« ZurückWeiter »
open themselves unto are cannibals of their own hearts : 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. So that it is, in truth, of operation upon a man's mind of like virtue as the alchymists used 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 18 aid of alchymists, there is a manifest image of this in the ordinary course of nature; for, in bodies, union strengtheneth and cherisheth any natural action; and, on the other side, weakeneth and dulleth any
violent impression; and even so is it of minds.
The second fruit of Friendship is healthful and sovereign for the understanding, as the first is for the affections; 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;19 and that more by an hour's discourse than by a day's meditation. 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 ; 20 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. In a word, a man were better relate himself to a statua 21 or picture, than to suffer his thoughts to pass in smother.
Add now, to make this second fruit of Friendship complete, that other point which lieth more open, and falleth within vulgar observation : which is faithful counsel from a friend. Heraclitus 22 saith well in one of his enigmas, ‘Dry light is ever the best :' and certain it is, that the light that a man receiveth by counsel from another, is drier and purer than that which cometh from his own understanding and judgment; which is ever infused and drenched in his affections and customs. So as there is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer; for there is no such flatterer as is a man's self, and there is no such remedy against flattery of a man's self as the liberty of a friend. Counsel is of two sorts; the one concerning manners, the other concerning business : for the first, the best preservative to keep the mind in health, is the faithful admonition of a friend. The calling of a man's self to a strict account is a medicine sometimes too piercing and corrosive; reading good books of morality is a little flat and dead; observing our faults in others is sometimes unproper for our case; but the best receipt (best I say to work and best to take) is the admonition of a friend. It is a strange thing to behold what gross errors and extreme absurdities many. (especially of the greater sort) do commit for want of a friend to tell them of them, to the great damage both of their fame and fortune: for, as St James saith, they are as men' that look sometimes into a glass, and presently forget their own shape and favour.:23 As for business, a man may think, if he will, that two eyes see no more than one; or, that a gamester seeth always more than a looker on; or, that a man in anger is as wise as he that has said over the four-and-twenty letters ; 24 or, that a musket may be shot off as well upon the arm as upon
a rest;25 and such other fond 26 and high imaginations, to think himself all in all : but when all is done, the help of good counsel is that which setteth business straight : and if any man think that he will take counsel, but it shall be by pieces, asking counsel in one business of one man, and in another business of another man; it is well (that is to say, better, perhaps, than if he asked none at all); but he runneth two dangers : one, that he shall not be faithfully counselled; for it is a rare thing, except it be from a perfect and entire friend, to have counsel given, but such as shall be bowed and crooked to some ends which he hath that giveth it: the other, that he shall have counsel given, hurtful and unsafe (though with good meaning), and mixed partly of mischief, and partly of remedy; even as if you would call a physician, that is thought good for the cure of the disease you complain of, but is unacquainted with your body; and, therefore, may pụt you in a way for a present cure, but overthroweth your health in some other kind, and so cure the disease, and kill the patient: but a friend, that is wholly acquainted with a man's estate, will beware, by furthering any present business, how he dasheth upon other inconvenience : and therefore, rest not upon scattered counsels; they will rather distract and mislead, than settle and direct.
