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IN FOUR EPISTLES TO SEVERAL PERSONS.
Extenuantis eas consulto.
And yet the fate of all extremes is such,
Men may be read, as well as books, too much.
To observations which ourselves we make,
There's some peculiar in each leaf and grain,
Some unmark'd fibre, or some varying vein : Impediat verbis lassas operantibus aures :
Shall only man be taken in the gross ?
Grant but as many sorts of mind as moss.
That each from other differs, first confess;
Add nature's, custom's, reason's, passion's strise, TO SIR RICHARD TEMPLE, L. COBHAM.
And all opinion's colors cast on life.
Quick whirls, and shifting eddies, of our minds?
On human actions reason though you can,
It may be reason, but it is not man: OF THE KNOWLEDGE AND CHARACTERS His principle of action once explore, OF MEN
That instant 'tis his principle no more.
Like following life through creatures you dissect, Argument.
You lose it in the moment you detect.
Yet more; the difference is as great between I. That it is not sufficient for this knowledge to The optics seeing, as the objects seen.
consider man in the abstract: books will not All manners take a tincture from our own; serve the purpose, nor yet our own experience Or come discolor'd through our passions shown. singly. General maxims, unless they be formed Or Fancy's beam enlarges, multiplies, upon both, will be but notional. Some pecu- Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thousand dyes. liarity in every man, characteristic to himself, yet
Nor will life's stream for observation stay, varying from himself
. Difficulties arising from It hurries all too fast to mark their way: our own passions, fancies, faculties. The short. In vain sedate reflections we would make, ness of life to observe in, and the uncertainty of When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take the principles of action in men to observe by. Oft, in the passion's wild rotation tost, Our own principle of action often hid from our. Our spring of action to ourselves is lost: selves. Some few characters plain, but in general Tir’d, not determin'd, to the last we yield, confounded, dissembled, or inconsistent. The And what comes then is master of the field. same man utterly different in different places and As the last image of that troubled heap, seasons. Unimaginable weaknesses in the greatest. When sense subsides and fancy sports in sleep, Nothing constant and certain but God and Nature. (Though past the recollection of the thought,) No judging of the motives from the actions; the Becomes the stuff of which our dream is wrought: same actions proceeding from contrary motives, Something as dim to our internal view, and the same motives influencing contrary ac. Is thus, perhaps, the cause of most we do. tions. II. Yet, to form characters, we can only
True, some are open, and to all men known; take the strongest actions of a man's lise, and try Others, so very close, they're hid from none; to make them agree: the utter uncertainty of (So darkness strikes the sense no less than light) this, from nature itself, and from policy. Charac. Thus gracious Chandos is belov'd at sight; ters given according to the rank of men of
And every child hates Shylock, though his soul world : and some reason for it. Education alters Still sits at squat, and peeps not from its hole. the nature, or at least character of many. Ac
At half mankind when generous Manly raves, tions, passions, opinions, manners, humors, or prin- all know 'tis virtue, for he thinks them knaves; ciples, all subject to change. No judging by When universal homage Umbra pays, nature. III. It only remains to find (if we can) All see 'tis vice, an itch of vulgar praise. his ruling passion : that will certainly influence when flattery glares, all hate it in a queen, all the rest, and can reconcile the seeming or While one there is who charms us with his spleen. real inconsistency of all his actions. Instanced
But these plain characters we rarely find : in the extraordinary character of Clodio. A cau- Though strong the bent, yet quick the turns of mind, tion against mistaking second qualities for first, Or puzzling contraries confound the whole; which will destroy all possibility of the know. Or affectations quite reverse the soul. ledge of mankind. Examples of the strength of The dull, Aat falsehood serves for policy; the ruling passion, and its continuation to the last And, in the cunning, truth itsell's a lie: breath.
Unthought-of frailties cheat us in the wise ;
The fool lies hid in inconsistencies. Yes, you despise the man to books confin'd,
See the same man, in vigor, in the gout
Alone, in company; in place, or out;
Cauius is ever moral, ever grave,
Thinks who endures a knave, is next a knave
Save just at dinner-then prefers, no doubt, "Tis education forms the common mind;
Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclin'd.
