How Can He Be Happy That Never Felt Grief?

Among advantages which adversity has, this is not the least, that, a man’s misfortunate days once past, he lives the rest of his life with greater delight. Who can relish health, that has never been sick? Who knows the sweetness of his country, so well as he has been long abroad? Or who can take pleasure in riches but he that has been poor? As salt favors meat, so does past misery render our lives more pleasant.

Perhaps you will say I would have pleasure without pain: this is contrary to nature, for joy is continually attended by sorrow, glory with envy, wisdom is not gotten without labor, wealth is not obtained without care, children are kept with trouble, banqueting is attended by sickness, ease with poverty, power with envy, quiet with weariness. Everyman has something to complain of. Some are afflicted with poverty, others want children, this man is sick, that man wants a wife, and this man would be rid of his. But that which is most strange is, that to be happy and liable to no misfortune, is also a calamity.

How can he be happy that never felt grief? This is certain, that without adversity a man cannot live comfortably, nor take delight in mirth without some sorrow. And is it not a comfort in our calamity to have not only one man for a companion, but all mankind.

Truly the adversity of others, never made my misfortunes seem the less: but the unavoidableness of troubles, to which all naturally are subject, has much mitigated my private grieves. For who but a mad man will lament that which cannot be helped. A wise man considering the course of sublunary things, will expect any kind of mishap, and is prepared against the worst.