WITH the Renaissance, and the impetus it gave at that time to the study of Greek and Roman models, the exclusive domination of Christianity and the Church was broken. A literature of friendship along classic lines began to spring up. Montaigne (b. 1533) was saturated with classic learning. His essays were doubtless largely formed upon the model of Plutarch. His friendship with Stephen de la Boëtie was evidently of a romantic and absorbing character. It is referred to in the following passage by William Hazlitt; and the description of it occupies a large part of Montaigne's Essay on Friendship.
MONTAIGNE AND STEPHEN DE LA BOËTIE
"The most important event of his counsellor's life at Bordeaux was the friendship which he there formed with Stephen de la Boëtie, an affection which makes a streak of light in modern biography almost as beautiful as that left us by Lord Brook and Sir Philip Sydney. Our essayist and his friend esteemed, before they saw, each other. La Boëtie had written a little work 1 in which
Montaigne recognized sentiments congenial with his own, and which indeed bespeak a soul formed in the mould of classic times. Of Montaigne, le Boëtie had also heard accounts, which made him eager to behold him, and at length they met at a large entertainment given by one of the magistrates of Bordeaux. They saw and loved, and were thenceforward all in all to each other. The picture that Montaigne in his essays draws of this friendship is in the highest degree beautiful and touching; nor does la Boëtie's idea of what is due to this sacred bond betwixt soul and soul fall far short of the grand perception which filled the exalted mind of his friend. . . . Montaigne married at the age of 33, but as he informs us, not of his own wish or choice. 'Might I have had my wish,' says he, 'I would not have married Wisdom herself if she would have had me.'" Life of Montaigne, by Wm. Hazlitt.
The following is from Montaigne's Essay, bk. I, ch. xxvii:--
"As to marriage, besides that it is a covenant, the making of which is only free, but the continuance in it forced and compelled, having another dependence than that of our own free will, and a bargain moreover commonly contracted to other ends, there happen a thousand intricacies in it to unravel, enough to break the thread, and to divert the current, of a lively affection: whereas friendship
has no manner of business or traffic with anything but itself. . . . For the rest, what we commonly call friends and friendships are nothing but an acquaintance and connection, contracted either by accident or upon some design, by means of which there happens some little intercourse betwixt our souls: but, in the friendship I speak of, they mingle and melt into one piece, with so universal a mixture that there is left no more sign of the seam by which they were first conjoined. If any one should importune me to give a reason why I loved him [Stephen de la Boëtie] I feel it could no otherwise be expressed than by making answer, 'Because it was he; because it was I.' There is, beyond what I am able to say, I know not what inexplicable and inevitable power that brought on this union. We sought one another long before we met, and from the characters we heard of one another, which wrought more upon our affections than in reason mere reports should do, and, as I think, by some secret appointment of heaven; we embraced each other in our names; and at our first meeting, which was accidentally at a great city entertainment, we found ourselves so mutually pleased with one another--we became at once mutually so endeared--that thenceforward nothing was so near to us as one another. . . .
"Common friendships will admit of division, one may love the beauty of this, the good humor of that person, the liberality of a third, the paternal
affection of a fourth, the fraternal love of a fifth, and so on. But this friendship that possesses the whole soul, and there rule s and sways with an absolute sovereignty, can admit of no rival. . . . In good earnest, if I compare all the rest of my life with the four years I had the happiness f to enjoy the sweet society of this excellent man, tis nothing but smoke, but an obscure and tedious night. From the day that I lost him I have only led a sorrowful and languishing life; and the very pleasures that present themselves to me, instead of administering anything of consolation, double my affliction for his loss. We were halves throughout, and to that degree that, methinks, by outliving him I defraud him of his part."
PHILIP SIDNEY, born 1554, was remarkable for his strong personal attachments. Chief among his allies were his school-mate and distant relative, Fulke Greville (born in the same year as himself), and his college friend Edward Dyer (also about his own age). He wrote youthful verses to both of them. The following, according to the fashion of the age, are in the form of an invocation to the pastoral god Pan:--
"Only for my two loves' sake,
In whose love I pleasure take;
Only two do me delight
With their ever-pleasing sight; p. 117
Of all men to thee retaining
Grant me with these two remaining."
An interesting friendship existed also between Sidney and the well-known French Protestant, Hubert Languet--many years his senior--whose conversation and correspondence helped much in the formation of Sidney's character. These two had shared together the perils of the massacre of S. Bartholomew, and had both escaped from France across the Rhine to Germany, where they lived in close intimacy at Frankfort for a length of time; and after this a warm friendship and steady correspondence--varied by occasional meetings--continued between the two until Languet's death. Languet had been Professor of Civil Law at Padua, and from 1550 forwards was recognized as one of the leading political agents of the Protestant Powers.
"The elder man immediately discerned in Sidney a youth of no common quality, and the attachment he conceived for him savored of romance. We possess a long series of Latin letters from Languet to his friend, which breathe the tenderest spirit of affection, mingled with wise counsel and ever watchful thought for the young man's higher interests. . . . There must have been something inexplicably attractive in his [Sidney's]
person and his genius at this time; for the tone of Languet's correspondence can only be matched by that of Shakespeare in the sonnets written for his unknown friend." Sir Philip Sidney, English Men of Letters Series, pp. 27, 28.
Of this relation Fox Bourne says:--
"No love-oppressed youth can write with more earnest passion and more fond solicitude, or can be troubled with more frequent fears and more causeless jealousies, than Languet, at this time 55 years old, shows in his letters to Sidney, now 19."
IT may be appropriate here to introduce two or three sonnets from Michel Angelo (b. 1475). Michel Angelo, one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest, artist of the Italian Renaissance, was deeply imbued with the Greek spirit. His conception of Love was close along the line of Plato's. For him the body was the symbol, the expression, the dwelling place of some divine beauty. The body may be loved, but it should only be loved as a symbol, not for itself. Diotima in the Symposium has said that in our mortal loves we first come to recognize (dimly) the divine form of beauty which is Eternal. Maximus Tyrius (Dissert. xxvi. 8) commenting on this, confirms it, saying that nowhere else but in the human form, "the
loveliest and most intelligent of body creatures," does the light of divine beauty shine so clear. Michel Angelo carried on the conception, gave it noble expression, and held to it firmly in the midst of a society which was certainly willing enough to love the body (or try to love it) merely for its own sake.
And Giordano Bruno (b. 1550) as a later date wrote as follows:--
"All the loves--if they be heroic and not purely animal, or what is called natural, and slaves to generation as instruments in some way of nature--have for object the divinity, and tend towards divine beauty, which first is communicated to, and shines in, souls, and from them or rather through them is communicated to bodies; whence it is that well-ordered affection loves the body or corporeal beauty, insomuch as it is an indication of beauty of spirit." Gli Eroici Furori (dial. iii. 13), trans. L. Williams.
THE labors of Von Scheffler and others have now pretty conclusively established that the love-poems of Michel Angelo were for the most part written to male friends--though this fact was disguised by the pious frauds of his nephew, who edited them in the first instance. Following are three of his sonnets, translated by J. A. Symonds.
[paragraph continues] It will be seen that the last line of the first contains a play on the name of his friend:--
To Tommaso de' Cavalieri:
A CHE PIU DEBB'IO
"Why should I seek to ease intense desire
With still more tears and windy words of grief,
When heaven, or late or soon, sends no relief
To souls whom love hath robed around with fire.
Why need my aching heart to death aspire,
When all must die? Nay death beyond belief
Unto these eyes would be both sweet and brief,
Since in my sum of woes all joys expire!
Therefore because I cannot shun the blow
I rather seek, say who must rule my breast,
Gliding between her gladness and her woe?
If only chains and bands can make me blest,
No marvel if alone and bare I go
An arméd Knight's captive and slave confessed."
NON VIDER GLI OCCHI MIEI
"No mortal thing enthralled these longing eyes
When perfect peace in thy fair face I found;
But far within, where all is holy ground,
My soul felt Love, her comrade of the skies:
For she was born with God in Paradise;
Nor all the shows of beauty shed around p. 121
This fair false world her wings to earth have bound;
Unto the Love of Loves aloft she flies.
Nay things that suffer death quench not the fire
Of deathless spirits; nor eternity
Serves sordid Time, that withers all things rare.
Not love but lawless impulse is desire:
That slays the soul; our love makes still more fair
Our friends on earth, fairer in death on high."
VEGGIO NEL TUO BEL VISO
"From thy fair face I learn, O my loved lord,
That which no mortal tongue can rightly say;
The soul imprisoned in her house of clay,
Holpen by thee to God hath often soared:
And tho' the vulgar, vain, malignant horde
Attribute what their grosser wills obey,
Yet shall this fervent homage that I pay,
This love, this faith, pure joys for us afford.
Lo, all the lovely things we find on earth,
Resemble for the soul that rightly sees,
That source of bliss divine which gave us birth:
Nor have we first fruits or remembrances
Of heaven elsewhere. Thus, loving loyally,
I rise to God and make death sweet by thee."
RICHARD BARNFIELD, one of the Elizabethan singers (b. 1574) wrote a long poem, dedicated to "The Ladie Penelope Rich" and entitled "The Affectionate Shepheard," which he describes as "an imitation of Virgil in the 2nd Eclogue, of Alexis." I quote the first two stanzas:--
"Scarce had the morning starre hid from the light
Heaven's crimson Canopie with stars bespangled,
But I began to rue th' unhappy sight
Of that fair boy that had my heart intangled;
Cursing the Time, the Place, the sense, the sin;
I came, I saw, I view'd, I slippèd in.
"If it be sin to love a sweet-fac'd Boy,
(Whose amber locks trust up in golden tramels
Dangle adown his lovely cheeks with joye
When pearle and flowers his faire haire enamels)
If it be sin to love a lovely Lad,
Oh then sinne I, for whom my soule is sad."
