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M O R A L ESSAY S.
E PI S T L Ε Ι.
Sir Richard Temple, L. Cobham.
Of the Knowledge and Characters of Men. I. THAT it is not sufficient for this knowledge to
consider Man in the Abstract: Books will not serve the purpose, nor yet our own Experience singly, ver. 1. General maxims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but notional, ver. 10. Some peculiarity in every man, characteristic to himself, yet varying from himself, ver, 15. Difficulties arising from our own Passions, Fancies, Faculties, &c. ver. 31. The Mortness of Life to observe in, and the uncertainty of the Principles of action in men to observe by, ver. 37. &c. Our own Principle of action often hid from ourselves, ver. 41. Some few Characters plain, but in general confounded, dissembled, or inconsistent, ver. 51. The same man utterly different in different places and seasons, ver. 71. Unimaginable weaknesses in the greatest, ver. 70, &c. Nothing constant and certain but God and Nature, ver. 95. No judging of the Motives from the actions; the same actions proceeding from contrary Motives, and the fame Motives influencing contrary actions, ver. 100. II. Yet, to form Characters, we can only take the strongest actions of a man's life, and try to make them agree : The utter uncertainty of this, from Nature itself, and from Policy, ver. 120. Characters given according to the rank of men of the world, ver. 135. And some reason for it, ver. 140. Education alters the Nature, or at least Character, of many, ver. 149. Actions, Pasfions, Opinions, Manners, Humours, or Principles, all subject to change. No judging by Nature, from ver. 158. to ver. 178. III. It only remains to find (if we can) his RULING PASSION: That will certainly influence all the rest, and can reconcile the seeming or real inconsistency of all his actions, ver. 175. Instanced in the extraordinary Character of Clodio, ver. 179. A caution against mistaking second qnalities for first, which will destroy all poffibility of the knowledge of mankind, ver. 210. Examples of the strength of the Ruling Passion, and its continuation to the last breath, ver. 222, &c.
EPIS T L E I.
Y ES; you despise the man to Books confind,
Who from his study rails at human-kind; Though what he learns he speaks, and may advance, Some general maxims, or be right by chance. The coxcomb bird, so talkative and grave;
5 That from his cage cries Cuckold, Whore, and Knave, Though many a passenger he rightly call, You hold him no Philofopher at all.
And yet the fate of all extremes is such,
That each from other differs, first confess;
Our depths who fathoms, or our shallows finds,
His Principle of action once explore,
diffect, You lose it in the moment
Nor will Life’s stream for observation stay,
True, some are open, and to all men known:
And every child hates Shylock, though his soul
55 Still sits at squat, and peeps not 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 fee 'tis Vice, and itch of vulgar praise. When Flattery glares, all hate 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 foul. The Dull, flat Falsehood serves, for policy : And in the Cunning, Truth itself's a lie: Unthought-of Frailties cheat us in the Wife; The Fool lies hid in inconsistencies.
70 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 ;
75 Friendly at Hackney, faithless at Whitehall.
Catius is ever moral, ever grave,