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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 government, 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 conveniencies of things, the pleasant part of the conversation, the well dressed 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 contraries.
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 effects 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 has serious consequences in life, as it brings on real griefs and misfortunes. For as many are offended by, and nobody loves, this sort of people; no one shews 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 they 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 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, from experience, very cautious in this particular, and carefully avoided any intimacy with such people. He had, like other philosophers, a thermometer to shew him the heat of the weather; and a barometer, to mark when it is 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 remarkable 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, 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, that if they wish to be respected and beloved by others, and happy in themselves, they should leave of looking at the ugly leg.
COMPANY OF EPHEMERÆ;
WITH THE SOLILOQUY OF ONE ADVANCED IN AGE:
TO MADAME BRILLIANT.
YOU may remember, my dear friend that when we 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 behind the company:
We had been shewn numberless skele. tons of a kind of little fly, called, an Ephemeræ, whose 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 excuse 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 natural vivacity, spoke three or four together, I could make but little of their conversation, I found, however, by some broken expressions that I heard now and then, they were disputing warmly on the merit of two foreign musicians, the one a cousin, the other a muscheto ; in which dispute they spent their time, seemingly as regardless of the shortness of 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 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 hopes it will likewise amuse her to whom I am so much indebted for the most pleasing of all amusements, her delicious company, and heavenly harmony.
“ It was," says he, “ the opinion of learned philosophers of our race, who lived and flourished long before my time, that this vast world the Moulin Joly could not itself subsist more than eighteen hours; and I think there was some foundation for that opinion ; since, by the apparent motion of the great luminary, that gives life to all nature, and which in my time has evidently declined considerably towards the ocean at the end of our earth, it must then finish its course, be extinguished in the waters that surround us, and leave the world in cold and darkness, necessarily producing universal death and destruction. I have lived seven of those hours ; a great age, being no less than 420 minutes of time. How very few of us continue so long! I have seen generations born, flourish, and expire. My present friends are the children and grandchildren of the friends of my youti, who are now, alas, no more! And I must soon follow them; for, by the course of nature, though still in health, I cannot expect to live above seven or eight minutes longer. What now avails all my toil and labour, in amassing honey-due on this leaf, which I cannot live to enjoy! What the political struggles I have been engaged in, for the good of my compatriot inhabitants of this bush, or my philosophical studies, for the benefit of our race in general! for in politics what can laws do without morals?, our present race of ephemeræ will in a course of minutes become corrupt, like those of other and older bushes, and consequently as wretched : And in
philosophy how small our progress! Alas! art is long and life is short! My friends would comfort me with the idea of a name, they say, I shall leave behind me; and they tell me I have lived long enough to nature and to glory. But what will fame be to an ephemeræ who no longer exists ? and what will become of all history in the eighteenth hour, when the world itself, even the whole Moulin Joly, shall come to its end, and be buried in universal ruin?”.
To me, after all my eager pursuits, no solid pleasures now remain, but the reflection of a long life spent in meaning well, the sensible conversation of a few good lady ephemeræ, and now and then a kind smile and a tunc from the ever amiable Brilliant.
MORALS OF CHESS.
PLAYING at chess is the most ancient and most universal game known among men; for its original is beyond the memory of history, and it has, for number. less ages, been the amusement of all the civilized nations of Asia, the Persians, the Indians, and the ChiEurope has had it above a thousand years;
the Spaniards have spread it over their part of America, and it begins lately to make its appearance in these states. It is so interesting in itself, as to not need the view of gain to induce engaging in it; and thence it is never played for money. Those, therefore, who have leisure for such diversions, cannot find one that is more innocent; and the following piece, written with a view to correct (among a few young friends) some little improprieties in the practice of it, shews, at the same time, that it may, in its effects on the mind, be