S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.


Tully was the first who observed that friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and dividing of our grief; a thought in which he hath been followed by all the essayers upon friendship that have written since his time. Sir Francis Bacon has finely described other advantages, or, as he calls them, fruits of friendship; and indeed there is no subject of morality which has been better handled and more exhausted than this.

Joseph Addison: Spectator, No. 68.

It is very unlucky for a man to be entangled in a friendship with one who, by these changes and vicissitudes of humour, is sometimes amiable, and sometimes odious; and as most men are at some times in admirable frame and disposition of mind, it should be one of the greatest tasks of wisdom to keep ourselves well when we are so, and never to go out of that which is the agreeable part of our character.

Joseph Addison: Spectator, No. 68.

The mind never unbends itself so agreeably as in the conversation of a well-chosen friend. There is indeed no blessing of life that is any way comparable to the enjoyment of a discreet and virtuous friend. It eases and unloads the mind, clears and improves the understanding, engenders thought and knowledge, animates virtue and good resolutions, soothes and allays the passions, and finds employment for most of the vacant hours of life.

Next to such an intimacy with a particular person, one would endeavour after a more general conversation with such as are able to entertain and improve those with whom they converse, which are qualifications which seldom go asunder.

Joseph Addison: Spectator, No. 93.

Friendship is a strong and habitual inclination in two persons to promote the good and happiness of each other.

Joseph Addison.

Our friends see not our faults, or conceal them, or soften them by their representation.

Joseph Addison.

Such as are treated ill, and upbraided falsely, find out an intimate friend that will hear their complaints, and endeavour to soothe their secret resentments.

Joseph Addison.

A friendship that makes the least noise is very often the most useful; for which reason I should prefer a prudent friend to a zealous one.

Joseph Addison.

Tully has justly exposed a precept, that a man should live with his friend in such a manner that if he became his enemy it should not be in his power to hurt him.

Joseph Addison.

We ought always to make choice of persons of such worth and honour for our friends, that if they should ever cease to be so, they will not abuse our confidence, nor give us cause to fear them as enemies.

Joseph Addison.

Injuries from friends fret and gall more, and the memory of them is not so easily obliterated.

John Arbuthnot.

A similitude of nature and manners in such a degree as we are capable of, must tie the holy knot, and rivet the friendship between us.

Francis Atterbury.

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.

Francis Bacon: Essay XXVIII., Of Friendship.

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.

Francis Bacon: Essay XXVIII., Of Friendship.

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.

Francis Bacon: Essay XXVIII., Of Friendship.

This communicating of a man’s self to his friend works two contrary effects, for it redoubleth joys and cutteth griefs in half: 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.

Francis Bacon: Essay XXVIII., Of Friendship.

Whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and break up in communicating and discoursing with another: he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he marshalleth them more orderly: he seeth how they look when they are turned into words: finally, he waxeth wiser than himself; and that more by an hour’s discourse than by a day’s meditation.

Francis Bacon: Essay XXVIII., Of Friendship.

Heraclitus saith well in one of his enigmas, “Dry light is ever the best,” and certain it is that the light that a man receiveth by counsel from another is drier and purer than that which cometh from his own understanding and judgment; which is ever infused and drenched in his affections and customs. So there is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer; for there is no such flatterer as is a man’s self, and there is no such remedy against flattery of a man’s self as the liberty of a friend.

Francis Bacon: Essay XXVIII., Of Friendship.

A man hath a body, and that body is confined to a place; but where friendship is, all offices of life are, as it were, granted to him and his deputy; for he may exercise them by his friend. How many things are there which a man cannot, with any face or comeliness, say or do himself! A man can scarce allege his own merits with modesty, much less extol them; a man cannot sometimes brook to supplicate, or beg, and a number of the like: but all these things are graceful in a friend’s mouth which are blushing in a man’s own.

Francis Bacon: Essay XXVIII., Of Friendship.

It is better to decide a difference between our enemies than our friends; for one of our friends will most likely become our enemy; but, on the other hand, one of our enemies will probably become our friend.


A long novitiate of acquaintance should precede the vows of friendship.

