Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
Good-Nature
 
  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.  1
  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.  2
  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.  3
  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.
Joseph Addison: Spectator, No. 169.    
  4
 
  Men naturally warm and heady are transported with the greatest flush of good-nature.
Joseph Addison.    
  5
 
  Such a transient, temporary good-nature is not that philanthropy, that love of mankind, which deserves the title of a moral virtue.
Joseph Addison.    
  6
 
  This part of good-nature, which consists in the pardoning and overlooking of faults, is to be exercised only in doing ourselves justice in the ordinary commerce and occurrences of life.
Joseph Addison.    
  7
 
  The world will operate differently according to our temper. Almost everybody, in the sanguine season of youth, looks in the world for more perfection than he is likely to find. But a good-tempered man—that is to say, a man of a wise constitution—will be pleased, in the midst of his disappointment, to find that, if the virtues of men are below his wish and calculation, their faults have beneficial effects; whereas the ill-tempered man grows peevish at finding, what he will as certainly find, the ill consequence attending the most undoubted virtues. I believe we shall do everything something the better for putting ourselves in as good a humour as possible when we set about it.
Edmund Burke: To Lord John Cavendish.    
  8
 
  Affability, mildness, tenderness, and a word which I would fain bring back to its original signification of virtue,—I mean good-nature,—are of daily use: they are the bread of mankind and staff of life.
John Dryden.    
  9
 
  Good-sense and good-nature are never separated, though the ignorant world has thought otherwise. Good-nature, by which I mean beneficence and candour, is the product of right reason, which, of necessity, will give allowance to the failings of others, by considering that there is nothing perfect in mankind; and by distinguishing that which comes nearest to excellency, though not absolutely free from faults, will certainly produce a candour in the judge.
John Dryden.    
  10
 
  The greatest misfortunes men fall into arise from themselves; and that temper which is called very often, though with great injustice, good-nature, is the source of a numberless train of evils. For which reason we are to take this as a rule, that no action is commendable which is not voluntary; and we have made this a maxim: “That a man who is commonly called good-natured is hardly to be thanked for anything he does, because half that is acted about him is done rather by his sufferance than approbation.”
John Hughes: Tatler, No. 76.    
  11
 
  That inexhaustible good-nature, which is the most precious gift of Heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest weather.  12
 
  ’Tis a great error to take facility for good-nature: tenderness without discretion is no better than a more pardonable folly.
Roger L’Estrange.    
  13
 
  An attribute so precious, that, in my consideration, it becomes a virtue, is a gentle and constant equality of temper. To sustain it, not only exacts a pure mind, but a vigour of understanding which resists the petty vexations and fleeting contrarieties which a multitude of objects and events are continually bringing. What an unutterable charm does it give to the society of the man who possesses it! How is it possible to avoid loving him whom we are certain always to find with serenity on his brow, and a smile on his countenance?
Bishop Edward Stanley.    
  14
 
  It is a very common expression, that such a one is very good-natured, but very passionate. The expression, indeed, is very good natured, to allow passionate people so much quarter; but I think a passionate man deserves the least indulgence possible. It is said, it is soon over; that is, all the mischief he does is quickly despatched, which, I think, is no great recommendation to favour.
Sir Richard Steele: Spectator, No. 438.    
  15
 
 
 
  We should not confound together physical delicacy of nerves, and extreme tenderness of heart and benevolence and gentleness of character. It is also important to guard against mistaking for good nature what is properly good humour,—a cheerful flow of spirits, and easy temper not readily annoyed, which is compatible with great selfishness.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacon’s Essay, Of Goodness, and Goodness of Nature.    
  16
 
  There is perhaps no one quality that can produce a greater amount of mischief than may be done by thoughtless good-nature. For instance, if any one, out of tenderness of heart and reluctance to punish or to discard the criminal and worthless, lets loose on society, or advances to important offices, mischievous characters, he will have conferred a doubtful benefit on a few, and done incalculable hurt to thousands. So, also, to take one of the commonest and most obvious cases, that of charity to the poor,—a man of great wealth, by freely relieving all idle vagabonds, might go far towards ruining the industry, and the morality, and the prosperity, of a whole nation.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacon’s Essay, Of Goodness, and Goodness of Nature.    
  17
 
 
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