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And they alone, who in themselves oft view
Man's image, know what method to pursue.
All other creatures keep in beaten ways,
Man only moves in an eternal maze:
He lives and dies, not tam’d by cultivation,
The wretch of reason, and the dupe of passion;
Curious of knowing, yet too proud to learn ;
More prone to doubt, than anxious to discern:
Tir'd with old doctrines, prejudic'd at new ;
Miftaking still the pleasing for the true;
Foe to restraints approv'd by gen'ral voice,
Yet to each fool-born mode a slave by choice :
Of reft impatient, yet in love with case;
When most good-natur'd, aiming how to teaze :
Disdaining by the vulgar to be aw'd,
Yet never pleas'd but when the fools applaud :
By turns severe, indulgent, humble, vain ;
A trifle serves to lose him or to gain.
Then grant this trifle, yet his vices fhun,
Not like to Cato or to a CLINIAS' fon :
This for each humour every shape could take,
Ev'n virtue's own, tho' not for virtue's fake ;
At Athens rakish, thoughtless, full of fire,
Severe at Sparta, as a Chartreux fryar ;
In Thrace, a bully, drunken, rash, and rude ;
In Asia gay, effeminate and lewd ;
While the rough Roman, virtue's rigid friend,
Cou'd not to save the cause he dy'd for bend :
In him 'twas scarce an honour to be good,
He more indulg'd a paffion than subdu'd.
See how the skilful lover spreads his toils,
When eager in pursuit of beauty's spoils !
Behold him bending at his idol's feet;
Humble, not mean ; difputing, and yet sweets
In rivallhip not fierce, nor yet unmov'd;
Without a rival studious to be lov'd;
For ever fearful, tho' not always witty,
And never giving cause for hate or pity :
These are his arts, such arts as must prevail,
When riches, birth, and beauty's self will fail :
And what he does to gain a vulgar end,
Shall we neglect, to make mankind our friend?
Good sense and learning may esteem obtain ;
Humour and wit a laugh, if rightly ta’en :
Fair virtue admiration may impart;
But 'tis good-nature only wins the heart :
It molds the body to an easy grace,
And brightens every feature of the face :
It smooths th' unpolith'd tongue with eloquence,
And adds perfuafion to the finest fenfe.
Yet this, like every difpofition, has
Fixt bounds, o'er which it never ought to pass ;
When stretch'd too far, its honour dies away,
Its merit finks, and all its charms decay ;
Among the good it meets with no applause,
And to its ruin the malicious draws,
A slave to all, who force it, or entice,
It falls by chance in virtue or in vice,
'Tis true, in pity for the poor it bleeds,
It cloaths the naked, and the hungry feeds ;
It cheers the stranger, nay its foes defends,
But then as oft it injures its best friends.
Study with care Politeness, that must teach
The modifh forms of gesture and of speech :
In vain Formality, with matron mien,
And Pertness apes her with familiar grin :
They against nature for applauses strain,
Distort themselves, and give all others pain:
She moves with easy, tho' with measur'd pace,
And shews no part of study, but the grace.
Yet ev'n by this man is but half refin'd,
Unless philosophy subdues the mind :
'Tis but a varnish that is quickly toft,
Whene'er the foul in paffion's sea is loft.
Wou'd you both please and be inftructed too,
Watch well the rage of shining to subdue ;
Hear every man upon his favorite theme,
And ever be more knowing than you
The lowest genius will afford fome light,
Or give a hint that had escap'd your fight.
Doubt, till he thinks you on conviction yield,
And with fit queftion's let each pause be fill'd :
And the most knowing will with pleasure grant,
You're rather much reserv’d, than ignorant.
The rays of wit gild wherefoe'er they strike,
But are not therefore fit for all alike;
They charm the lively, but the grave offend,
And raise a foe as often as a friend;
Like the refiftless beams of blazing light,
That cheer the strong, and pain the weakly fight.
If a bright fancy therefore be your share,
Let judgment watch it with a guardian's care ;
'Tis like a torrent apt to overflow,
Unless by constant government kept low;
And ne'er inefficacious passes by,
But overturns or gladens all that's nigh.
Or else, like trees, when suffer'd wild to shoot,
That put forth much, but all unripen'd fruit ;
It turns to affectation and grimace,
As like to wit, as dullness is to grace.
How hard foe'er it be to bridle wit,
Yet mem'ry oft no less requires the bit:
How many, hurried by its force away,
For ever in the land of goflips ftray ?
Usurp the province of the nurse to lull,
Without her privilege for being dull ?
Tales upon tales they raise ten stories high, ,
Without regard to use or symmetry :
So R., till his destin'd space is fillid,
Heaps bricks on bricks, and fancies 'tis to build,
A story should, to please, at least seem true,
Be à propos, well told, concise, and new :
And whenfoe'er it deviates from these rules,
The wise will sleep, and leave applause to fools.
But others, more intolerable yet,
The waggeries, that they've said, or heard, repeat;
Heavy by mem'ry made, and what's the worst,
At second-hand, as often as at first.
And can even patience hear, without disdain,
The maiming register of sense once slain ?
While the dull features, big with archness, strive
In vain, the forc'd half-smile to keep alive.
Some know no joy like what a word can raise,
Haul'd thro' a language's perplexing maze ;
Till on a mate, that seems t'agree, they light,
Like man and wife, that ftill are opposite ;
Not lawyers at the bar play more with sense,
When brought to the last trope of eloquence,
Than they on ev'ry subject, great or small,
At clubs, or councils, at a church, or ball;
Then cry we rob them of their tributes due:
Alas! how can we laugh and pity too?
While others to extremes as wild will run,
And with four face anatomize a pun:
When the brisk glass to freedom does intice,
And rigid wisdom is a kind of vice.
But let not fuch grave fops your laughter spoil ;
Ne'er frown where sense may innocently smile.