1. HE RESCUES THE DASHWOODS
When Mrs Dashwood and her three daughters are cruelly deprived of their family inheritance, it looks like they're doomed to a wandering, penniless existence. But then, lo and behold, it's Sir John Middleton to the rescue. He may be Mrs Dashwood's cousin, but they've never actually met each other, and he still goes out of his way to offer then a cottage on his estate. That's the sort of lovely chap he is.
2. HE KNOWS HOW TO WELCOME GUESTS
The first ever time we see Sir John, he doesn't merely welcome the Dashwoods to their new home. Oh, goodness no, that would be downright rude as far as he's concerned. He comes bearing two giant massive game birds as a welcoming present for the hungry family to feast on. And who couldn't warm to a man bearing giant massive game birds?
3. HE LOVES PLAYING CUPID
Sir John takes a twinkly-eyed relish in matchmaking those around him, and he's altogether thrilled at the prospect of sorting out the love-lives of the Dashwood sisters. Indeed, he gets a little TOO thrilled, promising to "find them all husbands before the year is out", despite young Maggie Dashwood being 13 and unlikely to be overly concerned about finding a suitable match quite yet. Oh well.
4. HE GIVES US WORDS TO LIVE BY
Sir John may not quite be the Oscar Wilde of Austen-land, but he makes a pretty fine stab at coming up with choice slogans when the situation requires it. Next time you feel like you can't be bothered to see your friends, remember Middleton's wise words: "Company, company, where would we be without company?"
5. HE LOVES HIS MOTHER-IN-LAW
Most men moan about their mother-in-laws. But Sir John? He adores his, and even flirts with the older lady in a rather wonderful way. "What kept you so long?" he asks when she arrives late to a gathering. "Too much time at your looking-glass, I'll be bound!" Which causes her to smile like a bashful schoolgirl and reply "Wicked man! My looking-glass days are over these many years." Families would get along so much better if more blokes should take a leaf out of his book.
6. HE SAYS NICE THINGS BEHIND YOUR BACK
Sir John always has a good word to say about others. And if he doesn't actually know them that well? Why, he'll say a good word anyway. For example, when asked about rogue seducer John Willoughby, Sir John unhesitatingly proclaims him to be "as good a kind of fellow as ever lived!" Only to admit just seconds later, "I don't know much about him!" Ah.
7. HE'S ALSO A BIT OF A GOSSIP
The thing that stops Sir John from being boringly "nice" is that he has a cheeky love of gossip as well. He's someone you can imagine having a juicy old natter with. Just look at how he playfully prods Colonel Brandon by bigging up Willoughby, who happens to be Brandon's love-rival for the affections of Marianne Dashwood. (Of course, the manner in which he praises Willoughby is typical of Sir John, gushing about how Willoughby always comes back from hunting with a "big bag of birds".)
8. HE'S ALWAYS READY TO PLAY HOST
You know those people who are always ready to come over your house for dinner, without ever reciprocating themselves? Well, Sir John is the opposite of that. He's forever hosting gatherings, and he simply won't take no for an answer. "You are commanded to dinner!" he likes to bellow. "But me no buts!" Consider yourself thoroughly de-butted.
9. HE GETS PARTIES STARTED
"Hell, hello! We brought you some strangers!" That's a typical way for Sir John to turn up at your place, with a group of new people in tow. And with Sir John around, nobody remains strangers for long.