There are two Sorts of People in the World, who with equal Degrees of Health, ;
Wealth, and the other Comforts of Life, become, the one happy, and the other miserable. This arises very much from the different Views in which they consider Things, Persons, and Events; and the Effect of those different Views upon their own Minds.
In whatever Situation Men can be placed, they may find Conveniencies ;
Inconveniencies: In whatever Company; they may find Persons ; Conversation
more or less pleasing. At whatever Table, they may meet with Meats ; Drinks of
better and worse Taste, Dishes better ; worse dress’d: In whatever Climate they
will find good and bad Weather: Under whatever Government, they may find good ; bad Laws, and good ; bad Administration of those Laws. In every Poem or
Work of Genius they may see Faults and Beauties. In almost every Face ; every
Person, they may discover fine Features ; Defects, good ; bad Qualities.
Under these Circumstances, the two Sorts of People above mention’d fix their
Attention, those who are to be happy, on the Conveniencies of Things, the pleasant Parts of Conversation, the well-dress’d Dishes, the Goodness of the Wines, the fine
Weather; ; c., and enjoy all with Chearfulness. Those who are to be unhappy think ; speak only of the contraries. Hence they are continually discontented themselves, and by their Remarks sour the Pleasures of Society, offend personally many People, and make themselves everywhere disagreeable. If this Turn of Mind was founded in Nature, such unhappy Persons would be the more to be pitied. But as the Disposition to criticize, ; be disgusted, is perhaps taken up originally by Imitation, and is unawares grown into a Habit, which tho’ at present strong may nevertheless be cured when those who have it are convinc’d of its bad Effects on their Felicity; I hope this little Admonition may be of Service to them, and put them on changing a Habit, which tho’in the Exercise it is chiefly an Act of Imagination yet has serious Consequences in Life, as it brings on real Griefs and Misfortunes. For as many are offended by, ; nobody well loves this Sort of People, no one shows them more than the most common civility and respect, and scarcely that; and this frequently puts them out of humour, and draws them into disputes and contentions. If they aim at obtaining some advantage in rank of fortune, nobody wishes them success, or will stir a step, or speak a word, to favour their pretensions. If they incur public censure or disgrace, no one will defend or excuse, and many join to aggravate their misconduct, and tender them completely odious. If these people will not change this bad habit, and condescend to be pleased with what is pleasing, without fretting themselves and others about the contraries, it is good for others to avoid an acquaintance with them; which is always disagreeable, and sometimes very inconvenient, especially when one finds one’s self entangled in their quarrels.
An old philosophical friend of mine was grown, form experience, very cautious in this particular, and carefully avoided any intimacy with such people. He had, like other philosophers, a thermometer to show him the heat of the weather, and a barometer to mark when it was likely to prove good or bad; but, there being no
instrument invented to discover, at first sight, this unpleasing disposition in a person, he for that purpose made use of his legs; one of which was remarkably handsome, the other, by some accident, crooked and deformed. If a Stranger, at the first interview, regarded his ugly Leg more than his handsome one, he doubted him. If he spoke of it, ; took no notice of the handsome Leg, that was sufficient to determine my Philosopher to have no further Acquaintance with him. Every body has not this two-legged Instrument, but every one with a little Attention, may observe Signs of that carping, fault-finding Disposition, ; take the same Resolution of avoiding the
Acquaintance of those infected with it. I therefore advise those critical, querulous, discontented, unhappy People, that if they wish to be respected and beloved by others, ; happy in themselves they should leave off looking at the ugly Leg.