Thursday, November 5, 2009

Essay: "Of Friendship." Francis Bacon.

One-minute review: One can open oneself to a friend in a way that he can’t open himself to wife, son, or nephew. One can try ideas out on a friend, shape them, see how they look when he turns them into words. And what a man can’t do, his friend can. That is why we need friends.


“For a crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.”

“A principal fruit of friendship is the ease and discharge of the fullness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kind do cause and induce.”

“…but a true friend, to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels and whatsoever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of…confession.”

“[Kings and princes]…raise some persons to be as it were companions and almost equal to themselves.”

“…those that want friends to open themselves unto are cannibals of their own hearts.”

“…that this communicating of a man’s self to his friend works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joys and cutteth griefs in half.”

“…his wits and understanding do clarify and break up in the communicating and discussing with another; he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he marshalleth them more orderly; he seeth how they look when they are turned into words.”

Great Essays. Ed. Houston Peterson. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc. 1960.

What is an essay? “They are all prefaces. A preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they [essays] do nothing else.” Charles Lamb.

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