by: THOMAS JEFFERSON

You ASK if I would agree to live my seventy or rather

seventy-three years over again? To which I say yea. I think

with you that it is a good world on the whole; that it has

been framed on a principle of benevolence, and more pleas-

ure than pain dealt out to us. These are, indeed, (who might

say nay) gloomy and hypochondriac minds, inhabitants

of diseased bodies, disgusted with the present, and despair-

ing of the future; always counting that the worst will hap-

pen, because it may happen. To these I say, how much pain

have cost us the evils which have never happened! My

temperament is sanguine. I steer my bark with Hope in the

head, leaving Fear astern. My hopes, indeed, sometimes fail;

but not oftener than the forebodings of the gloomy. There

are, I acknowledge, even in the happiest life, some terrible

convulsions, heavy set-oils against the opposite page of the

account. I have often wondered for what good end the sen-

sations of grief could be intended. All our other passions,

within proper bounds, have a useful object. And the perfec-

tion of the moral character is, not in a stoical apathy, so

hypocritically vaunted, and so untruly too, because impos-

sible, but in a just equilibrium of all the passions. I wish the

pathologists then, would tell us what is the use of grief in

the economy, and of what good it is the cause, proximate or


                    ESSAY ON MAN

                    at ten, a child; at twenty, wild;

                    at thirty, tame, if ever;

                    at forty, wise; at fifty, rich;

                    at sixty, good or never.


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