Lord Bolingbroke.

A likeness of inclinations in every particular is so far from being requisite to form a benevolence in two minds towards each other, as it is generally imagined, that I believe we shall find some of the firmest friendships to have been contracted between persons of different humours; the mind being often pleased with those perfections which are new to it, and which it does not find among its own accomplishments. Besides that, a man in some measure supplies his own defects, and fancies himself at second-hand possessed of those good qualities and endowments which are in the possession of him who in the eye of the world is looked on as his other self.

The most difficult province in friendship is the letting a man see his faults and errors, which should, if possible, be so contrived that he may perceive our advice is given him not so much to please ourselves as for his own advantage. The reproaches therefore of a friend should always be strictly just, and not too frequent.

The violent desire of pleasing in the person reproved, may otherwise change into a despair of doing it, while he finds himself censured for faults he is not conscious of. A mind that is softened and humanized by friendship cannot bear frequent reproaches; either it must sink under the oppression, or abate considerably of the value and esteem it had for him who bestows them.

The proper business of friendship is to inspire life and courage; and a soul thus supported outdoes itself; whereas if it be unexpectedly deprived of these succours it droops and languishes.

Eustace Budgell: Spectator, No. 385.

False friendship is like the ivy, decays and ruins the walls it embraces; but true friendship gives new life and animation to the object it supports.

Robert Burton.

The attachments of mirth are but the shadows of that true friendship of which the sincere affections of the heart are the substance.

Robert Burton.

Friendship ought not to be unripped, but unstitched.


Real friendship is a slow grower, and never thrives unless engrafted upon a stock of known and reciprocal merit.

Lord Chesterfield.

Friendship is the only thing in the world concerning usefulness in which all mankind are agreed.

Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy, and the dividing of our grief.

Friendship hath the skill and observation of the best physician; the diligence and vigilance of the best nurse; and the tenderness and patience of the best mother.

Lord Clarendon.

A man that is fit to make a friend of, must have conduct to manage the engagement, and resolution to maintain it. He must use freedom without roughness, and oblige without design. Cowardice will betray friendship, and covetousness will starve it. Folly will be nauseous, passion is apt to ruffle, and pride will fly out into contumely and neglect.

Jeremy Collier.

Disparity in age seems a greater obstacle to an intimate friendship than inequality of fortune.

Jeremy Collier.

A friend who relates his success talks himself into a new pleasure, and by opening his misfortunes leaves part of them behind him.

Jeremy Collier.

An ambiguous expression, a little chagrin, or a start of passion, is not enough to take leave upon.

Jeremy Collier.

The firmest friendships have been formed in mutual adversity; as iron is most strongly united by the fiercest flame.

Charles Caleb Colton: Lacon.

Our very best friends have a tincture of jealousy even in their friendship; and when they hear us praised by others, will ascribe it to sinister and interested motives if they can.

Charles Caleb Colton: Lacon.

For my own part, I found such friendships, though warm enough in their commencement, surprisingly liable to extinction; and of seven or eight whom I had selected for intimates out of about three hundred, in ten years’ time not one was left me. The truth is that there may be, and often is, an attachment of one boy to another that looks very like friendship, and, while they are in circumstances that enable them mutually to oblige and assist each other, promises well and bids fair to be lasting; but they are no sooner separated from each other, by entering into the world at large, than other connections and new employments, in which they no longer share together, efface the remembrance of what passed in earlier days, and they become strangers to each other forever. Add to this, the man frequently differs so much from the boy—his principles, manners, temper, and conduct undergo so great an alteration—that we no longer recognize in him our old playfellow, but find him utterly unworthy and unfit for the place he once held in our affections.

William Cowper.

It ill corresponds with a profession of friendship to refuse assistance to a friend in the time of need.

George Crabb: Synonymes.

I forsake an argument on which I could delight to dwell; I mean your judgment in your choice of friends.

The noblest part of a friend is an honest boldness in the notifying of errors. He that tells me of a fault, aiming at my good, I must think him wise and faithful: wise, in spying that which I see not; faithful, in a plain admonishment, not tainted with flattery.

