Tuesday, August 14, 1711.
‘Non est vivere sed valere Vita.’
It is an unreasonable thing some Men expect of their Acquaintance. They are ever complaining that they are out of Order, or Displeased, or they know not how, and are so far from letting that be a Reason for retiring to their own Homes, that they make it their Argument for coming into Company. What has any body to do with Accounts of a Man’s being Indispos’d but his Physician? If a Man laments in Company, where the rest are in Humour enough to enjoy themselves, he should not take it ill if a Servant is ordered to present him with a Porringer of Cawdle or Posset-drink, by way of Admonition that he go Home to Bed. That Part of Life which we ordinarily understand by the Word Conversation, is an Indulgence to the Sociable Part of our Make; and should incline us to bring our Proportion of good Will or good Humour among the Friends we meet with, and not to trouble them with Relations which must of necessity oblige them to a real or feigned Affliction. Cares, Distresses, Diseases, Uneasinesses, and Dislikes of our own, are by no means to be obtruded upon our Friends. If we would consider how little of this Vicissitude of Motion and Rest, which we call Life, is spent with Satisfaction, we should be more tender of our Friends, than to bring them little Sorrows which do not belong to them. There is no real Life, but chearful Life; therefore Valetudinarians should be sworn before they enter into Company, not to say a Word of themselves till the Meeting breaks up. It is not here pretended, that we should be always [sitting ] with Chaplets of Flowers round our Heads, or be crowned with Roses, in order to make our Entertainment agreeable to us; but if (as it is usually observed) they who resolve to be Merry, seldom are so; it will be much more unlikely for us to be well-pleased, if they are admitted who are always complaining they are sad. Whatever we do we should keep up the Chearfulness of our Spirits, and never let them sink below an Inclination at least to be well-pleased: The Way to this, is to keep our Bodies in Exercise, our Minds at Ease. That insipid State wherein neither are in Vigour, is not to be accounted any part of our Portion of Being. When we are in the Satisfaction of some Innocent Pleasure, or Pursuit of some laudable Design, we are in the Possession of Life, of Human Life. Fortune will give us Disappointments enough, and Nature is attended with Infirmities enough, without our adding to the unhappy Side of our Account by our Spleen or ill Humour. Poor Cottilus, among so many real Evils, a Chronical Distemper and a narrow Fortune, is never heard to complain: That equal Spirit of his, which any Man may have, that, like him, will conquer Pride, Vanity and Affectation, and follow Nature, is not to be broken, because it has no Points to contend for. To be anxious for nothing but what Nature demands as necessary, if it is not the Way to an Estate, is the Way to what Men aim at by getting an Estate. This Temper will preserve Health in the Body, as well as Tranquility in the Mind. Cottilus sees the World in a Hurry, with the same Scorn that a Sober Person sees a Man Drunk. Had he been contented with what he ought to have been, how could, says he, such a one have met with such a Disappointment? If another had valued his Mistress for what he ought to have lov’d her, he had not been in her Power. If her Virtue had had a Part of his Passion, her Levity had been his Cure; she could not then have been false and amiable at the same time.