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The third book regarded civil regimen, or the sci. ence of politics, in which the several forms of a re. public were to be examined and explained ; together with the several modes of religious worship, as far forth as they affect society; between which the author always supposed there was the most interesting relation and closest connexion ; so that this part would have treated of civil and religious society in their full extent.
The fourth and last book concerned private ethics, or practical morality, considered in all the circum. stances, orders, professions, and stations of human life.
The scheme of all this had been maturely digested, and communicated to Lord Bolingbroke, Dr. Swift, and one or two more, and was intended for the only work of his riper years; but was, partly through ill health, partly through discouragements from the depravity of the times, and partly on pru. dential and other considerations, interrupted, postponed, and, lastly, in a manner laid aside.
But as this was the author's favourite work, which more exactly reflected the image of his strong capacious mind, and as we can have but a very imperfect idea of it from the disjecta membra poeta, that now Temain, it may not be amiss to be a little more par. ticular concerning each of these projected books.
The first, as it treats of man in the abstract, and considers him in general under every of his relations, becomes the foundation, and furnishes out the subjects, of the three following; so that,
The second book was to take up again the first and "second epistles of the first book, and treats of man in his intellectual capacity at large, as has been explained above. Of this only a small part of the conclusion (which, as we said, was to have contained a satire against the misapplication of wit and learn'ing) may be found in the fourth book of the Dunriad, and up and down, occasionally, in the other three,
257 The third book, in like manner, was to re-assume the subject of the third epistle of the first, which treats of man in his social, political, and religious capacity. But this part the poet afterwards con. ceived might be best executed in an epic poem, as the action would make it more animated, and the fable less invidious; in which all the great principles of true and false governments and religions should be chiefly delivered in feigned examples.
The fourth and last book was to pursue the subject of the fourth epistle of the first, and to treat of ethics, or practical morality; and would have consisted of many members; of which the four following epistles were detached portions; the first two, on the characters of men and women, being the in, troductory part of this concluding book,
TO SIR RICHARD TEMPLE, L. COBHAM.
Of the Knowledge and Characters of Men.
1. That it is not sufficient for this knowledge to con
sider man in the abstract: books will not serve the purpose, nor yet our own experience singly, ver. 1. General maxims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but notional, ver. 10. Some peculiarity in every man, characteristic to him. self, yet varying from himself, ver. 15. Difficul. ties arising from our own passions, fancies, facul. ties, &c. ver. 31. The shortness of life to observe in, and the uncertainty of the principles of action in men to observe by, ver. 37, &c. Our own prin. ciple of action often hid from ourselves, ver. 41. Some few characters plain, but in general confounded, dissembled, or inconsistent, ver. 51. The same mau utterly different in different places and seasons, ver. 62. Unimaginable weaknesses in the greatest, ver. 70, &c. Nothing constant and certain but God and nature, ver. 95. No judging of the motives from the actions; the same actions proceeding from contrary motives, and the same 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 some reason for it, ver. 140. Education alters the nature, or at least character of many, ver. 149. Actions, passions, opinions, manners, humours, or principles, all subject to change. Ņo judging by nature, from ver. 158 to ver. 178. III. It only remains to find (if we can) his ruling passion: that will certainly influence all the rest, and can reconcile the seeming or real joconsistency of all his actions, ver. 175. Instanced in the extraordinary character of Clodio, ver. 179. A caution against mistaking second qualities for first, which will destroy all possibility of the knowledge of mankind, ver. 210. Examples of the strength of the ruling passion, and its continuation to the last breath, ver. 222, &c.
YES, you despise the man to books confin’d,
Who from his study rails at human kind; Though what he learns he speaks, and may ad. ?
Some general maxims, or be right by chance.
And yet the fate of all extremes in such,
There's some peculiar in each leaf and grain,
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,
True, some are open, and to all men known;