Fortune is to be honoured and respected, and it be but for her daughters, Confidence and Reputation; for those two felicity breedeth; the first within a mans self, the latter in others towards him. All wise men, to decline the envy of their own virtues, use to ascribe them to Providence and Fortune; for so they may the better assume them: and, besides, it is greatness in a man to be the care of the higher powers.
It is, I confess, the common fate of men of singular gifts of mind, to be destitute of those of fortune, which doth not any way deject the spirit of wiser judgments, who thoroughly understand the justice of this proceeding; and, being enriched with higher donatives, cast a more careless eye on these vulgar parts of felicity. It is a most unjust ambition to desire to engross the mercies of the Almighty, not to be content with the goods of mind, without a possession of those of body or fortune; and it is an error worse than heresy, to adore these complemental and circumstantial pieces of felicity, and undervalue those perfections and essential points of happiness wherein we resemble our Maker.
Fortune has been considered the guardian divinity of fools; and, on this score, she has been accused of blindness; but it should rather be adduced as a proof of her sagacity, when she helps those who certainly cannot help themselves.
The Europeans are themselves blind who describe Fortune without sight. No first-rate beauty ever had finer eyes, or saw more clearly: they who have no other trade but seeking their fortune need never hope to find her; coquet like, she flies from her close pursuers, and at last fixes on the plodding mechanic, who stays at home and minds his business. I am amazed how men can call her blind, when by the company she keeps she seems so very discerning. Wherever you see a gaming-table, be very sure Fortune is not there; when you see a man whose pocket-holes are laced with gold, be satisfied Fortune is not there; wherever you see a beautiful woman good-natured and obliging, be convinced Fortune is never there. In short, she is ever seen accompanying industry, and as often trundling a wheelbarrow as lolling in a coach-and-six.
It is a lamentable thing that every man is full of complaints and constantly uttering sentences against the fickleness of Fortune, when people generally bring upon themselves all the calamities they fall into, and are constantly heaping up matter for their own sorrow and disappointment. That which produces the greatest part of the delusions of mankind is a false hope which people indulge with so sanguine a flattery to themselves, that their hearts are bent upon fantastical advantages which they have no reason to believe should ever have arrived to them. By this unjust measure of calculating their happiness, they often mourn with real affliction for imaginary losses.