If you will secure a contented spirit, you must measure your desires by your fortune and condition, not your fortunes by your desire -- that is, be governed by your needs, not by your fancy; by nature, not by evil customs and ambitious principles. He that would shoot an arrow out of a plough, or hunt a hare with an elephant, is not unfortunate for missing the mark or prey; but he is foolish for choosing such unapt instruments: and so is he that runs after his content with appetites not springing from natural needs, but from artificial, fantastical, and violent necessities. These are not to be satisfied; or if they were, a man hath chosen an evil instrument towards his content: nature did not intend rest to a man by filling of such desires. Is that beast better that hath two or three mountains to graze on, than a little bee that feeds on dew or manna, and lives upon what falls every morning from the storehouse of heaven, clouds and providence? Can a man quench his thirst better out of a river than a full urn, or drink better from the fountain which is finely paved with marble than when it swells over the green turf? Pride and artificial gluttonies do but adulterate nature, making our diet health less, our appetites impatient and unsatisfiable, and the taste mixed, fantastical, and meretricious. But that which we miscall poverty is indeed nature; and its proportions are the just measures of a man and the best instruments of content. But when we create needs that God or nature never made, we have erected to ourselves an infinite stock of trouble that can have no period.
Every man hath in his own life sins enough, in his own mind trouble enough, in his own fortune evils enough, and in performance of his offices failings more than enough, to entertain his own inquiry; so that curiosity after the affairs of others cannot be without envy, and an evil mind. What is it to me, if my neighbour's grandfather were a Syrian or his grandmother illegitimate; or that another is indebted five thousand pounds, or whether his wife be expensive? But commonly curious persons, or (as the apostle's phrase is) `busybodies,' are not solicitous or inquisitive into the beauty and order of a well-governed family, or after the virtues of an excellent person; but if there be anything for which men keep locks and bars, and porters, things that blush to see the light, and either are shameful in manners, or private in nature, these things are their care and their business.