On the Ten Rules of Friendship


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  1. That the first law of friendship is, they must neither ask of their friend what is Undecent; nor grant it if themselves be asked.
  2. Let no man choose him for his friend whom it shall be possible for him ever after to hate; for though the society may justly be interrupted, yet love is an immortal thing; and I will never despise him I could once think worthy of my love.
  3. There are two things which a friend can never pardon, a treacherous blow, and the revealing of a secret, because they are against the nature of friendships; they are the adulteries of it, and dissolve the Union.
  4. Never accuse thy friend, nor believe him that does; if thou dost, thou has broken the skin; but he that is angry with every little fault breaks the bones of friendship.
  5. Give thy friend counsel wisely and charitably, but leave him to his liberty whether he will follow thee, or no; and be not angry if thy counsel be rejected: for, advice is no Empire, and he is not my friend that will be my Judge, whether I will or not.
  6. Never be a Judge between thy friends in any matter where both set their hearts upon the victory: if strangers or enemies be litigants, whatever side thou favourest, thou gettest a friend; but when friends are the parties, thou losest one.
  7. Never comport thyself so, as that thy friend can be afraid of thee.…No man is a friend to a Tyrant; but that friendship is Tyranny, where the love is changed into fear, equality into empire, society into obedience; for then all my kindnesses to him also will be no better than flattery.
  8. When you admonish your friend, let it be without bitterness; when you chide him, let it be without reproach; when you praise him let it be with worthy purposes, and for just causes, and in friendly measures.
  9. When all things else are equal, prefer an old friend before a new.…An old friend is like old wine, which when a man hath drunk he doth not desire new, because he saith that the old is better.
  10. After all this, treat thy friend nobly, love to be with him, do to him all the worthinesses of love and fair endearment, according to thy capacity and his; bear with his infirmities till they approach being criminal; but never dissemble with him, never despise him, never leave him.

From The Measures and Offices of Friendship

To begin reading about Jeremy Taylor, please click here.

David Larson teaches in the School of Religion at Loma Linda University.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/731