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Sir Francis Bacon

Essay 27

Of Frendship .
1 IT had beene hard for him that spake it, to haue put more Truth and vntruth together, in few Words, then in that speech; Whosoeuer is delighted in solitude, is either a wilde Beast, or a God. For it is most true, that a Naturall and secret Hatred, and Auersation towards Society, in any Man, hath somewhat of the sauage Beast; But it is most Vntrue, that it should haue any Character, at all, of the Diuine Nature; Except it proceed, not out of a Pleasure in Solitude, but out of a Loue and desire, to sequester a Mans Selfe, for a higher Conuersation: Such as is found, to haue been falsely and fainedly, in some of the Heathen; As Epimenides the Candian, Numa the Roman, Empedocles the Scicilian, and Apollonius of Tyana; And truly and really, in diuers of the Ancient Hermits, and Holy Fathers of the Church. But little doe Men perceiue, what Solitude is, and how farre it extendeth. For a Crowd is not Company; And Faces are but a Gallery of Pictures; And Talke but a Tinckling Cymball, where there is no Loue. The Latine Adage meeteth with it a little; Magna Ciuitas, Magna solitudo; Because in a great Towne, Friends are scattered; So that there is not that Fellowship, for the most Part, which is in lesse Neighbourhoods. But we may goe further, and affirme most truly; That it is a meere, and miserable Solitude, to want true Friends; without which the World is but a Wildernesse: And euen in this sense also of Solitude, whosoeuer in the Frame of his Nature and Affections, is vnfit for Friendship, he taketh it of the Beast, and not from Humanity.
2 A principall Fruit of Friendship, is the Ease and Discharge f the Fulnesse and Swellings of the Heart, which Passions of all kinds doe cause and induce. We know Diseases of Stoppings, and Suffocations, are the most dangerous in the body; And it is not much otherwise in the Minde: You may take Sarza to open the Liuer; Steele to open the Spleene; Flower of Sulphur for the Lungs; Castoreum for the Braine; but no Receipt openeth the Heart, But a true Friend, to whom you may impart, Griefes, Ioyes, Feares, Hopes, Suspicions, Counsels, and whatsoeuer lieth vpon the Heart, to oppresse it, in a kind of Ciuill Shrift or Confession.
3 It is a Strange Thing to obserue, how high a Rate, Great Kings and Monarchs, do set vpon this Fruit of Friendship, wherof we speake: So great, as they purchase it, many times, at the hazard of their owne Safety, and Greatnesse. For Princes, in regard of the distance of their Fortune, from that of their Subiects & Seruants, cannot gather this Fruit; Except (to make Themselues capable thereof) they raise some Persons, to be as it were Companions, and almost Equals to themselues, which many times sorteth to Inconuenience. The Moderne Languages giue vnto such Persons, the Name of Fauorites, or Priuadoes; As if it were Matter of Grace, or Conuersation. But the Roman Name attaineth the true Vse, and Cause thereof; Naming them Participes Curarum; For it is that, which tieth the knot. And we see plainly, that this hath been done, not by Weake and Passionate Princes onely, but by the Wisest, and most Politique that euer reigned; Who haue oftentimes ioyned to themselues, some of their Seruants; Whom both Themselues haue called Frends; And allowed Others likewise to call them in the same manner; Vsing the Word which is receiued between Priuate Men.
4 L. Sylla, when he commanded Rome, raised Pompey (after surnamed the Great) to that Heigth, that Pompey vaunted Himselfe for Sylla's Ouermatch. For when he had carried the Consulship for a Frend of his, against the pursuit of Sylla, and that Sylla did a little resent thereat, and began to speake great, Pompey turned vpon him againe, and in effect bad him be quiet; For that more Men adored the sunne Rising, then the Sunne setting. With Iulius Cæsar, Decimus Brutus had obtained that Interest, as he set him downe, in his Testament, for Heire in Remainder, after his Nephew. And this was the Man, that had power with him, to draw him forth to his death. For when Cæsar would haue discharged the Senate, in regard of some ill Presages, and specially a Dreame of Calpurnia; This Man lifted him gently by the Arme, out of his Chaire, telling him, he hoped he would not dismisse the Senate, till his wife had dreamt a better Dreame. And it seemeth, his fauour was so great, as Antonius in a Letter, which is recited Verbatim, in one of Cicero's Philippiques, calleth him Venefica, Witch; As if he had enchanted Cæsar. Augustus raised Agrippa (though of meane Birth) to that Heighth, as when he consulted with Mæcenas, about the Marriage of his Daughter Iulia, Mæcenas tooke the Liberty to tell him; That he must either marry his Daughter to Agrippa, or take away his life, there was no third way, he had made him so great. With Tiberius Cæsar, Seianus had ascended to that Height, as they Two were tearmed and reckoned, as a Paire of Frends. Tiberius in a Letter to him saith; Hec pro Amicitiâ nostrâ non occultaui: And the whole Senate, dedicated an Altar to Frendship, as to a Goddesse, in respect of the great Dearenesse of Frendship, between them Two. The like or more was between Septimius Seuerus, and Plantianus. For he forced his Eldest Sonne to marry the Daughter of Plantianus; And would often maintaine Pantianus, in doing Affronts to his Son: And did write also in a Letter to the Senate, by these Words; I loue the Man so well, as I wish he may ouer-liue me. Now if these Princes, had beene as a Traian, or a Marcus Aurelius, A Man might haue thought, that this had proceeded of an abundant Goodnesse of Nature; But being Men so Wise, of such Strength and Seueritie of minde, and so Extreme Louers of Themselues, as all these were; It proueth most plainly, that they found their owne Felicitie (though as great as euer happened to Mortall Men) but as an Halfe Peece, except they mought haue a Frend to make it Entire: And yet, which is more, they were Princes, that had Wiues, Sonnes, Nephews; And yet all these could not supply the Comfort of Frendship.
