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Tho' many a paffenger 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 obfervations which ourselves we make,
We grow more partial for th' obferver's fake;
To written wisdom, as another's, lefs:
Maxims are drawn from notions, thefe from guefs.
There's fome peculiar in each leaf and grain,
Some unmark'd fibre, or fome varying vein :
Shall only man be taken in the grofs?
Grant but at many forts of mind as mofs.
That each from other differs, first confefs; Next, that he varies from himself no lefs; Add Nature's, Cuftom's, Reafon's, Paffion's ftrife, And all Opinion's colours caft on life.
Our depths who fathoms, or our fhallows finds, Quick whirls, and shifting eddies, of our minds? On human actions reafon tho' you can, be reafon, but it is not man: His principle of action once explore, That inftant 'tis his principle no more. Like following life thro' creatures you diffect, You lofe it in the moment you detect. Yet more;
the difference is as great between The optics feeing, as the objects feen.
All manners take a tincture from our own;
Or come difcolour'd thro' our paffions shown,
Or fancy's beam enlarges, multiplies,
Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thousand dyes.
Nor will life's ftream for obfervation stay,
It hurries all too faft to mark their way:
In vain fedate reflections we would make,
When half our knowledge we muft fnatch, not take.
Oft in the paffions' wild rotation toft,
Our spring of actions to ourselves is loft:
Tir'd, not determin'd, to the last we-
And what comes then is master of the field.
As the laft image of that troubled heap,
When fenfe fubfides, and fancy fports in fleep,
(Tho' paft 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 most we do.
True, fome are open, and to all men known;
Others fo very clofe, they're known to none;
(So darkness ftrikes the fenfe no lefs than light)
Thus gracious CHANDOS is belov'd at fight;
And every child hates Shylock, tho' 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 praise.
When flattery glares, all hate it in a Queen,
While one there is who charms us with his fpleen.
But thefe plain characters we rarely find;
Tho' ftrong the bent, yet quick the turns of mind:
Or puzzling contraries confound the whole;
Or affectations quite reverfe the foul.
The Dull, flat falfhood ferves, for policy:
And in the Cunning, truth itself's a lye :
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-chace, 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 venifon to a faint without.
Who would not praife Patricio's high defert,
His hand unftain'd, his uncorrupted heart,
His comprehensive head, all interests weigh'd,
All Europe fav'd, yet Britain not betray'd.
He thanks you not, his pride is in picquette,
New-Market fame, and judgment at a bett.
What made (fay Montague, 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 thro' piety, and dup'd thro' wit?"
Europe a woman, child, or dotard rule,
And juft her wifeft monarch made a fool?
Know, GoD and NATURE only are the fame : In man, the judgment shoots 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 retrospective 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 mistress frowns,
Some plunge in business, others fhave their crowns:
To ease the foul 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.
Not always Actions fhew the man :
Who does a kindness, is not therefore kind :
Perhaps profperity becalm'd his breast,
Perhaps the wind juft fhifted from the caft:
Not therefore humble he who seeks 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 reas'ning, not in acting lies.
But grant that actions best discover man;
Take the most strong, 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?
Muft 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 Caefar would retreat?
Caefar himself might whisper he was beat.
Why risk the world's great empire for a punk?
Caefar perhaps might answer he was drunk.
But, fage hiftorians! 'tis your task to prove
One action conduct, one heroic love.
'Tis from high life high characters are drawn;
A faint in crape is twice a faint in lawn;
A judge is juft, a chance'lor juster still;
A gownman, learn'd; a bishop, what you will;
Wife, if a minifter; but, if a king,
More wife, more learn'd, more juft, more every thing.
Court-virtues bear, like gems, the highest rate,
Born where heaven's influence fcarce can penetrate;
In life's low vale, the foil the virtues like,
They please as beauties, here as wonders strike.
Tho' the fame fun with all diffusive rays
Blush in the rofe, and in the di'mond blaze,
We prize the stronger effort of his power,
And justly fet the gem above the flower.
'Tis education forms the common mind,
Juft as the twig is bent, the tree's inclin'd.
Boastful and rough, your first fon is a 'fquire;
The next a trad fman, meek and much a lyar;
Tom ftruts a foldier, open, bold, and brave;
Will fneaks a fcrivener an exceeding knave:
Is he a churchman? then he's fond of power:
A Quaker? fly: A Presbyterian' four :
A fmart Free-thinker? all things in an hour.