« ПредишнаНапред »
capacious mind, and as we can have but a very imperfect idea of it from the disjecta membra poetæ that now remain, it may not be amiss to be a little more particular concerning each of
these projected Books. The First, as it treats of man in the abstract, and
considers him in general under every of his reidtions, becomes the foundation, and furnishes
out the subjects of the three following ; so that The Second Book was to take up again the first and
second Epistles of the First Book, and treats of Man in his intellectual capacity at large, as has been explained above. Of this only a small part of the conclusion (which, as we said, was to have contained a satire against the misapplication of wit and learning) may be found in the Fourth Book of the Dunciad, and up and down,
occasionally, in the other three. The Third Book, in like manner, was to reassume
the subject of the Third Epistle of the First, which treats of Man in his social, political, and religious capacity. But this part the Poet afterwards conceived might be best executed in an epic poem, as the action would make it more animated, and the fable less invidious ; in which all the great principles of true and false governments and religions should be chiefly delivered
in feigned examples. The Fourth, and last Book, was to pursue the subject of the fourth Epistle of the First, and treats
of ethics, or practical morality, and would have consisted of many members : of which the Four following Epistles were detached portions: the two first, on the characters of men and women, being the introductory part of this concluding Book.
EPISTLE I. TO SIR RICHARD TEMPLE, LORD COBHAM.
OF THE KNOWLEDGE AND CHARACTERS OF MEN.
Che argument. 1. 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, v, 1. General maxims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but notional, v. 10. Some peculiarity in every man, characteristic to himself, yet varving from himself, v. 15. Difficulties arising from our own passions, fancies, faculties, &c. v. 31. The shortness of life to observe in, and the uncertainty of the principles of action in men to observe by, v. 37, &c. Our own principle of action often hid from ourselves, v. 41. Some few characters plain, but in general confounded, dissembled, or inconsistent, v. 51. The same man utterly different in different places and seasens, v. 71. Unimaginable weakness in the greatest, v, 77, &c. Nothing constant and certain but God and Nature, v. 95. No judging of the motives from the actions ; the same actions proceeding from contrary motives, and the saine motives in. fluencing contrary actions, v. 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, v. 120. Characters given according to the rank of men in the world, v. 135; and some reason for it, v. 140. Education alters the nature, or at least character, of many, v. 149. Actions, passions, opinions, manners, humors, or principles, all subject to change, No judging by Nature, from v. 158, 10 174. III. It only remains to find it we can) his ruling passion: that will certainly influence all the rest, and can reconcile the seeming or real inconsistency of all his actions, v. 175. Instanced in the extraordinary character of Clodio, 179. A caution against mistaking second qualities for first, which will destroy all possibility of the knowledge of mankind, v. 210. Examples of the strength of the ruling passion, and its continuation to the last breath V. 222, &c.
Yes, you despise the man to books confin’d,
MORAL ESSAYS. Epist. I. Part. I.
Though what he learns he speaks, and may advance
And yet the fate of ali extremes is such,
That each from other differs, first confess; Next he that varies from himself no less; 20 Add Nature's, Custom's, Reason's, Passion's, strife, And all Opinion's colors 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, 25 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 through cromures you dissect, You lose it in the moment you detect.
Yet more ; the diff'rence is as great between The optics seeing, as the objects seen. All manners take a tincture from our own, Or come discolor'd through our passions shown; Or Fancy's beam enlarges, multiplies, 35 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 sedave reflections we would make, When half our knowledge we must snatch, not
take. Oft in the passion's wild rotation tost, Our spring of action to ourselves is lost : Tird, not determin'd, to the last we yield, And what comes then is master of the field. As the last image of that troubled beap, 15 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. 50
True, some are open, and to all men known; Others so very close they're bid from none; (So darkness strikes the sense no less than light ;) Thus gracious Chandos is belov'd at sight; And ev'ry child hates Shylock, though his soul 55 Still sits at squat, and peeps not from its hole. At half mankind when gen'rous Manly raves, All know 'ris virtue, for be thinks them knaves ;