These stanzas, and the following three sonnets (also by Barnfield) from a series addressed to a youth, give a fair sample of a considerable class of Elizabethan verses, in which classic conceits were mingled with a certain amount of real feeling:--
"Two stars there are in one fair firmament
(Of some intitled Ganymede's sweet face)
Which other stars in brightness do disgrace,
As much as Po in cleanness passeth Trent.
Nor are they common-natur'd stars; for why,
These stars when other shine vaile their pure light,
And when all other vanish out of sight
They add a glory to the world's great eie:
By these two stars my life is only led,
In them I place my joy, in them my pleasure,
Love's piercing darts and Nature's precious treasure,
With their sweet food my fainting soul is fed:
Then when my sunne is absent from my sight
How can it chuse (with me) but be darke night?"
"Not Megabetes, nor Cleonymus
(Of whom great Plutarch makes such mention,
Praysing their faire with rare invention),
As Ganymede were halfe so beauteous.
They onely pleased the eies of two great kings,
But all the world at my love stands amazed,
Nor one that on his angel's face hath gazed,
But (ravisht with delight) him presents bring: p. 124
Some weaning lambs, and some a suckling kyd,
Some nuts, and fil-beards, others peares and plums;
Another with a milk-white heyfar comes;
As lately Ægon's man (Damtas) did;
But neither he nor all the Nymphs beside,
Can win my Ganymede with them t' abide."
"Ah no; nor I my selfe: tho' my pure love
(Sweete Ganymede) to thee hath still been pure,
And ev'n till my last gaspe shall aie endure,
Could ever thy obdurate beuty move:
Then cease, oh goddesse sonne (for sure thou art
A Goddesse sonne that can resist desire),
Cease thy hard heart, and entertain love's fire
Within thy sacred breast: by Nature's art.
And as I love thee more than any Creature
(Love thee, because thy beautie is divine,
Love thee, because my selfe, my soule, is thine:
Wholie devoted to thy lovely feature),
Even so of all the vowels, I and U
Are dearest unto me, as doth ensue."
FRANCIS BACON'S essay Of Friendship is known to everybody. Notwithstanding the somewhat cold and pragmatic style and genius of the author, the subject seems to inspire him with a certain enthusiasm; and some good things are said.
"But we may go farther and affirm most truly that it is a mere and miserable solitude to want true friends, without which the world is but a wilderness; and even in this scene also of solitude, whosoever in the frame of his nature and affections is unfit for friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and not from humanity. A principal fruit of friendship is the ease and discharge of the fulness of the heart, which passions of all kinds do cause and induce. We know diseases of stoppings and suffocations are the most dangerous in the body; and it is not much otherwise in the mind: you may take sarza to open the liver, steel to open the spleen, flower of sulphur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain; but no receipt openeth the heart but a true friend, to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or confession. . . .
"Certainly if a man would give it a hard phrase, those that want friends to open themselves unto, are cannibals of their own hearts; but one thing is most admirable (wherewith I will conclude this first fruit of friendship) which is, that this communicating of a man's self to his friend worketh two contrary effects, for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halfs; for there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more, and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less." Essay 27, Of Friendship.
SHAKESPEARE'S sonnets have been much discussed, and surprise and even doubt have been expressed as to their having been addressed (the first 126 of them) to a man friend; but no one who reads them with open mind can well doubt this conclusion; nor be surprised at it, who knows anything of Elizabethan life and literature. "Were it not for the fact," says F. T. Furnivall, "that many critics really deserving the name of Shakespeare students, and not Shakespeare fools, have held the Sonnets to be merely dramatic, I could not have conceived that poems so intensely and evidently autobiographic and self-revealing, poems so one with the spirit and inner meaning of Shakespeare's growth and life, could ever have been conceived to be other than what they are the records of his own loves and fears."
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Some time too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed; p. 127
But they eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."
"A woman's face, with Nature's own hand painted,
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men's eyes, and women's souls amazeth;
And for a woman wert thou first created,
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she pricked thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure."
"To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye, I ey'd ,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters' cold
Have from the forest shook three summers' pride;
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned
In process of the seasons I have seen;
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah! yet doth beauty, like a dial hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived;
For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred,
Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead."
"What's in the brain that ink may character,
Which hath not figur'd to thee my true spirit?
What's new to speak, what new to register,
That may express my love, or thy dear merit?
Nothing, sweet boy; but yet, like prayers divine,
I must each day say o'er the very same,
Counting no old thing old, thou 'mine, I thine,
Even as when first I hallow'd thy fair name.
So that eternal love, in love's fresh case,
Weighs not the dust and injury of age;
Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place, p. 129
But makes antiquity for aye his page;
Finding the first conceit of love there bred,
Where time and outward form would show it dead."
THAT Shakespeare, when the drama needed it, could fully and warmly enter into the devotion which one man may feel for another, as well as into the tragedy which such devotion may entail, is shown in his Merchant of Venice by the figure of Antonio, over whom from the first line of the play ("In sooth I know not why I am so sad") there hangs a shadow of destiny. The following lines are from Act iv. sc. 1:--
Antonio: "Commend me to your honorable wife;
Tell her the process of Antonio's end;
Say how I loved you, speak me fair in death;
And when the tale is told, bid her be judge,
Whether Bassanio had not once a love.
Repent not you that you shall lose your friend,
And he repents not that he pays your debt;
For, if the Jew do cut but deep enough,
I'll pay it instantly with all my heart.
Bassanio: Antonio, I am married to a wife,
Who is as dear to me as life itself;
But life itself, my wife, and all the world,
Are not with me esteem'd above thy life: p. 130
I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all,
Here to this devil, to deliver you."
We may also, in this connection, quote his Henry the Fifth (act iv. scene 6) for the deaths of the Duke of York and the Earl of Suffolk at the battle of Agincourt. Exeter, addressing Henry, says:--
"Suffolk first died; and York, all haggled over,
Comes to him, where in gore he lay insteep'd,
And takes him b y the beard, kisses the gashes,
That bloodily did yawn upon his face;
He cries aloud,--'Tarry, dear cousin Suffolk!
My soul shall thine keep company to heaven:
Tarry, sweet soul, for min; then fly abreast,
As in this glorious and well-foughten field
We kept together in our chivalry!'
Upon these words I came and cheered him up:
He smiled me in the face, raught me his hand,
And, with a feeble gripe, says, 'Dear my Lord,
Commend my service to my sovereign.'
So did he turn, and over Suffolk's neck
He threw his wounded arm, and kissed his lips;
And so, espoused to death, with blood he seal'd
A testament of noble-ending love."
SIR THOMAS BROWNE
[paragraph continues] Shakespeare, with his generous many-sided nature was, as the Sonnets seem to show, and as we should expect, capable of friendship, passionate
friendship, towards both men and women. Perhaps this marks the highest reach of temperament. That there are cases in which devotion to a man-friend altogether replaces the love of the opposite sex is curiously shown by the following extract from Sir Thomas Browne:--
"I never yet cast a true affection on a woman; but I have loved my friend as I do virtue, my soul, my God. . . . I love my friend before myself, and yet methinks I do not love him enough: some few months hence my multiplied affection will make me believe I have not loved him at all. When I am from him, I am dead till I be with him; when I am with him, I am not satisfied, but would be still nearer him. . . . This noble affection falls not on vulgar and common constitutions, but on such as are marked for virtue: he that can love his friend with this noble ardor, will in a competent degree affect all." Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, 1642.
BEAUMONT and Fletcher are two names which time and immortal friendship have sealed in one. Francis Beaumont was son of a judge, and John Fletcher, who was some four or five years the elder of the two, son of a bishop. The one went to Oxford, the other to Cambridge. Both took to writing at an early age; they probably
met at the Mermaid Tavern, about the year 1604, and a friendship sprang up between them of the closest character. "The intimacy which now commenced was one of singular warmth even for that romantic age." (Chambers' Biog. Dict.) For many years they lived in the same house as bachelors, writing plays together, and sharing everything in common. Then in 1613 Beaumont married, but died in 1616. Fletcher lived on unmarried, till 1625, when he died of the plague.
J. St. L. Strachey, in his introduction to the works of Beaumont and Fletcher in the Mermaid Series, says:--
"In the whole range of English literature, search it from Chaucer till to-day, there is no figure more fascinating or more worthy of attention than 'the mysterious double personality' of Beaumont and Fletcher. Whether we bow to the sentiment of the first Editor, who, though he knew the secret of the poets, 'yet since never parted while they lived' conceived it not equitable to 'separate their ashes,' and so refuse to think of them apart; whether we adopt the legendary union of the comrade-poets who dwelt on the Bankside, who lived and worked together, their thoughts no less in common than the cloak and bed o'er which tradition has grown fond; whether
we think of them as two minds so married that to divorce or disunite them were a sacrilegious deed; or whether we yield to the subtler influences of the critical fancy, and delight to discover and explore each from its source, the twin fountains of inspiration that feed the majestic stream of song that flows through 'The Lost Aspatias' tragedy, etc. . . . whether we treat the poets as a mystery to which love and sympathy are the initiation, or as a problem for the tests and reagents of critical analysis to solve, the double name of Beaumont and Fletcher will ever strike the fancy and excite the imagination as does no other name in the annals of English song."
George Varley, in his Introduction to the works of B. and F. (London, E. Moxon, 1839), says:--
"The story of their common life, which scandalizes some biographers, contains much that is agreeable to me, as offering a picture of perfect union whose heartiness excuses its homeliness . . . but when critics would explain away the community of cloak and clothes by accident or slander, methinks their fastidiousness exceeds their good feeling."
