The Author Jeremy Taylor is wonderful at choosing a friend. A summery of his essay, The Choice of Friends will reveal the truth quite very well. Jeremy Taylor will choose for his friend a man, who can advise him, can regulate his conduct and can comfort him in his sorrows. He wishes that his friend should be pleasant to him in private and useful to him in public life. He would not befriend an ignorant and pitiable fool for a smooth chin and a pretty face as some people do. But he will love these handsome and good for nothing fellows with fondness or pity.
Helpful and Useful Friend
Plutarch calls the friendship between worthless persons as lifeless friendship. True and brave friendship exists between worthy persons. In mankind everything that is worth has some measure of usefulness. So, one stands to gain a friend who is excellent in something. It is the brave friend who serves till the end of the friendship. If we accept that we must come to one of the two conclusions i.e. friendship is not the greatest comfort in the world or we must choose a friend who is really helpful and useful.
So, worthiness is the measure of all friendships. It is not necessary that one’s friend should be the wisest man in the world or the best natured man in the world to advise him in private and useful to him in public. It can be considered as a worthy friendship. Otherwise it will not be an excellent friendship. One must always choose a man, who is wise and good, secret and just, as his friend. In certain things one can make allowances. But in such things like honesty and secrecy and truth one must not have allowance. At the same time one need not be ashamed of the imperfection of his friend if he is useful and good.
Fancy can play a part in the selection of friends as it does in other actions, where there is liberty and variety. Sometimes due to fancy partialities and peculiarities enter the relationship between men. That must not be called as friendship. So many factors may please fancy and bring two persons together. An agreement of interests on certain aspects of life or the beauty of the face may please the fancy. It is like striking the flint and kindling a spark. If this relationship is to grow into a friendship it must be fed or encouraged by worthiness. Otherwise, though persons live together and are pleased with one another this relationship cannot be a friendship, but just a pleased fancy.
Benefit and Wisdom
World receives most good from the friendships of worthy persons. So, friends should be chosen among those who can do the greatest benefit. After considering the essential worthiness one can also look to the beauty of the face. This will help to give everyone their just values when the internal beauties are equal. It is like choosing the brightest wheat from the samples of wheat. At the same time one must choose smooth chin. It will be like preferring the gayest flowers to wheat. Jeremy Taylor would rather prefer thyme, rose and marjoram which are medicinal to the prettiest good for nothing tulips. If he spends one hour with Cassandra and Ibrahim Basha for amusement he will live with Plutarch, Livy, Cicero and Polybius. For, they will make him wise and useful to him and others.