A quaker? sly: a presbyterian ? sour: What made (say, Montagne, or more sage Charron!) A smart free-thinker? all things in an hour. Otho a warrior, Cromwell a buffoon?
Ask men's opinions : Scoto now shall tell A perjured prince a leaden saint revere,
How trade increases, and the world goes well; A godless regent tremble at a star?
Strike off his pension, by the setting sun, The throne a bigot keep, a genius quit,
And Britain, if not Europe, is undone. Faithless through piety, and dup'd through wit? That gay free-thinker, a fine talker once, Europe a woman, child, or dotard rule,
What turns him now a stupid, silent dunce ?
Know, God and Nature only are the same : Or chanc'd to meet a minister that frown'd.
Judge we by nature? habit can efface,
In vain the sage, with retrospective eye, By passions ? these dissimulation hides : Would from th' apparent what conclude the why, Opinions ? they still take a wider range: Infer the motive from the deed, and show, Find, if you can, in what you cannot change. That what we chanc'd, was what we meant to do. Manners with fortunes, humors turn with Behold if Fortune or a mistress frowns,
climes, Some plunge in business, others shave their crowns; Tenets with books, and principles with times. To ease the soul of one oppressive weight,
Search then the ruling passion : there, alone, This quits an empire, that embroils a state : The wild are constant, and the cunning known; The same adust complexion has impellid
The fool consistent, and the false sincere; Charles to the consent, Philip to the field. Priests, princes, women, no dissemblers here.
Not always actions show the man: we find This clue once found, unravels all the rest,
Wharton, the scorn and wonder of our days, Perhaps the wind just shifted from the east : Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise ; Not therefore humble he who seeks retreat,
Born with whate'er could win it from the wise,
But grant that actions best discover man; Then turns repentant, and his God adores
And now the punk applaud, and now the friar. What will you do with such as disagree?
Thus with each gift of Nature and of Art, Suppress them, or miscall them policy ?
And wanting nothing but an honest heart; Must then at once (the character to save)
Grown all to all, from no one vice exempt ; The plain rough hero turn a crafty knave? And most contemptible, to shun contempt ; Alas! in truth the man but chang'd his mind, His passion still, to covet general praise ; Perhaps was sick, in love, or had not din'd. His life, to forfeit it a thousand ways; Ask why from Britain Cæsar would retreat ? A constant bounty, which no friend has made ; Cæsar himself might whisper, he was beat. An angel tongue, which no man can persuade ; Why risk the world's great empire for a punk? A fool, with more of wit than half mankind, Cæsar perhaps might answer, he was drunk. Too rash for thought, for action too refin'd : But, sage historians! 'tis your task to prove
A tyrant to the wife his heart approves; One action, conduct; one, heroic love.
A rebel to the very king he loves ; "Tis from high life high characters are drawn: He dies, sad outcast of each church and state, A saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn;
And, harder still! flagitious, yet not great. A judge is just, a chancellor juster still;
Ask you why Wharton broke through every rule? A gownman learn'd; a bishop, what you will; 'Twas all for fear the knaves should call him fod Wise, if a minister; but, if a king,
Nature well known, no prodigies remain, More wise, more learn'd, more just, more every thing. Comets are regular, and Wharton plain. Court-virtues bear, like gems, the highest rate, Yet, in this search, the wisest may mistake, Born where Heaven's influence scarce can penetrate: If second qualities for first they take. In life's low vale, the soil the virtues like, When Catiline by rapine swell'd his store ; They please as beauties, here as wonders strike. When Cæsar made a noble dame a whore ; Though the same Sun with all diffusive rays In this the lust, in that the avarice, Blush in the rose, and in the diamond blaze, Were means, not ends; ambition was the vice. We prize the stronger effort of his power, That very Cæsar, born in Scipio's days, And justly set the gem above the power. Had aim'd, like him, by chastity, at praise.
