“He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare,
And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.”
was written in my autograph book when I was eight years old and attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. He is famous for other remarks about friendship and for the very well-known “make a better mouse-trap” quotation.
Researching it today I have discovered that it is in fact from Ali ibn-Abi-Talib: A Hundred Sayings (The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase, Saying and Quotation).
Do as you would be done by is advice on how to treat other people. In Charles Kingsley’s book The Water Babies there are two characters Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby and Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
The same sentiment in other words.
You can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your relatives.
Take turns and
share and share alike are ways of interacting socially, which no-one could be upset about.
To meet someone half way is only fair.
A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Someone who is there at a particular time when help is needed has become a proverb, quite often shortened to the ambiguous phrase a friend in need.
A little help is worth a lot of pity.
Another proverb meaning that if you feel for someone’s need, you ought to do something about it.
Two’s company, three’s a crowd.
Another saying. Sometimes people manage to be friends in groups of three, but it is more complicated. Strangely this is due to the mathematics of the situation. With two people there is one relationship (A-B). With three there are (A-B, B-C and C-A), so the situation is three times more complex and there is the chance that two of the people will exclude the third.
Don’t stand on ceremony.
Advice to a guest that formal manners can be set aside and they may make themselves at home.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to see her, because I don’t like her very much.
Out of favour means that someone is not pleased with someone else.
Present company excepted is a get-out clause after a generalised complaint has been voiced.
To be all over someone like a rash.
A simile describing an excessive show of affection or amount of time spent with another.
A peck on the cheek is a friendly kiss.
Kiss and make up.
Advice after a lovers’ tiff.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Sometimes we don’t realise how much we like someone until they are not around.
Sometimes people join a group of friends. They may ask if they can tag along. If they don’t even ask they could be known as hangers-on.
Worming one’s way in is a more picturesque expression for infiltrating.
Someone, who was away on business once told me, “I have a friend who cleans for me.”
I thought that was a remarkable friend, but it became clear that she was talking about a paid cleaner or the woman who does.
The milk of human kindness is a shortened version of a quotation from Edmund Burke’s A Letter to a Noble Lord. “These gentle historians, on the contrary, dip their pens in nothing but the milk of human kindness.”
A kindred spirit is someone with whom we have much in common –
perhaps someone to whom one could bare one’s soul, have a heart-to-heart or a tête-à-tête.
Just over twenty five years ago I moved with my husband and young son to a place where I knew nobody else. About four years later, looking back on that experience, I wrote the following poem.
Well, here I am, one new face to you –
one unknown quantity, for me – so many of you.
We share no common past –
sorry, do I talk too fast?
A common language doesn’t unite –
I know I don’t pronounce it right.
I grew up with, “Don’t you?”
It’s “Do you not?” to you.
In this place I’ve much to learn,
even indoors, which way to turn.
Where are the shops and what do they sell?
What does it mean when a man rings a bell?
Perhaps you take it all for granted,
but I have recently been transplanted.
You ask, “How are you settling in?”
I’m lost for words, how to begin?
I don’t know your ways.
It’ll take more than days
even a few friends to make.
If I offend, please forgive my mistake.
Are you shy with strangers and those
you meet? All are strangers to one nobody knows.
So thank you for speaking to me when we meet.
Friendly faces brighten your street.
I have much to learn in this place,
Something more than a name for each friendly face.
Each has a story to hide or to tell.
Other places and customs are what I know well.
Many settle for a while: if each brought
Some change for the better, we’d all gain from the thought –
more trees and plants in this locality
or even improvements in personality.
I’ve brought my experiences, both good and bad.
May we share in events, which make us glad.
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There is much in the Bible about friendship. Perhaps the most challenging is what Jesus said in Matthew Chapter 5 verse 43 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”