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Nor will life's stream for observation stay, It hurries all too fast to mark their way: In vain sedate reflections we would make, When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take. Oft in the passions' wild rotation tost, Our spring of action to ourselves is lost : Tird, not determin'd, to the last we yield, And what conjes then, is master of the field. As the least image of that troubled heap, When sense subsides, and fancy sports in sleep, (Though past the recollection of the thought) Becomes the stuff of which our dream is wrought: Something as dim to our internal view Is thus, perhaps, the cause of most we do.
True, some are open, and to all men known; Others so very close, they're hid from none; (So darkness strikes the sense no less than light) Thus gracious Chandos is belov'd at sight; And every child hates Shylock, though his soul Still sits at squat, and peeps pot from its hole. At half mankind when generous Manly raves, All know 'tis virtue, for he thinks them knaves : When universal homage Umbra pays, All see 'tis vice, and itch of vulgar praise. When flattery glares, all bate it in a queen, While one there is who charms us with his spleen.
But these plain characters we rarely find; Though strong the bent, yet quick the turns of mind: Or puzzling contraries confound the whole; Or affectations quite reverse the soul. The dull flat falsehood serves for policy; And in the cunning truth itself's a lie : Unthought of frajlties cheat us in the wise ; The fool lies hid in inconsistencies.
See the same man in vigour, in the gout,
Alone, in company, in place, or out ;
Early at business, and at hazard late,
Mad at a fox-chase, wise at a debate,
Drunk at a borough, civil at a ball,
Friendly at Hackney, faithless at Whiteball!
Catius is ever moral, ever grave,
Thinks who endures a knave is next a knave,
Save just at dinner—then prefers, no doubt,
A rogue with venison to a saint without.
Who would not praise Patricio's high desert,
His hand onstain'd, his uncorrupted heart,
His comprehensive head, all interests weigh’d,
All Europe sav'd, yet Britain not betray'd?
He thanks you not, his pride is in piquet,
Newmarket fame, and judgment at a bet.
What made (say Montaigne, or more sage
Otho a warrior, Cromwell a buffoon? [Charron)
A perjur'd prince a leaden saint revere,
A godless regent tremble at a star?
The throne a bigot keep, a genius quit,
Faithless through piety, and dup'd through wit?
Europe a woman, child, or dotard, rule;
And just her wisest monarch made a fool?
Know, God and nature only are the same:
In man the judgment shoots at flying game,
A bird of passage! gone as soon as found;
Now in the moon, perhaps, now under ground.
In vain the sage, with retrospective eye,
Would from the apparent what conclude the why,
Infer the motive from the deed, and show
That wbat we chanc'd, was what we ineant to do.
Behold! if fortune or a mistress frowns,
Some plunge in business, others shave their crowns:
To ease the soul of one oppressive weight,
This quits an empire, that embroils a state.
The same adust complexion has impellid
Charles to the convent, Philip to the field.
Not always actions show the man: we find
Who does a kindness is not therefore kind;
Perhaps prosperity becalm’d bis breast;
Perhaps the wind just shifted from the east :
Not therefore humble he who seeks retreat ;
Pride guides his steps, and bids him shun the great:
Wbo combats bravely is not therefore brave;
He dreads a death-bed like the meavest slare :
Who reasons wisely is not therefore wise ;
His pride in reasoning, not in acting, lies.
But grant that actions best discover man ; Take the most strong, and sort them as you can: The few that glare each character must mark ; You balance not the many in the dark. What will you do with such as disagree? Suppress them, or miscal them policy? Must then at once (the character to save) The plain rough hero turn a crafty knave? Alas! in truth the man but chang’d his mind; Perhaps was sick, in love, or had not din’d. Ask why from Britain Casar would retreat ? Cæsar himself might whisper, he was beat. Wby risk the world's great empire for a punk? Cæsar perhaps might answer, he was drunk. But, sage historians ! 'tis your task to prove One action, conduct, one heroic love.
'Tis from high life high characters are drawn;
A saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn :
A judge is just, a chancellor jnster still ;
A gownman learn'd; a bishop what you will;
Wise if a minister ; but if a king,
More wise, more learn'd, more just, more every
Court-virtues bear, like gems, the highest rate,
Born where Heaven's influence scarce can penetrate,
In life's low vale, the soil the virtues like,
They please as beauties, here as wonders strike,
Though the same sun, with all-diffusive rays,
Blush in the rose, and in the diamond blaze,
We prize the stronger effort of his pow'r,
And justly set the gem above the flow'r.
'Tis education forms the common mind;
Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclin'd.
Boastful and rough, your first son is a 'squire ;
The next a tradesman, meek, and much a liar;
Tom struts a soldier, open, bold, and brave;
Will sneaks a scrivener, an exceeding knave.
Is he a churchman?-then he's fond of pow'r:
A quaker?-sly: a presbyteriau ?—sour:
A smart free-thinker?-all things in an bour.
Ask men's opinion : Scoto now shall tell
How trade increases, and the world goes well :
Strike off his pension by the setting sun,
And Britain, if not Europe, is undone.
That gay free-thinker, a fine talker once,
What turns him now a stupid silent dunce?
Some god or spirit he has lately found,
Or chanc'd to meet a minister that frown'd.
Judge we by nature?-habit can efface,
Interest o'ercome, or policy take place ;
By actions ?-- those uncertainty divides :
By passions ?—these dissimulation bides :
Opinions ?--they still take a wider range :
Find, if you can, in what you cannot change.
Manners with fortunes, humours turn with climes, Tenets with books, and principles with times.
SEARCH then the ruling passion: there, alone,
The wild are constant, and the cunning known;
The fool consistent, and the false sincere;
Priests, princes, women, no dissemblers here.
This clue once found unravels all the rest,
The prospect clears, and Wharton stands confess'd.
Wharton! the scorn and wonder of our days,
Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise :
Born with whate'er could win it from the wise,
Women and fools must like him, or he dies :
Though wondering senates bung on all he spoke,
The club must bail him master of the joke.
Shall parts so various aim at nothing new?
He'll shine a Tully and a Wilmot too :
Then turns repentant, and his God adores
With the same spirit that he drinks and whores;
Enough if all around him but admire,
And now the punk applaud, and now the friar.
Thus with each gift of nature and of art,
And wanting nothing but an honest heart;
Grown all to all, from no one vice exempt;
And most contemptible to shun contempt;
His passion still to covet general praise ;
His life, to forfeit it a thousand ways;