Lucullus, when frugality could charm,
In this one passion man can strength enjoy,
Old politicians chew on wisdom past,
Behold a reverend sire, whom want of grace
A salmon's belly, Helluo, was thy fate; The doctor call'd, declares all help too late : Mercy!" cries Helluo, "mercy on my soul! Is there no hope?—Alas!—then bring the jowl."
The frugal crone, whom praying priests attend, Still strives to save the hallow'd taper's end, Collects her breath, as ebbing life retires, For one puff more, and in that puff expires.
"Odious! in woollen! 'twould a saint provoke," (Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke,) "No, let a charming chintz and Brussels lace, Wrap my cold limbs, and shade my lifeless face: One would not, sure, be frightful when one's deadAnd-Betty-give this cheek a little red."
The courtier smooth, who forty years had shin'd An humble servant to all human-kind, [stir, Just brought out this, when scarce his tongue could If where I'm going-I could serve you, sir!" "I give and I devise" (old Euclio said, And sigh'd) "my lands and tenements to Ned." Your money, sir ?—“My money, sir, what all? Why, if I must"-(then wept) "I give it Paul." The manor, sir?—“The manor! hold," he cried. "Not that I cannot part with that,"--and died.
And you! brave Cobham, to the latest breath, Shall feel your ruling passion strong in death: Such in those moments as in all the past,
TO A LADY. EPISTLE II.
OF THE CHARACTERS OF WOMEN. NOTHING So true as what you once let fall, Most women have no characters at all." Matter too soft a lasting mark to bear, And best distinguish'd by black, brown, or fair. How many pictures of one nymph we view, All how unlike each other, all how true! Arcadia's countess, here, in ermin'd pride, Is, there, Pastora by a fountain side. Here Fannia, leering on her own good man, And there, a naked Leda with a swan. Let then the fair-one beautifully cry, In Magdalene's loose hair, and lifted eye, Or drest in smiles of sweet Cecilia shine, With simpering angels, palms, and harps divine;
To make a wash, would hardly stew a child;
"Oh, save my country, Heaven!" shall be your last. A fool to pleasure, yet a slave to fame :
Whether the charmer sinner it, or saint it,
Come then, the colors and the ground prepare!
How soft is Silia! fearful to offend; The frail-one's advocate, the weak-one's friend. To her Calista prov'd her conduct nice, And good Simplicius asks of her advice. Sudden, she storms! she raves! You tip the wink, But spare your censure; Silia does not drink. All eyes may see from what the change arose, All eyes may see-a pimple on her nose.
Papillia, wedded to her amorous spark,
All bath'd in tears-"Oh odious, odious trees!"
"Tis to their changes half their charms we owe; Fine by defect, and delicately weak,
Their happy spots the nice admirer take.
Now deep in Taylor and the Book of Martyrs,
See Sin in state, majestically drunk,
The nose of Haut-gout, and the tip of Taste,
Th’address, the delicacy-stoops at once, Some wandering touches, some reflected light, And makes her hearty meal upon a dunce. Some flying stroke alone can hit them right:
Flavia 's a wit, has too much sense to pray ; for how should equal colors do the knack? To toast our wants and wishes, is her way; Chameleons who can paint in white and black ? Nor asks of God, but of her stars, to give
Yet Chloe sure was form'd without a spot."The mighty blessing, “ while we live, to live.” Nature in her then err'd not, but forgot. Then all for death, that opiate of the soul! With every pleasing, every prudent part, Lucretia's dagger, Rosamonda's bowl.
Say, what can Chloe want ?"-She wants a heart. Say, what can cause such impotence of mind ? She speaks, behaves, and acts just as she ought; A spark too fickle, or a spouse too kind ?
But never, never reach'd one generous thought.
Content to dwell in decencies for ever.
