Of Followers And Friends by Francis Bacon Essay Summary and Analysis in English for Students


‘Of Followers And Friends’ is a short essay written by Francis Bacon. It is under the collection of his essays and delves into the author’s perception of true friendship. 

About the Author:

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was a notable English essayist. Also known as Lord Verulam, he was termed the father of empiricism. Famous works of his include “Of Friendship”, “Of Atheism”, and “Religious Meditations”.


The theme of this essay, as the title suggests, is about friendship. Addressing them as followers, Bacon brings out who are good friends and who are the bad friends one need to look out for and avoid at all costs. 


Costly Followers:

Bacon begins his essay by referring to certain people as “costly followers”. According to him, these are the people who are “not to be liked” as they are “wearisome”. What Bacon attempts to bring out is that such people stick around solely with an opportunistic mindset to tend to their own benefits. He prefers “ordinary followers” who are true and loyal. They support and provide recommendations to one and “protection from wrongs”. 

The Factitious, The Glorious and The Espials:

Likewise, Bacon also shuns factitious and glorious followers. To him, factitious followers “are worse” as they befriend one not because they like them but because they have “discontentment conceived against some other”. Such people, as can be seen with the examples of “great personages” only prove to be backstabbers. Likewise, he is also against glorious followers as they are merely people pleasers and are “full of inconvenience” as they only take away a man’s honour and “make him a return in envy”. Finally, he calls yet another set “espials” who are “dangerous” as they spy on one and spread rumours or “tales” of them. Yet, Bacon does agree that there is a certain use of them as they are “officious”. 

The Honorable Kind of Following:

Bacon believes that honorable followers are those who have “virtue” and “speak truth”. Furthermore, he states that equal rank is not to be expected in such relationships, as is expected by the government and elections. Bacon feels that it is not good to “make too much of any man at the first” as it is never good to put them on a pedestal. Being governed again, according to him, is “not safe” as it “shows softness, and gives a freedom, to scandal and disreputation”. 


In this manner, Bacon advises that it is never good to have many followers as it would serve as a distraction. Instead, he wants one to take the advice of only a few friends as many would be “gamesters”. In conclusion, he ends the essay by stating that these few friends needn’t be equals; they could be of people both superior and inferior. In his own words, “There is little friendship in the world, and least of all between equals”.