Read our complete notes below on the essay “Of Followers and Friends” by Francis Bacon. Our notes cover Of Followers and Friends summary and analysis.

Of Followers and Friends Summary

During our lives, we come across various types of people. Bacon opens the essay by talking about one of those people who are “costly followers”. Slowly and gradually these people develop an unnecessary liking towards us. While their aim to get closer to us is quite narrow and selfish. They only want to extract their benefit out of us. That’s why Bacon called such followers as costly followers and advised to stay away from them. They act as a consumers. The more such type of followers the lesser our resources would be. Nevertheless, these followers are not only calculated to be costly but are also the trouble-makers and will harass anyone for their benefit. One should keep oneself at arm’s length from such people.

Bacon argues that ordinary followers should not be like the one described before; however, they should only expect approval, support, recommendation, and protection from the wrongs. There is another type of followers known as factious followers. These followers don’t follow you because they like you but they hate others more than you. Throughout the history, such people prove to be a great waste of time, money and energy. They completely mismanage the critical situations, drain all the resources, and are a serious threat to the reputation. They are not the secret keepers but work as spies for their own benefit and report every minute to the enemies. Bacon called them “espials” and the most dangerous ones. However, such followers are active and efficient in spreading rumors and are popular among the people.

Bacon mentions that the best kind of followers is the men who are “officious” and they often exchange tales (rumors). They include soldiers who fought for their leader and are loyal and virtuous to them. They are the most trusted people who devote themselves to a particular man and work to increase his reputation. Such people, contrary to the factious followers, are less popular among people. Bacon, furthermore, argues that there is another kind of followers whose sole purpose is to make people realize of the virtue and focus on those possibilities that will advance the good in all people, not specifically in one class. So, it is better for the leader to make followers who are more virtuous, kind and loyal to him than the professional, capable people who follow him for their own sake.

Moreover, Bacon argues that, in order to form the government, one needs a highly professional man than that of virtuous. It is often preferred to appoint a person, for the support and guidance, who is professional and is equal ranked; however, by attributing them such honor makes them arrogant and the rest dissatisfied. In contrary, Bacon suggests appointing a person, who is lower in rank as it will make him thankful and the rest officious (struggling for the position) as it will be the matter of favor.

Bacon advises that one should not trust anybody at first to hand over all the confidential right after appointing him because they cannot digest too much respect and honor at one time. It is like giving them the extraordinary freedom to decide everything by themselves. These are like the people who, at first, don’t have any courage to speak against anyone, however, after getting authority tries to wound one’s reputation of the one who is very great to them.

Bacon suggested that one shouldn’t surround too many people around them as it will make him distracted. The more the men, the more will be opinions. Rather it is better for a man to have a few friends and to consult them but he again warns that there is little friendship in the world. Someone, we think a friend is not always a friend; there is less friendship among the people of equal rank.

Bacon ends the essay by saying the fortunes of the superior and inferior workers in the governmental office are inter-weaved to each other. Hence, every so often the rise and fall together.

Of Followers and Friends Analysis


“Of Followers and Friend” is one of the Bacon’s argumentative essay in which he argues about the various types of followers. He also suggests that one should keep himself at arm’s length from such followers that are harmful and espials and must not trust them easily.

Of Followers and Friends Critical Appreciation:

Brevity, directness, wit, and to the point arguments are one of the qualities that Bacon’s essay contain. The systematic way of writing makes bacon’s essay to move from one point to another logically. Moreover, the subject matters he discusses in his writing style are all based on the real life and the reader found an epigrammatic wisdom in it.

The essay “Of Followers and Friends” is one of the best examples of the bacon’s wisdom. In this essay, he not only argues about the various kind of followers that an eminent man can have but also suggest and guides the reader about how to deal with them. He designates this essay to guide the men. To him, it is not the moral goodness of a man that leads him to the road of success in business and government but the practical behavior.

On the road to success, a man meets various kind of people. Among those people, some show great likeness and call them themselves the follower. They claim that in each and every moment of life they will support and will never find ourselves alone. However, this is not the case. They attach themselves to us for their own sake and benefit. Bacon called such followers as “costly” follower. They are costly in the sense that they will take their benefit out of us or will do us a favor so cunningly that we would be compelled to give them a present.

Another kind of followers that we might come across is known as “factious” followers. Bacon strictly warns the readers about such followers as they attach themselves not because they like us but because they hate the opponent party more. He called them “spy” who reveals the confidential talks and wound the reputation. On your front, they deliberately praise you in front of others, however, on the back, they reveal your secrets of personal as business life to others. Bacon calls these spy followers as “espials”.

Despite the bad people in the life, we also find the kind, benevolent people in our journey on the road to success. They are the virtuous people, the real guiders. Among them, Sadhus, Saints, and soldier are on the top list. They help you to increase our moral and always on your right side for the moral support. But here is a problem. We cannot appoint these people on the high post of the government offices. For that, we need a highly professional person. To sort out this problem, bacon perfectly suggests that one should not appoint the person of an equal rank, as it will make him arrogant; rather appoint someone of lower rank and make him thankful.

The best part of the essay is the end part in which the writer depicts the nowadays reality of friendship. Bacon says, as we cannot trust the part-time followers much, we should keep ourselves at a distance from them and try not to make a lot of friends, rather make few friends, the sincere one, and take advice and guidance from them. But what guarantees that the one we think is our friend turns out to be a snake. As among the equal ranks, because of the jealousy, friendship is seldom.

Bacon, in his essay, demonstrates the hallmarks of our society and warns the readers to be very careful about the choosing the people that are going to be around us. We always expect evil from the enemy but are stabbed at the back by our dear ones.

With the use of complex-compound sentences, Bacon maintains his wit with a perfect style of argumentation.