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improvements, public works; and the endeavouring, by our interest, address, solicitations, and activity, to carry them into effect: or, upon a smaller scale, the procuring of a maintenance and fortune for our families by a course of industry and application to our callings, which forms and gives motion to the common occupations of life; training up a child ; prosecuting a scheme for his future establishment; making ourselves masters of a language or a science; improving or managing an estate; labouring after a piece of preferment; and lastly, any engagement which is innocent is better than none; as the writing of a book, the building of a house, the laying out of a garden, the digging of a fishpond,—even the raising of a cucumber or a tulip.
Whilst our minds are taken up with the objects or business before us we are commonly happy, whatever the object or business be; when the mind is absent and the thoughts are wandering to something else than what is passing in the place in which we are, we are often miserable.
III. Happiness depends upon the prudent constitution of the habits.
The art in which the secret of human happiness in a great measure consists, is to set the habits in such a manner, that every change may be a change for the better. The habits themselves are much the same; for whatever is made habitual becomes smooth, and easy, and nearly indifferent. The return to an old habit is likewise easy, whatever the habit be. Therefore the advantage is with those habits which allow of an indulgence in the deviation from them. The luxurious receive no greater pleasure from their dainties than the peasant does from his bread and cheese : but the peasant, whenever he goes abroad, finds a feast; whereas the epicure must be well entertained to escape disgust. Those who spend every day at cards, and those who go every day to plough, pass their time much alike; intent upon what they are about, wanting nothing, regretting nothing, they are both for the time in a state of ease: but then, whatever suspends the occupation of the cardplayer distresses him; whereas to the labourer every interruption is a refreshment: and this appears in the different effects that Sunday produces upon the two, which proves a day of recreation to the one, but a lamentable burden to the other. The man who has learned to live alone feels his spirits enlivened whenever he enters into company, and takes his leave without regret; another, who has long been accustomed to a crowd, or continual succession of company, experiences in company no elevation of spirits, nor any greater satisfaction than what the man of a retired life finds in his chimney corner. So far their conditions are equal : but let a change of place, fortune, or situation separate the companion from his circle, his visitors, his club, common room, or coffeehouse; and the difference and advantage in the choice and constitution of the two habits will show itself. Solitude comes to the one clothed with melancholy; to the other it brings liberty and quiet. You will see the one fretful and restless, at a loss how to dispose of his time till the hour come round when he may forget himself in bed : the other, easy and satisfied, taking up his book or his pipe as soon as he finds himself alone; ready to admit any little amusement that casts up, or to turn his hands and attention to the first business that presents itself; or content, without either, to sit still, and let his train of thought glide indolently through his brain, without much use, perhaps, or pleasure, but without hankering after any thing better, or without irritation.-A reader, who has inured himself to books of science and argumentation, if a novel, a well written pamphlet, an article of news, a narrative of a curious voyage, or a journal of a traveller fall in his way, sits down to the repast with relish ; enjoys his entertainment while it lasts, and can return, when it is over, to his graver reading without distaste. Another, with whom nothing will go down' but works of humour and pleasantry, or whose curiosity must be interested by perpetual novelty, will consume a bookseller's window in half a forenoon; during which time he is rather in search of diversion than diverted; and as books to his taste are few and short, and rapidly read over, the stock is soon exhausted, when he is left without resource from this principal supply of harmless amusement.
So far as circumstances of fortune conduce to happiness, it is not the income which any man possesses, but the increase of income that affords the pleasure. Two persons, of whom one begins with a hundred, and advances his income to a thousand pounds a year, and the other sets off with a thousand, and dwindles down to a hundred, may, in the course of their time, have the receipt and spending of the same sum of money; yet their satisfaction, so far as fortune is concerned in it, will be very different: the series and sum total of their incomes being the same, it makes a wide difference at which end they begin. .
IV. Happiness consists in health. · By health I understand, as well freedom from bodily distempers, as that tranquillity, firmness, and alacrity of mind, which we call good spirits; and which may properly enough be included in our notion of health, as depending commonly upon the same causes, and yielding to the same management, as our bodily constitution.
Health, in this sense, is the one thing needful. Therefore no pains, expense, self-denial, or restraint to which we subject ourselves for the sake of health, is too much. Whether it require us to relinquish lucrative situations, to abstain from favourite indulgences, to control intemperate passions, or undergo tedious regimens; whatever difficulties it lays us under, a man, who pursues his happiness rationally and resolutely, will be content to submit. : When we are in perfect health and spirits, we feel in ourselves a happiness independent of any particu
lar outward gratification whatever, and of which we can give no account. This is an enjoyment which the Deity has annexed to life; and it probably constitutes, in a great measure, the happiness of infants and brutes, especially of the lower and sedentary orders of animals, as of oysters, periwinkles, and the like; for which I have sometimes been at a loss to find out amusement.
The above account of human happiness will justify the two following conclusions, which, although found in most books of morality, have seldom, I think, been supported by any sufficient reasons :
First, That happiness is pretty equally distributed amongst the different orders of civil society :
SECONDLY, That vice has no advantage over virtue, even with respect to this world's happiness.
VIRTUE. VIRTUE is “the doing good to mankind, in obedience to the will of God, and for the sake of everlasting happiness.”
According to which definition, “ the good of mankind,” is the subject; the “ will of God,” the rule ; and “everlasting happiness,” the motive, of human virtue.
Virtue has been divided by some moralists into benevolence, prudence, fortitude, and temperance. Benevolence proposes good ends ; prudence suggests the best means of attaining them ; fortitude enables us to encounter the difficulties, dangers, and discouragements which stand in our way in pursuit of these ends; temperance repels and overcomes the passions that obstruct it. Benevolence, for instance, prompts us to undertake the cause of an oppressed orphan; prudence suggests the best means of going about it.; fortitude enables us to confront the danger, and bear up against the loss, disgrace, or repulse that may attend our undertaking; and temperance keeps under the love of money, of ease, or amusement which might divert us from it.
Virtue is distinguished by others into two branches only, prudence and benevolence : prudence, attentive to our own interest; benevolence, to that of our fellow creatures : both directed to the same end, the increase of happiness in nature; and taking equal concern in the future as in the present.
The four CARDINAL virtues are prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice.
But the division of virtue, to which we are in modern times most accustomed, is into duties :
Towards God; as piety, reverence, resignation, gratitude, &c.
Towards other men (or relative duties); as justice, charity, fidelity, loyalty, &c.
Towards ourselves ; as chastity, sobriety, temperance, preservation of life, care of health, &c.
More of these distinctions have been proposed, which it is not worth while to set down.
I shall proceed to state a few observations, which relate to the general regulation of human conduct; unconnected indeed with each other, but very worthy of attention; and which fall as properly under the title of this chapter as of any future one.
I. Mankind act more from habit than reflection...
It is on few only and great occasions that men deliberate at all; on fewer still, that they institute any thing like a regular inquiry into the moral rectitude or depravity of what they are about to do; or wait for the result of it. We are for the most part determined at once; and by an impulse, which is the effect and energy of preestablished habits. And this constitution seems well adapted to the exigencies of human life, and to the imbecility of our moral principle. In