Beaumont was a man of great personal beauty and charm. Ben Jonson was much attracted to him. Fletcher delighted to do him honor and to put his name first on their title page; though it is
probable that Beaumont's share in the plays was the lesser one. See following verses by Sir Aston Cokaine in the 1st Collection of their works, published in 1647:--
"In the large book of playes you late did print,
In Beaumont and in Fletcher's name, why in't
Did you not justice? Give to each his due?
For Beaumont of those many writ in few,
And Massinger in other few; the main
Being sole issues of sweet Fletcher's brain.
But how came I, you ask, so much to know?
Fletcher's chief bosome-friend inform'd me so."
The following lines were written by Fletcher on the death of Beaumont:--
"Come, sorrow, come I bring all thy cries,
All thy laments, and all thy weeping eyes!
Burn out, you living monuments of woe!
Sad, sullen griefs, now rise and overflow!
Virtue is dead;
Oh! cruel fate!
All youth is fled;
All our laments too late.
Oh, noble youth, to thy ne'er dying name,
Oh, happy youth, to thy still growing fame,
To thy long peace in earth, this sacred knell
Our last loves ring--farewell, farewell, farewell!
Go, happy soul, to thy eternal birth!
And press his body lightly, gentle Earth."
And among the poems attributed to Francis Beaumont is one generally supposed to be addressed to Fletcher, and speaking of an alliance hidden from the world--of which the last five lines run:--
"If when I die, physicians doubt
What caused my death, and these to view
Of all their judgments, which was true,
Rip up my heart; O, then I fear
The world will see thy picture there."
[paragraph continues] --though it is perhaps more probable that it was addressed to Beaumont by Fletcher, and has accidentally found place among the former's writings.
In the Maid's Tragedy by B. and F. (Act I. Scene i.), we have Melantius speaking about his companion Amintor, a young nobleman:--
"All joys upon him I for he is my friend.
Wonder not that I call a man so young my friend:
His worth is great; radiant he is, and temperate;
And one that never thinks his life his own,
If his friend need it."
THE devotion of Vauvenargues to his friend De Seytres is immortalized by the éloge he wrote on the occasion of the latter's death. V., a youth of noble family, born in S. France in 1715,
entered military service and the regiment of the King at an early age. He seems to have been a gentle, wise character, much beloved by his comrades. During the French invasion of Bohemia, in 174r, when he was about 26, he met Hippolyte de Seytres, who belonged to the same regiment, and who was only 18 years of age. A warm friendship sprang up between the two, but lasted for a brief time only. DeSeytres died during the privations of the terrible Siege of Prague in 1742. Vauvenargues escaped, but with the loss of his health, as well as of his friend. He took to literature, and wrote some philosophic works, and became correspondent and friend of Voltaire, but died in 1747 at the early age of 32. In his éloge he speaks of his friend as follows:--
"By nature full of grace, his movements natural, his manners frank, his features noble and grave, his expression sweet and penetrating; one could not look upon him with indifference. From the first his loveable exterior won all hearts in his favor, and whoever was in the position to know his character could not but admire the beauty of his disposition. Never did he despise or envy or hate any one. He understood all the passions and opinions, even the most singular, that the world blames. They did not surprise him; he
penetrated their cause, and found in his own reflexions the means of explaining them."
"And so Hippolyte," he continues, "I was destined to be the survivor in our friendship--just when I was hoping that it would mitigate all the sufferings and ennui of my life even to my latest breath. At the moment when my heart, full of security, placed blind confidence in thy strength and youth, and abandoned itself to gladness--O Misery! in that moment a mighty hand was extinguishing the sources of life in thy blood. Death was creeping into thy heart, and harboring in thy bosom! . . O pardon me once more; for never canst thou have doubted the depth of my attachment. I loved thee before I was able to know thee. I have never loved but thee . . . I was ignorant of thy very name and life, but my heart adored thee, spoke with thee, saw thee and sought thee in solitude. Thou knewest me but for a moment; and when we did become acquainted, already a thousand times had I paid homage in secret to thy virtues. . . . Shade worthy of heaven, whither hast thou fled! Do my sighs reach thee? I tremble--O abyss profound, O woe, O death, O grave! Dark veil and viewless night, and mystery of Eternity!"
(It is said that Vauvenargues thought more of this memorial inscription to his friend than of any other of his works, and constantly worked at and perfected it.)
WILLIAM PENN (b. 1644) the founder of Pennsylvania, and of Philadelphia, "The city of brotherly love" was a great believer in friendship. He says in his Fruits of Solitude:--
"A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably. . . . In short, choose a friend as thou dost a wife, till death separate you. . . . Death cannot kill what never dies. Nor can spirits ever be divided that love and live in the same Divine Principle; the Root and Record of their friendship. . . . This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal."
IT may be worth while here to insert two passages from Macaulay's History of England. The first deals with the remarkable intimacy between the Young Prince William of Orange and "a gentleman of his household" named Bentinck. William's escape from a malignant attack of small-pox
"was attributed partly to his own singular equanimity, and partly to the intrepid and indefatigable friendship of Bentinck. From the hands of
[paragraph continues] Bentinck alone William took food and medicine--by Bentinck alone William was lifted from his bed and laid down in it. 'Whether Bentinck slept or not while I was ill,' said William to Temple with great tenderness, 'I know not. But this I know, that through sixteen days and nights, I never once called for anything but that Bentinck was instantly at my side.' Before the faithful servant had entirely performed this task, he had himself caught the contagion." (But he recovered.) History of England, ch. vii.
The second passage describes the devotion of the Princess Anne (daughter of James II and afterwards Queen Anne) to Lady Churchill--a devotion which had considerable influence on the political situation.
"It is a common observation that differences of taste, understanding, and disposition are no impediments to friendship, and that the closest intimacies often exist between minds, each of which supplies what is wanting in the other. Lady Churchill was loved and even worshipped by Anne. The princess could not live apart from the object of her romantic fondness. She married, and was a faithful and even an affectionate wife; but Prince George, a dull man, whose chief pleasures were derived from his dinner and his bottle, acquired over her no influence comparable to that exercised by her female friend, and soon gave himself
up with stupid patience to the dominion of that vehement and commanding spirit by which his wife was governed." History of England, ch. vii.
THAT the tradition of Greek thought was not quite obliterated in England by the Puritan movement is shown by the writings of Archbishop Potter, who speaks with approval of friendship as followed among the Greeks, "not only in private, but by the public allowance and encouragement of their laws; for they thought there could be no means more effectual to excite their youth to noble undertakings, nor any greater security to their commonwealths, than this generous passion." He then quotes Athenæus, saying that "free commonwealths and all those states that consulted the advancement of their own honor, seem to have been unanimous in establishing laws to encourage and reward it." John Potter, Antiquities of Greece, 1698.
The eighteenth century however in England, with its leaning towards formalism, was perhaps not favorable to the understanding of the Greek spirit. At any rate there is not much to show in that direction. In Germany the classical tradition in art was revived by Raphael Mengs, while
[paragraph continues] Winckelmann, the art critic, showed himself one of the best interpreters of the Hellenic world that has ever lived. His letters, too, to his personal friends, breathe a spirit of the tenderest and most passionate devotion: "Friendship," he says, "without love is mere acquaintanceship." Winckelmann met, in 1762, in Rome, a young nobleman, Reinhold von Berg, to whom he became deeply attached:--
"Almost as first there sprang up, on Winckelmann's side, an attachment as romantic, emotional and passionate as love. In a letter to his friend he said, 'From the first moment an indescribable attraction towards you, excited by something more than form and feature, caused me to catch an echo of that harmony which passes human understanding and which is the music of the everlasting concord of things. . . . I was aware of the deep consent of our spirits, the instant I saw you., And in a later letter: 'No name by which I might call you would be sweet enough or sufficient for my love; all that I could say would be far too feeble to give utterance to my heart and soul. Truly friendship came from heaven and was not created by mere human impulses. . . . My one friend, I love you more than any living thing, and time nor chance nor age can ever lessen this love." Ludwig Frey, Der Eros und die Kunst, Leipzig, 1898, p. 211.
GOETHE, that universal genius, has some excellent thoughts on this subject; speaking of Winckelmann he says:--
"The affinities of human beings in Antiquity give evidence of an important distinction between ancient and modern times. The relation to women, which among us has become so tender and full of meaning, hardly aspired in those days beyond the limits of vulgar necessity. The relation of parents to their children seems in some respects to have been tenderer. More to them than all other feelings was the friendship between persons of the male sex (though female friends, too, like Chloris and Thyia, were inseparable, even in Hades). In these cases of union between two youths, the passionate fulfilment of loving duties, the joys of inseparableness, the devotion of one for the other, the unavoided companionship in death, fill us with astonishment; indeed one feels oneself ashamed when poets, historians, philosophers and orators overwhelm us with legends, anecdotes, sentiments. and ideas, containing such meaning and feeling. Winckelmann felt himself born for a friendship of this kind--not only as capable of it, but in the highest degree in need of it; he became conscious of his true self only under the form of friendship." Goethe on Winckelmann.
Some of Goethe's poems further illustrate this subject. In the Saki Nameh of his West-Oestlichen Divan he has followed the style of a certain class of Persian love-songs. The following poem is from a Cupbearer to his Master:--
"In the market-place appearing
None thy Poet-fame dispute;
I too gladly hear thy singing,
I too hearken when thou'rt mute.
Yet I love thee, when thou printest
Kisses not to be forgot,
Best of all, for words may perish,
But a kiss lives on in thought.
Rhymes on rhymes fair meaning carry,
Thoughts to think bring deeper joy;
Sing to other folk, but tarry
Silent with thy serving-boy."
