By Joseph Addison
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 affliction is still made more heavy by the envy, malice, treachery, or injustice of his neighbour. At the same time that the storm beats on 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 ourselves and others, than that disposition of mind which in our language goes under the title of good nature, and which I shall choose 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 mimicry 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 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 and 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 enshrine 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, Cæsar’s character is chiefly made up of good nature, as it showed 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 exquisitely 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 exercised only in doing ourselves justice, and that 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 men are not always men of the most wit. This observation, 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; the public being more just than private clubs or assemblies, 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-natured man, though but of equal parts, gives himself a larger field to expatiate 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 as 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.
Yes haha it was me. Glad to hear she’s alive and well. I have this horrible tendency of thinking the worst whenever someone I know disappears all of a sudden from Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr (when they could’ve just decided, “Screw this. I think I’m going to leave the internet and move to Fiji.” you know?). But no. I think of the worst case scenarios. Anyhow haha thanks for letting me know. Oh, and I’m really trying to “fuck anything that doesn’t make [me] happy.”, but I’m running out of condoms, dammit…. off to Costco!
Errol Flynn liked to put his tongue in your mouth after he’d been out drinking all night. Ugh! I always kept my lips tightly closed. He must have been a terrible lover. I wouldn’t know firsthand. He invited me to find out, but I didn’t think I’d like being compared to all those cute little contestants in the private beauty contest he was holding.
- Bette Davis” —
Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes
‘Twas on a lofty vase’s side,
Where China’s gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima reclined,
Gazed on the lake below.
Her conscious tail her joy declared;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw; and purr’d applause.
Still had she gazed; but ‘midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The Genii of the stream:
Their scaly armor’s Tyrian hue
Thro’ richest purple to the view
Betray’d a golden gleam.
The hapless Nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretch’d in vain to reach the prize.
What female heart could good despise?
What Cat’s averse to fish?
Presumptuous Maid! with looks intent
Again she stretch’d, again she bent,
Now knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smil’d)
The slipp’ry verge her feet beguil’d,
She tumbled headlong in.
Eight times emerging from the flood
She mew’d to ev’ry wat’ry God,
Some speedy aid to send.
No Dolphin came, No Nereid stirr’d:
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard.
A Fav’rite has no friend!
From hence, ye Beauties, undeceiv’d,
Know, one false step is ne’er retriev’d,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that temps your wand’ring eyes
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize;
Nor all, that glisters, gold.
— Thomas Gray (Illustrations by W. Blake)
You ladies all of merry England
Who have been to kiss the Duchess’s hand,
Pray, did you not lately observe in the show
A noble Italian called Signior Dildo?
This signior was one of the Duchess’s train
And helped to conduct her over the main;
But now she cries out, ‘To the Duke I will go,
I have no more need for Signior Dildo.’
At the Sign of the Cross in St James’s Street,
When next you go thither to make yourselves sweet
By buying of powder, gloves, essence, or so,
You may chance t’ get a sight of Signior Dildo.
You would take him at first for no person of note,
Because he appears in a plain leather coat,
But when you his virtuous abilities know,
You’ll fall down and worship Signior Dildo.
My Lady Southesk, heaven prosper her for’t!
First clothed him in satin, then brought him to Court;
But his head in the circle he scarcely durst show,
So modest a youth was Signior Dildo.
The good Lady Suffolk, thinking no harm,
Had got this poor stranger hid under her arm.
Lady Betty by chance came the secret to know,
And from her own mother stole Signior Dildo.
The Countess of Falmouth, of whom people tell
Her footmen wear shirts of a guinea an ell,
Might save that expense, if she did but know
How lusty a swinger is Signior Dildo.
By the help of this gallant the Countess of Rafe
Against the fierce Harris preserved herself safe.
She stifled him almost beneath her pillow,
So closely she embraced Signior Dildo.
The pattern of virtue, Her Grace of Cleveland,
Has swallowed more pricks than the ocean has sand;
But by rubbing and scrubbing so wide does it grow,
It is fit for just nothing but Signior Dildo.
Our dainty fine duchesses have got a trick
To dote on a fool for the sake of his prick:
The fops were undone did their graces but know
The discretion and vigor of Signior Dildo.
The Duchess of Modena, though she looks so high,
With such a gallant is content to lie,
And for fear that the English her secrets should know,
For her Gentleman Usher took Signior Dildo.
The Countess o’ th ‘Cockpit (who knows not her name?
She’s famous in story for a killing dame),
When all her old lovers forsake her, I trow,
She’ll then be contented with Signior Dildo.
Red Howard, red Sheldon, and Temple so tall
Complain of his absence so long from Whitehall;
Signior Barnard has promised a journey to go
And bring back his countryman, Signior Dildo.
Doll Howard no longer with His Highness must range,
And therefore is proferred this civil exchange:
Her teeth being rotten, she smells best below,
And needs must be fitted for Signior Dildo.
St Albans, with wrinkles and smiles in his face,
Whose kindness to strangers becomes his high place,
In his coach and six horses is gone to Bergo
To take the fresh air with Signior Dildo.
Were this signior but known to the citizen fops,
He’d keep their fine wives from the foremen of shops;
But the rascals deserve their horns should still grow
For burning the Pope and his nephew Dildo.
Tom Killigrew’s wife, that Holland’s fine flower,
At the sight of this signior did fart and belch sour,
And her Dutch breeding farther to show,
Says, ‘Welcome to England, Mynheer Van Dildo.’
He civilly came to the Cockpit one night,
And proferred his service to fair Madam Knight.
Quoth she, ‘I intrigue with Captain Cazzo;
Your nose in mine arse, good Signior Dildo.’
This signior is sound, safe, ready, and dumb
As ever was candle, carrot, or thumb;
Then away with these nasty devices, and show
How you rate the just merit of Signior Dildo.
Count Cazzo, who carries his nose very high,
In passion he swore his rival should die;
Then shut himself up to let the world know
Flesh and blood could not bear it from Signior Dildo.
A rabble of pricks who were welcome before,
Now finding the porter denied them the door,
Maliciously waited his coming below
And inhumanly fell on Signior Dildo.
Nigh wearied out, the poor stranger did fly,
And along the Pall Mall they followed full cry;
The women concerned from every window
Cried, “Oh! For heavens’ sake, save Signior Dildo!”
The good Lady Sandys burst into a laughter
To see how the ballocks came wobbling after,
And had not their weight retarded the foe,
Indeed ‘t had gone hard with Signior Dildo.
- John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester