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sciences, to learn the art of living happily. I do not mean perfect happiness, which is not to be enjoyed here: but such a degree of happiness as our Maker has put in our power. The art of living happily does not Jie in stoical apathy; for as to the real and severe afflictions of life, while one ought “ to bear them like a man, he should also feel them like a man." Nor does he know the sweets for friendship, who feels no pain at being sundered from a near friend. Much less does it lie in the nauseating lap of gross sensuality; for the enjoyment of the mere sensualist is no higher than that of the pampered horse in the stable. Indeed the brute has much the advantage, as it lives according to its nature and destination, while the man is haunted with a perpetual consciousness of the shameful degradation of his moral and intellectual faculties.
The following maxims or rules of action might, if strictly observed, go far to increase the happiness, or at least, to diminish the inquietudes and miseries of life.
1. Live constantly in the unshaken belief of the overruling Providence of an infinitely wise and good, as well as Almighty Being; and prize his favour above all things.
2. Observe, inviolably, truth in your words, and integrity in your actions.
3. Accustom yourself to temperance, and be master of your passions.
4. Be not too much out of humour with the world ; but remember, 'tis a world of God's creating, and however sadly it is marred by wickedness and folly, yet you have found in it more comforts than calamities, more civilities than affronts, more instances of kindness toward you than of cruelty.
5. Try to spend your time usefully both to yourself and others.
6. Never make an enemy, or lose a friend, unnecessarily.
7. Cultivate such an habitual cheerfulness of mind and evenness of temper, as not to be ruffled by trivial inconveniences and crosses.
8. Be ready to heal breaches in friendship and to make up differences, and shun litigation yourself, as
much as possible ; for he is an ill calculator who does not perceive that one annicable settlement is better than two law suits.
9. Be it rather your ambition to acquit yourself well in your proper station, than to rise above it.
10. Despise not small honest gains, nor risk what you have on the delusive prospect of sudden riches.If you are in a comfortable way, keep in it, and abide in your own calling rather than run the chance of another.
In a word, mind to use the world as not abusing it,” and probably you will find as much comfort in it as is most fit for a frail being, who is merely journeying through it toward an immortal abode.
Of Self-Inflicted Tortures.
NOTHING is more common than the discontent of those who have not even a shadow of cause for discontent. They are neither sick, nor pinched with poverty, nor called to sustain distressing hardships. They enjoy both food and appetite. They have raiment to put on, and friends to converse with; and if not rich, have fully enough for the moderate supply of all their real wants : yet these enjoyments, these bounties of indulgent heaven, are poisoned as it were by the discontent of their minds, so that they are wretched amidst health and competence.
What are the illusions that thus obstruct the sources of enjoyment, and, in this favored country, cheat so many out of the happiness of which Providence had put them in possession ?- They are such as usually spring from one or other of the three following causes : perverseness of temper; false theories of worldly happiness; the influence of opinion.
With respect to enjoying ourselves well or ill in life, a great deal more depends upon temper than upon circumstances. Not but that our enjoyments are always considerably affected by our worldly circumstances, and sometimes in a very great degree; but if they are such that we are able to supply ourselves with all the real necessaries and essential comforts of life, it is not our circumstances but our tempers that are in fault, if we are not too happy to complain and too grateful to repine. The root of our uneasiness is altogether in our own minds, and without a thorough change there, no change of place or of outward circumstances could quiet us. What though all our present ideal wants were satisfied ?. Other ideal wants would presently start up, and we should still be weaving for ourselves the web of misery. A temper that inclines to be satisfied with its present lot, is worth more than thousands a year; whereas restlessness of temper is one of the greatest of misfortunes. A full half of human troubles would vanish, and the rest be lightened, if there were a thorough cure of this one disease of the heart.
