The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 3 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 329

they may find conveniences
and inconveniences; in whatever 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
conveniences of things, the pleasant parts of 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 shows 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 oneself entangled

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.