Francis Bacon'S Essay On Friendship

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The parable of Pythagoras is dark, but true; Cor ne edito; Eat not the heart.

Certainly if a man would give it a hard phrase, those that want friends, to open themselves unto are cannibals of their own hearts.

For princes, in regard of the distance of their fortune from that of their subjects and servants, cannot gather this fruit, except (to make themselves capable thereof) they raise some persons to be, as it were, companions and almost equals to themselves, which many times sorteth to inconvenience.

The modern languages give unto such persons the name of favorites, or privadoes; as if it were matter of grace, or conversation.

But one thing is most admirable (wherewith I will conclude this first fruit of friendship), which is, that this communicating of a man’s self to his friend, works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halves.

For there is no man, that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less.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 appear in figure; whereas in thoughts they lie but as in packs.Neither is this second fruit of friendship, in opening the understanding, restrained only to such friends as are able to give a man counsel; (they indeed are best;) but even without that, a man learneth of himself, and bringeth his own thoughts to light, and whetteth his wits as against a stone, which itself cuts not.For it is most true, that a natural and secret hatred, and aversation towards society, in any man, hath somewhat of the savage beast; but it is most untrue, that it should have any character at all, of the divine nature; except it proceed, not out of a pleasure in solitude, but out of a love and desire to sequester a man’s self, for a higher conversation: such as is found to have been falsely and feignedly in some of the heathen; as Epimenides the Candian, Numa the Roman, Empedocles the Sicilian, and Apollonius of Tyana; and truly and really, in divers of the ancient hermits and holy fathers of the church.But little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it extendeth.For when he had carried the consulship for a friend of his, against the pursuit of Sylla, and that Sylla did a little resent thereat, and began to speak great, Pompey turned upon him again, and in effect bade him be quiet; for that more men adored the sun rising, than the sun setting.With Julius Caesar, Decimus Brutus had obtained that interest, as he set him down, in his testament, for heir in remainder, after his nephew.The like, or more, was between Septimius Severus and Plautianus.For he forced his eldest son to marry the daughter of Plautianus; and would often maintain Plautianus, in doing affronts to his son; and did write also in a letter to the senate, by these words: I love the man so well, as I wish he may over-live me.Whereupon he goeth on, and saith that towards his latter time, that closeness did impair, and a little perish his understanding.Surely Comineus mought have made the same judgment also, if it had pleased him, of his second master, Lewis the Eleventh, whose closeness was indeed his tormentor.

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