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Plate XII.

facing pa.225.

The proper Study of Mankind is

Essay

man.

on Man

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EPISTLE Í.

Of the Knowledge and Characters of MEN.

YE

ES, you defpife 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.

COMMENTARY.

Epifle of the Knowledge and Characters of Men.] Whoever compares this with the former editions of the Epiftle, will obferve, that the order and difpofition of the several parts are entirely changed and reverfed; though with hardly the alteration of a fingle word. When the Editor, at the Author's defire, firft examined this epiftle, he was furprized to find it contain a number of exquifite obfervations, without order, connection, or dependence: but much more fo, when, on an attentive review, he faw, that if the epiftle was put into a different form, on an idea he then conceived, it would have

NOTES.

Moral Elays.] The ESSAY ON MAN was intended to have been 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. Of the extent and limits of human reason. 2. Of those arts and fciences, and the parts of them, which are useful, and therefore attainable; together with those which are unuseful,

5

The coxcomb bird, fo talkative and grave,
That from his cage cries Cuckold, Whore, and

Knave,

Tho' many a paffenger he rightly call,
You hold him no Philofopher at all.

COMMENTARY.

all the clearness of method and force of connected reafoning. The Author appeared as much struck with the thing as the Editor, and agreed to put the poem into the prefent order; which has given it all the juftnefs of a true compofition. The introduction to the epiftle on Riches was in the fame condition, and underwent the fame reform.

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

NOTES.

and therefore unattainable. 3. Of the nature, ends, use, and application of the different capacities of men. 4. Of the use of learning; of the fcience of the world; and of wit; concluding with a fatyr against the mifapplication of them; illuftrated by pictures, characters, and examples.

The third book regarded civil regimen, or the science of politics; in which, the feveral forms of a Republic were to be examined and explained; together with the feveral modes of religious worship, fo far forth as they affect Society; between which the Author always fuppofed there was the closest conrection and the moft interefting relation. So that this part would have treated of Civil and Religious Society in their full

extent.

1

And

yet

the fate of all extremes is fuch,

Men may be read, as well as Books, too much. 10

COMMENTARY.

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 ufe of both; for that the maxims of the Philofopher and the conclufions of the man of the World, can, feparately, but fupply a vague and fuperficial knowledge:

NOTES.

The fourth and laft book concerned private ethics, or practical morality; confidered in all the circumstances, orders, profeffions, and stations of human life.

The scheme of all this had been maturely digested; and communicated to L. 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 prudential and other confiderations, interrupted, poftponed, and, laftly, in a manner laid afide.

But as this was the Author's favourite Work, which more exactly reflected the image of his own ftrong capacious mind, and as we can have but a very imperfect idea of it from the difjecta membra Poeta, which now remain; it may not be amifs to be a little more particular concerning each of these projected books.

The FIRST, as it treats of man in the abstract, and confiders him in general, under every of his relations, becomes the foundation, and furnishes out the fubjects, of the three following; fo that

The SECOND BOOK was to take up again the first and second epiftles of the first book; and to treat of man in his intellectual capacity at large, as has been explained above. Of

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To obfervations which ourselves we make,
We

grow more partial for th' Obferver's fake; To written Wisdom, as another's, less: Maxims are drawn from Notions, those from

Guefs.

COMMENTARY.

often not fo much; as those maxims are founded in the abftra& notions of the writer; and thefe conclufions are drawn from the uncertain conjectures of the obferver: But when the writer joins his fpeculation to the experience of the obferver, his notions are rectified into principles: and when the observer regulates his experience on the notions of the writer, his conjectures advance into science. Such is the reasoning of this introduc tion; which, befides its propriety to the general fubject of

NOTES.

this, only a small part of the conclufion (which, as we faid, was to have contained a fatire against the mifapplication of wit and learning) may be found in the fourth book of the Dunciad; and up and down, occafionally, in the other three.

The THIRD Book, in like manner, was to reaffume the fubject of the third epiftle of the first, which treats of Man in his focial, political, and religious capacity. But this part the Poet afterwards conceived might be beft executed in an EPIC POEM; as the Action would make it more animated, and the Fable lefs invidious; in which all the great principles of true and false Governments and Religions fhould be chiefly delivered in feigned examples.

The FOURTH and last book was to pursue the subject of the fourth epiftle of the first, and to treat of Ethics, or practical morality; and would have confifted of many members; of which, the four following epiftles are detached portions: the two firft, on the Characters of Men and Women, being the introductory part of this concluding book.

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