« ZurückWeiter »
reconcile the seeming or real inconsistency of all his actions. Instanced in the extraordinary character of Clodio. A caution against mistaking second qualities for first, which will destroy all possibility of the knowledge of mankind. Examples of the strength of the ruling passion, and its continuation to the last breath.
I. Yes, yon despise the man to books confined,
And yet the fate of all extremes is such,
That each from other differs, first confess;
Our depths who fathoms, or our shallows finds,
Yet more; the difference is as great between
Nor will life's stream for observation stay,
In vain sedate reflections we would make,
When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take.
Oft, in the passions' wide rotation toss'd,
Our spring of action to ourselves is lost;
Tired, not determined, to the last we yield,
And what comes then is master of the field.
As the last image of the troubled h^ap,
When sense subsides, and fancy sports in sleep,
(Though past 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, some are open, and to all men known; Others so very close, they're hid from none; (So darkness strikes the sense no less than light) Thus gracious Chandos is beloved at sight; And every child hates Shylock, though his soul Still sits at squat, and peeps not from its hole. At half mankind when generous Manly raves, All know 'tis virtue, for he thinks them knaves: When universal homage Umbra pays, All see '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 spleen.
But these plain characters we rarely find;
See the same man, in vigour, in the gout;
Catius is ever moral, ever grave,
Who would not praise Patritio's high desert*
His comprehensive head! all interests weigh'd,
What made (say Montaigne, or more sage Charront)
Know, Gob and Nature only are the same: In man, the judgment shoots at flying game; A bird of passage! gone as soon as found; Now in the moon perhaps, now under ground.
II. In vain the sage, with retrospective eye, "Would from the apparent what conclude the whyy Infer the motive from the deed, and show, That what we chanced was what we meant to do. Behold! if fortune or a mistress frowns, Some plunge in business, others shave their crowns: To ease the soul of one oppressive weight, This quits an empire, that embroils a state: The same adust complexion has impell'd Charles to the convent, Philip to the field.
Not always actions show the man: we find Who does a kindness, is not therefore kind; Perhaps prosperity becalm'd his breast; Perhaps the wind just shifted from the east: Not therefore humble he who seeks retreat, Pride guides his steps, and bids him shun the great. Who combats bravely, is not therefore brave, He dreads a death-bed like the meanest slave; Who reasons wisely, is not therefore wise, His pride in reasoning, not in acting lies.
i Louis XI. of France wore in his hat a leaden image of the Virgin Mary, which, when he swore by, he feared to break his oath.
2 Philip, duke of Orleans, regent in the minority of Louis XV., superstitious in judicial astrology, though an unbeliever in all religion
3 Tbilip V. of Spain, who, after renouncing the throne for religion, resumed it to gratify his queen; and Victor Amadeus II., king of Sardinia, who resigned the crown, and trying to re-assume it, was imprisoned till his death.
But grant that actions best discover man;
'Tis education forms the common mind,
That gay freethinker, a fine talker once,
Judge we by nature ?—habit can efface,
Manners with fortunes, humours turn with climea^ 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 clue once found, unravels all the rest, The prospect clears, and Wharton stands confest, Wharton, the scorn and wonder of our days, Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise: Born with whatever 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, 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 shtin contempt; His passion still, to covet general praise, His life, to forfeit it a thousand ways; A constant bounty which no friend has made; An angel tongue, which no man can persuade! 4 fool, with more of wit than half mankind, Too rash for thought, for action too refined: A tyrant to the wife his heart approves; A rebel to the very king he loves; He dies, sad outcast of each church and state, And, harder still! flagitious, yet not great I