieblingminne und Freundes liebe in der Weltliteratur, gives the following three poems from Saadi and Hafiz:--
"A youth there was of golden heart and nature,
Who loved a friend, his like in every feature; p. 104
Once, as upon the ocean sailed the pair,
They chanced into a whirlpool unaware.
A fisherman made haste the first to save,
Ere his young life should meet a watery grave;
But crying from the raging surf, he said:
'Leave me, and seize my comrade's hand instead.'
E'en as he spoke the mortal swoon o'ertook him,
With that last utterance life and sense forsook him.
"Learn not love's temper from that shallow pate
Who in the hour of fear forsakes his mate;
True friends will ever act like him above
(Trust one who is experienced in love);
For Sadi knows full well the lover's part,
And Bagdad understands the Arab heart.
More than all else thy loved one shalt thou prize,
Else is the whole world hidden from thine eyes."
Lov'st thou a being formed of dust like thee--
Peace and contentment from thy heart shall flee;
Waking, fair limbs and features shall torment thee;
Sleeping, thy love in dreams shall hold and haunt thee.
Under his feet thy head is bowed to earth;
Compared with him the world's a paltry crust;
If to thy loved one gold is nothing worth,
Why, then to thee is gold no more than dust. p. 105
Hardly a word for others canst thou find,
For no room's left for others in thy mind."
"Dear Friend, since thou hast passed the whole
Of one sweet night, till dawn, with me,
I were scarce mortal, could I spend
Another hour apart from thee.
The fear of death, for all of time
Hath left me since my soul partook
The water of true Life, that wells
In sweet abundance from thy brook."
Hahn in his Albanesische Studien, already quoted (p. 20), gives some of the verses of Neçin or Nesim Bey, a Turco-Albanian poet, of which the following is an example:--
"Whate'er, my friend, or false or true,
The world may tell thee, give no ear,
For to separate us, dear,
The world will say that one is two.
Who should seek to separate us
May he never cease to weep.
The rain at times may cease; but he
In Summer's warmth or Winter's sleep
May he never cease to weep."
BESIDES literature there is no doubt a vast amount of material embedded in the customs and traditions of these countries and awaiting adequate recognition and interpretation.
[paragraph continues] The following quotations may afford some glimpses of interest.
Suleyman the Magnificent.--The Story of Suleyman's attachment to his Vezir Ibrahim is told as follows by Stanley Lane-Poole:--
"Suleyman, great as he was, shared his greatness with a second mind, to which his reign owed much of its brilliance. The Grand Vezir Ibrahim was the counterpart of the Grand Monarch Suleyman. He was the son of a sailor at Parga, and had been captured by corsairs, by whom he was sold to be the slave of a widow at Magnesia. Here he passed into the hands of the young prince Suleyman, then Governor of Magnesia, and soon his extraordinary talents and address brought him promotion. . . . From being Grand Falconer on the accession of Suleyman, he rose to be first minister and almost co-Sultan in 1523.
"He was the object of the Sultan's tender regard: an emperor knows better than most men how solitary is life without friendship and love, and Suleyman loved this man more than a brother. Ibrahim was not only a friend, he was an entertaining and instructive companion. He read Persian, Greek and Italian; he knew how to open unknown worlds to the Sultan's mind, and Suleyman drank in his Vezir's wisdom with assiduity. They lived together: their meals were shared in common; even their beds were in the same room. The Sultan gave his sister in marriage to the sailor's
son, and Ibrahim was at the summit of power." Turkey, Story of Nations series, p. 174.
T. S. BUCKINGHAM, in his "Travels in Assyria, Media and Persia," speaking of his guide whom he had engaged at Bagdad, and who was supposed to have left his heart behind him in that city, says:--
"Amidst all this I was at a loss to conceive how the Dervish could find much enjoyment [in the expedition] while laboring under the strong passion which I supposed he must then be feeling for the object of his affections at Bagdad, whom he had quitted with so much reluctance. What was my surprise, however, on seeking an explanation of this seeming inconsistency, to find it was the son, and not the daughter, of his friend Elias who held so powerful a hold on his heart. I shrank back from the confession as a man would recoil from a serpent on which he had unexpectedly trodden . . . but in answer to enquiries naturally suggested by the subject he declared he would rather suffer death than do the slightest harm to so pure, so innocent, so heavenly a creature as this. . . .
