Saturday, January 14, 2012


The Duty of Cheerfulness

Richard Steele, The Spectator, no. 100 (Monday, June 25, 1711):
A man advanced in Years that thinks fit to look back upon his former Life, and calls that only Life which was passed with Satisfaction and Enjoyment, excluding all Parts which were not pleasant to him, will find himself very young, if not in his Infancy. Sickness, Ill-humour, and Idleness, will have robbed him of a great Share of that Space we ordinarily call our Life. It is therefore the Duty of every Man that would be true to himself, to obtain, if possible, a Disposition to be pleased, and place himself in a constant Aptitude for the Satisfactions of his Being.


It is a wonderful thing that so many, and they not reckoned absurd, shall entertain those with whom they converse by giving them the History of their Pains and Aches; and imagine such Narrations their Quota of the Conversation. This is of all other the meanest Help to Discourse, and a Man must not think at all, or think himself very insignificant, when he finds an Account of his Head-ach answer'd by another's asking what News in the last Mail? Mutual good Humour is a Dress we ought to appear in whenever we meet, and we should make no mention of what concerns our selves, without it be of Matters wherein our Friends ought to rejoyce...
Similarly Steele in The Spectator, no. 143 (Tuesday, August 14, 1711):
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 feign'd Affliction. Cares, Distresses, Diseases, Uneasinesses, and Dislikes of our own, are by no means to be obtruded upon our Friends.


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.

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