JOHANN GOTTFRIED VON HERDER (1744-1803) as theologian, philosopher, friend of Goethe, Court preacher at Weimar, and author of Ideas on the Philosophy of History, has had a great and enduring reputation. The following extract is from the just-mentioned book:--
"Never has a branch born finer fruit than that little branch of Olive, Ivy, and Pine, which was the victor's crown among the Greeks. It gave to the young men good looks, good health, and good spirits; it made their limbs nimble, graceful and well-formed; in their souls it lighted the first sparks of the desire for good name, the love of fame even, and stamped on them the inviolable temper of men who live for their city and their country. Finally, what was most precious, it laid the foundation in their characters of that predilection for male society and friendship which so markedly distinguishes the Greeks. In Greece, woman was not the one prize of life for which the young man fought and strove; the loveliest Helen could only mould the spirit of one Paris, even though her beauty might be the coveted object of all manly valor. The feminine sex, despite the splendid examples of every virtue that it exhibited in Greece, as elsewhere, remained there only a secondary object of the manly life. The thoughts of aspiring youths reached towards something higher. The bond of friendship which they knitted among themselves or with grown men, compelled them into a school which Aspasia herself could hardly have introduced them to; so that in many of the states of Greece manly love became surrounded and accompanied by those intelligent and educational influences, that permanence of character and devotion, whose sentiment
and meaning we read of in Plato almost as if in a romance from some far planet."
SCHILLER, the great German poet, had an enthusiastic appreciation of friendship-love, as can be seen from his poems, "Freundschaft" and "Die Burgschaft," and others of his writings. His tragedy Don Karlos turns upon the death of one friend for the sake of another. The young Infanta of Spain, Don Karlos, alienated by the severities of his father, Phillip II, enters into plots and intrigues, from the consequences of which he is only saved by his devoted companion, the Marquis of Posa, who, by making himself out the guilty party, dies in the Prince's stead. Early in the play (Act I., Scene ii.) the attachment between the two is outlined:--
Karlos. Oh, if indeed 'tis true--
What my heart says--that out of millions, thou
Hast been decreed at last to understand me;
If it be true that Nature all-creative
In moulding Karlos copied Roderick,
And strung the tender chords of our two souls
Harmonious in the morning of our lives;
If even a tear that eases thus my sorrow
Is dearer to thee than my father's favor--
Marquis of Posa. Oh, dearer than the world!
Karlos. So low, so low
Have I now fallen, have become so needy,
That of our early childish years together
I must remind thee--Must indeed entreat
Thy payment of those long-forgotten debts
Which thou, while yet in sailor garb, contractedst;
When thou and I, two boys of venturous habit,
Grew up, and side by side, in brotherhood.
No grief oppressed me then--save that thy spirit
Seemed so eclipsing mine--until at length
I boldly dared to love thee without limit,
Since to be like thee was beyond my dreams.
Then I began, with myriad tenderness
And brother-love most loyal, to torment thee;
And thou, proud heart, returned it all so coldly.
Oft would I stand there--and thou saw'st it not!
And hot and heavy tear-drops from my eyes
Hung, when perchance, thou, Roderick, hastening past me,
Would'st throw thy arms about some lesser playmate.
"Why only these?" I cried, and wept aloud
"Am I not also worthy of thy heart?"
But thou-- p. 147
So cold and serious before me kneeling,
"Homage" thou said'st, "to the King's son is due."
Marquis. A truce, O Prince, to all these tales of childhood,
Thy make my cheeks red even now with shame!
Karlos. And this from thee indeed I did not merit.
Contemn thou could'st, and even rend my heart,
But ne'er estrange. Three times thou did'st repulse
The young Prince from thee; thrice again he came
As suppliant to thee--to entreat thy love,
And urgently to press his love upon thee.
But that which Karlos could not, chance effected.
(The story is then related of how as a boy he took on himself the blame for a misdemeanor of Roderick's, and was severely punished by his royal father)--
Under the pitiless strokes my blood flowed red;
I looked on thee and wept not. But the King
Was angered by my boyish heroism,
And for twelve terrible hours emprisoned me p. 148
In a dark dungeon, to repent thereof.
So proud and fierce was my determination
By Roderick to be beloved. Thou cam'st,
And loudly weeping at my feet did'st fall,
"Yes, yes," did'st cry, "my pride is overcome,
One day, when thou art king, I will repay thee."
Marquis (giving his hand.)
I will so, Karl. My boyish affidavit
As man I now renew; I will repay;
My hour will also strike, perchance.
(The hour comes, when Roderick takes on himself the blame for an intrigue of Don Karlos with the Queen and William of Orange. He writes a letter to the latter, and allows it purposely to fall into the King's hands. He is assassinated by order of the King; and the following speech over his body (Act V., Scene iv.) is made to the King by Don Karlos, who thenceforth abjures all love except for the memory of his friend.)
Karlos (to the King.)
The dead man was my friend. And would you know
Wherefore he died? He perished for my sake.
Yes, Sire, for we were brothers I brothers by p. 149
A nobler chain than Nature ever forges.
Love was his glorious life-career. And love
For me, his great, his glorious death. Mine was he.
What time his lowly bearing puffed you up,
What time his gay persuasive eloquence
Made easy sport of your proud giant-spirit.
You thought to dominate him quite-and were
The obedient creature of his deeper plans.
That I am prisoner, is the schemed result
Of his great friendship. To achieve my safety
He wrote that letter to the Prince of Orange--
O God! the first, last falsehood of his life.
To rescue me he went to meet the Fate
Which he has suffered. With your gracious favors
You loaded him. He died for me. On him
You pressed the favors of your heart and Friendship.
Your sceptre was the plaything of his hands;
He threw it from him, and for me he died.
THERE is little, I believe, in the historical facts relating to Don Karlos to justify this tale of friendship; but there seems great probability that the incidents were transferred by
[paragraph continues] Schiller from the history of Frederick the Great, of Prussia, when a youth at his father's court. The devotion that existed between the young Frederick and Lieut. Von Katte, the anger and severities of the royal parent, the supposed conspiracy, the imprisonment of Frederick, and the execution of Von Katte, are all reproduced in Schiller's play.
Von Katte was a young man of good family and strange but charming personality, who, as soon as he came to Court, being three or four years older than Frederick, exercised a strong attraction upon the latter. The two were always together, and finally, enraged by the harshness of the royal father, they plotted flight to England. They were arrested, and Katte, accused of treason to the throne, was condemned to death. That this sentence was pronounced, not so much for political reasons, as in order to do despite to the affection between him and the Crown Prince, is strongly suggested by the circumstances. Von Katte was sent from a distance in order to be executed at Cüstrin, in the fortress where the Prince was confined, and with instructions that the latter should witness his execution. Carlyle, in his life of Frederick II, says:--
"Katte wore, by order, a brown dress exactly like the Prince's; the Prince is already brought down into a lower room to see Katte as he passes (to see Katte die has been the royal order, but they smuggled that into abeyance), and Katte knows he shall see him." [Besserer, the chaplain of the Garrison, quoted by Carlyle, describing the scene as they approached the Castle, says:--'Here, after long wistful looking about, he did get sight of his beloved Jonathan at a window in the Castle, from whom, he, with politest and most tender expression, speaking in French, took leave, with no little emotion of sorrow.] "Pardonnez moi, mon cher Katte," cried Friedrich. "La mort est douce pour un si aimable Prince," said Katte, and fared on; round some angle of the Fortress it appears; not in sight of Friedrich, who sank in a faint, and had seen his last glimpse of Katte in this world."
Life of Frederick II, Vol. 2, p. 489.
Frederick's grief and despair were extreme for a time. Then his royal father found him a wife, in the Princess Elizabeth of Brunswick, whom he obediently married, but in whom he showed little interest--their meetings growing rarer and rarer till at last they became merely formal. Later, and after his accession, he spent most of his leisure time when away from the cares of war and political reorganization, at his retreat at Sans-Souci, afar
from feminine society (a fact which provoked Voltaire's sarcasms), and in the society of his philosophic and military friends, to many of whom he was much attached. Von Kupffer has unearthed from his poems printed at Sans-Souci in 1750 the following, addressed to Count Von Kaiserlinck, a favorite companion, on whom he bestowed the by-name of Cesarion:--
"Cesarion, let us keep unspoiled
Our faith, and be true friends,
And pair our lives like noble Greeks,
And to like noble ends!
That friend from friend may never hide
A fault through weakness or thro' pride,
Or sentiment that cloys.
Thus gold in fire the brighter glows,
And far more rare and precious grows,
Refined from all alloys."
There is also in the same collection a long and beautiful ode "To the shades of Cesarion," of
which the following are a few lines:--
"O God! how hard the word of Fate!
Cesarion dead! His happy days
Death to the grave has consecrate.
His charm I mourn and gentle grace.
He's dead--my tender, faithful mate!
A thousand daggers pierce my heart; p. 153
It trembles, torn with grief and pain.
He's gone! the dawn comes not again!
Thy grave's the goal of my heart's strife;
Holy shall thy remembrance be;
To thee I poured out love in life;
And love in death I vow to thee."
ELISAR VON KUPFFER, in the introduction to his Anthology, from which I have already quoted a few extracts, speaks at some length on the great ethical and political significance of a loving comradeship. He says:--
"In open linkage and attachment to each other ought youth to rejoice in youth. In attachment to another, one loses the habit of thinking only of self. In the love and tender care and instruction that the youth receives from his lover he learns from boyhood up to recognize the good of self-sacrifice and devotion; and in the love which he shows, whether in the smaller or the greater offerings of an intimate friendship, he accustoms himself to self-sacrifice for another. In this way the young man is early nurtured into a member of the Community--to a useful member and not one who has self and only self in mind. And how much closer thus does unit grow to unit, till indeed the whole comes to feel itself a whole! . . .
