The Three Fruits of Friendship According to Francis Bacon

Friendship is one of the most profound relationships in our lives. A true friend can provide comfort, advice and happiness. The famed English philosopher and scientist Francis Bacon examined friendship in depth in his essay “Of Friendship” published in 1625. In this essay Bacon identifies three main “fruits” or benefits of friendship. These fruits demonstrate why friendship is so vital to the human experience.

Overview of Francis Bacon

Before diving into Bacon’s three fruits of friendship, let’s provide some background on the author. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was an influential English philosopher, scientist, and author. He was a major figure in the scientific revolution with his promotion of the inductive “scientific method”. This empirical method of gaining knowledge through observation shaped modern science.

As a philosopher Bacon argued against scholasticism. Instead he asserted that knowledge should come from real-world observation and experimentation. His writings on science and philosophy were highly influential on future thinkers.

In 1618, Bacon entered politics and rose to become Lord Chancellor under King James I. His career ended in scandal from charges of corruption in 1621. After his fall from power, Bacon devoted himself to writing and produced some of his most lasting works. These included wisdom-filled and witty essays covering subjects like truth, adversity, studies, and friendship.

Bacon’s essay “Of Friendship” appears in his final collection The Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall published in 1625. This insightful essay explores the undeniable value of friendship in our lives.

The First Fruit: Comfort

Bacon identifies the first fruit of friendship as “the ease and discharge of the fullness and swellings of the heart.” In other words, friendship provides comfort and an outlet for our emotions. Friends give us the precious opportunity to share our innermost feelings.

As Bacon states, keeping emotions bottled up inside can be dangerous. Confiding in a trusted friend relieves the mind and heart. It offers the chance to share our deepest “griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels” openly and honestly.

Friends provide a safe space to be vulnerable. With a friend, we can voice feelings we might not share with anyone else. Bacon compares this openness to a religious confession, removing emotional burdens from the heart.

Furthermore, listening to a friend’s issues provides perspective. Hearing about someone else’s troubles puts our own in context. Talking through problems out loud also promotes clarity and solutions. In short, friendship grants comfort through mutual unburdening.

The Second Fruit: Counsel

Next, Bacon points out the “second fruit of friendship” as being “healthful and sovereign for the understanding.” Friendship improves understanding in two ways – through inner clarity and advice.

First, communicating with a friend brings our nebulous thoughts into focus. As Bacon writes, voicing ideas out loud orders them and untangles confusion. Verbalizing thoughts acts like “daylight in the understanding, out of darkness and confusion.”

Even more importantly, friends provide wise counsel. They can identify flaws in our thinking that we miss. As Bacon notes, humans suffer from an “astounding gift for rationalization.” An outside perspective is essential.

Friends will honestly critique our judgment and offer guidance. They have our best interests in mind, unlike flatterers who only say what we want to hear. Bacon stresses friends are invaluable for improving decision-making in all realms of life.

The Third Fruit: Personal Growth

Finally, friendship’s third fruit is enabling personal growth. As Bacon puts it, “The best preservative to keep the mind in health, is the faithful admonition of a friend.”

Friends highlight our faults and areas for improvement. Getting constructive feedback from someone who cares for our wellbeing is invaluable. We all have blind spots that hinder our development. Friends illuminate these weaknesses so we can address them.

Receiving candid criticism is difficult. However, listening with an open mind allows us to grow. We should welcome friends pointing out room for progress. Without awareness of flaws, we cannot become better versions of ourselves.

Key Takeaways from Bacon

  • Friendship provides an outlet for emotions through mutual sharing and vulnerability. Confiding in friends relieves the heart.

  • Friends bring clarity by helping verbalize thoughts. They also provide guidance and highlight flaws we miss on our own.

  • Friends inspire personal growth by giving caring criticism. Their feedback addresses blind spots and pushes us to improve.

  • Overall, Francis Bacon shows friendship’s immense benefits: comfort, counsel, and growth.

True friendship enriches our lives immeasurably. It lightens our loads, expands our minds, and makes us better human beings. Bacon’s meditations remind us to nourish our close friendships. They are sources of meaning on life’s path.

fruits of friendship…


What is the first fruit of friendship?

The first fruit of friendship is having someone to whom we may open our hearts – to share our “griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions,” etc. Bacon illustrates the importance of this fruit by producing numerous examples of the value that great emperors, kings, princes, and other sovereigns have placed on it.

What did Francis Bacon say about friendship?

Those who do not have friends, “cannibalizes his own heart. ” And at the risk of going crazy, according to the writer. His advice is astute and practical. Bacon is perhaps the first to conceive the need for an amoral friendship that is not the result of kindness, either natural or acquired, in a person.

What are three fruits of friendship?

The Fruits of Friendship: Alignment, Safety, and Trust.

What is the fruit of friendship Bacon?

Francis Bacon on the noble fruits of friendship. A principal fruit of friendship is the ease and discharge of the fullness and swellings of the heart which passions of all kinds do cause and induce.

Leave a Comment