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Eft brevitate opus, ut currat fententia, neu fe
HE 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 Sciences, and of the parts of them, which are useful, and therefore attainable, together with those which are unuseful, and therefore unattainable. 3. Of the Nature, Ends, Ufe, and Application of the different Capacities of Men. 4. Of the Use of Learning, of the Science of the World, and of Wit; concluding with a Satyr 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 Worfhip, as far forth as they affect Society; between which the Author always fuppofed there was the most interesting relation and clofeft connection; fo that this part would have treated of Civil and Religious Society in their full
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 digefted, 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 difcouragements from the depravity of the times, and partly on prudential and VOL. III. H
other confiderations, interrupted, poftponed, and, laftly, in a manner laid afide.
But as this was the Auther's favourite Work, which more exactly reflected the Image of his ftrong capacious Mind, and as we can have but a very imperfect idea of it from the difjecta membra Pocta that 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 abftract, and confiders him in general under every of his relations, becomes the foundation, and furnishes out the subjects, of the three following; fo that
The SECOND Book was to take up again the Firft and Second Epiftles 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 conclufion (which, as we said, was to have contained a Satire against the misapplication 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 Social, 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 less invidious; in which all the great Principles of true and falfe 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 treats of Ethics, or practical Morality; and would have confifted of many members; of which the four following Epiftles were detached Portions: the two firft, on the Characters of Men and Women, being the introductory part of this concluding Book.