[Footnote 4: The Water Theatre, invented by Mr. Winstanley, and exhibited by his widow at the lower end of Piccadilly.]
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’Sic vita erat: facile omnes perferre ac pati: Cum quibus erat cunque una, his sese dedere, Eorum obsequi studiis: advorsus nemini; Nunquam praeponens se aliis: Ita facillime Sine invidia invenias laudem.’
Man is subject to innumerable Pains and Sorrows by the very Condition of Humanity, and yet, as if Nature had not sown Evils enough in Life, we are continually adding Grief to Grief, and aggravating the common Calamity by our cruel Treatment of one another. Every Man’s natural Weight of Afflictions is still made more heavy by the Envy, Malice, Treachery, or Injustice of his Neighbour. At the same time that the Storm beats upon the whole Species, we are falling foul upon one another.
Half the Misery of Human Life might be extinguished, would Men alleviate the general Curse they lie under, by mutual Offices of Compassion, Benevolence, and Humanity. There is nothing therefore which we ought more to encourage in our selves and others, than that Disposition of Mind which in our Language goes under the Title of Good-nature, and which I shall chuse for the Subject of this Day’s Speculation.
Good-nature is more agreeable in Conversation than Wit, and gives a certain Air to the Countenance which is more amiable than Beauty. It shows 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 Mimickry of Good-nature, 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 find it; but nothing is capable of forcing it up, where it does not grow of it self. It is one of the Blessings of a happy Constitution, which Education may improve but not produce.