Owen Felltham.

I have often contended that attachments between friends and lovers cannot be secured, strong, and perpetually augmenting, except by the intervention of some interest which is not personal, but which is common to them both, and towards which their attentions and passions are directed with still more animation than even towards each other.

John Foster: Journal.

Let friendship creep gently to a height: if it rush to it, it may soon run itself out of breath.

Thomas Fuller.

There can be no inducement to reveal our wants, except to find pity, and by this means relief; but before a poor man opens his mind in such circumstances, he should first consider whether he is contented to lose the esteem of the person he solicits, and whether he is willing to give up friendship to excite compassion. Pity and friendship are passions incompatible with each other; and it is impossible that both can reside in any breast, for the smallest space, without impairing each other. Friendship is made up of esteem and pleasure; pity is composed of sorrow and contempt: the mind may, for some time, fluctuate between them, but it can never entertain both at once.

Oliver Goldsmith: Essays, No. V.

Friendship is like a debt of honour: the moment it is talked of it loses its real name, and assumes the more ungrateful form of obligation. From hence we find that those who regularly undertake to cultivate friendship find ingratitude generally repays their endeavours. That circle of beings which dependence gathers around us is almost ever unfriendly: they secretly wish the terms of their connections more nearly equal; and, where they even have the most virtue, are prepared to reserve all their affections for their patron only in the hour of his decline. Increasing the obligations which are laid upon such minds, only increases their burden: they feel themselves unable to repay the immensity of their debt, and their bankrupt hearts are taught a latent resentment at the hand that is stretched out with offers of service and relief.

Oliver Goldsmith: Essays, No. XXVI.

In all the losses of our friends, says an European philosopher, we first consider how much our own welfare is affected by their departure, and moderate our real grief just in the same proportion.

Oliver Goldsmith: Citizen of the World, Letter XCVI.

There cannot be a more worthy improvement of friendship than in a fervent opposition to the sins of those whom we profess to love.

Bishop Joseph Hall.

What is friendship in virtuous minds but the concentration of benevolent emotions heightened by respect and increased by exercise on one or more objects? Friendship is not a state of feeling whose elements are specifically different from those which compose every other. The emotions we feel towards a friend are the same in kind with those we experience on other occasions; but they are more complex and more exalted. It is the general sensibility to kind and social affections, more immediately directed to one or more individuals, and in consequence of its particular direction giving birth to an order of feeling more vivid and intense than usual, which constitutes friendship.

Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for Dr. Ryland.

He who has made the acquisition of a judicious and sympathizing friend may be said to have doubled his mental resources.

Robert Hall.

It is not merely as a source of pleasure, or as a relief from pain, that virtuous friendship is to be coveted; it is at least as much to be recommended by its utility.

Robert Hall.

The friendship of high and sanctified spirits loses nothing by death but its alloy; failings disappear, and the virtues of those whose “faces we shall behold no more” appear greater and more sacred when beheld through the shades of the sepulchre.

Robert Hall.

Friendship contracted with the wicked decreases from hour to hour, like the early shadow of the morning; but friendship with the virtuous will increase like the shadow of evening, till the sun of life shall set.

Johann Gottfried Herder.

Bear with me, indignant wives—bear with me, if I recall the long-past time when one of the handsomest women I ever saw, took my dearest friend away from me, and destroyed, in one short day, the whole pleasant edifice that we two had been building up together since we were boys at school. I shall never be as fond of any human being again, as I was of that one friend, and, until the beautiful woman came between us, I believe there was nothing in this world that he would not have sacrificed and have done for me. Even while he was courting, I kept my hold on him. Against opposition on the part of his bride and her family, he stipulated bravely that I should be his best man on the wedding-day. The beautiful woman grudged me my one small corner in his heart, even at that time.

Household Words.

Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the declining sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.

It is decreed by Providence that nothing truly valuable shall be obtained in our present state but with difficulty and danger. He that hopes for that advantage which is to be gained from unrestrained communication must sometimes hazard, by unpleasing truths, that friendship which he aspires to merit. The chief rule to be observed in the exercise of this dangerous office, is to preserve it pure from all mixture of interest or vanity; to forbear admonition or reproof when our consciences tell us that they are incited, not by the hopes of reforming faults, but the desire of showing our discernment, or gratifying our own pride by the mortification of another.

