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On the conversation with ourselves. (A.F. Knigge, 1805)

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Nov 17th, 2013
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  1. (by Adolph Freiherr von Knigge "Practical philosophy of social life or, The art of conversing with men" (1805, translated from German); ; p. 46ff.)
  4. On the conversation with ourselves.
  6. 1 Take care of the health of your mind as well as that of
  7. your body ; but spoil neither the one nor the other by too
  8. much tenderness. The man that endangers his constitution
  9. by too much labor or excess, squanders away a treasure which
  10. frequently is alone sufficient to raise him above men and fate,
  11. and for the loss of which the wealth of all the world cannot
  12. compensate.
  14. 2 But he that dreads every breeze of air, and is fearful to
  15. exert and exercise his limbs, lives a nerveless life of constant
  16. anxiety, and attempts in vain to put the rusty springs in
  17. motion when he has occasion to exert his natural powers.
  19. 3 A man that constantly exposes his mind to the tempests
  20. of passion, or incessantly crowds the sails of his spirit, either
  21. runs aground or must return with his leaky vessel into port,
  22. when the best season for making new discoveries sets in.
  23. But he that suffers the faculties of his understanding and
  24. memory constantly to sleep, or shudders at every little strug-
  25. gle or at any sort of painful exertion, enjoys not only very
  26. little of the sweets of life, but is also totally lost as soon as
  27. energy, courage and resolution are required.
  29. 4 Take care, therefore, not to torment yourself by imagi-
  30. nary sufferings of the body or the mind ; do not give way to
  31. every adverse incident or corporeal affliction! Take courage
  32. and be resolute ! All the storms of adversity are transient;
  33. all difficulties can be overcome by firmness of mind; and the
  34. remembrance of every loss can be exploded from the memory,
  35. if we bend our attention upon some other object.
  37. 5 Have a proper regard for yourself, if you wish to be
  38. esteemed by others. Act well and properly, rather to pre-
  39. serve your regard for yourself than to please others. Pre-
  40. serve a proper sense of your internal dignity. Never lose
  41. your reliance upon yourself, and upon the consciousness of
  42. your value in the eyes of your Creator; and although you
  43. are sensible not to be as wise and capable as others, yet do
  44. not despair; let not your zeal slacken, nor be wanting in
  45. probity of heart !
  47. 6 Have confidence in yourself and trust to Providence!
  48. There exists a greatness which is independent of men, fate,
  49. and the applause of the world ; it consists in the internal
  50. consciousness of our merit and rectitude, and our sense of it
  51. grows stronger, the less it is taken notice of.
  53. 7 Be an agreeable companion to yourself: that is, never
  54. be entirely unoccupied, nor confide entirely in the store of
  55. knowledge which you have treasured up in your mind; but
  56. collect new ideas from books and men.
  58. 8 Our own society does, however, never grow more te-
  59. dious and distressing to ourselves than when w r e have painful
  60. accounts to settle with our heart and conscience. If you wish
  61. to convince yourself of the truth of this assertion, you need
  62. but to observe the difference of your disposition.
  64. 9 How much dissatisfied with ourselves, how absent, and
  65. how burdensome to ourselves, are we after a train of hours
  66. which we have trifled away or spent in doing wrong, and how
  67. serene, how happy to reflect upon our conduct, and to give
  68. audience to our ideas at the close of a well spent day!
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