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LORD COBHAM,

From a Picture by Van Loo. in the Marquis of Buckingham's Collection at Stowe.

Published by Cadell & Davies, Strand, and the other Proprietors, May 1.1807.

EPISTLE I.

ΤΟ

SIR RICHARD TEMPLE, LORD COBHAM.

ARGUMENT.

Of the Knowledge and Characters of MEN. THAT it is not fufficient for this knowledge to confider Man in the Abstract: Books will not ferve the purpose, nor yet our own Experience fingly, Ver. 1. General maxims, unlefs they be formed upon both, will be but notional, Ver. 10. Some peculiarity in every man, characteristic to himself, yet varying from himself, Ver. 15. Difficulties arifing from our own Paffions, Fancies, Faculties, &c. Ver. 31. The fhortnefs of Life, to obferve in, and the uncertainty of the Principles of Action in men, to obferve by, Ver. 37, &c. Our own Principle of action often hid from ourselves, Ver. 41. Some few characters plain, but in general confounded, diffembled, or inconfiftent, Ver. 51. The fame man utterly different in different places and feafons, Ver. 71. Unimaginable weakneffes in the greateft, Ver. 77, &c. Nothing conftant and certain but God and Nature, Ver. 95. No judging of the Motives from the actions; the fame actions proceeding from contrary Motives, and the fame Motives influencing contrary actions, Ver. 100. II. Yet to form Characters, we can only take the strongest actions of a man's life, and try to make them agree: The utter uncertainty of this, from Nature itself, and from Policy, Ver. 120. Characters given according to the rank of men of the world,

Ver. 135. And fome reafon for it, Ver. 141. Education alters the Nature, or at least the Character, of many, Ver. 149. Actions, Paffions, Opinions, Manners, Humours, or Principles, all fubject to change. No judging by Nature, from Ver. 158 to 174. III. It only remains to find (if we can) his RULING PASSION: That will certainly influence all the reft, and can reconcile the feeming or real inconfiftency of all his actions, Ver. 175. Inftanced in the extraordinary character of Clodio, Ver. 179. A caution against miftaking fecond qualities for first, which will deftroy all poffibility of the knowledge of mankind, Ver. 210. Examples of the Arength of the Ruling Paffion, and its continuation to the laft breath, Ver. 222, &c.

EPISTLE I.

Of the Knowledge and Characters of Men.

YES,
Es, 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

COMMENTARY.

EPISTLE I. This Epiftle is divided into three principal parts or members: The first (from ver. 1 to 99.) treats of the difficulties in coming at the Knowledge and true Characters of Men.-The fecond (from ver. 98 to 174.) of the wrong means which both Philofophers and Men of the World have employed in furmounting thofe difficulties. And the third (from ver. 173 to the end) treats of the right means; with directions for the application of them.

VER. 1. Yes, you defpife the man, &c.] The Epiftle is introduced (from ver. 1 to 15.) by obferving, that the Knowledge of men is neither to be gained by books nor experience alone, but by the joint use of both; for that the maxims of the Philofopher and the conclufions of the Man of the World can, feparately, but supply a vague and fuperficial knowledge: often not fo much; as those maxims are founded in the abstract notions of the writer; and these conclufions are drawn from the uncertain conjectures of the obferver : But when the Philofopher joins his fpeculation to the experience of the

NOTES.

Moral Effays.] The ESSAY ON MAN was intended to be comprifed in four books:

The First of which, the Author has given us under that title, in four epiftles:

The Second was to have confifted of the fame number: 1. OP the extent and limits of human reafon. 2. Of thofe arts and

7

fciences

The coxcomb bird, fo talkative and grave,

5

That from his cage cries Cuckold, Whore, and

Knave,

Tho'

COMMENTARY.

the Man of the World, his notions are rectified into principles; and when the Man of the World regulates his experience on the notions of the Philofopher, his conjectures advance into science. Such is the reasoning of this introduction; which, befides its propriety to the general fubject of the Epiftle, has a peculiar relation to each of its parts or members: For the causes of the difficulty in coming at the knowledge and characters of men, explained in the first part, will fhew the importance of what is here delivered, of the joint affiftance of fpeculation and practice to furmount it; and the wrong means, which both Philofophers and Men of the World have employed in overcoming thofe difficulties discoursed of in the second part, have their fource here deduced; which is feen to be a separate adhe rence of Each to his own method of studying Men, and a mutual contempt of the Other's. Lastly, the right means delivered in the third part would be of little use in the application, without the direction here delivered: for though the observation of men and manners discovered a RULING PASSION, yet, without a philosophic knowledge of human nature, we may eafily mistake a secondary and fubfidiary paffion for the principal, and fo be never the nearer in the Knowledge of Men. But the elegant and eafy form of the introduction

NOTES.

fciences, and the parts of them which are useful, and therefore attainable; together with those which are unufeful, and therefore unattainable. 3. Of the nature, ends, use, and application of the different capacities of men. 4. Of the ufe of learning; of the science of the world; and of wit; concluding with a satire against the mifapplication of them'; illuftrated by pictures, characters, and examples.

The Third book regarded civil regimen, or the fcience of politics; in which the feveral forms of a Republic were to be examined and explained; together with the feveral modes of religious worfhip, fo far forth as they affect Society; between which the Author always fuppofed there was the clofeft connection and the

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