After these two noble fruits of Friendship (peace in the affections, and support of the judgment), followeth the last fruit, which is like the pomegranate, full of many kernels; I mean aid, and bearing a part in all actions and occasions. Here the best way to represent to life 27 the manifold use of Friendship, is to cast 28 and see how many things there are which a man cannot do himself; and then it will appear that it was a sparing speech of the ancients to say, 'that a friend is another himself:' for that a friend is far more than himself. Men have their time, and die many times in desire of some things which they principally take to heart ;29 the bestowing of a child, the finishing of a work, or the like. If a man have a true friend, he may rest almost secure that the care of those things will continue after him; so that a man hath, as it
were, two lives in his desires. A man hath a body, and that body is confined to a place : but where friendship is, all offices of life are, as it were, granted to him and his deputy ; for he may exercise them by his friend. How many things are there, which a man cannot, with any face or comeliness, say or do himself? A man can scarce allege his own merits with modesty, much less extol them : a man cannot sometimes brook to supplicate, or beg, and a number of the like; but all these things are graceful in a friend's mouth, which are blushing in a man's own. So again, a man's person hath many proper relations which he cannot put off. A man cannot speak to his son but as a father; to his wife but as a husband ; to his enemy but upon terms:30 whereas a friend may speak as the case requires, and not as it sorteth with the person : but to enumerate these things were endless; I have given the rule, -where a man cannot fitly play his own part, if he have not a friend, he may quit the stage.31
NOTES ON ESSAY XXVII. 1. The quotation is from Aristotle (Politics, i, 1): 'He that cannot
associate with others, and by reason of his self-sufficing powers has no need to do so, is no part of a State : wherefore such a man is either a beast or a god.'
The 'untruth' which Bacon complains of in this is, that Aristotle (whose philosophy he seems to have disliked) allows that a preference for solitary life may be a mark of superiority to human weakness, which, as a rule, craves for and needs society; this superiority Bacon indignantly denies, except in cases where seclusion is sought for the purpose of spiritual
contemplation. conversation'-intercourse, familiarity. 'The conversation with the best company'-DRYDEN. And in a bad sense: •His open guilt, his conversation with Shore's wife'
-Shakespeare's Richard III. 3. "Epimenides' -a Cretan poet (about 600 years B.C.), and one
of the most remarkable men of the ancient world. The facts of his life are unfortunately obscured by a number of improbable legends. He appears to have enjoyed the reputation of a prophet, and was said to have been in a preternatural sleep
for more than fifty years. He acquired great influence over his fellow-countrymen by the simple, austere, and unselfish character of his life.
He is of interest to the Christian reader as the poet from whom St Paul quotes a passage (Titus i, 12) in reference to the depraved and perfidious character of the Cretans or Candians. Numa Pompilius' was one of the early mythical kings of Rome, and the founder of the religious institutions of the Romans, which he is said to have received by inspiration from the goddess-nymph Egeria in a grove near Rome. • Empedocles,' a Greek philosopher of Agrigentum, in Sicily
(about B.C. 460), is said to have been skilled in poetry, philosophy, and medicine, and to have possessed great influence. • Apollonius' of Tyana (see note 11, Essay XIX) was supposed
to possess miraculous powers, and an attempt was made by the Empress Julia Domna to revive the old mythology and heathen worship in connection with his name.
When Bacon speaks of the influence of these men as false and feigned, classing with them hermits and holy fathers of the Church,' he doubtless refers not to any pretensions which they themselves advanced, but to powers which were super
stitiously attributed to them by others. 4. 'meeteth with it'—touches the point; 'hits it,' as we say.
The Latin proverb is, A great city is a great solitude.' 5. 'mere'—entire, downright. (See note 16, Essay II.) 6. to want'-i.e. to lack; implying the desire to have without 7. "taketh'-receiveth. Cf. to take food, take cold, take a fever, to
take after (one's father or mother). '8. sarza.' Sarsaparilla (from Spanish zarza, a bramble, and
parilla, a vine; or else Parillo, the name of the physician who first discovered its use) is a Mexican plant, from whose root a valuable medicine is prepared. 'flower of sulphur.' The flower is the best and choicest part
of anything, hence the flower of an army, the flower of life, etc., and flower (or flour) of wheat. Hence formerly the word was applied in chemistry to the mealy substance constituting the best part of something, and obtained by sublimation, as flowers of sulphur. castoreum,' or castor, a substance of strong smell and bitter taste, and supposed antispasmodic tendencies, obtained from the beaver.
The word has no connection with castor-oil, which is a
corruption of castus-oil. 9. receipt'-medicine prescribed.
civil shrift'-friendly confession ; opposed to shrift, i.e. cleri.
cal confession. II. sorteth to inconvenience'-leads to trouble.