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Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land ? Pursues that chain which links th' immense design, All fear, none aid you, and few understand. Joins Heaven and Earth, and mortal and divine; Painful pre-eminence! yourself to view
Sees, that no being any bliss can know, Above life's weakness, and its comforts too. But touches some above, and some below;
Bring then these blessings to a strict account; Learns from this union of the rising whole Make fair deductions; see to what they mount: The first, last purpose of the human soul ; How much of other each is sure to cost;
And knows where faith, law, morals, all began, How much for other oft is wholly lost;
All end in love of God, and love of man. How inconsistent greater goods with these ; For him alone, Hope leads from goal to goal, How sometimes life is risk'd, and always ease: And opens still, and opens on his soul : Think, and if still the things thy envy call, Till lengthen'd on to Faith, and unconfin'd, Say, wouldst thou be the man to whom they fall ? It
the bliss that fills up all the mind. To sigh for ribands, if thou art so silly,
He sees, why Nature plants in man alone Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy. Hope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown: Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life?
(Nature, whose dictates to no other kind Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife.
Are given in vain, but what they seek they find :)
At once his own bright prospect to be blest;
Self-love thus push'd to social, to divine,
In one close system of benevolence: Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows, Happier as kinder, in whate'er degree, From dirt and sea-weed, as proud Venice rose; And height of bliss but height of charity. In each, how guilt and greatness equal ran,
God loves from whole to parts: but human And all that rais'd the hero, sunk the man:
soul Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold, Must rise from individual to the whole. But slain'd with blood, or ill exchang'd for gold: Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake, Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease, As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake; Or infamous for plunder'd provinces.
The centre mov'd, a circle straight succeeds, O! wealth ill-fated; which no act of fame Another still, and still another spreads ; E'er taught to shine, or sanctified from shame! Friend, parent, neighbor, first it will embrace ; What greater bliss attends their close of life? His country next; and next all human race ; Some greedy minion, or imperious wise,
Wide and more wide, th' o'erslowings of the mind The trophied arches, storied balls invade, Take every creature in, of every kind; And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade. Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest, Alas! not dazzled with their noontide ray, And Heaven beholds its image in his breast. Compute the morn and evening to the day;
Come then, my friend ! my genius! come along! The whole amount of that enormous fame, Oh master of the poet, and the song ! A tale, that blends their glory with their shame! And while the Muse now stoops, or now ascends,
Know then this truth (enough for man to know), To man's low passions, or their glorious ends, “Virtue alone is happiness below."
Teach me, like thee, in various nature wise,
From grave to gay, from lively to severe;
Intent to reason, or polite to please. And if it lose, attended with no pain:
Oh! while along the stream of time thy name Without satiety, though e'er so blest,
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame; And but more relish'd as the more distress'd : Say, shall my little bark attendant sail, The broadest mirth unfeeling Folly wears, Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale? Less pleasing far than Virtue's very tears: When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust reposo, Good, from each object, from each place acquir'd, Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy For ever exercis'd, yet never tir'd;
foes, Never elated, while one man's oppress'd : Shall then this verse to future age pretend Never dejected, while another's blest;
Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend ? And where no wants, no wishes can remain, That, urg'd by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art, Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain.
From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart; See the sole bliss Heaven could on all bestow! For Wit's false mirror held up Nature's light; Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know: Show'd crring Pride, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT; Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind, That reason, passion, answer one great aim; The bad must miss; the good, untaught, will find; That true self-love and social are the same; Slave to no sect, who takes no private road, That virtue only makes our bliss below; But looks through Nature, up to Nature's God; And all our knowledge is, ourselves to know.
IN FOUR EPISTLES TO SEVERAL PERSONS.
And yet the fate of all extremes is such,
Men may be read, as well as books, too much. MORAL ESSAYS,
To observations which ourselves we make,
We grow more partial for th' observer's sake;
There's some peculiar in each leaf and grain, Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu ge
Some unmark'd fibre, or some varying vein : Impediat verbis lassas onerantibus 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;
Next, that he varies from himself no less ;
And all opinion's colors cast on life.
