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But grant that actions best discover man: Take the most strong, and sort them as you can : 120 The few that glare, each character must mark, You balance not the many in the dark. What will you do with such as disagree? Suppress them, or miscall them policy? Must then at once (the character to save) The plain rough hero turn a crafty knave? Alas! in truth the man but changed his mind, Perhaps was sick, in love, or had not dined. Ask why from Britain Cæsar would retreat ? Cæsar himself might whisper, he was beat. 130 Why risk the world's great empire for a punk? Cæsar perhaps might answer he was drunk. But, sage historians ! 'tis your task to prove One action, conduct; one, heroic love.
'Tis from high life high characters are drawn,
'Tis education forms the common mind :
Ask men's opinions : Scoto now shall tell
That gay free-thinker, a fine talker once,
Judge we by nature? habit can efface,
Manners with fortunes, humours turn with climes, Tenets with books, and principles with times.
III. Search then the ruling passion: There, alone. The wild are constant, and the cunning known; The fool consistent, and the false sincere; Priests, princes, women, no dissemblers here. This clew once found unravels all the rest, The prospect clears, and Wharton stands confessed. Wharton ! the scorn and wonder of our days, 180 Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise ; Born with whate'er could win it from the wise, Women and fools must like him, or he dies : Though wondering senates hung on all he spoke, The club must hail him master of the joke. Shall parts so various aim at nothing new? He'll shine a Tully and a Wilmot too; Then turns repentant, and his God adores With the same spirit that he drinks and whores, Enough if all around him but admire,
199 And now the punk applaud, and now the friar. Thus with each gift of nature and of art, And wanting nothing but an honest heart: Grown all to all, from no one vice exempt, And most contemptible, to shun contempt;
His passion still, to covet general praise,
Nature well known, no prodigies remain,
Yet, in this search, the wisest may mistake, 210
In this one passion man can strength enjoy,
Old politicians chew on wisdom past,
Behold a reverend sire, whom want of grace 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! 240 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. 251
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
Of the Characters of Women. That the particular characters of women are not so stiongly 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 aro 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 educa. tion, 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.'