« PreviousContinue »
friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, This man gires too much for his whistle.
When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect; He pays indeed,
I, says I, too much for his whistle. If i knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth; Poor mun, says I, you do indeed pay too much for your whistle.
When I meet a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporeal sensations ; Mistaken man, says I, you are providing pain for yourself instead of pleasure : you give too much for your whistle.
If I see one fond of fine clothes, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in prison; Alas, says I, he has paid deur, very dear, for his whistle.
When I see a beautiful sweet tempered girl, married to an ill-natured brute of a husband; What a pity it is, says I, thut she has paid so much for a whistle.
In short, I conceived that great part of the miseries of mankind were brought upon them by the false estimates they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles,
To those who have the Superintendency of
L ADDRESS myself to all the friends of youth, and conjure them to direct their compassionate regards to my unbappy fate, in order to remove the prejudices of which I am the victim. There are twin sisters of us; and the iwo eyes of man do not more resemble. nor are capable of being upon better terms with each
other, than my sister and myself, were it not for the partiality of our parents, who made the most inju. rious distinctions between us. From my infancy, I have been led to consider my sister as á being of a riore elevated rank. I was suffered to grow up without the least instruction, while nothing was spare.. in her education. She had masters to teach her writing, drawing, music, and otlier accomplishments; but it, by chance, I touched a pencil, a pen, or a needle, I was bitterly rebuked; and more ihan once I have been beaten for being awkward, and wanting a graceful manner. It is true, my sister associated ine with her upon some occasions; but she always made a point of taking the lead, calling upon me only from necessity, or to figure by her side.
But conceive not, Sirs, that my complaints are instigated merely by vanity-No; my upeasiness is occasioned by an object much more serious.
It is the practice in our family, that the whole business of providing for its subsistence falls upon my sister and myself. If any indisposition should attack my sister-and I mention it in confidence upon this occasion, that she is subject to the gout, the rheumatism, and cramp, without making mention of other accidents-what would be the fate of our poor family ? Must not the regret of our parents be excessive, at having placed so great a difference between sisters who are so perfectly equal ? Alas! we must perish from distress : for it would not be in my power even to scrawl a suppliant petition for relief, having been obliged to employ the hand of another in transcribing the request which I have now the honour 10 prefer to you:
Condescend, Sirs, to make my parents sensible of the injustice of an exclusive tenderness, and of the necessity of distributing their care and affection among all their children equally. I am, with a profound respect,
THE LEFT HANI),
HANDSCME AND DEFORMED LEG:
THERE are two sorts of people in the world, who. with equal degrees of health and 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 conveniences and inconveniences : in whatever company, they may find persons and conversation more or less pleasing : at whatever table, they may meet with meats and drinks of better and worse taste, dishes better and worse dressed: in whatever climate, they will find good and bad weather : under whatever governinent, they may find good and bad laws, and good and bad administration of those laws : in whatever poem, or work of genius, they may see faults and beauties : in almost every face, and every person, they may discover fine features and defects, good and bad qualities.
Under these circumstances, the two sorts of people above mentioned fix their attention; those who are disposed to be happy, on the conveniences of things, the pleasant parts of conversation, the welldressed dishes, the goodness of the wines, the fine weather, &c. and enjoy all with cheerfulness. Those who are to be unhappy, think and speak only of the contrarieties. Hence they are continually discontented themselves, and, by their remarks, sour the pleasures of society; offend personally many people, and make themselves every where 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 criticise, and to be disgusted, is, perhaps, taken up originally by imitation, and is, unawares, grown into a habit, which, though at present strong, may nevertheless be cured, when those who have it are convinced of its bad effect on their felicity; I hope this little admonition may be of service to them, and put them on changing a habit
which, though in the exercise it is chiefly an act of imagination, yet it has serious consequences in life, as it brings on real griefs and misfortunes. For as inany as are offended by, and nobody 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 or fortune, nobody wishes them success, or will stir a step, or speak a word to favour their pretensions. If ihey incur public censure or disgrace, no one will defend or excuse, and many join to aggravate their misconduct, and render them completely odious. If these people will not change this bad habil, and condescend to be pleased with what is pleasing, without fretting themselves or others about ihe contrarieties, 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, from 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 wrather; and a barometer to inark when it was likely to prove good or bad; but there being no instrument invented to discover, at first sight, ihis 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 tirst interview, regard d his ugly leg more than his handsome one, he doubted him. If he spoke of it, and 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, and take the same resolution of avoiding the acquaintance of those infected with it. I therefore advise those critical, querulous, discontented, unhappy people, if they wish to be re
spected and beloved by others, and happy in theinselves, they should leave off looking at the ugly leg.
CONVERSATION OF A COMPANY OF
With the Soliloquy of one advanced in Age.
TO MADAME BRILLIANT.
You may remember, my dear friend, that when tve lately spent that happy day, in the delightful garden and sweet society of the Moulin Joly, I stopt a little in one of our walks, and staid some time bebind the company We had been shown numberless skeletons of a kind of little fly, called an Ephemeræ, whuse successive generations, we were told, were bred and expired within the day. I happened to see a living company of them on a leaf, who appeared to be engaged in conversation. You know I understand all the inferior animal tongues; my too great application to the study of them is the best ex. cuse I can give for the little progress I have made in your charming language I listened through curiosity to the discourse of these little creatures ; but as they in their national vivacity, spoke three or four together, I could make but little of their conversation. I found, however, by some broken expres. sions that I heard now and then, they were disputing warmly on the merit of too foreign musicians, one a cousin, the other a muscheto : in which dispute they epent their time, seeming as ragardless of the shori. ness of their life as if they had been sure of living a month. Happy people, thought I, you live certainly under a wise, just, and mild government, since you have no public grievances to complain of, nor any other subject of contention but the perfections or imperfections of foreign music. I turned my head from them to an old grey-headed one, who was single on another leaf, and talking to himself. Being amused with his soliloquy. I put it down in writing, in Lopes