5 It is not to be forgotten, what Commineus obserueth, of his first Master Duke Charles the Hardy; Namely, that hee would communicate his Secrets with none; And least of all, those Secrets, which troubled him most. Whereupon he goeth on, and saith, That towards his Latter time; That closenesse did impaire, and a little perish his vnderstanding. Surely Commineus mought haue made the same Iudgement also, if it had pleased him, of his Second Master Lewis the Eleuenth, whose closenesse was indeed his Tormentour. The Parable of Pythagoras is darke, but true; Cor ne edito; Eat not the Heart. Certainly, if a Man would giue it a hard Phrase, Those that want Frends to open themselues vnto, are Canniballs of their owne Hearts. But one Thing is most Admirable, (wherewith I will conclude this first Fruit of frendship) which is, that this Communicating of a Mans Selfe to his Frend, works two contrarie Effects; For it redoubleth Ioyes, and cutteth Griefes in Halfes. For there is no Man, that imparteth his Ioyes to his Frend, but he ioyeth the more; And no Man, that imparteth his Griefes to his Frend, but hee grieueth the lesse. So that it is, in Truth of Operation vpon a Mans Minde, of like vertue, as the Alchymists vse to attribute to their Stone, for Mans Bodie; That it worketh all Contrary Effects, but still to the Good, and Benefit of Nature. But yet, without praying in Aid of Alchymists, there is a manifest Image of this, in the ordinarie course of Nature. For in Bodies, Vnion strengthneth and cherisheth any Naturall Action; And, on the other side, weakneth and dulleth any violent Impression: And euen so is it of Minds.
6 The second Fruit of Frendship, is Healthfull and Soueraigne for the Vnderstanding, as the first is for the Affections. For Frendship maketh indeed a faire Day in the Affections, from Storme and Tempests: But it maketh Day-light in the Vnderstanding, out of Darknesse and Confusion of Thoughts. Neither is this to be vnderstood, onely of Faithfull Counsell, which a Man receiueth from his Frend; But before you come to that, certaine it is, that whosoeuer hath his Minde fraught, with many Thoughts, his Wits and Vnderstanding doe clarifie and breake vp, in the Communicating and discoursing with Another: He tosseth his Thoughts, more easily; He marshalleth them more orderly; He seeth how they looke when they are turned into Words; Finally, He waxeth wiser then Himselfe; And that more by an Houres discourse, then by a Dayes Meditation. It was well said by Themistocles to the King of Persia; That speech was like Cloth of Arras, opened, and put abroad; Whereby the Imagery doth appeare in Figure; whereas in Thoughts, they lie but as in Packs. Neither is this Second Fruit of Frendship, in opening the Vnderstanding, restrained onely to such Frends, as are able to giue a Man Counsell: (They indeed are best) But euen, without that, a Man learneth of Himselfe, and bringeth his owne Thoughts to Light, and whetteth his Wits as against a Stone, which it selfe cuts not. In a word, a Man were better relate himselfe, to a Statua, or Picture, then to suffer his Thoughts to passe in smother.
