ePub 版

Nature well known, no prodigies remain, Comets are regular, and WHARTON plain. Yet, in this search, the wiseft


mistake, If second qualities for first they take. 211


In the former Editions, Ver. 208.

“ Nature well known, no Miracles remain." Altered as above, for very obvious reasons.


VER. 210. Yet, in this search, &c.] But here (from Ver. 209 to 222.) he gives one very necessary caution, that, in developing the Ruling Palion, we must be careful not to miltake a subsidiary passion for the principal; which, without great attention, we may be very liable to do; as the subsidiary, acting in support of the principal, has frequently all its vigour and much of its perseverance: This error has misled several both of the antient and modern historians; as when they supposed luft and luxury to be characteristics of Cæfar and La.


Women and Fools muft like him, or he dies.” And his crimes, to avoid the censure of the Knaves,

" 'Twas all for fear the Knaves should call him Fool.” Prudence and Honesty being the two qualities which fools and knaves are most interested, and consequently most industrious, to misrepresent.

Ver. 209. Comets are regular, and Wharton plain.] This illustration has an exquisite beauty, arising from the exactness of the analogy : For, as the appearance of irregularity, in a COMET's motion, is occafioned by the greatness of the force which puses it round a very eccentric orb; so it is the violence of the RULING PASSION, which, impatient for its ob

When Catiline by rapine swell’d his store ;
When Cæsar made a noble dame a whore;
In this the Luft, in that the Avarice
Were means, not ends; Ambition was the vice.


cullus ; whereas, in truth, the Ruling Paffion of both was ambition; which is so certain, that, at whatsoever different time of the Republic these inen had lived, their ambition, as the Ruling Passion, had been the fame; but a different time had changed their subsidiary ones of luft and luxury, into their very opposites of chastity and frugality. 'Tis in vain, therefore, fays our Author, for the observer of human nature to fix his attention on the workman, if he all the while mistakes the scaffold for the building.

NOTE s. ject, in the impetuosity of its course towards it, is frequently hurried to an immense distance from it ; and this it is which occasions all that puzzling inconsistency of conduct, we observe in it.

VER. 213. A noble Dame a whore;] The fister of Cato, and mother of Brutus.

VER. 215. Ambition was the vice.] Pride, Vanity; and Ambition are fuch bordering and neighbouring vices, and hold fo much in common, that we generally find them going together ; and therefore, as generally mistake them for one another. This does not a little contribute to our confounding characters; for they are, in reality, very different and distinct; so much so, that it is remarkable, the three greatest men in Rome, and cotemporaries, possessed each of these pasfions separately, with very little mixture of the other two : The men I mean were Cæfar, Cato, and Cicero : For Cæsar had ambition without either vanity or pride; Cato had pride without ambition or vanity; and Cicero had vanity without pride or ambition,

That very

Cæfar born in Scipio's days, Had aim'd, like him, by Chastity at praise. Lucullus, when Frugality could charm, Had roasted turnips in the Sabin farm. In vain th' observer eyes the builder's toil, 220 But quite mistakes the scaffold for the pile.

In this one Passion man can strength enjoy, As Fits give vigour, just when they destroy.


VER. 222. In this one Paffion, &c.] But now it may be objected to our philosophic Poet, that he has indeed Mewn rb: true means of coming to the knowledge and characters of men, by a Principle certain and infallible, when found; yet it is, by his own account, of so difficult investigation, that its Counterfeit (and it is always attended with one) may be easily mistaken for it. To remove this difficulty, therefore, and consequently the objection that arises from it the Poet has given (from Ver. 221 to 228.) one certain and infallible criterion of the Ruling Passion: which is this, that all the other passions, in the course of time, change and wear away; while this is ever constant and vigorous; and still going on from strength to strength, to the very moment of its demolishing the miserable machine which it has now, at length overworked. Of this great truth, the Poet (from Ver. 227 to the end) gives various instances, in all the principal Ruling Pafo fions of our nature, as they are to be found in the Man of Jiness, the Mon of pleasure, the Epicure, the Parfimonious,

NOT E S. Ver. 223. As Fits give vigour, just when they destroy.) The fimilitude is extremely appofite; as most of the instances he has afterwards given of the vigorous exertion of the Ruling Paffion in the last moments, are from such who had hastened their death by an immoderate indulgence of that pasion.

Time, that on all things lays his lenient hand,
Yet tames not this; it sticks to our last fand. 225
Consistent in our follies and our sins,
Here honest Nature ends as the begins.

Old Politicians chew on wisdom past,
And totter on in bus'ness to the last;
As weak, as earnest; and as gravely out,

230 As sober Lanesb’row dancing in the gout. Behold a rev'rend fire, whom want of

grace Has made the father of a nameless race, Shov'd from the wall perhaps, or rudely press'd By his own son, that passes by unbless’d: 235

COMMENTAR Y. the Toast, the Courtier, the Mifer, and the Patriot; which last instance, the Poet has had the art, under the appearance of Satire, to turn into the noblest Compliment on the person to whom the epistle is addressed.

NOT E s. VER. 225.-- It picks to our laft sand, &c.] “ M. de Lagny “ mourut le 12 Avril, 1734. Dans les derniers momens, ou « il ne connoissoit plus aucun de ceux qui etoient autour de « son lit, quelqu'un, pour faire une experience philosophique, « s'avisa de lui demander quel étoit le quarré de douze : 11 “ repondit dans l'instant, et apparement sans savoir qu'il re“pondit, cent quarante quatre.” Fontanelle, Eloge de M. de

VER. 227. Here honest Nature ends as the begins.] Human nature is here humorously called honeft, as the impulse of the ruling paffion (which she gives and cherishes) makes her more and more impatient of disguise.

VER. 231. Lanefb'row An ancient Nobleman, who con. tinued this practice long after his legs were disabled by the gout. Upon the death of Prince George of Denmark, he de


Still to his wench he crawls on knocking knees, And envies ev'ry sparrow that he sees.

A salmon's belly, Helluo, was thy fate; The doctor call’d, declares all help too late : “ Mercy! cries Helluo, mercy on my soul! 240 Is there no hope ?---Alas !---then bring the

jowl.” Thefrugal Crone, whom praying: priests attend, Still tries to save the hallow'd taper's end, Collects her breath, as ebbing life retires, For one puff more, and in that puff expires. 245

“ Odious! in woollen!’twould a Saint provoke, (Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke) “ No, let a charming Chintz, and Brussels lace " Wrap mycold limbs, and shade my lifeless face: 5One would not, sure, be frightful when one's « dead-

250 " And---Betty---give this Cheek a little Red.” The Courtier smooth, who forty years had

shin'd An humble servant to all human kind,

NOT E S. manded an audience of the Queen, to advise her to preserve her health and dispel her grief by Dancing. P.

VER. 242. The frugal Crone, &c.] A fact told him, by Lady Bol. of an old Countess at Paris.

Ver. 247.-ihe last words that poor Narcisa spoke] This ftory, as well as the others, is founded on fact, though the

« 上一頁繼續 »