Dr. Samuel Johnson: Rambler, No. 40.

When Socrates was building himself a house at Athens, being asked by one that observed the littleness of the design, why a man so eminent would not have an abode more suitable to his dignity? he replied, that he should think himself sufficiently accommodated if he could see that narrow habitation filled with real friends. Such was the opinion of this great master of human life, concerning the infrequency of such a union of minds as might deserve the name of friendship, that among the multitudes whom vanity or curiosity, civility or veneration, crowded about him, he did not expect that very spacious apartments would be necessary to contain all that should regard him with sincere kindness or adhere to him with steady fidelity.

So many qualities are indeed requisite to the possibility of friendship, and so many accidents must concur to its rise and its continuance, that the greatest part of mankind content themselves without it, and supply its place as they can, with interest and dependence.

Dr. Samuel Johnson: Rambler, No. 64.

Friendship, compounded of esteem and love, derives from one its tenderness, and its permanence from the other; and therefore requires not only that its candidates should gain the judgment, but that they should attract the affections; that they should not only be firm in the day of distress, but gay in the hour of jollity; not only useful in exigencies, but pleasing in familiar life; their presence should give cheerfulness as well as courage, and dispel alike the gloom of fear and of melancholy.

To this mutual complacency is generally requisite a uniformity of opinions, at least of those active and conspicuous principles which discriminate parties in government and sects in religion, and which every day operate more or less on the common business of life.

Dr. Samuel Johnson: Rambler, No. 64.

Friendship is seldom lasting but between equals, or where the superiority on one side is reduced by some equivalent advantage on the other. Benefits which cannot be repaid, and obligations which cannot be discharged, are not commonly found to increase affection; they excite gratitude indeed, and heighten veneration, but commonly take away that easy freedom and familiarity of intercourse without which, though there may be fidelity, and zeal, and admiration, there cannot be friendship.

Dr. Samuel Johnson: Rambler, No. 64.

Talking of our feeling for the distresses of others:—JOHNSON: Why, Sir, there is much noise made about it, but it is greatly exaggerated. No, Sir, we have a certain degree of feeling to prompt us to do good; more than that Providence does not intend. It would be misery to no purpose. BOSWELL: But suppose now, Sir, that one of your intimate friends were apprehended for an offence for which he might be hanged. JOHNSON: I should do what I could to bail him, and give him any other assistance: but if he were once fairly hanged I should not suffer. BOSWELL: Would you eat your dinner that day. Sir? JOHNSON: Yes, Sir; and eat it as if he were eating it with me. Why, there’s Baretti, who is to be tried for his life to-morrow, friends have risen up for him on every side; yet if he should be hanged, none of them will eat a slice of pudding the less. Sir, that sympathetic feeling goes a very little way in depressing the mind.

Dr. Samuel Johnson: Boswell’s Life of Johnson.

A long life may be passed without finding a friend in whose understanding and virtue we can equally confide, and whose opinion we can value at once for its justness and sincerity. A weak man, however honest, is not qualified to judge. A man of the world, however penetrating, is not fit to counsel. Friends are often chosen for similitude of manners, and therefore each palliates the other’s failings because they are his own. Friends are tender, and unwilling to give pain; or they are interested, and fearful to offend.

Dr. Samuel Johnson.

A man should keep his friendship in constant repair.

Dr. Samuel Johnson.

Desertion of a calumniated friend is an immoral action.

Dr. Samuel Johnson.

Nothing is more dangerous than a friend without discretion; even a prudent enemy is preferable.

La Fontaine.

Friendship is the shadow of the evening, which strengthens with the setting sun of life.

La Fontaine.

He that has no friend and no enemy is one of the vulgar, and without talents, power, or energy.

Johann Kaspar Lavater.

You may depend upon it that he is a good man whose intimate friends are all good, and whose enemies are characters decidedly bad.

