Francis Bacon was one of the leading intellectual lights of the renowned Elizabethan Age. He is very much known for his brilliant essays. Altogether he wrote 58 complete and one fragmentary essay. These essays are based upon a rational world of stark realities. It is pure logic that leads the reader through their precepts and instructions. As soon as the reader starts reading an essay, realization dawns on him that he is in the presence of a superior wisdom.
Bacon’s essay ‘Of Friendship’ was written at the request of his friend Toby Matthew as a mark of celebration of their long friendship. He wrote the essay at the time when friendship was hailed in idealistic terms. Bacon, in the essay, disagrees with Aristotle‘s remark on solitude. He says solitude has a larger scope than making a man a wild beast or an angel. Bacon calls a man with no friend in the world or lacks aptitude for friendship as the denizen of wilderness.
Bacon says that friendship is a medium of secular confession. Even great kings and princes find it difficult to find a true friend with whom they could share their secret desires and state secrets. In English, such a person is called ‘a favourite’. This is less significant than the Roman phrase ‘sharer of king’s cares’. Roman history is replete with examples of great Roman emperors exalting even common people with their friendship.
Bacon quotes the parable of Pythagoras ‘eat not thy heart’. It rightly urges great men not to hoard all his cares and yearnings in his heart and allow them to destroy him. Instead, he must confide them to his friend. For, friendship always offers a double blessing as it redoubles joy and reduces grief, when shared. Moreover, friendship safeguards mental health by generating perpetual cheerfulness. An hour’s discourse with a friend adds more to the wisdom and understanding of a person than a whole day’s meditation. A friendly counsel is...