A friend is a person 
who is "for you" always,
under all circumstances.
He never investigates you.
He likes you just as you are.
He does not alter you.
Whatever kind of coat you are wearing,
whether you have on a dress suit
or a hickory shirt with no collar,
he thinks it's fine.
He likes your moods,
and enjoys your pessimism
as much as your optimism.
He likes your success, and
your failure endears him more.
He is better than a lover,
because he is never jealous.
He wants nothing from you,
except that you be yourself.
He is the one being with whom
you can feel safe.
With him you can utter your heart,
its badness and its goodness.
You don't have to be careful.
In his presences you can be discreet,
which means you can rest.
There are many faithful wives and husbands;
there are few friends.
Friendship is the most admirable,
amazing and rare article
among human beings.
Anybody stands by you when you are right;
a friend stands by you even when
you are wrong.
Like the shade of a great tree
in the noonday heat
is a friend.
Like the home port,
with your country's flag flying,
after long journeys,
is a friend.
A friend is an impregnable
citadel of refuge
in the strife of existence.
It is he that keeps alive
your faith in human nature;
that makes you believe
that it is a good universe.
He is the antidote to despair,
the elixir of hope,
the tonic for depression,
the medicine to cure suicide.
You give to him without reluctance
and borrow from him without embarrassment.
When you are vigorous and spirited
you like to take your pleasures with him;
when you are sick,
you want to see him;
when you are dying
you want him near.

(J L Hirsch, The Rotarian, 1920)

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