Can mark the figures on an Indian chest ;
Observes how much a chintz exceeds mohair. Or her, that owns her faults, but never mends, Forbid it, Heaven, a favor or a debt Because she's honest, and the best of friends. She e'er should cancel—but she may forget. Or her, whose life the church and scandal share, Safe is your secret still in Chloe's ear; For ever in a passion, or a prayer.
But none of Chloe's shall you ever hear. Or her, who laughs at Hell, but (like her grace) Of all her dears she never slander'd one, Cries, “ Ah! how charming, if there's no such But cares not if a thousand are undone. place !"
Would Chloe know if you 're alive or dead ? Or who in sweet vicissitude appears
She bids her footman put it in her head. Of mirth and opium, ratafie and tears,
Chloe is prudent-Would you too be wise ? The daily anodyne, and nightly draught,
Then never break your heart when Chloe dies. To kill those foes to fair-ones, time and thought. One certain portrait may (I grant) be seen, Woman and fool are too hard things to hit; Which Heaven has varnish'd out, and made a queen: For true no-meaning puzzles more than wit. The same for ever! and describ'd by all
But what are these to great Atossa's mind? With truth and goodness, as with crown and ball. Scarce once herself, by turns all woman-kind! Poets heap virtues, painters gems at will, Who, with herself, or others, from her birth And show their zeal, and hide their want of skill. Finds all her life one warfare upon Earth :
'Tis well-but, artists! who can paint or write, Shines, in exposing knaves, and painting fools, To draw the naked is your true delight. Yet is, whate'er she hates and ridicules.
That robe of quality so struts and swells, No thought advances, but her eddy brain
None see what parts of Nature it conceals : Whisks it about, and down it goes again.
Th'exactest traits of body or of mind, Full sixty years the world has been her trade, We owe to models of an humble kind. The wisegt fool much time has ever made.
If Queensberry to strip there's no compelling, From loveless youth to unrespected age,
'Tis from a handmaid we must take a Helen. No passion gratified, except her rage,
From peer or bishop 'tis no easy thing So much the fury still outran the wit,
To draw the man who loves his God, or king : The pleasure mist her, and the scandal hit. Alas! I copy (or my draught would fail) Who breaks with her, provokes revenge from From honest Malı'met, or plain parson Hale. Hell,
But grant, in public, men sometimes are shown, But he's a bolder man who dares be well.
A woman's seen in private life alone : Her every turn with violence pursued,
Our bolder talents in full life display'd ; Nor more a storm her hate than gratitude: Your virtues open fairest in the shade. To that each passion turns, or soon or late ; Bred to disguise, in public 'tis you hide ; Love, if it makes her yield, must make her hate: There, none distinguish 'twixt your shame or pride, Superiors ? death! and equals ? what a curse ! Weakness or delicacy; all so nice, But an inferior not dependant? worse.
That each may seem a virtue, or a vice.
In men, we various ruling passions find;
The love of pleasure, and the love of sway.
But every woman is at heart a rake: Alossa, curs'd with every granted prayer,
Men, some to quiet, some lo public strife; Childless with all her children, wants an heir. But every lady would be queen for life. To heirs unknown descends th' unguarded store,
Yet mark the fate of a whole sex of queens ! Or wanders, Heaven-directed, to the poor.
Power all their end, but beauty all the means : Pictures, like these, dear madam, to design, In youth they conquer with so wild a rage, Asks no firm hand, and no unerring line;
As leaves them scarce a subject in their age :
For foreign glory, foreign joy, they roam;
TO ALLEN, LORD BATHURST.
