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In the mean time this we know, events are in the hands of God, but duty is in ours. When we have done all that we can, we have done all that is required, and our gracious God will expect no more; if our labour be loft to our unhappy flock, it shall not be lost to us; and tho' we save not others, we shall fave our own souls at the great day.
Of WIT and GOOD NATURE.
In a LETTER to EUGENIO.
me of contracting a friendship with FLORIO. He brought me your letter, but let me advise you for the future to be more frugal of your recommendation. It is at any time sufficient to prejudice me in favour of a person who may have no other claim to notice: and you but throw a perfume on the violet, in giving it fo lavishly to one whose own merit demands so much refpect and esteem.
My intimacy with FLORIO has confirm'd me in an opinion I have long entertained, that Good NATURE and Wit are designed by Providence as Companions, and that it is an offence against her operations when they appear divided from each other. We may see that diffatisfaction in each of them, when thus difunited, which is in a state of absence and separation. Wir grows peevilh and morose, Good NATURE becomes languid and Spiritless.
Vivacity of Genius without the benevolence of an affable disposition is often prejudicial to its owner, it is naturally fatirical, disgustful to his friends. It sparkles amiably under the veil of Good NATURE: that heavenly
quality foftens, and improves by that alleviation, the delicacy of its Rays, and preserves its Vigour, while it adds to its Reputation. We revere it in such a situation as we do the fun, which at once demands our admiration by its brightness and preserves us by its influence. When attended by a morose disposition, we may compare it to a comet whose appearance we indeed admire, but dread the effects of a phænomenon so disgustful to nature.
Malicious Wit is impaired by its own vivacity. It may make us feared in the vigour of our age and underftanding, but all mankind will rejoice at the decline of so pernicious a faculty.
GOOD NATURE, tho' imperfectly amiable, is more defireable for its own fake than Wit: it wants indeed force and fire, but its useful excesses will always recom-mend it: especially as its general fault is a profusion of ill-bestowed benefits, not the prosecution of an unjust war with inferior abilities. It is at least inoffensive where it is not beneficial, and meddles not with arms which it wants strength to manage.
FLORIO is happy in both these qualifications. WIT and AFFABILITY are united in his mind : as the one brightens, the other softens his conversation ; his benevolence endeavours to correct, or at least alleviate thofe blemishes which his quick apprehension fo readily discovers; and seems to turn that superiority his vivacity gives him, to the benefit and improvement of that slow difposition and languid faculty which it excels ; and the employment his Wit most delights in is to find out fome latent spark of merit in every body, to countenance that benevolence which his Good NATURE inspires him with.
You will not be apprehensive of my deviating from the constant friendship I have had with you, by the engaging character I have given of Flor10; but remember that the greatest proof I can give of my reliance on your impartiality is thus freely praising to you the excellence of
another. Besides I should think I robbed your generous temper of its due, if I did not communicate to you perfections which afford you so much pleasure when you observe them in others, and yet you are wilfully blind to them in yourself.
I am, Yours, &c.
The SPEECH of an old OAK to an extravagant
young Heir as he was going to be cut down,
gemitus lachrymabilis imo
large estate well conditioned, but by his continued extravagances had greatly impaired it. At one time particu larly a considerable sum was 'wanted; the only resource left was to fell a sufficient number of trees that grew in a wood near the manfion house. Among the rest an old venerable OAK was mark'd out to fall a victim to his owner's ne ceffities. The youth stood by with a secret Tatisfaction, while the labourers were preparing to give the fatal stroke, But lo, a hollow murmuring was heard within the trunk, and the Oak (or, if you will, the HAMADRYAD that inhabited it) spoke distinctly in the following manner.
My young Mafter, Your great grandfather planted me when he was much about your age; and tho he intended me perhaps for the use of his posterity, yet I cannot help repining at my prefent usage. I am the ancientest tree in all the forest, and have largely contributed by my products to the peopling
øf it: I therefore think some respect due to my services, if hone to my years. Tho' I cannot well remember your great grandfather, I with pleasure recollect with what favour your grandfather used to treat me, Your father too was not neglectful of me: many a time has he rested under my hofpitable fhade when fatigued with the sultry heat of the weather, or sheltered himself from an unexpected showera You was always his darling; and if the wrinkles of old age have not quite obliterated it, you may trace your name in several places cut out on my bark: for this was his conftant amusement whenever with me.
Nobleness of descent I know fignifies nothing in a tree, or else I could boast of as noble fap in me as any tree in England : for I came from the same stock with that Oak which is so famous for the preservation of King CHARLES. I have often with pleasure supplied your whole houshold with leaves, and with pride I can tell you, that you yourself have worn some of my broadest and most flourishing, properly gilded, on that occasion,
But I don't mention this as an inducement for you to spare me : I could fall without regret, if it were to do any real service to my master. If I were designed to repair your old mansion house by supplying the place of my rotten predecessors, or to furnish materials for your tenants plows, carts and the like, I could still be useful to my owner. But to be trucked away for vile gold, which perhaps is to fatisfy the demands of fome honourable cheat, to be subservient to luxury, or to stop the importunities of some profligate madam, is more than a tree of any spirit can bear.
Your ancestors, I fancy, never thought of what havock you would make among their woods, 'Twas a pleasure to be a tree while they lived: we old ones were honoured and caressed by them, and young ones were continually springing up around us. But now we must all fall without distinction, and the rooks in a short time will not find a þranch to roost on, Yet why should we complain? All your old country friends are equally neglected : your farms and your manors have almost all followed you to London already, and we must take the same journey. Indeed while your father was contented to wear a plain drugget, this was needless; but my young squire's coat must be laced, and 'tis but reasonable we should pay the expence. For what is a tree worth while standing? And what signifies who comes after you? Why should an heir pinch himself or grudge any expences, while there's a bit of timber on the estate ?
You know an old tree loves to prate ; and therefore you will excuse me, if I have been too free with my tongue. 'Twas not I assure you to preserve my old trunk, which muft otherwise foon decay of itself, that I opened my mouth: I was in hopes that advice from an oak might make more impression than any animate being can give. My brothers of Dodona you may remember were often consulted ; and why should a British tree be denied the free liberty of speech?
By this time I fancy you are heartily tired of my harangue, and with me to return to my dumbness again, I will not detain you any longer than to make one petition. You will I am afraid have too much reason to remember me when I am dead and gone! all I beg of you now is, if I must fall, to send me with the rest of my brethren to Plymouth, to be thence transported to one of his majesty's docks. Whatever ship I have the honour to be employed in, they may depend on my firmness and integrity: in a word I fall fall with pleasure, if I fall to serve my country.
The reader I suppose would be glad to know what was the consequence of this speech. He will doubtless imagine it had such an effect on the mind of the young fellow, as induced him not only to spare the old tree, but to reform his evil courses. Shall I tell him the truth? Why our PRODIGUS heard all that was faid without any concern, and