The cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to light; mousing for vermin and never seeing noble game.
The cynic puts all human actions into only two classes, openly bad and secretly bad; he holds that no man does a good thing except for profit; his insinuations and innuendos fall indiscriminately upon every lovely thing like frost upon the flowers.
If Mr. A. is pronounced a religious man he will reply, “Yes, on Sundays.”
Mr. B has just joined the church. “Certainly, the elections are coming on.”
The minister of the gospel is an example of diligence. “Tis his trade.”
Thus his eye strains out every good quality and takes in only the bad. To him religion is hypocrisy, honesty only a preparation for fraud, virtue only a want of opportunity. The live long day he will coolly sit with sneering lip, transfixing every character that is presented.
It is impossible to indulge in such habitual severity of opinion against our fellow men without injuring the tenderness and delicacy of our own feelings. A man will be what his most cherished feelings are. If he encourage a noble generosity, every feeling will be enriched by it; if he nurse bitter and envenomed thoughts, his own spirit will absorb the poison and he will crawl among men like a burnished adder whose life is mischief and whose errand is death.
He who hunts for flowers will find flowers, but he who hunts for weeds may find weeds. Let it be remembered that he who is not himself morally diseased will have no relish for disease in others. Reject then the morbid ambition of the cynic, or cease to call yourself a man.
-Henry Ward Beecher