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Of the Knowledge and Charaéters of Men.

The argument. I. THAT it is not fufficient for this knowledge to confider Man in the abftract: books will not serve the purpote, nor yet our own experience singly, v. 1. General maxims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but rotional, v. IO. Some peculiarity in every man, characteristic to himself, yet varying from him. felf, v. 15. 1.ficulties arising from cur own paifions, fancies, faculties, &c. v. 31 The shortness of ife to observe in, and the uncertai: ty of the principles of action in Men to observe by, v. 37, &c. Our own principle of action often hid from ourfelves, V. 41 Some few characters plain, but in general contourded, ditlembled, or inconfiftent, v. 51. The same man utterly different in different places and fearons, v. 71. Uniinaginable weakneles in the greateit, y. 77, &c. Nothing constant and certain but God and Nature, v. 95. No judging of the motives from the actions; the fame actions proceeding from contrary motives, and the fime motives influencing contrary actions, v. ico. II. Yet to form characters we can only take the ftrangeit actions of a man's life, ard try to make them agree: the utier uncertainty of this, from Nature itself, and from policy, v. 120. Characters giver according to the rank of meri of the world, v. 135; and some reason for it, v. 140. Education alters the nature, or at least character, of many, v. 149. Actions, pailions, Opinions, manners, humours, of principles, all subject to change. No judging by Nature, from v. 158 to 174. III. It only remains to find (if we can) his ruling paifion : that will certainly influence all the reit, and can reconcile the seeming or real inconsistency of all his actions, v. 175. Infanced in the extraordinary character of Clodio, v. 179. A caution against iniftaking second qualities for first, which will destroy ail poffibility of the knowledge of mankind, v. 210 Examples of the strength of the ruling paffion, and its continuation to the last breath, v. 222, &c.

YES, you despise the man to books confin'd,

Who from his study rails at human kind;
Tho' what he learns he speaks, and may advance
Some gen'ral maxims, or bę right by chance.
The coxcomb bird, so talkative and grave,

5 That from his cagecries Cuckhold, Whore, and Knave,

Tho' many a paffenger he rightly call, You hold him no philosopher at all. And


the fate of all extremes is such, Men may be read, as well as books, too much. IO To observations which ourselves we make We grow more partial for th' observer's fake; To written wisdom, as another's, leis: 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, Passion'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 tho' you can,

It may be reason, but it is not man :
His principle of action once explore,
That instant 'tis his principle no more.
Like following life thro' creatures you diffect,
You lose it in the moment you detect.

Yet more; the diff'rence is as great between
The optics feeing as the objects seen.
All manners take a tincture from our own,
Or come discolour'd thro' our passions shown;
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 way :
In vain fedate reflections we would make,
When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take.
Oft' in the passions' wild rotation toit,

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 sublides, and fancy sports in sleep,
(Tho' 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, Tome 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 light,
And ev'ry child hates Shylock, tho' his foul

35 Still Gts at squat, and peeps not from its hole.


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At half mankind when gen'rous 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 fatt'ry glares all hate it in a queen,
While one there is who charms us with his fpleen.

But these plain characters we rarely find;
Tho'strong the berit, 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 wise;
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 bus’ness, 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 than prefers, no doubt,
A rogue with ven'son to a saint without.

Who would not praise Patricio's high defert,
His hand unstain'd, his uncorrupted heart,
His comprehensive head! all int’rests weigh'd,
All Europe fav’d, yet Britain not betray'd.
He thanks you not, his pride is in Picquette,
Newmarket fame, and judgment at a bett.

What made (say Montaigne, or more sage Charron)
Otho a warrior, Cromwell a buffoon ?
A perjur'd prince a leaden saint revere,
A godless regent tremble at a star?

go The throne a bigot keep, a genius quit, Faithleís thro' piety, and dup'd thro' wit? Europe a woman, child, or dotard, rule, And just her wisest monarch made a fool? Know, God and Nature only are the same.

95 In man the judgment shoots at flying game;


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A bird of passage, gone as foon as found;
Now in the moon, perhaps now under ground.

In vain the sage, with retrospective eye,
Would from th' apparent what conclude the why, 100
Infer the motive from the deed, and show
That what we chanc'd was what we meant to do.
Behold ! if Fortune or a mistress frowns,
Some plunge in bus'ness, others shave their crowns :
To ease the foul of one oppressive weight 105
This quits an empire, that embroils a state.
The same adult complexion has impellid
Charles to the convent, Philip to the field.

Not always actions shew the man: we find
Who does a kindness is not therefore kind:
Perhaps prosperity becalm'd his 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.
Who combats bravely is not therefore brave; IIS
He dreads a death-bed like the meaneft Naye,
Who reasons wisely is not therefore wise;
His pride in reas'ning, not in acting, lies.

But grant that actions best discover man;
Take the most Itrong, and sort them as you can : 120
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 miscall 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.
Alk why from Britain Cæfar would retreat?
Cæsar himself might whisper, he was beat. 130
Why rilk 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.



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Tis from high life high characters are drawn; A saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn; A judge is just, a chanc'llor julter still; A gownman learn'd; a bishop what you will: Wise if a minister ; but if a king, More wise, more learn'd, more jutt, more ev'ry thing. Court-virtues bear, like gems, the highest rate, 141 Born where Heav'n's influence scarce can penetrate. In life's low vale, the soil the virtues like, They please as beauties, here as wonders strike. Tho' the same fun with all-diffusive rays

145 Blush in the rose, and in the di'inond blaze, We prize the stronger effort of his pow'r, And juftly set the gem above the flow'r.

'Tis education forins the common mind; Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclin'd.

150 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 scriv'ner, an exceeding knave; Is he a Churchman? then he's fond of pow'r: 55 A Quaker? Ny: a Presbyterian? four : A smart free-thinker? all things in an hour. Al mens' opinion: Scoto now shall tell, How trade increases and the world goes well: Strike off his pension by the setting fun, 160 Ard Britain, if not Europe, is undone.

That gay Free-thinker, a fine talker once, What turns him now a stupid filent dunce? Some god or spirit he has lately found, Or chanc'd to meet a minister that frown'd. 165

Judge we by Nature? habit can efface, Int’relt o'ercome, or policy take place. By actions ? those uncertainy divides. By Passions ? these dissimulation hides. Opinions? they still take a wider range.

170 Find, if you can, in what you cannot change.

Manners with fortunes, humours turn with climes, Tenets with books, and principles with times.



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