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Of Friendship (Essay XXVII, 1625 edition)

1625

by Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626)

Beginning with friendship’s antithesis, the hermit, Bacon warns that a life amid a crowd of acquaintance can be just as empty of true friendship.

He exults in the comforts and benefits of unburdening one’s mind to a trusted confidant. Reviewing the history of political advisers, Bacon shows them as indispensible, even if they turn out to be Brutus. Bacon follows classical precedent in making frank equality friendship’s precondition, and warns against ‘scattered counsel’. The essay’s last section delves into the deeper waters of intimate friendships, extensions of oneself. Without such love, he concludes, one may as well ‘quit the stage’.

Related recommendation: Cicero’s ‘De Amicitia’ (44BC)

Origin: England

Themes: How to Live

Genres: Aphoristic, Spiritual or Philosophical Meditation

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