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But grant that actions best discover man:
Take the most strong, and sort them as you can: 120
You balance not the many in the dark.
'Tis from high life high characters are drawn, A saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn;
A judge is just, a chancellor juster still;
A gownman learn'd, a bishop what you will;
More wise, more learn'd, more just, more every thing. Court virtues bear like gems, the highest rate,
Born where heaven's influence scarce can penetrate: In life's low vale, the soil the virtues like,
They please as beauties, here as wonders strike.
Though the same sun with all-diffusive rays
'Tis education forms the common mind:
Ask men's opinions: Scoto now shall tell
That gay free-thinker, a fine talker once, What turns him now a stupid silent dunce? Some god, or spirit, he has lately found; Or chanced to meet a minister that frown'd. Judge we by nature? habit can efface, Interest o'ercome, or policy take place : By actions? those uncertainty divides: By passions? these dissimulation hides: Opinions? they still take a wider range: Find, if you can, in what you cannot change. Manners with fortunes, humours turn with climes, Tenets with books, and principles with times.
III. Search then the ruling passion: There, alone.
And now the punk applaud, and now the friar.
His passion still, to covet general praise,
He dies, sad outcast of each church and state,
Comets are regular, and Wharton plain.
Yet, in this search, the wisest may mistake, 210
If second qualities for first they take.
When Catiline by rapine swell'd his store:
In this the lust, in that the avarice,
Were means, not ends; ambition was the vice.
Old politicians chew on wisdom past,
Has made the father of a nameless race,
Shoved from the wall perhaps, or rudely press'd
A salmon's belly, Helluo, was thy fate;
'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 shined An humble servant to all human kind,
Just brought out this, when scarce his tongue could stir,
'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, 260 '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 these moments as in all the past,
Oh, save my country, Heaven!' shall be your last.
TO A LADY.
Of the Characters of Women.
That the particular characters of women are not so strongly marked as those of men, seldom so fixed, and still more inconsistent with themselves, ver. 1, &c. Instances of contrarieties given, even from such characters as are more strongly marked, and seemingly, therefore, most consistent: as, 1. In the affected.-2. In the soft natured.3. In the cunning and artful.-4. In the whimsical.-5. In the lewd and vicious.-6. In the witty and refined.-7. In the stupid and simple, ver. 21 to 207. The former part having shown that the particular characters of women are more various than those of men, it is nevertheless observed that the general characteristic of the sex, as to the ruling passion, is more uniform, ver. 207. This is occasioned partly by their nature, partly by their education, and in some degree by necessity, ver. 211. What are the aims and the fate of this sex:-1. As to power.-2. As to pleasure, ver. 219. Advice for their true interest.The picture of an estimable woman, with the best kind of contrarieties, ver. 249 to the end.
There is nothing in Mr. Pope's works more highly finished than this epistle: yet its success was in no proportion to the pains he took in composing it. Something he chanced to drop in a short advertisement prefixed to it on its first publication, may, perhaps account for the small attention given to it. He said that no one character in it was drawn from the life. The public believed him on his word, and expressed little curiosity about a satire, in which there was nothing personal.
NOTHING SO true as what you once let fall, Most women have no characters at all.'