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Good nature is a jewel well applied,
There is a species of good nature so nearly allied to weakness, that it degenerates into folly, if it does not actually become a vice. The man who aims at universal approbation pursues a phantom; and in that yain and fruitless pursuit, too frequently looses sight of his own dignity of character, and sinks into imbecility. The wise and the foolish do not worship at one shrine ; it is not therefore possible to conciliate both : and however painful it may be to a generous mind to feel itself an object of enmity, the conviction that such is the lot of human nature, should act as an antidote; whilst the sweet assurance of innate rectitude forms a much greater progress towards the pos session of happiness, than the praises of the worthless..
This blameable species of good nature was the distinguishing characteristic of Mr. Honeywood, a
young man of good family and ample fortune ; hig desire was to be universally beloved; and his motto was “universal benevolence.” Generous to profusion, he absolutely squandered his money away; bestowing it indiscriminately on the worthy or the unworthy. To apply was enough ; the monosyllable No! was not in Mr. Honeywood's vocabulary. To want was a passport to his regard, and the only recommendation requisite; he was consequently the dupe of knaves in every shape : and the doors of a prison were open to receive the man, who for his own indulgence never wasted a single guinea, or was guilty of
extrava agance whatever. His good nature was not less exerted in the commonest events of life; he readily joined in the humours of his friends; he laughed with those who were merry ; cried with those who were sad; was valiant with the brave; and appeared timid with the cowardly: in short, he might be said to resemble a looking-glass, reflecting the features of overy face which approached him, but retaining no one feature of his own; his servants were extravagant, and robbed him; yet when urged to discharge thens, he shook his head, and replied, that would be cruel, as his indulgence had spoiled them, and they were unfit for any other person's service.
Though he was accounted the best tempered man 10 the world, he could hardly be said to possess the blessing of an affectionate friend or a faithful servant; aor could all his bounty obtain for him the reward of gratitude. Yet he was completely self deceived; imagining himself beloved because he knew that his life was spent in courting the good opinion of all ranks and classes; though in reality he was sinking daily in the esteem of those worthy people, who perhaps did not krow him, from the frivolous remarks passed on his conduct by those who did know him; and in' the whole circle of his acquaintance, there was one only who appeared to understand and appreciate his
worth : this was Miss Richland, an orphan heiress, and a ward of his particular friend Mr. Croaker. He valued her, yet was so innately modest, that he could not suppose it possible, the elegant and accomplished Miss Richland would condescend to entertaid any partiality for him, save friendship ; and he was most proud in being considered merely on the list of her friends.
He had also one faithful servant, old Jarvis, who had been bred up from his youth in the family, and loved the son as he had previously loved the father ; loved him because he must love him, and because he was so good-natured : but honest Jarvis thought him a fool, though he would perhaps have broke any person's head who should have dared to say so, nor could he for the soul of him judge of his master's “philosophy," and his system of “ universal benevolence.' He knew he meant well, and therefore excused him ; but knowing the result would be injurious, if not fatal to himself, he blamed him. He was also much alarmed at the determination of Honeywood's rich uncle, Sir William, to disinherit him; and, presuming upon his long and faithful services, ventured to remonstrate with the Baronet, who listened to him with great good humour. Jarvis pleaded his master's cause warmly, assuring Sir William that he was a most affectionate nephew, though he had never once seen him since he was a child.
“Pshaw! (replied the testy old gentleman) what of his affection ? what value can I place on the heart of a man, as open to a sharper or a coxcomb, as it is to me ?"
“Why, to be sure, Sir, he is, as a body may say, rather too good-natured; rather too much every man's man, as it were ; but it all proceeds from his philosophy and universal benevolence."
Sir William shook his head; he was pleased to bear the good old man's vindication of his nephew; he knew his very faults proceeded from an excess of virtue ; but that virtue would be his ruin, unless some powerful effort was made to convince him of his mistaken weakness. Sir William had been abroad inany years; bad returned from Italy unknown to every one, and for some months past been a concealed spectator of his nephew's improvidence; amongst whose innumerable acts of folly, was that of becoming security for a worthless fellow to a considerable amount : and when Jarvis put in a few words of advice, by way of caution, Honeywood told him suspiciou was a vice of great magnitude, and that placing so much confidence in an almost entire stranger was an act of exalted munificence.
“ Truly, sir, (said Jarvis,) I know but little of these fine sort of expressions, but I wish you don't repent this mu-ri-ficence, as you call it, that's all.”'
Jarvis's fears were too well founded : for this fellow, a common swindler, taking advantage of Mr. Honeywood's character for good nature, made up a piteous tale, imposed upon his credulity, absconded, and left his benefactor in a sad dilemma. As he was not prepared with the sum requisite, Sir William, thinking this a good opportunity of awakening him to a sense of his weakness, purchased the security, and resolved to act against Honeywood with the utmost rigour ; whilst he, totally unsuspicious of any danger, was as usual calm and serene, shaking his head, and gently sympathizing with his good friend Mr. Croako er, on all his fears, doubts, and sorrows. Poor Mr. Croaker was one of those unfortunate beings, who, without any earthly want, was perpetually wretched; nothing pleased him; in spring the weather was too uncertain ; in summer, it was too hot ; in autumn, too bleak; and in winter, too piercing : the long evenings were disagreeable, and the long days were inconvenient. A cinder flying out of the fire, or a phroud burning in the candle, were sure signs of
death; the salt spilt was a sign of quarrelling; and if a raven was heard to croak, even in the vicinity of a rookery, it foretold some dire calamity : he was ever in dread of misfortune ; and if an earthquake took. place in Constantinople, it would be sure, in Croaker's mind, to take a circumbendibus rout, and touch, ere long, upon England. He was constant in his visitations to Mr. Honeywood, who tenderly sympathized in all his griefs; if Croaker groaned, Honeywood heaved a responsive sigh; if Croaker wept,
Honeywood's cambric handkerchief was at hand : yet the depressions left upon his mind by Croaker's complaints were not unfrequently chased by the volatile mirth of Mrs. Croaker; who, the very reverse of her husband, assumed a boisterous degree of overbearing spirits. But there was as little reality in her high spirits, as his low ones; she laughed without mirth, as he cried without grief; and Honeywood, the pliant Honeywood, sympathized with both. Mr. 1-naker was anxious for a marrriage between
wa Miss Richland : and there was a clause to this efect in her father's will, that she should marry young Croaker, or, upon refusal, forfeit half her fortune. The old man was, however, very un