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This is the essay of a wise man, who describes the three fruits of friendship as follows:
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 (para.5).
What Bacon is saying here is that joys shared with a friend increase the joy experienced, and that sorrows shared with a friend become less sorrowful. All of us have had the experience of sharing some happiness with a good friend and feeling even happier upon doing so. When we share our troubles with a good friend, the troubles seem less terrible, now that the burden is shared.
[W]hosoever 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; and that more by an hour’s discourse, than by a day’s meditation (para. 6).
Here, Bacon is saying that a friend is a sounding board for one's thoughts and feelings. When we bounce our ideas off another, it helps us to articulate them, see them more clearly, and organize them better. When we sit around and think of ideas by ourselves, it is in a vacuum, really, and the ideas cannot be easily refined or thought about as critically as when we share.
[W]here 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 (para.8).
The third fruit of friendship is the way in which a friend can act on one's behalf more easily and effectively than one can on one's own. A friend can tell others how wonderful we are, saving us from appearing to be braggarts. A friend can ask a favor on our behalf that we might be embarrassed to ask for on our own. In a very famous poem, "The Courtship of Miles Standish" (Longfellow), one young man, John Alden, courts Priscilla Mullens on behalf of his friend Miles Standish. While the poem ends with Priscilla in love with John, this is a classic example of what a friend will do when someone is reluctant to speak for himself.
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