"The close relationship between two men has this further result--that folk instinctively and
not without reason judge of one from the other; so that should the one be worthy and honorable, he naturally will be anxious that the other should not bring a slur upon him. Thus there arises a bond of moral responsibility with regard to character. And what can be of more advantage to the community than that the individual members should feel responsible for each other? Surely it is just that which constitutes national sentiment, and the strength of a people, namely, that it should form a complete whole in itself, where each unit feels locked and linked with the others. Such unions may be of the greatest social value, as in the case of the family. And it is especially in the hour of danger that the effect of this unity of feeling shows itself; for where one man stands or falls with another, where glad self-sacrifice, learnt in boyhood, becomes so to speak, a warm-hearted instinct, there is developed a power of incalculable import, a power that folly alone can hold cheap. Indeed, the unconquerable force of these unions has already been practically shown, as, in the Sacred Band of the Thebans who fought to its bitter end the battle of Leuctra; and, psychologically speaking, the explanation is most natural; for where one person feels himself united, body and soul to another, is it not natural that he should put forth all his powers in order to help the other, in order to manifest his love for him in every way? If any one cannot or will not perceive this we may indeed well doubt either
the intelligence of his head or the morality of his heart."
FRIEDRICH RUCKERT (1788-1866), Professor of Oriental Literature in Berlin, wrote verses in memory of his friend Joseph Kopp:--
"How shall I know myself without thee,
Who knew myself as part of thee?
I only know one half is vanished,
And half alone is left, of me.
Never again my proper mind
I'll know; for thee I'll never find.
"Never again, out there in space,
I'll find thee; but here, deep within.
I see, tho' not in dreams, thy face;
My waking eyes thy presence win,
And all my thought and poesy
Are but my offering to thee.
. . . . . . .
"My Jonathan, now hast thou fled,
And I to weep thy loss remain;
If David's harp might grace my hands
O might it help to ease my pain!
My friend, my Joseph, true of faith,
In life so loved--so loved in death."
And the following are by Joseph Kitir, an Austrian poet:--
"Not where breathing roses bless
The night, or summer airs caress;
Not in Nature's sacred grove;
No, but at a tap-room table,
Sitting in the window-gable
Did we plight our troth of love.
"No fair lime tree's roofing shade
By the spring wind gently swayed
Formed for us a bower of bliss;
No, stormbound, but love-intent,
There against the damp wall bent
We two bartered kiss for kiss.
"Therefore shalt thou, Love so rare
(Child of storms and wintry air),
Not like Spring's sweet fragrance fade.
Even in sorrow thou shalt flourish,
Frost shall not make thee afraid,
And in storms thou shalt not perish."
COUNT AUGUST VON PLATEN (born at Ansbach in Bavaria, 1796) was in respect of style one of the most finished and perfect of German poets. His nature (which was refined and self-controlled) led him from the first to form the most romantic attachments with men. He freely and openly expressed his feelings in his verses; of which a great number are practically
love-poems addressed to his friends. They include a series of twenty-six sonnets to one of his friends, Karl Theodor German. Of these Raffalovich says (Uranisme, Lyons, 1896, p. 351):--
"These sonnets to Karl Theodor German are among the most beautiful in German literature. Platen in the sonnet surpasses all the German poets, including even Goethe. In them perfection of form, and poignancy or wealth of emotion are illustrated to perfection. The sentiment is similar to that of the sonnets of Shakespeare (with their personal note), and the form that of the Italian or French sonnet."
Platen, however, was unfortunate in his affairs of the heart, and there is a refrain of suffering in his poems which comes out characteristically in the following sonnet:--
"Since pain is life and life is only pain,
Why he can feel what I have felt before,
Who seeing joy sees it again no more
The instant he attempts his joy to gain;
Who, caught as in a labyrinth unaware,
The outlet from it never more can find;
Whom love seems only for this end to bind--
In order to hand over to Despair;
Who prays each dizzy lightning-flash to end him,
Each star to reel his thread of life away p. 158
With all the torments which his heart are rending;
And envies even the dead their pillow of clay,
Where Love no more their foolish brains can steal.
He who knows this, knows me, and what I feel."
One of Platen's sonnets deals with an incident, referred to in an earlier page, namely, the death of the poet Pindar in the theatre, in the arms of his young friend Theoxenos:--
"Oh I when I die, would I might fade away
Like the pale stars, swiftly and silently,
Would that death's messenger might come to me,
As once it came to Pindar--so they say.
Not that I would in Life, or in my Verse,
With him, the great Incomparable, compare;
Only his Death, my friend, I ask to share:
But let me now the gracious tale rehearse.
Long at the play, hearing sweet Harmony,
He sat; and wearied out at last, had lain
His cheek upon his dear one's comely knee;
Then when it died away--the choral strain--
He who thus cushioned him said: Wake and come!
But to the Gods above he had gone home."
THE correspondence of Richard Wagner discloses the existence of a very warm friendship between him and Ludwig II, the young king of Bavaria. Ludwig as a young man appears
to have been a very charming personality, good looking, engaging and sympathetic; every one was fond of him. Yet his tastes led him away from "society," into retirement, and the companionship of Nature and a few chosen friends--often of humble birth. Already at the age of fifteen he had heard Lohengrin, and silently vowed to know the composer. One of his first acts when he came to the throne was to send for Wagner; and from the moment of their meeting a personal intimacy sprang up between them, which in due course led to the establishment of the theatre at Bayreuth, and to the liberation of Wagner's genius to the world. Though the young king at a later time lost his reason--probably owing to his over-sensitive emotional nature--this does not detract from the service that he rendered to Music by his generous attachment. How Wagner viewed the matter may be gathered from Wagner's letters.
"He, the king, loves me, and with the deep feeling and glow of a first love; he perceives and knows everything about me, and understands me as my own soul. He wants me to stay with him always. . . . I am to be free and my own master, not his music-conductor--only my very self and his friend." Letters to Mme. Eliza Wille, 4th May, 1864.
"It is true that I have my young king who genuinely adores me. You cannot form an idea of our relations. I recall one of the dreams of my youth. I once dreamed that Shakespeare was alive: that I really saw and spoke to him: I can never forget the impression that dream made on me. Then I would have wished to see Beethoven, though he was already dead. Something of the same kind must pass in the mind of this lovable man when with me. He says he can hardly believe that he really possesses me. None can read without astonishment, without enchantment, the letters he writes to me." Ibid, 9th Sept., 1864.
"I hope now for a long period to gain strength again by quiet work. This is made possible for me by the love of an unimaginably beautiful and thoughtful being: it seems that it had to be even so greatly gifted a man and one so destined for me, as this young King of Bavaria. What he is to me no one can imagine. My guardian! In his love I completely rest and fortify myself towards the completion of my task." Letter to his brother-in-law, 10th Sept., 1865.
BELOW are some of the actual letters of Ludwig to Wagner. (See Prof. C. Beyer's book, Ludwig II, König von Bayern.)
"Dear Friend, O I see clearly that your sufferings are deep-rooted! You tell me, beloved friend, that you have looked deep into the hearts
of men, and seen there the villainy and corruption that dwells within. Yes, I believe you, and I can well understand that moments come to you of disgust with the human race; yet always will we remember (will we not, beloved?) that there are yet many noble and good people, for whom it is a real pleasure to live and work. And yet you say you are no use for this world!--I pray you, do not despair, your true friend conjures you; have Courage: 'Love helps us to bear and suffer all things, love brings at last the victor's crown!' Love recognizes, even in the most corrupt, the germ of good; she alone overcomes all!--Live on, darling of my soul. I recall your own words to you. To learn to forget is a noble work!--Let us be careful to hide the faults of others; it was for all men indeed that the Saviour died and suffered. And now, what a pity that 'Tristan' can not be presented to-day; will it perhaps to-morrow? Is there any chance?
Unto death, your faithful friend,
15th May, 186S.
"Purschling, 4th Aug., 1865.
"My one, my much-loved Friend,--You express to me your sorrow that, as it seems to you, each one of our last meetings has only brought pain and anxiety to me.--Must I then remind my loved one of Brynhilda's words?--Not only in gladness and enjoyment, but in suffering also Love makes man blest. . . . When does my
friend think of coming to the 'Hill-Top,' to the woodland's aromatic breezes?--Should a stay in that particular spot not altogether suit, why, I beg my dear one to choose any of my other mountain-cabins for his residence.--What is mine is his! Perhaps we may meet on the way between the Wood and the World, as my friend expressed it! . . . To thee I am wholly devoted; for thee, for thee only to live!
Unto death your own, your faithful
"Hohenschwangau, 2nd Nov., 1865.
"My one Friend, my ardently beloved! This afternoon, at 3.30, I returned from a glorious tour in Switzerland! How this land delighted me!--There I found your dear letter; deepest warmest thanks for the same. With new and burning enthusiasm has it filled me; I see that the beloved marches boldly and confidently forward, towards our great and eternal goal.
"All hindrances I will victoriously like a hero overcome. I am entirely at thy disposal; let me now dutifully prove it.--Yes, we must meet and speak together. I will banish all evil clouds; Love has strength for all. You are the star that shines upon my life, and the sight of you ever wonderfully strengthens me.--Ardently I long for you, O my presiding Saint, to whom I pray! I should be immensely pleased to see my friend here in about a week; oh, we have plenty to say!
[paragraph continues] If only I could quite banish from me the curse of which you speak, and send it back to the deeps of night from whence it sprang!--How I love, how I love you, my one, my highest good! . . . "My enthusiasm and love for you are boundless. Once more I swear you faith till death!