ON THE USE OF RICHES.
the extremes, avarice or profusion. The point At last, to follies youth could scarce defend,
discussed, whether the invention of money has It grows their age's prudence to pretend ;
been more commodious or pernicious to mankind. Asham'd to own they gave delight before,
That riches, either to the avaricious or the prodiReduc'd to feign it, when they give no more. gal, cannot afford happiness, scarcely necessaries. As hags hold sabbaths, less for joy than spite, That avarice is an absolute frenzy, without an So these their merry, miserable night;
end or purpose. Conjectures about the motives Still round and round the ghosts of beauty glide, of avaricious men. That the conduct of men, And haunt the places where their honor died.
with respect to riches, can only be accounted See how the world its veterans rewards !
for by the order of Providence, which works the A youth of frolics, an old-age of cards :
general good out of extremes, and brings all to Fair to no purpose, artful to no end;
its great end by perpetual revolutions. How a Young without lovers, old without a friend ;
miser acts upon principles which appear to him A fop their passion, but their prize a sot ;
reasonable. How a prodigal does the same. The Alive, ridiculous; and dead, forgot!
due medium, and true use of riches. The Man Ah! friend! to dazzle let the vain design; of Ross. The fate of the profuse and the covTo raise the thought, and touch the heart, be thine!
etous, in two examples; both miserable in life That charm shall grow, while what fatigues the ring, and in death. The story of Sir Balaam. Flaunts and goes down, an unregarded thing: So when the Sun's broad beam has tir'd the sight, P. Who shall decide when doctors disagree, All mild ascends the Moon's more sober light, And soundest casuists doubt, like you and me ? Serene in virgin modesty she shines,
You hold the word, from Jove to Momus given, And unobserv'd the glaring orb declines.
That man was made the standing jest of Heaven; Oh! blest with temper, whose unclouded ray And gold but sent to keep the fools in play, Can make to-morrow cheerful as to-day :
For some to heap, and some to throw away. She, who can love a sister's charms, or hear
But I, who think more highly of our kind, Sighs for a daughter with unwounded ear; (And, surely, Heaven and I are of a mind.) She who ne'er answers till a husband cools, Opine, that Nature, as in duty bound, Or, if she rules him, never shows she rules ; Deep hid the shining mischief under ground: Charms by accepting, by submitting sways, But when, by man's audacious labor won, Yet has her humor most, when she obeys; Flam'd forth this rival too, its sire, the Sun, Let fops or Fortune fly which way they will, 'Then careful Heaven supplied two sorts of men, Disdains all loss of tickets, or codille ;
To squander these, and those to bide again. Spleen, vapors, or small-pox, above them all, Like doctors thus, when much dispute has past, And mistress of herself, though china fall. We find our tenets just the same at last.
And yet, believe me, good as well as ill, Both fairly owning, riches, in effect, Woman's at best a contradiction still.
No grace of Heaven, or token of th' elect; Heaven when it strives to polish all it can Given to the fool, the mad, the vain, the evil, Its last best work, but forms a softer man; To Ward, to Waters, Chartres, and the Devil. Picks from each sex, to make the favorite blest, B. What nature wants, commodious gold bestows Your love of pleasure, our desire of rest : "Tis thus we eat the bread another sows. Blends, in exception to all general rules,
P. But how unequal it bestows, observe; Your taste of follies, with our scorn of fools : 'Tis thus we riot, while, who sow it, starve: Reserve with frankness, art with truth allied, What nature wants (a phrase I must distrust) Courage with softness, modesty with pride; Extends to luxury, extends to lust : Fix'd principles, with fancy ever new ;
Useful, I grant, it serves what life requires, Shakes all together, and produces—you.
But dreadful too, the dark assassin hires. Be this a woman's fame! with this unblest,
B. Trade it may help, society extend : Toasts live a scorn, and queens may die a jest. P. But lures the pirate, and corrupts the friend. This Phæbus promis'd (I forget the year)
B. It raises armies in a nation's aid : When those blue eyes first open'd on the sphere ; P. But bribes a senate, and the land's betray'd. Ascendant Phæbus watch'd that hour with care, In vain may heroes fight, and patriots rave, Averted half your parents' simple prayer ; If secret gold sap on from knave to knave. And gave you beauty, but denied the pelf Once we confess, beneath the patriot's cloak, That buys your sex a tyrant o'er itself.
From the crack'd bag the dropping Guinea spoke, The generous god, who wit and gold refines, And jingling down the back-stairs, told the crew, And ripens spirits as he ripens mines,
Old Cato is as great a rogue as you."