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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.



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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,
Men inay be read, as well as Books, too much.
To observations which ourselves we make,
We grow more partial for th' Observer's fake;
To written Wisdom, as another's, less :
Maxims are drawn from Notions, these from Guess,
There's some Peculiar in each leaf and grain, 15
Some unmark'd fibre, or some varying vein :
Shall only Man be taken in the gross ?
Grant but as many sorts of Mind as Moss.

That each from other differs, first confess;
Next, that he varies from himself no less;
Add Nature's, Custom's, Reason's, Paffion's strife,
And all Opinion's colours cast on life.

Our depths who fathoms, or our shallows finds,
Quick whirls, and shifting eddies, of our minds ?
On human actions reason though you can,
It may be Reason, but it is not Man :



25 30



His Principle of action once explore,
That instant 'tis bis Principle no more.
Like following life through creatures you

diffect, You lose it in the moment


Yet more; the difference is as great between
The optics seeing, as the objects seen.
All Manners take a tincture from our own;
Or come discolour'd through our Passions town.
Or Fancy's beam enlarges, multiplies,
Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thousand dyes.

Nor will Life’s stream for observation stay,
It hurries all too fast to mark their
In vain sedate reflections we would make,
When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take. 40
Oft, in the Passion's wild rotation tost,
Our spring of action to ourselves is lost :
Tir'd, not determin’d, to the last we yield,
And what comes then is master of the field.
As the last 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

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,
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 unstain'd, his uncorrupted heart,
His comprehensive head! all Interests weighd,
All Europe fav’d, yet Britain not betray'd.


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