'Do not begin to quarrel with the world too soon: for bad as it may be, it is the best we have to live in -- here. If railing would have made it better, it would have been reformed long ago: but as this is not to be hoped for at present, the best way is to slide through it as contentedly and innocently as we may.'
William Hazlitt, painter, writer, critic and hapless lover, pens a letter to his son, offering advice from his vantage point as a some time father, soon to succumb to cancer.
He covers many categories: from schooling, friends, relationships, ethics to choosing a profession, the importance of learning to dance and drinking water. One can read in the essay Hazlitt's own disappointments and brushes with life's bitter pockets of unfulfillment. But the overall sense is of a sold mind, in conversation with the better and nobler qualities and attributes he has discovered over his life time. There is an appeal, repeatedly, to not give way to first impressions:
Learn never to conceive a prejudice against others, because you know nothing of them. It is bad reasoning, and makes enemies of half the world. Do not think ill of them, till they behave ill to you; and then strive to avoid the faults which you see in them.
One must learn to be energetic with the body as well as the mind, and to find ways to be included in the pageantry of life. In Hazlitt's time, dancing was one such a way to make sure you were literally invited to the party.