Johann Kaspar Lavater.

Life is no life without the blessing of a friendly and an edifying conversation.

Roger L’Estrange.

It’s uncharitable, unchristian, and inhuman, to pass a peremptory sentence of condemnation upon a try’d friend, where there is any room left for a more favourable judgment.

Roger L’Estrange.

Every fiction since Homer has taught friendship, patriotism, generosity, contempt of death. These are the highest virtues; and the fictions which taught them were, therefore, of the highest, though not of unmixed, utility.

Sir James Mackintosh: Life, vol. ii. chap. i.

It is in the time of trouble, when some to whom we may have looked for consolation and encouragement regard us with coldness, and others, perhaps, treat us with hostility, that the warmth of the friendly heart and the support of the friendly hand acquire increased value and demand additional gratitude.

Bishop Richard Mant.

Whilst you are prosperous, you can number many friends; but when the storm comes, you are left alone.


I have been endeavouring very busily to raise a friendship, which the first breath of any ill-natured by-stander could puff away.

Alexander Pope.

I will not quarrel with the present age: it has done enough for me in making and keeping you two my friends.

Alexander Pope.

I am the better acquainted with you for absence, as men are with themselves for affliction: absence does but hold off a friend to make one see him truly.

Alexander Pope.

I have nothing left but to gather up the reliques of a wreck, and look about me to see how few friends I have.

Alexander Pope: To Swift.

I am a man of desperate fortunes, that is a man whose friends are dead; for I never aimed at any other fortune than in friends.

Alexander Pope: To Swift.

There is nothing that is meritorious but virtue and friendship; and indeed friendship itself is only a part of virtue.

Alexander Pope, on his Death-bed: Dr. S. Johnson’s Life of Pope.

And be sure of this, thou shalt never find a friend in thy young years whose conditions and qualities will please thee after thou comest to more discretion and judgment; and then all thou givest is lost, and all wherein thou shalt trust such a one will be discovered.

Sir Walter Raleigh: Letter to his Son.

Thou mayest be sure that he that will in private tell thee of thy faults is thy friend, for he adventures thy dislike, and doth hazard thy hatred; for there are few men that can endure it; every man for the most part delighting in self-praise, which is one of the most universal follies that bewitcheth mankind.

If thy friends be of better quality than thyself, thou mayest be sure of two things: the first, that they will be more careful to keep thy counsel, because they have more to lose than thou hast; the second, they will esteem thee for thyself, and not for that which thou dost possess.

We learn our virtues from the bosom friends who love us; our faults from the enemy who hates us. We cannot easily discover our real form from a friend. He is a mirror, on which the warmth of our breath impedes the clearness of the reflection.

Jean Paul F. Richter.

There is perhaps no time at which we are disposed to think so highly of a friend as when we find him standing higher than we expected in the esteem of others.

The lightsome countenance of a friend giveth such an inward decking to the house where it lodgeth, as proudest palaces have cause to envy the gilding.

Sir Philip Sidney.

Get not your friends by bare compliments, but by giving them sensible tokens of your love. It is well worth while to learn how to win the heart of a man the right way. Force is of no use to make or preserve a friend, who is an animal that is never caught nor tamed but by kindness and pleasure. Excite them by your civilities, and show them that you desire nothing more than their satisfaction; oblige with all your soul that friend who has made you a present of his own.


Procure not friends in haste, and when thou hast a friend part not with him in haste.


Love is the greatest of human affections, and friendship the noblest and most refined improvement of love.

Robert South.

People young and raw and soft-natured think it an easy thing to gain love, and reckon their own friendship a sure price of any man’s; but when experience shall have shown them the hardness of most hearts, the hollowness of others, and the baseness and ingratitude of almost all, they will then find that a friend is the gift of God, and that he only who made hearts can unite them.

Robert South.

He creates those sympathies and suitablenesses of nature that are the foundation of all true friendship, and by his providence brings persons so affected together.

Robert South.

Many offer at the effects of friendship, but they do not last: they are promising in the beginning, but they fail and jade and tire in the prosecution.

Robert South.