"I took the greatest pains to ascertain by a severe and minute investigation, how far it might be possible to doubt of the purity of the passion by which this Affgan Dervish was possessed, and whether it deserved to be classed with that described
as prevailing among the ancient Greeks; and the result fully satisfied me that both were the same. Ismael was, however, surprised beyond measure when I assured him that such a feeling was not known at all among the peoples of Europe." Travels, &c., 2nd edition, vol. 1, p. 159.
"The Dervish added a striking instance of the force of these attachments, and the sympathy which was felt in the sorrows to which they led, by the following fact from his own history. The place of his residence, and of his usual labor, was near the bridge of the Tigris, at the gate of the Mosque of the Vizier. While he sat here, about five or six years since, surrounded by several of his friends who came often to enjoy his conversation and beguile the tedium of his work, he observed, passing among the crowd, a young and beautiful Turkish boy, whose eyes met his, as if by destiny and they remained fixedly gazing on each other for some time. The boy, after 'blushing like the first hue of a summer morning,' passed on, frequently turning back to look on the person who had regarded him so ardently. The Dervish felt his heart 'revolve within him,' for such was his expression, and a cold sweat came across his brow. He hung his head upon his graving-tool in dejection, and excused himself to those about him by saying he felt suddenly ill. Shortly afterwards the boy returned, and after walking to and fro several times, drawing nearer and nearer, as if
under the influence of some attracting charm, he came up to his observer and said, 'Is it really true, then, that you love me?' 'This,' said Ismael, 'was a dagger in my heart; I could make no reply.' The friends who were near him, and now saw all explained, asked him if there had been any previous acquaintance existing between them. He assured them that they had never seen each other before. 'Then,' they replied, 'such an event must be from God.'
"The boy continued to remain for a while with this party, told with great frankness the name and rank of his parents, as well as the place of his residence, and promised to repeat his visit on the following day. He did this regularly for several months in succession, sitting for hours by the Dervish, and either singing to him or asking him interesting questions, to beguile his labors, until as Ismael expressed himself, 'though they were still two bodies they became one soul.' The youth at length fell sick, and was confined to his bed, during which time his lover, Ismael, discontinued entirely his usual occupations and abandoned himself completely to the care of his beloved. He watched the changes of his disease with more than the anxiety of a parent, and never quitted his bedside, night or day. Death at length separated them; but even when the stroke came the Dervish could not be prevailed on to quit the corpse. He constantly visited the grave that contained the remains of all he held dear on
earth, and planting myrtles and flowers there after the manner of the East, bedewed them daily with his tears. His friends sympathized powerfully in his distress, which he said 'continued to feed his grief' until he pined away to absolute illness, and was near following the fate of him whom he deplored." Ibid, p. 160.
"From all this, added to many other examples of a similar kind, related as happening between persons who had often been pointed out to me in Arabia and Persia, I could no longer doubt the existence in the East of an affection for male youths, of as pure and honorable a kind as that which is felt in Europe for those of the other sex . . . and it would be as unjust to suppose that this necessarily implied impurity of desire as to contend that no one could admire a lovely countenance and a beautiful form in the other sex, and still be inspired with sentiments of the most pure and honorable nature towards the object of his admiration." Ibid, p. 163.
"One powerful reason why this passion may exist in the East, while it is quite unknown in the West, is probably the seclusion of women in the former, and the freedom of access to them in the latter. . . . Had they [the Asiatics] the unrestrained intercourse which we enjoy with such superior beings as the virtuous and accomplished females of our own country they would find nothing in nature so deserving of their love as these." Ibid, p. 165.
89:1 Benecke, Woman in Greek Poetry, traces a germ of this romance even in Greek days.