« PreviousContinue »
Boastful and rough your first Sonia Iquired; The next a Tradešmån meek, and much
a Liars; Tom struto a foldier, open, bold ando Braves; Will oneako a Forwéner, an exceeding Knaverni
E P I S T L E I.
E S, you despise the man to Books confin'd
Who from his study rails at human kind ; Tho' what he learns he speaks, and may advance Some gen’ral maxims, or be right by chance. The coxcomb bird, so talkative and grave, 5 That from his cage cries Cuckold, Whore,and Knave, Tho' many a passenger he rightly call, You hold him no Philosopher at all.
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, We grow more partial for th' Observer's fake; To written Wisdom, as another's, less : Maxims are drawn from Notions, those from Guess. There's some Peculiar in each leaf and grain, 15 Some unmark'd fibre, or some varying vein: 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 : Add Nature's, Custom's, Reason's, Passion's strife, And all Opinion's colours cast on life.
Qur depths who fathoms, or our shallows finds, Cuick whirls, and shifting eddies, of our minds?
On human actions reason tho' you can,
Yet more; the diff'rence is as great between
35 Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thousand dyes.
Nor will Life's stream for observation stay, It hurries all too fait to mark their way : In vain date reflections we would make, When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take. Oft, in the Passions' wild rotation tost,
41 Our spring of action to ourselves is loft:
Ver. 26. It may be Reason, but it is not Man:] i. e. The Philosopher may invent a rational hypothesis that shall account for the appearances he would investigate; and yet that bypothesis be all the while very wide of truth and the nature of things.
Ver. 33. All Manners take a tincture from our own ;-Or come discolour'd thro' our Pasions shown.] These two lines are remarkable for the exactress and propriety of expression. The word tin&ture, which implies a weak colour given by degrees, well describes the influence of the Manners; and the word difcolour, which implies a quicker change and by a deeper dye, dedenotes as well the operation of the Palions.
Tir’d, not determin'd, to the last we yield,
True, some are open, and to all men known;
60 When Flatt'ry glares, all hate it in a Queen, While one there is who charms us with his Spleen.
But these plain Characters we rarely find; Tho' ftrong the bent, yet quick the turns of mind : Or puzzling Contraries confound the whole ; 65 Or Affectations quite reverse the foul. The Dull, flat Falfhood serves, for policy : And in the Cunning, Truth itself 's a lye: Unthought of Frailties cheat us in the Wife; The Fool lies hid in inconsistencies.