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The Harm That Is Done By Our Friends
by [?]

Thought lives through the ages, flies about over the earth, and goes on visiting fresh minds, after the mind that gave it birth has gone back to dust and nothingness.

An Italian wrote words to this effect:

“Man is commanded to forgive his enemies. Nowhere is imposed on him the far more difficult task of forgiving his friends.”

Francis Bacon, the philosopher, read in England the words of the Italian and quoted them.

Vincent W. Byars, a very able thinking man of St. Louis, read Bacon’s quotation out there, and now, coming to New York, he says to this writer:

“Why don’t you make an editorial on that old Italian saying quoted by Bacon?”

Italy–England–St. Louis–New York–thus the idea has hopped about, until to-day you get it in this column. A million of you read it, or at least glance at it; and so, if the idea has any value, it will go hopping on all over the earth’s surface long after the steel press that prints this paper shall have crumbled away. —-

How little your ENEMIES can hurt you! How little harm they do, even when they try! You are warned against them and on your guard. The world knows they are your enemies, and discredits what they say.

It is quite easy to forgive our enemies, for they do us comparatively little harm.

But to forgive our friends would be hard indeed if we could realize how much harm they do us. —-


Who makes the drunkard? His enemies? No. The drunkard is made by his friends.

When it is known that he is inclined to drink no enemy is so vicious as to lead him on. No enemy slaps him on the back and begs him to take “just another drink.” No enemy laughs down his poor, feeble attempts at reform. No enemy tells him that it will not hurt him “just this time,” and that he really must not refuse to be a good fellow “just for once.”

The drunkard is MADE a drunkard, is pushed into the last depths of drunkenness, by his friends.

And it is his friends who kick him and leave him and despise him when he has sunk into the mire.

Did ever the drunkard’s enemy hurt him as much as the friend has hurt him? —-


A young man starts out to succeed in life. His enemy may lie about him, may call him worthless. He may think he is hurting him. If there is anything in the young man, the enemy’s lies and discouraging words only spur him on to greater effort. They do him good.

It is the friend that ruins the young man by false, injudicious, unearned praise.

As artist, poet, writer, clerk, or in any other effort, the young man begins his work.

It is his friends who tell him that he is a splendid success, when he needs to be told that, at best, he has some slight chance of success, and that everything depends on desperate effort.

Look at the young, conceited fool who, instead of struggling on, rails at the world, feels that he is not appreciated. He is a failure–a sad, foolish failure. He has been made a failure, not by the attacks of his enemies, but by the more dangerous praise of his friends. —-

The lonely and friendless often succeed amazingly. “Multum incola fuit anima mea” (“My spirit hath been much alone”) said the great Bacon. His mind fed on loneliness, on failure, and even on disgrace.

How much success is due to freedom from that harm which friendship does?

The reader can finish this editorial for himself with hundreds of other arguments. This is enough for a sample.