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YES, you defpife the man to Books confin'd,
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,
That from his cage cries Cuckold, Whore, and Knave,
Though many a passenger he rightly call,
You hold him no Philosopher at all.
And yet the fate of all extremes is fuch,
Men may be read, as well as Books, too much.
To obfervations which ourselves we make,
We grow more partial for th' Observer's fake;
To written Wisdom, as another's, lefs:
Maxims are drawn from Notions, these from Guefs.
There's fome Peculiar in each leaf and grain,
Some unmark'd fibre, or some varying vein :
Shall only Man be taken in the grofs ?
Grant but as many forts of Mind as Mofs.
That each from other differs, first confefs;
Next, that he varies from himself no less;
Add Nature's, Custom's, Reason's, Paffion's ftrife,
And all Opinion's colours caft 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,
be Reason, but it is not Man :
His Principle of action once explore,
That inftant 'tis his Principle no more.
Like following life through creatures you diffect,
You lose it in the moment you detect.
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 difcolour'd through our Paffions 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 muft fnatch, not take. 40
Oft, in the Paffion's wild rotation toft,
Our fpring of action to ourselves is loft:
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 fenfe fubfides, and Fancy sports in fleep,
(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 moft we do.
True, fome are open, and to all men known:
Others, fo very close, they 're hid from none;
(So darkness strikes the fenfe no lefs than light)
Thus gracious Chandos is belov'd at fight;
And every child hates Shylock, though his foul
Still fits at fquat, and peeps not from its hole.
At half mankind when generous Manly raves,
All know 'tis Virtue, for he thinks them knaves:
When univerfal homage Umbra pays,
All fee 'tis Vice, and itch of vulgar praife.
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 soul.
The Dull, flat Falfehood ferves, for policy:
And in the Cunning, Truth itself's a lie:
Unthought-of Frailties cheat us in the Wife;
The Fool lies hid in inconfiftencies.
See the fame 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, wife at a Debate ;
Drunk at a Borough, civil at a Ball;
Friendly at Hackney, faithlefs 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 unftain'd, his uncorrupted heart,
His comprehenfive head! all Interefts 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 (fay, Montagne, or more fage Charron !) Otho a warrior, Cromwell a buffoon? A perjur'd Prince a leaden faint revere, A godlefs Regent tremble at a Star? The throne a Bigot keep, a Genius quit, Faithlefs through Piety, and dup'd through Wit? Europe a Woman, Child, or Dotard rule, And just her wifeft monarch made a fool ?
Know, God and Nature only are the fame :
In Man, the judgment fhoots at flying game;
A bird of paffage! gone as foon as found,
Now in the Moon perhaps, now under ground.
In vain the fage, with retrofpective eye,
Would from th' apparent What conclude the Why,
Infer the Motive from the Deed, and fhew,
That what we chanc'd was what we meant to do,
Behold if Fortune or a Miftrefs frowns,
Some plunge in bufinefs, others fhave their crowns:
To eafe the Soul of one oppreffive weight,
This quits an Empire, that embroils a State:
The fame aduft complexion has impell'd
Charles to the Convent, Philip to the Field.
After ver. 86. in the former Editions,
Triumphant leaders at an army's head,
Hemm'd round with glories, pilfer cloth or bread;
As meanly plunder as they bravely fought,
Now fave a people, and now fave a groat.
Not always Actions shew the man: we find
Who does a kindness, is not therefore kind:
Perhaps Profperity becalm'd his breast,
Perhaps the Wind just shifted from the Eaft:
Not therefore humble he who feeks retreat,
Pride guides his steps, and bids him fhun the great :
Who combats bravely is not therefore brave,
He dreads a death-bed like the meanest flave:
Who reasons wifely is not therefore wife,
His pride in Reasoning, not in Acting, lies.
But grant that actions beft discover man ;
Take the most ftrong, and fort them as you can.
The few that glare, each character must mark,
You balance not the many in the dark.
What will you do with fuch as disagree?
Supprefs them, or mifcall them policy?
Must then at once (the character to fave)
The plain rough Hero turn a crafty Knave?
Alas! in truth the man but chang'd his mind,
Perhaps was fick, in love, or had not din'd.
Afk why from Britain Cæfar would retreat?
Cæfar himself might whisper, he was beat.
Ver. 129, in the former Editions:
Afk why from Britain Cæfar made retreat ? Cæfar himself would tell you he was beat. The mighty Czar what mov'd to wed a Punk? The mighty Czar would tell you he was drunk. Altered as above, becaufe Cæfar wrote his Commentaries of this war, and does not tell you he was beat. As Cæfar too afforded an inftance of both cafes, it was thought better to make him the fingle example.