Our depths who fathoms, or our shallows finds,
Quick whirls, and shifting eddies, of our minds ? EPISTLE I.
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 1. 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 life, 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 the 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, flat falsehood serves for policy; the ruling passion, and its continuation to the last And, in the cunning, truth itself'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;
Mad at a fox-chase, wise at a debate;
Catius 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. Who would not praise Patricio's high desert, Boastful and rough, your first son is a 'squire ; His hand unstain'd, his uncorrupted heart, The next a tradesman meek, and much a liar: His comprehensive head! all interests weigh'd, Tom struts a soldier, open, bold, and brave; All Europe sav'd, yet Britain not betray'd. Will sneaks a scrivener, an exceeding knave : He thanks you not, his pride is in piquette, Is he a churchman? then he's fond of power : Newmarket fame, and judgment at a bet. 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 ? And just her wisest monarch made a fool ? Some god, or spirit, he has lately found ;
Know, God and Nature only are the same : Or chanc'd to meet a minister that frown'd. In man, the judgment shoots a flying game;
Judge we by nature ? habit can efface, A bird of passage! gone as soon as found, Interest o'ercome, or policy take place : Now in the Moon perhaps, now under ground. By actions ? those uncertainty divides :
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 convent, 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, Who does a kindness, is not therefore kind : The prospect clears, and Wharton stands confest. Perhaps prosperity becalm'd his breast,
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, Pride guides his steps, and bids him shun the great: Women and fools must like him, or he dies: . Who combats bravely is not therefore brave, Though wondering senates hung on all he spoke, He dreads a death-bed like the meanest slave : The club must hail him master of the joke. Who reasons wisely is not therefore wise, Shall parts so various aim at nothing new? His pride in reasoning, not in acting, lies. He'll shine a Tully and a Wilmot too.
But grant that actions best discover man; Then turns repentant, and his God adores Take the most strong, and sort them as you can. With the same spirit that he drinks and whores ; The few that glare, each character must mark, Enough if all around him but admire, You balance not the many in the dark.
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 refind : But, sage historians ! 'tis your task to prove A tyrant to the wife his heart approyes ; 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! fagitious, 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 fool. 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 get the gem above the flower. Had aim'd, like him, by chastity, at praise.
Lucullus, when frugality could charm,
Whether the charmer sinner it, or saint it, Had roasted turnips in the Sabine farm.
If folly grow romantic, I must paint it In vain the observer eyes the builder's toil,
Come then, the colors and the ground prepare! But quite mistakes the scaffold for the pile. Dip in the rainbow, trick her off in air;
In this one passion man can strength enjoy, Choose a firm cloud, before it fall, and in it As fits give vigor, just when they destroy. Catch, ere she change, the Cynthia of this minute. Time, that on all things lays his lenient hand, Rufa, whose eye, quick glancing o'er the Park, Yet tames not this; it sticks to our last sand. Attracts each light gay meteor of a spark, Consistent in our follies and our sins,
Agrees as ill with Rufa studying Locke, Here honest Nature ends as she begins.
As Sappho's diamonds with her dirty smock; Old politicians chew on wisdom past,
Or Sappho at her toilet's greasy task,
With Sappho fragrant at an evening mask:
Behold a reverend sire, whom want of grace How soft is Silia! fearful to offend;
The frail-one's advocate, the weak-one's friend. Shov'd from the wall perhaps, or rudely press’d To her Calista prov'd her conduct nice, By his own son, that passes by unbless'd :
And good Simplicius asks of her advice. Still to his wench he crawls on knocking knees, Sudden, she storms! she raves! You tip the wink, And envies every sparrow that he sees.
But spare your censure ; Silia does not drink.