Ever, ever your devoted
IN these letters we see chiefly, of course, the passionate sentiments of which Ludwig was capable; but that Wagner fully understood the feeling and appreciated it may be gathered from various passages in his published writings--such as the following, in which he seeks to show how the devotion of comradeship became the chief formative influence of the Spartan State:--
"This beauteous naked man is the kernel of all Spartanhood; from genuine delight in the beauty of the most perfect human body--that of the male--arose that spirit of comradeship which pervades and shapes the whole economy of the Spartan State: This love of man to man, in its primitive purity, proclaims itself as the noblest and least selfish utterance of man's sense of beauty, for it teaches man to sink and merge his entire self in the object of his affection"; and again:--"The higher element of that love of man to man consisted even in this: that it excluded the motive
of egoistic physicalism. Nevertheless it not only included a purely spiritual bond of friendship, but this spiritual friendship was the blossom and the crown of the physical friendship. The latter sprang directly from delight in the beauty, aye in the material bodily beauty of the beloved comrade; yet this delight was no egoistic yearning, but a thorough stepping out of self into unreserved sympathy with the comrade's joy in himself; involuntarily betrayed by his life-glad beauty-prompted bearing. This love, which had its basis in the noblest pleasures of both eye and soul--not like our modern postal correspondence of sober friendship, half business-like, half sentimental--was the Spartan's only tutoress of youth, the never-ageing instructress alike of boy and man, the ordainer of common feasts and valiant enterprises; nay the inspiring helpmeet on the battlefield. For this it was that knit the fellowship of love into battalions of war, and fore-wrote the tactics of death-daring, in rescue of the imperilled or vengeance for the slaughtered comrade, by the infrangible law of the soul's most natural necessity." The Art-work of the Future, trans. by W. A. Ellis.
FRNST HÆCKEL, in his "Visit to Ceylon,", describes the devotion entertained for him by his Rodiya serving-boy at Belligam, near Galle. The keeper of the rest-house at Belligam was
an old and philosophically-minded man, whom Hæckel, from his likeness to a well known head, could not help calling by the name of Socrates. And he continues:--
"It really seemed as though I should be pursued by the familiar aspects of classical antiquity from the first moment of my arrival at my idyllic home. For, as Socrates led me up the steps of the open central hall of the rest-house, I saw before me, with uplifted arms in an attitude of prayer, a beautiful naked brown figure, which could be nothing else than the famous statue of the 'Youth adoring.' How surprised I was when the graceful bronze statue suddenly came to life, and dropping his arms fell on his knees, and, after raising his black eyes imploringly to mine, bowed his handsome face so low at my feet that his long black hair fell on the floor! Socrates informed me that this boy was a Pariah, a member of the lowest caste, the Rodiyas, who had lost his parents at an early age, so he had taken pity on him. He was told off to my exclusive service, had nothing to do the livelong day but obey my wishes, and was a good boy, sure to do his duty punctually. In answer to the question what I was to call my new body-servant, the old man informed me that his name was Gamameda. Of course I immediately thought of Ganymede, for the favorite of Jove himself could not have been more finely made, or have had limbs more beautifully proportioned
and moulded. As Gamameda also displayed a peculiar talent as butler, and never allowed any one else to open me a cocoa-nut or offer me a glass of palm wine, it was no more than right that I should dub him Ganymede.
"Among the many beautiful figures which move in the foreground of my memories of the paradise of Ceylon, Ganymede remains one of my dearest favorites. Not only did he fulfil his duties with the greatest attention and conscientiousness, but he developed a personal attachment and devotion to me which touched me deeply. The poor boy, as a miserable outcast of the Rodiya caste, had been from his birth the object of the deepest contempt of his fellow-men, and subjected to every sort of brutality and ill-treatment. With the single exception of old Socrates, who was not too gentle with him either, no one perhaps had ever cared for him in any way. He was evidently as much surprised as delighted to find me willing to be kind to him from the first. . . . I owe many beautiful and valuable contributions to my museum to Ganymede's unfailing zeal and dexterity. With the keen eye, the neat hand, and the supple agility of the Cinghalese youth, he could catch a fluttering moth or a gliding fish with equal promptitude; and his nimbleness was really amazing, when, out hunting, he climbed the tall trees like a cat, or scrambled through the densest jungle to recover the prize I had killed."
[paragraph continues] My Visit to Ceylon, by Ernst Hæckel, p. 200. (Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1883).
Hæckel stayed some weeks in and around Belligain; and continues (p. 272):--
"On my return to Belgium I had to face one of the hardest duties of my whole stay in Ceylon: to tear myself away from this lovely spot of earth, where I had spent six of the happiest and most interesting weeks in my life. . . . But hardest of all was the parting from my faithful Ganymede; the poor lad wept bitterly, and implored me to take him with me to Europe. In vain had I assured him that it was impossible, and told him of our chill climate and dull skies. He clung to my knees and declared that he would follow me unhesitatingly wherever I would take him. I was at last almost obliged to use force to free myself from his embrace. I got into the carriage which was waiting, and as I waved a last farewell to my good brown friends, I almost felt as if I had been expelled from Paradise."
WE may close this record of celebrated Germans with the name of K. H. Ulrichs, a Hanoverian by birth, who occupied for a long time an official position in the revenue department at Vienna, and who became well known about 1866 through his writings on the subject of friendship.
[paragraph continues] He gives, in his pamphlet Memnon, an account of the "story of his heart" in early years. In an apparently quite natural way, and independently of outer influences, his thoughts had from the very first been of friends of his own sex. At the age of 14, the picture of a Greek hero or god, a statue, seen in a book, woke in him the tenderest longings.
"This picture (he says), put away from me, as it was, a hundred times, came again a hundred times before the eyes of my soul. But of course for the origin of my special temperament it is in no way responsible. It only woke up what was already slumbering there--a thing which might have been done equally well by something else."
From that time forward the boy worshipped with a kind of romantic devotion elder friends, young men in the prime of early manhood; and later still his writings threw a flood of light on the "urning" temperament--as he called it--of which he was himself so marked an example.
Some of Ulrich's verses are scattered among his prose writings:--
To his friend Eberhard
"And so farewell! perchance on Earth
God's finger--as 'twixt thee and me-- p. 169
Will never make that wonder clear
Why thus It drew me unto thee."
"It was the day of our first meeting--
That happy day, in Davern's grove--
I felt the Spring wind's tender greeting,
And April touched my heart to love.
Thy hand in mine lay kindly mated;
Thy gaze held mine quite fascinated--
So gracious wast, and fair!
Thy glance my life-thread almost severed;
My heart for joy and gladness quivered,
Nigh more than it could bear.
There in the grove at evening's hour
The breeze thro' budding twigs hath ranged,
And lips have learned to meet each other,
And kisses mute exchanged."
Memnon, p. 23.
T0 return to England. With the beginning of the 1 9th century we find two great poets, Byron and Shelley, both interested in and even writing in a romantic strain on the subject in question.
Byron's attachment, when at Cambridge, to Eddleston the chorister, a youth two years younger than himself, is well known. In a youthful letter
to Miss Pigot he, Byron, speaks of it in enthusiastic terms:--
"Trin. Coll., Camb., July 5th, 1807.
"I rejoice to hear you are interested in my protégé; he has been my almost constant associate since October, 1805, when I entered Trinity College. His voice first attracted my attention, his countenance fixed it, and his manners attached me to him for ever. He departs for a mercantile house in town in October, and we shall probably not meet till the expiration of my minority, when I shall leave to his decision either entering as a partner through my interest or residing with me altogether. Of course he would in his present frame of mind prefer the latter, but he may alter his opinion previous to that period; however, he shall have his choice. I certainly love him more than any human being, and neither time nor distance have had the least effect on my (in general) changeable disposition. In short we shall put Lady E. Butler and Miss Ponsonby to the blush, Pylades and Orestes out of countenance, and want nothing but a catastrophe like Nisus and Euryalus to give Jonathan and David the 'go by.' He certainly is more attached to me than even I am in return. During the whole of my residence at Cambridge we met every day, summer and winter, without passing one tiresome moment, and separated each time with increasing reluctance."
Eddleston gave Byron a cornelian (brooch-pin) which Byron prized very much, and is said to have kept all his life. He probably refers to it, and to the inequality of condition between him and Eddleston, in the following stanza from his poem, The Adieu, written about this time:--
"And thou, my friend, whose gentle love
Yet thrills my bosom's chords,
How much thy friendship was above
Description's power of words!
Still near my breast thy gift I wear
Which sparkled once with Feeling's tear,
Of Love, the pure, the sacred gem;
Our souls were equal, and our lot
In that dear moment quite forgot;
Let pride alone condemn."
THE Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby mentioned in the above letter were at that time living at Llangollen, in Wales, and were known as the "Ladies of Llangollen," their romantic attachment to each other having already become proverbial. When Miss Ponsonby was seventeen, and Lady E. Butler some twenty years older, they had run away from their respective and respectable homes in Ireland, and taking a cottage at Llangollen lived there, inseparable
companions, for the rest of their lives. Letters and diaries of contemporary celebrities mention their romantic devotion. (The Duke of Wellington was among their visitors.) Lady Eleanor died in 18 29, at the age of ninety; and Miss Ponsonby only survived her "beloved one" (as she always called her) by two years.
AS to the allusion to Nisus and Euryalus, Byron's paraphrase of the episode (from the 9th book of Virgil's Æneid) serves to show his interest in it:--
"Nisus, the guardian of the portal, stood,
Eager to gild his arms with hostile blood;
Well-skilled in fight the quivering lance to wield,
Or pour his arrows thro' the embattled field:
From Ida torn, he left his Sylvan cave,
And sought a foreign home, a distant grave.
To watch the movements of the Daunian host,
With him Euryalus sustains the post;
No lovelier mien adorn'd the ranks of Troy,
And beardless bloom yet graced the gallant boy;
Tho' few the seasons of his youthful life,
A yet a novice in the martial strife,
Twas his, with beauty, valor's gifts to share--
A soul heroic, as his form was fair.
