Of Friendship is the masterpiece essay nicely written by Francis Bacon who is popularly known as an eminent essayist, thinker, scholar, and philosopher in English literature. He belongs to the Elizabethan age. This essay was first published in 1612 was very brief. The present version published in 1625, is practically a new composition much longer than the original version. The essay was actually written at the request of Bacon’s intimate friend “Toby Matthew”.
About Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon was one of the most remarkable men of Literature and is popularly known as the Father of English Literature Essays. Being an essayist, he wrote a galaxy of essays on different issues. His some world famous essays are – Of Studies, Of Love, Of Hatred, of Death, Of Truth, Of Philosophy, Of Ambition, Of Beauty, and Of Custom and Education.
Analysis Of “Of Friendship”
Francis Bacon begins Of Friendship with an anthropological statement from Aristotle,
“Whatsoever is delighted in Solitude,
is either a wild beast or a god.”
Bacon posits that human nature demands company and social contact. Human beings and anyone who avoids such interactions is not doing justice to his natural state. Bacon does not criticize people who feel shy in a crowd and head for therefore seek isolation in the wild. Such people find great value in peace and it aids their mental processes to contemplate profound issues. Bacon points to philosophers like Epimenides the Canadian, Numa the Roman, Empedocles the Sicilian, and Apollonius of Tyana, who postulated theories unique to their age and contemporaries.
Bacon attempts to differentiate between kinship and the general crowd. For him, there is a big difference between strangers of society and known friends.
“A Person can feel lonely in a crowd too.”
Bacon uses a Latin adage which means that a big city is filled with great solitude. In a large city, people are separated and encamped in distinct areas that are difficult to bring closer together.
These long distances cause separation between friends and relatives. Therefore, for cultivating friendship a small city or town is more conducive. In smaller towns, people live closer by and mingle a lot more regularly. Thus, these small cities have strong and united communities.
According to Bacon, friendship demands the involvement of passions and feelings. They form the foundation of any friendship. Emotions are the threads that bind the hearts together.
A Cure For Ailing Heats
Bacon points to the ailments of the heart that it suffers if it stops or in suffocate. A healthy heart required vigor and the same is provided by an intimate and friendly conversation with one’s pals. Patients take medicines for the liver spleen, lungs, brain, etc, but for the issues of hearts, the love and affection of a friend is the best cure.
Friendship Can be Bought
The elite of society like kings and leaders are really adept at making friends. They understand the value of friendly ties with worthy people. The rich and the powerful often try to buy friendships with noble and influential people through gifts, badges of reverence, and their wealth, but such friends lack emotional attachment with their patron or benefactors.
History Teaches the Toughest
Now Bacon comments on some of his theoretical examples. He says the Roman ruler Sylla gave Pompey the moniker of Great. However, Pompey divided Sylla as the setting sun while calling himself the rising sun of Roman Power.
Similarly, Decimus Brutus gained Julius Ceasar’s friendship and became his most trusted advisor. His blind trust in Brutus caused Caesar’s final downfall.
Bacon also gives the example of Agrippa and Augustus, Tiberius and Sejanus, Septimus Servers, and Plautianus.
In this essay, Bacon addresses
Three fruits of Friendship
The First Fruits of Friendship
The Communication of a man’s self to his friend works two contrary effects, first, it redoubles his joy and second, it cuts his grief in halves. Because there is no doubt when a person imparts his joy to his friends, he joys more than others. However, when he imparts his grief, they become less. It is a fact that bodies become healthier upon natural actions such as joy and happiness.
The Second Fruit of Friendship
As the first fruit is for affection, the second fruit is for the understanding of things from different perspectives. Moreover, a friend is undoubtedly, a witty counselor. Sharing one’s problems with a friend is far more fruitful than a day’s meditation. A friend’s counsel always works when a person himself is not clear with his thoughts.
The Last and Third Fruit of Friendship
The first two fruits help for peace in the affections and support of the judgment. The last fruit is like a pomegranate, full of many kernels. It helps in several ways and has manifold fruits in itself. There are many things that a man cannot do himself, and then a friend is an appropriate alternative.
Thus, Of Friends bring a lot of ease in such difficult situations and helps break barriers of communication. Francis Bacon ends the essay by condemning an unsociable man without friends as an aloof being not fit to belong to society.