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Sir Richard Temple, Lord Cobham.
Of the Knowledge and Characters of MEN.
THAT it is not fufficient for this knowledge to confider Man in the Abftract: Books will not ferve the purpofe, nor yet our own Experience fingly, 1. General maxims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but notional, y 10. Some Peculiarity in every man, characteristic to himself, yet varying from himself, 15. Difficulties arifing from our own Paffions, Fancies, Fa. culties, &c. 31. The shortness of Life, to observe in, and the uncertainty of the Principles of action in men, to obferve by, 37, &c. Our own Principle of action often hid from ourselves, 41. Some few Characters plain, but in general confounded, diffembled, or inconfiftent, 51. The fame man utterly different in dif ferent places and feasons, 71. Unimaginable weakneffes in the greateft, & 70, &c. Nothing conftant and
certain but God and Nature, y 95. No judging of the Motives from the actions; the fame actions proceeding from contrary Motives, and the fame Motives influencing contrary actions, † 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 itfelf, and from Policy, 120. Characters given according to the rank of men of the world, 135. And some reason for it, 140. Education alters the Nature, or at least Character, of many, 149. Actions, Paffions, Opinions, Manners, Humours, or Principles, all fubject to change. No judging by Nature, from 158 to 178. III. It only remains to find (if we can) his RULING PASSION: That will certainly influence all the reft, and can reconcile the feeming or real inconfiftency of all his actions, 175. Inftanced in the extraordinary character of Clodio, 179. A caution against miftaking fecond qualities for first, which will deftroy all poffibility of the knowledge of mankind, † 210. Examples of the ftrength of the Ruling Paffion, and its continuation to the last breath, 222, &c.
Boastful and rough your first Son is a Squire; The next a Tradesman meek, and much a Liar; Tom struts a Soldier, open, bold and Braves; Will sneaks a Scrivener, an exceeding Knave.
Char. of Men.
ES, you defpife the man to Books confin'd Who from his ftudy rails at human kind; Tho' what he learns he speaks, and may advance Some gen'ral maxims, or be right by chance. The coxcomb bird, fo talkative and grave, That from his cage cries Cuckold,Whore,and Knave, Tho' many a passenger he rightly call, You hold him no Philofopher at all.
And yet the fate of all extremes is fuch, Men may be read, as well as Books, too much. To obfervations which ourselves we make, We grow more partial for th' Obferver's fake; To written Wifdom, as another's, lefs: Maxims are drawn from Notions, thofe from Guess. There's fome Peculiar in each leaf and grain, Some unmark'd fibre, or fome varying vein: Shall only Man be taken in the grofs ? Grant but as many forts of Mind as Moss.
That each from other differs, first confess; Next, that he varies from himself no lefs : Add Nature's, Cuftom's, Reafon's, Paffion's ftrife, And all Opinion's colours caft on life.
Our depths who fathoms, or our fhallows finds, Quick whirls, and fhifting eddies, of our minds ?