7 Adde now, to make this Second Fruit of Frendship compleat, that other Point, which lieth more open, and faileth within Vulgar Obseruation; which is Faithfull Counsell from a Frend. Heraclitus saith well, in one of his AEnigmaes; Dry Light is euer the best. And certaine it is, that the Light, that a Man receiueth, by Counsell from Another, is Drier, and purer, then that which commeth from his owne Vnderstanding, and Iudgement; which is euer infused and drenched in his Affections and Customes. So as, there is as much difference, betweene the Counsell, that a Frend giueth, and that a Man giueth himselfe, as there is between the Counsell of a Frend, and of a Flatterer. For there is no such Flatterer, as is a Mans Selfe; And there is no such Remedy, against Flattery of a Mans Selfe, as the Liberty of a Frend. Counsell is of two Sorts; The one concerning Manners, the other concerning Businesse. For the First; The best Preseruatiue to keep the Minde in Health, is the faithfull Admonition of a Frend. The Calling of a Mans Selfe, to a Strict Account, is a Medicine, sometime, too Piercing and Corrosiue. Reading good Bookes of Morality, is a little Flat, and Dead. Obseruing our Faults in Others, is sometimes vnproper for our Case. But the best Receipt (best (I say) to worke, and best to take) is the Admonition of a Frend. It is a strange thing to behold, what grosse Errours, and extreme Absurdities, Many (especially of the greater Sort) doe commit, for want of a Frend, to tell them of them; To the great dammage, both of their Fame, & Fortune. For, as S. Iames saith, they are as Men, that looke sometimes into a Glasse, and presently forget their own Shape, & Fauour. As for Businesse, a Man may thinke, if he will, that two Eyes see no more then one; Or that a Gamester seeth alwaies more then a Looker on; Or that a Man in Anger, is as Wise as he, that hath said ouer the foure and twenty Letters; Or that a Musket may be shot off, aswell vpon the Arme, as vpon a Rest; And such other fond and high Imaginations, to thinke Himselfe All in All. But when all is done, the Helpe of good Counsell, is that, which setteth Businesse straight. And if any Man thinke, that he will take Counsell, but it shall be by Peeces; Asking Counsell in one Businesse of one Man, and in another Businesse of another Man; It is well, ( that is to say, better perhaps then if he asked none at all; ) but he runneth two dangers: One, that he shall not be faithfully counselled; For it is a rare Thing, except it be from a perfect and entire Frend, to haue Counsell giuen, but such as shalbe bowed and crooked to some ends, which he hath that giueth it. The other, that he shall haue Counsell giuen, hurtfull, and vnsafe, (though with good Meaning) and mixt, partly of Mischiefe, and partly of Remedy: Euen as if you would call a Physician, that is thought good, for the Cure of the Disease, you complaine of, but is vnacquainted with your body; And therefore, may put you in way for a present Cure, but ouerthroweth your Health in some other kinde; And so cure the Disease, and kill the Patient. But a Frend, that is wholly acquainted with a Mans Estate, will beware by furthering any present Businesse, how he dasheth vpon other Inconuenience. And therefore, rest not vpon Scattered Counsels; They will rather distract, and Misleade, then Settle, and Direct.
8 After these two Noble Fruits of Frendship; (Peace in the Affections, and Support of the Iudgement,) followeth the last Fruit; which is like the Pomgranat, full of many kernels; I meane Aid, and Bearing a Part, in all Actions, and Occasions. Here, the best Way, to represent to life the manifold vse of Frendship, is to cast and see, how many Things there are, which a Man cannot doe Himselfe; And then it will appeare, that it was a Sparing Speech of the Ancients, to say, That a Frend is another Himselfe: For that a Frend is farre more then Himselfe. Men haue their Time, and die many times in desire of some Things, which they principally take to Heart; The Bestowing of a Child, The Finishing of a Worke, Or the like. If a Man haue a true Frend, he may rest almost secure, that the Care of those Things, will continue after Him. So that a Man hath as it were two Liues in his desires. A Man hath a Body, and that Body is confined to a Place; But where Frendship is, all Offices of Life, are as it were granted to Him, and his Deputy. For he may exercise them by his Frend. How many Things are there, which a Man cannot, with any Face or Comelines, say or doe Himselfe? A Man can scarce alledge his owne Merits with modesty, much lesse extoll them: A man cannot sometimes brooke to Supplicate or Beg: And a number of the like. But all these Things, are Gracefull in a Frends Mouth, which are Blushing in a Mans Owne. So againe, a Mans Person hath many proper Relations, which he cannot put off. A Man cannot speake to his Sonne, but as a Father; To his Wife, but as a Husband; To his Enemy, but vpon Termes: whereas a Frend may speak, as the Case requires, and not as it sorteth with the Person. But to enumerate these Things were endlesse: I haue giuen the Rule, where a Man cannot fitly play his owne Part: If he haue not a Frend, he may quit the Stage.

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