« PreviousContinue »
It is no less prudent as well as pious, to Speak ill of no Man, except when it is necessary to do some Good to others. This is one of the Psalmist's Counsels for a contented Life. What Man is be that desires Life, and loveeth many Days, that_be may see Good ? Keep thy Tangue from Evil, and thy Lips that they Speak no Guile, Pfal. xxxiv. 12, 13. This is so true, that it is fafest not so much as to open our Ears to others, that speak Evil of their Neighbours. If we do not entertain their Speeches, they recoil and wound the Speaker'; if we receive them, they wound and trouble us.
And indeed the Tongue is wont to procure us so much Mischief that,
Wise Men (let me add in the next place) have advised us, if we would live happily, to accustom our selves to Speak Sparingly, at least, among Strangers : especially concerning great Persons it is best not to speak at all. This is a Rule' which Arrianus gave in his time, when there was Danger from such Men. Words though innocently meant, yet may be ill interpreted. And it is bet
ter (as Cardan was wont to say) L. de vita prop Cap. 5o.
to pretermit an hundred Things worthy perhaps to be heard, than
to fay one that should not have been spoken. . Again,
It is of great Service to accustom our selves to be chearful, and to find all the Means we can to preserve our selves in that Temper. For we shall the inore easily pass hy a great many Occasions of Trouble without much Notice, and feel the rest less heavý and more supportable. Sadness never did any Body Good, nor lightned any Man's Calamity ; but is a new Misery it self. It is apt also to look on Things otherwise than they are: for it sees them in the Twilight, and not in the clear Sun-fhine of our Spirits. Seneca I think, was in the right, when he said, that of the Two one had better imitate Democritus, than Heraclitus. For he that laughs at Things, looks upon them but as flight and vain : And so they will be the more equally enjoyed, or equally born. - There is more of Humanity also in it: to smile at Things, than to frown and lament. He that laughs deferves better of Mankind, because he leaves some good Hope; whereas the other bewails that which he despairs of amending. But the best of all is to receive all Accidents quietly with a smooth and placid Temper: Neither with much Laughter, nor with Lamentations.
If we would live happily, we must likewise take Care that we Be no busy Bodies: For fuch People are very unacceptable to others, and uneasy to themselves. They have a great deal to do, when in Truth they do nothing but trouble themselves, and the Neigh
bourhood. This is Antoninus's Rule Lib. 3. de
Do not trouble thy self about other Seipfo. 8.4
Men's Matters, unless it be for the common Benefit. For Example, faith he, do not be ftill fancying what such a Person is a doing, and why he doth this or that, and what he faith, and what he designs and contrives, with such like Things. This is but to wander from One's self, and to forsake the Custody of his own Soul. Therefore avoid these superfluous Thoughts, which belong not unto thee. For upon this depends, as Seneca hath observed, that teterrimtem vitium, inost foul and odious Vice of listning after, and Inquisitiveness into the Secrets of others : Deliring to know much, even those Things which are neither safely told, nor safely heard. A Man that would live in Peace, should be so' far from this busy prying Humour, that he should not let his secret Thoughts run this way: But rather accustom himself, (as the aforesaid great Emperor and Philofopher speaks,) always so to employ his Mind, that if any other Person be so curious as
to demand of him what he is thinking of, he may not be afraid to tell him. By this means, faith he, it will appear that all Things in thee are simple, good natured; sociable, and void of Envy, Emulation, Suspicion, Impurity, or any such like Thing, which should put thee to the Blush. Such a Man ought to be rankt ainong the best and the happieft; being legeus nie, a Priest and Minister of God, who uses with due Respect that divine Image, which is within him.
And to make our Lives still the less burthensome, we must not be too Riff, and rigid in the Form and Manner of our Life ; nor too peremptorily resolved in Things, that are not absolutely Good or Evil. We shall but disorder our selves the more, by keeping too strictly to our own Orders in indifferent Things. We must be easy and yielding, if we would be happy; and not stick too pertinaciously, no not to our own Determinations and Appointments.
We must comply with Occasions ; provided Lightness do not move us to it : For that is as great an Enemy to Peace as the other. All Pertinaciousness, and obftinate Adherence to our own set Forms of Life, is anxious and miserable : Because Accidents will always contend with us, and struggle against us; and still be wresting something from us. And Levity is as
grievous, if not more : Because it hath nô certain Bounds, nor can contain and rest it felf in any Thing. Both are very contrary tö Tranquillity, To be able to alter Nothing and to endure Nothing.
, and a kind of careless Behaviour is best also for those who would live in Tranquillity. They cannot be happy, who, as Seneca is wont to speak, do anxiè se compos nere ; compose themselves, and form their Behaviour with an anxious Study and Care. Such a constant Observation of themselves in every small Thing, torments and racks them. It cannot be a pleasant Life, Eecause too sollicitous ; though all Things should succeed as they desire. But that is not to be expected ; and therefore as there is no End of their Cares, 'fo their Vexation is perpetual; because many Things will still fall out against their Wills. They are surprized oftentimes, and do not appear the same as usually. This they are afraid of ; and when it happens, they fret to be found out of their fet and studied Garb and Way. On the contrary, what Plea
re is there in a sincere, unaffected, and selfadorned Simplicity; which feigns nothing, but shows it felf as it is? Some máy despise it; but it is better to bear that Despisal, than to be tormented with perpetual Constraints, in the acting of a Person which is not our selves.