Whoever has a faithful friend to guide him in the dark passages of life, may carry his eyes to another man’s head, and yet see never the worse.

Robert South.

Even reckoning makes lasting friends; and the way to make reckonings even is to make them often.

Robert South.

It is a noble and great thing to cover the blemishes and to excuse the failings of a friend; to draw a curtain before his stains, and to display his perfections; to bury his weaknesses in silence, but to proclaim his virtues upon the house-top.

Robert South.

If matter of fact breaks out with too great an evidence to be denied, why, still there are other lenitives, that friendship will apply before it will be brought to the decretory rigours of a condemning sentence.

Robert South.

Charity itself commands us, where we know no ill, to think well of all; but friendship, that always goes a pitch higher, gives a man a peculiar right and claim to the good opinion of his friend.

Robert South.

All apologies for and alleviations of faults, though they are the heights of humanity, yet they are not the favours, but the duties, of friendship.

Robert South.

This friendship is of that strength as to remain unshaken by such assaults, which yet are strong enough to shake down and annihilate the friendship of little puny minds.

Robert South.

When a man shall have done all that he can to make one his friend, and emptied his purse to create endearment between them, he may, in the end, be forced to write vanity and frustration.

Robert South.

Those, though in highest place, who slight and disoblige their friends, shall infallibly come to know the value of them, by having none when they shall most need them.

Robert South.

An hasty word, or an indiscreet action, does not dissolve the bond, but that friendship may be still sound in heart, and so outgrow and wear off these little distempers.

Robert South.

Joy, like a ray of the sun, reflects with a greater ardour and quickness when it rebounds upon a man from the breast of his friend.

Robert South.

Nature and common reason, in all difficulties where prudence or courage are required, do rather incite us to fly for assistance to a single person than a multitude.

Jonathan Swift.

A good man is the best friend, and therefore soonest to be chosen, longest to be retained, and indeed never to be parted with, unless he ceases to be that for which he was chosen.

Jeremy Taylor.

Consider the rules of friendship, lest justice turn into unmercifulness.

Jeremy Taylor.

He that doth a base thing in zeal for his friend, burns the golden thread that ties their hearts together.

Jeremy Taylor.

Something like home that is not home is to be desired: it is found in the house of a friend.

Sir William Temple.

I want a sofa, as I want a friend, upon which I can repose familiarly. If you can’t have intimate terms and freedom with one and the other, they are of no good.

True friends visit us in prosperity only when invited, but in adversity they come without invitation.


It may be worth noticing as a curious circumstance, when persons past forty before they were at all acquainted form together a very close intimacy of friendship. For grafts of old wood to take, there must be a wonderful congeniality between the trees.

Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacon’s Essay, Of Friendship.

And as we have seen those who have been loving playfellows in childhood, grow up, if they grow up with good, and with like dispositions, into still closer friendship in riper years, so also it is probable that when this our state of childhood shall be perfected, in the maturity of a better world, the like attachment will continue between those companions who have trod together the Christian path to glory and have “taken sweet counsel together, and walked in the house of God as friends.” A change to indifference towards those who have fixed their hearts on the same objects with ourselves during this earthly pilgrimage, and have given and received mutual aid during their course, is a change as little, I trust, to be expected as it is to be desired. It certainly is not such a change as the Scriptures teach us to prepare for.

Richard Whately: View of the Scripture Revelations of a Future State.

I am convinced, on the contrary, that the extension and perfection of friendship will constitute great part of the future happiness of the blest. Many have lived in various and distant ages and countries, perfectly adapted (I mean not merely in their being generally estimable, but in the agreement of their tastes, and suitableness of dispositions) for friendship with each other, but who, of course, could never meet in this world…. I should be sorry to think such a wish absurd and presumptuous, or unlikely to be gratified.

Richard Whately: View of the Scripture Revelations of a Future State.

The instability of friendship furnishes one of the most melancholy reflections suggested by the contemplation of human life; and few of us have travelled far upon our pilgrimage without having had occasion to lament the loss of some companion who has parted from our side upon the first rumour that we have wandered from the fountains of the desert.

Robert A. Willmott.