These burn with one pure flame of generous love; p. 173
In peace, in war, united still they move;
Friendship and glory form their joint reward;
And now combined they hold their nightly guard."
[The two then carry out a daring raid on the enemy, in which Euryalus is slain. Nisus, coming to his rescue is--after performing prodigies of valor--slain too.]
"Thus Nisus all his fond affection proved--
Dying, revenged the fate of him he loved;
Then on his bosom sought his wonted place,
And death was heavenly in his friend's embrace!
Celestial pair! if aught my verse can claim,
Wafted on Time's broad pinion, yours is fame!
Ages on ages shall your fate admire,
No future day shall see your names expire,
While stands the Capitol, immortal dome!
And vanquished millions hail their empress, Rome!"
BYRON'S "Death of Calmar and Orla: an Imitation of Ossian," is, like his "Nisus and Euryalus," a story of two hero-friends who, refusing to be separated, die together in battle:--
"In Morven dwelt the chief; a beam of war to Fingal. His steps in the field were marked in blood. Lochlin's sons had fled before his angry spear; but mild was the eye of Calmar;
soft was the flow of his yellow locks: they streamed like the meteor of the night. No maid was the sigh of his soul: his thoughts were given to friendship--to dark-haired Orla, destroyer of heroes! Equal were their swords in battle; but fierce was the pride of Orla--gentle alone to Calmar. Together they dwelt in the cave of Oithona." [Orla is sent by the King on a mission of danger amid the hosts of the enemy. Calmar insists on accompanying him, in spite of all entreaties to the contrary. They are discovered. A fight ensues, and they are slain.] "Morn glimmers on the hills: no living foe is seen; but the sleepers are many; grim they lie on Erin. The breeze of ocean lifts their locks; yet they do not awake. The hawks scream above their prey.
"Whose yellow locks wave o'er the breast of a chief? Bright as the gold of the stranger they mingle with the dark hair of his friend. 'Tis Calmar: he lies on the bosom of Orla. Theirs is one stream of blood. Fierce is the look of gloomy Orla. He breathes not, but his eye is still aflame. It glares in death unclosed. His hand is grasped in Calmar's; but Calmar lives! He lives, though low. 'Rise,' said the King, 'Rise, son of Mora: 'tis mine to heal the wounds of heroes. Calmar may yet bound on the hills of Morven.'
"'Never more shall Calmar chase the deer of Morven with Orla,' said the hero. 'What were
the chase to me alone? Who should share the spoils of battle with Calmar? Orla is at rest. Rough was thy soul, Orla! Yet soft to me as the dew of morn. It glared on others in lightning: to me a silver beam of night. Bear my sword to blue-eyed Mora; let it hang in my empty hall. It is not pure from blood: but it could not save Orla. Lay me with my friend. Raise the song when I am dead.'" [So they are laid by the stream of Lubar, and four grey stones mark the dwelling of Orla and Calmar.]
Byron's friendships, in fact, with young men were so marked that Moore in his Life and Letters of Lord Byron seems to have felt it necessary to mention and, to some extent, to explain them:--
"During his stay in Greece (in 1810) we find him forming one of those extraordinary friendships-if attachment to persons so interior to himself can be called by that name--of which I have already mentioned two or three instances in his younger days, and in which the pride of being a protector and the pleasure of exciting gratitude seem to have contributed to his mind the chief, pervading charm. The person whom he now adopted in this manner, and from similar feelings to those which had inspired his early attachments to the cottage boy near Newstead and the young chorister at Cambridge, was a Greek youth, named Nicolo Giraud, the son, I believe, of a widow lady
in whose house the artist Lusieri lodged. In this young man he seems to have taken the most lively and even brotherly interest."'
SHELLEY, in his fragmentary Essay on Friendship--stated by his friend Hogg to have been written "not long before his death" says:--
"I remember forming an attachment of this kind at school. I cannot recall to my memory the precise epoch at which this took place; but I imagine it must have been at the age of eleven or twelve. The object of these sentiments was a boy about my own age, of a character eminently generous, brave and gentle, and the elements of human feeling seemed to have been, from his birth, genially compounded within him. There was a delicacy and a simplicity in his manners, inexpressibly attractive. It has never been my fortune to meet with him since my schoolboy days; but either I confound my present recollections with the delusions of past feelings, or he is now a source of honor and utility to every one around him. The tones of his voice were so soft and winning, that every word pierced into m heart; and their pathos was so deep that in listening to him the tears have involuntarily gushed from my eyes. Such was the being for whom I first experienced the sacred sentiments of friendship."
[paragraph continues] It may be noted that Hogg takes the reference as to himself!
WITH this passage we may compare the following from Leigh Hunt:--
"If I had reaped no other benefit from Christ Hospital, the school would be ever dear to me from the recollection of the friendships I formed in it, and of the first heavenly taste it gave me of that most spiritual of the affections. . . . If ever I tasted a disembodied transport on earth, it was in those friendships which I entertained at school, before I dreamt of any maturer feeling. I shall never forget the impression it made on me. I loved my friend for his gentleness, his candor, his truth, his good repute, his freedom even from my own livelier manner, his calm and reasonable kindness. It was not any particular talent that attracted me to him, or anything striking whatsoever. I should say, in one word, it was his goodness. I doubt whether he ever had a conception of a tithe of the regard and respect I entertained for him; and I smile to think of the perplexity (though he never showed it) which he probably felt sometimes at my enthusiastic expressions; for I thought him a kind of angel. It is no exaggeration to say, that, take away the unspiritual part of it--the genius and the knowledge--and there is no height of conceit indulged in by the most romantic character in Shakespeare, which surpassed
what I felt towards the merits I ascribed to him, and the delight which I took in his society. With the other boys I played antics, and rioted in fantastic jests; but in his society, or whenever I thought of him, I fell into a kind of Sabbath state of bliss; and I am sure I could have died for him.
"I experienced this delightful affection towards three successive school-fellows, till two of them had for some time gone out into the world and forgotten me; but it grew less with each, and in more than one instance became rivalled by a new set of emotions, especially in regard to the last, for I fell in love with his sister--at least, I thought so. But on the occurrence of her death, not long after, I was startled at finding myself assume an air of greater sorrow than I felt, and at being willing to be relieved by the sight of the first pretty face that turned towards me. . . . My friend, who died himself not long after his quitting the University, was of a German family in the service of the court, very refined and musical." Autobiography of Leigh Hunt, Smith and Elder, 1870, p. 75.
ON this subject of boy-friendships and their intensity Lord Beaconsfield has, in Coningsby, a quite romantic passage, which notwithstanding its sentimental setting may be worth quoting; because, after all, it signalizes an often forgotten or unconsidered aspect of school-life:--
"At school, friendship is a passion. It entrances the being; it tears the soul. All loves of after-life can never bring its rapture, or its wretchedness; no bliss so absorbing, no pangs of jealousy or despair so crushing and so keen! What tenderness and what devotion; what illimitable confidence, infinite revelations of inmost thoughts; what ecstatic present and romantic future; what bitter estrangements and what melting reconciliations; what scenes of wild recrimination, agitating explanations, passionate correspondence; what insane sensitiveness, and what frantic sensibility; what earthquakes of the heart and whirlwinds of the soul are confined in that simple phrase, a schoolboy's friendship!"
EDWARD FITZGERALD, the interpreter and translator of Omar Khayyam, was a man of the deepest feeling and sensibility, with a special gift for friendship. Men like Tennyson and Thackeray declared that they loved him best of all their friends. He himself said in one of his letters, "My friendships are more like loves." A. C. Benson, his biographer, writes of him:--
"He was always taking fancies, and once under the spell he could see no faults in his friend. His friendship for Browne arose out of one of these romantic impulses. So too his affection for Posh, the boatman; for Cowell, and for Alfred Smith,
the farmer of Farlingay and Boulge, who had been his protégé as a boy. He seems to have been one of those whose best friendships are reserved for men; for though he had beloved women friends like Mrs. Cowell and Mrs. Kemble, yet these are the exceptions rather than the rule. The truth is, there was a strong admixture of the feminine in Fitzgerald's character." Fitzgerald, English Men of Letters Series, ch. viii.
The friendship with Posh, the fisherman, at Lowestoft and at Woodbridge, lasted over many years. Fitzgerald had a herring-lugger built for him, which he called the Meum and Tuum, and in which they had many a sail together. Benson, speaking of their first meeting, says:--
"In the same year  came another great friendship. He made the acquaintance of a stalwart sailor named Joseph Fletcher, commonly called Posh. It was at Lowestoft that he was found, where Fitzgerald used, as he wrote in 1850, 'to wander about the shore at night longing for some fellow to accost me who might give some promise of filling up a very vacant place in my heart.' Posh had seen the melancholy figure wandering about, and years after, when Fitz used to ask him why he had not been merciful enough to speak to him, Posh would reply that he had not thought of it becoming. Posh was, in Fitzgerald's own words, 'a man of the finest Saxon
type, with a complexion, vif, mâle et flamboyant, blue eyes, a nose less than Roman, more than Greek, and strictly auburn hair that woman might sigh to possess.' He was too, according to Fitz, 'a a man of simplicity of soul, justice of thought, tenderness of nature, a gentleman of Nature's grandest type.' Fitz became deeply devoted to this big-handed, soft-hearted, grave fellow, then 24 years of age."
Ibid., ch. iii.
