« ZurückWeiter »
snappish, gouty husband, is secretly envying the condition of Mrs. Thrift.
Honest Abraham has a good farm, and is an excellent farmer, and free of debt; but his peace of mind is destroyed by being disappointed of an office ;-an office, too, without emol
Farmer Thomas, his more artful neighbor who got the office, no sooner received his commission, than he began to dash away like a gentleman, and consequently neglected his farm, and impoverished his family; and by this time he sincerely regrets his having been so foolish as to barter solid pudding for empty honor.
Mercator, having acquired a snug estate by trade, grows uneasy, and sighs for a country life. Purling brooks, vocal groves, fragrant meadows, blooming orchards, and fields covered with a golden harvest, enchant his imagination. He sells his stock in trade, and purchases a farm, which he manages with about as much skill as a mere landsman would manage a ship at sea : it brings him in debt; and venting upon it no very gentle epithets, he longs to leave it, and go back to the situation he had abandoned.
Agricolus, weary of a dull, plodding way of living and of slow gains, leaves the plough and becomes a merchant. He sells his fast estate, and purchases with it goods, running in debt a few thousands, as he would needs have a handsome assortment. His goods are unskilfully chosen, and meet with a wretched market. Pay day comes, and his creditors, blest with excellent memories, are prompt in urging him to a settlement. But, alas! of money he has none.
"to break or not to break, that's the question." He struggles hard, makes new debts to
pay old ones, sells at great loss; borrows money at 30 or 40 per cent., breaks at last; and whereas he merely imagined himself unhappy while holding the plough, he now feels that he is so indeed.
Thus mankind, from a restless disposition, render themselves wretched, when they might be much at their ease.
It would be worth to one, more than any, or even all of the arts and sciences, to learn the art of living happily. I don't 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 lie in stoical apathy; for as to the real and sharp 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 of friendship, who feels little or 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 or stud, or the fattening pig in the sty. Indeed the brute has much the advantage, as it lives according to its nature and destination, while the man is haunted with a perpetual con. sciousness 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.
Live constantly in the unshaken belief of the overruling provi. dence of an infinitely wise and good, as well as Almighty Being; and prize his power above all things.
Observe inviolably truth in your words, and integrity in Accustom yourself to temperance, and be master of your passions.
Be not too much out of humor with the world; but remember, it is 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 towards you than of cruelty.
Try to spend your time usefully both to yourself and others. Never make an enemy, or lose a friend unnecessarily.
sarily. Cultivate such an habitual cheerfulness of mind, and evenness of temper, as not to be ruffled by trivial inconveniences and crosses.
Be ready to heal breaches in friendship, and to make up differences; and sbun litigation yourself as much as possible; for he is an ill calculator, who does not perceive that one amicable settlement is better than two lawsuits.
Be it rather your ambition to acquit yourself well in your proper station than to rise above it.
Despise not small honest gains, nor risk what you have on the delusive prospect of sudden riches. If you are in a comfortable thriving 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 or not in life, more, at great deal, depends upon temper than upon circumstances. Not that our enjoyments are not 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 scrofulous disease of the heart.
Our false theories of worldly happiness constitute another huge 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 at all to their relish. The pleasures of sense are limited by narrow boundaries, which never can be passed without instantly turning pleasure into pain : and however much we may refine upon the pleasures of sense, our refinements can increase them but very little. The most refined