Our false theories of worldly happiness constitute another class of troubles of our own making: and the effects of these false theories are the more deplorable, inasmuch as the disappointments inevitably resulting from them sour the disposition, and thereby enhance the numbers of the wretched victims of temper. Corporeal enjoyments are few and simple: neither wealth, nor any of the arts of refinement, can add considerably to their number, or any thing to their relish. The pleasures of sense are limited by narrow boundaries, which never can be passed without instantly turning pleasure to pain : and however much we may refine upon the pleasures of sense, our refinements can increase them but very little. The most refined epicure, for example, has scarcely any more enjoyment of the pleasure of the table, than one who confines himself to the plainest viands. Nothing therefore, is more plain and easy of comprehension than the true potion of mere worldly happiness :—the whole sum of it results from health, competence, the friendly society of neighbors and acquaintance, and the pure joys of domestic life. He that has these, though he have neither wealth nor rank, enjoys about all the world can bestow. But these real and unsophisticated enjoyments, which are bestowed in
full as large measures upon the peasant as upon the prince, are too vulgar for the fastidious taste of very many; they must find a something that is quite above and beyond the common blessings of life, else, they are determined not to enjoy themselves at all. Thus they lose the good that lies fairly within their reach, by endeavoring to grasp an abstract something, that is conceivable indeed, but not attainable--a Aitting meteor, which the eye plainly sees, but which evades the touch and baffles all pursuit.
The last brood of artificial troubles which I proposed to notice, are those that are generated by the influence of opinion; I mean not one's own opinion, but the opinion of others. We are such strange and unaccountable creatures, that we are more solicitous to appear happy than really to be so; and hence we willingly abridge our real enjoyments for the sake of seeming to possess
enjoyments superior to those that are altogether com s mon to mankind. Now the general opinion of society di (a very erroneous one indeed) makes the
of show a prerequisite for being deemed happy, or at least for obtaining the credit of refined enjoyment; and this gen
eral opinion, how much soever we may despise it in our * judgments, has an astonishing influence upon our con
duct and our feelings: an influence that precipitates many thousands from a condition of competence to that
of poverty. it
That apt Remarker, Dr. Franklin, observes, “The il eyes of other people are the eyes that ruin us. If all
but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houses, nor fine furniture.”—It is even so: and it is this
supreme regard to the eyes of others, that leads multitudes into extravagant and ruinous expenses.Without adequate funds, they build them fine houses and purchase them fine furniture, and array
themselves with costly apparel, that others may gaze upon them as persons possessed of taste and of refined enjoyments; and by these means they are presently, stripped of the necessaries of life.
Of greedy ambitiousness after wealth—ominously the
master passion of the times.
AMBITION's thorny path is too narrow for two to go abreast. Each struggles hard to get forward of each; and the one that is foremost of all must press onward with eagerness, else some other will rush by him. He that stumbles is trampled over by the crowd behind him. It is all a scramble, in which the successful competitors are greeted with shouts of applause, and the unsuccessful ones assailed with the hisses of derision and scorn.
In a former age it was the ambition of the celebrated Cardinal de Retz, to be first in the hearts of his fellow citizens, the Parisians. His munificence exceeded all former example: his liberalities were unbounded. The courtesy of his manners and the fascinating charms of his address, won him universal friendship
and admiration. At home he was crowded with visitants; when he rode through the streets he was accompanied with a splendid retinue of nobility and gentry, all proud to do him bonor; and whenever he entered the paritament, marked respect and homage were paid him there.
But there happened an incident that put this friendship to the test, and proved it light as air. Upon a time, the Cardinal was thought to be on the eve of ruin. In that situation he went to the parliament, to clear himself of heavy charges which his enemies had raised against him; and the account of his reception there is thus given in his Memoirs written with his own hand.
“We went to the parliament. The princes had there near a thousand gentlemen with them; and I may say hardly one from the court was missing there. I was in my church habit, and went through the great hall with my cap in my hand, saluting every body; but I met with but few that returned me that civility, so strongly was it believed that I was an undone man.
Neither is this a solitary example, nor one of rare occurrence. History abounds with examples, that in the falling fortunes of the great and noble of the earth,