ALFRED TENNYSON, in his great poem, In Memoriam, published about the middle of the 19th century, gives superb expression to his love for his lost friend, Arthur Hallam. Reserved, dignified, in sustained meditation and tender sentiment, yet half revealing here and there a more passionate feeling; expressing in simplest words the most difficult and elusive thoughts (e.g., Cantos 128 and 129), as well as the most intimate and sacred moods of the soul; it is indeed a great work of art. Naturally, being such, it was roundly abused by the critics on its first appearance. The Times solemnly rebuked its language as unfitted for any but amatory tenderness, and because young Hallam was a barrister spent much wit upon the poet's "Amaryllis of the Chancery bar." Tennyson himself, speaking of In Memoriam,
mentioned (see Memoir by his son, p. 800) "the number of shameful letters of abuse he had received about it!"
"Tears of the widower, when he sees,
A late-lost form that sleep reveals,
And moves his doubtful arms, and feels
Her place is empty, fall like these;
Which weep a loss for ever new,
A void where heart on heart reposed;
And, where warm hands have prest and closed,
Silence, till I be silent too.
Which weep the comrade of my choice,
An awful thought, a life removed,
The human-hearted man I loved,
A spirit, not a breathing voice.
Come Time, and teach me, many years,
I do not suffer in a dream;
For now so strange do these things seem,
Mine eyes have leisure for their tears;
My fancies time to rise on wing,
And glance about the approaching sails,
As tho' they brought but merchant's bales,
And not the burden that they bring."
"Tis well, 'tis something, we may stand
Where he in English earth is laid,
And from his ashes may be made
The violet of his native land.
'Tis little; but it looks in truth
As if the quiet bones were blest
Among familiar names to rest
And in the places of his youth.
Come then, pure hands, and bear the head
That sleeps, or wears the mask of sleep,
And come, whatever loves to weep,
And hear the ritual of the dead.
Ah yet, ev'n yet, if this might be,
I, falling on his faithful heart,
Would breathing thro' his lips impart
The life that almost dies in me:
That dies not, but endures with pain,
And slowly forms the firmer mind,
Treasuring the look it cannot find,
The words that are not heard again."
"If, in thy second state sublime,
Thy ransom'd reason change replies
With all the circle of the wise,
The perfect flower of human time; p. 184
And if thou cast thine eyes below,
How dimly character'd and slight,
How dwarf'd a growth of cold and night,
How blanch'd with darkness must I grow!
Yet turn thee to the doubtful shore,
Where thy first form was made a man;
I loved thee, Spirit, and love, nor can
The soul of Shakspeare love thee more."
"Dear friend, far off, my lost desire,
So far, so near, in woe or weal;
O loved the most when most I feel
There is a lower and a higher;
Known and unknown, human, divine!
Sweet human hand and lips and eye,
Dear heavenly friend that canst not die,
Mine, mine, for ever, ever, mine!
Strange friend, past, present and to be;
Loved deeplier, darklier understood;
Behold I dream a dream of good
And mingle all the world with thee."
"Thy voice is on the rolling air;
I hear thee where the waters run;
Thou standest in the rising sun,
And in the setting thou art fair. p. 185
What are thou then? I cannot guess;
But tho' I seem in star and flower
To feel thee some diffusive power,
I do not therefore love thee less:
My love involves the love before;
My love is vaster passion now;
Tho' mixed with God and Nature thou,
I seem to love thee more--and more.
Far off thou art, but ever nigh;
I have thee still, and I rejoice;
I prosper, circled with thy voice;
I shall not lose thee tho' I die."
FOLLOWING is a little poem by Robert Browning, entitled May and Death, which may well be placed near the stanzas of In Memoriam:--
"I wish that when you died last May,
Charles, there had died along with you
Three parts of Spring's delightful things;
Ay, and for me the fourth part too.
A foolish thought, and worse, perhaps!
There must be many a pair of friends
Who arm-in-arm deserve the warm
Moon-births and the long evening-ends. p. 186
So, for their sake, be May still May!
Let their new time, as mine of old,
Do all it did for me; I bid
Sweet sights and sounds throng manifold.
Only one little sigh, one plant
Woods have in May, that starts up green
Save a sole streak which, so to speak,
Is Spring's blood, split its leaves between--
That, they might spare; a certain wood
Might miss the plant; their loss were small;
But I--whene'er the leaf grows there--
It's drop comes from my heart, that's all."
BETWEEN Browning and Whitman we may insert a few lines from R. W. Emerson:--
"The only way to have a friend is to be one. . . . 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. . . . 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." Essay on Friendship.
These also from Henry D. Thoreau:--
"No word is oftener on the lips of men than Friendship, and indeed no thought is more familiar to their aspirations. All men are dreaming of it, and its drama, which is always a tragedy, is enacted daily. It is the secret of the universe. You may thread the town, you may wander the country, and none shall ever speak of it, yet thought is everywhere busy about it, and the idea of what is possible in this respect affects our behavior towards all new men and women, and a great many old ones. Nevertheless I can remember only two or three essays on this subject in all literature. . . . To say that a man is your friend, means commonly no more than this, that he is not your enemy. Most contemplate only what would be the accidental and trifling advantages of friendship, as that the friend can assist in time of need, by his substance, or his influence, or his counsel; but he who foresees such advantages in this relation proves himself blind to its real advantage, or indeed wholly inexperienced in the relation itself. . . . What is commonly called Friendship is only a little more honor among rogues. But sometimes we are said to love another, that is, to stand in a true relation to him, so that we give the best to, and receive the best from, him. Between whom there is hearty truth there is love; and in
proportion to our truthfulness and confidence in one another our lives are divine and miraculous, and answer to our ideal. There are passages of affection in our intercourse with mortal men and women, such as no prophecy had taught us to expect, which transcend our earthly life, and anticipate heaven for us." From On the Concord River.
I CONCLUDE this collection with a few quotations from Whitman, for whom "the love of comrades" perhaps stands as the most intimate part of his message to the world--"Here the frailest leaves of me and yet my strongest lasting." Whitman, by his great power, originality and initiative, as well as by his deep insight and wide vision, is in many ways the inaugurator of a new era to mankind; and it is especially interesting to find that this idea of comradeship, and of its establishment as a social institution, plays so important a part with him. We have seen that in the Greek age, and more or less generally in the ancient and pagan world, comradeship was an institution; we have seen that in Christian and modern times, though existent, it was socially denied and ignored, and indeed to a great extent fell under a kind of ban; and now Whitman's attitude
towards it suggests to us that it really is destined to pass into its third stage, to arise again, and become a recognized factor of modern life, and even in a more extended and perfect form than at first. 1
"It is to the development, identification, and general prevalence of that fervid comradeship (the adhesive love, at least rivalling the amative love hitherto possessing imaginative literature, if not going beyond it), that I look for the counterbalance and offset of our materialistic and vulgar American Democracy, and for the spiritualization thereof. Many will say it is a dream, and will not follow my inferences; but I confidently expect a time when there will be seen, running like a half-hid warp through all the myriad audible and visible worldly interests of America, threads of manly friendship, fond and loving, pure and sweet, strong and lifelong, carried to degrees hitherto unknown--not only giving tone to individual character, and making it unprecedently emotional, muscular, heroic, and refined, but having deepest relations to general politics. I say Democracy
infers such loving comradeship, as its most inevitable twin or counterpart, without which it will be incomplete, in vain, and incapable of perpetuating itself." Democratic Vistas, note.
The three following poems are taken from Leaves of Grass:--
"Recorders ages hence,
Come, I will take you down underneath this impassive exterior, I will tell you what to say of me,
Publish my name and hang up my picture as that of the tenderest lover,
The friend the lover's portrait, of whom his friend his lover was fondest,
Who was not proud of his Songs, but of the measureless ocean of love within him, and freely pour'd it forth,
Who often walk'd lonesome walks thinking of his dear friends, his lovers,
Who pensive away from one he lov'd often lay sleepless and dissatisfied at night,
Who knew too well the sick, sick dread lest the one he lov'd might secretly be indifferent to him,
Whose happiest days were far away through fields, in woods, on hills, he and another wandering hand in hand, they twain apart from other men,
Who oft as he saunterd the streets curv'd with his p. 191 arm the shoulder of his friend, while the arm
of his friend rested upon him also."
Leaves of Grass, 1891, 2 edn., p. 102.
"When I heard at the close of the day how my name had been receiv'd with plaudits in the capitol, still it was not a happy night for me that follow'd,
And else when I carous'd, or when my plans were accomplish'd, still I was not happy,
But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of perfect health, refresh'd, singing, inhaling the ripe breath of autumn,
When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and disappear in the morning light,
When I wander'd alone over the beach, and undressing bathed, laughing with the cool waters, and saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my dear friend my lover was on his way coming, O then I was happy,
O then each breath tasted sweeter, and all that day my food nourish'd me more, and the beautiful day pass'd well,
And the next came with equal and with the joy, next at evening came my friend,
And that night while all was still I heard the waters roll slowly continuously up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands as directed to me whispering to congratulate me, p. 192
For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover in the cool night,
In the stillness in the autumn moonbeams his face was inclined toward me,
And his arm lay lightly around my breast--and that night I was happy."
Ibid, p. 103.
"I hear it was charged against me that I sought to destroy institutions,
But really I am neither for nor against institutions,
(What indeed have I in common with them? or what with the destruction of them?)
Only I will establish in the Mannahatta and in every city of these States inland and seaboard,
And in the fields and woods, and above every keel little or large that dents the water,
Without edifices or rules or trustees or any argument,
The institution of the dear love of comrades."
Ibid, p. 107.
113:1 "De la Servitude Volontaire."
189:1 As Whitman in this connection (like Tennyson in connection with In Memoriam) is sure to be accused of morbidity, it may be worth while to insert the following note from In re Walt Whitman, p. 115, "Dr. Drinkard in 1870, when Whitman broke down from rupture of a small blood-vessel in the brain, wrote to a Philadelphia doctor detailing Whitman's case, and stating that he was a man 'with the most natural habits, bases, and organisation he had ever seen."'