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Good-nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a certain air to the countenance which is more amiable than beauty. It shews virtue in the fairest light, takes off in some measure from the deformity of vice, and makes even folly and impertinence supportable.
There is no society or conversation to be kept up in the world without good-nature, or something which must bear its appearance, and supply its place. For this reason mankind have been forced to invent a kind of artificial humanity, which is what we express by the word good-breeding. For if we examine thoroughly the idea of what we call so, we shall find it to be nothing else but an imitation and inimickry of goodnature, or in other terms, affability, complaisance, and easiness of temper reduced into an art.
These exterior shows and appearances of humanity render a man wonderfully popular and beloved, when they are founded upon a real good-nature; but without it are like hypocrisy in religion, or a bare form of holiness, which, when it is discovered, makes a man more detestable than professed impiety. .
Good-nature is generally born with us: health, prosperity, and kind treatment from the world are great cherishers of it where they fiud it; but noth'ng is capable of forcing it up, where it does not grow of itself. It is one of the blessings of a happy constitution, which education may improve but not produce.
Xenophon in the life of his imaginary prince, whom he describes as a pattern for real ones, is always celebrating the philanthropy or good-nature of his hero, which he tells us he brought into the world with him, and gives many remarkable instances of it in his childhood, as well as in all the several parts of his life*. Nay, on his death-bed, he describes him as being pleased, that while his soul returned to him who made it,, his body should incorporate with the great mother of all things, and by that means become beneficial to mankind. For which reason, he gives his sons a positive order not to inshrine it in gold or silver, but to lay it in the earth as soon as the life was gone out of it.
An instance of such an overflowing of humanity, such an exuberant love to mankind, could not have entered into the imagination of a writer, who had not a soul filled with great ideas, and a general benevolence to mankind.
In that celebrated passage of Sallust, where Cæsar and Cato are placed in such beautiful, but opposite lights t; Cæsar's character is chiefly made up of good-nature, as it shewed itself in all its forms towards his friends or his enemies, his servants or dependents, the guilty, or the distressed. As for Cato's character, it is rather awful than amiable. Justice seems most agreeable to the nature of God, and mercy to that of man. A being who has nothing to pardon in himself, may reward every man according to his works; but he whose very best actions must be seen with grains of allowance, cannot be too mild, moderate, and forgiving. For this reason, among all the monstrous characters in human nature, there is none so odious, nor indeed so exqui. sitely ridiculous, as that of a rigid severe temper in a worthless man.
This part of good-nature however, which consists in the pardoning and overlooking of faults, is to be
* Xenoph. De Cyri Instit. lib. viii. cap. vii. sect. 3. edit. J. A. Ern. 8vo. tom. i. p. 550. st Salust. Bell, Catil. c. liv,
exercised only in doing ourselves justice, and that 7 too in the ordinary commerce and occurrences of life;
for in the public administrations of justice, mercy to * one may be cruelty to others.
It is grown almost into a maxim, that good-natured in men are not always men of the most wit. This ob
servation, in my opinion, has no foundation in nature. The greatest wits I have conversed with are men eminent for their humanity. I take therefore this remark to have been occasioned by two reasons. First, because ill-nature among ordinary observers passes for wit. A spiteful saying gratifies so many little passions in those who hear it, that it generally meets with a good reception. The laugh rises upon it, and the man who utters it is looked upon as a shrewd satirist. This may be one reason, why a great many pleasant companions appear so surprisingly dull,
when they have endeavoured to be merry in print; î the public being more just than private clubs or as i semblies, in distinguishing between what is wit, and what is ill-nature.
Another reason why the good-natured man may sometimes bring his wit in question, is, perhaps, because he is apt to be moved with compassion for those misfortunes or infirmities, which another would turn into ridicule, and by that means gain the reputation of a wit. The ill-patured man, though but
of equal parts, gives himself a larger field to expai tiate in; he exposes those failings in human nature
which the other would cast a veil over, laughs at vices which the other either excuses or conceals, gives utterance to reflections which the other stifles, falls indifferently upon friends or enemies, exposes the person who has obliged him, and, in short, sticks at nothing that may establish his character of a wit. It is no wonder therefore he succeeds in it better than the man of humanity*, as a person who makes use of indirect methods is more likely to grow rich than the fair trader.
No 170, FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1711.
In amore hæc omnia insunt vitia : injuric,
TER. Eun. Act. i. Sc. 1.
UPON looking over the letters of my female correspondents, I find several from women complaining of jealous husbands, and at the same time protesting their own innocence; and desiring my advice on this occasion. I shall therefore take this subject into my consideration, and the more willingly, because I find that the Marquis of Hallifax, who, in his Advice to a Daughter, has instructed a wife how to behave herself towards a false, an intemperate, a choleric, a sullen, a covetous, or a silly husband, has not spoken one word of a jealous husband.
Jealousy is that pain which a man feels from the apprehension that he is not equally beloved by the person whom he intirely loves. Now because our inward passions and inclinations can never make
* If Doctor Swift's wit was to be subjected to this scrutiny, it would be circumscribed within a very narrow compass. The chiet' source from which it sprung was the indignation that gnawed his heart.
themselves visible, it is impossible for a jealous man to be thoroughly cured of his suspicions. His thoughts hang at best in a state of doubtfulness and uncertainty; and are never capable of receiving any satisfaction on the advantageous side; so that his inquiries are most successful when they discover nothing. His pleasure arises from his disappointments, and his life is spent in pursuit of a secret that destroys his happiness if he chance to find it.
· An ardent love is always a strong ingredient in this passion; for the same affection which stirs up the jealous man's desires, and gives the party beloved so beautiful a figure in his imagination, makes him believe she kindles the same passion in others, and appears as amiable to all beholders. And as jealousy thus arises from an extraordinary love, it is of so delicate a nature, that it scorns to take up with any thing less than an equal return of love. Not the warmest expressions of affection, the softest and most tender hypocrisy, are able to give any satisfaction, where we are not persuaded that the affection is real, and the satisfaction mutual. For the jealous man wishes himself a kind of deity to the person he loves. He would be the only pleasure of her senses, the employment of her thoughts; and is angry at every thing she admires, or takes delight in, besides himself.
Phædra's request to his mistress, upon his leaving her for three days, is inimitably beautiful and 11tural :
Cum milite isto præsens, ubsens ut sies ;
TER. L'un. Act i. Sc. %.