Francis Bacon'S Essay On Friendship

With Tiberius Caesar, Sejanus had ascended to that height, as they two were termed, and reckoned, as a pair of friends.

Tiberius in a letter to him saith, Haec pro amicitia nostra non occultavi; and the whole senate dedicated an altar to Friendship, as to a goddess, in respect of the great dearness of friendship, between them two.

For friendship maketh indeed a fair day in the affections, from storm and tempests; but it maketh daylight in the understanding, out of darkness, and confusion of thoughts.

Neither is this to be understood only of faithful counsel, which a man receiveth from his friend; but before you come to that, certain it is, that whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and break up, in the communicating and discoursing with another; he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he marshalleth them more orderly, he seeth how they look when they are turned into words: finally, he waxeth wiser than himself; and that more by an hour’s discourse, than by a day’s meditation.

Now if these princes had been as a Trajan, or a Marcus Aurelius, a man might have thought that this had proceeded of an abundant goodness of nature; but being men so wise, of such strength and severity of mind, and so extreme lovers of themselves, as all these were, it proveth most plainly that they found their own felicity (though as great as ever happened to mortal men) but as an half piece, except they mought have a friend, to make it entire; and yet, which is more, they were princes that had wives, sons, nephews; and yet all these could not supply the comfort of friendship.

It is not to be forgotten, what Comineus observeth of his first master, Duke Charles the Hardy, namely, that he would communicate his secrets with none; and least of all, those secrets which troubled him most.For in bodies, union strengtheneth and cherisheth any natural action; and on the other side, weakeneth and dulleth any violent impression: and even so it is of minds.The second fruit of friendship, is healthful and sovereign for the understanding, as the first is for the affections.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.It had been hard for him that spake it to have put more truth and untruth together in few words, than in that speech.Whatsoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.So that it is in truth, of operation upon a man’s mind, of like virtue as the alchemists use to attribute to their stone, for man’s body; that it worketh all contrary effects, but still to the good and benefit of nature.But yet without praying in aid of alchemists, there is a manifest image of this, in the ordinary course of nature.And it seemeth his favor was so great, as Antonius, in a letter which is recited verbatim in one of Cicero’s Philippics, calleth him venefica, witch; as if he had enchanted Caesar.Augustus raised Agrippa (though of mean birth) to that height, as when he consulted with Maecenas, about the marriage of his daughter Julia, Maecenas took the liberty to tell him, that he must either marry his daughter to Agrippa, or take away his life; there was no third war, he had made him so great.

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