Mercy !" cries Helluo, “ mercy on my soul! Papillia, wedded to her amorous spark,
The frugal crone, whom praying priests attend, A park is purchas'd, but the fair he sees
Ladies, like variegated tulips, show, For one puff more, and in that puff expires. "Tis to their changes half their charms we owe;
“Odious! in woollen ! 'twould a saint provoke," Fine by defect, and delicately weak, (Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke,) Their happy spots the nice admirer take. “No, let a charming chintz and Brussels lace, 'Twas thus Calypso once each heart alarm d, Wrap my cold limbs, and shade my lifeless face: Aw'd without virtue, without beauty charm'd; One would not, sure, be frightful when one's dead — Her tongue bewitch'd as oddly as her eyes, And-—Betty-give this cheek a little red."
Less wit than mimic, more a wit than wise ; The courtier smooth, who forty years had shin'd Strange graces still, and stranger flights she had, An humble servant to all human-kind, [stir, Was just not ugly, and was just not mad; Just brought out this, when scarce his tongue could Yet ne'er so sure our passion to create, "If—where I'm going—I could serve you, sir!" As when she touch'd the brink of all we hate. “I give and I devise” (old Euclio said,
Narcissa's nature, tolerably mild, And sigh'd) “my lands and tenements to Ned.” To make a wash, would hardly stew a child; Your money, sir ?—" My money, sir, what all ? Has ev'n been prov'd to grant a lover's prayer, Why, if I must"—(then wept) “ I give it Paul.” And paid a tradesman once to make him stare ; The manor, sir?_“The manor! hold," he cried. Gave alms at Easter, in a Christian trim, “Not that–I cannot part with that,”—and died. And made a widow happy, for a whim.
And you! brave Cobham, to the latest breath, Why then declare good-nature is her scorn, Shall feel your ruling passion strong in death : When 'tis by that alone she can be borne ? Such in those moments as in all the past,
Why pique all mortals, yet affect a name? "Oh, save my country, Heaven!” shall be your last. A fool to pleasure, yet a slave to fame :
Now deep in Taylor and the Book of Martyrs,
Now drinking citron with his grace and Chartres ;
Now conscience chills her, and now passion burtis; TO A LADY.
And atheism and religion take their turns;
A very heathen in the carnal part,
Yet still a sad good Christian at her heart.
See Sin in state, majestically drunk,
Proud as a peeress, prouder as a punk ; Nothing so true as what you once let fall, Chaste to her husband, frank to all beside, Most women have no characters at all.”
A teeming mistress, but a barren bride. Matter too soft a lasting mark to bear,
What then? let blood and body bear the fault, And best distinguish'd by black, brown, or fair. Her head's untouch'd, that noble seat of thought;
How many pictures of one nymph we view, Such this day's doctrine-in another fit
She sins with poets through pure love of wit.
Cæsar and Tall-boy, Charles and Charlemagne. Here Fannia, leering on her own good man, As Helluo, late dictator of the feast, And there, a naked Leda with a swan.
The nose of Haut-gout, and the tip of Taste, Let then the fair-one beautifully cry,
Critiqu'd your wine, and analyz'd your meat, In Magdalene's loose hair, and lifted eye, Yet on plain pudding deign’d at home to eat: Or drest in smiles of sweet Cecilia shine,
So Philomede, lecturing all mankind With simpering angels, palms, and harps divine ; On the sust passion, and the taste refin'd,
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 wisest 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 Mah’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. Offend her, and she knows not to forgive;
In men, we various ruling passions find; Oblige her, and she'll hate you while you live : In women, two almost divide the kind : But die, and she'll adore you—Then the bust Those, only fix'd, they first or last obey, And temple rise—then fall again to dust. The love of pleasure, and the love of sway. Last night, her lord was all that's good and great; That, Nature gives ; and where the lesson taught A knave this morning, and his will a cheat. Is but to please, can pleasure seem a fault? Strange! by the means defeated of the ends, Experience, this ; by man's oppression curst, By spirit robb'd of power, by warmth of friends, They seek the second not to lose the first. By wealth of followers! without one distress Men, some to business, some to pleasure take; Sick of herself, through very selfishness! But every woman is at heart a rake: Atossa, curs'd with every granted prayer,
Men, some to quiet, some to 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
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 :