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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Prose Works. 1892.

III. Notes Left Over

12. Friendship, (the Real Article)

THOUGH Nature maintains, and must prevail, there will always be plenty of people, and good people, who cannot, or think they cannot, see anything in that last, wisest, most envelop’d of proverbs, “Friendship rules the World.” Modern society, in its largest vein, is essentially intellectual, infidelistic—secretly admires, and depends most on, pure compulsion or science, its rule and sovereignty—is, in short, in “cultivated” quarters, deeply Napoleonic.

“Friendship,” said Bonaparte, in one of his lightning-flashes of candid garrulity, “Friendship is but a name. I love no one—not even my brothers; Joseph perhaps a little. Still, if I do love him, it is from habit, because he is the eldest of us. Duroc? Ay, him, if any one, I love in a sort—but why? He suits me; he is cool, undemonstrative, unfeeling—has no weak affections—never embraces any one—never weeps.”

I am not sure but the same analogy is to be applied, in cases, often seen, where, with an extra development and acuteness of the intellectual faculties, there is a mark’d absence of the spiritual, affectional, and sometimes, though more rarely, the highest æsthetic and moral elements of cognition.