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A Way To Be Happy
by [?]

I have fire-proof perennial enjoyments, called employments.


“Always busy and always singing at your work; you are the happiest man I know.” This was said by the customer of an industrious hatter named Parker, as he entered his shop.

“I should not call the world a very happy one, were I the happiest man it contains,” replied the hatter, pausing in his work and turning his contented-looking face toward the individual who had addressed him. “I think I should gain something by an exchange with you.”

“Why do you think so?”

“You have enough to live upon, and are not compelled to work early and late, as I am.”

“I am not so very sure that you would be the gainer. One thing is certain, I never sing at my work.”

“Your work? What work have you to do?”

“Oh, I’m always busy.”

“Doing what?”

“Nothing; and I believe it is much harder work than making hats.”

“I would be very willing to try my hand at that kind of work, if I could afford it. There would be no danger of my getting tired or complaining that I had too much to do.”

“You may think so; but a few weeks’ experience would be enough to drive you back to your shop, glad to find something for your hands to do and your mind to rest upon.”

“If you have such a high opinion of labour, Mr. Steele, why don’t you go to work?”

“I have no motive for doing so.”

“Is not the desire for happiness a motive of sufficient power? You think working will make any one happy.”

“I am not so sure that it will make any one happy, but I believe that all who are engaged in regular employments are much more contented than are those who have nothing to do. But no one can be regularly employed who has not some motive for exertion. A mere desire for happiness is not the right motive; for, notwithstanding a man, when reasoning on the subject, may be able to see that, unless he is employed in doing something useful to his fellows, he cannot be even contented, yet when he follows out the impulses of his nature, if not compelled to work, he will seek for relief from the uneasiness he feels in almost any thing else: especially is he inclined to run into excitements, instead of turning to the quiet and more satisfying pursuits of ordinary life.”

“If I believed as you do, I would go into business at once,” said the hatter. “You have the means, and might conduct any business you chose to commence, with ease and comfort.”

“I have often thought of doing so; but I have lived an idle life so long that I am afraid I should soon get tired of business.”

“No doubt you would, and if you will take my advice, you will let well enough alone. Enjoy your good fortune and be thankful for it. As for me, I hope to see the day when I can retire from business and live easy the remainder of my life.”

This was, in fact, the hatter’s highest wish, and he was working industriously with that end in view. He had already saved enough money to buy a couple of very good houses, the rent from which was five hundred dollars per annum. As soon as he could accumulate sufficient to give him a clear income of two thousand dollars, his intention was to quit business and live like a “gentleman” all the rest of his days. He was in a very fair way of accomplishing all he desired in a few years, and he did accomplish it.

Up to the time of his retiring from business, which he did at the age of forty-three, Parker has passed through his share of trial and affliction. One of his children did not do well, and one, his favourite boy, had died. These events weighed down his spirit for a time, but no very long period elapsed before he was again singing at his work–not, it is true, quite so gayly as before, but still with an expression of contentment. He had, likewise, his share of those minor crosses in life which fret the spirit, but the impression they made was soon effaced.